Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jonathan Ross

- is my favourite TV and Radio presenter.

I love the bloke, I hope he survives this scandal. I have read the full transcript in the Daily Mail today (in the cafe, I did not actually give good money for a copy, I can assure you!!) and I am quite shocked by some of what they said, particularly the bits that the BBC cut and never played (I wonder how the Daily Mail got hold of it?) but all the same, I love him. I think he is great, especially on the radio, him and Andy make long journeys a pleasure on a Saturday.

I dont know the first thing about Russell Brand, have never listened to him and so have no views about him but Jonathan Ross is great.

However the BBC decide to discipline him, I hope they pull up short of sacking him.

Too much to say, not enough time

Okay, there is loads to tell you and no time to fit it all in

So here is a rush job of some of the meetings and events I have done in the last few weeks. If you want a full blog on any of them please let me know and I will accomodate, cheers

Respect Week 2008 - Monday at St Francis of Assisi School with the circus performers

Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee on Tuesday 14th

Respect Week 2008 - Wednesday, Warm Front and free electric blankets and CO alarms

Full Council - Wednesday and our motion on the despised Gollywog dolls

Thursday - lunch with mentee, Cllr Tim Moore

Thursday - Kenny Library surgery

Thursday - Babysit for Lisa and John while they go to see how Isaac is doing in his first term at infants

Friday - Job Fair at VHA as part of Respect week 2008

Friday - Refugee Action business breakfast at the County Sessions House

Saturday - Action Saturday

Saturday - Stockton for Roger's 60th birthday

Monday - VHA Scrutiny Committee - my first as chair

Monday - Cllr Stuart Monckom and I get into Ethical governance with our statement of expectations of Councillors' behaviour

Wednesday - HMRI task and finish group for City and North - new group I am chairing as part of our City and North Neighbourhood Partnership Working Group for Physical Regeneraion.

Wednesday - the expensive hair cut that failed - what am I to do now?

Wednesday - Fairfield Neighourhood Assembly

Thursday - meet the whole police team for L6 and local residents concerning anti-social behaviour in Balmoral Road

Thursday - Costa Coffee, Bold Street, European young people's poetry event (Yellow House)

Friday - Irish night at St Sebs - or how Wendy and I never got there because of all the damaged cars after our Labour Party meeting in Laurel Road, a year after the last lot.

Saturday - the black history month black achievers awards at the Crowne Plaza - a wonderful and fantastic night, I might manage a separate blog on that later this week. It was tremendous. And not a LibDem in sight, again.

Monday - day of training for foster carers and reg 33 visitors (councillors who visit children's homes to monitor them)

Tuesday - City and North District Committee - and the Picton flytipping scandal

Wednesday - Putting Neighbourhoods First and a project for community allotments
(and salt and pepper chicken and salt and pepper chips, yum)

Wednesday - Deane Road cemetery Heritage Lottery Fund bid update meeting

Wednesday - Neighbourhood Services Task Group meetings

Wednesday - Elm Park residents - and the saga of the worst entry (alley, jigger) in Great Britain

Okay, ask me any questions you like, I am going to bed now because tomorrow I have to be up early for the Venture Housing Tenants' Panel Consultation Day.

A public representative's day is never done..........but I love it

Young people in Liverpool Town Hall

I was interested to attend an event in Liverpool Town Hall to engage local young people in democratic debate. They attended a session in the council chamber where they were encouraged to ask questions about the things they care about - most youth services - and then they came upstairs into our wonderful ballroom for round table discussions on a variety of subjects.

I mainly ran an open-house, talk about what you like, session on my table and found out a lot about how they like to spend their evenings and what they want from youth clubs and other organisations and centres that they would like to get more from.

Essentially more sport, more sessions, some girls stuff - dancing, fashion, make-up, some boys stuff - gym, football, swimming, etc

They all agreed that they dont much like the ages mixing as the younger kids dont feel free to enjoy themselves with older kids there, and vice versa, and I took down a load of questions I need to find out the answers to for them.

They were all vocal and thoughtful and I was pleased to spend some time with them. What hurt me particularly was the realisation that my first group, from the Shewsy, will undoubtedly have been witnesses days later to the murder of Joseph Lappin.

United Colours of Kensington Face Painting AGM

Just a quick note to say how much Liam and I enjoyed the AGM of the United Colours of Kensington Face Painting group.

A good and useful AGM catching up on their activities, I was pleased to speak in support of the group and all their work supporting the major events of the year. From memory I can recall them being present at the Easter Treasure Hunt event in Botanic Park, at the Newsham Park festival, at the Lucy, Fields of Women cancer event (where Ann painted a pink ribbon on my cheek) and the European Neighbours Event at Venture Housing and at the Dream High event in Old Swan and at lots of other events. If they are not at an event in our area then it is not truly successful, that is my view.

