I started the week at the Economic and Environmental Well-being Scrutiny Committee where we discussed the council’s five-year economic strategy for the district, during which we heard evidence from the latest annual report for 2018/19. The committee’s discussions form an integral part of local government accountability, and was a useful opportunity to raise the interests of people across the ward about the delivery of the plan, and I was very glad to be able to participate in this crucial discussion with other members.
On Tuesday morning, I attended the Bishop’s breakfast at Wakefield Cathedral; an important hub for people across Wakefield who contribute to public life. It was a pleasure in particular to discuss the role of the famous blue plaques in raising awareness of the contributions of notable people in our history and of encouraging us all to look to the past as a way of understanding the present. I am therefore backing the roll-out of a greater number of these plaques to recognise the true diversity of Wakefield’s people, and especially to commemorate the contributions of noteworthy women. As things stand, there is currently only one such plaque, in York Street, which celebrates Dame Barbara Hepworth, however I am hopeful that we can see more of these popping up across Wakefield in the coming years.
The full council meeting on Wednesday, as ever, was an important highlight of the council calendar and the most prominent opportunity for councillors to raise the priorities of residents in their wards. At this meeting, I took the opportunity to speak about the 47 year wait endured by one resident in my ward to have the road in front of his house repaired, and my own frustrations at the fact that after such a long wait he sadly did not live to see the repair carried out. I made several other contributions over the course of the meeting to debates on the budget, poverty relief, devolution and the impact of HS2 and I will continue to apply pressure to the council to improve its transparency and accountability on these important issues.
On Friday, I attended the PennyAppeal’s 10-year anniversary dinner at Cedar Court Hotel. It was a real honour to be in the company of so many impressive charitable people and to hear about the fantastic impact that this campaign has had over the last decade. Sadly the timing of the event, just a week after the atrocities in Christchurch, was also an all-too-real reminder of the dangerous outcomes f divisions in our society and it served as an important occasion to come together in commemoration of the victims and for all to pay their respects.
I ended the week campaigning in Horbury and Ossett with Cllr Maragret Holwell and a group of volunteers, during which we spoke to residents about their concerns in the local area. Unsurprisingly, the ongoing deliberations in Westminster over the path of Brexit sat heavily in people’s priorities however it was useful to also have these conversations about the many pressing issues which need to be addressed locally.