Monday, March 30, 2009

Merseyside Polonia April meeting

Easter is coming soon – this will be our theme for next Merseyside Polonia event with Polish Easter traditions, singing (we will have some special guests from Manchester) and of course a lot of delicious food.

Dear Friends

We would like to invite you for the next Merseyside Polonia event that will take place on Friday 3rd April 2009. It will start at 6.30 pm (end by 9 pm) at the Academy of St. Francis of Assisi (by Newsham Park), Gardner’s Drive, Liverpool L6 7UR. The events are free, open to everybody and will be translated into English and Polish.

During the event we will have some information regarding local services as well as presentation about Poland and some traditional Polish food.

The aim of Merseyside Polonia is to develop positive relations between the Polish community and local residents through presentations about Poland and its culture, information related to life in England and the creation of new initiatives.

See you at the next event

Best wishes

Gosia McKane and Merseyside Polonia team

Wielkanoc się zbliża – to będzie tematem kolejnego spotkania Merseyside Polonia z polskimi wielkanocnymi tradycjami, śpiewem (będziemy mieli specjalnych gości z Manchesteru) i oczywiście smacznym jedzeniem.

Drodzy Przyjaciele,

Chcielibyśmy Was zaprosić na kolejne ze spotkań Merseyside Polonia, które odbędzie się w piątek 3 kwietnia 2009 r. Rozpoczynamy o godz. 18.30 (koniec przewidziany na godz. 21.00) w Academy of St. Francis of Assisi (przy Newsham Park), Gardner’s Drive, Liverpool, L6 7UR. Wstęp bezpłatny, spotkanie otwarte dla wszystkich i tłumaczone na język polski i angielski.

Podczas spotkania podamy informacje dotyczące służb lokalnych, jak również zobaczycie prezentacje o Polsce oraz będziecie mogli spróbować tradycyjnych przysmaków.

Celem Merseyside Polonia jest stworzenie pozytywnych relacji pomiędzy polską społeczością a lokalnymi mieszkańcami poprzez prezentacje na temat Polski, jej kultury, informacji związanych z życiem w Anglii oraz tworzeniem nowych inicjatyw.

Do zobaczenia na nastepnym spotkaniu.


Gosia McKane i zaspół Merseyside Polonia

Explore a Polish Easter

Merseyside Polonia invites you
to fun Easter activities

Join our free family workshop at the World Museum Liverpool
and decorate an Easter egg in a traditional Polish way.

Find out more about Easter in Poland
- What do Polish people have instead of Pancake Tuesday?
- Discover what’s “palemka” and “święconka”?
- Find out how Polish boys always make Easter Monday wet.

The family workshop will run from 11 - 4 on Sunday 5 April 2009,
in the Weston Discovery Centre on level 3, World Museum Liverpool,
William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN

See you at the event

Gosia and Merseyside Polonia team

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Edge Lane developments - update

Earlier in the week the Daily Post and Echo were reporting that the hearing in the High Court for the future of Edge Lane and the CPOs were being heard. Today we learn that Elizabeth Pascoe has failed in her latest attempt to halt the demolition of her home.

I spoke on Monday about the need for progress since the community has been shattered by the years of waiting, by the years of dispersal, by the degenerating effects of boarded up houses, rotting, while the waiting lists continue to grow.

There is still an appeal to the European Courts to be heard but I am sure that they will take the same line as the British courts have. I have not been a fan of these proposals for Edge Lane in the past and have tried to get some of them changed, particularly those in mind for Toft Street where we are knocking down perfectly good houses because some guy at English Partnerships (or whoever it was) said that they were too much like Coronation Street!

However, I have come to realise over the last 18 months or so, that we need progress here, for the common good, for benefit of the majority, for those people who need the new houses to be built so that they can move into them, for those people who do not want the world to go on thinking that Kensington is empty and boarded up, for those people who cannot run small businesses because there are no customers living in the area and indeed for people in other parts of the city who are ashamed of our principal gateway.

Enough is enough! The scheme must now go ahead.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Roy Bailey in Southport April 24th

Southport Arts Centre
Roy Bailey + Alun Parry
£10 adv tickets
Box Office: 01704 54 00 11

Legendary folk icon ROY BAILEY is at Southport Arts Centre on Friday 24th April, supported by Merseyside radical folkster Alun Parry.

Roy was described by Tony Benn as "finest socialist singer of his generation."