And as well as a great supper we were fabulously entertained by the Gypsy Brothers, a local Romanian group. Wonderful stars, especially the young lead singer who won the X-factor at St Francis of Assisi earlier this year.

I loved holding baby Tarik, except that he passed his cough and cold to me, grrrr!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Latest news from Andy Monk who is walking miles for MS

Dear Cllr Baldock,

Wow, thank you very much indeed. That's just fabulous. I can't thank you
enough for taking so much time to raise so much money for us for MS
research. (£115) I only hope that one day I can do something in return.

It's been an eventful couple of weeks around the Lakes and into
Northumberland and back. It seems like two years, but only because we've
been to so many places and met so many people in such a short space of time.

Did I tell you about Gwen's blow out on the scooter? Luckily we had three
fell runners walking with us at the time and one of them was a Signwriter
who knew nearly everyone in the next town. He ran on ahead, organised a van
to pick the scooter up, took it away, and the owner of the Sundial Guest
House put two new lawnmower tyres on the front! They've got tread on them
like tractor tyres! Should last for the rest of the walk I'd say.

Gwen had to go home while I did the Northumberland stretch of the walk - far
too hilly for the scooter. There are signs at the side of the road saying
'Severe Dip' and they're not kidding. It's just like the rollercoaster at
the fairground. Debi Jones said I must have thighs like iron by now - dead
right, from walking uphill out of the severe dips!

I took the car up to the middle of Northumberland (couldn't get anyone to
drop me off so far up) and parked it mid way between Hexham and Berwick and
jumped on a bus back to Hexham. Three days later, walking back from Berwick,
I decided I would sleep in the car to save on expenses (I cover all expenses
myself btw) but the car had gone! It was going dark, raining, my feet were
wet - there are holes in my boots already, and there was no signal on the
mobile. I saw car headlights coming towards me and signalled the driver to
stop. It was a young girl; I asked her if she lived locally and she said
yes. Had she seen the car parked there and did she by any chance know what
had happened to it? Yes again. She lived at the farm around the corner and
her dad had called the police and they had towed it away. Interesting.

She said that she would drive back up the road to get a signal on the mobile
and ring home. When she returned I got in the car and she drove us to a
beautiful farmhouse about a mile away and her dad apologised profusely and
told me why he had rung the police. Twelve months previous someone had
parked in that same spot and committed suicide in the car. He had expected
to find a body in the back of my car and didn't dare look, so he just rang
the police, who decided it must have been stolen because it was so far from
home and so they towed it away.

The car was towed away on orders from Berwick police and taken to
Coldstream, and the officer who was dealing with it was now on leave for two
days. I had to go back to Berwick (20 miles) with some ID, which I didn't
have on me, and ask for an Inspector to authorise its release from
Coldstream, another 15 miles away. Struggling to prove who I was and that
the car was mine, I mentioned that I had met the Mayor, Hazel Bettison, when
I arrived in Berwick and the Inspector rang Hazel to check. Five minutes
later a Community Bobby was running me to Coldstream to collect the car.
Phew! And I didn't have to pay to get it released either.

If you have time, have a look on my website at the poem Hazel wrote after we

I'll have to go back up to the area and complete the day and a half walk
that I missed due to having the car lifted. Am I bovered? Nah. I'm looking
forward to it already. I'll take Gwen with me next time and show her some of
the most beautiful scenery in the World.

Tomorrow we're in York, only half a day late, but that's another story!

I'll update the donations at weekend too and let you know how much has been
raised to date.

Will keep in touch and update you as often as I can.

Kindest regards



A limerick to Louise

A constituent has sent me this limerick, which has delighted me

I only hope it is true!

Feel free to criticise it, up hill and down dale

There was a young lady called Louise
Whose constituents were constantly pleased,
Not like with Old Frank Doran
When the place was so Borin'
That her majority was bound to increase................

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One world festival in Kensington

Czech Slovak Roma Event – Tuesday 4th November

Kensington Fields Community Centre, 24 Hall Lane, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 8TQ – 6:00 – 9:00pm Films showing the Czech Slovak Roma community in the UK and life during the Second World War for the Roma community followed by discussions. Music by ‘Gypsy Brothers’ and a free buffet.

Italian Film and Food Night – Thursday 6th November

Fairfield Police Club, Prescot Road, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 0DJ – 7:30 – 11:00pm

Showing the acclaimed film, ‘My Brother is and Only Child’. Free Italian buffet and wine. Entry by ticket only, tickets £3.50. Contact Anthony on 07932 849 134.

Kensington Diwali – Saturday 8th November

Hindu Temple, Edge Lane, Liverpool, L7 – 6:00 – 9:00pm

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the temple in Kensington. A celebration of the significance of Diwali with a tour of the temple an Indian band and dancers. Free buffet and a firework light show.

