Thursday, November 29, 2007

A very wet action Saturday this week

Richie White and I quickly knocked out a round on Belle Vale (and were spotted by a friend from the Liverool African Assocation who I ran into later in McDonalds Kensington when I popped in to see how the radio station was going)

Then I took out a second bundle with Chris Helm where we delivered leaflets in Anfield, all around the stadium. It rained heavily but thankfully we were nearly finished by then.

I took some delight in watching some wet Mackems heading off to an as yet unknown huge defeat in the rain. I was hoping someone would ask me the way to Goodison so that I could point them in the wrong direction but they must have recognised me as a Boro fan because they had more sense than to stop me (no of course I dont mean it, I am an official 08 ambassador really!)

The houses around the stadium are in a very sorry state but I was pleased to see work has started in a concerted way to renovate and improve in at least one street.

Project Chrysalis Dinner

I was pleased to attend the Chrysalis Dinner on Saturday night with Stephen Twigg, to celebrate and help raise funds for this vital domestic violence project.

Jackie the founder is doing brilliant work supporting victims of domestic violence with lots of agencies and partners to support her and the team.

The Devonshire House Hotel was beatifully decorated and the guests were all beautifully dressed - in black and white.

We were very well entertained by some very talented children, one tap dancing Riverdance style, one singing young Michael Jackson songs like an old pro and by Jackie's daughter showing Amy Winehouse how it is really done. (I am giving as few names as I can here, under the circumstances).

Then we enjoyed an Abba tribute band and a disco. The guests were all thrilled to have Jane Kennedy there, with partner and PA and also a dancing Stephen Twigg. But we had a great time too, lovely food my first Christmas dinner of the year, dancing, singing and no speeches or raffles, hurrah!

Thank you so much for inviting me. I took three bits of casework away but they were all relatively easy and I had them sorted within 24 hours. A great night all round. The more people that came up and thanked us for coming, the more we thanked them for letting us come, now you cannot say that too often about formal events like this!

Kensington Regeneration Community Team

I had an interview with Tim Slack on Thursday to talk about the work of Kensington Regeneration Community Team.

It is part of the work he is doing as a consultant to assess the work of the community team.

I was very pleased to tell him that as an elected representative covering three of the five neighbourhoods, it is my professional opinion that the work of the community team is probably the most important work that the New Deal organisation delivers.

There are the two great task groups I attend, Community Safety and Neighbourhood Services where residents are predominant and where agencies and partners join together to work on community issues.

There is the wonderful work done by the community cohesion staff - Martin and Clare and Mark - working to promote all the different communities in the New Deal area - African, Polish, Irish, Welsh, Italian, whatever it may be.

There is the supportive work that the staff and the wardens they help pay for, give to all the TRA groups to help their meetings and their actions to be successful. The Neighbourhood Assemblies too.

Maria, Karen and their colleagues are such great support to the local people. I knew I shouldnt have started naming names, inevitably it will end in people being missed out. Forgive me. I shall stop now and simply say if you are in Alan's community team I think you are doing a fantastic job and that is what I told Tim. Plus I gave him some of my views on how the service might be taken forward. Too many to go into here.

Well done all of you

Kensington Regeneration Neighbourhood Services Task Group

I have been very sorry to miss the last three meetings of the NSTG as they clashed with full council (where all 90 councillors come together in the Town Hall very six weeks), which I am obliged to attend.

However this meeting for once did not.

It did clash with the neighbourhood event designed to replace the State of the City debate, but with Wendy able to attend the latter, I was pleased to go to the former.

An hour and a half on matters arising, if that doesn't show what a lot of work there is still to do in cleaning up the New Deal Neighbourhood then I dont know what does.

I came away as usual with a list of jobs, but with a lift in my heart that so many people come together to sort these things out, lots of residents and lots of residents and partners. Heart warming really, I love the task groups, they are the best part of Kenny Regen.

Bernie Hunt asked me to thank all those councillors who were involved in the successful application for Kensington Fields - a victorian terraced estate - to become a conservation area.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A week of Parks

Last week was Parks week

On Monday Wendy and I went to the Newsham Park Forum meeting in the Adult Learning Centre on Newsham Drive. On our way we had to stop to phone the fire service because we saw a car on fire, parked on Newsham Drive outside a house. Very scary, but they were there very quickly and everything seemed to be well in hand so we went on to our meeting.

