Monday, November 21, 2011

Liverpool Apprenticeships

I wanted to share this update with you about the creation of apprenticeships by Liverpool City Council's Labour Administration. It is simply wonderful news!

What follows is information from Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for Employment, Enterprise and Skills and was a response to a question asked by a LibDem councillor who was querying the Labour council's record.

I wanted to clarify the number of apprentices Liverpool's Labour administration has helped create since taking control of the City Council in May 2010.

Before detailing the numbers, I want to explain where we are coming from on this. We want to focus on high quality Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships, aimed especially at 16-19 year olds and in sectors that do not have a high take up rate of apprenticeships and are priority areas in the city - especially the low carbon economy, visitor economy and creative industries. At a time when the government is encouraging cities like Liverpool to rebalance its economy in favour of the private sector, it's important that we don't limit our efforts just to the City Council and the public sector, as opportunities here will be limited because of spending cuts. Having said that, we have - as an employer - led by example and created 80 apprenticeships starts at the City Council and encouraged our joint venture partners to do the same.

It's also worth clarifying what the government's role has been on this. Government funding only covers the training element of an apprenticeship - it doesn't cover the wage costs, which has to be met in full by the employer. In cities like Liverpool there's significant market failure, which the government hasn't addressed, so we've had to, by funding incentive payments to employers, publishing apprenticeships to young people (a recent survey by the Association of Colleges found that only 7% of 14 year olds knew what an apprenticeship was) and making it easy for SMEs to recruit employers through the Liverpool Apprenticeship CIC.

I believe there was a real lack of political will to make a difference on apprenticeships under the previous Lib Dem administration.

When we took control of the City Council in May 2010, the LibDem administration had created only 7 apprenticeship opportunities. We pledged that we'd create 100 apprenticeships in our first year, but we've managed to beat that. Since May 2010, through a range of initiatives, we've already directly helped create 635 apprenticeship starts. These would simply have not have happened if it wasn't for this administration. Here's a full breakdown. I've met many of these apprentices and have seen first hand what a fantastic job they are doing.

250 - in the hotel sector through the De Vere Academy (funded through a set up grant by Liverpool City Council)

133 - in a range of private sector companies through a business grant scheme (funded by Liverpool City Council)

100 - young apprentices through the Merseyside Apprenticeship Programme (funded by Liverpool City Council through the European Social Fund)

80 -  at Liverpool City Council

28  - at Liverpool Mutual Homes

24 - at Enterprise, the council's highways, street scene and refuse partner

20 - at Glendale, the council's parks maintenance partner

A few weeks ago we announced the start of the Liverpool Apprentice CIC. This is a £1.2m project, again mainly funded by the City Council, which will see the creation of 1,300 new apprenticeships across the city over the next 3 years. This is a joint venture with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which represents 1,700 businesses in the city, Liverpool Community College and the Eldonian Group.

During the course of the apprenticeship, all apprentices will be paid the full national minimum wage rate and not the £95/week apprenticeship wage.

Once the CIC is up and running, we'll have created a total of nearly 2,000 apprenticeships in our first 4 years of running the City Council.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

KVfm Online Writing Competition

Writing Competitions

KVfm Online Liverpool's Premier Community Radio Station is offering you the chance of getting your short radio play produced and broadcast on KVfm Online in 2012 in our search for New Local Writing Talent

We want you to write a short Radio Play but there are certain rules:

- Your play should last no longer than ten minutes
- Have no more than 3 characters
- And have a maximum of 3 locations

We will be judging all the entries and the best 3 (in our judges opinion) will be produced and broadcast on KVfm Online in 2012, with the overall winner receiving a prize of £100
Closing Date 2nd December 2011

In conjunction with our Short Radio Play Competition The Reading Room is running a Short Story Competition.

Entrants are invited to submit a short story complying with the following rules;

- The title or theme is to be ‘The Meeting’
- Must be no more than 1,500 words
- Must be submitted as a word document by e-mail

Our panel of judges will select the best 3 (in their opinion) and these 3 lucky entrants will receive a recorded reading by a professional voice artiste of their short story, with the overall winner receiving a prize of £100

Closing date is 16th December 2011

So Get Writing!

