Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's been happening

Let's have a look in my Council lab-book and diary and see what's been happening...

Back in February I was asked to see if the OIC could introduce a childcare vouchers scheme like other organisations, that works in the same way as the Bike to Work scheme, i.e. a proportion of salary is committed to the vouchers (or bike) and avoids tax. Winningly for the Council it also reduces the National Insurance contribution it has to make. I approached Personnel and got the very encouraging response back that it was something they would consider and try to progress, but that it wouldn't be happening before June.

About the same time I had a meeting with Iain Ballantine, rector of KGS. Iain had read my previous blog that expressed concern about the school results, so we met and compared our sets of statistics. I was reassured by what I learnt, as the trends over the last years have generally been upwards, and KGS performs well for most measures with respect to comparable schools. Significantly Stromness Academy is not one of these, and comparing KGS with Stromness directly can be seen to be flawed when it is apparent that KGS has the entire Orkney Secondary intake of pupils with special needs in year 4, and that the size of the roll in year 4 is used as the baseline for all the percentages in years 5 and 6. Nonetheless last year's Higher results for KGS were against the upward trend and particularly disappointing- this has been recognised and is hopefully being addressed successfully.

The General Meeting on the 26th February was nerve-racking for me as I had to stand up and speak to two motions, one requesting postponement of the Northlink photo ID cards requirement, and the other speaking in favour of retaining the Christmas Bonus in some form and asking for the recommendation to scrap it be overturned in favour of further consideration. Happily both were passed, and the Christmas Bonus consideration will hopefully look at better targetting towards those who need it most (as opposed to means-testing), how this can address fuel poverty, and indeed how much it should be. I'll have more to say (or ask) about Northlink ID cards in another blog.

All Kirkwall councillors were asked along to a Roads and Transportation Working Group, and many things were flagged for consideration and added to the to-do list, viz:
  • car parking at the old bus station
  • LIDL junction
  • 20mph zone around Papdale Primary
  • traffic calming and parking in Thom St/White St/Willows area
  • bus stop and possible crossing on Palace Road
  • counteracting speeding on Palace Road, Berstane Road and East Road
  • consideration of parking permits

What becomes of these, time will tell... The 20 mph zone around Papdale Primary should be fairly imminent though.

I'll sign off with an apology- a group of Papdale pupils wrote to me at the end of January with a plea for a flat area of grass to play football on after school hours, and I haven't managed to do anything about this yet. I have a lot of sympathy for this, as I spent most of my youth playing football (badly) at Broadsands Road, and it breaks my heart to see that this is a No Ball Games area now. I must write to my councillors.

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