As 2012 draws to a close, and we look to start 2013 after the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy non-event, I will if I can without boring you, look back on 2012. Not just from a council prospective, but as a nation, too. Let’s start off with Cornwall Council and my role within that organisation.
Looking back on the 229 blog posts I have written over the last 12 months, it is hard to know where to start without just repeated all the previous posts, but there have been many important and far-reaching events will impact on 2013 as well. The obvious one is the JV, and how back-bench Councillors took back (if they ever had) control of the council in a feat many would have said was impossible, or could not be done. This has resulted in a council that is more cooperative between the different faction, and the Cabinet, the once bane of many, is now very aware that they are not immune to their actions. The JV is not the dead-duck it should be, but the casualty of not taking the whole elected membership along with the proposals has cost one Leader and now a CEO. That is surely a lesson for all councils to heed.
You may not believe this, but Cornwall Council is seen by many other councils as a leader in Social Media. Again like in 2011, the staff and Councillors have shown how Social Media can be used to engage with the public. Often this hard-work goes unnoticed as something just appears, or there is a tweak, but there is a lot of clever stuff happening, and more is set for 2013. I am certainly impressed, and look forward to more during the following year.
It has not all gone the Councils way, as the implementation of the new waste contract was a large black mark against the council’s reputation. Again lesson have to be learnt, because if a council cannot do the basics right, then it does not bear thinking about on more complex issues. The Incinerator issue still rumbles on, and is looking likely to be an issue for the next council to deal with. Again the council reputation has, and is still taking a battering on this issue. I hope it is resolved one way or another and soon.
As for other issues, who would have thought prayers would have been an issue, not just at Cornwall Council, but in all councils. Thankfully, it resolved itself, but could have been a lot worse; however we did spend far too much time on this issue. Sadly, Cornwall is still without a County stadium, it deserves one, and I hope something can be achieved in 2013.
For Britain we hosted the Olympics. I have to admit, I was negative to the whole concept and the sheer expense of it all. I also failed to see the importance of the Olympic Torch and its impact on Cornwall’s communities. Seeing the plane land at RNAS Culdrose and the many thousands of people lining the streets in Helston together as a whole community was a sight to behold. It was simply magic, and I am glad I made the effort to be there witnessing a great event.
As for the Olympics themselves, I was addicted to it. The opening ceremony of ‘Good Evening Mr Bond’ right up to the closing ceremony was totally amazing. The whole nation got right behind it, even though the country was (and still is) in a difficult economic situation. In fact the nation as a whole became proud to be British again and showed the world just how quirky and resilient we as a nation are. I believe Britain has struggled with itself in the post-empire world, and many nations looked upon us with pity, as we were struggling to find ourselves in the world. The Olympics have changed that, and it is a great feeling to be British and proud. As it showed we can still pull off something despite the odds.
And then there was the Queens Jubilee Celebration. It was great to see so many communities organising and holding events despite the awful weather. Like the Olympics a bit of jingoistic celebrations of flag waving brought cheer to the country. I know not everyone is a fan of the Royals, but even some of the die-hard republicans I know could not help but join in with some of the community events being held. Like the Olympics, it was a pause from the negativity and economic hardship.
As for 2013, it is going to be a tough year financially for the council. The less than favourable settlement from Central Government of the formula grant is going to hurt. We are also in an election year. I will be standing, and I hope I am successful. But in the meantime, there is still a job to do and January will be all about budgets and the Council Tax for 2013/14.
As for my readers, thank you, keep reading and commenting. Taking the time to read what I write is really appreciated and I hope it continues in 2013. So this is my last post for 2012 and I will see you on the other-side.
Happy New Year, and spare a thought for those who are in foreign lands serving their Country. Many are my former colleagues and friends.