A Day in the Life of…..
Councillor Xena Dion, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Consumer Protection Services; Local Economy and Transportation
I’m constantly amazed at how much can be fitted in to a day!
6.30am up and out of the house to run Diesel, our dog. After a 40-60 minute outing (depending on what I have scheduled in first thing) I get back and take out our other dog Cheyenne I can’t take them out together as they have to be on leads and I wouldn’t match their combined strength if they wanted to go chase a squirrel.
I can’t forego breakfast which is a quick tea and toast around 8 o’clock. At 8.30 I am at the Civic Centre for a briefing with one of the Strategic Directors and senior officers to discuss upcoming issues. Part of my role as portfolio holder is to determine, at the earliest opportunity, what is likely to be of wider public interest to ensure it is brought into the fore. There are countless minor decisions and matters dealt with by Council officers every day that would completely bog down the democratic process if they were all to be brought before elected members. However, sometimes an issue can be missed that after time, proves to be of greater relevance than was originally thought, so it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I get to work by 9.30. As a public health practitioner/health visitor and locality lead for the local NHS I have a stimulating and rewarding mix of ‘front line’ work, management and professional development within the organisation. My day-to-day work involves home visiting to new mothers/parents, families with more complex needs, child protection work, over-seeing clinics and health promotion groups, training students and a ton of paperwork to make referrals and document all I have done.
After some traffic hold-ups and visits taking longer than I plan, lunch is a few apples on the hoof.
Sometimes my professional role sees me working with the Council as a partner. I am, as an example, the named health visitor for Gypsies and Travellers. Today I am asked to visit an unauthorised site to assess any ‘unmet’ health needs of the Travellers before the Council can apply to the Courts to move them on.
Just after 5 I am back at the Civic Centre for an informal meeting with fellow Cabinet members. We discuss key issues in each of our portfolios which is important for all of us and as a new cabinet member I appreciate a bit of guidance over some of the more challenging matters that I am dealing with. The Leader gives us an update on broader strategic issues and we thrash out a few points that we don’t all initially agree on. This forum is like an early test of our knowledge and judgement. If we can’t defend our early or initial viewpoint on a matter amongst colleagues, we need to be thinking again or getting stronger evidence behind us.
At 6.30 I am straight into a briefing of fellow Conservative Group members prior to an important overview and scrutiny committee meeting. I stop, as previously arranged, to meet a student who is keen to understand what local politicians do. He is very keen and committed and has been to several meetings and briefings with me. I am also keen and committed to helping future movers and shakers, like him, learn how the political and democratic process works.
Overview and scrutiny committee starts at 7pm. I am not at the meeting to contribute unless asked to do so by the committee members, or unless I have such a burning need to, that I put my hand up. I am here to listen and note the debate and recommendations.
The meeting finishes at 9.15pm. I am tired but home by 9.20. I am greeted by the dogs, which is always a pleasure and my Council mailbag, which brings a lot of reading material. I put it aside for a quieter day.
At 10 o’clock I catch up on my Council e-mails. I have to work on a planning application that some residents are not happy with, which proves to be a bit more complicated than I thought. I reply to several messages about meetings and invitations and dash to the car to get my diary so I can arrange a time to meet with some residents about some proposed yellow lines on their road that they are not happy with. I read a few irate messages about a current issue and I forward a few things to another e-mail address so I can look at them at another time. I leave a message for myself on my work phone to remind myself about something I need to do and finally wind down around 11.30 with a mindless game on the computer to ease the brain in to sleep mode.