COLUMN: A week in the life of council's leader of the opposition
I've spent much of the week asking questions.
That’s the role of the leader of the opposition.
Not asking questions to score political points (well not necessarily!) But asking questions to make sure the public services meet the needs of those they are intended for.
One of my targets this week was the Police and Crime Commissioner who attended the County Council.
Not having had a response to a letter sent by the Great Brickhill Wing and Ivinghoe Local Area Forum on the very vexed question of the low priority (‘no priority’?) they understand to be given to enforcing speed limits in rural areas where local Speedwatch volunteers have evidenced large numbers of motorists exceeding 60 in 30mph zones.
I decided to follow up the letter and ask him to listen to local people and work closely with communities.
I didn’t get much of an answer from the elected Commissioner, but the Chief Constable, Francis Habgood, by his side, paid full attention, took my points on board, and undertook to make a full response.
I’ve been involved in mental health since I became a councillor in 1991, and since 1999 I have been a Mental Health Act manager and seen how mental illness can ruin lives not only of those afflicted but of whole families, and yet the mental health service has had no champions in politics or in government until Norman Lamb Liberal Democrat MP persuaded the last government to invest equally in mental health.
So one of my questions I have been trying to find the answer to this week is if investment in mental health in Buckinghamshire particularly in Aylesbury Vale has increased as promised in the Aylesbury Vale CCG 2015/16 operational plan which committed the Aylesbury Vale group to parity of esteem for mental health with a range of improvements, but got barely a mention in 2016/17.
I still have a bit further to go on this, but the meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board on January 12th will be devoted to mental health.