April 15, 2015
My book of the month for March was ‘Dear Leader’ by Jang Jin-Sung. The author was a high ranking spy in North Korea who had become disillusioned and escaped to South Korea. His story is utterly convincing, harrowing and gripping.
On 20 March I had a staff meeting in Brighton Road. When I arrived, a number of staff were standing in the car park, trying to take pictures of the solar eclipse. It was an amazing sight: the Sun was almost completely covered by the Moon so you could look at it with the naked eye. Birds were confused, making a lot of noise, and reminding us that we were witnessing a special event. Later the alarm went off, apparently unrelated to the solar system.
From April a number of important services will be transferred to alternative providers, saving the council money while protecting these services for the public. These include the transfer of our Revenues and Benefits Service to Civica; the transfer of Welfare Benefits Advice to the Citizens Advice Bureau and the transfer of some public realm services to town councils in Prestatyn and Rhyl. These changes will save the tax payer over £500k without cutting the services to the public.
Welsh Assembly has turned down a request to film James Bond at the Senedd, because it’s not a ‘drama studio’. I thought the decision was a missed opportunity to introduce the Senedd to the World.
March 11, 2015
This month I enjoyed reading ‘Stone Mattress’ by Margaret Atwood. This is a book of short stories, the best of which is the title of the book. What I really like about this author, even more then her stories, is the excellent quality of her writing. This book is an entertaining read that makes you want to write.
I have been invited, by the Minister for Public Services, to sit on a new Public Service Leadership Panel that he has established to advice him on public service reform. The first meeting of this Panel took place this month and I was very encouraged by the quality and enthusiasm of the other members. They have been chosen from other sectors, including universities, private sector and third sector. The Panel has already identified its areas of work and I’m looking forward to both influencing developments at a national level and bringing back learning for Denbighshire.
It took me seven and a half hours to get from Llandyrnog to Merthry Tydfil: all because a freight train had broken down just before Shrewsbury. The whole Arriva train system simply collapsed. After hours of waiting and chaos we had to travel to Birmingham New Street in order to get a train to Hereford. The only good thing was that the trip from Birmingham was fast and there was good 3G access so I was able to deal with my emails. The return journey was another four hours. I could have gone to Cyprus to attend a family wedding and returned in fewer hours!