Thursday, July 29, 2010

Football Fantasies played out in Kensington!

Press release from the lovely people at Kensington Community Learning Centre on Kensington, Liverpool L6

Fancy your chances of proving your ability as a football manager? Remember the outcry on the first day of last season when David Moyes’ boys were thumped 1-6 at home to Arsenal? Or the growing frustration with Rafa Benitez’s negative tactics after going so close the season before?

We’ve all had opinions on who the managers should be signing, what formations should be used, squad rotation and the effective use of substitutions. Well here’s your chance!!

Kensington Community Learning Centre is offering the opportunity to compete in the world’s largest online Fantasy Premier League competition – and it’s absolutely FREE!!

In addition to pitting your wits against worldwide competition (over 2.2 million football fans took part last season), we will also be creating our own KCLC mini league with prizes for the overall winner and manager of the month awards.
So if you want to be crowned KCLC’s manager of the year and can handle managing a £100m budget – get down to Kensington Community Learning Centre on Thursday 5th August at 1pm to register.

Don’t worry if you’ve no previous experience – full training will be given and a workshop will be held each week to review how the season is progressing. Players will also be able to drop into the centre anytime between 9am to 4pm Monday-Friday each week to log in and make transfers and team selection changes (you will also be able to log in anytime from any internet connected computer).

Kensington Community Learning Centre
291-299 Kensington (opposite McDonalds)
Liverpool L7 2RG
Tel: 0151 260 1006

Dog days of summer?

I just received this advance publicity notice from Councillor Tim Beaumont who is taking responsibility for dog related issues in Liverpool (a beautiful and delicious irony on several fronts for those of you in the know). These roadshows look really good and are a poke in the eye for the ConDems who have scrapped Labour's national plans around dog ownership management.


Liverpool City Council working with the Merseyside Dog Forum, and in partnership with the R.S.P.C.A and the Dogs Trust will be holding a number of events during the year to promote responsible dog ownership and provide owners with the opportunity to have their dog micro chipped.

In addition the P.D.S.A, the U.K’s leading veterinary charity will be in attendance at many of the events, offering free health checks for dogs, which will cover general fitness as well as key concerns such as obesity and dental disease.

When and Where?
On Saturday 7th August the road show will be in Wavertree Park.
On Sunday 8th August it will be in Stanley Park, and it will be in Croxteth Park on Thursday 12 August.

The road show will remain in the Merseyside region at various locations up until Sunday 22 August 2010.

Events will also be held in Liverpool on Saturday 14 August at Calderstones Park and on Sunday 15 August at Clubmoor Community Centre in Townsend Lane

Micro chipping, health checks, advice on neutering and responsible dog ownership will be available each day between 10.00am and 4.30pm.

The City Council is committed to promoting “Responsible Dog Ownership” and further events are planned for later in the year.
The following is a provisional list of dates and venue’s:-

Saturday 4 September (Sefton Park).
Sunday 5 September (Tesco Car Park, Old Swan)
Monday 6 September (Ellergreen Sports Centre, Norris Green)
Monday 20 September (FED Building in Formosa Drive)
Sunday 3 October ( Conleach Road Car Park in Speke)
Monday 1 November (Walton Road area)

What is Micro Chipping?
The chip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is quickly implanted and carried a unique number that is recorded on a National Database.
Please note that a dog must be at least twelve weeks old before it can be “chipped”.

Why bother?
It will help to re unite you with your dog if it manages to get out. Dogs that have been micro chipped and are found to be straying will, on the first occasion, be returned to their owner by the Animal Warden.
In cases where the owner cannot be contacted then the dog will be taken to the R.S.P.C.A kennels in Halewood. In order for the owner to subsequently reclaim the dog, all costs and kennelling fees will need to be paid in full before the dog can be released.

What will it cost?
All dog health checks and micro chipping is free of charge.
However donations will be accepted and shared amongst the animal charities that are involved in the event.

Who is Eligible?
Any dog owner from Liverpool or from any part of Greater Merseyside (Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, Halton, Warrington).

What if I’m unable to get my dog to the road show?
Mr Ray Gordon from “Pets to Vets”, who specialises in pet transportation has agreed to transport dogs to and from their home address to the road show, if the owner is housebound or is unable to do so themselves.
Due to limited availability this offer is open to Liverpool residents only and will need to be booked in advance, a small charge will be made to cover the costs of the transportation, further information is available by contacting Ray Gordon, “Pets to Vets” on telephone number 07941259754.

