Saturday, 28 May 2011

Leaders Week

When I was elected to the role of Labour Group Leader at North West Leicestershire District Council just over a week ago one of the things I said I was going to do was seek to make my position transparent to my party and the general public.

As a result I said I would regularly summarise my activities, as far as possible on a weekly basis, and publish them to this blog.

So here goes...

In the past week I have:
  • Following group AGM submitted (with Deputy Leader) group officer paperwork to Officers.
  • Held an introductory meeting, via telephone, with Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Blunt.
  • Held an introductory briefing with Chief Executive, Ms Christine Fisher.
  • Over the weekend worked with Group Whip on finalising nominations to external community bodies (for approval at Council).
  • Also over the weekend finalised Labour Group shadow cabinet for the forthcoming year.
  • Attended evening Labour Group and Council AGM.
  • Attended evening Standards & Code of Conduct training for members.
  • Arranged briefings for shadow cabinet members from officers.
  • Assisted local people with casework including holding a meeting with officers to discuss the (re)establishment of Woodside Residents Association.
I have no doubt that this week was not usual being more about administration rather than the community work of a councillor, however, as the term beds down I'm sure much more of that will come along.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

A blast from the past

Yesterday I was doing some tidying up down at my mums bungalow. As I was putting some paperwork into the desk I found one of my grandad, Walter Johnon's, election addresses from 1970.

At that point Walter had been a long-serving member of Coalville Urban District Council. I believe that this address was issued when campaigning for what was his last term in office.




Saturday, 21 May 2011

It's been a very busy week

I just realised it's nearly a week since I posted an entry on my blog, very unlike me, however it's been a very busy week.

Aside from regular parenting duties it's been very busy with casework  in Thringstone ward. This week alone I've been liaising with officers and councillors on issues as varied as public waste bins and road safety through to investigating the possibilities of establishing tenants associations and credit unions. It's only two weeks since the elections but I'm hoping to move forward on these issues in the coming weeks and months.

We also had the inaugural meeting of Whitwick Parish Council. Understandably much of that first meeting was about housekeeping and the handover from the idea stage to what is now a fully fledged council.

The refreshing point however is that everybody is very optimistic. Councillors have a real desire to work for the village and that many were sat in the public seating area reflects that that view is shared amongst local people. I believe that the parish council will really be a positive benefit to the residents of Whitwick in the coming years.

Perhaps most notably I was very honored to be elected as Leader of the Labour Group at the District Council on Thursday night.

Following the local election Labour now have the strength to be a serious opposition to the Conservative administration for the benefit of local people. We can scrutinise and challenge the Tories when it is necessary but we can also influence and work with them for the better good of the district.

It's going to be a big role in these tough economic times but with the support of a team of dedicated and professional councillors working with me we really can Labour to the next level and make North West Leicestershire a better place to live.

Now, I have a scarecrow to make (more on this later)...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Meeting up with our local beat officer

Today I along with my fellow Labour Councillors Dave Everitt and Ray Woodward went to Thringstone Green to meet up with PC James Broomfield, our local beat officer for Thringstone.

James conducts regular beat surgeries in prominent locations within the area where local people can meet up with him to discuss concerns about crime, anti-social behaviour and other police matters within the village.

Normally James has the use of a 'mobile office', i.e. a van! But unfortunately today it was off the road and so we had to make the most of sitting in the back of a police car - my first time, honest!

In any event James was able to appraise us of current police issues in and around Thringstone, most notably a spate of fires in Grace Dieu woods, and provide reassurance that action was being taken to catch, educate and where appropriate take enforcement action against the culprits.

Clearly these fires are being set by young people who predominantly need to understand the actual and possible implications of their actions.

It's clear that the Police are working with partner agencies, ie. Fire Service and Local Authorities to prevent further incidents which are both dangerous and a costly burden on local taxpayers.

James is always happy to meet up with local people, and if you don't encounter him when he is out on the beat you can always visit one of the upcoming surgeries.

The next scheduled surgeries for Thringstone are:

July 17th from 3.00pm to 4.00pm on The Green

September 14th from 3.00pm to 4.00pm on The Green

November 3rd from 3.00pm to 4.00pm on The Green

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Stepping back in time

25 years ago the BBC decided to undertake a new Domesday project, a survey for modern times to give a snapshot of life in Britain.

Contributions were made largely by schoolchildren in a mix of written testimonies and a few photographs (remember no digital cameras back then).

Once data was submitted it was then saved digitally to state of the art laser discs for future use.

Unfortunately laser discs then became obsolete and nothing could be done with them. The data had become useless. Until now....

The BBC have now managed to access the data and have uploaded it to the internet, and it's wonderful.

