Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Tonight's policy and resources committee meeting

Tonight's meeting of the parish council's Policy & Resources Committee was an odd one. It seemed to veer off topic every few minutes which made it a long night!

Some parents came with a couple of young children to talk about the park at Beckbury Drive in public open session. Telford & Wrekin Council said they were going to close the park unless the parish council took it on and they were keen to prevent that happening. The stars of public open session were the children who made it very clear how much they valued the park, the freedom it gives them and how well used it is by children from all over the parish. They were very well spoken and not at all nervous.

We of course agreed to take over the park to make sure it stays open and some parents have agreed to help maintain it. The borough council is going to pay the parish council for three years of running costs. This makes me slightly suspicious about the borough council's motives if they can afford to continue paying the running costs for three years but I am naturally cynical about such things.

I made my concerns known about the amount of things the parish council are taking over from the borough council. We took over responsibility for Brindleyford park because the borough council was going to close it. We took over the Sambrook Centre because the borough council was going to knock it down. We took over the library because the borough council was going to close it and we took over Brookside Central because the borough council was going to close that less than two years after spending millions practically rebuilding it. Now we're taking over Beckbury Drive park because the borough council is going to close it. If the borough council decides to drastically cut the grant the parish council gets - or worse, stop it altogether as many other local authorities have done - then the parish council will have to cut services whilst the borough council can pretend it was nothing to do with them.

A draft policy on Trans Inclusion was tabled for consideration. I'm not sure anyone else had read it before the meeting but I did and I took some expert advice from the UKIP LGBT* group. The draft policy was written for schools (it still had references to school uniforms in it) and can be summed up as "we won't break the law". The parish council already has an equality & diversity policy which specifically mentions transgender and says we won't break the law. I suggested that the policy was unnecessary and added no value as it just repeated what our equality & diversity policy says and this was unanimously agreed. It also claimed that the Equalities Act requires gender neutral toilets to be made available in any public service but this is not true.

We agreed to replace the doors inside the Sambrook Centre with disabled-friendly doors that can be opened with the push of a button. I have asked that a hearing loop is installed in the main part of the building if there is enough money left in the budget. The Little Theatre in Donnington has a fantastic loop that covers the whole auditorium, the lobby and the stage and it would be nice to have a similar facility for users of the Sambrook Centre.