Last Tuesday I was glad to attend a briefing with the council’s outsourcing service provider, Engie, which looks after the maintenance, grounds-keeping and catering for our local authority maintained schools. At the meeting I was able to raise several ongoing complaints that I have been aware of in two of my local schools, however it was a productive opportunity to secure some helpful commitments from the supplier to ensure that our schools receive the full support they need. I am glad to say that since the meeting, Engie has taken up my suggestion to visit the schools in question and I am hopeful that this will translate into the improvements they requested.

Later in the week, I was delighted to be elected as an Honorary Officer of Wakefield Business Improvement District Wakefield BID As a business-owner in the city centre, I appreciate the work it does to support and promote our city centre making a great contribution to the life of our city and its urban core. I am looking forward to getting started in the role which I am sure will support my work as a councilor to generate new opportunities for businesses, employees and shoppers alike.

Over the course of the last week, I have also been disappointed to read two similar stories in the Wakefield Express about the council’s failure to get a grip of the problem of aggressive begging in the streets of Wakefield, especially given the revelations made by Inspector Brear that the majority of beggars and street drinkers in the city are not in fact homeless. People have a right to be able to go about their business without being harassed or intimidated by others and it is particularly frustrating to read about people abusing the generosity of others. It’s time that the council followed the evidence and the calls by police to introduce new Public Spaces Protection Orders to give the police the powers they need to clamp down on this sort of anti-social behaviour.

Finally, I was out on the campaign trail over the weekend and visited a number of areas where we are fighting to win seats in the upcoming local elections in May. We had some absolutely stunning weather and some really encouraging conversations with people in many different parts of Wakefield and it was great to have such an enthusiastic team joining me and volunteering their time.

It was a pleasure to bump into the Chair of the Friends of West Bretton School whilst out and about and to catch up with her about a number of initiatives to raise additional funds for the school. I am a great supporter of the role of PTAs and “Friends of” groups to include the community in the decision-making process of our schools and I am glad to be able to support the work of people like Sarah to do the best for their schools and the children they teach.