Line Dancing – Wednesday 12th November

Kensington Fields Community Centre, 24 Hall Lane, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 8TQ – 7:00 – 11:00pm An evening of dance and fun with Kenny’s own dance troupe. Free Buffet.

Salsa Night – Tuesday 18th November

Kensington Fields Community Centre, 24 Hall Lane, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 8TQ – 7:00 – 11:00pm Salsa class followed by an evening of dance. Free buffet.

Islamic Event – Thursday 20th November

Al Ghazali Centre, Earle Road, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm A multicultural & Islamic event, with discussions, a typical feast, a Palestinian band, dancers and music. By invitation only. Call Mark Jackson for further information on 0151 233 6153.

International Meal – Friday 21st November

Asylum Link Merseyside, Overbury Street, Kensington, Liverpool, L7

Entry by invitation only. Contact Mark Jackson for further information on 0151 233 6153.

International Day Against Violence to Women – Tuesday 25th November

Frontline Church, Corner of Lawrence Road/Wellington Road, Wavertree, Liverpool, L15 0HY – 6:00 – 8:30pm Discussions on the situation in Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Liverpool regarding violence to women, children and child soldiers as well as the use of violence by men to women locally. Issues, solutions and opportunities for solidarity. Free refreshments.

Yellow House Event – Wednesday 26th November

Venue to be confirmed, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 – 7:00 – 9:00pm

Young people from Kensington, Liverpool and Poland will perform an improvised piece about global citizenship through the media of music, dance, art, drama, photography and video, demonstrating new skills learnt in a week long series of workshops. Contact George for further information on 0151 260 2996.

Finale – Sunday 30th November

Devonshire House Hotel, Edge Lane, Kensington, Liverpool, L7 – 7:00 – 11:00pm A fun, happy celebration of Global Citizenship, led by the Polish community. All groups that took part in the Kensington One World Festival will perform at the event. Dancers, musicians, bands and poets will come together to delight you. Free buffet.

Other Events


An international storyteller with fables from Africa and beyond, in Kensington schools during the whole of November.

Yambi Africa Plays

On the Immigration and Asylum process in the UK. Norris Green and Anfield.

Kick Racism Out of Football

An anti racist football tournament. To be confirmed.

Contact Mark Jackson on 0151 233 6153 for more information.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Facebook Sickie exposure - that never was!

I read two interesting articles today, one about how a guy in Australia had been caught by his boss at AAPT, who was a friend of his on Facebook, throwing a sickie. He was going to be investigated for disciplinary offences.

The second was saying that the whole story was invented and the guy was just mischevious with a vivid imagination. Okay, fair do's

But in a strange twist of fate, I understand that AAPT, the guy's firm are now having to issue retractions saying that he was never sick and the emails with his boss never took place and they were not investigating him for anything.

It seems to me, as this story grows and grows exponentially, AAPT are going to be mightily fed-up with this guy, Kyle Doyle (what a name!) and I wonder if they will now sack him anyway??

You couldn't make it up

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get radio active - the return of KVFM

Remember KVFM 87.7FM? Read more here and here and here and here and lots of other places too.

Great news from Steve Faragher, see below!

We have funding for the return of the mighty KVFM in 2009 (April) for a whole 19 days on air.

If you are interested in learning the skills to make your own radio programme then we are running four taster days in November and December.

The dates for the first two taster sessions are
12th and 19th November
1 to 3.30pm at Venture Housing Boaler Street.
the December dates and venues are to be confirmed

The main training will commence in January for ten weeks prior to the broadcast in April 2009

Places are strictly limited so book now by emailing me or calling the numbers below listen again to the 2007 broadcast

Stephen Faragher
m:07792854307 landline 0151 259 7497

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Warning: We have entered a whole new reality, step carefully!

The Prime Minister has won international plaudits for his approach. Paul Krugman, an American economist who was today awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics, said: "Mr. Brown and Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the Exchequer, have defined the character of the worldwide rescue effort, with other wealthy nations playing catch-up.

"This is an unexpected turn of events. The British government is, after all, very much a junior partner when it comes to world economic affairs.

"But the Brown government has shown itself willing to think clearly about the financial crisis, and act quickly on its conclusions. And this combination of clarity and decisiveness hasn't been matched by any other Western government."

And so spake the Daily Telegraph yesterday

And then there was the Reuters piece today

And the SNP are being mangled for their parochial economic views, what price the union now Mr Salmond?

Do not adjust your set! They are all proper quotations. Gobsmacking, n'est ce pas?

The bounciest of "bounces" have never bounced quite so high since the introduction of the bouncy rubber balls of the 1970s (mine had glitter suspended in it).

08 Ambassadors turn out for Sheffield Hillsborough LP members

Lots of thanks must go to Liverpool Labour Party 08 Ambassadors who gave up of their time at the weekend to show the city and its delights off to the LP members of Sheffield Hillsborough.

