Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pier Head

I finally managed to get the pics off my phone and onto my pc, hurrah

So here are a few I took at the Pier Head a month ago or so. There is one taken from the first floor landing of the Pier Master's house which is preserved as though we were in the middle of the second world war, do visit if you have never been, it is fantastic. Then there is a photo of the fabulous marigolds they are growing in their war-time "dig for victory" vegetable plot. And finally a shot of the statue of the travellers waiting on the quayside for a ship to take them to a new life in America.

I have added a few to earlier posts too where relevant

Council mentoring

When I became a councillor in 2006 I was mentored for the first year by Councillor Nick Small who ensured that I understand how everything worked. He would keep in regular contact, identifying issues I might like to speak on, or suggest topics for motions. He would expain how committees worked and how to take advantage of training. It worked very well and I blossomed under his tutelage.

Now it is my turn to be a mentor and I am working with Tim Moore. He is doing very well so far, a maiden speech at his first council meeting on a sensible topic - working on a Merseyside basis to develop mutually beneficial policies, particularly in terms of job creation and skills development.

We met for lunch today and talked about how to set up Tenants and Residents Associations. We also discussed his new role as Chair of a Neighbourhood Partnership Working Group, a very bright young man, one to watch!

Cath and Steve have married!

On July 26th 2008 Cath Ingham and Steve Seymour Clancy were married. Unfortunately for me they were married in Orkney and I could not get up there, otherwise I would have loved to have shared their special day with them. They were married in the bothy behind the house by a Church of Scotland Minister.

With the help of Steve Faragher, I read a poem set to music and sent it to them as an MP3 and they played it at the appropriate place in the service, it was not as good as being there, but better than missing out altogether.

I have kept it quiet until now as they wanted to send out invites to a party in Holmfirth in mid September and that would be the first most people would know about the marriage, I didnt want to be the one to break the news. But the invite has now arrived so I can tell everyone - and share a few photos with you.

I am so pleased, it couldn't have happened to a better couple, although quite why it has taken them so long I don't know.

See you soon, with a big glass of champagne!

5000 mile walk for Multiple Sclerosis

I am joining Andy Monk on a walk on 17th September for Multiple Sclerosis. I shall only do a mile though, not the full 5000 (!!) Do you want to come too? Get in touch and let me know. Hopefully Lisa and Rosa will be able to come too, Lisa's mum had MS. Or perhaps you want to send me some money to give to him, or you can contribute directly to him. I have put the details of how to do that at the end of the post.

Here is the text of Andy's email to me below

On 15th September I will be starting a five thousand mile sponsored
walk to more than seven hundred Newspaper offices and Radio Stations
in mainland England to raise crucial funds for Multiple Sclerosis

Could you, or could someone you know, help by walking one mile and
raising ten pounds for research?

I will walk within a mile of 900 towns and villages on the first
section of the walk, through the north of England. If just one person
from each place would join me for one mile and raise ten pounds, the
total raised throughout the north would be a significant boost for

I will be walking through Liverpool and Everton on 17th September.

To search for another town along the route, please go to

I have witnessed the frightening and devastating effects that MS has
had on my wife Gwen, who fifteen years ago, at the age of 32, was
stricken by the disorder. I have watched a fit, healthy, young woman
gradually being forced to come to terms with a fearfully debilitating

There are further details of the two Charities I will be raising funds
for, as well as a summary of my previous sponsored walk at

It is possible though to donate online through either my own website, the Myelin Project website, or the Accelerated Cure Project website.
Donations through my website will be divided equally between both charities.

the Myelin Project address is:

the ACP website is:

and my website address is:

Kindest regards,

Andy Monk

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Boro Boys were in town, la la la

I was so excited when we went 1-0 up after 70 minutes

I got my phone out to send Wendy a message of humiliation, but my fingers hovered in an unsure way, so I decided to wait for the end result

Good move!

Because somehow the jammy bastards managed to beat us 2-1. I still dont know how they pulled it off, given that they were so thoroughly second-class, but sometimes these things happen

It was however a moral victory even if the three points eluded us, I see good things for my team this season and thanks go to Damian Spellman for putting a Boro story in tonight's Echo.

Mido! Mido!

Mathew Street Festival

As one man said to me in St John's Gardens during Amy Whynhouse's sessions - "The Lib-Dems and that Councillor Bradley could not organise a piss-up in a brewery!"