The event is being held to raise funds for this year's Working Class Music Festival which is taking place at The Picket in September. (Last year was great, I was there!)

All profits go to ensuring the festival happens again in 2009.

Tickets are advanced booking only and are £10 from Southport Arts Centre booking office.

Book by phone on 01704 54 00 11 or online at

For more information please visit

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Liverpool Councillor Idol 2009

What a great night we had last night in the St Thomas Hotel on Victoria Street for the Liverpool Councillor Idol.

A dozen councillors sang in front of an audience of their peers, family and friends in the first ever Councillor Idol, to raise money for the Lord Mayor's charity.

They may not all have been the best singers in the world, but they had tremendous bottle to get up and sing and I admire them all for that.

I knew as soon as the competition was announced that Sharon Sullivan would win, she is a brilliant singer who sang on stage at the Royal Philharmonic with the RLPO late last year in a special concert to honour our best pub singers. And she did not let us down, she was marvellous.

But there were surprising good performances too from Jim Noakes, who came second, and Claire Wilner who was a very enthusiastic finalist. Someone who did not get through but did a great job was Anna Rothery who also sang in the interval and after the event had closed, along with other enthusiasts. Joe Anderson was up first and did a good job on Ticket to Ride too.

Dave Hanratty and Malcolm Kennedy were the other Labour entries and both made a reasonable fist of their contributions too.

LibDems who joined in included Berni Turner and Colin Eldridge in a sort of Hilda Baker/Arthur Mullard interpretation of some Grease songs - and they had taken the trouble to get dressed up a bit, good for them. Also Laurence who was also beautifully attired in a white jacket, and Linnie Williams who came third, having brought an enthusiastic fan club with her.

I heard reference to this being the 2009 contest and there being a shield which would need to be returned so I can only assume that there is an intention to repeat this again next year - I shall certainly be buying a ticket. We raised £1152 which I thought was very impressive.

Thanks to everyone in Committee Services who put the event together.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great news for my mates the Revenue Constables in HMRC

The Government has backed down from plans to privatise the service.

I am so pleased, I have always been a big fan of this service, these crown appointed constables guard our Customs buildings and the idea of their vital and sometimes very secretive work going to a load of poorly trained private security firms filled me with horror.

I did write to Stephen Timms the Minister and kept the links going with PCS members in Queens Dock, they have clearly done a fantastic job. Well done everyone! I am so glad he was ready to listen. And especially a big cheer for the lads at QD. You do a fine job and it is great that you will keep such a high quality service going.

Things you cannot apparently do with your mobile phone after all

My mate Dave Williams sent me a link to his blog here about things you cannot apparently do with your mobile phone that I blogged about,after all.

There's no fool like an old fool, as they say, thanks mate!

Special event for black community in Kensington and Fairfield

Monday, March 16, 2009

Having a bit of family time

On Friday Colin and I went up to Stockton, while Wendy valiantly managed a surgery where four different lots turned up, that is sod's law that is. We went to my brother-in-law's 40th birthday party at Eaglescliffe Golf Club - a bit weird for me as I was last there in about 1992! It was a nice party, sitting with Mum, Roger and Robert, with Alex and Joel running over every now and then to tell us which songs they were enjoying. Jon had a great time, and had hired his favourite musician to play for us. Maxine was busy hostessing, but everyone really enjoyed it.

On Saturday morning we walked over the road to Preston Park museum as Colin had seen it on Teachers' TV as a good resource and wanted to see what it was like. We went into the blacksmith's forge and said hello to Peat Oberon who taught my Dad to be a blacksmith 20 years ago.

Then we came back to Liverpool, bringing Robert with us, and on Saturday night, Wendy and I and Robert went to an event for the Liverpool Congolese Association. They are looking for help to extend the support they can offer to newly arrived Congolese and to help the situation back at home.

Yesterday we had a trip to the Albert Dock and saw a great exhibition in the Tate of the later art works of William Blake. We all particularly liked his painting of Isaac Newton.

Today we are going to have a walk round the city centre and go into the Walker Gallery - and I shall fit a Labour Group Exec board meeting too later this afternoon.

Friday, March 13, 2009


1. Open a new file in your computer.

2. Name it "All Lib-Dems".

3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.

4. Empty the Recycle Bin.

5. Your PC will ask you:

'Do you really want to get rid of "All Lib Dems?"

