Aith Gun

Aith Gun
Breezy Isles, Shetland

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 - Cllr Keef

Busy Busy Busy.

Firstly, soon after the election, my partner and myself went our separate ways. So while going through the campaign, I was finding somewhere to live and dealing with that.

The Council have been excellent with their training for New, and Old Councillors. We had our photo taken for our ID and web page, I had peddled on my bike to get their on time, it was extremely hot for May, t shirt weather. No sooner had I got off my bike I had to don a shirt and tie and my suit jacket. The sweat was pouring from me and my head felt like it was going to explode...

We went to various meetings, looking back it seems quite a swirled up time. I was elected again, this time to the Licensing Panel, this is one of the legal Committees, we protect the residents of South Ribble as far as Licensing can go, with Taxi drivers, cars and operators, public events and pubs, clubs and bars.

As it was all new to me, I attended, and still do, nearly all the other committees, Planning, Scrutiny, Governance, Cabinet and of course Full Council.
I have also had an input on the Local Development Plan, this is to secure development around the Borough so that we get they types of development where we need them, rather than a developer dictating to us and building in the wrong place. Along with this we get a cash advance from the developer to improve the infrastructure.

I have started now to get more involved with charities, I do this alongside my radio show, a yes, I was not to have my voice or name be heard on the show during the election period, so I enlisted aDell, a computer generated voice to introduce trax for me, I should bring her back to the show, she was great.

It takes a while to understand how the council works, or doesn't work. I think I have just started to get it, so to speak. There has been much to take in, many folk to see and reams of paperwork to read.

I have also taken part in some demonstrations against the way public sector folk seem to be used as pawns to make another group look good, I find it odd that 100 billion or more in tax is avoided so they then pick on the few billion savings they can make by making folks lives worse.

I took part in the TUC march in Manchester.

It does feel we all are having to bend over backwards........

I have also taken part in the Transition movement here in the Borough

On my first visit to the Penwortham Pumpkin Patch I planted a tree as a representative of the council, the Mayor of the Borough and the Mayor of the Town could not make the 10 am shoot as it was bonfire night.

I did actually plant the tree, not just sprinkle a wee bit of dirt from the spade.

I also took part in the strike N30, I contribute to a pension as a public sector worker and was not happy with the GOV changing the deal I and my employer had signed up to.
I made a wee video with some topical music and many of my images. I also went to support those workers from the Borough who were as upset. I got up at 6 am to stand at the gates to where I worked, then off to the Civic Centre then off to Preston.

Here I am with Heather Park who stood in the Town Elections in May

As you can see, getting a belly on there.

I went to see my Dad again in October, he is doing as well as can be expected, we had quite a good time together and many laughs, we share a similar sense of humour, and we get along. He seems not to want to go out anymore, for someone who you could not keep in, it seems odd. The guy who bought the house in Burgh Road has completely stripped it to the bare stone, I had a look around, it was eery, there were still bits of the old house left, memories were concentrated on those small remnants, the hand rail that still had a bit of blood on it from when he cut himself the last week he was there, the head marks on the upstairs bedroom window where he must have looked out of 100 times, not knowing, the glass light fitting I stripped and cleaned, the workshop that never was and the many projects he had started.

2011 has been quite a mixed year, my hopes are that I can be as best a councillor for the folk who elected me as I can, that my Dad has a great year and that I do not forget my Mam and all those who have departed over the years, especially my dear friend, and best friend, James Bulter.


As 2011 comes to an end, it seems a good time to update here.

It has been an interesting and varied year, started as most do, slightly hung over.

I had got more involved with the Labour Party at a branch level and was still reeling from our bosses cutting my pay in 5 ways, at least. I had campaigned against it but as a council employee, you don't really get to have your say, you are muted by terms of contracts, basically you are not to tell folk your thoughts on how your part of the council is run. I was not to contact councillors directly either, though I know some are contacted, now. Odd really, I cannot make comments but can vote them (sack) out.

I ended being on the ballot paper for our local elections last May, delivering thousands of leaflets, getting help from the very kind David Hanson MP and enjoying the support of other group members.

And on it went.

I went to see my Dad in Shetland, I thought that if I did win this election, I may be initially busy.
I took the time off work and caught the train and the ferry. My Dad has Alzheimer's and is being well looked after at Viewforth House in Lerwick.
It still is upsetting to see him this way, although we did not always see eye to eye, he was still Dad. I also timed my visit to coincide with the anniversary of my Mams passing, which in a way, highlighted the problems my Dad was having at the time.

There are always mixed feelings when I step off the ferry in Lerwick. As I have said before, Shetland is full of happy memories of childhood, watching my Mam letting go so to speak and enjoying life away from Dad and able to have fun with her sisters and many good friends. We too were let of the leash, many a day spent up the hill or with Grandad looking at the ships in the harbour. Our next door neighbour was Rhoda Bulter, a bubbley woman, mother to my best friend and the font of knowledge, it sometimes felt she knew every rock in Shetland and who had sat on it. Going out on runs with her and the dear Dennis and my best friend were great, always ended in ice-cream from a knocked up kiosk in what seemed the middle of no where, with views to die for, and many did in the 20th Century.

The picture is of the ruined smoke house of the fish station on Bressay near the Aith Gun, the fire bricks, came from Preston, very close to where I am now living.

Dad was well, he had settled in and was safe, my heart goes out to those who are being introduced for the first time to dementia, as a sufferer or a future carer.
The picture of our life is well drawn and full of all the good and bad things we had to go through to get to where we are, some folks ink is strong and vibrant to the end others have the misfortune of choosing not so permanent ink, then to top it off, it fades more rapidly as time ebbs on, some folk choose invisible ink and will never be able to show their picture.

Back here now and a couple of weeks to the election.

Then it comes, May 5th 2011.

I got up, had a good breakfast and started to complete my campaign. I officially opened the campaign garage of refreshments and additional leaflets.

I spent most of the day riding around chatting to folk and encouraging them to go and vote. I think I rode over 30 odd miles, down every street with a party flag on my bike.

We all came to my house and had some tea and snacks and got ready for the evenings events.

Nerves started to kick in a bit, though the folk I was with helped, I was intrigued by what was going on. I had gone with an open mind as I was not sure what I was letting myself in for. What I found appalling was the way some of the other politicians treated the folk who were doing the count, arguing, leering over them and being down right rude. I am glad to say I saw none of our party do that.

The count for my area did not start til about 4am, it was interesting to watch, I could not really see my votes, just those of the opposition. I toddled off for a wee and another coffee. As I walked back, one of my colleagues brushed passed me and said "you done it". Eh? I did not quite take it in until my name was called to verify they spoilt papers, then up on stage, even though I knew I had won, I was still checking the totals being read out, the announcement, "I do by declare that Keith Martin is Duly Elected as councillor in the Kingsfold Ward" or there abouts. As I walked down the stair from the podium, a council officer greeted me, "congratulations Councillor Martin, can you sign your pledge?" there I was, a councillor, everything still whirring around me but slightly faded like a 1980s Top of the Pops video effect.