Times have changed, I guess noone even only 25 years ago would have foreseen digital cameras, GPS, mobile phones and particularly the world wide web, and as a result the contributions appear dated BUT they still have a sparkling resonance.

Unfortunately, it appears no data was ever collected for Thringstone or Whitwick but there is plenty of information for Coalville and other surrounding areas.

I particularly love the article on Shepshed's local language (it evokes memories of my grandparents) and in the Coalville block 'Deborah Allen's School Day' (I must have been about the same age).

On a serious note many of the concerns expressed and images written in words are still prevalent.

They paint a picture how in some ways our towns and villages are much better and yet in other ways we are so much worse off.

Take a look at the Coalville block article about The Broadway Shopping Centre and the wide range of shops available. Take a look at The Belvoir Centre today. You'll see what I mean.

We need to do so much more to carrying on the improvements whilst addressing the deteriorations.

If you want to take a look at the website (and It's well worth it) visit www.bbc.co.uk/domesday

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Contact Details

A key tenet of Labours election campaign was that we would be councillors representing all of our voters not just at election time but throughout the entire period of our four year terms.

We said that we would publish contact details where you could reach us at any reasonable time.

For me this is more than just having our details on a council website but proactively getting this information out to you through a variety of sources should you need to get in touch in a hurry.

My details are:

Telephone: 07828 194768 (please no later than 10.00pm)

E-mail: leon.spence@btinternet.com (this may change once a NWLDC e-mail has been set up)

Please be assured whenever you contact me and I act on your behalf I will keep you informed how your case is progressing.

Friday, 6 May 2011

District Election Results - A reflection...

As I sit here typing I've been reflecting on the past 36 hours.

36 hours of 'getting out the vote', standing outstide polling stations, bacon sandwiches in the middle of the night, waiting, elation and commiseration.

The cold hard facts are that I along with my Labour Party colleague Dave Everitt were elected as District Councillors for Thringstone.

Labour increased our total number of seats on North West Leicestershire District Council from 5 to 16, taking 6 seats from the Conservatives, 2 BNP, 2 Liberal Democrat and 1 Independent.

The Tories still have a narrow overall majority, but the voters of North West Leicestershire have shown their trust in Labour by allowing us to create a strong and effective opposition. Challenging and scrutinising the administration where necessary and working with them in developing a better district.

The past 36 hours, however, have been a great deal more than cold hard facts.

There has been some wonderfully funny moments - just one example:

Yesterday whilst standing outside a polling station, rosette on lapel, it brought a smile to my face when a voter started shouting at me in all sorts of colourful language saying he would 'never ******* vote Labour', only to come out a moment later to say that he wasn't on the '******* electoral register, do you have any suggestions'???? I did think of one, but kept it to myself...

There was sadness in trying to commiserate friends and colleagues. Potentially outstanding councillors who had worked tirelessly in election campaigns only to be pipped at the post in alarmingly close circumstances. I hope with all my heart they will be back to try again.

There was genuine emotion in saying farewell to some dedicated and experienced councillors of different political parties, not least our own Felix Fenning (and maybe a wry smile at the departure of one or two).

And of course there was elation as name after name was called out for us...

Labour has put forward a team of truly dedicated candidates with an imaginative and realistic agenda for the next four years.

Dave and I fervently hope we can now contribute to forming a positive opposition for the benefit of all residents of Thringstone and North West Leicestershire.

Thank you to those who voted for us, and even if you did not we will try to represent you with honesty and integrity to the best of our ability.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Local Elections Tomorrow - 5th May

After many months of campaigning and canvassing election day is nearly with us and so a final few jottings before I spend the next two days on the final push to get elected.

Proposed Hustings

First up unfortunately tonights proposed hustings event hasn't proved possible.

I did hear from one of the Conservative candidates who to his credit expressed an interest in attending. Unfortunately, and after much deliberation, he felt he would not be able to attend as he was extremely busy with campaigning. Whilst it is disappointing that the Conservatives felt that they could not take part all candidates must campaign as they think best and I would like to thank the Conservative candidates for at least considering the idea.

I have heard nothing from the Liberal Democrat candidates.

Polling Day

Don't forget to vote, and vote early, tomorrow.

Shown below is our 'Get Out The Vote' card. It's self explanatory and if you need a lift to your polling station please don't hesitate to call us.




And Finally...

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my blog over the past few months. Hopefully you have found it informative in setting out Labour's promises should we be fortunate enough to be elected (and not too boring).

If you have have any questions on our views which you need clarifying before the election please don't hesitate to leave a comment or e-mail me directly at leon.spence@btinternet.com . I will aim to get back to you straight away.

Irrespective of whether you have voted Labour in the past both Dave Everitt and myself are passionate about our village. We will aim to be the best possible advocates for Thringstone.

Go on, give us a try...