6. Firmly Click 'Yes.'

7. Feel better?


Bogus official warning

Sergeant Joyce has been on the phone:

There is a man active in the Kensington area at the moment that I would like to warn readers about. He is aged about 45, round face, black bobble hat, wearing a yellow high–visibility jacket (like workmen wear) and on at least one occasion was carrying a length of electric cable with him.

He is pretending to be an electrician and his two cover stories so far have been that he has come to check the sockets and that he needs to look at the fusebox because he fears it is blowing fuses in other people’s houses.

He does not carry out i/d

A 91 year old lady in Minto Close was robbed by him this week when she let him in and then went to make him a cup of tea.

He has been operating in Holt Road area and Crossfields estate and is targeting mainly social housing.

Please spread the word.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flog it!

Guess where I will be on Sunday March 29th? - in the queue at St George's Hall for Flog it!, hoping to get a glimpse of the gorgeous Paul Martin. How lucky we are that it is coming to Liverpool.

All I have to do now is find something interesting in the attic to take along(actually that is a bit too much of a challenge, as I dont have an attic, not even a loft hatch!), so I guess I might have to rummage in the spare bedroom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New computers for councillors?

We are finally getting some movement on the issue of the years old IT provision that Liverpool City Council expects your councillors to use to represent you.

You will recall that I have blogged about this before, here and years ago when I was first elected - but I cannot just find the entry at the moment. (Prize to the one who does).

Anyway, they seem to be caving in and we have now been asked to give details of our current provision so that they can get us new stuff.

At bloody last!

Monday, March 09, 2009

A day focussed on community cohesion

Yesterday was a very interesting day.

A Sunday, when one might expect to be at home with the family, relaxing and reading the paper and watching my football team crash out of the FA cup.

Or then again...

I went in the early afternoon out door-knocking with Liam and Tim and we talked to residents about the threat of the BNP in the forthcoming European elections and the need for all mainstream voters to get out there in June and vote for the party of their choice, rather than let the wrong Griffin become a MEP.

Then Wendy and I went to the annual Jewish Civic Service at the Princes Road Synagogue where four of our five Deane Road Jewish Cemetery patrons happened to be gathered together; Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, Louise Ellman MP, Dame Lorna Muirhead, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, and the indefatigable Professor E Rex Makin, Freeman of the City of Liverpool. It was a good service with a funny although slightly discombobulating speech from a Rabbi from Leeds.

Then I went over to Kensington Junior School to an International Women's Day event organised by the United Colours of Kensington (our group of face-painters who offer multi-cultural training and support to these wonderful volunteers) and it was truly international. There were women at the event (and a few husbands and lots of children) who are from all over the world but now live in Kensington or Fairfield. I made a very short speech as beautiful adorned children ran round at my feet, and then chatted to some of the attendees. This included a woman who has set up a project to support adults who were sexually abused as children, with the help of us councillors and our working neighbourhood fund and hurrah for that!

When I got home, I got into a bit of an email debate with a LibDem councillor who was trying to claim that the rise of the BNP (if there is such a rise) was the fault of the Labour Party for neglecting their communities. I felt very strongly positive that after a day of engaging across the city on precisely such issues, I could decry his views.

One of the joys of being a councillor is the window it allows us to have into the lives of all sorts of people who live in our areas and to represent some really fascinating communities. It was a long day but a good one.

Operation Pinehurst tackling prostitution in Sheil Road area of Kensington and Fairfield

I saw this headline Cops: We'll name and shame vice girl's clients in an article in the Echo tonight, I thought to myself what a great idea, to name and shame kerb crawlers who are buying prostitutes, I thought wouldn't that be great if we were doing it on Sheil Road in Kensington where the problem is starting to creep back after a massive effort a couple of years ago to put a stop to it.

I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if we could do that as part of Operation Pinehurst - the new police operation that we are funding from our councillors' working neighbourhood fund, in response to residents concerns raised at a recent Your Community Matters event.

Then I read the article, and realised that it was actually referring to Operation Pinehurst, to our operation, and that the police have not just taken on the important work of stopping prostition in our area, but they have also taken on our concerns that the girls should not be victimised, but that it is the punters who should be tackled.

