Richard Graham and the Tory City Councillors surgery in Quedgeley

Advertised all this week was advertised a Q&A session with the Quedgeley City Councillors and the Gloucester MP Richard Graham.  So I dragged Eloise along to the Kingsway Community Centre for the advertised 10am start.  When I got there, all the councillors were stood outside, not sure how to get in and with no MP.  Some phrase about a brewery came to mind.

I got them into the Centre, so they could set up, and by 10am we were sat expectantly for our MP and for some people to turn up.  At 10 past 10, we were still waiting.  There was 5 members in the Audience, including myself and my daughter Eloise.  At 20 past 10 still no MP, so Cllr Andy Lewis kicked proceedings off.  At which point Richard Graham walks in (it was obviously a long print job).   He had got a bit lost trying to find the community Centre.

Andy suggested that Richard gave a bit of an overview about what he did at Westminster.  We then got into some questions.

Firstly was the problems being felt at the Spring Centre, a Special Needs charity in Quedgeley.  This was covering the fact that they were getting very squeezed in terms of funding, and yet the County Council were putting more and more children their way without any support.

Talk moved onto the Incinerator and about its selection and placement.  Richard Graham said that he expected the “solution” to also include waste sorting and some form of Anaerobic Digestion, but this was by no means a given.  He also pleaded that everyone hold off with their campaigning until the companies have presented their proposals.

The Green Waste charge then came up and about how expensive it was going to prove and in a particular, Trefor and Sandra Hughes (Quedgeley News) raised some interesting points about the take up of the service.  The City Councillors claimed that 300 people per day were taking it up (I did raise my eyebrow somewhat at that).  I brought forward the point about joined up council and how many people were thinking of putting the green waste in the bin which would then get incinerated.  No real answer to that, apart from to say that they thought there was no other way and it was one of the more big-ticket services.

I pressed it back about the Incinerator and the report about why DEFRA removed the PFI credits.  But all I got was a mini rant about Labours abuse of the PFI system.

The point was then raised about Kingsway and in particular the Health provision.  In essence, the whole panel knew less than what Kingsway residents already knew, but some interesting analysis by Mr Graham about why we had not had a doctors surgery already.

We also discussed the Post Office and the delay, but again, no new information.

I did repeat my offer to Richard to come to a Kingsway Public meeting, which he said thank you, but not before the election. Bit of a moot point really as the next one is at the end of May, but hopefully he will come to one at some point.

And that was it really.  Nothing groundbreaking to report.  But also by the end there had only been 8 people turn up, though that can be explained by the fact its such a glorious weekend, or the people of Quedgeley are so unimpressed that they didn’t really care what they had to say.

To put some context to it, when I run a  public meeting, I normally get between 50 and 80 people attending.


6 Comments so far:

  1. Eddie says:

    The Spring Centre is one of the charities I support with free hosting, so I’m always interested in what happens there. Does that rate as part of the big society ?

  2. bazkirby says:

    Probably.

    The disappointing thing was about the Spring Centre was that the couple presented their case about how they were going to struggle with the lack of funding, yet the county council were giving them more and more cases. Richard Grahams answer was for them to cut costs. They ten explain that they had cut as far as they could, to the point that if anyone is ill then the whole operation is a nightmare and as staffing is so tight, they get little time to do any marketing to get funding.

    This is a real life example of why the Big Society willl struggle without the proper support.

  3. Joe K says:

    There’s an air of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ about this. Don’t turn up before the centre is open, and don’t turn up afterwards. Who’s job was it to open the doors, or were the councillors expected to do a Foreman and pick the lock?

    I’m also a tad sceptical of that attendance figure for meetings ‘normally’. At the debate held by the CCCP on the Parkway station a few yeas back, there were about 52 people. because that was the vote, approximately, fifty against and two for. That was drawing in people from a wider area. To get a bustling local meeting, you either have to have a lot of problems people want sorting out, or be handing out soup and bread. A low turn-out for Graham could be viewed as either evidence that people are happy with how things are, or have no confidence that their MP and councillors will make any difference. A Tory spin doctor (although wasn’t it Labour that actually introduced spin doctors by name?) would claim the latter. He (or she) might also suggest that if there were only five people there, and the only one with challenging questions was the guy who opened the doors, Kingsway is not a natural bastion of Labour supporters.

    Richard Graham held a surgery at St. James’ Church, just round the block, plus one, on the 12th. It clashed with the Cattle County trip, for which I hold Pastor Robert Simpson entirely responsible, so I didn’t attend, but I gather only a handful turned up there as well. It wasn’t just the trip, but inadequate publicity (Simpson again). You’ve packed a lot of info and links onto this site, Barry, but the Kingsway Village Blog, if people think to look at it, carries the news of the ‘Q&A’ at the end of a long and ancient thread, and not everyone looks at diary dates (though they should). A reasonable explanation for the low attendance (slightly more so than ‘couldn’t find it’) is simply that not enough people knew about it.

    And TiG might have mentioned today, in the interest of full disclosure, that you are the Labour candidate in the area, Barry. Mind, knowing TiG, they may actually not know…

    • bazkirby says:

      Joe, when you make the booking you get the code to the door, therefore they should have been organised.

      To be clear, it wasn’t my meeting, I did not organise it or publicize it. I went along to see what was said.

      The Kingsway site is not mine either. It is a residents site who set it up and Im grateful that he let’s me publicize on it, but I don’t have any say as such on what is published and how.

      As to my attendance records, we regularly get good turnout but I do make a lot of effort to get a range of speakers who are relevant and also things like project updates etc.

  4. Joe K says:

    Fair dos, Barry. It’s still the case that a meeting is as well-publicised as people are prepared to make it. The Barton & Tredworth Community Trust had their AGM just over a week ago. They struggle to attract enough members to make this event quorate, though on the occasions they have failed, they have never followed their own rules and adjourned it to another date (whereupon however many members were present would constitute a quorum). Two years back, I put up posters for the meeting, and about 27 residents attended. The next year I didn’t, and it scraped by on twenty. This year there were fifteen (and six trustees. That’s the entire board. Somewhat less than the minimum requirement of 14 to operate the trust, or even seven needed at any given meeting). But they don’t publicise themselves, and such is the result.

    So maybe someone didn’t try as hard as I might have done to let people know what was happening, and then again maybe it would have made little difference to the eventual turnout. There’s always the risk of providing too much publicity, and turning a Q & A session into a circus.

  5. bazkirby says:

    My last reply was a bit short because I did it on my phone, having left my Laptop at home which I normall bring with me when Im away, so my apologies for that.

    I think you raised the good point though, I think RA meetings get a turn out becuase people do have issues and complaints and want to air them. And hopefully I get the right people in the room for them to air them to.

    Publicity is key and we put a banner up at a prominant point in Kingsway when we ahve a meeting, which I think helps a lot. I am wanting to get more things like this to try and get as much coverage as possible. While I normally get good attendance relative to what Richard Graham got, Kingsway consists for over 1500 homes, and only 60 people attend so I have much more work to do to reach everybody.

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