Friday, March 26, 2010

Two youth clubs in one night

Last night I was in Central Youth Club with Wendy, to watch an animated film made by some of the young people with the help of Eek films.

The film, Stinky: A funny film about a smelly problem, will be on you-tube in due course I am sure and then I can link to it, in the meantime an early blog can be viewed here.

We have supported this particular special Thursday night group at the club for a couple of years now and it is great to see them grow and develop. We gave out a lot of certificates too. Very well done to everyone - young people, parents, youth workers, volunteers, Tony, Simon, Tim...

From there I went over to Edge Hill Youth Club to join in the competition - grown-ups versus children and young people in the big Wii challenge. The grownups being mainly local community police, dressed in casual clothes, building up relationships and making contacts with the club and its attendees. The event was organised by Maria Curran in one of her last acts in post before she leaves Kensington Regeneration at the end of the programme.

Well done Maria, and well done to all the PCSOs and RSL Housing Officers and other members of the Community Safety Task Group who came along. I just missed Luciana by a few minutes, I bet she was a good ten pin bowler too!

Unveiling a plaque in memory of David Lewis

Arnold Lewis, Jewish Archivist and fellow member of the Deane Road Jewish Cemetery committee kindly invited me on Wednesday to the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate David Lewis.

It has been placed on the side of Lewis's building on Ranelagh Street.

David was born in London in 1823 and died in 1885 in Liverpool, having established Lewis's Department stores in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and other cities.

Saul Marks tells us that "Lewis established strong ethics at the outset, which would be the foundation of his businesses: he refused to haggle; he would fix a low price and stick to it; he did not give credit; he was always willing to exchange unsatisfactory goods; he never borrowed money; and he always fed his profits back into the business"

He was a very generous benefactor and after his death a trust he had set up in his name built the David Lewis Northern Hospital and also a hostel and club for seafarers, endowed the Princes Road Synagogue

He is buried in Deane Road Jewish Cemetery, Kensington (although it was described as being in Fairfield when it was first opened).

It was a lovely morning, the ceremony was performed by a great great nephew of David and also by Steve Binns, our marvellous local historian who reminded us that Lewis saw his stores as "friends of the people" selling goods "within the reach of the masses". There was quite a crowd there to celebrate this special event.

Afterwards we retired for lunch in the Green Fish Cafe, and very nice it was too.

Well done to Arnold (no relation, sadly) for all his hard work in making this day possible and fulfilling a dream he had for 3 years.

What a bitter shame that the unveiling came in the same week as the announcement that the store was to close (again) because it is not making enough money. Still, at least the facade has been protected, and anything new built here will have to be built within the skin of the store. People will still be "meeting under a statue exceedingly bare" for a long time to come

Pictured: Details of plaque, picture of David Lewis, and Arnold Lewis and me admiring the plaque in situ

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting on top!

I have had a couple of very productive days and worked really hard to clear the decks. There are two elections soon, if you had not noticed, both extremely important to me. Obviously on a personal basis, I await the verdict of the good people of Kensington and Fairfield on my first term in office as their councillor. But equally it will be no good to me, or them, if I am elected but we lose our Labour MP, so I am very keen to see Luciana Berger returned in a General Election too.

So, after some nose to grindstone activity, I can report that I am on top of

* my casework - four years worth to go over and double check, have I done everything I could?

* my emails - 400 cleared out this weekend - professional and personal. Please will no-one write to me for a bit?

* my blog - all the important community events (except for the One World Festival which I am still waiting for a JPEG of) are now all posted up.

* my pile of papers in the dining room - I have been through the whole lot, done what needs to be done, answered important letters, filled in forms, questionnaires, sent off responses

* my washing - two empty laundry bags!

The car is already booked in for the MOT and service in June (thanks to the lovely people at Nationwide AutoCentre who know me better than I know myself, some deadlines cannot be missed!)

I have switched to British Gas for my dual fuel, finally, don't know what took me so long.

I have had my hair cut and booked my next appointment already (radical, why did it take me so long to realise you could do this from one appointment to the next?)

And, guess what? MY NEW JUMPER HAS COME!! The lovely people in the Shetlands have taken a gamble on the claim for the stolen parcel and knitted me a new one. It came today. Very good for winter (arriving at the outset of Spring is a bitter irony) but I will love wearing it next year, fabulous!

So the decks are now all cleared for the elections, bring them on!