Only it seems he was wrong - and so was I!

Rachel, Ian, Colin and I had a great time on Monday afternoon.

Variously we enjoyed Right Said Fred (I missed them but Rachel raved about them), The Smiths Indeed (I suffered them like only a true friend with her pal can, but Colin raved about them - that Morrissey is a terrible mysogynist with songs about girls in comas and girls getting knocked over by buses), Amy Whynhouse, Temptations and Four Tops, the Fillers (Killers) and the mighty God Save The Queen and we thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it - except perhaps the parts where my nylon-sock clad feet were on fire, what a mistake that was!

I saw a few councillors out and about and I am sure we were all agreed that after last year's debacle this year the lads done good.

Thanks to all the acts!

"It's just a lot of people standing still"

Flash Mob in Liverpool City Centre - Bank Holiday Monday

Who says Councillors have to be stuffy?

This link might not work, but if you are on facebook perhaps it will?

It is a link to the Liverpool City Centre Flash Mob 2008

A group of face-bookers - and I was one - met up at 1pm on Bank Holiday Monday outside McDonalds on the corner of Church Street and Duke Street (is that quite right?) At the blowing of a couple of blasts on a school-yard whistle, we posed, stock-still, for a few minutes, until the whistle blew, much to the consternation of the passing pedestrians.

We were encouraged to think up a suitable pose and in my case I chose to spend my minutes pointing at a DIVINE pair of purple suede shoes in Barratt's window - which were particularly apt as I was wearing a purple suede jacket and carrying a purple suede hand-bag, how cool am I? LOL

Colin who is far too cool to join in with such nonsense, stood by me and looked a bit embarassed, but did manage to take a couple of pics on my phone which I hope I can get off there and on to here.

Great fun. I understand some people had clothes pegs attached to them as they stood frozen to the spot, by a phantom "pegger" but sadly I was missed, great fun though - especially the instruction that said that when the whistle blowed to mark the end, we should straighten up and walk away as though nothing had happened! It must have been baffling, not least for the two coppers who found themselves in the middle of the exercise, quite by chance (I hope!)

The quote in the title of this entry refers to a man who walked past my still figure and said this, with some disgust, to his shopping partner.

It is Saturday, it's 10am and it is leafletting

We are nearly done with the current K&F leaflet - and picked up three new bits of casework in just a few streets. Thankfully the rain held off.

Mum rang at quarter to ten, wondering if I had got up yet. I said I was long-since up and waiting to meet Liam and Wendy and Dave and Frank and Dave and Nick for a leaflet session. She said she had thought we wouldn't leaflet if it was a bank-holiday. It reminded me that a constituent had phoned to see if we were having a surgery on the Friday night for the same reason.

I remember doing a surgery on Good Friday at least twice. We just put our heads down and get on with it. Constituents who have problems worth sharing with a councillor dont care what day it is and neither do we.

Mind you, if Christmas Day or Boxing Day or New Year's Day fall on a surgery day or a leafletting day, I guess I wont be there.

Rachel Thwaite is 40

No really, she is!

And we had a night out on Friday night on Rose Lane. We started with a drink in the Rose of Mossley, then went for a very nice meal in Odyssey (very handsome waiter) and we all ate lovely things and drank lovely wines and still the bill was only £20 each - with a good tip.

Then we popped into a new bar on Allerton Road - Eight - which opened on Thursday I think. It was okay but overly busy and more men than women. We were not overly impressed although we did like the tiny screens showing Beatles concerts in black and white, which sat behind the pump fonts.

I asked Wendy to join me and in the end there were 8 of us, all happily chatting and eating and drinking and we had a really lovely time. Some very interesting discussions also ensued amongst us singles about life on your own with its ups and downs - mostly ups I think we decided.

Rachel was well chuffed with her presents, especially her new handbag which I noticed she was using again on Monday at the Mathew Street festival. Well done whoever bought her that!

I might not be able to recommend Eight but can definitely recommend Odyssey (and the taxi-driver who took us from one to the other was very fair and a good ambassador too)

Happy birthday love

Shelving in Kensington Library

I had a great surgery in Kensington Library last week!

