Monday, 29 January 2007
Spent most of the afternoon catching up with post etc. Late afternoon I suddenly remembered that I hadn't completed my 'Self Assessment Tax Return'.
So I tried to find the form and the relevant paperwork.... could I find it!! Tried everywhere. It took me the best part of two hours to find it. Tried to enter it all on line - and the HM Revenue & Customs site required an activation PIN which would take up to seven days to arrive!
So, had to resort to filling it in by hand. Completed all that - so I'll hand it into the tax office on Tuesday. Whilst looking around at the tax website, I found it very interesting. It's possible to view an awful lot of information. To visit the site, click here.
Anyway, after all that I attended a service in St. Cuthbert's Church for Homelessness Sunday. It was a wonderful service hosted by Mendip YMCA. All of the speakers and readers of the service, which included myself, started off in sleeping bags beside the alter.
My reading was after the second hymn. Had a little snag whilst lying there! I was wearing my suit with the Mayoral Chain....as you do. However, as I was lying down, the chain fell back and almost strangled me!! For some this would have been a cause to celebrate!
I tried to rescue myself without the congregation noticing too much! Think I succeeded.
The service was an emotional one as it highlighted the plight of homeless young people in particular. There were some very moving contributions from those who had been homeless and those who's children had made themselves homeless.
All quite an eye opener. What everyone learnt was: people are homeless for a whole series of reasons. None of which are straight forward!
After the service we had a buffet...... I then went onto friends for dinner.
For some reason, we started half watching a horror film. Neither of us are into these sorts of films. I can't stand them!
The film we were watching (as well as catching up) was 'Dawn of the Dead'. It was an odd film about people (apparently the whole world) being turned into zombies! Yuk!!! Anyway all a bit bizarre and did leave me double checking all of the dark spots at home!!
There is a link with this film to Wells. 'Dawn of the Dead' was a favourite of Simon Pegg who filmed the spoof 'Shaun of the Dead'. Of course, Simon Pegg is one of the writers and stars of the Wells based film 'Hot Fuzz', which is due out shortly!!!! Small world......
When refering to the scottish stuff, one uses 'whisky'. However, when refering to the irishdrink, one uses 'whiskey'!!!!
I'm starting to learn a fair bit about this drink - it's growing on me! Don't think it'll quite take over the gin.....
Thanks to Roger for educating me in these matters!!!!
Saturday, 27 January 2007
It did mean that most of us had to have only a few minutes break. However, we did achieve a spectacular result...so well done to the whole team.
After an exhausting day - I didn't really get time to arrange an evening out. So stayed in, sorting the house out....well at least I tried! Didn't really get any where....
Had a drama during the day - my mate Rob was staying with me on Friday night because of the 'Burns Night' at Martin & Julie's. Anyway, I left the house early(ish) to go to work. Told Rob to just close the door when he leaves....!! However, I had a dizzy spell when I left the house as I locked it from the outside. So he was stuck.
Rob phoned work and I went to release him! I was so embarrassed! Rob was ok though.
Was quite lucky to let him out, as Rob had a test drive car - VW Golf 3.0 GTi. So had to drive it myself. Wow, what a car! What an engine! What a price £23k!!! Have to sell a few more coffees yet. A wonderful car though.
Friday evening was fantastic. The Mayoress, Julie and her husband Martin hosted an excellent evening in their house. The evening was to celebrate 'Burns Night'.
We had a marvellous haggis (brought from a local quality farm shop - made with Somerset meat) and all of the trimmings. For those who were not haggis eaters, Martin grilled some sausages.
The best part of the evening was being able to sample some Scottish Whisky! Am only just starting to get into the drink (am a gin man). However, loved all that he had, especially the 'Islay' whiskey.
That whiskey had a very heavy (sort of tar) taste. However, gave a great kick. In a bizarre twist, we also had some Irish whiskey - which I'm sure is not often presented at a Byrnes evening.
Never mind - was good to taste the difference. So now I'm semi hooked. After all, I did try the 'Hot Whiskey' in Ireland.
Well done to Martin and Julie for putting on a fabulous party.
Friday, 26 January 2007
Over the past week I’ve attended 5 events, functions and meetings as your Mayor.
On Wednesday I attended an excellent presentation by the British Army. The event was held in Bath to highlight what your Army is doing in the name of our Country.
The presentation proved once again, that we have the most gallant, courageous and professional fighting force in the world.
Some of you may disagree with a few of their deployments (a decision for which at the end of the day is made by the Government and not the Army), however they display firm commitment and professionalism in every job they do.
The Army were very open in their presentation and allowed questions from the floor. The Generals answering were not afraid about being open and honest in reply.
On Friday I flew to Dublin to visit a mate of mine who will shortly be flying to Bermuda to work for a couple of years. Had a great time over there – and did some PR work for the City. Many people who I met (my mate has a few friends in the city) couldn’t believe that a town with a population of about 11,000 could be a City? Sorted them all out with a brief history of Wells. More on my visit please visit my blog: www.mow633.blogspot.com.
