Sunday, June 04, 2017

Report back on my first month as a county councillor

It is a month today ago that I was elected to Cumbria County Council.
Unfortunately the annual council meeting had to postpone all its business to the next scheduled meeting on 29th June, deleting an entire cycle of meetings, because it has not yet been possible to agree on an administration for the authority in the absence of anyone having a majority.
I hope that this can be done as soon as possible after the general election and that an administration is formed which represents all parties in proportion to their support (this has sometimes been called a "rainbow coalition.")
During my first month as a county councillor I have been to County Hall in Kendal three times for induction/training events, group meetings and the one Council meeting which has taken place since the election, and to Carlisle once.
(For those reading this who are not familiar with the geography of Cumbria, the round trip from my patch to County Hall and back takes a bit over three hours and to Carlisle two: I am NOT complaining about this because I knew perfectly well when I stood for election what I was letting myself in for.)
I have also so far attended two briefing/setup meetings with county council officials at more local venues.
I have so far attended five meetings with both elected officials and community groups representing various parts of the division. These included the May meetings of St Bees Parish Council and Egremont Town Council, and informal meetings with officers and workers of Mirehouse Residents Association and the Chairman of Mirehouse Community Centre.

I hope to continue meeting and build working relationships with these groups, and to meet other community groups around the division.
I have passed on a number of concerns raised by residents both at an individual and group level to county council officers: in particular I have stressed to the County Highways team that I am anxious to progress road safety and capacity issues on the A595 such as the dangerous junction at Moor Row and to move forward schemes to address the safety and quality of life issues which arise when large volumes of traffic go through villages like St Bees and Moor Row.
A lot of people in every part of the division raised road safety and capacity issues with me during the county council elections and I am starting to work through those issues.
I am in the process of setting up discussions with county council officers on these subjects and will share the results with residents as soon as I have something to share.
Other events I have attended included the public meeting at the Vine last week about the traffic orders in Whitehaven on which the county council is currently out to consultation. One of the proposals is actually located in my division, others affect the division indirectly.
So far there has been a lot of work and a lot of meetings but I am not going to pretend that I have - yet - a lot to show for it. Over the next three years and eleven months I am determined to make that change.

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