We met up for drinks on Friday night at their hotel - the ubiquitous Dev, then on Saturday we had a very busy but very well spent day, beginning with a tour of the Town Hall. The Lord Mayor was there to welcome us and join us on the tour, which was as always beautifully carried out by Steve Binns, with an extra frisson as he told us about the tricks that David Blunkett used to get up to when they went to school together. (Most of the members present are friends of DBs).

We then walked over to William Brown Street via Turning the Place over, which was much admired, and one group went into the Walker for the afternoon, while another group went on a train under the river and over to Birkenhead, both to look at the Liverpool skyline from the other side and go on the tram down to the transport museum.

My group then went into St George's Hall for a look round and then footsore I dropped them back at the hotel for a cup of tea and a rest before they got ready for a Union retirement party that night.

They had a further look round on Sunday, at the Albert Dock and various other places.

It was a great weekend, I reckon that my personal contribution to the 2.5million extra visitors to the city during 08 must be quite significant. I deserve a gold 08 badge, if there is such a thing!

We are now thinking about some kind of a return journey with highlights including the Lady Bower and the Winter Garden.

Local and European Poetry evening - how can you resist?

Shameless self-publicity maybe, but I bet it is a fab evening all the same.
Please read this email from George Mc Kane

Dear friends

You are invited to The Costa Coffee Cafe 13 Bold Street, Liverpool on Thursday evening 23rd October from 7.30pm - to 9.30pm for an evening of local and European poetry with George and Gosia and young people from Liverpool's International renowned Yellow House - an evening of love, passion, humor and honesty - guaranteed.

This is an evening for Lovers, Artists and Poets - that’s you - so come along - how can you resist - coffee and listening and seeing George and Gosia and friends from Yellow House - if that’s not enough George’s best friend Brian Wake will be his guest.

I promise you an evening you will never forget - George.

“George is a fantastic performer, a great storyteller, a magician, a shaman. He has travelled throughout the world performing and everyone loves him - he is wonderful, full of stories, passion and poetry and he’s lovely” - George’s Mum

“I remember working with George in Paris all those years ago - he’s a case - he’s off his cake - I love him” - Charles Baudelaire

“I would love sitting in The Café Tambourine listening to George - his words go in one ear and stay there. To know life is to know George” - Vincent Van Gogh

Nominated by the British Council for European Youth Award
Yellow House - Radio City Local Heroes - Community Project of the Year Award Winner 2007 - 8
George and Gosia Mc Kane - Cultural Champions 2008 - Kensington Community Regeneration Award
Nationwide Community &Heritage Awards - NW Regional Winner - Community Groups
Yellow House
Developing young people through the arts
and the arts through young people.

Check your driving licence

Apparently the (old) new driving licences have only a 10 year lifespan, you have to renew them every ten years. Probably because you will have changed the way you look after such a length of time - as with a passport, and they are used to prove identity as much as they are to demonstrate your legal permission and ability to drive.

July 2008 was the tenth anniversary of the new cards, so if you were one of the first holders of the new pink photo cards then it is time to check it over and see whether you are now due to renew.

It costs £17.50 to renew, not a huge sum over a ten year period, a lot cheaper than a passport, but the fine if you don't do it is big - £1000. So it is important you are on top of this.

Renewals are being sent out but only if you have kept DVLA up to date with your address changes (and if you have not then you are breaking the law, so you only have yourself to blame if you dont get the renewal).

Have a look at the information below the driver name on the front of your licence. Can you see 4b with a date? That is your expiry date when you need to renew.

Nobody has actually been prosecuted yet, but it can only be a matter of time!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wilson Henry treasure hunt

I am in serious danger of breaking my own golden rule here, but what the hell. I have always refrained from talking about work on my blog but it was so exciting on Friday that I feel compelled to tell you about it.

We have two days a year at work where we go out together socially during the afternoon, as a full team.

Friday was one of those dates, a few days after the year-end when we can celebrate the work we have done during the previous year.

The team were talking about a treasure hunt they had done the year before, down on the river front, at the Albert Dock and along the Pier Head. They had bought the treasure hunt off the internet and they were disappointed to learn that some of the clues were hidden behind the re-development hordings at the Pier Head.

I had designed a couple of treasure hunts, for cars, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s for Yarm Sports and Social Club and I reckoned I could probably do a decent one on foot, so I made the offer.

Robert and I spent about 4 or 5 hours putting the route together, taking photos of things that might constitute clues around a circular route, from Victoria Street, to Castle Street, to Dale Street to William Brown Street and all those wonderful places there.