If you have any further enquiries please contact Liverpool Direct, Tel, 233 3001, who will be able to put you in touch with a member of the Animal Warden Team.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good news on crime

The Home Office’s latest British Crime Survey has found that the number of crimes committed in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1981. In 2009-10, crimes committed fell to 9.6 million – 9 per cent below the previous year, indicating that the recession has not caused an increase in offences.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kensington and Fairfield Respect Week begins today

Get down to the Summer BBQ and fun in the sun (??!!) event at St Francis of Assisi today, noon until 3pm, at the launch of K&F Respect Week.

We will be advertising there all the other events taking place this week.

There is a good programme here and I will blog about some of the things we are doing later.

Liverpool City Council - full council meeting July 2010

A very difficult meeting

It began with a tribute to Councillor Rose Bailey who died suddenly and unexpectedly, as she began her period as Deputy Lord Mayor, while she was looking forward to being the LM in 12 months time. All Labour Councillors wore a red rose, as did the Lord Mayor and a further rose was pinned to Rose's seat on the Labour benches and another laid in her vacant DLM seat. There were tears for such a strong, feisty, hard-working dedicated councillor who gave everything to her city and her ward. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Hazel Williams (Liberal Party) read out a poem she had written.

Then we got on to the politics. The splits are already visible on the LibDem benches as the majority of the opposition voted to fight BSF cuts (and all praise to them) while two Councillors - the Deputy Leader of the LibDems, Cllr Flo Clucas, and the Leader of the LibDems in Local Government, Cllr Richard Kemp absented themselves to drink tea in the tea room. We had some very good contributions from pupils from various city schools who now sit on the schools parliament, explaining why the BSF programme to the education of our children now and in the future.

And many members were mute in horror at the size and scale, and more importantly the nature of the cuts facing the council this year - targetting funds set aside through the ABG - area based grant - ring-fenced money found by the Labour Government to support various vulnerable groups but now to be slashed by the new Tory LibDem Government.

We had debates around the cuts, particularly around the free swimming for children, young people and pensioners. It was good news to hear that my colleague Wendy Simon has been able to find the money to keep the swimming going for an extra month to ensure that kids can swim for free in the summer holidays. But what a hammer blow that this vital programme has been scrapped by the Tories and LibDems in coalition.

There was the inevitable row about the new Leader of the council increasing his allowance so that he could become a full-time leader and give up his social work post - although even with this increase he will still be £19k out of pocket I understand. The old leader claimed he managed to be a full time leader and a fire fighter simultaneously and that it was not necessary for Joe to make this move. I think he thought (Warren) that this was somehow a slight on him and the way he managed his time as a leader, but Joe Anderson made it clear that this was not the case. This was not about how hard Warren had worked - and he said he thought Warren had worked hard - but that it was a recognition that the job of leading a core city needs someone available all the time. You can see some of the politics of envy coming to the fore in comments on this blog by David Bartlett.

There was some petty squabbles about stuff that went on 30 odd years ago, as there always is, but you could see the shock and upset and discomfort on so many LibDem faces. I think Warren Bradley is right, the LibDems in areas like Liverpool are really going to struggle to win any support from voters with their leaders propping up this terrible Government.

The meeting went on for 5 or 6 hours and was at times very fraught, well done to those members of the public who sat it out until the bitter end.

Are the wheels coming off the coalition band-wagon?

It hasn't taken very long, not even 3 months in and the coalition is starting to fall apart.

We have embarassing videos appearing to show George Osborne making fun of Nick Clegg having to front tough decisions in the House of Commons. We have the LibDems in Barnsley distributing a leaflet to voters saying they are sorry about the coalition and its policies and asking voters whether they should go independent or join Labour. We have the LibDem Deputy Leader contender, Tim Farron MP expressing his doubts about the coalition and calling the Tories "toxic". We have the Liverpool LibDem Leader saying the party would be wiped out in 5 years. We have David Davis and his Brokeback Mountain jibe.
We also have a poll today showing that 40% of LibDem voters would not have done so, had they realised the LibDems would go into a coalition with the Tories.

I wonder what odds Ladbrokes are giving for the coaition to go the full term?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vote Baldock, vote often....

(With thanks and a hat-tip to David Bartlett who I am plagiarising below)

Total Politics is putting together its annual blog poll.

Last year thanks to you, my readers I was listed in the Total Politics top 100 Labour blogs (by the skin of my teeth), top 300 political blogs and top 100 left of centre blogs.

