So the Communities and Local Government Committee is to visit Sunderland on Monday 9th July.My first thought is to ask why they picked Sunderland? Perhaps they've visited the Sunderland City website http://www.sunderland.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6920 which has the following gems:-
Councillors have also been involved in the development of the city's economic masterplan and the potential for communities to benefit from this.
There's a plan???
Would that include ideas over what to do with the huge Vaux site that's been in dispute for years - which is finally being "redeveloped" as a car park, after various ideas such as leisure facilities, supermarkets, hotels etc. have not yet materialised?
Would that include allocating vast sums of money to an iconic bridge, far more expensive than a simple design, rather than using the money for social care, mending roads or even supplies of salt for our roads in winter?
Would that include such expensive follies such as the Ambit sculpture which broke, the "million pound fountain" on the Seafront which is now an expensive plant pot, or the bus station that was the wrong shape for buses (some of us have long memories)?
Would that include the metro that stops halfway to Washington/Doxford/anywhere. South Hylton is nice but it isn't the hub of industry that some of us might dream of?
In Sunderland, the drive to devolve services to a more local level is continuing with the introduction of new 'place' and people' area boards.
As in a pinboard. Or a whiteboard ? How much did it cost?
Cllr Watson added: "What we're aiming for is a much more bottom-up approach
No comment. Do I need to?
There they will meet employees of Beckwiths, a community interest cafe set up by the City Council, based in the old coach house in the park and talk to frontline workers from the area response teams, who deal with issues like litter, grafitti and dog fouling. The launch of this team has helped the council achieve some of the highest satisfaction levels for a decade.
In one park, in one corner of the city. Take them to visit the Houghton Landfill, why don't you? Ask the local people if their levels of satisfaction are high, considering the flies, smell and water table contamination they face.
This has led to councillors playing a major role in redesigning services to make them more responsive to the needs of local people. This has already resulted in significant improvements in front line services including litter, fly tipping, graffiti and dog fouling.
If the council thinks that dog fouling and litter are front line services, heaven help us. Not schools, social housing, disabled provision or roads, but bloody dog sh*t! Yes, by all means show the nice MP's how you look after that. Mind you their website has the following publication:-
The first wrung of promoting local democracy was simply about making as widely known and as comprehensible and understandable as possible who does what, why and how, and who is accountable to whom...