A Busy Month For Yash

IF YOU have ever wondered what marks out Cllr Yash Gupta from the other councillors,not only in Thurrock but all over the country then you simply need to go to his web page on the Thurrock Council website.

1. Meeting with Transportation Manager
On 2nd August 2010, I had a meeting at the Council Offices with the Transportation Manager and discussed a number of issues relating to the budget, petitions and The Highways Policies, which are coming before the Scrutiny Committee and the Cabinet.

2. Park Patrols – Invitation to attend at Dilkes Park, South Ockendon
The invitation came from the Police in South Ockendon. In partnership with the Council, they were planning to cover all local parks for improving security and safety in these parks.

3. Meeting with Head of Housing & Director of Community Well-Being

I joined with five other Councillors who attended this meeting from 6 to 8pm on 2nd August 2010. The newly appointed Head of Housing gave his first impression of the Housing Service which in his opinion is ten years behind other services.

The importance of increasing housing stocks was discussed.

4. Diversity Members Peers Meeting
Along with 20 other Councillors from different Council’s in England, I attended this Seminar on 3rd August 2010 in London. It was organised by the Local Government Improvement & Development Agency. The main topic of discussion was shrinking Council Budgets and the role of Peer Reviews. It was a very interesting and thought provoking seminar.

5. Meeting with the Chief Executive
At the invitation of the Council’s new Chief Executive, I went to see him for half an hour on 5th August 2010. The main issues which were discussed were; his vision for Thurrock’s future and his first week’s impressions of Thurrock’s Governance. It was an introductory meeting.

6. Meeting with the Cleaning & Greening Managers
I spent nearly 1½ hours with the managers at Curzon Drive on 5th August 2010 when we looked in depth at this year’s budget savings and the advertisement for promoting recycling.

7. Standards Committee Meeting
On the evening of 5th August 2010, I attended a meeting of the Initial Assessment panel of the Standards Committee, where we looked at a complaint against a Councillor about breaking the Code of Conduct.

8. Site visit – South Ockendon Landfill
On 6th August 2010 along with two officers from the Highways Team, I went to see this landfill and its impact on adjoining roads with the increased volume of HGV’s. I will now discuss this issue with all six Ward Councillors before making the final decision.

9. Councillor’s Surgery
On 7th August 2010, I attended the Grays Councillor’s Surgery at the Thameside Complex in Grays and saw four residents who discussed their individual problems. Cllr Healy joined in at 11.30am and met with one of his constituents.

10. Meeting with residents – Piggs Corner Complex

I attended this meeting on 9th August 2010 from 10.30 to 11.30am. 16 residents attended this meeting and we discussed a number of issues relating to this complex. The Sheltered Housing Officer, in the absence of the manager, answered their queries. I told the residents that the new Housing Manager will be happy to attend their future meetings and discuss any important policy issues with them.

11. Promoting Recycling – Lakeside ECO House Project

At the invitation of the Lakeside Shopping Centre, I went to see the Echo House Project on 9th August 2010 from 2 to 3.30pm. I met a number of young children, their parents and grand parents, who were busy using recycled materials for their fun games and were enjoying themselves. This is a part of their community work as they are providing a number of activities free of charge to young children.

12. Local Transport Plan – Implementation Meeting
I attended this meeting at the Council with the Officers from the Transport Department on 10th August from 2 to 3pm. We looked at the Council’s priorities laid down in the Local Transport Strategy Document 2008 – 2021. I the light of squeezing transport budget, we have to look at the priorities and might have to revise these for each year.

13. Planning, Transport & Regeneration Overview & Scrutiny Committee Meeting

On the evening of 10th August 2010, I attended this Committee and presented two items relating to the Highways Department for discussion and recommendations. It was my first meeting with this Committee as a Cabinet Member for Environment.