Very depressing news, we learnt that the £50k bid for residents' consultation for plans for the Park in anticipation of a multi-million pound lottery bid had been knocked back. But Paul Scragg, head of the Parks Department did his best to reassure us that the new system for the Heritage Lottery Fund means that we still have a good chance of being considered, but sadly it puts the whole thing back yet another year.

It was a depressing meeting all round really. I learnt for the first time that the Friends of Newsham Park was born out of the Newsham Residents Association, they were encouraged to change from being a TRA to being a Friends Group by LCC to help the Lottery bid.

In many ways this shouldn't matter, but in fact it has mattered a lot. They struggle to have a focus on issues other than the park, that still affect them as local residents, street issues, because there is no forum for them any more to talk about crime, anti-social behaviour, environmental issues, parties and social events for local people, plans for community gardens, whatever it might be. They miss out on having meetings dedicated to their local area where the police, neighbourhood management services and other important partners can address their specific issues.

TRAs are a vital part of neighbourhood management in my personal view.

When we were at the Parks Forum, Friends members tried to bring up a few local street issues but were dissuaded from doing so because it was only a parks meeting.

I think something needs to change here, either we set up a new TRA for the Newsham area or we expand the Parks forum to look at a wider range of issues. Otherwise, this has been expediency on the part of the council to the detriment of local people.

I have not discussed this with anyone and Friends readers of the blog might disagree with me, so I would welcome views.

Last Tuesday was the Parks Scrutiny Panel - you may recall this is the meeting that I very proudly chaired last year and was deeply disappointed when the position was given this year to someone else.

Neither the new chair nor the Chair of the Select committee were at the scrutiny panel (I understand apologies were given after the event, but they were not presented at the meeting itself). Indeed like much of last year only two elected members showed up for this meeting. This depresses me too because I think our parks are vitally important to literally thousands of people across Liverpool and we should be giving them our very best attention.

This is not a party political point, it is a public representative point.

There should be more commitment to the scrutiny of the parks plan. Last year I knew that despite low attendances of councillors (from all parties, like I said this is not a party political point) as Chair I could maintain a grip on the agenda, on the detail, on the issues and ultimately I could write the report myself and be sure that the issues that the different Friends group raised would be incorporated. This year I dont have that certainty.

This is not a pink and fluffy local government matter, this is of fundamental importance to our health and fitness, to people with no gardens of their own - thousands of them across the city, to dog walkers, runners, amateur sports players, people who love trees and shrubs, to fishermen and cyclists and little kids.

Elected representatives have to decide whether they are ready to care about our parks and lakes as much as our residents do, I am still not convinced. Please prove me wrong.

Bangladesh charity night

Message from Dan Lees. Respond to him at danlees at yahoo dot com if you would like to attend.

Bangladesh charity night. Red Peppers, 290 Kensington.

16th December 2007.

On the above date Red Peppers will be hosting a charity evening to benefit areas of Bangladesh that have suffered from the recent flooding and typhoons.

As you are aware Bangladesh is a third world country that relies heavily on foreign aid. However much of this aid which has been earmarked for the country due to the recent disaster will not reach certain areas that also need it.

The MD of Red Peppers is from an area of Bangladesh which has been badly affected but will not receive any of the foreign aid at this time as such he feels that something needs to be done.

All money raised will be distributed directly to the villages that surround Ash’s home town of Sylhet which are in desperate need of repair. The most important thing at this time is the provision of tins for the roofs and materials to build stronger housing to counter the frequent flooding that affects the area.

The evening will comprise of a free buffet of fine Indian cuisine, music, entertainment and prize draws to help benefit the people of that region.
Bearing in mind a small amount of Sterling is worth a lot in Bangladesh and would do a great amount of good.

Please attend this event if you are able and also help us by distributing to your network of contacts. There is parking facilities to the rear of the restaurant with space for 60 guests.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Councillor Tom Marshall's response to Chief Fire Officer

You may draw your own conclusions from this reponse that Cllr Marshall has kindly shared with me. I look forward to reading them in due course!

