As the new Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, I hope to build upon the excellent work of my predecessor Colin Lloyd. He has decided to stand down after over 20 years on the Borough Council having made a major and positive contribution to its work in that time.
Taking over a very wide portfolio is a challenging prospect but I bring a lifelong knowledge and love of the town as well as a deep commitment to the principles of environmental sustainability.In my first few weeks, I have been trying to get up to speed on various projects such as the new cemetery as well as the council’s ambitions to work even more efficiently in routine but very important tasks such as grass cutting. As a keen gardener myself, I know how fast grass can grow during May and early June -; particularly when there is both plenty of rain as well as sunshine. I also know that wildflowers are at their most abundant and attractive at this time of year: residents will be aware that substantial areas have been left uncut deliberately for this reason.
The fast grass growth has been a challenge recently but the dedicated staff have been working hard to keep up to the schedule -; and this includes working on Saturdays. We are currently piloting a different way of working in future years called ‘patchworking’ in specific areas: this should have the benefit of reducing wasteful machinery travelling-time across the town. It includes not only grass cutting but also shrub maintenance and litter-picking as well as more effective communication with residents. I am also focussing on flytipping, flyposting and abandoned shopping trolleys. I would recommend the ‘Tell Us’ section of the borough council website as an effective way to contact the council about these issues.
All this work has to be completed within current and extremely tight budgets; political opponents who criticise also tend to have a budget-cutting agenda which will inevitably mean reducing the existing standard of the service.
Finally, as a supporter of ‘Remain’ in the Referendum, this is why I will be voting to stay in the EU.
There is strength in numbers, whether in trade, jobs, security and borders, that leaving will never achieve. Leaving would be a leap in the dark, in both economic and political terms. European union has kept the peace in a continent long damaged by war and tyranny; let’s keep it that way. It is better to be inside helping make the rules than outside having to submit to them. Don’t put the unity of our country at risk by pushing Scotland towards the exit door. Think about the consequences in both halves of Ireland.
As my Labour Party membership card says: ‘by the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone’.
Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability