Friday, February 20, 2009

So that's a councillor then is it?

I think today has been a microcosmic example of all that is the best about being a councillor.

Every day is NOT like today but today has been splendid and exciting and low and emotional and I want to share all of that with you.

First of all I should say that I went to bed a bit earlier last night because I had a lot on today. So instead of taking a book to bed, I took a brochure from SAVE Britain's Heritage, entitled "Triumph, Disaster and Decay: The SAVE survey of Liverpool's Heritage". The note that came with this wonderful, yet depressing publication asked me to look at page 27 where I came face to face with a photograph of the houses on Prescot Road, Fairfield. Houses that I have been so upset and in fact, truthfully, tearful about the proposed demolition of. And underneath the photo, the caption says "These houses on Prescot Road, Fairfield were mothballed by Liverpool City Council in 2000 and are now slated for demolition. "The Council has been delinquent in its failure to act" according to Councillor Louise Baldock.

Indeed, and I could say something very much more strong even than that.

So, I went to sleep in a rage, and the very early alarm woke me just after 6am. For a change I was up, showered and dressed and in Kensington by 7.10am - an hour earlier than usual, and parked up outside Lidl on Kensington. As an aside, I did pop into McDonalds for a coffee, which was as horrible as always, I don't know why I keep on trying, it is the worst coffee in the world and this time was no different.

I met Leanne from BBC Radio Merseyside in her Radio Car outside our Deane Road Jewish Cemetery at 7.10am.
And of course I could not resist telling her that Saul's girlfriend who edits our Friends newsletter is also a Leanne - and Saul said exactly the same thing when he arrived.

We did an interview which I think you can listen to here for the next week, with Leanne and Tony Snell (Snelly). Afterwards Leanne was keen to join us in the cemetery for unofficial photos and a brief tour. But even before we could scrape the early morning ice from the cemetery gates we were joined by Andy, an offical Liverpool Daily Post photographer. We were surprised to see him as we had not booked him, until he said that he was driving into work when he heard on the radio that we were in the cemetery and thought he would come and join us.

Andy, Leanne, Saul and I spent nearly half an hour having a quick tour of our historical cemetery, Saul was on top "tour" form, even though it was at least 4 hours earlier than his normal surfacing time.

I drove into work, in nearby Edge Lane, full of enthusiasm, despite having been up an hour earlier than normal.

Then I did a good morning's work before I had to leave again to go into town to officiate at a British Citizenship Ceremony. We always have them on a Sunday afternoon and lots of dignatories like to spend that time with their family so I probably fall in for more than some other people do. Anyway, the Home Office has now decided that it would like some of its staff to sit in on ceremonies, and of course they don't want to work on a Sunday so we were asked to officiate on a weekday and because we agreed, were joined by perhaps a dozen civil servants.

It was a lovely ceremony, the only slightly difficult moment for me was when I learnt that we were expecting new citizens to sing along to the national anthem, and not just stand to attention as normal. As a committed republican I cannot sing the national anthem, so I moved the flag around and then positioned myself so that I could have my back to the lovely new citizens and they need not know that I was not singing. I expect some politico out there is gong to make something of that, but they ought to hear my speech and all my references to all the best things about the city and the country before they pontificate.

Anyway, I bestowed British Citizenship on 25 new people - 15 adults and 10 children - today and I could feel some real and deep joy in the room. I have had to change my speech a bit as I used to talk about Capital of Culture which is not relevant now, but I have an interesting link through the former raison d'etre of the building as the Cotton Exchange and then to talk about slavery, the cotton trade in Jamaica and the new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.

Then after the conclusion of the service, we took photos and then, as I was ready to go, one of the registrars showed me the comments in this week's guest book and one of those was so positive and so encouraging, that she had to find me a tissue to wipe my eyes before I could go back to work.

Which I did of course, and later today I published the latest monthly internal magazine which my colleagues all enjoyed and which gives me a real boost.

At 5.30pm I left work and drove the few hundred yards to our surgery, with Wendy, where we caught up on diary engagements and casework. She needed to go off and collect her daughter from the station at about half-six whereby I had a very useful meeting after surgery with the guys from the Liverpool Mural Project.

We have the money and the desire, but what we don't have yet is the gable-end! So if you have a gable-end in mind, for a fantastic Kensington and Fairfield historical mural, do please point it out here! We are all very passionate about delivering a historical and exciting mural in our ward.

After our meeting I came home via the supermarket and then spent 2 hours on the phone to a dear friend in Sheffield, who was letting me know about another dear friend who died yesterday.

So a day in mixed parts, some great and positive, some functional and some really upsetting, I reckon that summarises the life of a councillor.

14 comments:

Laurence said...

