Saturday, 1 March 2014

Feedback from Compton ward Have Your Say Meeting Feburary 2014

Meeting Outline:

I was invited by councillors Richard Ball and Ted Fry to attend the Compton Ward Have Your Say meeting on Tuesday 25th February. Prior to the invite I did not know these meetings existed and since being made aware of them I have found that the majority of people I spoke to had no knowledge of these meetings either.

I had notified a few Mutley Traders but had not been able to give them much notice so unfortunately I was one of only two representatives from Mutley at the meeting.  The other Mutley representative was Jeanne Hinton from the Mutley Greenbank Trust.

The meeting was held at Emmanuel Church and was attended by approximately 35 people. Councillors Ball, Fry and  David Stark were in attendance and were accompanied by a council officer who minuted the meeting.  There was also Sergeant Dom Nicholls and PCSO Stewart Marshall were also in attendance. The remaining attendees were mainly residents from Hartley, Mannamead and Lower and Higher Compton.

Upon arrival we are given an agenda for the meeting and a copy of the minutes of previous meetings. Judging from the previous minutes and the agenda the focus of the meeting was clearly directed to wards the affluent areas of Hartley, Mannamead and higher and Lower Compton and Mutley seemed to have been rather forgotten.  In fact Mutley is so forgotten that one gentleman addressed me as he thought I was at the wrong meeting as he didn't realise Mutley was within the Compton boundaries!

The first part of the meeting focused on presentations, these apparently are where cheques from community funds (that's tax payers money to you and I) are given to local groups and the councillors get to decide who gets what. All of the groups awarded cheques at the meeting where Christian faith groups or churches which I found rather alarming considering we live in an area with many religions and faiths and an ever growing number of atheists and humanist. (I should point out that I consider myself to be a humanist so this does make me biased). The presentations were one of my main reasons for attending the meeting as I had been told that Emmanuel Church had been given £1700 for hi-tec CCTV, I wanted to challenge this decision and query how presentations are prioritised. Emmanuel Church is situated in an area of extremely low crime (probably one of the lowest crime areas in Plymouth. You can check this face on the police crime map). I wanted to know why know presentations had been made to Mutley an area with a desperate need for increased CCTV.

When raising my concern I was told that no concerns had been raised about Mutley and that money could not be given to help businesses. Obviously no concerns had been raised at the meetings as Mutley people weren't informed about said meetings. As I continued to challenge the nature of the presentation to Emmanuel Church I was addressed by the manager of Emmanuel Church who listed 2 crimes in the past 10 years, this is an extremely low crime rate, to my horror the £1700 wasn't the only payment made to Emmanuel Church, another sum of £1400 had been given for metal reinforcements for the windows. On top of this similar sums had been given to 2 other churches in the area. I must add to this that Compton Ward Have Your Say meetings are always held in one of three churches again all in the richer end of the ward. I would like to see meetings held in non-religious establishments in the future and this is something I will address with my local councillors along with other follow up comments from the meeting.

I should at this point list a few other group within the ward that have been given money and they include Compton Church Of England School, Plymouth Croquet Club, Plymouth Street Pastors and several local scout and girl guide groups.

The majority of the meeting was occupied by local residents complaining about parking issues, it appears that most of the parking problems are caused by people parking in Mutley and Mannamead to either walk to work in Mutley or to get on a bus to go to work in town. If only our council could dream up some radical free parking options for both Mutley and the City Centre to provide a much needed boost for local businesses as well as some parking respite for residents.

Jeanne Hinton addressed the group to talk about a possible art project to help breath new life into Mutley, it sounds like an exciting project and one which Mutley Traders will be consulted on now we have a voice again.

Another issue was raised over the safety of kids outside schools, apparently the increased parking problems were causing traffic chaos outside schools, it seems ironic that this issue is so close to local peoples hearts at a time when Plymouth City Council is getting rid of lollipop patrols.

A valuable point was raised by another attendee who pointed out that schools are being asked to take on increasing numbers of pupils and class sizes are increasing which will only increase the safety risks and parking issues.