The community are all very keen that prostitution in our area should be stopped, but they also understand that most of the working girls are young, are drug addicts and are the victims here. That is why we have put a lot of emphasis on involving organisations like Armistead who work with these girls to support them out of prostitution, at the centre of Operation Pinehurst. The community also made it clear to the police, through their councillors, that they wanted the punters to be very clear about what they were risking if they carried on coming into our area to buy women.

But I had not appreciated just how powerful their message was, and how seriously the police were taking that aspect of it, until I read this story today. When I gave my quote and explained the background to the Operation, to the Echo, I had not fully appreciated just how on board the police are with the community wishes.

To be honest, I feel very proud tonight, proud that Your Community Matters has really worked, putting resources into a key priority of residents, and proud that the police have really listened and have understood, and proud that residents, councillors and partners in the area are working so closely and so well together that we can something so important, so right.

This is just how community politics is supposed to work!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Could this be the end of Liverpool's organised voluntary sector?

Read this letter from LCVS - Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services - with my bolds.

"Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS) needed an extra £500,000 to maintain its engagement and empowerment programmes with Liverpool’s third sector and Liverpool residents after April 2009.

Funding from the former European Objective 1 ended in December 2008 and the work has survived on a grant from the City’s Working Neighbourhood Fund since then.

From April there will be a severe reduction in the range and level of services given though its networks and its groundbreaking ‘Your Community Matters’ events.

Alan Lewis, Chief Executive of LCVS, said: “This is a great disappointment, but we understand the economic climate. We will be inventive with the resources we have left to achieve the maximum involvement of people in decisions that affect their lives. We are working with public bodies to agree what activity to save”

The involvement of over 1,600 third sector organisations through Liverpool Community Network (LCN) is at risk. LCN brings together charities and community groups from across the city to work in partnership with public bodies to improve the quality of life of all.

The neighbourhood based ‘Your Community Matters Events’, which have already involved over 2,500 residents across all wards of the city are also likely to end.

Job losses are inevitable and up to 15 posts are at risk.

“Liverpool has been a national leader in community involvement. We are losing capacity to continue this work just when public bodies and housing associations are required to do more of it.”

LCVS will still deliver its March round of ward based events enabling local residents to meet with local Police and Council officers and other key decision-makers to discuss what can be done to improve their neighbourhood."

To say I am appalled would be a considerable understating of the position.

I rely on LCVS every day, as I suspect does more or less everyone in Liverpool. We rely on LCVS to direct community, charity and voluntary groups towards advice, funding opportunities, support, encouragement, networking. I could go on, but I am too upset to list everything.

I cannot conceive, simply cannot imagine a Liverpool without the support that such a big part of LCVS exists for. What will happen for all our voluntary services if they have no networks to support them? How for instance can the Liverpool First Community and Cohesion Task Group (that I sit on) - which should look at all this important work across the city - continue effectively without the LCN networks?

We cannot lose the LCN networks, not when they are growing stronger day by day. Look at the ground-breaking work being done by the LGBT Network just now for instance, or the dire need for the Faith Group while the BNP are threatening to take a MEP seat in June's elections.

And those 15 lost jobs - they are not just any jobs, they are the people who help the voluntary sector to find funding for their projects, to teach them how to set up constitutions, how to train their volunteers, how to apply for CRB checks, how to market their services....I could go on.

This is a terrible body blow for the city, please do not underestimate the scale of this disaster.

It is precisely at times like this, at times of a recession, when the voluntary sector comes most to the fore, when it is needed more than ever. This is not the time to be winding down the provision. Some services that LCC cannot now fund will have to be carried out by the voluntary and charity sector, that is an absolute. But how can they do this without these 15 staff members?

I know that the administration on LCC will be whining just now about their reduction in resources and how they have had to cut their cloth, I know all that. But it is all a matter of priorities, a good council will maintain the provision for the things that they care about. That is the essence of politics - you set your priorities and the things that you will never compromise on, what a terrible indictment it is that LCVS is not a priority for this council.

The new all encompassing Area Based Grant was supposed to give local councils more freedom to set its own priorities, 40-odd ring-fenced funding pots all merged into one and we could spend it on more or less what we liked, that should have guaranteed the future of LCVS because we should have supported them. As I understand it, the WNF is now part of the ABG and this LibDem council could quite easily have chosen to go on supporting LCVS via the ABG.