For more details contact KVfm Online on
0151 345 1290
or email or

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Go tell it to the birds

This a rather strange story that I am hoping an ornothologist might help me with....

It is perfectly true and it happened over the weekend while I was staying in Blackpool for NW Regional Labour Party conference (which was great, but more of that later perhaps)

I arrived on the Friday tea-time and checked into my hotel. My room was on the fourth floor on the side of the hotel, this is the top floor and I guess you could say the room was in the eaves. The en-suite bathroom, like the bedroom, had a sash-window, and it was open about 6". I pulled the blind down to cover the gap.

In the morning, after selecting my clothes for the day, I laid my suitcase on a dressing table in the bedroom, closed the cover, pulled the blind up in the bathroom and went for breakfast.

When I returned to the room at tea-time, there was bird droppings on the lid of the suitcase but the rest of the room was unmarked, as was the bathroom - and there was no bird present, I checked!

I was most puzzled and went downstairs to tell the staff on reception. Clearly a bird had got in to the bathroom, flown across it, into the bedroom and over to the dressing table at the far side of the room. There was nothing to perch on but I figured that perhaps it had been chased, maybe by the chambermaid, and had messed before being either captured or encouraged to fly away. The reception desk knew nothing about it though. There had been no reports of any birds in the room.

I went back to the room and sat on the bed, catching up on a bit of TV, when a bird came and tapped on the bedroom window.  It was not a very big bird and I may have caught a hint of gold or green about its chest.

It flew away when it could not get in but came back again about 20 minutes later and repeated the exercise. I should say that it was not the bathroom window it was trying to access, but the bedroom one, although I guess it may already have tried and failed at the former which I think I must have closed in the meantime.

On Sunday morning I took my suitcase down to the car, went for breakfast and then went back up to the room, just to check I had not left anything behind, before going to settle the bill. Imagine my surprise to see fresh bird mess in exactly the same place on the dressing table as before - only of course my suitcase was not there any more - and nor were any birds.

So, it would appear that a bird was in the habit (or developing a habit, given that the hotel appeared to know nothing about it) of flying into the bathroom, across the bedroom, depositing its mess in a precise place and then flying back out again.

Has anyone heard of anything like this happening before?

There were nets above the third floor windows, across the space between my building and the next building, but they did not extend as far as my floor, so clearly there had been problems with birds historically.

I don't really know what to make of it. Thoughts?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Berneslai Homes - are they up to the mark in terms of Equality and Diversity?

Well I spent a week with them in October 2011 so if anyone knows, it is me.

And the short answer is yes, they are not only up to the mark, but actually Excellent.

I really enjoyed learning about some of their  best practice, and was particularly interested in their Rainbow Tick scheme, promoting LGBT friendly businesses and their "If something doesn't right" policy for vulnerable residents. I am now hoping that Diane Weston, the lead officer, will come over to Liverpool, and to Venture Housing in particular to share her good work with us all.

Talking to a colleague about the visit later, he referred to equality strands and I told him that they are now to be known as Protected Characteristics - and thought you might be interested in learning what they are here.
For information:

What is a protected characteristic?

Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 - 30 year olds). For further information on age please follow the link to the UK Legislation website.


A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. For further information on please see disability on the UK Legislation website.

Gender reassignments

The process of transitioning from one gender to another. For further information please see gender reassignment on the UK Legislation website.

Marriage and civil partnership

Marriage is defined as a 'union between a man and a woman'. Same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as 'civil partnerships'. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters. For further information please see marriage and civil on the UK Legislation website.

Pregnancy and maternity

Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. For further information please see pregnancy and maternity on the UK Legislation website.


Refers to the protected characteristic of Race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins. For further information please see race on the UK Legislation website.

Religion and belief

Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. Atheism). Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition. For further information please see religion and belief on the UK Legislation website.


A man or a woman. For further information please see sex on the UK Legislation website.