When I returned from Ireland on Sunday (within one hour of me getting home), I was suited and booted and in the Mayor’s Parlour to host a lunchtime meal for the South Horrington Leaseholders Association. Was a fantastic meal, which finished off a hectic weekend.
Crashed out into bed quite early that evening…first time I’ve done that for a while.
Over the next week my diary includes Council meetings including a full City Council meeting to decide the precept, meetings with YMCA, a LAT’s meeting in St. Thomas’ Hall and a sleep out in Wells. I’ll also try and keep my blog upto date with developments.
Thursday, 25 January 2007
There was definitely far too many steering wheel turns and far too much use of the clutch! It took several minutes and loads of over and under steer to finally abandon...sorry park the car. I would use this opportunity to raise the issue of women drivers.....however, this blog isn't that brave!!!
During to day I had to by some litter and food for my house rabbit Cosmo! Cosmo is a lovely, cute, huggable and good looking house rabbit..... basically like his adopted Dad!!
To cut a long story short - he is adopted from the Mayoress and her Husband. Neither Cosmo or they got on! So, when they both went on holiday two years a go, I agreed to look after him in my house. He immediately loved it...the extra freedom. So he sort of stayed.
However, in his time, he has gone through:
- two telephone wires (requiring the replacement of)
- all of my SCART leads
- my coaxial cable
- the power cables to my TV and various lights
- the back of my sofa
- two yellow pages
- some twig things from IKEA
- all my next catalogues
- parts of the skirting board
He is very house trained......!!! At least I now have new feed for him.
This evening I chaired (as Mayor) a full City Council meeting. Now I know what you are all thinking - it wasn't six weeks from the last meeting. However, this meeting was to do with setting the precept (City Council tax). We started at 1900hrs and finished at 1915hrs.
Had a couple of instantly forgettable rants - however, not much else was said. I proposed that the budget be adopted and we had a recorded vote. The 'FOR's) carried the motion be a long way. Budget thus set!
After the meeting we had a presentation by Centros Millar in regards to the potential Princes Road development. In general, there could be a huge retail development to compliment the existing city centre.
The developer however, are required to consult. This is just the start. You can join in the consultation by clicking onto here. I've set a permanent link in my 'Wells Links'.
Was a very interesting proposal, with much to consider. If you are interesting in the project, please do participate.
After all that, six of us went of for an excellent curry at Cafe Romna. Always a pleasure, with the best curry for quite a few miles....
Have got a funny story regarding my car: Noticed this morning that one of my main head lamp bulbs had blown. So during the morning, I went out to replace it. First, I thought I had a spare in my car.
So, not thinking straight, I tried to remove the light from it's casing. Being a typical man - I thought...no need for instruction.
Anyway, although I got the water proof rubber cover off, I couldn't figure out a way to remove the bulb.
So after a while, I got bored! So I took my car manual from the glove box and found the section for replacing lights.
It said about removing lights by lifting a safety catch. Well I couldn't see one in there...although it wasn't easy to look directly at it! I tried feeling for it...again nothing except the wiring for the bulb. I double checked the diagram and thought VW had given me the wrong print. I even had the help of a local Policeman, who was shocked to see the Mayor in the bonnet of a car!
He looked at the manual too. Couldn't find the safety catch!!! Then I heard him say "aaahhhh, we've been looking at the diagram for the rear set of lights"!!!!! When we looked at the correct diagram, the bulb came out.
It didn't stop there. I then realised I had no replacement. So, I drove to the nearest car shop and brought a new one. Took ages to fix it back in (the manual only showed me how to remove it). All is now working fine. I think I'll leave such techie stuff to professionals in the future.
Later this evening I attended a public meeting to discuss setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in part of the ward I represent. Was a interesting meeting with support from the Police, Local Action Teams, County Councillor and City Councillors.
Tomorrow (Thursday 25th Jan) looks to be interesting as we have a full City Council meeting to discuss our precept (City Council's tax). Trouble is, with an election around the corner, who knows what may happen!
Watch this space for updates......
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Sadly missed the Skate Park Meeting that night at the Youth Centre...sorry Dave!
By the time I finished that and sorted out washing t-towels for work (oh yes, it gets that exciting when you run a business....strange that they don't tell you about these sorts of jobs when a new business is set up).
Anyway, had an easy night because I fell straight alseep after all that. The weekend is still catching up with me.
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Had a busy day - although I have to get my head around some VAT rules for our products. It's not as easy as it all sounds.
After work, I attended the Radio Link and Safer Socialising meeting at Pickwicks. Very interesting meeting, however had to finish cleaning the coffee machine and cash up whilst it was going on.
Great news is the 'Safer Socialising Scheme', which is designed to reassure customers and support the many aspects of holding a licence (to sell alcohol), will be going ahead. We just need to consult with some current holders of a premises licence.
Wells hopes to be the first City in the South West to have this award. Watch this space....
After that, it was off to the Chamber of Commerce meeting in the City Arms. Had a good meeting, were Cllr. John Osman updated the chamber with his City Plan proposals. The presentation went well and he should get some useful feed back from it.
