Journal: Don Burford

Reflective Journal - November 2015

It has been a busy month with exposure to many and diverse areas of public and civic office.

Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel Meeting - 3 November

This was a full agenda with Councillor Hall as chair and all the other members of the respective committees present.

Cutbacks to community services and increases in digitalisation were a concern to the board and it was agreed that a full increase and expenditure strategy was required to provide justification for public versus private contracted services in the community. The shared services agenda would need to be fully scrutinized for any prospective partnership present or future.

It was also decided that recommendation to the Mayor and Cabinet would require the overall Community Strategic Policy to be re-written and a new budget review document presented for public consultation. This seemed to be a good example of the committee focusing on establishing value for money in the funding of public and community projects.

University Hospital Lewisham Visit and Tour - 10 November

This was a very enjoyable and well organised visit. It began with a welcome and introduction by Alicia and Julie from HR and Communications Executive who then led us to the meeting room for the Lewisham and Greenwich Health Committee Board meeting. The main topics of interest were:

There seemed to be a shortage of UK trained nurses being recruited into Lewisham NHS and this had resulted in the need to recruit a large number of nurses from overseas, mainly the Philipines. At present a cohort of 20 nurses are registered at a time to cope with the arrangements for housing. These are highly qualified nurses and are actively encouraged to travel to the UK to further their experience. There is now a programme to actively recruit home grown UK nurses to fill future vacancies.

There was also a very interesting presentation on Dementia care in the community and the use dementia buddies and a drop in centre for patients and carers who needed it. However, in my opinion this only served to address accute conditions and was not very well advertised in the wider community.
After lunch, there was a tour of the hospital A&E and Children's wards given by Alicia and Julie which was very interesting and informative too. The Q&A at the end of the tour was very stimulating and it was suggested that a few colleagues provide a report of our visit for feedback and promotion and this was fed back to Merlene also.

Mayor and Cabinet Board Meeting - 11 November

This was a lively meeting and contained some very contentiuos and emotive issues, particularly those arising from the SSCSC meeting regarding the closure of a number of community centres which was to be ratified by the Board.

There were representations to the Mayor from all the interested groups for final consideration and these were well directed and passionate. It was clear that many feared a negative impact on their communities and an adverse affect on long established and hard fought social cohesion and spirit.

The board appeared to be sensitive and sympathetic to some of the concerns raised and decided to include several conditions to the final decisions that were ratified. However, it seemed that some of the council members supporting the proposals were not so sympathetic, but at least some evidence of a democratic process was being seen to be performed although an initial wider consultation with the communities in a number of cases would have further enhanced the process.

Bromley and Lewisham Mind AGM - 12 November

This was a well attended meeting and started with the re-appointment of previously elected officers to the board by the deputy Mayor of Bromley. This is a public and privately funded organisation with many dedicated officers and volunteers providing a valuable service to the community.

Over 15,000 people in Bromley and Lewisham use the services provided by Mind and have a number of sub groups providing specific care in the community.

There were two excellent presentations given by Dr Waal from the Netherlands and two volunteers from Mind Kit, an inspirational centre for young people (between 14 and 25yrs) with mental health and emotional conditions.

It seemed very clear that early intervention is critical in achieving the best recovery and outcomes, but other sub groups services such as Mind Care also provide valuable care for advanced dementia patients too.

Bromley Magistrates Court - 17 November

This was a very enjoyable and informative day. We were met by the court clerk and given a brief introduction of court processes and procedures. We then observed a full day of cases which were varied in nature and severity. The tariff for convictions was well structured and it was easy to see the consistency of judgment being dispensed based on the severity, previous convictions and decision to plead guilty at the first opportunity.

There was a very informative feedback session at the of court proceedings and it was reflected how one very lucky young man found himself initially in the dock then removed to the prison cells and then back in the dock and finally allowed to walk free (following a very strong reprimand and warning and fine) all in one day! This was a great example of pragmatic justice in action!

Christ the King 6th Form College - Governors Meeting - 18 November

The governor's meeting was to review the financial accounts and budget for the college. The auditors were invited to present their report which was very favourable, recording a surplus of funds. Following their departure the auditors were themselves assessed as part of an annual review and this was found to be favourable also.

There was some concern that the amount budgeted may need to be revised in light of the government's comprehensive review which was due to be announced, but the college were very optimistic that a full and diverse curriculum could be offered to the students in the future.

Lewisham Full Council Meeting - 25 November

This was potentially a very long agenda, but was reduced by the number of absentees of public representatives at the meeting. However, it was a very enjoyable and inspiring to see the hand over from the outgoing Young Mayor of Lewisham (who also gave a very impressive account of his year in office) to the newly appointed Young Mayor and deputy.

The meeting was very well chaired and representations from council members were very relevant and important regarding public issues in the community.

This month has flown by very quickly with exposure to many diverse civic and public areas in the community and very much looking forward to the remaining meetings some of which have already secured specific interest in.