Sexual orientation

Whether a person's sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes. For further information please see sexual orientation on the UK Legislation website.

You are also protected if you are discriminated against because you are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic, For example protecting carers from discrimination. The Equality Act will protect people who are, for example, caring for a disabled child or relative. They will be protected by virtue of their association to that person.

Liverpool Wavertree local government council candidate selections

9th October 2011 saw the selection of Labour candidates for the 2012 local government elections for Liverpool City Council within the Liverpool Wavertree constituency.

We began at around 1pm, with local members voting for their own local candidates, in six separate meetings. There was an enormous amount of competition, with Childwall alone attracting 7 possible candidates. After several great selection conferences, speeches and presentations, all of which I chaired, I can confirm that the Labour candidates for 2012 for the local elections are as follows

Childwall - Ruth Hirschfield, local ward captain who spearheaded Jeremy Wolfson's campaign in 2011.
Church - Dr Richard Wenstone, Royal University Liverpool Hospital professional
Kensington and Fairfield - Councillor Liam Robinson - popular local councillor seeking re-election
Old Swan - Councillor Gary Millar - seeking his first election as a Labour councillor after defecting from the Liberal Democrats last year.
Picton  - Nathalie Nicholas - Operation Black Vote graduate 2009, mentored by Cllr Steve Radford and latterly with me, Nurse and Liverpool Wavertree CLP Women's Officer.
Wavertree - Helen Casstles, Public Health professional

It is easy to say that I am impressed and humbled by the calibre of our candidates, but that does not make it any less true!

I am looking forward to campaigning across the constitutency and across the city to support them

Kensington and Fairfield Landlords Forum

Just a quick blog to let you know that we have now held our second meeting of the Kensington and Fairfield Landlords Forum, designed to improve communication between private landlords and elected representatives and council staff in the immediate area.

You may not know but our ward has many more private landlord properties than is the norm in the city and we are very keen to improve our relationships with them. It is only going to be by working with private landlords that we can develop and maintain a situation where only good quality tenants are accepted to live here in Kensington and Fairfield. At the last meeting 7 landlords were engaged, including one with upwards of 1000 properties, albeit not in all our area.

We also had a further meeting, this week, at Tuebrook Police Station with resident home owners in Halsbury Road and a private landlord in their street over problematic tenants. We made huge progress and I feel quite positive about the future in that particular case. No more Soft Cell Sex Dwarves in our street, thank you!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

BNP conference in Wavertree

On balance I think it was a positive thing that I was not around at the weekend when the BNP came to Liverpool, to my own area in fact, barely half a mile away.

Had I been at home and available to protest against their conference, I would have been there. And irrespective of how vocal our leader of the council, Labour's Joe Anderson was, I would have been yet louder and more strident.

That people with such abhorrent views should have been spending the weekend on my very doorstep fills me with shame and despair.

I don't know how many British Citizenship Ceremonies I have now attended and spoken at, it must be in excess of three dozen by now. But I do know that I take painstaking care each time to tell our new Citizens how  much we value the input from every new person who comes to live in our country. As Paul Amman reminded us last year on International Migrants Day, December 2010, some of the people who built this beloved city came from overseas.

A German migrant, Carl Bernard Bartels created the most iconic representation of the symbol of the city the Royal Liver Building Birds

Scandinavian migrants brought the city its dish, Lobscouse

Malian Djimi Traore, Scot Kenny Daglish, Jamaican John Barnes, Welsh Craig Bellamy, Brazilian Fabio Aurelio, Dutch Ryan Babel, Czech Vladimir Smicer, Israeli Yossi Benayoun, Irish Steve Staunton, Dane Jan Molby, Welsh Ian Rush and Pole Jerzy Dudek are just a sample of the many migrants who have contributed to the success of Liverpool FC

Irish migrant Edward Chambre Hardman whose legacy for photography is still preserved at his studio 59 Rodney Street which is now owned by the national Trust