Your Ref AMc/CFO/SW

Dear Tony,
In a modern authority I thought that you at least would have an e-mail address apart from a web site, this could have saved the Council Tax payers a small amount and reduced the environmental footprint of an envelope.
I am sorry you do not like our Tender portrayed in the leaflet, the Officers who use it have not complained.
In your presentation to Councillors you said, and I quote “deprived areas have more problems”. My area is one of the highest deprived areas in the city.
You state in your report that we do not have the numbers on call outs, I agree, but we have dozen’s of fires un-reported. Will give instances and Officer reports later.
Your Senior Officer had not been seen at any local meeting until Lee Manor had that many calls and £500,000 worth of damage, Caldway Manor on the verge of collapse, maisonettes due for demolition, on fire night after night.
The Police calling incidents Fire Starting, not Arson, lessening the seriousness of the situation.
In an area of low employment opportunities you propose to take away another how many was it 12 plus, and £300,000. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.
While the Tender stands idle in Belle Vale, Tenders from Speke and beyond take their calls, I live local to the station so do not try to tell me different.
Response time must be different as they have to come down country lanes to get here or come through Gateacre Village which is grid locked most times, unless you have a time machine we do not know about.
Under-reporting is a major problem here, the Police will support this as they complain about our tight lipped community.
In the last few weeks to my knowledge, as I have had to deal with it, 3 bus shelters loaded up with wheelie bins and burnt out.
Caldway old rent office petrol bombed and fire officers stoned.
I enclose a report from one of our Parks Officers.
5-11-07 fire started on Ringway Rd, L25, 6-30pm, this went on till 3-45am.
Dozens of fence panels taken from home owners and burnt, 40 foot of fence from the side of a building plus the back gate, 24 plus wheelie bins, trolley’s and 2 gas bottles. These yobs had their parents with them.
You would not think we had a Police Station as well as a Fire Station on our estate.
Residents tell me they watch the antics but do not report as it is none of their business.
So it goes on.
You tell me Firemen want to work longer hours, not what I am told, some do and am not surprised, I have knowledge of one of their wives and I would rather not go home, on the other hand I would not want him home either.
Most Fire Officers are young and have small children and want quality time daily with such a dangerous profession.
So tell me, there are no cuts to jobs, there is no finance taken from Belle Vale and I will put out another leaflet praising the Authority for listening to my community.

Cllr Tom Marshall

Member of Lee Park Community Association
Member of Management Committee Lee Valley Millennium Centre
Secretary of the Woodlands Centre
Member of the Management Committee of the Lyndene Centre
Treasurer / Organiser Netherley Valley Youth Angling Project

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kensington Vision 87.7FM, our show is tomorrow!

Tune in on the internet on 87.7fm from 4pm - 6pm on Monday November 19th for the Louise and Wendy Community News Show.

If you want to contact the station while we are on air, you can text the show on 07805449220 or email us

Kath and Eileen's weekend visit

My Stockton on Tees friends, Kath and Eileen came to stay over the weekend and I gave them a taste of the city in my Ambassadorial role. I showed them round Kensington and Fairfield, explaining the issues and the priorities. We had a trip to Crosby to see the Anthony Gormley statues, the tide was very far out and we could see right out to the furthest away man.

We had a bit of a trip round the city centre and looked at some of the civic buildings. We had a meal out at Amber on Rose Lane, 2 courses each and drinks for £25.It is a wine bar and bistro and has not been open long. Glamorous interior and very good service from the waiting staff, I was suprised we managed to get a table really, I shall go again.

This afternoon they came with Wendy and me to McDonalds on Kensington to have a taster session doing a test transmission for tomorrow's radio show.

(We are nervous but really looking forward to it, fingers crossed.)

It was lovely to see them both, come back soon

La Dolce Vita

Wendy, Liam and I enjoyed an evening out in Fairfield at the La Dolce Vita Italian evening as part of One World Week.

About 150 people enjoyed Italian food and wine, a talk from local historian (with Italian roots) Frank Carlyle about Little Italy and the history of the Italians in Liverpool and some fine music, plus a short speech from the Italian consul for Liverpool and surrounds, Nunzia Bertali.

A new group has been set up to bring the dispersed Italian families back together 70 odd years after their community was bulldozed. Liverpolitalia. If anyone has the website or contact details please post them up here in a comment, I cannot find the bit of paper I brought home with me just now.

We agreed to support the event through Liverpool City Council's Empowering Neighbourhoods Fund, and it was money very well spent.

Liverpool LibDem slammed by Merseyside Chief Fire Officer

LibDem Councillor Tom Marshall has been roundly rebuked by Merseyside's Chief Fire Officer, Tony McGuirk.