I know that many ward councillors have not enjoyed Your Community Matters events, I have heard from many about the shortcomings that they have seen with this method of community engagement. But I can say for certain fact that in Kensington and Fairfield it has been an unqualified success. In fact at the last meeting I spoke from the stage to say that it was a much criticised feature of the new devolved accountability, but that in our ward it has been fantastic - vastly better attended and enjoyed than our dire Area Committees, and everyone cheered.

Ironically our next YCM is tomorrow and I was really looking forward to it. I have invited 2020 Liverpool to come along and engage the residents in dicussions about their preference for our new pavillion in Newsham Park and also Claire Chang of Dream High to talk about the charity's work in supporting new businesses in Kensington, Fairfield, Old Swan and Dovecot about their start-up plans.

We had 80 at the last meeting and each one is more popular than the last. But it seems that tomorrow will be a requiem not a celebration of our community engagement. We used to get 5 residents to joint ward meetings. It is obvious what K&F people prefer and that is YCM events.

Only last week Liam and I went to a special YCM event for the Chinese Community at the Pagoda Centre in Riverside ward, off Duke Street. We were invited because after Riverside ward, the next biggest grouping of Chinese people live in Kensington. There must have been 150 people there, and I was hopeful that this would be the first of many, now I know it was the last of everything.

I think this decision is one of the worst things I have seen as a Councillor and I am bemused as to why I learnt about it in the newspapers and through a press release from LCVS even though we had a full council meeting only last week where this could have been mentioned.

This is a truly dark day

Two whole stars from the Audit Commission for Liverpool City Council

I can quite understand why the ruling group is celebrating an improvement in the council's rating by the Audit Commission, after all there is no way down from being the worst council in the country (it was official) so any improvement would be a straw to clutch at.

But a straw is exactly what it is, nonetheless.

I have read the CPA reports giving the background to the national picture, and I note that

"For the third year running, no councils were categorised as 0 star. Only three per cent of councils (four councils) were 1 star in 2008. However, this represents an increase from 1 per cent of councils (two councils) in 2007. The two councils that were 1 star in 2007 (Liverpool and Rutland) both improved their star rating in 2008, to 2 star and 3 star respectively." (1 star in 2008 are Doncaster (controversial mayoralty), Haringey (Labour) and Milton Keynes (NOC, LibDem leadership). Surrey (Conservative) has appealed with a judicial review against theirs.)

So, we are not the worst council any more, but merely the 5th= worst.

Why if tiny Rutland could improve from one star to three, could we only manage to move up one place?

Could it be because we are in the deprived North, where it is hard to excel? Apparently not according to this report which says "The North East and North West regions also performed strongly overall, with at least 80 per cent of councils categorised as 3 or 4 star councils."

But don't take my word for it, have a look at the ratings for all councils in the whole country.

Other Metropolitan Authorities with a mere 2 stars are
Birmingham - Conservative
Bradford - Conservative
Liverpool - LibDem
Newcastle-upon-Tyne - LibDem
Oldham - LibDem
Sandwell - Labour
Wolverhampton - I suspect this is either a Tory council or a Tory/LibDem coalition.

Actually, you would be amazed at how hard it is find out who runs which authority, the council websites never say so you have to guess! So some of these above might be wrong, I have gone with the party of the leader, mainly.

I know that everyone in Liverpool will be pleased that we no longer have to be associated with a singular failure across the country, to be the worst, but it seems we have not risen as far as we should have and we are still sharing our shortcomings with councils we would not really wish to be compared with.

I wont even mention the fact that Band A properties are now going to pay over £1000 in council tax for the first time ever - £1007 to be precise.

My end of year report for Liverpool's LibDem council continues to read "Could do (considerably) better"

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Library league tables

1. Norfolk & Norwich Millennium 1,500,695
2. Birmingham Central Library 1,357,148
3. Central Library, Manchester 1,081,798
4. Croydon Central Library 1,051,366
5 Brighton & Hove Jubilee 870,938
6 Suffolk County Library, Ipswich 847,080
7 Sunderland City Library and Arts Centre 778,050
8 Hounslow 766,232
9 Romford 759,722
10 Wood Green Central (Haringey) 745,141
11 Dundee Central Library, The Wellgate 743,470
12 Blackburn Central Library 739,024
13 Harris Library, Preston 696,800
14 Huddersfield Central Library 693,680
15 Colchester 682,955
16 Hendon Library 682,838
17 Chesterfield 664,612
18 Whitechapel 649,203
19 Woking 649,064
20 Central Library, Coventry 645,060

These are the most popular libraries in the country - the figures record the number of people who have visited them. I am delighted that Huddersfield Central library which I was part of the campaign to save when the LibDems tried to close it back in 2003, is so popular. It is truly wonderful. I have a picture of me on a stall collecting names on a petition somewhere, which I will post up with this entry later.