Swiss migrant Carl Jung's Liverpool Dream

John, Paul and George were descendants of Irish migrants

Russian migrant Vasily Petrenko is principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Nigerian Victor Anichebe, Australian Tim Cahil, Polish descended Phil Jagielka, Russian Andrei Kanchelskis, Welsh Gary Speed, Scot Gary Naysmith, Canadian Tomasz Radzinski, Spanish Mikel Arteta and American Tim Howard are some of the many migrants who have contributed to Everton FC's successes

Yemeni migrant, Tahir Qassim MBE is one of the founders and chairperson of the Liverpool Arabic Centre. He is also Chair of the Liverpool Black and other Racial Minorities (BRM) Network, Liverpool BRM Education sub-group, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (LAAF) and a Board member of the Bluecoat Arts Centre.

Descendents of Jewish migrants from Europe: Samuel, Yates, Montagu, Mozley and Joseph participated in the administration of Liverpool, helping in 1798 to found Liverpool's leading cultural organisation, the Athenaeum

In 1863 Charles Mozley, then president of the Hebrew Educational Institution, became Liverpool's first Jewish Mayor (buried in Deane Road Cemetery)

Jewish migrant descended David Lewis, founded the iconic Liverpool store (also buried in Deane Road cemetery)

John Archer was one of Britain's first black mayors (Battersea) born in Liverpool, John's father, was a Barbadian ship's steward whilst his mother, Mary Theresa Burns, was Irish born

Chinese migrant Mr K H Li, founder of the Chinese Youth Orchestra and contributor to the soundtrack of the Last Emperor

Singaporean born Michael Chew Koon Chan, Lord Chan of Oxton was House of Lord's only peer of Chinese origin and a consultant and lecturer at Liverpool's School of Tropical Medicine

Chinese descended Liverpool born Hong Y "Frank" Soo was the first non-white man to play football for England

Craig Charles, Cathy Tyson, Paul Barber are all renowned Liverpool born actors of African-Caribbean descent

Liverpool born, African descended, Walter "Wally" Brown CBE was principal of Liverpool Community College

And many, many more have clearly contributed!

There is NO ROOM in Liverpool for the BNP. Above all the areas in the NW who voted Nick Griffin into the European Parliament with a derisory 6% of the vote, using a system which I believe is broken, Liverpool had the smallest support for his wicked ways.

Election results in Liverpool are clear, and remain clear. We don't want your sort here, we don't support you, we don't welcome and we want you to take your tainted custom elsewhere.

Significant Update on Deane Road Jewish Cemetery

Another exciting couple of weeks for our Deane Road Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project.

On Sunday 23rd October we celebrated the first service to be held in the cemetery in well over 80 years.

It was a tombstone consecration honouring Lyon Samson, a Dutch immigrant optician who died in poverty in 1843 when no-one could afford a stone for him, but now his descendants have come together many years later to pay for one. They found each other through an interest in family history when they separately made contact with Saul Marks, our project chairman who is a Jewish genealogist.

I should point out that the grave stone setting or consecration is a very significant event in Jewish tradition. I imagine this is because the funeral should take place extremely quickly after death and so it gives an opportunity for the bereaved to honour the deceased where they could not make it to the funeral. Usually they occur on the first anniversary of the death, but in this case it was somewhat later than that...

We asked Michael Sprince to create a short film for us that would reflect this unique and special occasion.  

I would personally like to thank everyone who came to support the family of Lyon Samson. Members of the cemetery committee who turned out in force, members of the local Jewish community, particularly those from the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, Reverend Stanley Cohen, and the patrons, particularly Luciana Berger MP, fellow councillors, Pam Thomas (who was very helpful in providing assistance about future wheel-chair users to the cemetery) and Jeremy Wolfson, as well as the local police (who engaged one little boy beautifully), community members and interested passers-by. About 50 people were there to pay their respects to a man who died 168 years ago. Honour thy father and mother. It was very moving, you can take my word for that.

And on Monday 31st October, an exquisite date all things considered, the committee and the congregation handed over the responsibility of the cemetery to our builders and contractors. The scaffolding has gone up on the glorious listed facade this week and we look forward to the fruits of their work. We hope to take a restored cemetery back into our hands next Spring.

