Thursday, June 16, 2011

14 hours and counting... a Councillor's lot is a happy one, honest!

A policeman's lot may not be an 'appy one, but a councillor's lot can be fabulous, as my day has been today.

I got up bright and early and was in Kensington by 9am, where I picked up a key local resident and drove her to a local pharmacist to discuss his application for a new shop on Holt Road. Unfortunately, because of a breakdown in communications, he was not there, so we went back to her home in the area. She and her family were affected by the CPO process in the Edge Lane area so she invited me into her new place to see how beautiful their new home is, just across the road from the old one which has now been demolished and the site completely cleared.

From here I went to my surgery at Kensington library where I was a bit early so the staff rewarded me with a cup of coffee, cake and biscuits, from their own stash, yum! I also took the opportunity to take out a book about Sophie Scholl, the 21 year old woman who defied Hitler in Germany and was executed at the age of 21. I cannot wait to read it, coming as it does in my reading pattern, straight after a book based on Otto  Hampel who with his wife was executed in 1943 for similar acts. I dont think that modern day Brits, like me, can have the slightest idea what it was like for a social democrat to survive in Nazi Germany but these books really help.

Anyway, while I was beginning the new book, suitably refreshed, I was joined by four separate groups of constituents with issues around neighbour ASB, a housing  benefit case, an alcohol licence and requests for volunteer opportunities at Deane Road cemetery (I snatched his hand off). They were all good cases, two of which are ongoing and were about catch-ups. Towards the end of my session, the missing pharmacist turned up and we talked about the issue in hand but he also took some time to advise me about my ongoing battle to stop smoking and he gave me some practical advice and tools to help with that (popping back to the shop to gain the appropriate materials, great service!)

I left the surgery at about 11.10am having run on a bit and drove up to the Fire Station on Longmoor Lane in Aintree where I met Lynn Griffiths who is the President of the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Society. She and I have been working very closely together over the last 4 years to ensure that we are doing everything we can to raise awareness amongst ordinary people, landlords and health professionals about this insidious fatal poison. We spent a few hours working out our next steps to ensure that Liverpool remains the fulcrum around which the rest of the country's awareness will pivot. Michael J Price, my then fiance, died in January 1999 of CO poisoning so it is of huge importance to me that awareness and safety work is a priority.

I left Lynn at about 1pm and drove to the new LCC office for the City and North Liverpool City Council Neighbourhood staff on Wavertree Road to see how they were settling in. I spent an hour with the team, drinking their coffee and eating Alan Kelly's cherries, there being no biscuits or cake at this particular venue! We all caught up on who was doing what and who needed help from whom and which projects were going particularly well. I should say the new offices are ab fab and I hope they will really enjoy being there - Spellow Lane was not far away but Wavertree Road is even nearer so personally I am delighted, and they seem to be too. I found out some interesting stuff about a new void properties project that is just starting, looking at empty and derelict properties and finding out what the owners have in mind, whilst urging them to action to bring them back into use.

I left the team to come home for an hour where I started to catch up on my emails but was soon back out on the road, being due at the Innovation Park for 4pm to discuss the progress with the Edge Lane Retail Park. I was particularly concerned about the former Harry James motor showroom on Edge Lane and about the timetable of the relocation of businesses on Binns Road to their new location as well as the possible sweetener for roads and junctions in the area to ease congestion. It was a good meeting, well chaired by Malcolm Kennedy who has clearly got to grips with the issues in this area.

From there I drove straight to the Newsham Park Forum, which I chair, looking at the plans for the future development for the park and which is well attended by local residents, councillors, officers from the park, sport, recreation, Glendale who manage the actual park gardening etc, City Safe who handle local crime and ASB, the Friends of Newsham Park, the new model boating lake enthusiasts group, the Academy of St Francis of Assisi, et al. We had a great meeting, although it lasted nearly 3 hours which is too long, we must find a way to cut the chat down.

I was back home by about 8.30pm whereby I logged on to the laptop and have spent 3 hours on my council email, concerning Deane Road cemetery, umpteem case work emails, youth service reports and lots more besides. So, as I close at 11.30pm, after a 14 hour day (with the Secret Millionaire, an Asian woman in Burngreave in Sheffield playing in the background) I feel great about serving and making a difference. If you ever wondered what the benefit of being a councillor was, and why we should do this for what is not the greatest allowance in the world, you should have lived my life today, and then you would know. It's so bloody marvellous and fulfilling.

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