If you'd like to vote for me (I'd be dead chuffed) (Or David, nice bloke as a rule) click on the button for instructions.

Here are the rules from Total Politics:

1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and ranks them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).

2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.

3. You MUST include at least FIVE blogs in your list, but please list ten if you can. If you include fewer than five, your vote will not count.

4. Email your vote to

5. Only vote once.

6. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents or based on UK politics are eligible. No blog will be excluded from voting.

7. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name

8. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2010. Any votes received after that date will not count.

Oh - and tell your mates!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

City Safe - Hate Crime Forum

What is a hate crime? Wikipedia says Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity. It is often committed by strangers in the street.

As part of my new role as ACM (Assistant Cabinet Member) for Community Safety, I have agreed to take day to day political management of the Hate Crime Policy and with it the partnership work essential to the Hate Crime Forum. I attended my first forum meeting last week which was fascinating, seeing how all the links are made between the police, victim support, housing associations, fire service etc when a hate crime is committed.

Councillor Pam Thomas gave a really fascinating and extremely disturbing presentation about hate crime targeted at people with disability and in particular focussed on hate crime targeting people who are particularly vulnerable or who have learning disabilities. I am reminded of David Gard of Jubilee Drive, Kensington Fields murdered at home, and a man sleeping in a park in Kirkdale, set on fire by a group of youths. Other notable cases of vulnerable people who have been victim of hate crimes would include Brent Martin, Steven Hoskin and Fiona Pilkington. There are many more and Pam talked about some of them to us. She also made the point that unlike most other hate crimes, those targeted at the disabled are more likely to be committed in their own homes by befrienders than by strangers. She reminded us that Hitler began his systematic genocide with the murder of “the unfit”, at least 60,000 children and adults killed by Carbon Monoxide because they had mental or physical disability. The presentation was met with a stunned silence as we reflected on the levels of cruelty and hate that still occur and which go unrecorded so often.

We talked about how we could do more about hate crime against people with disabilities and we will be discussing it at the policy away day next month.

Next we had an interesting debate about how we could make more use of third party reporting. Sometimes a victim of a hate crime does not wish the crime to be investigated, perhaps they are scared, sometimes they don’t want to tell someone in officialdom, but they might be prepared to tell others who could report it on their behalf. Sometimes, particularly where hate crime is committed against people who have come from other countries, they may not want to talk to the police because where they come from the police are aggressors. We are going to investigate setting up a pilot project with local churches in the Kensington area to see whether pastors, vicars and priests might be in encouraged to act as third party reporting centres, they are very much more likely to hear about hate crime being committed.

What is really important is that we capture the detail of a hate crime so that we can assess where there are patterns and then work out how we can begin to alleviate some of that.

So if there is a pattern of women in Muslim dress being attacked in a certain area, or people with learning disabilities in another, we can be alert to that and start to address it. What we do know is that hate crime goes unreported much of the time so we need to work on methods to capture it more fully.

It is an extremely serious area and I am anxious to play my part in helping to address it.

Kensington Community Learning Centre celebrations

Wendy, Liam, Luciana and I joined local people, businesses and supportive organisations at a celebration of a Big Lottery Fund grant being awarded to the Kensington Community Learning Centre

The grant which has saved the centre from closure, it having previously been subsidised in part by Kensington Regeneration, will enable the centre to continue to provide training, in particular with IT skills, new skills like community use of Ebay, developing volunteering and community radio training – and other stuff I have forgotten but which Alan Tapp will undoubtedly advise us of when he sees that I am struggling a bit.

This valuable resource, which houses also the best UKonline centre in the country, is very important to Kensington and we are delighted with the good news.

It was particularly touching to hear one adult learner ask for quiet so that he could thank the staff at the centre for changing the lives of people like him.

Well done to everyone and well done to the Big Lottery Fund for their vision!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cambridge pics

Max and Rob on the Cam
Wendy Taylor's Jester
Keep off teh grass - ducks only

BNP members in support of Raoul Moat

I have just been alerted to this story by a concerned friend who would like to see it get wider publicity.

BNP members and supporters were issuing a rallying cry for support for Raoul Moat on a specialist website of theirs during last week's man hunt.

You can see it here.

So much for the respectability of the BNP!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Robert Baldock BA MSci (Hons.) Cantab

If you know me well then you will agree that I am gregarious and extrovert, I love people and gathering them up around me. And through my teenage years I keenly felt the lack of a brother. In fact Lisa reminded me once that when I first met her, aged 12, I pretended I had a brother, a bit older than me, nothing special, just a regular boy, named Paul. He was a figment of my imagination sadly and for years Maxine and I were the extent of the next generation. However it all changed one year, when we successfully acquired both a brother and a second little sister, Alex, we will let the details of the hows and whys stand, unaddressed. Suffice it to say that I was delighted on both accounts.