The Chief was sent a copy of a LibDem leaflet that Cllr Marshall has distributed, claiming that "Belle Vale fire station is under threat of closure" and that "lives are at risk."

In the leaflet Marshall reproduces his planned motion to our next council meeting which says "We note with alarm the intention of the Labour led Fire Authority to cut the level of service provided by fire crews at stations in Belle Vale and Allerton."

There is the ubiquitous petition to "save Belle Vale fire service".

The Chief has written an open letter to Cllr Marshall which is published on their website here.

In it he says "I write with regard to the attached leaflet which has been circulated in your name and I assume therefore is sent from you. The leaflet is misleading, incorrect and disappointingly misrepresentative of the facts.

I believe it is important for Elected Members to portray important public information with accuracy, and sadly the leaflet, as regards Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is as far removed from the facts of the matter. I would therefore like to correct some of the statements made in the leaflet and I would ask that you please pass on these corrections to your constituents." - I bet he doesn't!

He also says

The Fire & Rescue Authority
• Does not intend to make any changes to the level of fire cover in Belle Vale;
• Nor to vary its response times and targets which are among the very highest
in the country.

And then, he gives some very good news for the area

"The Fire & Rescue Authority is very mindful that Belle Vale has problems
associated with deprivation and the loss of community facilities. You may not be
aware that as part of our renewal of our premises and our remodeling of the fire
stations we are developing 8 new state of the art fire stations across Merseyside.
One of these will be a brand new fire station at Belle Vale, and I hope you welcome this major investment by the Fire Authority.

This will be a brand new fire station incorporating extensive community facilities that will be available for local people and allow us to ensure that our world leading community fire safety work continues to be delivered in the local area."

I had to laugh at this next bit

"I would also add that the fire engine you use in your leaflet to draw attention to the leaflet, is not a Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service appliance. If you wish to use images that illustrate the true professionalism of the Fire & Rescue Service of Merseyside then please contact us and we can supply you with images that would portray a much better quality service to the communities of Belle Vale and Allerton than portraying the very old appliance in your leaflet."

and concludes by saying

"There are no cuts whatsoever to the communities of Belle Vale and Allerton,
there are no closures to the stations of Belle Vale and Allerton and there are
no threats of any such closures. There will in fact be a brand new fire station
for Belle Vale."

The Chief Fire Officer was far too polite to point out that the LibDem Leader of Liverpool City Council and the Chief Whip of the LibDem group are both fire-fighters, I would love to know what they think of this leaflet and this response. I should imagine they are very red-faced indeed.

Another shameful episode on the road to the downfall of Liverpool LibDems surely?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kensington Regeneration Succession Strategy

An interesting workshop tonight at the wonderful Foresight Centre on London Road.

We were discussing the succession strategy for Kensington Regeneration, the partnership that has been managing the Kensington New Deal for Communities project for the last 8 years. It comes to an end in April 2010 so we need to decide whether there should be a successor organisation and what its priorities should be given that it cannot deliver the whole of the programme it currently does with no revenue.

There have been a number of workshops I understand but at ours today it was our settled view that there should be a successor organisation and the CIC which has been set up for this purpose should be supported.

We felt it should concentrate on two main areas:

Securing funding for the continuation of the award-winning Community Wardens scheme who can work on what I am loosely calling "the people's priority" - that of environmental issues, street cleansing, fly-tipping, graffiti, along with supporting vulnerable residents and acting as a link on the street between residents and service deliverers.

Economic development and local enterprise - jobs and income basically.

I was very struck by a contribution from Cllr Malcolm Kennedy at a recent Joint Neighbourhood committee where he said that despite wonderful improvements in the housing stock and the general environment in a part of his ward, in Vauxhall, the indicators on health, income, quality of life were still very poor. The massive physical improvements did not affect how much money families had to live on or make them any more healthy.

They have come there to the realisation that true regeneration has to come from an improvement in income. Which of course has to come from the provision of jobs/better paid jobs.

So we need the successor company to concentrate on getting businesses to come to Kensington and surrounds, and to provide good quality jobs for local people - who need to be skilled up in good time to fill the posts.

So that was our workshops findings, I will be interested to see what other workshops thought, and of course to your comments and views here on the blog too.

Lister Drive Library

Just picked up on a story in the Liverpool Echo about Lister Drive library,

I did give a long quote but obviously, as it was nearly as long as the whole story it had to be trimmed.