I have a table in the middle of the children's library - not very private but we can talk very quietly and if it looks like getting sensitive I always offer a home visit or suggest other surgeries as an alternative (we hold one every Friday night for example in private so they dont have long to wait)

And this week I only had two visitor in my hour, so like old times, I thought I would do a spot of shelving.

I think the library staff were impressed to learn that I have a City and Guilds - Library and Information Assistant's Certificate, 1985 - and I offered to shelve the returns to the children's library while I was in between constituents.

I then got right into the spirit and tidied up the first two shelves in the children's reference section - to the third decimal point in the Dewey system. Nice to know I have not lost my touch!

They make a lovely mug of coffee too, thanks everyone, see you in a fortnight, next time I might tackle the children's biography section

Dad visits me in Liverpool

My Dad came to stay for a few days last week and it was really lovely to show him round "my" Liverpool.

I have held off posting this entry because I was hoping for photos but I can always add them later.

By happy chance his visit coincided with 20/08/2008 which was a key day in Liverpool.

We got up early, had our breakfast, met up with Colin and then went into town.

We started with a visit to Turning the Place Over opposite the railway station at Moorfields. A fantastic artistic endeavour that I knew that he would appreciate, being a scientist/engineer type person. The only thing that disappointed him was that the office block is empty, there was no-one sitting at their desk while the front of their building revolved on a spindle!

Then I took him and Colin into the Council Chamber and showed them where I sit and pointed out the Lord Mayor's dias and explained about the mace, and how the meetings work.

Then we walked over to St George's Hall (and popped into Millenium House on the way to see where select committees sit, a very different proposition to the Council Chamber in terms of architecture and design).

St George's Hall, or should I say the Heritage Centre, went down well as it always does and we spent an age in the court trying to work out where the jury sat, which bit was for the witness box, where the press sat etc. I still dont quite understand who would have sit behind the dock, within touching distance of the prisoner.

We were moved, as I always am, by the petty crimes that could land someone suffering from abject poverty in the dock with the possibility of transportation to another country.

Then we went to the Liverpool World Museum, looking at a few Lambananas on the way.

We had lunch in there, it is one of my favourite lunch-time venues, and then had a look at a couple of the floors of exhibits. He was very enthused by the space and satellite floors and we got very engaged too with the natural history floor, looking at skeletons of early man. I think it is a great museum, although, like the film museum in Bradford, I do get cross when the interactive displays that so excite the kids are broken.

We were tiring now so we went home for a few hours (and watched some more of the Lympics) and then, having checked the tide time-tables which I have now learnt you can read in the Echo every night (!!), we went up to Crosby to see the Iron men - and at mid tide they were magnificent.

So he might have only had a fairly whistle-stop visit, but we got the best stuff in. (Last time he came a couple of years ago we spent our time on the Albert Dock so we had covered some other important bases already)

I had a great time, I hope he did too - and I cooked, on both nights, glory be!

Regulation 33 visits

We had a meeting a week or so ago of those councillors (principly Labour - and I am not making political capital out of this, rather I am hoping that a few more LibDems who I know read this blog, will think about signing up too) who are ready and willing to undertake Regulation 33 visits to Children's Homes in the city.

In essence, once we have been CRB checked and given some guidance, we are to visit the children's homes in the city - there are not many and they have only four children in each home as most children go into foster care rather than home - on a very regular basis to ensure that everything is right for our kids.

Councillors are de facto parents for looked-after children (children in various types of care) - about 800 in Liverpool - and we need to make sure they are being looked after properly, are happy, are eating well, going to the dentist, doing their homework, getting treats etc etc

Wendy, Liam and I have all put our names down to visit - and we have two such homes in our ward so it is important that we are properly engaged.

Underpass under West Derby Road, Liverpool

Just a quick note to say that I have had some very productive meetings with the police and with the Community Safety team at LCC about the underpass that leads under West Derby Road from St Michael's RC Primary School to, well, the other side!

I have been contacted by parents at the school, and by the police, who are both very anxious that this underpass should be sorted out, in fact what we all want is to have it shut down as it is a haven for people who welcome the privacy to get up to every type of no-good.

I wont say what kind of things because I dont want to advertise it!

Police, community safety, school and parents, and of course us three councillors are as one on this.

We want it closing and we want a pedestrian crossing.

