Journal: Surinder Miah

Journal 1

Catford South Assembly: 14th October

I recently attended the Catford South Assembly meeting and it was a blast. It was probably the best local area meeting I've been to. Here's my top 3 highlights from the night:

  • There's a ton of interesting events in the area! 15 local community groups pitched their idea to gain funding for their community events. I can't wait to start attending some of these.
  • The local council does a good job at engaging its residents: The residents got to vote and decide which groups would be funded.
  • It was a full house. About 70 people attended. All ages and backgrounds and everyone was there to listen and take part. It was humbling to see so many people interested in Catford South.

Local Council Surgery: 24th October

For the first time since living in Catford I visited the council's local surgery sessions, both as a resident (wanting to test out what's on offer) and as an observer as part of OBV. So what did I see..?

I turned up at 11am at the beginning of the session and was escorted in to what looked like a doctor's office, though in Torridon Road Library. Firstly I was pleasantly surprised this was a private session, I expected to meet the councillor in a large room with many other local residents each voicing their concerns, complaints etc. Not the case, I had the local councillor to myself to talk about whatever I wanted to.

As things went, I wanted to get my councillor's opinion on recycling and the proposed change in services at our local libraries. I have to say my local councillor was a great listener and an even better source of knowledge. Whilst I didn't leave as a resident with a solution, (partly because my suggestions cost money, of which my local council doesn't seem to have much), I did leave with a wealth of knowledge about the local area and how budgets are set between central government and local councils.

As an observer, I sat in the lobby and was surprised that only 2 residents turned up. My local councillor had said that not many people typically attend these sessions. Perhaps the local residents don't know they have a resource to talk to, or perhaps they don't know that Councillor Alan Smith of Catford South Ward is a great listener, very approachable and above all has a wealth of knowledge in the area which is super interesting.

I left the surgery session on a high, feeling like I was part of a community. I also left knowing a lot more than I did about Catford, the Borough of Lewisham, and current issues Councillors are dealing with. I now have a much better idea of what a Councillor is and does and have a lot of respect and appreciation for them.