I'm having technical difficulties...we have yet to know what Malcolm's political knowledge is.
Malcolm has told us that he plays cricket and was involved with the brownies and something about some council run charity. All very commendable, what exactly was this charity and what exactly does Malcolm do these days?
Thanks for your kind comments – I’m not the least bit offended about the name mix up.
You asked about my experience. I can tell you about my involvement in local Government, although I can add I worked in Central Government in various posts in my early career which included writing briefs and parliamentary answers for ministers, but this wasn’t party political, as Civil Servants were “apolitical” always.
My involvement in local government started in the area where my work was based in Rochdale. I got involved via my Company in economic development and was asked by the Council to do various things arising from that. I was on the Development Agency Board that attracted new investment into Middleton which revitalised the town centre, including building the Middleton Arena. We were also working on the Rochdale Town Centre as a major project which has now come to fruition.
I developed what was regarded as an innovative childcare scheme with the Council and that lead to me being involved in what was the Children’s’ Partnership and eventually became the Children’s’ Trust. This was the “Children’s Schools and Families” area that came under the Local and National Government Department of the same name. I chaired the Trust from formation and at one stage our Trust was consulted by the Government of the day as one of 6 which were regarded as doing something well which was different. At the time I was the only Independent Chair in the Country. The Trust was a body made up of Councillors of all parties, Council Officers, Social Services, Head teachers, Police, NHS and the voluntary sector.
The charity work you refer to was another role where Rochdale were successful in a bid for £2.7m of lottery funding for an architectural and heritage project focussed on restoring the buildings of local architect Edgar Wood, a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. This Board which I chair is again made up of local councillors, community and business representatives. We have tangible evidence for our work and have attracted a large number of visitors to the area by linking with other heritage attractions.
I was also the Chair of the Rochdale Council Remuneration Panel and a member from its inception when local government was re-organised into its “cabinet” or “executive” system. All Councils set up independent panels to review what councillors were paid as an allowance and all other related areas such as use of IT equipment and so on. The work we did involved surveying councillors directly on their activities and how they spent their time. We did this in a paper survey but also by talking to councillors. The Panel took formal representations from the Party Leaders in the Council. We developed our own formula for this which we re-examined over the years. We presented our recommendations back to the Party leaders and these went to Council for decisions. This gave me what I feel was a very good insight into the work of Local Councillors, and the workings of council bodies.
None of this was experience as a Councillor but as has been said already, everyone starts with no experience. I think I’ve got some relevant background that gives me a better start.
I recently stopped full time work and hence my keenness to get involved in the area where I live.