The last port of call was a pizza in ASK....
Then back home - enter my wages for the month (so the Accountant can do his bit), updated this blog and then typed my Mayor's Diary for the Wells Journal.....
I managed to get back OK - even with the general lack of service by Ryanair. However, to be fair - I did sleep on the way back!
The reason for this is quite embarrassing! Whilst out and about in Dublin, having an odd drink or two to wish my mate Keith on his way (lesson to pass on: never drink champgne after a glass of vodka)(for your information the vodka was served with 7up and I didn't really have much choice as no gin available...nor tonic), we all completely forgot about the time!
So at about 0530hrs, Sunday morning, I suddenly realised that I had to get back to Keith's apartment to collect my stuff. My flight was at 0830hrs from Dublin Airport. So, we finally arrived at Keith's house at 0615hrs, with my taxi to the airport waiting outside.
So there was no time to change! I really do hate travelling like a scruff - it's just so unnecessary and totally slack. Anyway, quickly brushed my teeth and managed to get half of the paste down my new jacket.
Said goodbye to Keith.... and headed to the airport. At this point I put those wonderful skills you learn as mayor to the test. It didn't matter how knackered I looked - I was determined to appear a seasoned and quite decent traveller....as the penguins in the film 'Madagascar' says "...just smile and wave boys....just smile and wave....".
Anyway, got through all the checks and the thoroughly disinterested check in clerk (did she know whom she was booking in?). Had a lousy 'Irish Breakfast' (which according the one in the airport is an english breakfast without any taste). Felt even worse than I did checking in and headed for the plane.
Dublin Airport is going through an expansion at the mo. So to get to the Ryanair plane, one has to walk down a temporary passenger gate. This can take anything upto 10 minutes - and I was completely bored by the time I reach the plane.
So, stepped on board, sat down and removed my jacket - only to remember that the shirt I was wearing had splashes of cranberry down it....and when dried into the shirt, looks like blood stains. Not really that classy to have a shirt which looks like you've been in a punch up only a few minutes before! The cranberry came from an unfortunate incident in the restaurant we were dining in.
It was a wonderful place and a great atmosphere....however, a ramekin (small dish) full of cranberry sauce fell off and covered me! The waiters and manager did there best to get rid of the stains...accidents do happen!
blah, blah, blah......
I returned home at about 1030hrs on Sunday morning - after being collected at the airport by my mate Wayne. I had a quick turn around as I had to be suited, chained and booted to the Mayor's Parlour at 1130hrs!!!! From which I hosted a wonderful dinner for the South Horrington Leaseholders Association. The committee and especially the Chairman were very well organised and had brought everything.
Had a very nice afternoon, which finished off by me conducting one of my famous Town Hall Tours!
After all that, I got home, started sorting by bag of washing out.... By 2000hrs I was in bed! Until woken up at 2100hrs by Emma on the phone, wanting to catch up..... my fault really as I asked her to call! Never mind......
Saturday, 20 January 2007
My mate Keith, who is heading off to Bermuda to work for a couple of years, was in great form!
I suppose he is building himself up to his newest adventure. So, this weekend is basically about saying goodbye for now - however, all of his friends will no doubt force themselves to pop in to Bermuda to help the time go by!
Last night whilst out drinking I met one of Keith's friend's who works for the EU in regards to the single currency. He has a very complex job, chairing meetings on the technical aspect of running a currency. He has to interact with the representatives of other currencies ie Stirling as well.
Anyway, off into Dublin again this evening for dinner and some more clubs. Really enjoy going into a place without having to smell of smoke!
This afternoon, we walked to the Donabate beach. Was a nice walk, but got drenched walking back in the pouring rain. However, once down at the beach we had a 'Hot Whiskey' and a 'Hot Port'. Basically they are a shot of drink, hot water, a slice of lemon with cloves and sugar...amazing drinks!
We are now going to get ready for this evening....I've got a feeling that it'll be loads of fun. Can't wait to meet all of his friends he has told me about!!!!
Friday, 19 January 2007
Mayor Miguel Grima was murdered last Friday and the Spanish police are suspecting the whole village! The village is called Fago and is situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
We'll await developments and keep you updated.
Sounds very much like the plot in the 'Hot Fuzz' film, which was largely filmed in Wells and premiered in February.....
Am updating my blog in an internet cafe in Dublin...the shopping Mall is called Stephen's Green.
Got over here safely - however not impressed by the Ryanair flight. Although it was 20 minutes late (which isn't a problem, these things happen) the flight was staffed by some 'couldn't give a damn' attitude Cabin Stewards and Stewardess'! The two looking after the back end of the plane, walked down so fast with the trolley - they didn't even bother to ask everyone for a drink!
So, I had to ask a Steward separately for a gin & tonic! Not that he was bothered....about anything! Of course the gin turned up in what Ryanair call 'baggies' - basically sachets. YOU CAN'T HAVE GIN LIKE THIS!! At least this time, I got a glass and tonic - the last flight I had to ask twice.
Even so, it was cheap gin - can't stand cheap gin - and served without lemon, ice or a decent plastic cup.
