#Notwestminster

Like many, I’ve been inspired by attending the local democracy conference in Huddersfield.

www.notinwestminster.wordpress.com

For various reasons I haven’t ventured out of Bucks and County Hall for possibly a good couple of years (for work that is!). Having worked in Westminster I overdosed on networking and conferences and realised that often they cost a fortune and I learnt very little.

This event intrigued me however. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m passionate about democracy and here was an event about everything I care about and it was free!

The whole thing really was a world away from Westminster. I loved the mix of people from officers, councillors to community activists which led to some interesting exchanges of views.

I took a lot of ideas away and a list of practical actions, but also something much more important. It reinvigorated my view that a council democratic services function should and can be much more than providing support to council committees (whilst this is of course very important). It needs to be a service with a mission to champion local democracy, helping connect residents with elected members, as well as members with residents.

With the pressures of income generation, workload and processes it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal.

Well done to Kirklees Council for taking the lead in proudly advocating for a visionary and ambitious mission to promote local democracy.

Dry January

And so it ends. I’ve learnt many things this month.

Firstly that I shouldn’t try and spread myself too thin and attempt to do too many things that I’m not actually that committed to doing. Generally, I couldn’t be bothered to exercise every day; not because it was too hard, just simply because I didn’t feel like it.

Secondly, that when I do really set my mind to something then I do always achieve it in the end ( even if it does take me many attempts and many years).

31 days without a drop of alcohol. I had moments of weakness and desire, but they were just moments until I had a cup of tea or lemongrass & ginger cordial. Any longings were mainly because of entrenched habits built up over many years, for example the association of a long committee day with a glass of wine to relax in the evening or of course being out with friends.

It was particularly helpful to break old habits by engrossing myself with other things I enjoy. In my case running and a new job.

Thirdly, I think I’ve learnt that I can change old habits as and when I want.

Looking forward to new challenges and wine in  moderation!

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Running in the snow at Beachy Head. Continue reading