Very few people use the underpass because it is not a good place to be in. But in the meantime the community service people have agreed to paint it and clean it and make it a slightly more accessible place and the council have cleaned it up. Good for the short-term but we need to keep up the pressure on the Highways folk to get rid of it and find the money for a crossing above ground. At the moment pedestrians are taking their lives in their hands by struggling across four lanes of traffic, with kids and pushchairs, rather that use the underpass so something has to be done!

Dr Tim Leunig is a LibDem!

Thanks to Jim Noakes for finding this link to a LibDem website showing that Dr Tim Leunig who believes that Liverpool folk should all give up the idea of regeneration move to the South-East and to Oxford and Cambridge is in fact a LibDem

I wonder what Flo makes of this?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sunday - handover of Olympics to London 2012 event in Liverpool

I just got notified about this and am hurrying to let you know

There is to be some kind of handover event from Beijing to London Olympics on Sunday at St George's Hall

I cannot find any more information about it but have a look on this website

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Homophobic hate crime - Michael Causer

I had hoped to post this entry earlier and for that I apologise.

Readers will be aware now of the terrible tragedy of the murder of Michael Causer, a young gay man of only 18 who was beaten to death in Huyton on July 25th.

A book of remembrance has been opened by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

Two Huyton teenagers have been charged with his murder.

Ongoing Liverpool Echo stories about Michael can be linked to from here

What I wanted to share with you was the letter that was circulated by Merseyside Police on 6th August 2008 who wish to provide at least some reassurance to the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community and to other concerned individuals.

It reads as follows;

Dear Community Member

Merseyside Police has previously reported that the Force is investigating the attack on Michael Causer, who is from the Whiston area of Merseyside. Tragically, Michael died whilst in hospital on Saturday 2 August 2008. This incident is being treated as a homophobic hate crime.

Three men from the Huyton area have been charged in connection with this attack. They appeared before Knowsley Magistrates Court where they were released on conditional bail and will re-appear before Liverpool Crown Court on the 12 August 2008. A fourth man arrested in connection with the attack has been released on police bail while further enquiries are made.

No other people are being sought in connection with this enquiry.

The investigation and prosecution is obviously ongoing and as a result it would be wholly inappropriate to disclose too much detail surrounding the case at this stage. More importantly to do so, is likely to jeopardise the prosecution of these offenders.

However, in an effort to reduce speculation and rumour, I can say that Michael and those charged with the offences against him and those currently on bail were known to each other and had been together in a house in Biglands Drive, Huyton during the course of Thursday evening and Friday morning. The initial assault upon Michael took place within this house.

The incident was reported to police and ambulance at 11am on Friday 25 July 2008 when Michael was admitted to Whiston Hospital with serious head injuries.

Contrary to speculation, I can confirm that this was not a random attack of a young gay man walking in Knowsley. Merseyside Police takes Hate Crime, whether verbal or physical, seriously and will actively investigate all reports. If you want to report any Hate Crime you can speak with our dedicated SIGMA Hate Crime Investigation Team on 0151 709 6010, in an emergency, however please dial 999.
Alternatively you can call Stop Hate UK 24hour Help Line on 0800 138 1625 or the Knowsley Hate Crime Hotline on 0800 953 4433.

Merseyside Police would ask anyone with any information regarding this investigation to contact them on 0151 777 6564, alternatively if you want to speak to an officer from the Police Gay Support Network contact them on 077646 21430 (or email, or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Merseyside Police proactively investigates Hate crime in all its forms. Detectives from the Sigma Hate Crime Investigation Team have worked with detectives involved in this investigation. Close consultation has taken place with our internal and external support network for Gay and Lesbian Police Officers and staff.

Sigma staff hold ‘drop in surgeries’ within community venues to actively encourage the reporting of Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents. Furthermore, Merseyside Police, is marching at this year’s Manchester Gay Pride on August 23 for the fourth year running. Amongst those representing the Force at the event this year are staff from the Police Federation, Sigma Hate Crime Investigation Teams, Senior Officer’s, Black Police Association, Merseyside Police Authority and our Disability Support Network.

As part of our ongoing commitment to Hate Crime we support annual International Day Against Homophobia by illuminating Police Headquarters in rainbow lighting and flying our Rainbow Flag.

