Saturday, January 16, 2010

First day at school - welcome to the East of England

There is something about turning up in an unfamiliar place, and sitting in a drab room full of people you don't really know, that makes me slightly nervous. Are they going to like me? Am I going to be able to contribute?

Today was like that, as I made my way from inner London to a business park on the northern edge of Cambridge to attend my first meeting as a member of the East of England Regional Executive. Having only become a member of the Regional Party in early October, and been elected in absentia to the position of Regional Secretary, it was time to face the music.

Curiously, the Secretary does not minute, nor does he service the Executive - Lorna, our Regional Administrator, does that, leaving only a series of unrelated, rather vague roles. And so I settled down, laptop on the desk in front of me, and listened as Julie Smith, our newly-elected Chair, kicked things off with a round of introductions.

It did dawn on me that I ought to do something, so I brought up the Regional Constitution, as a guide to what was supposed to happen. Almost immediately, a question of jurisdiction arose, and I noticed that we were about to act in a manner contrary to the Constitution, so I pointed this out, surprising my colleagues somewhat.

When I was Regional Secretary in London, I was often surprised by the lack of awareness of the constitution. Such documents are, I admit, pretty tedious, but when you really need them, they're a lifesaver. It appears that East of England is little different in that sense, and I suspect that the first role to be put on my job description is 'constitution guru'.

It was a pretty good meeting, I think, and smartly chaired by Julie, in spite of her disappointment over the Cambridge candidate selection (she had been on the final shortlist but wasn't successful) and the sort of weariness that an intense selection campaign inflicts. I've got a few things to do, which I'll need to get on with, and I'm looking forward to working with a rather more traditional type of region, as opposed to the city-state that is London.

Our next meeting is scheduled for 6 March. I am reminded that attending it could be difficult, as I'm supposed to be in Perth that evening. Note to self, write a good report...

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