When Robert was born I was absolutely thrilled, I am privileged to be not only his big sister but also his Godmother, my cup, as it were, ran over.

So that has set the scene, Robert's big day.

Last week I was in Cambridge, with Maxine and Dad and Robin to celebrate Robert's graduation as BA MSci (Hons.) Cantab. I was the proudest big sister and Godmother in the whole world as I sat right at the front in the Senate House and watched him bestowed with his awards in front of his peers.

We had a fab weekend, as a family, enjoying his celebrations and anticipating whether he would be successful in his application to study a PhD at the same University - and I can tell you now that he has been.

Robert Baldock, the boy done good, love you!

Fairtrade in Malawi

We had a fabulous Co-operative Party AGM last month in the Liverpool branch - and that is not a phrase that readily trips from my lips, I can assure you.

Bill Whittaker our Regional Secretary (that is not quite the right description of his voluntary role but hey shoot me, he is fab) had been on a long visit to Malawi in Africa to learn more about how Fairtrade actually works for the growers. As I am passionate about Fairtrade and have family friends who are Malawians I was a dead cert to be there.

He talked extensively about the small co-operatives that each Fairtrade committee in each area sets up, how they agree how they will spend their income to the benefit of their communities and displayed photographs of groups of growers showing off their new facilities. Mainly sugar cane growers, they have used the money to build homes with concrete floors instead of dirt so that they can keep produce for longer, health clinics, wells, electric supplies... It was the most fascinating talk I have heard in years and I hope that other Co-op Party branches will ask Bill to tell them of his experiences. I was delighted to hear that Co-op stores for instance now buy all their sugar from this source.

You can read more about the vital impact of Fairtrade here.

How much??

I put my beloved OBBy through an MOT and service last week. £550 it cost me. That pretty much puts paid to a summer holiday this year. Several friends recommended that I scrap the car, but I paid it off nearly 4 years ago, and I cannot afford to buy a new one. Where would I get a few thousand pounds from? Is £550 too much to pay to keep the car on the road for another year? I thought not, but it really did sting!

The garage, Nationwide Autocentre on Smithdown Road, explained that having passed the 70,000 mileage stage, certain things need replacing, indeed some needed replacing 20,000 miles ago so I guess in some ways I have had it easy.

Anyway, more on OBBy later, I had a very scary moment that I need to tell you about.

Picasso at the Tate

I really loved the Picasso "Peace and Freedom" exhibition at Liverpool Tate on Albert Dock.

Many people have said many things already, the exhibition has been critiqued by art lovers across the country. I don't propose to add to any of that, because there is no value in just repeating similar comments.

So I want to take a different approach. I was struck by the simplicity of the many drawings of doves, symbolising peace, that populate the exhibition. I cannot draw, I have poor hand/eye co-ordination (and of course that is deeply disappointing to someone who loves art so much). However, I thought it would be interesting to see whether I could recreate the drawings, so I took out my biro and my casework notebook and had a stab at it.

To be brutally honest, they are poor, but I enjoyed it, and it showed me, if I needed to be reminded, that even a very simple sketch, that looks easy, requires enormous skill. Picasso is a true master.

There are some very disturbing images towards the end of the exhibition, feminists tread with care, otherwise, I would recommend that you visit, it is on until August 30th.

Deane Road Jewish Cemetery update

Just a brief update for those of you who like me, love our historic Jewish Cemetery in Deane Road, Kensington, Liverpool

I have been working hard with the consultants to produce our action plan and activity sheets, a major part of the work we will be submitting for our Heritage Lottery Fund bid. It runs to many pages and we have been writing and editing and re-editing for months. The management and maintenance plan has also been signed off, as have the architects plans, surveys, lots of consultation (but there is always room for more so if you want to comment on the plans, please contact me). We have identified the need for some staff to support the project while refurbishment goes ahead and immediately after the re-opening of the cemetery and we have agreed job descriptions and a timetable for that. We have costed everything out and it is going to be more than we had first thought, primarily because the cost of building materials have increased, we want a decent building to host a toilet, a small exhibition space, the staff, and school materials. So we are going to have to face an extra meeting of the HLF to persuade them to agree to pay more than we had first thought.