(Oh and I had a letter today to tell me I had been nominated for a regional award, not that I am holding my breath, but it is lovely to have been thought of).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Car Boot Sale Liverpool 28th March 2010

Two reasons to visit the Academy of St Francis of Assisi on Sunday 28th March - it is the One World Festival (I am still waiting for a JPEG of that so that I can share it with you) and a car boot sale. This is a pilot and if it goes well other car boot sales will follow.

Love Music Hate Racism - video from YouTube

This is well worth a watch, particularly if you will have the opportunity to vote for the first time in the next General Election. It talks about how your vote can stop the BNP from winning power. I hope older readers will share this with their younger friends and relatives.

BME Inclusive Community event - March 27th 2010

I have been asked to speak at this important event in Fairfield next weekend. The group has been set up to continue the BME development work that has been developed by Martin Pinder and his colleagues at Kensington Regeneration, now that the programme is coming to an end. It aims to bring together all of the different peoples of the area, from their many backgrounds, to work on certain issues for the BME community like accessing social housing provision and setting up in business for instance. If you are a member of the BME community or you provide services to them, then you would be doing yourself a big favour by coming along.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To Kill a Mocking Bird - final event in the Kensington Remembers programme

Kensington Remembers, which I chair, has been running a Diversity Film Festival for the last 6 months or so.

Our final film is on Tuesday night, 23rd March, at Venture House on Boaler Street, L6

All free, come for 6.30pm for something to eat, the film starts at 7pm. I am introducing the event and we have Taher Ali Qassim from the PCT to chair the discussions afterwards.

It is a terrific film from 1962, based on a Pulitzer prize winning book by Harper Lee written in 1960. Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a white lawyer defending a black man charged with raping a white woman. In 2003, the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.

If you would like to come, and I sure that you will, please phone Kenny Regen on 0151 2336136 to book your place.

Another fantastic Kensington International Food Festival

Wendy, Liam, Luciana and I really enjoyed the Kensington Food Festival. A 6 hour festival, we took shifts to ensure that at least one of us was there at all times to appreciate, enjoy and share this great day with our local residents.

It is my favourite event in the Kensington and Fairfield calendar. We work very hard in our area to enhance and develop community cohesion - no room for the fascist BNP here, thank you very much - and the food festival is the most successful. Upwards of 500 people joined together today at Kensington Infant and Junior School to eat great food from around the world, prepared by people from those countries who now live in Kensington or Fairfield. We were entertained by singers, dancers, drummers and performers from around the world while we ate.

Young and old sat together to eat, to laugh, to chat and get to know each other. The children, from all global backgrounds, with beautiful painted faces thanks to the United Colours of Kensington face-painting team, played together, ran round the room, danced freely on the stage between performances to great music from our DJ - a woman initially from the Middle East - and had a whale of a time.

A massive thank you and congratulations to everyone, and in particular to Maria Barrington, Thierry Bwaku, Maria Curran, Martin Pinder, HEAT and all the volunteers.

(Photo: Wendy and me with friends at the KIFF)

Cultural Champions unveiled at Liverpool Town Hall

I was delighted to be at a special event in Liverpool Town Hall on Thursday night to discover the identities of our new Community Cultural Champions.

"Not the usual suspects" was the ringing endorsement around the room.

The five people who have been chosen to work within neighbourhoods to attend cultural events and blog about them, and then update neighbourhood committees regularly with their experiences, are ordinary Liverpool folk. They are not professional culture vultures, they are residents who have come to culture particularly because of their happy experiences during 2008, European City of Culture.

Our neighbourhood (City and North Liverpool) now has Donna Williamson of Vauxhall to take on this really interesting role. As the chair of the neighbourhood, I really look forward to working with her over the coming year.

We had a fabulous evening, I sat with some really great women, I didn't catch all of their names, but they know who they are. We had a wonderful time, chatting, giggling and celebrating the city's culture. I sat next to Kathy Mcardle from Find Your Talent (we particularly loved the world cup football bid dvd, especially the bit where the Liver Birds kicked a football about) and a woman from South Liverpool who works with young people. Also we had one of the organisers of the event on our table, Alesha, I dont think that is spelt right and I did a bit of a google but could not hit on the right one. She and her colleagues did us proud.

The food was gorgeous too, so often food produced en masse is horrible but this was extremely good. Well done to the Town Hall caterers.

But mostly, I want to say well done to all the applicants, all the shortlisted candidates and the successful 5 champions!

