Today I attended (as yet another civic duty) the Raising of the Red Ensign flag to commemorate Merchant Navy Day, at the offices of Cwmbran Community Council.
Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘Island Nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including much of the food we eat, most of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!
It was a nice little service that with a short speech from the chair of the council (Cllr Bob Jones) and then followed by refreshments.
Today was the day of Cwmbran’s Big Event, hosted by Cwmbran Community Council (for which I am a councillor) and Torfaen County Borough Council (for which I am the Mayor’s official consort). The event itself showcases the best of Cwmbran, from entertainment and music, to fun and games, and highlights the works of local businesses, charities, community groups and even the council itself. I was there in both capacities as Mayors consort and as a community councillor. It was very nice to get to see the good work that is going on in Cwmbran.
Marianna went down a storm especially as she had her own Mayoral chain, she enjoyed herself, except being somewhat frightened, and by somewhat frightened I mean pants wettingly terrified, of the Torfaen Play mascot TJ Bear. We then moved over to watch the finals of the raft race on the lake where Marianna and her mother got hand out the trophy to the winning team the Parkrun Pirates.
Also, and possibly best of all I picked up enough free pens to last me a year, and I get through a lot of pens, seriously a lot of pens.
Today was the annual general meeting of Cwmbran Community Council, its the first major meeting since the election, it sees nominations to offices within the council as well as appointments to committees and outside bodies.
It was a fairly long meeting which has left me sorely in need of my bed, however during said meeting I was appointed to three council committees; The Events and Community Projects Committee; The Grants Committee and The Policy And Finance Committee. I was also selected as Vice Chair of the Policy and Finance Committee. As well as this I also found myself appointed to the board of directors of the congress theatre in Cwmbran, which should hopefully be good fun.
I was recently asked to consider standing in the upcoming election for my local community council (Cwmbran Community Council) and it really hit me, that I have absolutely no idea what it is that community councils do, so a little research later, here we are.
Community and town councils can make a significant contribution to the
localities that they serve. Community councils can provide facilities and support initiatives to respond to local needs, can organise and promote community events and can advocate and represent community interests. They work well within the structures of existing borough councils because due to their large nature, borough councils would have to take to broad a view in their decisions, whereas community councils have that local knowledge to know what needs to be done.
Community and town councils provide amenities that directly enhance the quality of life and visual appearance of Welsh communities – from floral displays to bus shelters and
Christmas lights. They played the leading role in organizing events to mark the Millennium and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and are a vital source of funding for local community groups, sports clubs and charities, investing around £1 million in the
voluntary sector across Wales each year. A former colleague of mine who serves on a community council in The Vale of Glamorgan once described community councillors as the lords of small matters, because they were often dealing with things such as where to put litter bins, getting street signs moved, having bus stops cleaned and deciding how much money should go to the grandmothers choir and baroque ensemble. It does sound trivial, but you would soon notice if public bins were overflowing, streetlights weren’t working and bus stops smelled like urine.
Possibly the most important thing they do (at least from my point of view) is organise community events, anything from local village fairs and choir battles, to school plays, family fun days, outdoor cinemas and full on music festivals, community councils are the backbone for these events, the councillors and officers are the ones that give the funding and put in the hours to make sure their community is a better place live, work and play.