It is a tense time, years of work will stand and fall over the next few months. We hope to get the completed application before the December committee of the HLF.

It's taking up a huge amount of my voluntary time at the moment but it will be worth it if we are successful and we can open up the cemetery to much larger numbers of people.

Luciana Berger, our new MP in Liverpool Wavertree and herself Jewish has agreed to join our list of prestigious patrons.

And volunteer professionals have been doing some great work cleaning up some of our more iconic graves.

Watch this space!

Photo: Before photo of the Miriam De Menasce monument, wait until you see the finished stone!

Luciana's first speech in Westminster Hall tackles the issue of working carers

I have Google Alert set up so that I get an email whenever key words or phrases are published out there on the internet, it is kind of like Big Brother really. I have set it up to send me an email whenever our new MP, Luciana Berger is mentioned, so I have been notified today of a speech recorded in Hansard, the record of every word spoken in the Houses of Parliament. She made her first speech in Westminster Hall on July 1st talking about working carers and the USDAW campaign. You can read it here

It's good to read that she is busy carrying out important research and making visits around the constituency and then sharing her thoughts in important debates back in Westminster.

Go Luciana!

Well done LGoS!

Liverpool Guild of Students has this week won the award of Accountable Organisation of the Year 2010 from the Centre for Public Scrutiny. This award recognises the work of the scrutiny panels which they have held covering the topics of Communication, Lobbying and Social Enterprise.

I sat on the Communication Scrutiny Panel at their invitation, and really enjoyed it, blogging about it here and here

and there are more articles here and here

I am so thrilled that this innovative process has been recognised, thanks to all the people at the Guild for their hard work and excellent contributions.

Till the Rivers All Run Dry!

Here's a blast from the past - Pete Townshend singing one of my most favourite love songs of all time. I first listened to this in 1980, on the Rough Mix album (I was terribly young of course)

And I can say for sure, irrespective of the hose pipe ban kicking into being on Merseyside, that the Mersey wont ever run dry and neither will my love, you know who you are!

Another extraordinarily candid interview with Warren Bradley

Say what you like about the man, Councillor Warren Bradley can be jawdroppingly candid, open and frank at times.

You may remember that following the June 2009 European Election, Warren told us that many of his LibDem colleagues were complacent and took the electorate for granted.

Then in the run up to the General Election he told us how the LibDems had ripped out the heart of our communities with the Council's HMRI programme.

Today I read in the Daily Post that he has said the LibDems face wipeout in the North of England "We’re in a weak coalition, that will deliver nothing to the Lib-Dems except total electoral decimation." I think he is probably right.

I asked in an earlier entry this week what he would be thinking as BSF is scrapped in Liverpool, and this is what he told the paper, “It’s ridiculous, the plans for BSF were so far advanced and it’s unforgivable that other funding options are not in place. I honestly felt physically sick.”

I think that was a very brave thing to say, well done Warren, sometimes you simply cannot defend the indefensible. Good on you.

Interestingly he also says that some of his colleagues on the LibDem benches are considering their positions, I wonder if that will mean defections to Steve Radford's Party, or to the Greens, or whether we would welcome any of the more sensible members ourselves, or could we see a slew of Independents?

Fascinating times...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

More BSF errors - ConDems "could do better"

Yet more errors have been discovered on the list of BSF projects and their destinies.

The revised list, showing errors is here.

Ed Balls had his staff go through it with a fine tooth comb and they found some further mistakes.

Apparently one of the schools listed as being stopped, had in fact already been completed and opened and David Cameron visited it last year - Monkseaton School on North Tyneside

You just could not make this stuff up, the ConDems are a disgrace!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Full list of BSF school programmes

This is a list of all the schools in the country in the BSF programme, showing which are stopped, which are unaffected and which are still up for discussion. (Item 2 on the menu you are taken to). It has been corrected as Gove gave incorrect information yesterday and was forced back into the House today to apologise. Some schools who thought they were safe have now been devastated to learn that they too are to be left in substandard accomodation.

(Sheffield is still safe though, phew, thank heavens for that)

I see my old school is stopped, also the controversial scheme in Egglescliffe that some say cost the Labour MP her seat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sheffield BSF programme "saved"

I learn that Sheffield is to get its new secondary schools under BSF, unlike Liverpool where the programme has been scrapped. Great news for Sheffield's children and young people!

Sheffield though, now that rings a bell, let me think, why would that be?