The route took in the Town Hall (with a chance to see the Lord Mayor SuperLambanana) and the biennial exhibitions nearby, the Liverpool World Museum (and in particular The Beat Goes On exhibition) and the Walker Art Gallery (and in particular Ben Johnson's City Scape - and amazingly he was actually IN the gallery when one of the team's went in and they got his autograph and asked him the questions directly!) and St George's Hall and St John's Gardens.

I worried endlessly about one or other of the clues having been removed in the two weeks since I had set the quiz, but amazingly one team found every single one of them. It was, if I say so myself, something of a triumph, and I was particularly chuffed, or should I say "made up" given the number of biennial art displays that the tour took in, with those competitors who told me that they had never been in some of those places before and were determined to go back and explore them properly at their leisure in future.

Great fun but I hope that next year someone else takes a turn in organising the treasure hunt so that I can join in, and of course be part of the winning team!

Unexpected stop-over

I got a text last week from a very dear, old friend from the Colne Valley. It asked me what time I take my lunch-hour. A strange sort of a question to ask I thought. I answered it anyway, and Stan texted back to say that he was flying away on holiday from Liverpool the following day and thought he might come over a few hours early and meet me for lunch before his check-in time. I accepted with alacrity.

I met him at Lime Street station, although his train was held up for 30 minutes at Edge Hill of all places because of a points failure at Lime Street which meant that every incoming train had to wait in a queue in order to come into the station.

We met and I drove us up to Yates's on Allerton Road for a spot of lunch. It was great to catch up on all of his news. And then I took him to the airport to catch his flight. Stan's father was Polish and he has become a follower of the Poland football team, which fits in well with his first love, Huddersfield Town. We talked about his travelling and his adventures and I told him about my councillor experiences. Stan and I worked very closely together in the Colne Valley in the run up to the 1997 General Election and we share very similar views about the other political parties, no names, no pack-drill. He has very incisive views about the party of administration in Liverpool and it was great to let off some steam with a sympathetic listener.

As I dropped him off, and hugged him, I told him not to make it four years before we see each other again. He said that having heard about our Merseyside Polonia project, he would definitely be back, an unexpected benefit I thought, from our local support of Gosia's work! So with a bit of luck, we wont leave it so long next time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Holiday madness

My boss went on holiday on Wednesday to Egpyt. Only when they got off the plane they found out that they had inadvertently booked a 2009 holiday, rather than a 2008 holiday and had arrived a year early. Ooops!

John Moores Contemporary Art exhibition and competition

Lisa and Rosa and I had a brief visit to the Walker Art Gallery yesterday to look at the John Moores Contemporary Exhibition and Competition and to vote for our favourite piece of art. Lisa voted for Cornerways, an interesting mixed-media composition of a modern bungalow set in a flower landscape, and I went for the beautifully executed Special Relativity. Robert had already voted for Hero Worship when he was visiting me last week. I didn’t think much to “Fontana”, the art critic’s choice of winner at all though, it felt extremely dated to me. And I was not overly impressed with the close-up of a woman's genitals, named "Cunt" either, to be honest. See what you think, either pop in the Walker or check out the link. Who would you vote for?

Chilli Banana

It was Lisa’s husband John’s birthday this week so a group of us went for a meal at Chilli Banana on Lark Lane. A Thai restaurant, a very attractive room in an old building but with modern décor. I had never been before but they had been a few times. John and I had the banquet menu. We shared mixed starters which were lovely, especially the fishcakes, then we had hot and sour prawn soup which in my case I shared with Lisa and Georgia. It was tasty but as we got near to the bottom of the bowl it became far too hot and none of us could finish it. Then we had Thai Green Chicken Curry and Jasmine Rice which was simply delicious. It was not cheap though, those three courses cost me £25. Georgia ordered an accompaniment which was most strange, fluorescent pink, sweet tasting, like tiny crispy worms. I don’t know what it was, but nobody would eat it, except me. After the hot soup I just wanted something to cool my mouth down! We went afterwards into Negresco for a drink, which is a very atmospheric pub and another one I had not been in before.
I would recommend both.


It was FARA on Monday night – Fairfield Area Residents Association and quite a good turn out. We talked about RESPECT week next week and shared plans with each other for some of the exciting activities we can get involved in and some of the hard work that the various partners who deliver public services in Kensington will be doing. Wendy and I updated residents on our work, on issues we are dealing with, on the progress on Prescot Road and Drive houses, on our youth work in the parks and all sorts of other things.

Sergeant Simon Joyce from Kensington Community Police team told us about his team changes, George and Chris have now left and two new officers have come on board, so we have some new relationships to build. We brought three tickets for the Irish night at St Sebastians – Friday 24th October, it is going to be great. Contact me if you want a ticket and I will see you get some.

Ten commandments

I am working with a LibDem councillor at the moment, Stuart Monkcom, who I sit on the Standards committee with, to come up with a statement of principles to guide member/officer behaviours and protocol. Originally known as the Ten commandments, it is meant to improve the poor behaviour that has merited LCC with only 1 star (that and poor financial planning).

