Thursday, January 03, 2008

A bit self-defensive

A couple of things have rather got up my nose in the last few weeks, I feel the need to let off a bit of steam.

1. Joe Riley describing councillors in the Liverpool Echo as "a rag, tag and bobtail outfit of squabbling, often semi-literate, baying buffoons".

I take great offence at this, as I am sure do my friends on the council, particularly those recently elected by the good people of Liverpool to serve them. Labour has won 10 seats in the last 18 months, helping our group to become more or less equal in numbers between men and women. These men and women are professionals, highly-qualified, articulate, (well-dressed too) and highly successful. They represent their constituents extremely well and are highly thought of, that is why they were elected at the expense of sitting LibDems.

I dont know when he was last in a select committee or at a scrutiny panel to hear the thoughtful discussions about policy development? The councillors on our benches at least are all working hard to represent their constituents - count all those surgeries for instance - and developing long-term policy to take the city forward, managing casework, and much more.

If he has arrived at this view by reading about or viewing full council then I would agree it is run like the mad hatter's tea party - but then is PMQs any better?

The second person I have taken some exception to this year has been Herbert Howe the hairdresser's criticism of councillors for not finding his party guests for him for his Christmas Party.

I did receive a request to help identify three guests who would be on their own on Christmas Day and who could find their way to the Adelphi under their own steam.

I gave it very serious thought but was really struggling.

I also wrote to Snelly on BBC Radio Merseyside asking if he could help me by publicising the request but he didnt email me back. I understand Billy Butler did eventually publicise it, this was the obvious approach to have taken.

A further request came from council staff much closer to Chrismas and I was forced to send this response

"Sorry, I have no idea how to identify such people, and even if I could, I dont see how they would be able to get to the Adelphi. There is no public transport on Christmas day and inevitably, if they had cars, they would drive to a friend or a relative for the day and so not be on their own anyway.

Just because you live on your own all year round, it does not mean you will be on your own on Christmas Day, most people receive offerst to go to a relatives or a friends - as I did myself. How can I identify people without obtrusively asking them for their plans and embarassing them about their lack of options?

I have discussed this at several TRAs but none of us have been able to think of anyone who fits the bill and who can travel under their own steam

For several years I spent the day at the local Salvation Army citadel where we would have a big Christmas lunch for all those who would be on their own, complete with carol singing and gifts. But the difference there was that it was the responsibility of volunteers like me to go and collect our guests in the car and then take them home again afterwards, they were inevitably virtually housebound.

So, while I think this is a lovely idea, it has not quite been thought through properly and so I am not able to help."

Herbert should have found a way for people to self-nominate or else he should have worked side by side with the organisations who already do this every year anyway - mainly church based groups.

I know I am not alone amongst councillors of all parties when I say that it is a shame we could not help but that is not because we are idle and feckless but because it was not a realistic request.

It is annoying to be criticised by people who dont really understand the role of a councillor or how we work. Herbert or Joe, if you have googled yourselves and arrived at this spot, do feel free to get in touch with me through the council website and I will be more than happy to have you to shadow me for the day. Then you might have a clearer idea of how we work and what our roles and functions are.


Anonymous said...

Herberts criticism might have been well intentioned ,but ill informed, Joe Riley should stick to writing reviews on the arts.

ballcock watch said...

"These men and women are professionals, highly-qualified, articulate, (well-dressed too)"

So New Labour now only accepts council candidates who are well dressed middle class professionals?

So much for promoting diversity and social mobility!

How many people really care how their councillor dresses or what professional (and irrelevant) qualifications they might have?

Anonymous said...

I was a Labour councillor in Liverpool in the 80's/90's, and my ward insisted I was well presented whenever i represented them or did surgeries etc. There is nothing wrong in Louises article.

kenny's old dick said...

When me an Tony Mulheard were labour councillors in 80's I was the one who first sported and started the "Miltant Tux" fashion, which turned out to be a donkey jacket, these delightful garments had enough pocket space for a megaphone, and a molitoff cocktail or two for when we had to man the picket lines against neil kinnock.