In 2006 Liverpool City Council commissioned the Stormbreak report, which highlighted the positive work undertaken by specialist officers when investigating offences such as Hate Crime and Domestic Violence.

Merseyside Police is a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

The Armistead Project, the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Support Service is also available to provide support to anyone affected by this incident or who wishes to pass on relevant information for the enquiry on 0870 990 8996 or 0151 227 1893.

Yours faithfully,

John Young
Area Commander

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Visit to York

I took a few days out this weekend to visit my good friends in York. Susan, Tom, Dylan and baby Alice invited me over for a few days and we had a great time.

I know I am biased but these two children are simply beautiful and fantastically well-developed for their respective ages (2 years 10 months and 4 months 1 week). Remarkably like Alex and Joel, Isaac and Rosa, Rebecca, Rhys and Ellice, Joseph and Alice, Connor, Sonny and other wonderful children of my aquaintance, they are in fact geniuses in the making and future winners of a multitude of awards in all sorts of areas.

It is truly amazing how I am surrounded by wonderful children, no, honestly, really, it is. I am not being ironic.

Children are our future, as some naff pop star once said, and I cannot help thinking that if that is true, which it clearly is, then our world will be in safe hands.

We had a lovely trip to Beningbrough Hall and Gardens, where Dylan ran around, played in the wilderness play area, asked questions about fruit growing on fruit trees and enjoyed seeing the horses and cows on the estate. I quite liked the NT shop, and as usual on such trips, had to come away with a few purchases. We had a lovely lunch too, and because it was during the school holidays, we had no fears about our two children making a lot of noise or crying, as every table contained at least one breast-feeding woman with a partner and several other kids trying to work out how far you could throw a piece of pastry crust or an apple core across the restuarant and hit an innocent diner.

Susan and I took a few hours out on Monday evening to visit a lovely bistro for a meal, called Meltons Too

I can recommend the special of the day which was chicken, chorizo and fennel.

You just cannot beat the chance to get away, catch up, gossip, share secrets, news and concerns. And when we got back, Alice had not even woken up. Amazing!

Susan and Tom have asked me to step up to the proverbial child-supporting plate again and stand-up for Alice as her "special person" at her naming ceremony, next Spring, at York Register Office. I was surprised to be asked as I already fulfill this role for Dylan, but she explained that as it is a civic responsibility, rather than a religious one, there is no limit to the number of times I can do this.

I am of course THRILLED to be allowed to support both of these wonderful children through their young lives.

And I do mean it when I say that Alice is gorgeous, I am sure I bored her as much as I began to bore myself, telling her this, over and over again. She is placid, given to smiles, has a beautiful face, didn't once cry in the 48 hours I was there, and looked very fetching in her little outfits. I could have eaten her all up!

I hope Susan will send me some of the photos she took so that I can share them with you.

Dylan and I spent some time together watching the Lympics but then he got a bit fed-up - the synchronised diving held his attention for about fifteen minutes but I sensed he was starting to flag, so I read the latest Sizzles book to him (from Charlie and Lola - and if you don't know, don't ask) as a reviver and we pushed onwards.

Tom, as befits a proper bloke, prepared a BBQ for my first evening, but it was no run-of-the-mill "have a beefburger" meal, we had marinated steak (with a T not a D), Jerk Chicken, Spare Ribs and Sausages with a sexy salad from a cook-book.

It has been about (counts on her fingers....) 6 years since I had a fella who could cook, and I had forgotten how great it is. Well done Tom!

I left them to drive back to Liverpool, with my newly acquired coccyx cushion (Susan has been there before) and they went off to a little holiday in Northumberland.

I hope it goes as well as my trip to York went.

(and if I see a single parody of this entry on a LibDem blog then I shall take steps to sue this time, your behaviour last time was beyond the pale, a second offence will be tantamount to war. You have been warned).

Liverpool is wasting its time and money on regeneration - Policy Exchange report

Policy Exchange Think-Tank advocates mass internal migration towards the South-East and away from northern cities like Liverpool and Manchester.

This story has caused big ripples right round the country today.

As well as being the front page story in the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo tonight, it has been all over the Financial Times, the BBC, The Guardian, and countless other news outlets

I have also had a phone call from my Mum in Stockton on Tees and my Dad in Cornwall who have both also picked up the story.

So, what does it all mean and what do I make of it?

