Friday, April 03, 2009

Fitting in a bit of socialising with my council work in March

I became an airport taxi-operator last week, for my mate Stan from Huddersfield. He came to stay on Friday night and we had a lovely meal in the Millon on Allerton Road. Then I took him to JLA on Saturday morning at the crack of dawn to catch a plane to Belfast to watch his beloved Polska play the Northern Ireland FA national team in the world cup qualifiers - they lost.

While Stan was mourning the defeat of his team and worrying about the sporadic violence that was springing up around the city, I was at the Kensington International Food Festival organised by Kensington Regeneration but in particular by Maria Barrington from Healing Space. This was the second opportunity for me to eat cassava in a week. It was a wonderful event, when I arrived I learnt that Steve Radford had been earlier, invited by Natalie Nicholas who was shadowing him on the OBV scheme and also Gerard from County who was delighted to have such a great event to take his grandchildren to. He had picked up on the event from seeing it on my blog. There must have been about 200 men, women and little children there when I got there, about half way through the event, having been leafletting in the morning in Anfield and then out for brunch with Stephen Twigg and Nick and Kev, (that reminds me Kev, I owe you £10, dont forget to get it off me), and then having gone out looking for a nice gift for Lisa's birthday. They were from all round the world, for sure and the children were all playing together and dancing together and the mums and dads were eating together, foods from 9 different nations. Actually I only had a tiny bit, to show willing, as I had just eaten.

On Saturday night I babysat for Lisa and John so that they could go out for Lisa's birthday, and I watched Brokeback Mountain on TV. Marvellous film. I always wanted to see it but had never managed it before, I really thoroughly enjoyed it.

I picked Stan back up from JLA on Sunday morning, grubby and tired and fed-up because he had lost his precious scarf, and sent him off for a sleep while I went to a special citizenship ceremony in the town hall, where Lord and Lady Goldsmith and the Lord and Lady Mayoress were both in attendance. The photo shows me with the two couples. It was extra special because two of my constituents were receiving their citizenship certificates. I also found myself sitting at one point next to a man from Kurdistan who knows Tarib, the marvellous musician who performed at the Kensington Remembrance event in January. Lord Goldsmith, in conjunction with Tony Dalton from the Home Office who I sat next to during the ceremony, developed David Blunkett's idea for citizenship ceremonies in the first place which is why they were both there and one had been asked to act as the dignatory for the occasion. I am going to see Tony Dalton, who is the Chief Caseworker in the Home Office in his office in Liverpool soon to talk about potential further revisions to the ceremony.

When I got home after the ceremony Stan had got up so we went for Sunday lunch with Colin to the Carvery in the Half-Way on Woolton Road and then I took Stan to see the Iron Men on Crosby Beach. I found out this week that my bosses, whom I always think of as I go up there, knowing they live somewhere close by, actually live practically on the beach just where I park, so next time I shall pop in for a cup of coffee with them! We had checked the time tables and the tide was well out when we got there, so we got some great photos of the setting winter sun on the wet sand. Fantastic.

Stan went back to Huddersfield about 8pm on Sunday but not for long. He was back on Monday night so that Louise Baldock Airport Taxi Service could run him back to JLA at 5.30am on Tuesday morning - he was this time going to Poland to see Polska playing St Marino - and what a score line that was. 10-nil with a further 2 disallowed, the first goal scored in less than a minute.

On Wednesday night I had two meetings, Operation Black Vote Scrutiny Panel newly set up, including Erica Kemp in the chair, me, Anna Rothery, Pam Clein and Steve Radford. That should be really interesting, finding out how effective was the work we did as mentees and mentors. I am looking forward to it.

Then I went on to the City and North Neighbourhood Partnership Group for Physical Regeneration, which has to be the committee with the longest name of those I sit on, surely. I chair this particular meeting and it was very interesting to be talking about planning guidelines for what might or might not be allowed to be built in the defined water front area known as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We had a good discussion and agreed as a committee that we would support all the proposed guidance about restricting the height of buildings in the pier head area for instance, and the quality of design should be paramount etc, but we did not agree that there should be many restrictions on the development of Stanley Docks as it is a horrible mess that contributes nothing to the city and nothing, particularly to its Kirkdale and Everton neighbours, whilst at the same time there are developers with deep pockets at hand to bring on change and economic development and enhancement.

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