What I actually said was

"My interest in the public library service has been strong ever since I learnt to read. I had special permission from the Chief Librarian to have a "senior" library ticket at the age of about 9 or 10 because I had already read all the books in the junior section in our library. Three months after I took my A levels I went to work in a library and a few years later secured the City and Guilds (London Institute) Library and Information Assistants Certificate.

As both a library worker and a library user, my experience tells me that public libraries are amongst the very best of the services that Local Government delivers to its residents.

Lister Drive Library is a wonderful example of a local library. It provides a great service within a nationally celebrated building.

It may have been closed pro tem because of Health and Safety issues but this can and should be only a temporary measure.

We need this library to be brought back into public use as soon as possible. Allowing it to fall into disrepair is a slight on both the concept of public libraries and on the importance of the concept of listing in Local Government."

Before the usual suspects jump on me for the fact this is not in my ward, I would say that it is nontheless the library of choice for many Fairfield residents.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Interviewing for the new CE of the new company to promote Liverpool

I was very pleased and quite proud if I am honest, to be asked to join the interview panel for the new Chair and then this week, interviews for the new Chief Executive of the new Liverpool company which will be formed from the three companies currently charged with developing and promoting Liverpool.

Liverpool Vision, Business Liverpool and Liverpool Land Development Company will be merged into one new company, name as yet unknown, but we did bounce around the suggestion that it could possibly be OneLiverpool.

In a nutshell its job is to sell Liverpool nationally and internationally to attract investment, jobs, so as to enhance regeneration and prosperity.

The interview panel consisted of Cllr Warren Bradley, Cllr Mike Storey, Colin Hilton the Cheif Exec of Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Vision Chair Sir Joe Dwyer, Bernice Law from the NWDA, currently advising the Capital of Culture company, Mike Parker, the new Chair of the new company (and Group Chief Executive of BNFL) and me.

It was meant to have been Cllr Malcolm Kennedy but he could not make it so he suggested me. It probably helped a bit that as an HR professional I interview people all the time and am very fully trained.

I wont say anything about the interviews themselves or the candidates, but it was a very interesting experience and I was given full opportunity to contribute to both the interviewing and the decision making. Sometimes cross-party working can be very difficult and uncomfortable but it was all very professional just as it should be.

I look forward to seeing how the successful candidates take the new company forward and to how Liverpool benefits from their work.

Sheil Park Residents Committee

Wendy and I went to Sheil Park Residents Committee last night. My first meeting, her second. We were made extremely welcome.

We took away some issues that we can hopefully resolve but mainly we listened and learnt about the concerns of residents on this beautiful little estate built on the footprints of two tower blocks demolished a few years back.

They are rightly very proud of their estate, their lovely homes and their fabulous community centre. I look forward to getting to know them better and to working with them in the future.

Neighbourhood Committee

An interesting Neighbourhood Committee this month with presentations about plans for the Royal Liverpool hospital and the Building Schools for the Future programme to renew our city's secondary schools.

We also passed a resolution from Labour Cllrs Jane Corbett, Frank Prendergast and John McIntosh about Soho Street Post Office, supporting residents' campaigns to keep it open. We also called on the council to work with post offices by allowing people to access some council services through them, to make them more viable.

There was a rather acrimonious discussion where the LibDems tried to scupper it by first extending the motion to cover all of Liverpool which is outside the remit of our neighbourhood and then to get us to actively condemn the Government (which is also outside the remit of our neighbourhood and obviously unlikely to receive Labour support). Then when this attempt failed they argued that we could not ask for inclusion of support of post offices in the Local Area Agreement because we had not agreed it yet. Well no, that was rather the point, we wanted it to go in at this draft stage.

Thankfully the clerk managed to sort it all out and with a bit of tweaking the resolution went forward to the next stage.

You might ask why they would not want to support this perfectly satisfactory resolution - because they didnt want Labour to get any positive publicity out of it, that is pretty much why they oppose many of the motions we ever propose at any committee about anything. It is party politics at the expense of the public.

Great reports from our three Police Inspectors about the falling crime levels in our wards, great news about the big reduction in trouble on mischief night, halloween and bonfire night, great news about some good arrests and convictions for drug dealing and burglaries etc.

I noticed the LibDems very properly congratulated the police for their sterling efforts and welcomed the reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour. It was only a shame that LibDem Cllr and Liverpool Wavertree Parliamentary Candidate Colin Eldridge wasn't there to listen to them, so that he doesn't put out any more leaflets about dreadful rising crime and poor police numbers. Hopefully one of his colleagues will let him know...