Sergeant Simon Joyce is set to stay in Kensington and Fairfield


Great news for our fight against crime and anti-social behaviour in L7.

The Kensington New Deal police team, funded by Kensington Regeneration would have been scrapped at the end of March when the programme comes to an end.

But police chiefs in Merseyside are so impressed with the sterling community work carried out by Sergeant Joyce and his award winning team that they have been granted a stay of execution. Simon will stay on and continue the excellent work in L7, working with residents, partners, agencies and councillors to reduce crime in our area.

Drug raids in Fairfield

I have had this email from the local police which I wanted to share with you. When residents work together with the police and local councillors, we have great results in our fight against crime.

At 0915 hours today Tuesday 16th March 2010, 18 officers from Tuebrook Police Station and Walton Lane Police station executed two warrants at addresses on Prescot Road after a number of complaints and calls had been made to the Kensington & Fairfield Neighbourhood Police Team.

Negative result at one of the premises, but on arrival at the second premises, drugs were being flushed down the toilet, which were able to be seized in the 'nick of time'.

16 wraps of Cocaine were recovered and 4 males from Kensington have been arrested for possession with intent to supply.

As when and if there are successful prosecutions we will work with the landlords to see if they and their families can be evicted.

New Community Safety Task Group for Kensington and Fairfield (and Kensington Fields and Edge Hill)

Residents, police, youth services, housing associations, domestic violence workers, Liverpool City Council Anti Social Behaviour Unit, community wardens and Labour councillors were at a special meeting this week to create a new Community Safety Task Group for our area.

Kensington Regeneration has been hosting a similar group for over 6 years, based on the New Deal area. That comes to an end with the closure of the programme but residents and all the involved agencies were not prepared to see this vital work come to an end. Also ending is the As One group, which has focussed principally on providing and supporting diversionary activities for young people to keep them away from anti-social behaviour and whose chair, Gill, has been financed through Kenny Regen too.

We owe a debt of thanks to Maria Curran, Alan Kelly, Gill Passmore and her predecessors, also Lisa Shearwood-Vingoe of C7, they have achieved great things through the creation of the two groups and I know they are delighted that the work will go on.

Crime and anti-social behaviour have fallen significantly in Kensington over recent years, relations between community police and residents has never been better and people are very keen now to come forward and report crimes and concerns that they have.

After discussions and deliberations we have agreed to merge the two groups together and to widen the geography to include the rest of the Kensington and Fairfield ward.

Local residents and organisations in L6 will now be invited to join and Venture Housing Association have agreed to host and facilitate the meetings.

It is a real win win.

Liverpool City Council's Hate Crime Policy is on its way

I had a really useful meeting last week with the head of Community Safety and her colleague, who are currently consulting on a Hate Crime Policy for the city. The policy explains what processes should be followed if a member of the public, a member of staff or a councillor report an incident of hate crime. They plan a triage system where an early assessment is made as to which cases need referring straight to the police and which require internal investigation and appropriate action. The Anti-Social Behaviour unit will play a big role so it will need to be better resourced - something else I have been talking to officers about. As a member of the Community Cohesion and Equalities Task Group, I thought I should give some real time to the consultation, which comes to an end next week. So we went over the policy, line by line and I hope I was able to make some useful additions and suggestions. I was very interested to learn that the officers who have carried out this work, believe that we may be the first council to adopt such a policy - when that time comes.

Liverpool Wavertree Labour Party social

Liverpool Wavertree Labour Party had a very successful and most enjoyable social last week at the Eastern Diner on Allerton Road. We packed the restaurant and enjoyed great company. Luciana was on top form as the host and the K&F councillors drew the raffle (you have to have a raffle don't you!) The team goes from strength to strength and we particularly welcomed some of our new activists, all doing great work getting our message out on the doorstep. We should do it more often guys!

LibDems attack CCTV

I see that Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats is not in favour of CCTV cameras. He is against the "endless snooping" he says and wants people to vote LibDem "to take their privacy back".

I cannot see that going down well in Kensington and Fairfield. We are always being contacted by residents who want more cameras, not fewer. They know how important they have been in the fight against crime on our streets.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Update on the stolen parcel/jumper saga

I have been reading a rather implausible story in the Echo tonight about a postman in bother with the law. He claimed that the reason he did not deliver mail that he was meant to and instead stashed it in his flat, was because he had difficulties with riding his Royal Mail bike because of injuries to certain ahem "delicate" parts of his body.

