Sunday, August 21, 2005

Full Ironman in South Somerset and Dorset

This morning I was at the start of the UK's Full Ironman event. One of 23 Ironman around the world 1500 competitors swam, cycled and ran from Sherborne Castle to Dorchester and to Yeovil and beyond.

The commitment and fitness to just do one Ironman Triathlon is beyond my comprehension but for one of the competitors to be competing in their 59th is just astonishing.

We are very fortunate to be on the world stage with this event and when I left after the swim segment the beautiful weather was looking to build up to quite a temperature, a possible problem for some competitors. I expect they were happier with that than with the mist that delayed the start for 2 hours as it hung over Sherborne Castle and its surroundings.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Green Flag Award and Civic Trust

10 days ago I was fortunate to go to Swansea's Brangwyn Hall together with the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture and 2 of our Countryside Rangers to pick up 2 Green Flag awards for Excellent Open Spaces - Ham Hill and Yeovil Country Park were both awarded the prestigious award at the first time of entering which is a great achievement.

Whatever building development is needed to enhance the competitiveness and viability of locales such as Yeovil there must be a continuing balance with sustaining the access to green spaces and the development of easily reachable natural, relaxing areas. Research cited at the award ceremony indicated that unless there is green space was within 5 minutes easy travel then people do not bother to go to it, and miss out on essential release and relaxation.

The awards are sponsored by the Civic Trust, a national organisation that also works with excellent civic design, urban regeneration and has assisted in the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative so important to the balanced development of South Somerset. I met today with Paul Davies of Civic Trust and look forward to exploring how we might work together.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Peer Mentors

Attended the peer mentor accreditation day for the I&DeA on Wednesday. The whole idea of supporting councillors and officers in their normal work environment through mentoring, coaching, peer assessment and training / education seems like an excellent plan. Wide range of attendees from the main parties.

District Executive approved budget for presentation to Full Council. Two changes - we removed the proposal to charge for rat infestation (after consultation with the Leader of Worthing Lib Dems it seems like a bad plan, especially as the officers really did not want to carry it through any more. Second change is to car park charges - need to confirm the rates, times and durations before the budget is complete. At a planned 3% we are at the low end of rises by the look of it, with a sizable number aiming for 5% or just below. I prefer to protect the many from an inequitable tax and move the funding burden towards a 'user pays' model, thus the car park charges instead of higher Council Tax.

On Friday attended the launch of a CD advertising and making accessible data on Somerset as a location for business. We need to do even more in SSDC to promote business through our Area structure - perhaps assess the potential employer types who would benefit from the sites / premises we have available and then target them....

Libera has launched wimax (802.16) wide area wireless high speed broadband in Bristol. If SSDC can find a suitable partner its likely that only 2 or 3 transmitter / receivers positioned on the A303 would cover the whole District making very high speed data, voice and video a reality.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

School mentors

I visited Westfield School in Yeovil on Thursday to present certificates to Year 11 Mentors. This seems to be an excellent scheme where older pupils work with younger ones on a personal or self organised group basis to support them, particularly with respect to bullying and similar circumstances.

The assembly was full. Paul Rose, the Year 7 year group leader, has been one of the leading lights in the Gifted and Talented groups which have done such fabulous work on Ham Hill over the years. He never seems to stop working.

I was really pleased to make the awards for 2 reasons. First I am a mentor with the Princes' Trust and have seen from that experience how just a little support from another person who is NOT judgmental can help someone beginning a new business of their own. But secondly my son's experience at St Christopher School in Letchworth was dramatic - when he transferred to St Christopher I met with the Head Teacher and discussed issues such as bullying, to be met with the reponse that ' the students do not allow bullying', and that self management for the overall good was a key feature of the excellent environment at the school that helped my son become much more confident, outgoing, and developed friendships that will persist.

I mentioned the St Christopher's Head's comments at Westfield and both Paul and I noticed quite a strong reaction around the room. He will follow up in discussions with the pupils and I will be interested to see the outcome.

Monday, January 24, 2005

now its a routine

This is the second of my entries, and hopefully this will become a routine - every week I hope to deliver some useful information about the District Council and its activities and also occasional comments about the world at large from my point of view.

Over the weekend of January 22nd and 23rd I attended the last of the 4 modules of the IDEA Leadership Academy. Pretty much all of the group turned up in Edinburgh for a couple of cold days in January - they must find it as useful as I do.

Scottish Parliament

The most interesting session for me was a visit to the new Scottish Parliament building which is a spectacular edifice. We went to discuss the Petitions Panel, where any individual can raise an issue that concerns them about pretty much any aspect of services and policies in Scotland. The process seems to be both very accessible through the Petitions Office or directly into a discussion group on the Net; petitioners are heard by a panel of MSPs and there have been enough successes for the process to have great validity.

I can't help thinking something of this type would be useful in the English system. Perhaps the Regional Assembly could offer this wide ranging public legitimacy as well as its forum responsibility. I will be getting in touch with the SWRA to discuss.