Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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A week in the life of a Lib Dem Councillor – Part 2

by Ian Shires on 14 September, 2018

So, where did I get to? Oh yes, Part 1 took us up to close of play Wednesday. Now what of the rest of the week…..

Well this morning was mostly taken up with home calls to see fist hand issues that were of concern in the area. Got down to the Council House in Walsall for just gone 11.30 am in time for a meeting with officers to go over the actions agreed at Wednesday’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee and prepare for a Work Group I chair looking into ways of improving standards in the private rented sector.

Thursday afternoon was taken up with preparation for the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee due to start at 6.00 pm. I also took time out to check on some questions from parents on Secondary School Admissions for 2019 followed by some research in preparation for Monday’s meeting of the Full Council.

On the Agenda at the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee tonight we have: Hospital Services and Community Care, there is a report about the progress of a review that is in progress on the sustainability of these services.  This will be followed by another review, this time on Transforming Care for adults and Children with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism across the Black Country. Next is an update for the committee members in outpatient services following up on points raised by the committee back in April this year. the final item on the Agenda is a progress report on changes to the Stroke Services in Walsall.

So it’s now Friday and it’s off once again the Birmingham Council House for the West Midlands Combined Authority Board meeting chaired by the Metro Mayor. This is high level strategic stuff across the seven West Midlands Councils, Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. High level it might be but what it does has a direct effect on each and everyone of us.

It only came into its own in May 2017 so in some respects it is still evolving which is very evident from the first two items for debate. The first, and perhaps most contentious was around the transfer of the Police and Crime Commissioner functions to the Combined Authority through the Mayor’s Office. There was a debate on this at the Board Meeting in July which got quite acrimonious and split down Party Lines as the Labour Leaders felt that it was being filibustered through by the Tory Mayor and Tory Leaders.

Tempers had calmed down since then, and today the Board were being asked to note the progress of the Governance Review (In plain English, who would do what and how once its been decided). There would be a further report in November following consultation with each of the seven Councils and the Police Crime Commissioner. The Chair of Scrutiny on the Combined Authority (I’m one of two Vice Chairs), mad the point that Scrutiny Committee should be able to debate and comment before the next Board meeting in November. This was accepted.

The second item for debate was similar but far less contentious in that it was about the Governance of the West Midlands Fire Service. There were other items for debate around the Financial position and the funding for the Growth Programme along with an initiative across the West Midlands to tackle homelessness.

Last but not least there was a lengthy debate around the Congestion Management plan which I will get more details on at a later date. Suffice it to say at this point I had noticed that on the charts showing the delivery of a number of transport initiative between now and 2026 the new train stations at Willenhall and Darlaston were not shown. I was given assurances that this had been an omission on the documents for the meeting and they are included in the glossy hard copy which will be available for the public. I have since seen that this is so and that they are planned to be delivered in late 2021.

It’s now time for the Group meeting for Monday’s Full Council.  The end ……….

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