Friday, August 25, 2006

Buying a house - not for the faint hearted

I hate them all

Estate agents of course - that goes almost without saying.

They are very happy to take their 1.5 or 2.0% of the selling price - that is at least £1900 approximately for a house worth say £125000

So you would think you would get a whole lot of customer service for your cash, right?


They dont record your calls or pass on your messages, they are rubbish!

Two months ago I was in the pub, early doors, watching the world cup on the big screen, when a young woman approached me and said hello. I didnt quite recognise her so I asked her if she worked in my dentists (my second home) or the library or the off-licence (my third and fourth homes).

She told me she was from the estate agents from whom I was trying to buy a house and went on to harangue me for daring to argue with her earlier over various purchasing related issues. It later all fell through, due in no part to her appalling customer service manners, the pub approach being only the last in a long line of crap service. Yes of course I complained to her bosses the next day.

I am fed up with surveys that cost a fortune £450 a time, which tell me nothing or are muddled up, talking about extensions that dont exist or gardens the property doesnt have.

How do these people stay in business?

When I give up public representation I am going to become an ethical estate agent - now that really WOULD be a refreshing change!

In my next life I am going to listen and act upon the interests of my buyers and my sellers and try to match them up, and you can be sure I wont be lying about known anti-social behaviour etc

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Kensington Market appeal

Copy of press release sent 3rd August 2006

Owners of Kensington Market have appealed nationally against the Council's decision to refuse permission for the use of 61 steel containers on site.

Now local people have been given until 28th August to contact the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol and stress their opposition to the market's plans.

Hundreds of local people joined Labour's campaign against the market when the original plans for the containers were proposed and Councillor Louise Baldock hopes that they will join her again in telling the Inspectorate how strongly they feel.

Comments can be made online at or in writing (but you must send 3 copies) to The Planning Inspectorate, Registry/Scanning Team, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN, quoting reference number APPZ4310/A/06/2019122/NWF.

Liverpool City Council have now told the market to remove the containers, which were put on the site without permission, saying they cause a "unsightly and cluttered appearance" and strengthen "an image of decline and neglect within the local centre."

The market owners are appealing against this too.

Labour's Louise Baldock said "I am absolutely determined to see the market knocked down, it is a terrible eyesore. This may be yet another step we have to go through, but if local people make their views known, it will take us nearer to that day."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thanks for the messages of support

I am reminded of John Major on the night of the 1997 General Election.

He gathered his staff and his supporters round him at the foot of the stairs in number 10, and looking into the TV screen he said "Okay, well, we lost."

There were groans and moans and even cheers and laughter amongst the Tories as it sunk in.

I feel a bit like that myself after the NEC results.

Nobody likes it when they dont win a ballot, although I did get over 11000 votes and a 30% share, which isnt bad.

I stood for the NEC two years ago principally so that I could help with the campaigning and organisation and electioneering for the 2005, vital, third-term election. Ironically I only got on to the committee three weeks after it was all over. But I did make the best of the last 12 months in terms of going and talking to Labour Parties and Labour Groups all over the country about beating the LibDems, campaigning in communities, engaging more members in campaign activity and so on.

I dont imagine that will stop. Only last week I was in Rochdale talking to them about how, despite a national backlash against the Party, I beat a LibDem Councillor with 19 years service this May. We all enjoyed the session and I expect I will see them again.

It is good to know I can have my annual leave back next year - I will have taken 18 days annual leave just for NEC duties this year, not even counting time off at election time in the local ward. And I only get 25!! So I am looking forward to spending more time in my ward next year, and maybe even, dare I say it, going on holiday!

It is also very liberating to be entirely free for the first time in many years of any restrictions over what I say and when.

From 1995 - 2001 I could never speak my mind because I was staff, from 2001 - 2004 I worked as a Press Officer for various MPs who didnt need me to cut across the publicity I was supposed to be generating for them, and then I have had this period on the NEC where we do our best to keep our discussions in camera.

Ironically the only time I really said what I felt, about ex-Ministers creating new careers out of decrying the Party and the Government, it was used as a stick to beat me with.

But no matter.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am on the left of the Party, have always been on the left of the Party, was chosen to work with mainly left-wing local parties so that we would all be able to get on and concentrate on campaigning.

However, like many of the colleagues and comrades I have worked with, I dont wish to go into the national press decrying any of our policies, I will save my criticisms for branch meetings, GCs, policy forums etc, not in the pages of the newspaper or on Newsnight.

We owe it the voters of this country to stay in power for as long as possible to implement all the important changes they want to see in their lives and in their world. We wont achieve that with public spats, we will achieve it with hard-work in local communities, addressing the issues that they want sorting out and we will achieve it by winning elections.

That is the area I have put my heart into in the last 15 years of membership, and I dont see anything changing any time soon

Thanks very much for those who have sent warm comments of support, both before, during and after the NEC election.