Shuffling the pack
According to the local Guardian newspaper there has been a dramatic mid-term reshuffle of the Council Cabinet, which is due to be ratified at the Council AGM on 24 May. Apparently, out go Cllrs Afzal Akram, Saima Mahmud and Geraldine Reardon and in come Cllrs Clare Coghill, Ahsan Khan and Mark Rusling, while one of three Councillors to retain his existing portfolio is Cllr Liaquat Ali.
There are several rays of hope here for VAWF and the local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). VAWF already enjoys positive relations with Cllrs Coghill and Rusling, and I've taken the opportunity of offering my help and advice to Cllr Khan with the arts and cultural component of his new Health & Wellbeing portfolio, a subject which is dear to my heart. Cllr Ali has also proven himself to be very supportive of our sector in his role as Chair of the Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) and I've personally thanked him for his stalwart support over our objections to the imposition of car parking charges at the Town Hall. At the recent VSF meeting I called for the abolition of such charges in the evenings and at weekends and now we have the good news that this is to be implemented from 1 June - a triumph for common sense.
I wish all appointees the very best in their new or ongoing portfolio roles and hope that they will continue to take an interest in VAWF's work, in partnership with the Council, in support of our local VCS in very challenging times.
I've also approached the Council about its nomination of Councillors as trustees onto the boards of various external organisations - which, alas, is still on the agenda for its meeting on 24 May. I feel that this is a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance and one which no longer serves either the Council or the organisations in question. I'm sure nominated Councillors sit on boards with the best of intentions but there have been several high-profile cases recently of failing organisations (including schools) with Councillors on their boards (even, in one case, as Chair). This risks bringing the whole system into disrepute and I'm concerned that the nettle should be firmly grasped by the Council. VAWF has no Councillors on its Board (although, as above, it enjoys good relations with many of them, including the Leader, and keeps them fully informed) but the monitoring of its contracts with the Council is carried out by senior officers, which is, I feel, as it should be across the sector.