Anyway, arrived in Dublin airport - and had to hike to the baggage reclaim - this is a long way, but to be fair they are building a new terminal.
Got my coach from the airport to Trinity College, were I'll meet my mate Keith at about 1500hrs.
Have done some provisional research into prices of coffee! Although in each shop I go into, I cause some problems as I have my large 'away bag' with me! So I keep either knocking people or furniture.
Off for another gin & tonic.... a real one.
Over the past week I’ve attended 7 events, functions and meetings as your Mayor.
On Tuesday I joined in some filming for BBC3’s ‘Spendaholics’ programme. The programme highlights those who just keep spending and how they intend to pay back all that cash. A local chap called Paul Scates was selected for this latest in reality TV. He put together a wonderful night of entertainment, including many local artists. It was all good fun. The evening included a mini concert in the caves, dancing, champagne and nibbles.
The event was the last part of a series of interviews done for the programme. The final product will be on air (BBC3) before the end of this month.
On Saturday I hosted a reception in the Mayor’s Parlour for Kitty Webster. Kitty is raising money for the ‘Link Community Development’ charity. One of her many ideas were to hold a raffle with prizes kindly donated by local businesses. So far Kitty has raised £680. Her target is £1000 before the end of February.
On top of all this fundraising, Kitty is to hitch hike (as part of an organised event) from the UK to Morocco. If you can, please support her on this epic journey. I have placed links on my blog (www.mow633.blogspot.com) so you can contact Kitty.
Sunday saw, what I regard as the best service if the civic year. The Mayoress, my Chaplain, my fellow Councillors and I attended the Commemoration to Bishop Bekynton. The first part of the service is held around the Conduit. Then we processed to the Cathedral. After the service, The Dean kindly invited us to afternoon tea at the Deanery.
Over the next week my diary includes Council meetings, meetings with YMCA, attending a presentation of the British Army in Bath and lunch in the Mayor’s Parlour with the SHLA. I also try and keep my blog upto date with developments.
Thursday, 18 January 2007
Interviewed someone for one of our vacant posts - which was very good! In the afternoon, I was interviewed by Mark Adler from the Mendip Times.
The Mendip Times is an excellent local magazine with loads of useful articles and features. The next edition will be even more exciting yet as this blog will feature!! Mark asked me about the blog and how I intend to use it. Was also very interesting speaking to mark, as he has loads of experience in broadcasting.
In fact, Mendip Times has won a grant to explore local digital TV on the web! Very best of luck with that. You can read more about the magazine and even the article (I think published next week) on the Mendip Times website. I'll place a permanent link on my blogroll.
After work, I attended the Finance & General Purposes Committee (F&GP) to review the budget for the next financial year. Sadly the largest part of the rise is due to our (as a council) commitment to a cemetery. The only part of the £6 (ish) rise is £1.03 going to service cost increase! Believe me, that's a real bargain.
Wells City Council has a track record of delivering real services. As a council we do much more than others - thus punch above our weight! As a rise against last year's settlement, the per centage can appear to be high....however with a total cost of £64.50 (about) the total amount isn't too much.
To be fair, one has to remember that this only represents the City Council charge - the Police, Mendip District Council and Somerset County Council all have to add their charges to the total Council Tax bill.
I fear however, that some may start to play politics with the precept - oh...is there an election coming up...yes there is!!
Back bones soon melt - and some politicians commitment to 'delivering real services' (as many would have promised in some form of words in 2003 (last election)) could disappear.
Anyway, back in the real world - I had an eMail from Mayor Bill Gentes. Mr Gentes is the Mayor of Round Lake, Illinois, USA. Mayor Gentes was pleased to see another Mayor blogging as not many do.... I predict many more will do so over the coming years! To view his blog and the website for Round Lake, click here.
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
First off - cheers to the roof - as the checkout had returned from intensive care! Both checkouts have been reunited by serial links (or something). Anyway, all working. However, down side of the experience was that all of those products that I spent until 2200hrs entering in on Monday - after the crash - have been erased! Tut, have to start again....
As you can imagine, networking and preparing the checkouts took some time by our excellent engineers. Sadly, they had to be in the centre of the counter sorting everything out! So in the middle of all the cafe action - never mind.
Also had an opportunity to clean out the ice maker and asked two of my staff to build some shelving units. So all full on but now up to speed.
ATTENNN...SHUN!! Eyes forward, head up and shoulders back..... was not what we heard when I attended an excellent presentation from the Army on it's current role and responsibilities.
Was most proud to be invited as the Army really pulled out all the stops to show what they do. Sadly, we have a professional Army which hasn't really got the backing of the less than professional Government. It was reassuring to know - that despite the Government - the Army is a force for good, for Britain and for democracy.
The Army took time to present their case and were very open to questions. I don't mean to name drop, but was glad to see Lady Gass (Lord Lieutenant of Somerset), Brig. Alistair Fife (High Sheriff of Somerset) and his wife Dee Fife at this event.
