It was the North Forum on Wednesday night. Normally these are three to four hour meetings which quite frankly accomplish very little as there is very rarely more than a couple of members of the public present. The main business is taken up by "Resident Representatives" and Ward Councillors complaining about things they should really have raised direct with the appropriate officer rather than waiting for a Forum.
Of course if you raise it at a Forum then you get to make a speech, your contribution is minuted and there is even the chance you will get in the Hartlepool Mail. If you just sort it out behind the scenes then how do your constituents know how hard you are working on their behalf.....ah politics, don't you just love it.
Anyway these meeting usually start at 10.00am and finish mid afternoon. I do go when i can as you get an attendance point for going, very important that you know, not actually contributing something but getting your mark for being there, once again if you don't attend 100's of meetings then how will your constituents know how hard you are working for them.
Tonight's meeting however started at 6.00pm. Unfortunately I was working at that time, I'd finished a meeting at the sixth form college at 4.00pm and went straight to another meeting, neither of which gets me an attendance point, a chance to make a speech or appear in the Hartlepool Mail! So I didn't get to the Forum until just after 7.15pm. No problem I thought, it will only just be getting started. BUT NO, it was already over! The Caretaker at the Centre was just as flummoxed as I was, she was expecting to be throwing us out at 9.00pm.
So maybe the answer to long and tedious meetings is to hold them in the evenings. The Officers will all want to get home after a long day and the Councillors will need to be home for their warm milky drinks before getting tucked up into bed. Actually I think the early finish was more to do with what's on the TV than anything else. Lets face it daytime TV is pretty dire, the evening shows are not much better but sometimes they are worth watching. The early finish tonight was either down to Coronation Street or Liverpool playing Standard Liege in the first leg of the Champions League Qualifier.
PS I didn't see Coronation Street as I was having my tea but Liverpool/Liege was a draw, if anyone really cares!