The report suggests, essentially, that the efforts to regenerate northern cities are doomed because they can never catch up with the south-east and the writer, Dr Tim Leunig, suggests that we should instead concentrate on building 3 million new homes in London, Oxford and Cambridge and encourage northern residents to move there.

He says of Liverpool in particular that without the docks, the one-time vital part of our economy, and because we are in an isolated position on the north-west coast, at the end of the motorway, the end of the railway line and facing America instead of Europe, we can never aspire to catch up with the rich south-east.

The report has been attacked vociferously on all sides, by everyone, by every commentator and particularly by the Tory leader who must wish that his favourite think-tank had taken a long holiday in foreign parts this summer instead of publishing this report.

It has been described as insane, barmy, tosh and rubbish.

I think his conclusions are deeply flawed and patronising and lack any understanding of the advances made in the north. He says for instance that the money spent on regeneration in Liverpool would have been better spent by giving residents a plasma TV. First of all this is patronising and snobbish. Plasma TVs are seen as something that pacifies the masses, no self-respecting middle-class Oxford dweller would dream of having a Plasma TV. He might as well as have said we could spend the money on greyhounds, beer and fags. He clearly thinks that Scousers have little aspiration or ambition.

His conclusion that we should encourage the motivated Scouser to do the Tebbit equivalent of getting on their bikes by moving to the dreaming spires cities for a better chance of wealth and a decent future, denies the advances that northern cities have made since 1997.

And it is typical of the mentality of the southerners, who believe that their end of the country is the best and that everything north of the proverbial Watford Gap is not worth visiting (Here lie monsters)- and Brian Sewell who believes that art is "too good for northerners"

My answer to the southern snobbery has tended towards thinking that it should be encouraged, that we dont want them coming to our cities and our art galleries and our wonderful buildings and seeing how well we are doing in the north. Don't tell them, then they wont come and it will be all the better for us, not having to associate with them.

But of course we do benefit from tourism so I have reluctantly accepted over the last five years that a certain amount of southerners ought to be encouraged to visit, if only so that we can get lots of tourism pounds out of them to help pay for our regeneration!

I note that Doctor Leunig didn't bother to visit before he wrote his report - which is typical of the behaviour I criticised above. He probably thinks we still have Ricky Tomlinson standing with a megaphone outside building sites, or John Prescott doing the same with the National Union of Seamen.

However, I do have to say that I do agree with the guy about one thing.

It is a very difficult task we face in Liverpool to regenerate, and to deny that, to suggest that it is easy and we are all doing very well thank you, is to seriously underestimate the size and scale of the problems we do face with regenerating this wonderful city.

It is absolutely true that we are at the end of the motorway network and that Liverpool consequently faces a battle to draw businesses towards us. It is true that we are at the end of the railway line too. I think of smaller cities - Hull and Carlisle for instance, also in the north, who are equally placed at the coast and who also suffer from not being "on the way to" anywhere else. If you come to Liverpool it is because you meant to, not because you were on the way to elsewhere and got off at the station for a cup of tea and realised what a great place it was.

We dismiss the extra challenges this bring at our peril.

I also accept that as a west-coast city we lose out to east and south-coast ports. The biggest port in the country is at Felixstowe in Suffolk. Some people may be surprised by that, but it is in the best position to take in cargo from all over Europe and Africa.

The port of Liverpool continues to develop and grow and is currently working on a deep-water dock to allow us to take in bigger cargo ships with larger numbers of containers on them but even then we will still be behind Felixstowe, Southampton and Immingham (Hull). (If this is wrong then please can you correct me but it is what I recall from a Port Health Authority trip to the Port of Liverpool).

The fact is that we started from a low base here in the north. Chris Grayling, the shadow minister for Liverpool (and the shadows are the best place for him in my view, ideally under a rock somewhere) has dared to say of the report that "I'm not allowed to say what I really think of it on a family website" but we northerners are fully aware that the problems in the North are mainly of his party's making. The Conservatives have always despised the North, much as Dr Leunig clearly does, and it was their William the Conqueror like slash and burn "harrying of the North" that created the problems in the first place. Maggie Thatcher was quite happy to lay waste to huge areas of the North, throwing people on the dole, closing pit villages down, shutting heavy manufacturing, ship-building, as punishment for returning Labour MPs.

