Thursday, 18 February 2010

Southampton city council meeting

When Brian asked us to go to a council meeting last Friday, the first thought that went through my mind was: "Obviously, it couldn't go on like that... now they want us to do boring stuff...". Then I just dreaded the meeting until I managed to convince Sebastian to go with me - so that I could ask him in case I missed or misunderstood something.

We attended the Southampton City Council meeting, whose title was "Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee". In some respects, the meeting wasn't like I had expected: I thought we would be totally ignored by the councillors, told to sit in a corner and to keep our mouths shut. After we sat down on the very comfortable leather armchairs, to my great surprise, one of the councillors got up to give us the agenda and to explain what would be discussed during the meeting. I was really surprised by the warm and friendly atmosphere that was in the Council Chamber. Don't get me wrong though; there were also some very grumpy-looking people, which I can also understand given the tone of the meeting.

I'm going to be honest with you, I'd say I understood 50% of the meeting, and the task was not made easier by the councillors I'm afraid. First there were those who couldn't articulate properly, which sounded like gobbledygook to me. Then, there were people who couldn't use their microphones. And the third difficulty was... the content of the discussion - yes, I do tend to lose my concentration quite quickly when I don't understand and/or I'm not interested.

If I understood correctly, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss or even challenge some decisions that were recently made by the Council. Councillors were asked if they had any concerns or propositions to share with others, and those actually covered a wide range of subjects: trade, traffic regulation, how to encourage/help new businesses to grow etc. They also discussed criminality and drink related problems. To me, it sounded more like they were actually moaning about it more than really trying to solve the problems.

The positive thing I got out of this meeting is that life's too short! Make the most of it (and don't waste it in a Council Chamber).


JargonJoker said...

Well said Julie, well said. This was truly a day to remember! hahaha I guess when it comes to bureaucracy you already know what you're getting yourself into, and it isn't a fun time.
I'm glad we went, though, because I now know that if in the future I am ever asked to attend such an event, I will have the integrity to say: I would go, but I've got bills to pay, which is much more fun.

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