It reminded me that you need an update on the "Viking" saga (thanks Coline!) of the stolen parcel containing my Christmas jumper.

I got a letter on Monday from the Royal Mail telling me that the lovely people in the Shetlands have now made a claim for the loss. They asked me to confirm that the parcel had never arrived, that I had alerted the sender to the loss and whether I had been in touch with RM myself.

Helloooooooooooooo, is there anyone listening at Royal Mail?

I have of course written back to tell them that their own Delivery Office manager in Wellington Road (Liverpool South East PDO) told me himself, with much embarassment, about the theft of the van with not just my parcel but lots of other people's Christmas presents.

The irony is that the senders told them all this on the form. How many more hoops are we going to have to go through?

By the time the money is released to allow a new jumper to be knitted, it will be high summer!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

Happy St Patrick's Day to you all.

Here are a couple of pics of flags going up today in Liverpool, (sometimes described with tongue in cheek as the second city of Eire). (Park Place and Wavertree Road)

Tabhair dom an rud céanna mar atá ag an fhear ar an urlár! ;-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A bit more about the door knocking...

Incidentally, whilst on the subject of door knocking, I am amused by LibDem attempts on other websites to suggest that Labour's support is fracturing or moving away in Kensington and Fairfield. I don't know who they think reads the things they write, other than politicos, so I don't know who they think are kidding.

I can tell you with total honesty and my hand on my heart, our support is as strong as ever, if not more so, as more people meet us and work with us as the years go by.

People like what we have been doing in the area, they like our availability, our success rate in dealing with their casework, or advocating their projects. They like seeing us often, having us attend their events and community meetings, they like being able to contact us 7 days a week in a whole variety of ways, they like it that they actually know us, know our names, can have us in for a cup of tea and a catch-up, they feel involved, included and listened to.

This is what representative democracy is meant to be about. I often say to my constituents that the only reason we have councillors is because the 9500 people who live in the ward (and their children) cannot all fit in the Town Hall to discuss local issues, so they need to choose someone to go on their behalf and speak the words they would say if they were there instead.

We continue to grow our list of Labour supporters and it is now bigger than it has ever been while I have been here. This is a fact, not supposition, pysch opps or propaganda.

I genuinely believe that Labour has been doing a good job in Kensington and Fairfield tackling local issues and we will be judged on our record in a few months time.

Whilst the silly little boys in the Garmoyle (LibDem HQ) spend their hours dreaming up new ways to tell lies about us (and especially me) in the hope that they will win a few votes from us, we are genuinely doing our best, putting in the hours, for our residents. Perhaps it is because the aforementioned have never been councillors. I only hope that if they do become part of the process of representative democracy, the scales will fall from their eyes and they will truly understand what our purpose is. There are members on the LibDems benches who will know exactly what I am talking about. They would agree with me that a chamber full of no-marks with nothing to contribute, no passion, no ideas, no dreams of a better way, no idea about policy, is a democratic nightmare.

If you wish for power through the ballot box then you have to know what you will do with it once you have it. It is not enough merely to win it.

It's all go!

Someone once described me as a busy busy bee, while another talked about me as the councillor with the duracell batteries (mind you, I am less impressed with the suggestion that I may only have a year of service left if he has his way!). After a week like this I have to concur; my feet are throbbing and my notebook is full of ticked "to do" lists, I have been busy with a capital B, batteries or no batteries, but it is all in a good cause, as always.

This week I spent a full day in Venture Housing Association the key RSL for Liverpool 6, where I sit on the board, hopefully helping to guide us to a better inspection report next time. And that evening I joined the steering group for Liverpool Pride (planned for August 7th, put it in your diary). On Tuesday, after a day doing my regular employment, I was out door knocking for a few hours. On Wednesday I got my new glasses, met my old boss for lunch, knocked on some more doors, did a pile of casework and made some home visits to housebound constituents. On Thursday I was at our Phythian surgery where we celebrated with residents from one particular Close who with our help have finally been recognised by their RSL and are now in the programme for decent homes - windows, doors, kitchens, bathrooms and central heating are finally on their way. KVfm Radio Forum was good fun, hearing from different people about the shows they have planned - we councillors have committed to a monthly show online from June. Friday was emotional. I went to work in the morning but took annual leave in the afternoon to celebrate the life of Karen Harold. Standing room only in the Anglican cathedral, that tells you something about how important Karen is to the people of Kensington and Fairfield and Liverpool. I thought Bishop James Jones did a particularly good job with his reflections and testimony about a life, short but well lived. Friday's surgery was also very well attended, with lots of interesting casework and one man who came in to show me his collection of LibDem literature he has kept and challenged over the years. There will be no succour for their candidate if he knocks on that door in this campaign! Today I was speaking at the Love Music Hate Racism Unite Against Fascism conference in Liverpool JMU, telling them about the work of Kensington Remembers which I chair, the Meet your Neighbours series of events organised by Merseyside Polonia and inviting people to visit the International Food Festival next weekend. This was followed by another couple of hours on the doorstep.