It is proving quite a complex operation although we are doing our best to demonstrate our commitment to ethical governance by working together without rancour (and with cake and biscuits!) When we have finished, it needs to be shared with the working group, then with Standards Committee, then with Overview and Scrutiny and then with the groups and then with the council. So there will be an awful lot of hurdles to overcome if we are to be successful in having it adopted.

Leafletting on Action Saturday

Tony and I were paired up together to leaflet on Saturday. Joe Hanson’s leaflet rounds are substantial, I can tell you. We turned corner after corner looking up and down streets, asking each other “Is this it? Is this the last one? Are we nearly there yet?” and we never were. But my word did we feel smug and self-satisfied when we had finished!

Liverpool Co-op Party AGM

We had our AGM at the Eldonians and Jane Kennedy addressed us, talking about the credit crunch and plans for the banks and what the civil servants views on the economy were. She also told us about her jury service, and how nobody is allowed to wriggle out of it now. I am Secretary again but I have had to promise to do better this year, arrange a few more meetings and generally get my finger out!

Liverpool West Derby fundraising dinner at Retsina

Shahid Malik MP is easily the best after-dinner speaker I have heard, other than the wonderful Alastair Campbell that is. About 40 or 50 of us had a multi-course meal at this Greek restaurant on Derby Lane – about 8 or 9 courses, we stopped counting to be honest. I sat with Wendy, we had not seen each other for ages properly what with conference and general busy-busy so we had a lot of catching up to do. I missed my mate Kevin though who was poorly.
Shahid was great, funny and political. He was saying how proud he was to be in International Development, but of course he has since been moved in the reshuffle, which is a bit of a shame really. Great night, we raised loads of money for Stephen’s campaign, well done Nick, big hugs.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jane gets a new job

Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, Liverpool Wavertree, has been moved in the reshuffle, away from the poisonous chalice (in my view) of HMRC and is now Hilary Benn's Deputy at the Ministry of Food, Farming and Rural Affairs.

Congratulations Jane.

I look forward to lots of chats about your new brief, particularly given the time I spent living in the Holme Valley in very rural circumstances in a national park.

My Michael would have been chuffed too, he was most emphatic about the need for a Food Minister.

Great news

Liverpool Young Writers 08/09 – Now recruiting!

Information from an email from Writing on the Wall

An innovative local project for Merseyside's budding young writers, poets, M.C.s and performers begins this month.

Liverpool Young Writers Project, in partnership with Connexions, is currently looking for young people aged 11 - 19 interested in developing their skills in writing and/or performing poetry and other forms of literature.

We will be delivering weekly evening workshops that aim to develop young people's skills and confidence; culminating in a major live show next spring and the possibility of having their work in print. We offer one-to-one support for all participants. We will also be taking the group to various writing-based events and performances in the city.

Upon completion of the project, participants will recieve a Bronze or Silver Arts Award accredited by the Arts Council. With this project we hope to hone talent and provide a platform for them to build confidence, creativity, citizenship, and the chance present their work alongside professionals to a large audience.

Our previous project proved to be a success, leading to a major concert last May in which young people had the opportunity to perform their own material alongside famous MCs and poets as part of the Writing on The Wall Festival.

As well as young individuals who would like to join us, we are interested in working with any educational or community organisations that would like to refer young people to us. We aim to engage those ‘at risk’ from a number of factors, including:

Social exclusion
Anti-social behaviour/previous convictions
Care/looked after child
School exclusion (temporary or permanent)
Not in education, employment or training
Learning difficulties/physical disabilities
Family difficulties
Risk of homelessness

If you are interested in referring any young people you work with, you can call us on

0151 703 0020

or email for further information.

Please feel free to forward this information to any colleagues who may be interested.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

British Citizenship Ceremony - Capital of Culture style

We had a special British Citizenship Ceremony today, as part of the European Capital of Culture programme. Instead of the Register office we went to St George's Hall and the ceremony was watched by lots of VIPs - or "dignatories" as the staff prefer.

There was the Lord Mayor, Councillor Steve Rotheram and his wife Sandra, the Lady Mayoress, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead and the former High Sheriff of Merseyside, Rosemary Hawley. There was the Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council and his wife, there was the lady who I sat next to, who was the Head of the Passport Office and the Leader and his wife and countless others. And there was me, Barbara Mace and Lawrence Sidorczuk who are on the list for "dignatory" service but we agreed that we are very lowly dignatories compared to most.

The new citizens must have been overwhelmed! Imagine, the service was in the small ballroom or concert room, which if you have never been inside, it is magnificent in gold leaf, truly gorgeous. There was a huge photo of the Queen on a stand - which we dont usually have - and all these VIPs making speeches to them. Dame Lorna in particular explaining to them that she was there directly on behalf of the Queen herself. And it was all filmed and there were lots of photos being taken.