My final comment from the meeting was to respond to points made by Ball and Fry about how they have dealt with anti-social behaviour in Hartley and Mannamead, reports had been made about teenagers hanging around in a bus stop causing a nuisance to residents, the response to this was to remove the bus stop, the second incident involved anti-social behaviour in Channel Park, the response to this was to shut the whole park. I strongly disagree to this approach, we had a similar situation in Greenbank a few years ago when reports were made about street drinkers using park benches so the park benches were removed. We should not be removing public facilities just to prevent offences by the minority, there are more pro-active ways of dealing with such problems and as we found in Greenbank the bench removal did not stop the problem, it just moved it elsewhere. 

After the meeting I was warmly greeted by all three councillors who offered their support to both myself and the newly forming Mutley Traders Group, they assured me they would attend Mutley Traders meetings in the future. The two police officers also offered their support to the Mutley Traders. 

The next Compton ward Have Your Say meeting will be held on Tuesday 25th March 2014 at 6.30pm at Compton Methodist Church. I will be attending and will write a follow up again after the meeting,

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Post-election feeback

For those of you who don't already know I was not the successful candidate for Drake Ward, instead current councillor Steve Ricketts was re-elected. I was not shocked with the defeat as it is very difficult, as an independent, to get into politics. What did seem clear is that people were voting with the general election in mind and went for tactical voting rather than voting for the individual they actually wanted to be their councillor.

Before I chat a bit more about Tactical voting I wanted to share a few observations from the count and declaration of votes held at the Plymouth Guildhall. Basically here are my own personal criticisms:

All of those involved with the event were given free parking permits and the car park adjacent to the Theatre Royal car park was closed to the public; what exactly is it about councillors that means they don't have to pay for parking or can't use public transport? Why should the tax payers of Plymouth lose a days parking revenue?

Why were over 75% of successful candidates obese or morbidly obese? What example does this set to the people of Plymouth? Have these overweight politicians read the Governments change for life initiative?

Why is the Guildhall bar still a private tenure? Shouldn't the bar have be run by Plymouth City Council (PCC) for PCC taxpayers? Why are the Guildhall kitchens still out of use so that any major or minor function requires food to be brought in externally limiting the potential use of the building? Why has the newly refurbished guildhall tower not been opened up to the public?

Why did the count need copious amounts of expensive looking floral displays throughout the guildhall that, no doubt, were paid for by taxpayers?

Why is the Guildhall still not properly promoted as a a venue, it is poorly advertised on the internet, overpriced when you consider its lack of facilities and underused because of its limitations. Perhaps PCC should take some ideas from the newly refurbished Devonport Guildhall to see how a building can be fully utilised to offer the best to the community.

Anyway, I digress, back to the results; Tactical voting has also affected the general election with people cowardly voting for Cameron even though they may have actually preferred to see Nick Clegg as leader. What saddens me is that we are now stuck with an almost identical local council as we had before and we still aren't clear as to exactly who is going to govern us nationally either. It seems that already people have forgotten about the MPs expenses scandal; we have seen no criminal action against any accused MP and even in Totnes, where we saw one of the worst examples of abuse of expenses from Anthony Steen, another Conservative was elected in for the area.

In many ways I am relieved that I did not get voted in as I know that although the role of councillor is meant to be part time I, no doubt, would have attempted to change the ward overnight and would have been ploughing in way more hours that I could have coped with. I had been excited at the prospect of tidying up the ward, looking at the idea of introducing gull guards to replace the ridiculous Hessian sacks we have at present. I was even looking into the idea of a new community centre within the ward to provide more opportunities for both old and young.

So now it is back to normality and time to concentrate on both the art of dance; we will be re-applying for Community Interest Status and will be expanding into our current timetable to include some youth classes in conjunction with Neighbourhood policing as well as some specialist classes for voluptuous ladies who want to develop their self confidence and posture whilst toning up and increasing their fitness. The Pole Dance Community also requires my time; we are slowly introducing standards and guidelines into the pole dancing industry to clearly define modern fitness as an amazing way to stay physically and mentally fit..