It took a Labour Government in 1997, encouraged by the Faith in the City report of 1985 to put their money where their mouth was and develop massive regeneration policies across the urban landscape - and don't forget that Bishop David Sheppard of Liverpool was one of the authors.

Kensington Regeneration will have received £62million by the end of its ten year new-deal programme, entirely thanks to our Labour Government, but even a sum as big as that is not enough for an area containing only 6000 houses. The poverty is severe, the physical environment is poor, the job opportunities are few, public health is desparate, people die 10 years before their southern counterparts - things are slowly improving but we still have a very long way to go and the road will continue to be rocky.

It is absolutely true that regeneration is hard in Liverpool, that it is expensive, that we have a long way to go and that we started from a low base. I would concede all of those points.

But I do not agree with the premise that it is therefore a waste of money and that we should not try.

I won't bother to repeat the litany of all the regeneration that has already taken place in northern cities, and especially in Liverpool, or the fact that the Duke of Westminster believes that Liverpool is a city worth investing £900 million of his own pounds in.

Liverpool is regenerating, slowly, as are the other northern cities, and that is no thanks to the Tories or their right-wing think-tanks, or the southern elitists who appear to think we should turn all northern regions over to fallow grazing.

It is a hard fight but northern people are worth it, we deserve the best and it is the job of northern representatives to fight for our cities and our people and ensure that the North will rise again!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tory PPC for Watford on brink of jail sentence

I have just picked up on this story and this story about a Tory PPC in Watford who has now resigned after being found guilty of harassing his political opponents with poison pen letters, tyre slashing, vandalism, graffiti, silent phone calls etc. He is facing a custodial sentence.

A charming man.

How unlike the home life of our own dear Queen.

But it is perhaps not as shocking as we would like it to be as a story. There are far too many incidents of this sort of thing in local politics. I see on a couple of other blogs that people are saying this is rare, that the guy might be mentally ill, that it is atypical behaviour, but I am afraid I do not agree. I can think of lots of incidents of this type, from all the main parties.

Over the years I have received hate mail and hate blog posts too, come to that. I have had my car tyres slashed (not in Liverpool), my car window put in on another occasion. I have seen other people suffer the same. In 1997 one of the opposition parties put a couple of windows through which were displaying our posters in Colne Valley. We have a councillor facing trial in Liverpool for distributing a nasty leaflet about a councillor in another party. Miranda Grell is by no means the only politician to have accused a fellow candidate of being a child-abuser either.

I can think of lots of incidents between parties and indeed within parties of all sorts of criminal and hateful behaviour directed at members, candidates and elected representatives.

They do say that power corrupts, or perhaps it should be the pursuit of power in this case?

All very depressing stuff really, no wonder the voters have given up engaging with us.


According to Wikipedia

The coccyx (pronounced kok-siks) (Latin: os coccygis), commonly referred to as the tailbone, is the final segment of the human vertebral column. Comprising three to five separate or fused vertebrae (the coccygeal vertebrae) below the sacrum, it is attached to the sacrum by a fibrocartilaginous joint, which permits limited movement between the sacrum and the coccyx. The term coccyx comes originally from the Greek language and means "cuckoo," referring to the shape of a cuckoo's beak[1].

There are 1,500,000 references to it on Google and most of them concern pain management and the purchasing of special cushions for people who have bruised or broken theirs.

None of which fills me with any great joy as I hurt mine last Thursday night, tumbling down the last few stairs at home when my sock-clad foot failed to make sufficient purchase on the stair carpet.

I dont think it is broken but it hurts a lot - walking about is okay, it mainly hurts as I get up and down from a sitting position or when I am sitting on a hard chair - like I was for most of today.

I sure hope it goes away soon because it is really quite debilitating, especially when the pain wakes me in the night when I turn over in my sleep.

Anyway, now you know why I keep wincing!

October Black History Month

Wendy and I met Michelle and Sonia from the Black History Month team this evening to talk over some ideas we have about supporting an event during October to celebrate the achievements and history of the black community living in Kensington and Fairfield. Liam was stuck in work, but we will want to get his views and thoughts as he works closely with a lot of the BME groups in the patch.

The website is still showing last year's calendar but we got a sneak preview into this year's and it is all looking very impressive.