And this next table shows the libraries where the most books were taken out - don't forget that there is a lot more you can do in a library than simply borrow books, go on the internet for instance, or visit the geneaology resources or come to my surgery!

1. Norfolk & Norwich Millennium 1,139,090
2. Chelmsford 742,048
3 Milton Keynes Central 711,672
4 Central Library, Oxford 671,418
5 Chesterfield 634,024
6 Southend 609,667
7 Brighton & Hove Jubilee 600,723
8 Birmingham Central Library 578,657
9 Horsham Library 533,432
10 Carlisle 504,625
11 Nottingham Central Library 503,921
12 Exeter Central Library 488,100
13 Blackburn Central Library 473,210
14 Coventry Central Library 471,184
15 Sutton 469,239
16 Macclesfield 469,218
17 Taunton 464,308
18 York 463,437
19 Croydon Central Library 461,227
20 Bromley Central 454,766

This C&G qualified Library Assistant says "good on all those lovely people in Norwich who are making the most of their millenium library"

Concentrating on regional LP

In my new role as Deputy Chair of the North West Regional Labour Party I have begun a series of regular meetings with and visits to the Regional Director at the office in Warrington.
This week, on the 10th anniversary of my starting work in that same office myself, we talked about how the lay members that make up the Board can take a proactive role in terms of training and constitutional work. (The board is made up of constituency delegates from the counties, TU delegates, representatives from the PLP and the EPLP and delegates from the Co-op and Socialist Societies).

In terms of training, my idea basically is to train key LP members to carry out campaign training (training the trainers if you like) and then create a register of trainers so that next time we get a request from a Labour Party branch for campaign training, we can send someone fairly local to them to deliver it, thus saving the party money in travelling time and expense, but also giving development opportunities to our members.

And in a similar vein, I want to train a group of key LP members in managing constitutional work, so that they can handle appeals and disputes and take on some more of the interviewing for panels for local, national and European government.

So I have come away with a list of tasks that involve asking the Unions if they have any Training the Trainers projects they can run for me, and getting rooms booked and organising videos and all sorts of other stuff. Tim Moore - expect a phone call on this

Also we have agreed as a board to meet around the region in future and combine our visits with campaigning so I now need to get the constituency county delegates to organise venues, target wards and campaign activities for those weekends we are due.

All good stuff!

Venture Housing Association - Scrutiny Committee

Readers will recall that just after I joined the board of VHA we received a very poor Audit Commission report and rating. And that we have been working like billyo to put plans into action that will satisfy the TSA and the AC for the future and keep us out of special measures. I was elected Chair of the Scrutiny Committee (we have four committees altogether, Building and Customer Services, HR, Finance and Scrutiny) last autumn and last week chaired my third meeting.

There is so much information to go through and we all really feel the personal weight of responsibility very deeply. I lie awake at night sometimes, running over it all in my head, have I got my finger on all the pulses I need to have it on. If I were interviewed by the audit commission tomorrow, could I easily answer any questions that they put to me. Just how closely am I monitoring the KPIs etc. I put in two hours the night before the meeting, going over all the papers and marking up questions I wanted to ask and points I wanted to make. Then we had the meeting itself, including a presentation from the Auditors we had appointed at the previous meeting, to report back on the internal audit they had carried out on our behalf into some of the items raised by the Audit Commission. In all, what with interrogating them until we were really clear, then checking over the action plan and disussing suitable layouts for the business plan, we were in there 4 hours. 10am - 2pm and no lunch.

And I still feel nervous, no matter how much work I put in. I think it is because the AC criticised the then VHA board for poor governance - we are nearly unrecognisable from the board they saw and I think we are very much stronger, but knowing how much difference we can make to the way that VHA is viewed is a heavy burden.

The best news is that the level of properties with a current gas servicing certificate has now gone about 99%


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Marital strife on Tweeter?

Are you a twitterer? Do you tweet? I have just started twittering, and unlike Facebook, you can sign up to "follow" anyone and you see all their status "updates". There is nothing else to it, you can post an update and comment on other people's updates, and that is the extent of Twitter.