And then, when we stood for the national anthem at the end, one of the registrar staff sang the words - and she was fantastic, apparently she performs at an amateur level, her first name was Tia, I didnt get her surname. She soared on the last note and there was a spontaneous round of applause and everyone was talking about how good she was.

We had high tea (albeit at 2pm) and I met a young man from the Ukraine, aged 16, who has settled in Southport with his mum after she married a Brit. He was very bright and engaging and told a reporter about his studies and how much he loves living in Britain. I am always immpressed with the new citizens, they are really dedicated people, including health professionals and university academics; people from countries all over the world and some really gorgeous children dressed in their Sunday best.

It was lovely, although a long way from our usual ceremonies, I hope word does not spread so that people expect that every time!

The photo that was used in the ceremony is reproduced above
Portrait of The Queen, taken in 2002
(c) John Swannell / Camera Press

Interviewing for an HR Officer at Venture Housing

I agreed to join a small panel, interviewing for a new HR officer at Venture Housing. We had a short-list of four and interviewed three of them, including the successful applicant.

But what I wanted to tell you about concerned the fourth person. She did not turn up and after a while we managed to get hold of her on her mobile phone. She said she had in fact turned up to the office, which is on Boaler Street in Kensington, an attractive building which was only opened 18 months ago. But she said, she took one look at Kensington and decided she could not work somewhere like that so had driven away again.

I was livid, outraged in fact.

Obviously we had a narrow escape, imagine if we had hired her! RSLs work with deprived communities, supporting them, that is pretty much what it says on the tin.

What an ill-mannered snob!

Training in Lancaster

It is donkeys years since I last went to Lancaster, if indeed I ever have - I seem vaguely to think I went with my mother once. So I was pleased to be invited by Lancaster and Morecambe Local Government Labour Party to talk to them about winning elections.

We met in the Liberal club, although they assured me that there are very few of those in Lancaster and that it might as well be renamed the Labour club without much resistance.

After some hiccups with the laptop and projector, we got the powerpoint presentation finally up and I gave them a version of the presentation I did for Region in February - reminding them about the importance of meeting residents face to face. We had a great chat then, comparing notes on campaigns we had been engaged in and what worked best.

It was also interesting to sit in and listen to the rest of the business, taking a report from the Labour Group Leader and hearing about the issues they have up there, some familiar - waste recycling for instance - and some new to me, like the difficulties of working with the Morecambe Bay Independents who apparently campaigned in the last elections with the slogan "more for Morecambe, less for Lancaster".

I didnt get to see much of the city but what I could see, in the dark and the rain, looked beautiful, old and stone-built, I bet they get lots of film crews up there, filming period pieces. I shall want to go back for a day-trip.

Robert comes to visit

I had my 21 year old brother to stay for a week, it was a very special time, getting to know him as an adult. He has been in Cambridge for the last three years and because he moved to Cornwall at a very young age, I rarely get the chance to see him.

We did some sight-seeing, all the usual favourites, and he helped me put the treasure hunt together for Wilson Henry colleagues next week. We also took the opportunity to go up to Stockton on Tees, for Rebecca's first birthday, and for the first time I had all my siblings and nephews and niece all in one place, together. How wonderful! Rebecca looked gorgeous, walking already and now with blonde hair, very different to the dark hair she was born with. I took Robert on a little tour of his early life, to the first house he lived in, the hospital where he was born, the church where he was baptised, his first nursery school - and the sun shone brightly. He has not seen any of those places since he was 3 years old.

Colin took him to see Travis in HMV and they got in the queue for signed CDs and met the band. On the last day we went to Another Place, to see the statues and now that I have learnt that the tide tables are in the Echo, we went at low tide and got the chance to see many of them!

I loved having Robert to stay and hope he will come more often now that he knows the way, so to speak.

St Philip with St David Church, Licensing service for new Vicar

I was invited to the licensing service to welcome new vicar, Rev Andrew Porter to his new church, St Philip with St David on Sheil Road, Kensington. I have never been to a licensing service before, but it was not dissimilar to the service to rededicate St Andrews Methodist church in Tamworth that I went to last winter.

Andrew was the vicar of St John the Divine on Holly Road, which the church is selling as it does not have the funds to effect the repairs needed - more on that in another entry later however, this is not a blog about that. (But expect good news quite soon).

They are now worshipping in L'Arche on Lockerby Road while they look for a new permanent home.

But this has left Andrew free to take up the vacant ministry at St Philip with St David (the last vicar retired in May 2007). It was a lovely service, officiated by the Bishop of Warrington (Bishop James was engaged elsewhere) and attended by any number of the local clergy, including the Arch Deacon, Ricky Panter who I had a quick update with about St John's and Henry Corbett, Jane's husband who I have met before at services in his church, St Peter's in Everton, he is the Area Dean and also Paul and his wife from Elim Pentecostal. There were also congregation members from the different local churches, from all persuasions and I spotted Jim and Deb Huthwaite so I sat with them for the supper afterwards in the church hall. I felt really at home and with friends.