We have got some way to go to define the way we can get involved and what kind of event might be appropriate, but were able to share contact details of many of the black people who are currently engaged in community activity in Kensington and Fairfield so that they can work with the team and the planning around the whole programme. I will keep you posted as to developments.

Venture Housing Assocation Board meeting

I had my first VHA Board meeting today and came away the new Chair of the Scrutiny Committee!

It was all very interesting, learning about the Assocation and meeting the other board members, but there was a real note of sadness as our Board Chairman, Bill Hughes, died last week suddenly and unexpectedly. I only met him once, for my interview to be considered for the board and he was very warm and engaging and obviously very knowledgeable about the association and about social housing. He was telling me about his history in the area and his assocation with the orphanage. I was looking forward to meeting him again and working with him.

There is obviously an awful lot to get my teeth into and I hope I can do them justice.

Liverpool Samba Carnival

Wendy, Theresa, Suzanne and I went out on Saturday night for a fab meal at Bistro Jacques, my favourite city centre restuarant and then out onto Hardman Street to watch the Liverpool Samba Carnival parade.

There are some great photos on that link you should look at!

There were hordes of people lining the street. We really enjoyed it and hope it becomes an annual fixture.

SPARC in the Park - Merseyside Fire Support Network

Using our Working Neighbourhoods Fund, we sponsored a day in Newsham Park on July 31st with lots of activities for young people.

SPARC in the Park is organised by the Merseyside Fire Support Network. It was launched by the charity, which supports the work of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, 5 years ago. The aim is to reduce deliberate fire and misuse of green spaces and encourage young people to use their parks for positive activities based around health and fitness.

There was streetcage football (I think that is the right terminology) and various other games and activities, for about 4 hours on the park. Over 150 children took part, despite grey skies and we are very pleased with the way it went. It is all part of our desire to see our area's parks used in the right way and to be an asset for the local community.

Beaumont Park Gala, Huddersfield

After the Sparkles clean-up I headed over to Slaithwaite to stay with my mate Victoria for the evening. On the Sunday we took advantage of the glorious weather to visit Beaumont Park's Gala and very good it was too.

The park is built into the hillside and has had a lot of money spent on it of late, helped by a very active Friends group. It was all looking very good, horticulturally, and the new water feature was much admired. There was about 5000 people there I reckon, visiting lots of stalls, eating food from different countries, buying jewellry, having a go on the tombola, listening to brass bands and taking part in a local talent competition. A fantastic example of a park at the heart of a community.

Sparkles Day 26th July

Our Sparkles Day was a great success

The three Labour Councillors joined local residents, members of staff from Venture Housing, Rodney Housing, City and North Neighbourhood Team and members of the L'Arche community to pick litter and clean up some fly-tipping in the L6 area.

Caroline also came along, to find out some more about being a local councillor.

We split into two teams, one working on the Rufford Road area and the other working on Tudor Street, Cambria Street and Sutcliffe Street. We picked up six sacks of rubbish just from the grassed area half way up Tudor Street and noticed how long the grass has got. Apparently it was NOT transferred to LMH when lots of the other grassed areas were but EL appear not to have realised this and had not been cutting it either, so this has since been reported and should get a good cut now.

We chatted to lots of residents who were coming and going and picked up some casework too. As usual however, lots of people assumed we were doing community service, but that always gives us a bit of a laugh.

One group of young lads shouted over, asking what crimes we had committed, I shouted back that I had been found guilty of murdering half a dozen young lads and chopping them up into little bits, but they were not convinced, shouting back that surely that would have merited a prison sentence!

We really enjoy Sparkles days and seeing people using the 25 skips that we provide for them and we massively enjoy revisiting areas we have cleaned before and finding that they have stayed clean!

It was a beautiful sunny day too.

A mural for Kensington or Fairfield

Wendy and I have been meeting with Peter of the Liverpool Mural Project lately to discuss turning our desire for a local Kensington or Fairfield mural into reality.

We have agreed a tentative design and Steve Faragher is going to put his Fine Art degree to use in firming that up, and in discussing it with local TRAs and other interested folk. It will feature a series of positive things about our area and its history.

We are now working on finding the right gable end, having identified a potential dozen and will be talking to residents/owners to see if we can persuade one to say yes.

If we can pull this off, with some sponsorship, then it should happen during the beginning of September, watch this space.