As you can imagine starting any new job there is a period of learning and settling in. Whilst there have been some initial teething problems including ongoing and persistent ICT outages, but the first three months and the initial transition has been a period of learning and scoping, alongside dealing with an ever growing constituent casework load.
As a new Councillor I took the decision to stand for some additional roles within the Councils representative function as I think they are both important, and that I have skills to offer. As such, alongside my back-bencher, duties I am now both Vice Chair of Strategic Planning, and Vice Chair of Sustainable Development, building upon my experience as a qualified Town Planner. Alongside this I’ve been appointed to Planning Committee A, Safer & Stronger Committee, Constitutional Working Party and of course full Council.
Beyond this casework has been high, but not of the type I was expecting whereas I’d been expecting housing issues, fly-tipping and parking fine appeals being amongst the mainstays, I’ve had some, but nowhere near as many as I anticipated, instead I’ve been dealing with complex issues, such as the Mountsfield Park Redevelopment, Commercial Noise pollution and loss of amenity from the redevelopment of Aldi on Bradgate Road, to hate crime issues and access to fertility treatment. Attendance at my monthly surgery is steady but with room for growth, but digital engagement via eMail and twitter tend to be key referral routes.
As well as Ward activity – my Vice Chair roles have also seen me engaged in a number of activities beyond the Ward boundary, but of significant importance to the entire Borough, visiting key development sites and meetings, such as those at the Lee Gate redevelopment, and also public consultations around flood defences in Lewisham, that need either strengthening or renewing or risk of flooding 3,000+ homes.
A new working party has been set up as a sub group of the Assembly looking at progressing the community hub development the local assembly took the decision to invest in about 12 months ago, and that has now met twice and brought a multitude of ideas and enthusiasm to see the project progress.
Being the summer months and the formal business of Council going into recess, the work of a Councillor as a community champion does not stop, and I have represented our Council and Ward at a number of civic functions including The Armed Services Covenant Day, that took place in Bellingham – renewing our commitment to those who both have and are serving for their country. I thought it particularly pertinent to attend this year as part of the WW1 Centenary celebrations; alongside this I was also invited to address a local Tamil event in the Borough, with hundred of families in attendance – of which we have a number living in Rushey Green, to show our support and engagement of them as a key community; and of course the Rushey Green Festival which was a purr-fect success.