The 'lesson learnt' for the evening is for me to always bring along a coat! I'm so used to walking from my car into a building, I forgot to take one. The Assembly Rooms were a five minute walk from the Car Park. So, not really knowing were I was going, I set off to find the building, whilst feeling the cold somewhat! When I got to the Assembly Rooms, not only was I cold - but my Mayoral Chain (me bling) was a lot colder. Brought a new meaning to 'cool bling' - because it was very....
Back at home now....must read the pack that the Army have given me!
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Spent this morning in Pickwicks. My business partner Wayne help put up some fresh artwork from a popular local artist, Glenda Maynard. So the cafe is looking great, with some nice new artwork.
Spent this afternoon with my Diary Secretary updating my invitations and other events. I was meant to be attending a presentation at Mendip District Council reference the local government white paper. Although, after last night's weird goings on - I haven't really calmed down. So couldn't quite go through it all again. Town Clerk went instead.... Will gain an update from him tomorrow (Wednesday).
This evening, I had a meeting with the YMCA Spencer House, which is one of my charities for the year. Spencer House is a residence for homeless young people.
Sunday 28th January is 'Homelessness Sunday' and to support this day a group of 'willing' volunteers will be sleeping out on the streets of Wells on Saturday night!! No namby pamby July night for us! Anyway, meeting was to organise the event, especially the breakfast on Sunday morning!!!
Spent the rest of the evening catching up with everything else. Although one exciting development is a mate of mine (Rob), is ?0 this year - and we are going (as a group) to Turkey to celebrate.
My diary is filling up after May...yes!! For that is when I'm no longer Mayor... :(
Am off to a presentation in Bath for the British Army on Wednesday evening. Am looking forward to that.
Update on the checkout situation: Checkouts still down however spare parts ordered and being fitted! Up and running again soon.
After work I attend a full Council Meeting at Mendip District Council. The main purpose of the meeting was to consider bids for the re-organisation of local government.
Basically, it's a Government ploy to force massive changes whilst taking the heat from central government. It's all a complete sham, with Somerset County Council applying for Unitary Authority status.
Quite why is anyone's guess - but I think that the group in control are doing it for out and out party politics rather than the common good.
With any luck all the Districts will remain - with a new partnership that includes all levels of local government. Although on that note - the county seem to have forgotten the parish councils in all this.
In terms of Mendip, parishes include all of the towns and the City of Wells. We intend to fight our corner!!
This whole mess has been created by the Minister of the moment Ruth 'it's not just my fault but theirs as well' Kelly MP, Secretary for Communities. Bless...
p.s. Must note that the opposition group at Mendip (there is only one as the other group are independents and thus not really a group), for some rather weird reason they decided to 'abstain' on the main vote of the evening! All quite shocking....but perhaps not surprising.
Sunday, 14 January 2007
This afternoon, we had the Commemoration to Bishop Bekynton in Wells Cathedral. I really enjoy this service.
It is a commemoration of a truly wonderful man. It is he who built the three main gates in Wells and built huge entensions to the Cathedral. His ultimate gift to the City was allowing water from his wells (inside the Bishop's Palace) to flow down the high street for the residents of the City.
The water flows from the Palace (with what was at the time a state of the art pump) to the Conduit (in the Market Place). From there the water flows each side of the street until it reaches St. Andrews stream in Broad Street/St. Johns Street.
Anyway, each year the City Council attends a commemoration service in State (All Councillors robed).
First off, the Civic Party (The Council and Office Holders) process to the Conduit. The Mayor's Chaplain (Dr. Lavinia Byrne) then reads out a prayer for the Bishop and the gift of water. Today, Lavinia did a wonderful job! Not only did she explain to the public and Councillors present why we were there - as we had some odd looks - but she read a lovely prayer which was expertly delivered.
We then processed in 'State' to the Cathedral, where we were met by The Dean (Very Revd John Clarke). We had a wonderful service. During the last hymn I laid a posse of flowers on Bishop Bekynton's tomb. The Dean made a gift of water.
After the service, we processed to the Deanery, were we all enjoyed afternoon tea.
An excellent end to a wonderful day. Now off for a pizza....
Saturday, 13 January 2007
However, must draw your attention to http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/ or Guido Fawkes blog (as listed in my blogroll).
He has posted a fantastic caption competition using a 'rather unfortunate' photo taken at the press conference from the PM and Ruth Kelly MP. Also read the comments posted...very funny.
Ruth 'its not only my fault but also many others for embarrassing the Government' Kelly is still making the hole that she so wonderfully dug, even bigger!!!
The link is: http://www.lcd.org.uk/events/hitch/... There is also a permanent link below!
A customer complained that we don't make our coffee like some of the major chains! Well it's a bit pointless having an independent coffee shop and being exactly like everyone else, isn't it? Anyway, our coffee is of a better bean - well that's what I think!!!
Had a fab reception in the Mayor's Parlour this evening. Kitty Webster, from Wells, has been raising money for 'Link Community Development', which is a charity that operates in Africa. Kitty plans to send a hefty cheque to the charity in February - with the help of proceeds from various events. One of which is a grand raffle - with prizes kindly donated by local independent shops.