Remembrance Sunday

Wendy and I went to St George's Hall on Sunday for the Remembrance Day service.

Unfortunately it rained quite heavily and the big crowd of service men and women, veterans, dignatories, faith leaders and the general public who attended all got very wet.

It was a lovely service though, and good to see so many children and young people taking part.

At one point a Dakota flew over and dropped millions of poppy petals but unfortunately the wind and rain blew them away from their intended landing on the square, I was finding them on Sefton Street the next day which must be half a mile away at least.

I took Grandad Baldock's medals with me and showed them to a few people. I understand I could actually wear them if I wanted to, over the right breast rather than the left, but I think that would feel a bit strange so I kept them in my bag. He received the Africa star, the Italy star, the Atlantic Star, the Defence medal, the Long and Efficent Service medal and two other medals which seem to commemorate "taking part" for want of a better description.

He was awarded the Oak Leaf for mention in despatches at the evacuation of Dunkirk, he went to Buckingham Palace to receive it from the King and Queen. He was in the Navy, as a medical officer. I am very proud of him.

Action Saturday in Kensington and Fairfield

Last Saturday was an action Saturday in Kensington and Fairfield - 40 or 50 activists ensuring that 6500 Labour Rose leaflets were delivered to every house in the ward between 10am and 1pm.

Very satisfying! I wish it was our turn every week

More door-knocking on Elm Vale

Liam and I have continued our visit to residents in the Elm Vale area.

Last week we knocked on about 30 doors, spoke at length to residents in 16 houses, took about a dozen items of casework and requests for information away. It is slow progress but we feel we are making very good links with people and really engaging with them and their issues.

This area is particularly important because they dont have a TRA to engage with so we have to go to each resident individually to find out what their local issues are.

Main concerns in the area continue to be the numbers of young people gathering together on local streets and then in the park, having bought lots of alcohol from nearby suppliers who are supplying them underage. We have taken this up with the local police who have been arranging test purchases of alcohol in the area and giving the area lots of visits. Several residents commented on the much increased presence of police on the streets.

Being a tree-lined area there are the usual concerns about pruning and leaf-fall.

Street cleansing is an issue too as it is right across the patch, everyone talks constantly about the difference in street cleansing between areas like Mossley Hill, Allerton, Childwall and areas like Picton and Kensington. I am trying to set up a meeting with Enterprise Liverpool to go over their schedule of cleansing and to work with Neighbourhood Management Services and with local residents, to monitor them to see whether they are sticking to the schedule and whether it is in any case often enough or sufficient.

Watch this space

Mum's birthday

I had a lovely evening in Stockton on Tees for my Mum's birthday last weekend. We all went to TGI Fridays, Mom, Roger, Maxine, Jonathan and the boys.

It was good fun and nice food. I had chicken quesadilla (or however you spell it) and a huge pudding of waffle, fruit and ice-cream, most of which went untouched, lovely though it was. I guess as they say in the North, my eyes were too big for my belly. The bill for five adults and two children, with a bottle of wine and other drinks was £120 which I thought wasn't too bad really.

Alex and Joel were very taken with the singing waiters and waitresses who serenaded the birthday guests at different tables but Mum preferred to keep a low profile so we didn't get the full treatment ourselves.

She liked her birthday presents - various sweatshirts and casual tops, which I went in about 40 shops all over the city centre to track down following the request. Apparently sweatshirts, unless they have sporting logos on the front are suddenly "pants".

We spent quite a bit of time going over the family tree research I had also done to celebrate the occasion. Sadly the outcome of the research was far from suitable for a celebration. A very sad story of a family missing from the 1851 census in a village near Sutton Coldfield. We had been searching for them for over 25 years. It transpires that the reason we could not find them was because they were ravaged by TB. The mother died, probably the father too, several of the children and then the remnants of the family were farmed out to people who could take them in. It was a real tragedy. I wasn't sure how she would take the news, even though they died 150 years ago, when you research your ancestors you do feel very close to them, even if you never met them and you dont know what they looked like. At least we know now what happened to them and can stop poring over lists of emigrants on ships.

I came away with a Christmas present wish list for the boys - computer games and music CDs are the items of choice for this year.

Mersey Port Health Authority

An interesting meeting last week of the MPHA.

