I returned to Cowley St on Wednesday. As expected my inbox was bursting at the seems. 400 emails have arrived in my absence. And add to that the 250 I received on my blackberry whilst on holiday. So much of the day was spent dealing with them. The rest of the time was spent eating Turkish delight with the Policy Unit who share the same room as me in HQ.
Back at the flat in the evening we loaded up the car with everything that had to go back to Gateshead. I hate car journeys between London and the North East, especially when travelling in the dark. With David driving there was nothing for me to do other than listen to the radio or go to sleep. Somehow I did both. Generally I avoid such long distance car journeys and in the near 7 years of doing the London commute, I have taken the train on all but a handful of occasions. I took the car this time simply because it was already in London and both David and I were heading up with a huge amount of luggage. We were home by 11pm.
The reason I headed up was to get to the Gateshead Council meeting being held yesterday (Thursday). Somehow, Labour councillors never learn: I just have to be there and not say anything for them to attack me. This time at least, they were responding to a short speech I gave near the start of the meeting in response to the Council Leader's comments on the Local Government White Paper. My group leader, Councillor Noel Rippeth, asked me only 5 minutes before the council meeting started to do the group response. Thanks Noel! Fortunately I had read the LGA group response to the white paper - I received it via email whilst on holiday.
There were howls of fake disapproval from Labour when someone on our side announced that I had just been on holiday. I'm not sure why that had to be mentioned! And then came one response from the Labour side attacking me for taking a holiday in Gateshead! This was then followed by an invited speaker from the NewcastleGateshead Initiative who, amongst other things, was promoting the idea of, erm, well people visiting Gateshead for holiday and travel! No matter what I say or do, Labour will always attack me on Gateshead Council. But as I said before, they never learn. All they do is boost my ego!
I visited Marley Hill village in my ward twice on Thursday. The village is a former mining community though the mine closed in the early 80s (it was the last in the region to use pit ponies!) and we have a high level of support there. I delivered the post office petition there in the morning and collected replies in the evening. 40 households out of 180 replied but 9 email addresses included.
Talking of which I did an interview with the Evening Chronicle, our daily evening regional newspaper, about my email newsletters and how I am using video to engage with residents. They're sending a photography out on Sunday so hopefully we'll have something in the press next week.