Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grey Sky Thinking

No, I don't just fart about going to music festivals (if only). Though the absence of updates could indeed signify laziness, busyness or death. In this case it is busyness- the twin demands of The Cooncil and my beloved Orkneycommunities would tax the time management of J Arthur Filofax himself.

Since the last post half a cycle of Council meetings has taken place, as detailed below. At Education, one of the main topics was the Service Level Agreement for Picky Centre, which will (finally) enshrine a contractual arrangement and definition of responsibilities between the Council and Pickaquoy Centre Trust. This was in draft, and the version for approval will be presented at a seminar on October 1. Note that as this is a seminar no decision can be made, as this would be beyond its powers (or ultra vires, for my readers from Latin America, as George W Bush might say).

Seminars have been the order of the day, almost every day recently: Housing and Homelessness on Tuesday 11th; Investment Policy for Oil Reserves on Wednesday 12th; and all day Monday and Tuesday morning this week was dedicated to determining the Council's political and/or Strategic priorities.

The latter aspired to Blue Sky Thinking, but the harsh financial realities looming over the OIC restricted this to more pragmatic issues to be addressed, and bigger problems or ambitions to be borne in mind at the same time. Essentially it will end up as wish lists from the various committees organised into a smaller number of themes or aspirations that the Council will seek to live up to. As communication is a hot topic for a lot of the current councillors, getting the message across and spelling out how we are getting on will be an ongoing task.

And there's more: a special meeting of the Council last Friday to approve the STAG submission for our transport aspirations; presentation from Fairwind Statkraft tomorrow; and a Design Awareness Training session on Friday related to Planning - sounds interesting. The week after is similarly packed, with a P&R meeting in the middle.

Constituency representations have focussed on e.g. speeding on Berstane Road, progress with Traffic Orders, Main Street and Victoria Street flooding and blocked sewers, Weyland Terrace one-way system, and more, much more. Within Kirkwall East the 4 councillors are getting better at working together as a group, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.

There will be divisive issues, and the school location is potentially one- I think it is fair to say that not all my Kirkwall East colleagues favour Papdale as much as I do (and all the people who have approached me to agree, and the Kirkwall Community Council, and most of the staff...). The results of the consultation will be presented at a seminar on 10th October, along with other information of a more technical nature, and responses to questions from councillors, which I believe have just come from myself and Jack Moodie. The Department hopes that a consensus on a site will be achieved, so that the detailed business case for that site can be then be developed. I will as ever make the Papdale case strongly, but have misgivings that this seminar may result in a de facto decison of the council which is beyond its powers, and also in camera. I'll be seeking reassurance on this before it takes place.

I did enjoy my music festival by the way- it was great, and raised £3546 for the project in Nepal and also donated £500 to local Moray Firth charities. Next year's dates are 12th and 13th September- it's better than T in the Park: see http://tinyurl.com/3xlc2o