The winners of this raffle came to the Parlour this evening to collect their prize. Kitty laid on drinks and nibbles. The reception was short, but good fun. All the prize winners were very pleased.
The next part of Kitty's adventure, is to hike (ion behalf and in co-operation with the charity) to Morocco! Well best of British to her - I know the City of Wells will cheer her on. If you would like to sponsor Kitty, please contact the Town Hall.
May just chill out for the rest of this evening..... phew!!
Spent most of Friday working from home updating work stuff. Pretty much there now.
Then, late afternoon popped into the Town Hall to see my Diary Secretary and get an update on issues.
Had a great evening. Went over for supper with the Mayoress (Julie) and her husband (Martin). Had a great time - I even helped in the preperation of the chilli!! Which for those who know me, is pretty radical.
Was also joined by a mate of mine, Rob and another neighbour who is a dear friend of mine - Hillary. Haven't rally had much time to catch up with them lately. However, we all had a nice meal and a good natter....
Friday, 12 January 2007
Yes, it’s only 19 weeks left, so much to do – so little time to do it in.
The events, functions and meetings all start exploding onto my diary from this week. So, I enjoyed the break – but really missed the buzz of being ‘out on duty’.
With my spare time last week, I created what is called a ‘blog’. A blog is a website, usually for an individual or organisation, which is presented in the form of an on-line diary.
My blog is my own bit of cyber space. I can add my ideas and thoughts, as regularly as I want. Some other blog owners update their blogs several times daily – others weekly.
What’s really clever about blogs is that anyone viewing the site, which is as available as any other web site, can leave comments if they so wish.
Once you get into blogging, it is quite addictive. I’ve discovered loads of bloggers from this country and around the world talking about alsorts of things.
A blog is easy to set up and manage. Anyway, please feel free to view mine 24/7 at: www.mow633.blogspot.com.
I’ll try my best to update it daily, with loads of stuff which I’m unable (due to space) print in my diary.
Also, please don’t worry if you haven’t got access to a computer, as I’ll still publish my weekly diary in the Wells Journal (with the continuing generosity of the Mid Somerset Series).
Over the next week my diary includes Council meetings including the full City Council meeting (Thursday), a raffle for Community Link Development and the annual service to commemorate Bishop Bekynton.
Fairly busy in Pickwicks all day!
This evening I chaired the full City Council meeting in the Town Hall. The agenda was quite short as there hasn't been many metings over the christmas holidays.
However, we had a very interesting update on the 'Princes Road' issue (this is an area which could possibly be regenerated). More developments on that no doubt fairly soon!
Other than that it was a straight forward meeting. I always get a bit nervous when chairing these sorts of meetings as they are fairly formal.
However, often get through it ok. I often wish that, during the meeting, time would scoot along - as then the meeting would be finished quicker. One of the highlights of the full council meetings is that I can use it as an excuse to dress in my Morning Suit (no tails).
I chose a Morning Suit as my 'best suit' as I have seen many of the Mayors and Chairman of Cities and Unitary Authorities wearing them. I thought - we are a city - so the Maoyr of Wells should wear one!
Quite what I'm going to do with it afterwards - is anyones guess.
Thursday, 11 January 2007
Latest on the ongoing checkout saga - still not very well and may not be in action until next week. So all orders are being written down. It's doing wonders for my maths. No machine to do all the calculations.
In the evening I attended the City Council's City Centre Management Committee. Was a good meeting, with loads of updates. Most interesting was the update on the 'Destination Wells' site and the 'Traffic Orders' for the High Street.
The Destination Wells project is still on track, despite being slightly behind. However, that's how projects go! Once up and running fully - we'll have a great concept in which to promote the City. As for the new traffic orders - it should bring a lot of the current car parking problems under control. However, I do think that there has been a lot of nonsense in regards to signage in the High Street!
Apparently, when the High Street was relayed, there was an argument against putting traffic control signs up and signs painted on the road....and now everyone is wondering why there are traffic problems!!!! Anyway - at least it's being sorted. Well done to those involved.
After that meeting, met with the organising team for the next RUH (Royal United Hospital) bash in May. It will be a 1940's Wartime themed fundraiser (one of my charities). Micheal is putting an awful lot of work into arranging it all!
Then it was off to friends for a chinese takeaway at their house.... nice!!
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
This afternoon, I visited Wells Town Hall to review my diary with my (rather poorly) Diary Secretary. I have to do this each week, so that my diary is kept up to date. If it isn't then I'm not too sure where I am!! However, she is absolutely wonderful.
As my Diary Secretary wasn't feeling too good - and she was still trooping away - I went to the Lotus Lounge (in Wells, I opened it in November, alongside the floation tank) for some energy drinks. For my Secretary I brought a 'Immune Booster' and for me it was a 'Morning Glory' smoothie. We both felt a lot better for drinking them.
Got my diary updated with only a few amendments. It's all starting to look a bit cramped - I'm sure we'll get by.