As for Drake Ward I am afraid I expect to see little change. If our 2 current councillors, Ricketts and Fox, haven't made changes in the past I doubt they will introduce them now. Expect to see the same problems with litter and fly-tipping as we have seen over the last few years, expect the same council decisions to misspend our money and sell of our assets and don't necessarily expect to get a reply to any e-mails you send - I hope that I am proved wrong on this one but doubt that I will be.

Thanks to those of those who did vote for me and who offered me support throughout the election. Thanks again to my husband for being my election agent and to my Mum and Chris for helping me to canvass. Thanks also to David Santillo for offering me support and advice. There is of course one thing I can continue to do to support my ward and that is to continue to frequent the fabulous local real ale houses throughout Greenbank! (see previous posts for a list of pubs and links to their locations). I think I also have every reason to hassle my councillors to do their job properly!

Sam x

p.s. If you do want to know more about what I will be getting up to in the future check out my Herald blog - Pole Star Health Tsar.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Election support.

Since my blog yesterday I have received some more e-mails offering support and assuring me of more votes for May 6th. I also noticed a lovely letter of support in today's Herald from former Independent Candidate David Santillo, click here to read the letter. Thanks to David for the assurance he has provided to all the Independent candidates in this years Plymouth local election. I hope David understands how much his advice, and communication throughout the run up to the election, has been appreciated.. As this is the first time I have stood in an election I have had to learn quickly about the process of standing as well as the regulations and restrictions that accompany the role.

I must thank Mike, Ian and Tamsin from the Plymouth electoral office for putting up with my numerous phone-calls as I have checked out pre-election information and deadlines.

I also want to thank my Husband for acting as my election agent and helping me with my flyers and posters and I must thank my Mum for walking several miles with me during canvassing. Also thanks to friend Chris and his children for also helping me to deliver flyers door to door. Let's hope all our hard work pays off on Thursday and I get the chance to proudly represent Drake Ward and turn it into the beautiful, litter-free ward it deserves to be.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

More updates

I mentioned in  previous blog that a few people I had spoken to wanted to see a list of candidates standing in their area; click here for a full list of Plymouth local election candidates courtesy of the Herald.

I have just done another few hours of canvassing and seem to have picked a day when nearly everyone is out although I have met some very lovely cats! I did manage to speak to a couple of local residents who have indicated that they are going to vote for me so the walk was not completely wasted. I am shocked again by the amount of rubbish in and around local properties, some streets in Greenbank look so messy it is shameful. As a Greenbank resident I don't mind picking up the odd bit of rubbish but I do get frustrated with the amount of fly-tipping that seems to go on in the area as well as the overflowing bins I see daily. The bins at the junction of Mount Street and Armada Street have been left uncollected for over a week now and the seagulls have already started to attack the clear plastic P.C.C. bags so no doubt there will soon be rubbish strewn all over the place.

With less than a week till the election I feel confident that I have done most of work that I wanted to make my election campaign successful. I will be rounding my election campaign up on Wednesday night with a tour of a couple of the local pubs within Greenbank and any of you are welcome to join me, the aim is to have a last minute chat with local residents as well as supporting the great local, friendly pubs within the Ward. I will be commencing proceedings at the Hill Park Inn at 7.30pm then going to the Clifton for 8.15pm, the Providence for 8.45pm, the Friendship for 9.30pm and then finishing off in the Seymour Arms at 10pm (times are approximate).

Please be advised that this is not a pub crawl as such - sensible drinkers only please!! If you happen to be a fan of real ale then you can be assured that all the aforementioned pubs have an impressive selection of ales between them. (f you want to know more about real ale just visit the Camra website.)

By the end of Thursday al the votes will have been cast but we will have to wait until Friday for the results as the parliamentary count takes place first.

If any of you have any questions for me prior to the elections feel free to e-mail me

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Re-opening of Devonport Guildhall

Please feel free to read my previous posts or click here to read my personal blog about my visit to the grand re-opening of the Devonport Guildhall last night.

More news to follow very soon.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Canvassing update & Lord Mayor's Day.

With the elections fast approaching it is interesting to see the press coverage regarding the election race. I think that many people will vote tactically rather than voting for who they actually want to stand and this seems a real shame. I also hope that people can understand the difference between the national and local elections which are being  held on the same day; many people I have spoken to are confused by the new ward boundaries as well as misunderstanding which candidates are standing at local level and which are standing at parliamentary level.