I recall many meetings in 2006 and 2007 in the Job Bank, as the committee sat and debated our options, when our chairman Saul Marks, plaintively and regularly asked "Do you think any of this will really happen?". Saul, it is time to believe.

And we have also discovered a most wonderful blog about our Heritage Open Day, courtesy of TheLiverpolitan. If the author wishes to make himself known to us, we would be delighted to keep him updated about our restoration project progress.

African Scams sink lower than amoebas on fleas on rats

I may have stolen a line from Frenchy in Grease there, but the sentiments are spot on.

I got this APPALLING piece of spam mail today, I am nearly speechless with horror.

Here it is, from


My name is Mrs Yetunde Owolabi from Repulic of Benin, I gave birth to three plates, 3 children at a time after the death my husband on 18th of June 2011 by auto car accident. Already we have received 5 children from God, right now I can’t take care of them so I have decided to give them out for adoption, if you are interested let me know, I am not selling them but you will only pay for adoption fees to the ministry in concern and the Lawyer will legalized all the relevant documents and the baby will become legally yours.


Mrs. Yetunde Owolabi

That there are such disgusting people in the world who would pray upon infertile couples on one hand and lascivious perverts on the other hand, frankly disgusts and horrifies me.  If any reader knows where I can report this email, in the hope that the international internet police will investigate, please let me know as soon as possible.

Enjoying a British Citizenship Ceremony as a guest

Last month I was delighted when one of my constituents, Sergey, invited me to attend his British Citizenship Ceremony, as his guest.

It was most interesting to see the ceremony from the other side. I did attend one about four years ago when I was first exploring the possibility of officiating at one, but since then have only attended as the official representative.

It was Cllr Paula Keaveney's turn to welcome the new citizens and present them with their certificates. We had a funny moment in the anteroom when we met upon my arrival and I promised her I had not come to check up on her performance. The staff all had a double-take too, thinking I had come a week early or that they had booked two speakers.

Paula's contribution was fascinating, because she was able to explain that she was the Leader of the Opposition in Liverpool, and that in Britain, perhaps differently to people's home countries, this was not the source of violence or oppression. She used her position to emphasise the nature of Britain's democratic values, I thought it was a very thoughtful and clever line to take.

Sergey, originally Russian, was thrilled to become British. Two others nurses who work with him at Alder Hey were also guests and we were all proud to be there to witness this special moment.

It's time for a real referendum on Europe (but not at the moment obviously...)

Now there's a thing. First we had the personally signed pledge on Tuition Fees in opposition (remember that?) which was abandoned in office as part of the grubby coalition.

And now we have the "It's time for a real referendum on Europe" u-turn.

This one is compounded by the fact that the Libdems actually collected a petition from people who, like them, demanded a referendum.

"We the undersigned believe the Government should give the British people a real choice on Europe by holding a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union"

Wouldn't it be interesting if 100,000 had sent the little slip back to Cowley Street? What if it was the same 100,000 who allegedly signed the online petition which resulted in the debate in the House of Commons about whether we should have a referendum on Europe now and which in a complete volte face, the LibDems voted against last month?

So the LibDem campaign mantra now runs something like this....

What do we want? A referendum on Europe!
When do we want it? Now! It is time! Oh, hang on, how about at a later date, to be confirmed? You see when we said "It is time" what we really meant was "Let's see if we can get some Tory and UKIP supporters to come over to us, because they will vote for any party who gives them a referendum on Europe. It doesnt matter if they would vote in a different way to us, they just want a referendum and we can say we will give them one. Frankly we will say pretty much anything to anyone if it gets us more votes."

This is what Nick Clegg said over last month's debate.

"I have always advocated a vote on Europe if there is a proposal on the table to transfer significant chunks of sovereignty and policy from our country to Brussels – but it's not on the table. We should stop tilting at windmills about threats and challenges which simply aren't there right now."

Does sound the same to you as the statement on the petition above? No, not to me either. No wonder politicians have a bad reputation with voters.

(I dont think we should have had a referendum either, in case you were wondering)