Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Greg Clark, the Localism Bill and DS Download

The holidays always require multi-tasking but yesterday took the biscuit. My friend, Glenys Thornton, former SEL board member and Shadow Health spokesperson in the House of Lords, had arranged for us as a family to visit Big Ben. I can thoroughly recommend the tour which was brilliant. We were particularly lucky with the weather as the view from the top over  snowy, sunny London was breathtaking. Big Ben is or course the 16 tonne bell and not the tower it sits in, which is just known as The Clock Tower (I now know). Standing next to the bell when it rang at 10 o'clock was impressive, as was the mechanism which Sam, my particularly mechanically minded son, is still talking about.

By sheer coincidence Greg Clark's office called and asked if I would meet him at the House the same morning to discuss the Localism Bill. The social enterprise world has a keen interest in this piece of legislation which should institutionalise the right of community led organisation's to deliver public services. I was happy to meet with him, alongside the very able Ceri Jones from the Coalition, feeling confident that the two children, Sam, 12 and Katie, 10 that I had still had with me (Hubbie had taken our eldest,  Joe to the office to help out) could amuse themselves outside the Minister's office whilst we chatted.

Imagine my joy when there were no seats outside Greg' office, and he, his two aides, Ceri and me with my two muppets, had to cosy on up on the sofas. I have to say everyone including the Minister were very good about it, and only mildly distracted by the frenetic thumb clicking that went on as the children played Super Mario Bros. on DS Download. For those of you not in the know, that is the internet function on a Nintendo DS that allows you to play with someone else. This meant that as the grown ups got into the details of localism and its implications for social enterprise, particularly at local authority level, Sam and Katie were fighting it out in their parallel universe.

At one hilarious moment Greg made a point that was clearly important to him about making sure the legislation did not get derailed and Sam, who had just beaten Katie on some level or other, shouted out "Yessssss". Perfect. Incidentally, I'm not sure our conversation left the kids any the wiser about what I do for a living?! Still juggling is all part of a working parent's life and the responsibility of delivering Glad Tidings and a social enterprise revolution in days with a mere 24 hours in them requires fancy footwork and a degree of flexibility, even from Minister's.

As we left, Greg kindly asked the children what they were going to do next, and Sam told him, in great detail, all about the ice fortress he and his friends were building outside our garage. I am sorry not to be able to post photo's of our Big Ben tour but for security reasons photography was not permitted. I have however taken a shot of said instillation. Snow was made for adolescent boys.

Finally I would like to thank those who, via that weapon of mass democratisation, Twitter, gave me issues to raise with Greg on the Localism Bill. Twitter is great, it allowed me to quickly flag up my imminent meeting, get some questions from people and feed back the Minister's responses, all in a few hours. You got to love it.

No comments:

Post a Comment