We examined the business plan for the next three years for this important authority who work on ensuring that nothing that might be harmful to our health gets into our country or city through either the Ports or the Airport.

They examine imports, food stuffs, live animals and so on.

They check vessels for rats and also check liners for bacterial and viral "germs" and so on.

Ron Gould raised an issue about the docks not having immigration check points and we have agreed to bring this up with the relevant authorities.

It is an authority that nobody ever mentions, I didnt even know it existed until I started sitting on it. We said we should be improving our publicity as I think people would want to know about the work that is being done. I have offered to help with that if necessary.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kensington Domestic Violence Service - raising awareness

Just a quick entry to promote some good local work - from an email I have recieved today.

Kensington Domestic Violence Service

Domestic violence takes many forms and affects people from all walks of life and all communities. Someone you know, or even a close family member may be experiencing the distress, pain and isolation caused by domestic violence.

If you would like to know more about domestic violence, how it affects people and their families, and what you can do to help them you are invited to one of our Domestic Violence Awareness Sessions.

The sessions run for 2 hours and are held locally at HEAT in Durning Road and refreshments are provided. We are planning a programme of sessions that will run throughout November and December so there will be a date and time to suit you.

If you are interested in coming to one of our sessions – Wednesday 14th November 10 –12 am; Thursday 15th November 1 – 3 pm; Wednesday 5th December 1 – 3; Wednesday 12th December 1 – 3 pm, or would like to know more about them before you decide

Please telephone Gill or Natalie on 263 7474

Monday, November 05, 2007

Labour North-West Regional Conference - Southport

Wendy and I enjoyed the weekend in Southport at regional conference.

Policy forums and debates on child poverty, safer communities, migrant workers.

Conference supported resolutions on supporting the Rolls Royce workers in Bootle, Remploy workers, Putting MRA scanning back into the NHS (Wendy moved that one) and a better deal for postal workers. We also talked about liberalisation in Royal Mail.

Debates too on climate change, on transport, housing, I cannot remember it all but there was plenty of it.

Q&A sessions with our regional MEPs

Hearing from the North West Regional Minister Bev Hughes

and cabinet ministers from the region, Jack Straw and Hazel Blears

Lots of other MPs and ministers, including the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, one Jane Kennedy talking about the way forward for tax credits.

Training sessions on campaigning, including a great one led by Joe Anderson on being an effective opposition.

I was elected unopposed to the Labour Party North West Regional Board for Merseyside along with Tim Moore and Jim from Bootle.

It was as always a great chance to meet old friends and make new ones.

We had a fab time, everyone was very upbeat and we came up with some fantastic policy ideas.

Thanks to Bill Berry and UNISON for their special support over the weekend.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Letter to the echo - LibDem leader - attack on "vermin" Liverpool children

I am deeply disturbed by Councillor Warren Bradley's letter to the Echo this weekend.

I absolutely agree with him that we need to tackle lawless behaviour from children and young people. Threatening our fire fighters, police officers or ordinary members of the public with fireworks and stones in the name of mischief is behaviour that definitely should be stopped.

I also agree with him that some parents are failing their children and failing our society by not taking their responsibilities seriously and not teaching their children the difference between right and wrong, not keeping an eye on them, not knowing where they are when they are out causing trouble.

However, Councillor Bradley has the power to make a difference. He should stop shutting youth clubs, start funding youth workers, provide our kids with exciting and engaging things to do that would beat hanging round on street corners. He should be opening schools in the evenings and in the holidays so kids can play computers games or make films, play basketball, set up bands, record music, paint nails, design clothes, make art, learn to act, learn to sing or play the guitar or the drums, train in the gym…

He should definitely be offering parenting classes right across the city, most parents of badly behaved kids want to do a good job, but they don’t know how to and often their own parents didn’t set much of an example. You only have to watch Super Nanny or Little Angels or any of the many other TV programmes to see how hard some people find it.

If the LibDems wont support parents to learn how to get their kids back on the straight and narrow and they wont open the schools up and they wont pay for youth workers and they close youth clubs then they should not be surprised if the "mischief" grows out of control.

Vermin are defined as things that need exterminating, our city's leader should not be calling Liverpool children "vermin". This panders to the most extreme prejudice, and is about as illiberal as it is possible to be. No child is beyond redemption as far as I am concerned, it is for the adults to put them back on the right road. If Cllr Bradley is not adult enough to take the job on then it is time our city elected a party that is.