Monday, March 21, 2022

Another promotion for the slightly hesitant organisational mountaineer…

I am, I freely admit, not a fan of the “strong leader” school of local government. As a liberal, I believe in sharing power, in encouraging others to act for themselves as far as possible rather than create dependency. And, as a lifelong bureaucrat, I don’t really see myself as a leader anyway. And, for that reason, I’ve tended to yield to others who want power more than I do.

There are, perhaps, opportunities that I have missed through reticence but, on the whole, I know my strengths and cleave to them like a hermit crab does to its shell, occasionally moving on to a different home when my time is up or I sense a loss of enthusiasm.

It’s been slightly different in the Parish and Town Council sector though. Whilst I didn’t seek to be Chair of Creeting St Peter Parish Council - it was rather thrust upon me by my colleagues - I’ve rather got into the idea of leading a team of equals. I’m hardly an enforcer, bending my colleagues to my will, instead I seek to engage with them to enable them to steer those specific elements that attracted them to be a part of Council in the first place.

As everyone seemed happy enough, I rather allowed the situation to drift along, and I like to think that we’re pretty effective, all things considered.

My innate sense of curiosity led me into the wonderful world of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC), a means of bringing together Parish and Town councillors from across, in my case, Mid Suffolk South, to discuss shared concerns and solutions. And, whilst it was occasionally interesting and often useful, my engagement was limited to turning up.

Attendances are not huge, however, and I somewhat unexpectedly found myself as the only person in the room even willing to countenance the idea of being Vice Chair of the Branch. Odd, really, because Vice Chair is usually a pretty responsibility-free job - you’re at best a spare in case of emergency. But it did grant me a seat on the SALC Board, which I hadn’t known at the time. That in turn led to becoming Suffolk’s representative on the National Assembly of the English representative body, the National Association of Local Councils.

And then, the “emergency” happened, as the Mid Suffolk South Chair resigned - I know not why. So, when the Branch met to elect a new Chair, there were only three eligible people to fill the vacancy. And the other two didn’t want it. That makes me the Branch Chair, I guess…

Just in time for Mid Suffolk District Council to make an announcement…

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