Tonight I have kicked off my shoes (actually I have kicked off my new pink DMs to be strictly correct) and am eating sweets and crisps and other Saturday night goodies, watching films, drinking a glass of wine and generally relaxing. Tomorrow I am going to see my lovely Mum for Mother's Day.

11 Liberal Democrat Councillors to retire in Liverpool local elections

Yes, you did read that correctly, 11 of the 46 LibDem councillors in Liverpool are standing down in May 2010.

The Daily Post reports the full list here

Some of them are absolutely understandable and deserved the applause in the final council meeting of their terms in office - Councillor Trevor Jones and Councillor Roger Johnson for instance, have had a long life of public service and fully deserve a restful retirement. Councillor Paul Clark likewise, makes in my view a pragmatic decision to leave the council on a high, having served recently as Lord Mayor, and with an equally long period of service. This is much more dignified than leaving through the ballot box. If I were in his position, after his years of service, I think I would make the same choice.

Other of the retirements are also entirely to be expected - Hirst, convicted of electoral crime, should have stood down 15 months ago when he was found guilty, or 12 months ago when he lost his appeal. There will be no tears shed in Wavertree ward - and I speak as a resident thereof.

And neither will there be hankies waved in Croxteth as the defector who kept the LibDems in power for 2 years, Nadia Stewart, leaves the political stage.

Colin Eldridge leaves to concentrate his attention on the General election where he is a candidate in the marginal constituency of Liverpool Wavertree. Given the kicking the LibDems gave my co-councillor Liam Robinson for daring to put his name forward for Kensington and Fairfield, whilst cutting his teeth as a first-time Parliamentary candidate in Fylde for the General Election (where the Labour Party has never won), Eldridge had no choice but to put his money where his mouth is. He and his apparatchiks would know that the charge of hypocrisy would ring loudly across Liverpool Wavertree if he had not stood down.

What is more curious is why Councillors Josie Mullen, Jean Seddon, Andrew Tremarco, Linda Jane Buckle and Peter Allen are leaving the council. Are they dispirited with the job? with their party nationally or locally? do they fear defeat through the ballot box? did they jump or were they pushed? I like Josie and Andrew, I am sorry to see them both leave. I have not really met the others, we have not shared any committees that I can recall and have never worked together on any panels or projects.

And who will stand in their places?

That is an equally interesting question.

Keeping it in the family?

How many of the new candidates will be partners or family members of the rump left behind, rearranging the sun loungers?

I understand that the LibDem candidate in Wavertree ward is the partner of Councillor Keith Turner, his ex-wife being on the council already, her own partner was defeated at the polls 2 years ago.

I have heard that Peter Allen's defeated wife in 2008 in St Michael's is standing again but in Greenbank ward. The husband of Jean Seddon who is standing down, stood unsuccessfully in Fazakerley ward last month, will he try again? I am told that the LibDem candidate in Knotty Ash is the girlfriend of one of the councillors there.

Currently we have four Cleins (the third biggest party in Liverpool as Paul told the chamber to great acclaim a few meetings ago), two Clucas', two Gould's, two Kemp's, all those Turner links... while the Allens and the Jones's double acts finished in 2008.

I look forward to reading Brocklebank or David Bartlett as they attempt to construct the new LibDem family trees after May 6th.

What about the Labour Party's family trees? I hear you ask... A fair question, I think I am right in saying that one councillor is the partner of another councillor's daughter and of course it goes without saying that it would be wonderful if Joanne Anderson was able to join her father on the Labour benches, but that is the extent of our connectivity just now as far as I know.

I am amazed frankly, at the scale of these retirements. Very nearly a quarter of the LibDem group are leaving. Contrast this with the Labour Group, Green Party and Liberal Party - not a single retirement between us - and we are 44 strong.