Oh I remember, Nick Clegg is an MP there, Sheffield Hallam

What a marvellous coincidence. I bet he was really pleased when he read that in his newspaper this morning.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Not Building Schools for the Future

Ed Balls called it a black day for our country's schools and how right he is.

Years of planning, years of dreaming, now gurgling down the drain

This is what we were planning in Liverpool, 24 secondary schools rebuilt or refurbished, to the tune of a third of a billion pounds, a huge investment in our city's children and their education.

And in my area, we were looking forward to bringing two high achieving top quality schools to the Littlewoods site on Edge Lane. As the LCC press release said "It will see the two Church of England schools becoming hi-tech 'science schools', working with more than 40 local businesses and opening up a wealth of vocational opportunities for young people." What a tragic lost opportunity for the schools and also for this iconic building whose facade was to have been preserved as part of the scheme. How will we protect it now?

Teachers, pupils and parents are numb with shock.

In March, just a few short months ago, Cllr Warren Bradley, then LibDem Leader of Liverpool City Councillor said "Building Schools for the Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I'm delighted the (Labour) government has given our plans the go-ahead. It's great news for Liverpool and paves the way for us to transform education at every secondary school in the city.

"Liverpool's future prosperity rests on the shoulders of our young people. It's vital we provide them with first-class, 21st century education facilities, which help them develop as confident, skilled, job-ready individuals."

I wonder what he is saying now that his LibDem party's coalition government has betrayed those young people?

And of course the damage is being done right across the country, including the school in Bolton, which David Cameron visited for an opportunistic photo during the election campaign but who he has now let down. I bet he daren't visit them again for a long while!

Thank God we got so much of the primary school programme in K&F sorted. At least the kids will get some of their education in decent schools.

Edit: Looks like I spoke too soon! Right across the city primary schools were today worrying that this capital scheme might also be in jeopardy.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Breakdown in neighbourly relations

I have several cases open at the moment where relations between next-door neighbours have completely broken down.

Often the problem has begun with a single incident where tempers have flared and this has then developed into a situation where both sides begin to actively focus on the relationship and to bring it under an intense spotlight. They pay attention to each other’s movements and start to talk about this relationship with other neighbours, family and friends.

Initially, they perceive relatively innocent activities on the part of their neighbours as hostile – she is deliberately letting her child’s ball damage my flowers (when that is not the case). However later this does develop into deliberate acts intended to annoy or punish for imagined or real slights (blocking the car on the drive, saying negative things in a loud voice in the garden, encouraging the children to kick the ball against the party wall) etc. And this will develop into altercations in the street, shouting and possibly some physical contact.

Inevitably both sides seek some sort of redress on the grounds that their nerves cannot now stand it, that their lives are a misery and someone has got to do something .

This is usually where a RSL/Housing Association would come into the picture, if either party are tenants. They will offer what support they can to resolve the situation, including mediation but in my experience it is hard to get neighbours to take up this option. And when this fails, this seems to be when I or my colleagues are contacted.

It is hard to know what to do for the best. Where one side is clearly at fault and the other relatively innocent then moves can be made through LASBU (the council’s anti-social behaviour unit) or the RSL where appropriate, but where both sides are clearly equally at fault, where it is six of one and half a dozen of the other, this approach is a waste of a precious resource.

Do we address the elephant in the room and tell the neighbours that both sides are behaving badly and that they need to become responsible and thoughtful and act like adults?

And is that something an elected representative is ever likely to want to say to a constituent?

Do we tell the neighbours that one of them will have to move house, that there is no other answer? Do we offer to facilitate that move? Do we prioritise the need? Where would it come in the order of need?

Do we tell the neighbours that we cannot help them any further and that they are on their own and refuse to take any further calls?

If we wish to take the latter option, should we carry out the appropriate risk assessment to try to ensure that such a withdrawal would not result in a violent and/or criminal act? Presumably we would want to ensure that we could not be found culpable if something very serious occurred after we had effectively washed our hands? But also we would not want to walk away if we could prevent a serious incident.

Who would carry out such a risk assessment and on what basis?

Do we have a responsibility to just keep on trying? And using what other methods?

What does your organisation do? How do you deal with this?

Working with cases like these are taking up hours of our time as councillors, we are not making progress, the situation is not easing, it is intensely frustrating for everyone concerned. However, the calls and the emails continue to come at all hours of the day and night.

I also believe that the financial strains our communities are now facing and which will get very much worse quite soon I suspect, many more cases are likely to fetch up in my mailbox as nerves are taut.

I would really welcome some responses, privately if you prefer, to this discussion item