Had great fun this evening. Went to Wookey Hole Caves for a rather unique event. Paul Scates organised an evening cramped with entertainment, champagne and nibbles. Paul is participating in a show called 'Spendaholics' (www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/tv/spendaholics). He has to show that he can put on an event with no budget - and a lot of planning! I must say, it worked.
First we were greeted with champagne, then after a welcome by moi, we witnessed a 'Moulin Rouge' dance routine. This was great fun. Although I should have expected that the Mayor would be targeted to join in the dancing! Then off to the wonderful caves for some more singers.
I really hope he gets his prize. Show to be aired at the end of January.
Monday, 8 January 2007
We used the time to do those extra jobs - which you often leave to another time.
However, the checkout problem (from Saturday, check out the day's blog) still hasn't been corrected. One checkout has been taken away for repair.
I spent until 2200hrs at work re-entering data - oh what joy!!!
Was a bit upset, as I was meant to attend a committee meeting for Wells Little Theatre. As Mayor, I'm automatically President of the organisation - it comes with the job. They are a great bunch of people who have wonderful perfomances throughout the year.
It's surprising how much work is involved when running a theatre. Wells is very fortunate to have such a facility and committed team to operate it.
Not only was Ruth Kelly MP a useless Education Minister, then she announced the biggest non-event of 2006 in the shape of The Local Government white paper and is now embroiled over a row involving the education of her son!
I personally think, that the Minister is quite right to choose the best for her Son and it isn't the business of anyone else. After all, he hasn't put himself forward in the public eye.
I think the media should leave her alone.
However, in true Government style, the Minister has decided to fight via press release. Not only is this dragging her Son even more into the argument, but also sharing the blame with a whole load of professionals and eduction authorites on the way!!
According to the BBC, the Minister had consulted with professionals and the Local Education Authority. All of which is fine.... but at the end of the day the Minister took the final decision - it shouldn't really matter who she had consulted.
So, apparently, it wasn't just the Minister's fault that she embarrassed the Government - it is in fact everybody elses fault too. Glad that's cleared up....
Sunday, 7 January 2007
Was very lucky to have a visit by my God Children (Joesph & Jack) and two very dear friends of mine (Richard & Sue), who are the parents. We had a really nice afternoon, just relaxing and catching up. After they left, I took down the christmas cards that I still had up in the Mayor's Parlour.
Also I noticed that one of the three poinsettia's had died! I brought three before christmas, as my token decoration for the Mayor's Parlour. Anyway, the one on the fire place just gave up all hope! I have a good track record with these types of plants as I have one at home, which is about two years old! It appears to flower all year round.... which, according to the powers that know, poinsettias don't do such a thing.
Anyway, after getting back home and sorting out my house (well starting too) - I joined friends for a drink and another catch-up (with some more pizza). We watched a BBC program called 'Torchwood'.
Basically it's a spin off of Dr. Who. It was very good, with one or two errors such as a dead man (lead star) looking very dead across his face - but his arms etc were very much alive! Oops, more make up please....
Now going to start writing my weekly diary for the Wells Journal, which is our local paper. I write the diary on Sunday/Monday and it is published on Thursday.
Got quite annouyed whilst reading the papers yesterday. Someone had leaked proposals from the MoD regarding defence cuts! I think, if it's true, then it is disgraceful that the Government is even begining to contemplate such action. It wouldn't be too bad if the Government was cutting back in all areas of spending - however, these cuts are to allow some other departments to keep pumping money (our money) into pointless projects to keep a few people (their activists) happy.
The cuts to the Navy are the deepest yet. The cuts are also meant to include the reserve! Well, as a formaer reservist - I think this whole plan stinks...
Friday, 5 January 2007
The latest moronic comment came when he called Ryanair "the irresponsible face of capitalism" ! To be fair he went onto criticise British Airways and other airlines.
Now, this Government has hounded all business' with new regulations, taxes and directives. There is only so much a business can do before the Government has to give ground. Perhaps if the likes of Ian Pearson MP (who?) would bother to listen to the wealth generators, then he will be surprised what can be achieved!
Or perhaps the Government doesn't want the hassle of achieving anything - after all shouting and ranting is easier than making hard choices.....
Thursday, 4 January 2007
I first off must declare an interest - I really wanted to apply for the very first BB after seeing a documentary on how and what the producers wanted to do. Sadly, missed that boat! However have really enjoyed most of them except the last one.
After all, the show is what it is....good entertainment without any thinking involved!!
Out of the current inmates, I only really know of a couple of them......
- Cleo Rocos (excellent with Kenny Everett and quite funny riding around the UK in a wheelbarrow holding a jelly, which was to test how 'level' pavements were (think a BBC thing?))
- Dirk Benedict (very good in the 80's classics 'The A-Team' and 'Battlestar Galactica')
- Leo Sayer (can remember some of his hits, as my Mum used to play them. Think she may of had an album! Anyway, good artist if you're into that sort of thing)
and the inmates I don't really know or care to know about......