You must arrive at your own conclusions about these 11 retirements but I do think it is a question worth posing. Would a confident group be haemorrhaging like this?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I have just upgraded my phone with a 3G SIM. I am not sure what difference it is going to make, but it was free and the woman at o2 seemed to think my life would not be complete without one. What a pain though, doing the transfers of data from old SIM to phone to new SIM, making sure I have saved all my phone contacts, text messages and photos. Fingers crossed that nothing precious has been lost.

Monday, March 08, 2010

City and North Liverpool Neighbourhood Area Agreement

You may be interested to read our Neighbourhood Area Agreement, formulated over time, a document that continues to change and develop in accordance with the priorities of our residents in our area. The neighbourhood covers the wards of Riverside, Kirkdale, Everton, Kensington and Fairfield, Picton and Central (the city centre ward).

If it is slow to load, that will be because it is quite a big document and is hosted by the city council, not by my own software. But I think you will find it worth waiting for.

I would be interested in your comments, as will all of the councillors who have paid a key role in putting it together, along with residents, staff, the police, housing associations, the NHS and other organisations that we work with.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Has Spring sprung?

Spring is my favourite season. I adore spring flowers - daffodils, crocus, tulips and so on. But is it here yet? It is still bitterly cold out there, my hours spent knocking on doors each day tell me this. But according to the Meteorological Office, Spring began on March 1st. Personally I have always worked on the principle that Spring begins on March 21st (Summer on June 21st, Autumn on September 21st and Winter on December 21st). When do you think Spring begins? Surely it is not here yet?

I took this lovely photograph in Calderstones Park a few weeks ago of snowdrops - traditionally a winter flower, flowering well before Spring. I am yet to see a daffodil (we planted thousands of them in Pythian Park a few years ago, they are not up yet). What signs have you seen of Spring, if any?

Meet Your Neighbour events with Merseyside Polonia

Meet Your Neighbours

Merseyside Polonia would like to invite you for a special series of events celebrating some of the fascinating cultures of Liverpool communities

· listen to native music and singing

· taste some delicious food

· experience traditional dancing

· find out about customs and traditions

· feel part of cultural communities

Friday, 12th March 2010 – 6.30 pm – 9 pm

The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Gardner’s Drive, Liverpool, L6 7UR (by the main gate to Newsham Park, off Sheil Road)

Friday, 19th March 2010 – 6.30 pm – 9 pm

The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Gardner’s Drive, Liverpool, L6 7UR (by the main gate to Newsham Park, off Sheil Road)

Friday, 26th March 2010 – 6.30 pm – 9 pm

Al Gazali Cultural Centre, 35 Earle Road, Liverpool, L7 6HD

It’s open and free to everyone

Meet Your Neighbours project is developed and delivered in partnership with Merseyside Polonia, Yellow House, Citysafe, LCVS and Kensington Regeneration.

Action on prostitution - and fly-tipping

While out door knocking a few weeks ago I was approached by a resident in the ward who told me that prostitutes were parking up with their punters in a little lane by the side of her flat. (I won't specifically identify the address as I don't want to encourage others). Working with partners, the Clean Team, Riverside C7 Housing Association and Liverpool City Council we have been able to restrict access to the lane with some bollards, which should put a stop to that straight away.

At the same time, we also got the place cleaned up, not just the discarded condoms, but also the fly-tipping taking place on a neighbouring piece of land.

We have also identified another location in the ward where we think working girls are taking their punters in cars and we are taking steps to prevent this from happening there too.

("Before" and "After" photos of the cleaned up site)

Labour NW LGBT and Young Co-operators campaigning in Liverpool Wavertree

Our campaign had a big boost a few weeks ago thanks to the help and support of enthusiastic LGBT Labour members and Young Co-operators from across the NW. (I only just got the photos through)

The team that helped in Kensington and Fairfield delivered 3000 leaflets, made 300 contacts on the doorstep (and ate 30 hot cross buns)!

You guys are amazing! A big thank you to everyone, it really lifts the spirit to see so many young people actively engaged in politics and campaigning and it was good to catch up news as we retired to the pub afterwards.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Karen Harold RIP

(Note change of time for funeral service, now moved to 2pm)

Karen Harold was an extraordinary woman, a very hard working and extremely well respected Liverpool City Council Officer. But she was also a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend to many.

