David Phillips column: Keeping you in the picture
ONE of the great things about being a local councillor is that when I'm out and about people have no worries about challenging me or offering their opinion on council matters. It's something I've mentioned in this column before.
If you want to know what people think, I find you only have to ask and they'll tell you. Inspiring, infuriating but always interesting, these opportunities to share views and issues in an open and transparent way are vital in a healthy democracy.
That's the principle that I've followed in resolving the issue of Swansea's second permanent Gypsy and traveller site.
Later this month Swansea Council will be making its own views clear before cabinet makes a final decision about where a potential site could go.
To assist in this we launched a public consultation exercise almost a year ago.
Your engagement with the process has been remarkable. We've had more than 3,000 responses and 18 petitions, the largest of which contained more than 6,000 names.
We only had to ask and you most definitely have told us what you think.
Our commitment to openness and transparency on this issue does not end with the feedback.
For the first time in Swansea Council's history we'll be broadcasting the council meeting on October 21 via a live webcast so people will be able to see for themselves how that feedback influences council debate
We also expect that lots of people will want to be there in person. So we're opening up more rooms so those who can't get into the main council chamber can watch it on screen from there.
Gypsy/traveller representatives and the lead petitioners for each of the petitions and will have the chance to speak to the council before councillors make their recommendation to cabinet, who will decide.
Leadership has to be about facing up to difficult issues. And the decision about a second permanent Gypsy/traveller site is certainly one of those. It's been put off for too long because of the potential political consequences. But settle it we must, we have a legal and moral obligation to do so. But I can't promise that everyone will be satisfied with the decision.
But I can promise that cabinet will take your views and the representations of council into account. Throughout this consultation we have been open, transparent and honest about the issues. Cabinet's final decision will not depart from that.
I think this is local democracy at its best and I'm grateful to everyone who's got involved in the debate.
WHILE experts argue over the extent of the economic recovery, the key question remains how we grow the local economy.
We've taken the first step by creating the Swansea Bay City Region — bringing together the four local authorities, their 700,000 population, major global companies, leading colleges and universities in an effective dynamic partnership as the focus for driving the ecomony.
Now we're taking the next step by staging a major conference on October 18 with leading business people and experts to debate how we grow business across the region.
If you want to attend please visit: http://swanseabaycity region.eventbrite.com
THERE can't be many people who haven't heard of Cwtch the Bid, Swansea Bay's campaign to win the race to become Capital of Culture in 2017.
This week we've passed an important milestone, we've put in our final bid and it's a fantastic document.
We're up against strong opposition but we're quietly confident we've got a case compelling enough to pull off what would be a big social, economic and morale-boosting bonus for the whole region.
The decision will be taken in November so it's not over yet. So, please carry on cwtching the bid. Every little hug helps.