Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A first for Liberal Bureaucracy

I've been to my first ever meeting of full council today - in Neath Port Talbot. It lasted 16 minutes, including a welcome to Ros from both the Mayor and the Council Leader.

I'm not going to be critical, especially as the August meeting is held so as to avoid the usual logjam at the first meeting after the summer break that most councils traditionally take. And besides, if anyone had objected to anything, I'm fairly sure that they would have said so...

Afterwards, we were entertained by the Mayor and Deputy Mayoress in the Mayor's Parlour (another first for Liberal Bureaucracy), with tea and little cakes. Yes, I know that Neath Port Talbot is one of just two Welsh authorities with a Labour majority, but they were very nice nonetheless.

We discussed issues related to social housing, and Derek Vaughan, the Labour leader of Neath Port Talbot, who'd quoted from the 'Total Politics' piece when welcoming Ros (yes, it's a gratuitous plug but I'm feeling generous today), was quite candid about the problems the council faces in bringing its housing stock up to the required standards. Inevitably, the estimated shortfall of £497 million in funding will oblige the council to seek a stock transfer to a housing association next year, regardless of the potential democratic deficit that might arise.

My souvenir is a copy of the council papers, which I will keep on a shelf in my office at home and, in later years when my memory has faltered, wonder what they are doing there. It won't be for the lack of a warm welcome though...

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