There are only a tiny few councillors in Liverpool City Council who are tweeting. Me, Erica and Richard Kemp, Colin Eldridge and apparently Paul Twigger although I am not yet following him.

The following entries were on my Twitter today, I thought you would find them interesting. Just imagine, two councillors, married to each other, two computers, or perhaps blackberries, first of all in different places, then at home in different rooms, a husband on one, a wife on the other... now read on.

cllrkemp Good budget meeting last night. Budget through safely. New Labour twaddle on CRB checks defeated - local banking motion carried!

cllrkemp Now off to do recession press conference with Vince, Lucy Watt and Keith Moffitt. Wish me luck
about 12 hours ago from web

cllrkemp Conference Done. Now dealing with Press enquiries.
about 11 hours ago from web

CllrEKemp Back from delivering leaflets, cold, wet & with mushy leaflets. Typical the sun has started shining!
about 7 hours ago from web

CllrEKemp Drowning in work and e-mails before conference. Richard home - quality time together? No he's asleep!
about 5 hours ago from web

CllrEKemp @cllrkemp Oi! Stop Twittering and come and say hello to your wife - remember me?
about 2 hours ago from web in reply to cllrkemp

cllrkemp Back home and have been harangued twice already and had to go out for chips for tea! No wonder i spend so much time in London.
about 2 hours ago from web

cllrkemp - A piccie of our back yard to show its nearly SPRING!
about 2 hours ago from TwitPic

CllrEKemp @cllrkemp Right that's it! I'm not cooking for you again until you apologise - publicly. Yes I know you are not in for dinner for 6 days.
about 2 hours ago from web in reply to cllrkemp

Last tweet before I go and grovel. ingridk has asked me to join an IDeA on line conference on social netwroking. Yes I will - a first.
about 2 hours ago from web

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Disastrous result for the Boro

I am afraid I am going to break my own golden rule tonight, and call for our manager to stand down.

There was a lot of controversy when Gareth Southgate became the manager without the proper training but I always hoped that at least with an international defender for a manager, we would never let too many goals in.

But here we are, sitting in the relegation zone, despite our victory over Liverpool at the weekend, and we have just let Spurs, of all teams, beat us 4-0.

It is no good Motty saying we didnt deserve to lose by so many, that we were not as bad as the score-line suggests, the fact is that it is only the score-card that people will remember.

Why can we beat the top teams and yet be so dire against the strugglers and the stragglers?

I am afraid that I have lost confidence in Gareth now and he needs to go.

We went down in 1997 and bounced back up and have stayed up, but now I dont see what is going to save us and we need a new approach.

I dont want Everton to win at the weekend in the cup game, but I would not put any money on a Boro success on current form.

Officially down in the dumps........!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Newsham Park update

On Thursday I went to the Newsham Park Forum which is held in the Adult Learning Centre along the side of the park. It is a forum which just addresses the park itself.

We had an update on the HLF bid - we should hear at the back end of March whether we have been successful in securing the £4.5million we need to do refurbish and restore the park. A group of HLF people have been and had a look round and were apparently quite impressed with our plans. Fingers crossed.

We also had an update on the proposed new pavillion. A survey has been carried out by 2020 to assess all possible locations and two have come out top. One to the north of the road through the park, next to the children's playground and the other on the other side of the road and a bit further east. I have a paper copy of the survey if anyone wants to see it, and also an electronic one.

I prefer the one next to the children's play area as it will be easier to keep safe and secure from ASB and does not involve cutting down any trees. But there is also an argument about having to cross the road to walk to the pitches from there, carrying goal posts. The other site would be within trees, would be less obtrusive, but because of that would not be so safe from ASB and would involve cutting some trees down. It would also be a bit nearer to the pitches, in terms of the walk involved.

Anyway, I gave my preference, and Norah gave hers but we know we need to ask lots more people, so I suggested that 2020 do a display at the K&F Your Community Matters event next week to get wider feedback, as well as asking the other councillors and the Friends group of course. I must remember to tell our co-ordinator Karen Harris about that.

Talking of YCM events, I do like being able to invite people to come along and give presentations or hand out flyers, or whatever, it gives them such a big audience in one easy hit.

We also had an update from Lisa Heron from the Academy about their ongoing plans for the next Newsham Park festival. June 27th, put it in your diary.