Councillor Paulette Hamilton - My Diary
The Diary of a Local Councillor 1-12 November 2010
Over the coming months, I will be highlighting some of the issues a Councillor has to deal with and some of the events we attend.
November started as a very busy month with casework, telephone queries and the distribution of leaflets informing residents of bulk rubbish collections. The ward councillors usually have over 1000 of these to distribute at any one time, which can be quite a challenge to fit in with our other duties. Councillors are always looking for people to assist with leafleting. It is one of those tasks that very few people offer to help with but if the information is not distributed residents understandably get upset. If you feel you can help with this job on your road please get in touch. I am always willing to accept help. It’s a great way of ensuring the job gets done and of getting to know people in the ward.
Over the last month, I have been invited to a large number of events to mark Black History Month, which is held in October. Public speaking can be quiet demanding but it’s a skill you have to develop if you want to be a councillor. These events are also a great opportunity to speak to all sections of our community and to network with local agencies.
An event recently held in Perry Barr with over 200 older local residents is typical of the events I attend. Over half of those attending came from the Handsworth Wood Ward. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust arranged this event and I was asked to speak about the legacy of residents coming into this country and settling here.
Following a number of walkabouts and local meetings, it is clear that our residents are increasingly worried about the local impact of government cuts. Older residents are concerned about the increase in VAT due in the New Year and its impact on utility bills, while those on benefits and renting homes are worried about the impact of the housing benefit cap.
The largest numbers of complaints I have received continue to concern environmental issues. At the moment the ward is having a problem with a continuous backlog of green waste, which is generating a large number of calls and emails.
Handsworth Wood is blessed with some of the largest allotments in the city. Many of our older residents have allotments, and the increase in annual rental is something that concerns them. On a recent walkabout I spoke to allotment holders about these increases. While many said no one wanted to see rents go up they still believe that the allotments are good value for money.
Over the last week I have attended an awards evening at a Hamstead Hall School, which is in our ward. These events are a way of congratulating students on their achievements and celebrating the many successes of young people in our community. I was delighted to attend and listen to the guest of honour Daniel Stone, an ex pupil of the school, who achieved 7a*, 3A’s and 1B at GCSE and 4 A’s at A level. This young man shadowed me for one year and now attends St Peter’s College, Oxford University. He is in the final year of his degree in Economics and Management. This is a local lad who has achieved a great deal from hard work and persistence.
Over the last week I also attended the Heart of Birmingham (HoB) Awards evening. Yet again, it was an honour to be asked to judge these awards. I was overwhelmed at the number of residents that voted for people throughout the Heart of Birmingham area. I was also touched by all the comments sent in on the nomination forms from patients and staff. The health service is going through a time of tremendous change, which if not handled in a professional way will have a detrimental impact on the community I serve. Over the next month many of the services are moving away from HoB to the Community Health Trust and other providers. No one likes change, and the future is unclear, but the HoB trust is transferring people across in a positive frame of mind. A good night was had by the staff and guests from the local community.
Watch out for the councillors’ next leaflet, which we hope to distribute at the end of the month. Also planned is that every household receives a ‘Voice Your Concern’ card before the end of March 2011. I want to hear your concerns, so if I haven’t managed to deliver a card to your home please go to your local school or Laurel Road Community Centre to pick one up. Better still why not help me to distribute them.
Speak to you soon.
0121 303 2039