I first met her in 2006 when I was elected to the City Council and Karen was one of the Community Officers for Kensington Regeneration. You only had to meet Karen once to become her friend. She was a warm-hearted, enthusiastic advocate for her residents, she loved working with people, sharing their dreams, their joy and their plans but also sympathising with them over their difficulties. If you had Karen on your side then you could take on the world. But her enthusiasm did not run only to her official work, she was also a keen volunteer working in her community in Fairfield, Kensington and across Liverpool on all sorts of projects and committees in her own time.

I last saw her only a few weeks ago when she was with her family, supporting her mother's successful bid for funds for the Kensington Majorettes at the Participatory Budgeting meeting for our area. We hugged - Karen was someone with whom hugging was mandatory - and caught up on how she was doing in her new job. I was delighted to hear how much she was enjoying it.

It was therefore devastating to hear the news that Karen suffered a massive stroke on Friday and never recovered from the ensuing blood clot. Her life support machine was subsequently turned off a few days later.

In true Karen fashion, she had already organised with Kevin her husband what she wanted and she donated many of her organs.

Maria Curran, Karen's friend and colleague (pictured above with Karen) has said "She had the biggest heart and her arms would have spread around the world if they could and never think about the time it would take to make a difference. Everyone’s time was her time. She was selfless, dedicated, a warm mother figure to everyone including me. I shared many emotional moments with Karen and was the recipient of many a Karen hug and welcomed the comfort I got there."

Laura Pover, another friend and colleague from Kensington Regeneration has said

"After speaking with her family it has been decided to put a collection together to make a donation to the Joseph Lappin Foundation. Joseph was a friend of Karen’s youngest son Greg but sadly Joseph was murdered last year. Karen has been involved heavily with a street campaign to get Guns and Knives off our streets ever since.

It is her family’s wish that there be no flowers but donations made to the above foundation. The foundation is in the early stages of development therefore if you would like to make a donation there is a collection ongoing in the Admin office at Kensington Regeneration at the Job Bank on Wavertree Road, and after Friday 5th March, Maria Curran in the upstairs office will take over from me with this."

Billy Maxwell, Liverpool City Council Neighbourhood Manager for Liverpool South Central said "We are deeply saddened. This unique, caring and much loved woman will be hugely missed".

The Bishop's Office advise that Karen's funeral is Friday 12th March at 2.00 at the Anglican Cathedral.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Sound of Music

45 years old today!

When the dog barks, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favourite things and then I don't feel so bad...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Putting the vision back into Kensington

On Saturday when I was in London, I was sitting listening to a speech from the very back of a long room. I was sitting behind someone with a big head and as I moved from one side to the other, to see round him, it became obvious that whilst I could see the speaker pretty well with my left eye, when I moved the other way, I could see only a blur with my right eye. So I have been to specsavers today and had my eyes tested. As I suspected I need glasses for my distance vision and I picked out two pairs. One red, one purple, I do like to accessorise and they are lovely styles.
The optician did remind me that eyes degenerate with age and that I was lucky to have avoided wearing glasses up until now, but I guess I will have to wear them for a few weeks before I am fully converted. She said I would not be able to read or use my PC with them on, so I shall become one of those people with glasses perched upon my head, I suspect. I am picking them up next week. Even with the two pairs for the price of one option, I still paid out a king's ransome but it will be worth it if they help me to recognise people in the distance!

Walkabout on GEARS

I spent several hours walking round the GEARS streets in Fairfield this afternoon with the Chair of the TRA assessing the environmental enhancement works carried out by Kensington CIC. The works are to be handed over at the end of July and we wanted to ensure that any snagging needs were captured before it is too late. It was sunny and quite warm outside of the shade and I was stopped by four different residents wanting to chat about local issues. One man wanted to talk about his plans to green his entry, while another wanted my help to secure playing time on the new football pitches at Newsham Park (due to open in September). This is one part of my job as a councillor that I really enjoy, catching up with the people who elected me and helping them to change their community for the better.

Further news on the succession strategy for Kensington Regeneration/CIC

I forgot to say that the officer responsible for negotiating the legal agreement with Kensington Regeneration about the succession strategy which will need to come into play at the end of this month when the programme comes to an end, came to brief us at the last District Committee.
He confirmed that all of the elements of the motion we passed in November are being very much taken into account while they prepare the legal agreement. So it seems we were able to make a difference. This must be good news for local people. I will let you have further details of that agreement once it has been formalised.