I am thinking I might like to start going to services at St Philip sometimes, I really like Andrew Porter and it would feel good to have him reading the sermon and leading the prayers. But I am a methodist, I am not sure how it would sit to go to a CofE service, perhaps I should ask Andrew for advice.

Second hand book shops in Liverpool

I have a friend coming to visit over the weekend from Sheffield who wants to visit second-hand book shops while he is here.

Can anyone tell me where to send him? I am guessing Bold Street, where else?

Thanks very much

Merseyside Polonia

Please read about this new project that councillors in Kensington and Fairfield and Picton are supporting. The text that follows is from Gosia McKane, the event organiser.

Yellow House would like to invite you to a series of monthly events developed as part of our new project Merseyside Polonia. The first one will take place on 10th October 2008 from 6.30 pm to 9 pm at The Academy of St. Francis of Assisi (by Newsham Park), Gardner's Drive, Liverpool, L6 7UR. The events are free and open to everybody.

The aim of the Merseyside Polonia project is to create an opportunity for people from different cultural backgrounds to meet and get to know each other.

Since Poland joined the EU in 2004 there has been a large number of Polish people moving to the UK.

On one side they are appreciated as hard working and on the other, headlined as taking our jobs, the new migrant minority has created mixed feelings.

Many of the Polish people work hard and after a long working day, they come home to sleep and then go back to their jobs the next day, therefore their engagement within the local community and cultural life of the city is limited.

The impact the migration had on the neighbourhoods and its population was considerable, therefore the local community became wary of newcomers, their intentions, their way of life and even if they would like to get to know them, they were uncertain how to go about it.

During the Merseyside Polonia events we will present Poland and its culture through photos and stories, watch new Polish films with English subtitles, share information about local services, try Polish food, have a chat and develop some new ideas or projects together.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Update on Andy Monk's MS walk

We raised £115 for our short walk for MS with your support, thanks very much!

Message from Andy dated 28th September 2008

"The walk has gone really well since - had plenty of support from some really kind people, and more offers coming in all the time. I believe that most of the newspapers I have been to have written about the walk, and at least some of the radio stations have given details on air, so I am pleased with progress so far.

Gwen has managed to be with me for most of the walk which has been good, I really do miss her when she's at home. She's back home now though for a few days while I navigate the hilly terrain on the west coast of the Lake District - her mobility scooter gave up the ghost near the top of Gummers How (dead battery) and we had to chuck it in the back of a delivery van which pulled up to ask if we needed help (no mean feat, as it weighs 350lbs). The driver took Gwen and the scooter to the Newby Bridge Hotel for a recharge, so all ended well.

I will contact you again when I can to give you an update, and as soon as I have one I will send you a copy of the new CD we are compiling, and which is coming out soon to raise some more funds for research.

Kensington and Fairfield 80s Night!

10th October 2008

7.30 at St Sebastian's Church Club, Lockerby Road, Fairfield

There will be a raffle, a great buffet and 80's music all night

Fantastic and only £2 a ticket

Be there!

(On behalf of Elm Park Residents Association)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Two weeks of blog entries will follow shortly, honest!

I have been too busy living the life of a sister, a councillor, a board member, a campaigner, a worker, a trainer and lots of others, and have not had time to tell you about it. But I will, I promise!

Mutual Building Societies could set "gold standard" for future investors - Liverpool Co-operative Party

Liverpool Co-operative Party are today welcoming what they believe will be the strong re-emergence of mutual Building Societies.

Speaking after their AGM this evening, Louise Baldock, Secretary of the local Co-operative Party said

"People will remember the heady days of 1997 when Building Society members were encouraged to vote for floatation and received hundreds of pounds in shares as Building Societies demutualised. Families up and down the country took off on foreign holidays on the proceeds of the sale of Alliance and Leicester, Halifax, Woolwich and other Building Societies.

Carpet-baggers were the new threat to mutualism as they moved their funds from one Building Society to another in an effort to force votes at AGMs to float the businesses in the chase for windfalls.

Today though the good news for those who "kept the faith" and stayed with their Building Society is the announcement that 97% of those investors will be safe from threat, following the uplift to £50,000 of the Government's Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Mutual Building Societies only lend in mortgages those funds that they hold on deposit from their savers. They have not borrowed any "dodgy" monies from USA, they have not engaged with any money-grabbing schemes and they are today confirmed as the safest place to invest savings.

We believe that mutual Building Societies will set the "gold standard" for the next generation of investors and we look forward to a new era for mutual and co-operative principles."