St James Labour 6 month Report
by Councillor Rufia Ashraf January 2020
Welcome to my first report of the year.
As you well know 2019 has been a very controversial year. With Brexit still on the table and our recent defeat at the polls, I hope the new leadership
Election appoints someone with new energy and direction.
This year, I dealt with many complex issues. Mainly overcrowding, eviction, fly tipping, littering, dog fouling and rats in the park, not forgetting ward cases. So far I have dealt with nearly 75 individual cases. I have worked closely with Council Officers to bring matters to their attention and helped residents to resolve their issues.
I also continue to hold the administration to account in the Council chamber and at Cabinet meetings. However, I would like to mention, if you would like to come and see how a full council meeting is conducted and see the Councillors in debate, I would encourage you to come along and observe a meeting, and I am happy to discuss this with you further.
You may also be aware Unitary elections are due to take place this year. We cannot let the Conservatives take Northampton or our votes away from us. We need to win otherwise austerity will never end and the Tories will destroy our town. We need to ensure we campaign hard and fight to win every seat in Northampton. We cannot do this alone, we need your help with leafleting or door knocking, and any help you give us will make a difference.
I still continue to hold my monthly Advice Surgery every 3rd Saturday of the month from 10.30-12pm at St James Library. If you have any concerns or issues where you live then come along, you do not need to make an appointment, just show up.
I started the year off with Dog Fouling Campaign, where the young ambassadors from St James Primary School launched the campaign in the town centre. We were joined by Cllr Mike Hallam, Mayor of Northampton, St James Housing officer, Community Warden and Park Ranger. It was a wonderful day and the young people handed out many leaflets with a message about raising awareness and how everyone can help keep our environment clean and tidy, which were welcomed by the general public.
I continue to work closely with NN5 CIC Community Library (former St James Library), campaigning with them to help keep delivering library services. NN5 CIC offers so much more than just books. Please visit the library because together we can help keep our award winning library open for future generations. The NN5 CIC is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday from 10-2pm, Thursday and Friday the library is open from 2pm-6pm and Saturday from 10-2pm open by volunteers. More days are being considered under new management.
You may have noticed I do not work alone. Whatever the campaign or event, I like to work in partnership with local stakeholders St James Primary School, PCSO, FOVP, SJRA NN5 CIC. It is equally important to me to invite Labour members to get involved.
Save the Library Campaign
Emergency Climate Change
Dog fouling Campaign
Fly tipping Campaign
Air Quality Campaign
Cycle Lane Keep St James public toilet open
Air Quality “serious concern” Patchy repair job (Kiddie area)
Dog fouling Campaign Scoop the Poop
Residents need to change '˜behaviour
and mindset' towards fly tipping
The Environment Portfolio holder decided to close the only remaining public toilet in the town. I thought it was important to listen to local residents when they are telling me why the toilet needed to stay open; I took the matter to the press to generate conversations. Although there were mixed views, the toilet served a purpose for many years to visitors and match day supporters and local residents. The closure was due to anti-social behaviour, and the constant damage to the toilets meant the council took the decision to close.
I have recently taken over as Shadow Environment Portfolio holder. This means I shall be dealing with town wide environmental issues. I hope that you will share with me any concerns, ideas or suggestions that may improve our town services. This is a great platform to bring matters to head of services.
I have been writing a weekly blog in the Chronicle and Echo for some time now; informing residents about local events, issues and ward news. If you want to publicize any of your events then please get in touch with me.
I contacted the press about Victoria park play area. Due to the lack of council’s efforts to help keep our matting safe for children to play on, they keep patching it up, I thought it was necessary to raise the issue and bring it to the public arena, because Council funds seemed to be spent elsewhere and not in St James.
I also receive invites to speak on BBC radio Northampton about any controversial matters.
I regularly tweet, so please follow me on @rufiaashraf and on face book page Rufia Ashraf.
Chronicle Echo – Weekly Down Your Way column (blog).
I also attend St James Residents Association (SJRA), Friends of Victoria Park (FOVP), Friends of St James Library (FOSJL) and Victoria Parks Management (VPM) meeting on a monthly basis. I share issues that have been brought to my attention and keep local residents up to date about its progress. I am also able to pick up local issues directly from residents at these meetings.
I am also the only Labour NPH Board of Director. This is a non paying position because I am appointed by the Council. I have been in this position since 2014. This is a very important position which enables me to sit with other board members and discuss and scrutinise NPH performances, its delivery and its finances. I currently sit on 2 committees Finance and Audit and Risk.
I also sit on Councils Scrutiny Panel, attend Northampton Women’s Forum, Disabled People’s Forum and Diverse Communities Forum. These meetings are attended also by general public who want to share their concerns and hope that organisations that are invited will address their issues. It’s a good platform to share and sign post services.
I have also taken interest in the climate and have campaigned with local group. (Eco-March Npton). I attend the Climate Change meetings to make my contribution and be very vocal on social media about how the current administrations are not taking the matter seriously and how we could start addressing matters locally, by installing water refill station, install more electric power points, plastic bottle bank to name a few ideas. Also how residents can start by making small changes.
I also work closely with my fellow Councillors on local matters, campaigns and leafleting. I attend regular Labour executive and Group meetings as Secretary.
I am collecting milk bottle tops for charity. So please collect your tops and drop them off at NN5 CIC Community Library.
Being a Councillor is not only a privilege but an honor. I would say I am an activist, because I enjoy helping people who need support to overcome difficult issues and campaign for what is right. I am an enabler, because I can encourage change by speaking up, but most importantly I am just Rufia who wants to help promote equality, start conversations and make things happen.
I am listening, and I inviting you to meet with me over a cuppa, so you can tell me what labour can do better, Or do you have an idea or suggestions to improve our community, Or if you want to get involved just get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.