14. Cabinet Meeting – 11th August 2010
I attended the Cabinet Meeting on 11th August 2010 and participated in various discussions which were taken by the Cabinet. The important decisions were:

a)Looking at alternative budget proposals from the Opposition
b)Thurrock’s Business Continuity Plan
c)Proposal to consult on the amalgamation of Thameside Infant and Junior Schools
d)Award of contracts for Transport to Education for this year
e)Approval to tenders for the provision of supported local bus services as a Cabinet Member responsible for Highways & Transport – I presented this item to the Cabinet.

15. Health, Housing & Social Care Commission Enquiry
Thurrock Disability Network invited local residents to this event which was held on 12th August 2010 at the Beehive Resource Centre. Along with 20 other residents I attended this session where I listened to the research worker from this Commission. Most of the residents expressed their concerns about the future of Health & Social Care in the light of impending cuts coming from Central Government.

16. Meeting with Passenger Transport Department Officers
As a Portfolio Holder for Highways & Transport, I met two senior Officers from the Passenger Transport Department of the Council on 13th August 2010 and discussed with them; Concessionary Fare Schemes, Tilbury Ferry and the tendering process for next years subsidised bus routes.

17. Attlee Court Older People’s Complex – Fete Celebrations
At the invitation of the residents, I went to participate in this community event on Saturday 14th August 2010 from 10 to 11.30am. A large number of local residents were taking advantage of various cheap stalls and buying things. Tea and cakes were served to everyone. Enjoyable morning!

19. Impulse Leisure – Annual General Meeting

I was invited to attend this meeting on 16th August 2010 as a local resident who supports very actively Impulse Leisure’s programme of improving community health and well-being. I was pleased to note that Impulse Leisure increased its membership last year and made a profit of £197,000 in spite of increased fuel costs. New Trustees were elected to the Board.

20. Site Visit with Highways Officers – Tank Hill Road, Purfleet
There is a problem of closing a small patch of road in Tank Hill Road because of safety issues created by the sliding of a cliff in that area. I made a site visit with the Highways Officers and discussed the pros and cons of this action. I will be discussing this issue with the local residents and the Ward Councillors before making a final decision.

21. Community Engagement Scrutiny Panel

On 23rd August 2010, I attended a meeting of this panel and heard two speakers; one of them talked about the Community Budget Participation and the other one of Community Engagement projects in the London Borough of Southwark. A number of Officers were in attendance.

22. Meeting with the Transportation Manager of the Council
From 2 to 3pm on 23rd August 2010, I had a meeting with the Transportation Manager where we discussed a number of issues relating to this department – Budget, Section 106 payments, requests from different Councillors and residents about Highways works and response to enquiries from local residents.

23. Visit with Sue Bloss to see Murals – Tilbury – Little Thurrock
On 27th August 2010, I went with Sue Bloss to have a look at graffiti removal and the painting of murals on Tilbury Bridge and Deanholm underpass. A number for young people worked hard to improve the environment by painting these beautiful murals. Sue expressed her fear that funds for such projects may dry up now.

24. Meeting with Officers from Highways Department
On 31st August 2010, I had a monthly meeting with the Head of Department and the Transportation Manager where we discussed a number of issues facing this department – monitoring of budgets, monitoring of highways works programme, transport issues etc.

25. Meeting with Head of Housing

To discuss the Council’s Homeless People’s Strategy, the Head of Housing invited Board Members of the CAB to meet with him on the morning of 31st August 2010. A number of issues from this strategy document were raised and discussed.

26. Handover of Cleaning & Greening Department
The Leader of the Council agreed with my request of transferring these departments to my colleague Cllr Val Morris-Cook from the beginning of September 2010. I will now have the responsibility for Transport, Highways & Parking.

27. Full Council Meeting: Portfolio Holder Report

Four areas of improvements were listed;

1. Monitoring system is established to get the annual highways works programme including last year’s pending programme to be completed before the end of financial year.

2. To reduce the expenditure on Insurance claims which was over £200,000 last year by renewing policies which have not been renewed during the last six years.

3. To increase income by cashing in S 106 Planning Gains which has not been followed up until now.

4. To implement new works programme worth £1.5 millions from the Winter Maintenance grant just received by the Council.

After my presentation I was able to answer seven different questions put to me by councillors.

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