Hello Louise,

I'm the politico who recommended the change of proceedings at the Citizenship Ceremony, i.e. from the instrumental version of the National Anthem to the "sung" version and we used it last Sunday. It was rather good - everyone seemed to know the words and we all joined in for a rousing finale. Honestly, there's no need to be shy about singing it. Some other changes were, also, introduced by Carren such as the background music during the exchange of Nationality certificates and whilst people were signing the guest-book and taking the photo's at the end. It all made for a more memorable occasion for everyone concerned. I'd really like to attend the one next week officiated by Lord Goldsmith (as he introduced the ceremonial practice himself) but unfortunately, won't be able to attend because of other engagements.

N.B. I'm pleased to see that your work on the Deane Road Cemetary is getting the recognition it deserves. Let's hope it continues.

scouseboy said...

Thank you for an insight into your day as a councillor. I think you do far more than the "job description" calls for. You are a credit to your office.
I wish all councillors were as hard working and committed as yourself.
For a change, I'm not having a pop at the Fib Dems, but directing my comments to some councillors in ALL parties: Regardless of political persuasion, If they all showed something approaching the level of commitment that Louise demonstates, the residents of liverpool would be far better served.

Louise Baldock said...

Steady on scouseboy, there are lots and lots of councillors who do a good job, the only difference is that I have a blog that tells people what I do. I am quite sure that if everyone kept an online diary you would be amazed at all the work that goes on.
Hi Laurence, I did like the music in the background at the ceremony, lots of stirring Elgar, and I did like to hear the people singing - as long as nobody makes me do it! Apparently you quote Shakespeare in your speech, Chris tells me, which part have you chosen?

Louise Baldock said...

Steady on scouseboy, there are lots and lots of councillors who do a good job, the only difference is that I have a blog that tells people what I do. I am quite sure that if everyone kept an online diary you would be amazed at all the work that goes on.
Hi Laurence, I did like the music in the background at the ceremony, lots of stirring Elgar, and I did like to hear the people singing - as long as nobody makes me do it! Apparently you quote Shakespeare in your speech, Chris tells me, which part have you chosen?

scouseboy said...

Fair comment Louise, I agree the vast majority of councillors of all parties are extremely hardworking. However, there are a very small minority, again of all parties who are poor councillors, and do not deserve to be elected.

steve faragher BA(hons) PGCE Art and MA Multimedia Arts said...

Talking Muriels....Theres a nice new high profile gable jsut been rendered with plaster on the corner of Lorne by the sri lankan garage (other ethnic groups can of course use the petrol station, I was talking ownership not sort of bizarre petrol related apartheid) the wall faces traffic going into town and also would be a better "marker" for the start of K&F,than a row of boarded up but beautiful houses.

Steve "No Surrender" Faragher said...

Nice one Lawrence...God save our gracious Lawrence.....long live...oops forgotten the words. Which reminds me of when I was 10 and in the Cubs and was made to memorise the National Anthem except our bible was so old that it was god save our gracious King (knowing me dad it was probably King Billy)

Louise Baldock said...

Steve - I have already pointed that wall out to Peter and he was going off to have a look at it and a few other possibilities, over the weekend hopefully. Keep looking!

Louise Baldock said...

Steve - I have already pointed that wall out to Peter and he was going off to have a look at it and a few other possibilities, over the weekend hopefully. Keep looking!

Laurence said...

Louise,

The Shakespeare quote is from "King Richard II", Act II Scene I and is widely recognised as his most patriotic speeches.

"This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England".

I use it at the beginning to "set the scene" of what makes us proud of our historical and written heritage. What I might do in future is mention that gaining British Citizenship, also, includes having subject status under the laws of Constitutional Monarchy.

Laurence said...

Louise,

It occurs to me that the Shakespeare speech may have too many overtones of "English" patriotism which doesn't actually convey an inclusive "Britishness". It, probably, also comes too close to BNP nationalist sentiments. Given that I detest them as much as you, and I'm really glad that they've decided to cancel their march in Liverpool, I'm going to change it in future.

steve faragher said...

I did Richards 2 for A level as well

Anonymous said...

Laurence said about changing his speech because it's too near to stupid thoughts from the fascists in the BNP. But as you know Lou being a big fan of Sir William Bragg (well he should be a sir) we should be all reclaiming these backs. will find his link and tell himself so.
Colin

Louise Baldock said...

I rather like the idea of declaiming Shakespeare, but that speech from KRII is about England, rather than Britain. That would be my objection to it, stuff the BNP, they cannot own Shakespeare.

Britain was not around for Shakespeare to talk about, so you might try for something about the people instead? Did he say anything about respect, tolerance and understanding for instance? I shall Google for quotes about Britain too and see if anything interesting comes up.