One gentleman from St Budeaux did raise a valid point by stating that it would be nice to see a full list of candidates for each ward prior to the elections. I know that the Herald are running a series of articles listing such information, click here for full list of Westcountry candidates for parliament. You can also contact the council and request the lists of those standing. Here is a list of the candidates standing for Drake ward for the local council elections:

Sam Remmer - Independent
Steve Ricketts - Conservative
Michael Ellison - UKIP
John David Smith - Labour
Colin Trier - Green party
Rebecca Trimmell - Lib Dem

So far I have received a very positive response from both local residents and University students who are currently living in the area.  I have much more canvassing planned over the next week so will keep you psoted on all updates.

I also hope to blog in the next few days about the incinerator protest I attended on Monday outside the council chamber as well as my visits to some of Greenbanks hidden public house gems: The Seymour Arms, The Hill Park, The Providence, The Friendship and the Clifton.

Lord Mayor's Day 2010 & the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

Yesterday I attended the Mutley traders meeting to discuss plans for this years Lord mayors Day and the Moor View Mad Hatter's tea party. This year Lord Mayors Day will feature a walking procession from Moor View Park in Mutley, down North Hill, to Plymouth University. The porcession will have a nuaticla theme. The event will be proceeded by a visit to Mutley by the Lord Mayor who will be entertained by the University of Plymouth Thai boxing club before visiting local businesses run by sole traders on and around Mutley Plain. After the Mutley tour the lord mayor will then be invited back to Moor View park for tea and games before the start of the nautical themed processions. This looks set to be a great day for all the family and I think the colourful procession down North Hill will crest a vibrant atmosphere, it is great to see this part of the city involved with the annual event. If you want more information on Lord Mayor's Day 2010 which will be held on Saturday 22nd May just click here.

Another event taking place just outside the Drake Ward will be the Mad Hatter's tea party which will be held in Moor View Park on 12th June. I will be attending another traders meeting in conjunction with the Mutley Greenbank trust on 13th May to find out more about the tea party and to help with its organisation.

More news to follow.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Latest Canvassing News

It has taken me just 3 days (approximately 2.5 hour per day) to canvas over 75% of Drake Ward. I have been lucky enough to have the help of My Mum on  of those days and the help of my friend Chris and his 3 children today. The experience has been fascinating with me discovering streets I didn't even know existed, I have also met loads of lovely people who really care about Plymouth and Drake ward.

What has been eye-opening is the amount of rubbish around Drake ward. Here are some pictures I took last Thursday just 2 days after the bins were collected.

The picture above doesn't really show you quite how bad the lane is; these service lanes at the rear of Guildford Street in Greenbank have had problems over the last few years and residents say they are constantly phoning the council to try to resolve the problem. One resident I spoke to said she was sick of ringing the council, spending time wasted on holding systems and never actually getting the problems dealt with. I have to agree with the people who said they were sick of paying such high rates of council tax yet seeing such poor service in return from the council. Most of those I spoke to agreed that they would rather see their money spent on grass roots issues such a bins and tiding up local neighbourhoods rather than lavish projects such a the Life Centre.

Another issue that came up today which was of interest to me was the proposed incinerator for St Budeaux. From what I can gather the research into the incinerator and it's long term health effects for Plymouth's residents is not extensive enough and I, like many fear another asbestos style set of illnesses in the future as a result of the incinerator. Some of the Drake residents I spoke to do not see the incinerator as a problem for them as they do not live in St Budeaux but with the strong coastal winds that affect Plymouth this really is a problem for all of us.  We really need further research into alternative ways of dealing with our waste issues and, as I have mentioned in previous posts, we need to reduce the sources of waste as well a dealing with end waste product. A serious reduction in the packaging of retail items and a drive to ensure that manufacturers have to use recyclable packaging in their products would be a good start. Click here for the latest article on the incinerator from the thisisplymouth website.

Lastly I wanted to mention some of the wards hidden gems such as Shaftesbury cottages and Skardon Place, these small roads have some great community spirit as well as beautiful architecture. It is nice to know that despite the wards faults there is plenty that is great too.