Friday, July 20, 2007

Musical chairs

As part of the overhaul of the Council's governance, the Cabinet portfolios were altered last night to help drive up improvements and ensure that we link more effectively with the community.

I got the call from the Leader this morning that my portfolio is to be Health and Leisure.

I'm leaving the Transport brief with mixed feelings. I would have liked to have seen through the completion of the Eastern Tranpsort Corridor, and the Sustainable Travel Town and Cycling Demonstration Town initiatives, which are beginning to transform transport in Darlington. I feel I have a good working relationship with transport providers and lobby groups such as GOLD and the Darlington Cycling Campaign.

At the same time, it probably is time for a change. I became Chair of the old Transport Committee in 1992, and seamlessly moved into the Highways and Transport portfolio holder when the Cabinet system began. Frankly, 15 years in one portfolio is quite long enough, and I'm sure the Council will benefit from having a fresh Cabinet Member looking after this key area of the town's operation.

My new portfolio covers public health, environmental health, trading standards, the Registrar's Office, leisure, culture and the museum. Leisure was previously a portfolio all to itself, and as Cllr. Heather Scott pointed out in Council last night, there is a huge agenda for the Council regarding the public health brief. Clearly I won't be short of work!

I've spent the morning making calls to staff I've worked with in the Highways and Transport brief thanking them for their hard work and support, and beginning to get to grips with my new job. Re-ordering my diary is the first task...

8 comments:

miketually said...

Congratulations on the new post Nick. I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the role cycling can have on improving health :)

I'll keep reading here, and bugging you, as you're still my ward councillor :)

Is Cllr Lyonette much of an emailer, or will we need to write/telephone?

Aeres said...

Congratulations from me too Nick.

Coincidently, it was only 2 days ago that I was speaking to some councillors (won't name them here for fear of embarrassing them) who said that the transport portfolio was probably the toughest in the council! So I guess you must be ready for a change.

Can't imagine you'll be exactly putting your feet up and Health and Leisure mind you... :-)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, I will look forward to working with you Nick
Gill

Anonymous said...

The reshuffle is Darlington Council's equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or is it to stop a coup against Jonno? Time will tell.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks Mike, Gill and Aeres. Mike - email works for David. I'm sure you'll get along fine.

Aeres - it could simply be of course that I made the Transport portfolio seem like hard work... ;)

In fact I have to admit that I've had a vague sense of release over the last few days, with the realisation that I'm no longer goig to be held personally responsible by some for every traffic queue, cracked pavement and pothole in the Borough.

As a previous Borough Engineer used to say, there are 65,000 Borough Engineers in Darlington, as each resident is armed with an innate sense that they know exactly how the town's traffic problems can be sorted. This spoiled many a night out...

I used to experience some of this at every Council meeting - whilst my colleagues would get perhaps one or two questions, I'd generally have at least 8 - this is because even if opposition members didn't read their Council papers, they could always have an opinion about the latest bit of traffic management that they'd passed earlier in the week.

It is also one of the more "political" of the portfolios, given that it contains big dividing lines between the parties over sustainability, congestion, parking, and that hoary old chestnut car vs. anti-car measures. This meant I had to be constantly on my toes, particularly as far as the media was concerned.

Still, I'm sure that health in particular will keep my political antennae twisting!

Anonymous - your comments are too facile to warrant a response.

Aeres said...

I must admit, I'm going to miss muttering "wait until I tell Nick about this" to my wife every time we get stuck in traffic.

Conversely, I'm sure she's cock-a-hoop that I'm going to have to come up with a new line from now on... :-)

And yes, before miketually starts his admonitions, I know....! :-)

miketually said...

"The traffic's getting so bad, soon it'll be quicker for me to walk to the shop for the paper!"

;)

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Nick

Congratulations on your new posting.

Whinfield Road has been bliss for some time now and will continue to flow freely at least for the next six weeks now the schools are on holiday. Thank you for that.

I hope you and your family have a good holiday. I came back to work today after my two weeks in the sun to 98 emails in my in box.

Alan