Fresh thinking

by Lucy Care on 17 March, 2015

As a councillor you’re not expected to be an expert on anything, but it is useful to be interested in loads of things.  A sort of Jack (or Jill) of all trades.  I find that this enables one to have a good overview of possibilities – and whether they are practical can be sorted out later by the experts.

I’ve always put in suggestions – and probably always will – but it is most effective when you’re one of the councillor team running the council.  It’s then clear that is our, Lib Dem, thinking that is guiding the direction the council takes.

So I’m recording here – in case they turn out to be really great creative thoughts – suggestions which Derby’s acting Chief Executive thought worth taking away from this afternoon’s meeting to discuss with his various departmental teams.

1. Using the DRI site for a new school.  We know that new secondary schools – either 2 or 3 will be needed in the next five years or so.  The DRI site should be big enough, it’s available, and accessible.  Problem is that the Hospital Trust would like it to be sold for loads of money.  It’s publicly owned land so if the best use for the public is for a school, I think that this should be seriously considered.

2. The number of older people is increasing as people are living longer.  It’s great news for the individuals and families, but the cost of caring for frail or confused elderly people is rising fast as well.  There are also concerns about the number of elderly people who are isolated and lonely.  So, how about seeing if there are people who’d like to ‘foster’ an older person? Like child foster carers they would be paid, but this would be at a lower rate than the costs for lots of daily visits or living in a care home.  It could make better use of housing, reduce loneliness and provide an income to the foster carer.  There would need to be safeguards, and placements would need to be assessed periodically for appropriateness as people become older.  Has it been tried before?  I don’t know.  If it hasn’t yet, how about it?

3.  And thinking about our housing stock and under-occupancy, could we do more to arrange for people on the housing waiting list to house-share in some of our three bed properties which can be difficult to let?  Students and young professionals do it all the time in the private sector.  Could we do it more with social housing?  Again, has it been tried?

4.  Infinity Park, the new 250 acre commercial and technology site on the south of Derby is looking for occupants.  How about seeing if the new Energy Catapult Centre might go there?  This is currently advertising for executive directors, and I guess that finding a suitable home will be one of their first jobs.  Derby’s engineering pedigree would sit well with this, and it would complement Derby University’s Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering on Quaker Way.

So if any of these things happen, remember you read it here first!

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