Posted: 05.05.21 at 10:52 by Alastair McCraw
I know. It’s not the Presidency of the United States, is it? However, I’ve found thinking about things and making a plan works well, if only as a guide. It’s also meant as a guide for you, the voter and potential constituent.
What do I intend to do in the first 100 Days, if elected to SCC as the Peninsula councillor? I’m tackling this in layers.
It’s got to start with you. I strongly believe in a bottom-up approach for local government. I hear, and listen to, far more than is brought to me. That’s helped me to understand what’s happening where we live. I follow social media carefully, weighing up comments and topics. For the last 6 years, I’ve provided monthly reports for my Wards using any means I can. Facebook has also provided a useful way of getting daily and important matters out there. That doesn’t reach everywhere, but there are also regular magazines on the Peninsula from the Parishes and elsewhere. Peninsula Nub News also comes to mind, given the name. So, there will be more of that. I hope you’ll learn to tolerate my style of writing. It’s my own stuff, nobody else’s.
Parish Councils importance are something I’ve stressed. They know their own communities in ways I can’t hope to. That help should run two ways in mutual support and understanding. Attending and reporting to the PC’s is one thing, but I want the parishes to feel able to contact me, expecting and getting a prompt response. Believe me, I’ve been there (and I still am).
I will also be writing each of the Parish Councils asking for their three most immediate pressing concerns at County and their three most important longer-term problems. I don’t expect to be able to tackle them all at once, some will be duplicated, but I’ll have some broad information to start with. I can guess some, but why guess?
I’m very fortunate to represent Brantham at Babergh. The other three Peninsula District Councillors, Derek, Mary, and Jane are all people I regard as both friends and colleagues. We share a common aim to serve our Wards. We already work together and will in future. A regular forum between the four of us makes sense and I think they will see the value of this as well. There are quite a lot of County matters brought to a District Councillor as a matter of course. People don’t always make the distinction. This approach should help to speed things up a bit.
It would be very foolish of me not to approach David Wood, the retiring Councillor, for advice and information, some useful SCC contacts and maybe catch up on some outstanding issues.
As far as the County Council itself goes, I have a couple of years’ experience serving on a sub-committee there and have met many members over the years, some are also Babergh or Mid Suffolk members I know. In the same way I have a made a few officer contacts. It’s just a head start really.
I expect some form of Induction programme, although Covid may complicate things. I’ve gone through one already in 2015 as a new member at Babergh. My basic rule was ‘Go to Everything’. I’ve also found myself trying to help new councillors go through the same process in 2019, hopefully making it easier for them than I found it my first time. This won’t be such a shock to the system, but inevitably in a bigger organisation with more people there will be some challenges.
The SCC Annual Council meeting is scheduled for 27th May. Right now, we don’t even know where it will be held. Because of social distancing, a larger venue than the King Edmund Council Chamber will probably be needed. That’s going to be ‘challenging’ in itself.
Meeting other members, working out the Groups, being assigned to committees or working groups, meeting the officers of the Council, learning the ropes basically. All these things must be expected. It’s a process of building a sort of mental framework for how the organisation fits together.
Within 100 days, there will be meetings, briefings, and possibly meetings about briefings. A County Council often works more strategically than a District Council, in perhaps less of a nuts-and-bolts approach. However, Districts have strategies too. I’ve been involved heavily in scrutinising and understanding the District Corporate plan. What might seem very boring to most is something I find fascinating. This is why my friends sometimes glaze over when I try and explain. But I read and study. I learn and I write, and in writing I learn more. In some ways councillors do this stuff so you don’t have to, in case you wondered.
The part of the first 100 days I most anticipate is continuing my now 35-year exploration of the Peninsula I first discovered in 1978 as a 21 year old. I decided then and there that this was where I wanted to live one day.
It’s only 100 days. This would be a good start, even if the plan doesn’t fully survive reality. And of course, there are another 13 or 14 of those 100 days to follow.
This article is one of a series available on my Facebook and Peninsula Nub News. So far, ‘Let’s Talk About’ has covered, Water, Education, Covid Testing, Money, Being Independent, Challenges and this article, as well as my regular Parish Reports to Brantham Ward and numerous updates on a daily basis. Seek and you will find.
Alastair McCraw. Independent Candidate for Peninsula Division, SCC