- Carole Malone
- Danielle Lloyd
- Donny Tourette
- Ian 'H'
- Jermaine Jackson
- Jo O'Meara
- Ken Russell
- Silpha Shetty
Bulk of the day at Pickwicks....as usual! Today was particularly busy. Was not really with 'it' this morning as I gave a customer back more money (in change) than they paid! I don't know who was more shocked when I realised - which was a few seconds after doing it. However, sorted that one out.
Had a visit by one of our PCSO's, Linda, today. There has been a series of incidents where people have been passing over fake £20 notes. Luckily we haven't had any. As an extra precaution to the training I give, I've brought some of the tester pens you swipe across notes if you have any suspicion. Did see a fake note today which was frighteningly good. However once you know what to look for - it's easy to tell.
In the evening I attended the Wells City Council Special Meeting ref the proposed Thermal Treatment Facility, just outside the city. The meeting was to consider updates regarding the application. The application as a whole is very detailed and highly technical. However, the Council decided to keep to it's current views - which is based around traffic movements, location and possible health concerns. It is fair to say the applicant has been very clear in it's response to these and other issues raised.
On a personal note, I believe that it is some amazing technology - a real step forward. We must all accept that if we want fantastic products to help us live a better life - then there is going to be a waste issue! It has to be sorted some how. However, putting this plant in the middle of rural Somerset on poorly serviced roads, is very difficult to understand, although the applicant appears to have a strong economic case for the proposed site. So to sum up: right technology - wrong location!
After the meal a mate of mine treated myself and another friend to dinner at a newish restaurant in the city called Andre's. As usual, a fantastic meal - however a bit disappointed that the tapas menu was restricted.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve attended 10 events, functions and meetings as your Mayor.
On Christmas Eve I had six official engagements (plus a few unofficial ones). First was attending the St. Theresa and Joseph Church. This was a very interesting service for me as I have never attended a Catholic service before. Then I went across the road to the Elim Church for their service.
After lunch I visited both Fletcher House and Cathedral View Nursing Home. Then it was off to St. Thomas’ Church for their Carol Service. This was particularly good as it was only carols but also gave the congregation an opportunity to choose which ones they liked to sing.
I finished off the day by attending Midnight Mass at the Cathedral. This was also a first for me.
On Christmas Day I had three official engagements (again a few unofficial ones). First stop was the civic church which is St. Cuthbert’s. After the service I visited some people at home and then headed off to share a mince pie of two with our Police who were on duty.
Then after visiting some more people at home, I parked my car and went on a tour of those places open for the day – which may of may not of included the pubs in the City Centre (hic). On my way up the High Street, I visited the Seagar Hall where the Elim Church were putting on lunch for those in need (which included your Mayor by that time). My last stop was The Swan Hotel to meet the many people who have chosen Wells as a place to stay over crimbo.
After all that, I headed of to friends for Christmas Dinner, which was marvellous. Later in the evening, I joined another group of friends to finally open my presents. I don’t think I’ve opened my presents so late in the day.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the whole Christmas experience this year. My only sad point was not being with my family back in Hedge End and sharing Stanley’s (my 8 month old nephew) first Christmas. However, I suppose missing one Christmas out of 34 isn’t too bad?
As for Boxing Day and the following week, I had no official engagements (just worked for most of it). However, the Mayoress and I hosted a party for friends in the Mayor’s parlour to celebrate New Year.
Over the next week my diary includes Council meetings and the installation of the new Vicar of St. Thomas’.
Wednesday, 3 January 2007
This evening I attended the Mendip District Council Planning Meeting. This was to speak on an agenda item relating to planning permission for A 3G telecommunications mast.
MDC had recommended it for approval - however local residents had some concerns. I put them forward to the meeting. The three main concerns givern to me were;
1) Access to the site
2) Visability of the mast in an ANOB
3) Possible health conerns
The committee had a brief discussion on the application - and went for the Officer's recommendation (with an amendment to plant shurbs and review the external materials).
Tuesday, 2 January 2007
Spent half of today at work and the other half arranging diary committments over the next couple of months.
Have quite a few engagements lined up now...
Purchase of the day was a wireless keyboard and mouse. These work wonders. not tied to my rather untidy desk anymore.
One of the things I did whilst in the Town Hall, was to set the agenda for Full Council meeting on 11th January 2007. Meeting should be fairly short, as we have had very few meetings over the past six weeks.
However, there is an important meeting for the City Council towards the end of this month - as we have to set over part of the Council Tax.....
Monday, 1 January 2007
I think it's at this point in the year, just as being Mayor settles down to being a routine, one can see the full scope of the role - but needs another 12 monhs to achieve them.
Anyway, I only have 4.5 months left - with loads to do.
Last night, for my New Years Party - we celebrated the new year in the Mayor's Parlour. We had a fantastic time, which judging by the texts, was enjoyed by all.
I went into the Parlour today to do a bit of tidying up. Thankfully the Mayoress (Julie) did a lot of the washing up just before we left last night (or this morning).
All squared now, so just need to do a little more tidying which can wait until tomorrow.
Only one engagement this week, which is on Saturday. St. Thomas' Church will be installing a new Vicar.
HAPPY NEW YEAR....