Sunday, December 30, 2007

Capital of Culture launch

Taken from my Ambassador email

World's first 24hr Culture Promo…

1st Jan 2008 will see broadcasting history made when all 24 hours on Channel 167, on the Sky Platform, will be dedicated to the start of European Capital of Culture in Liverpool.

Information TV will host what is believed to be the first time in the world that anyone has booked all 24 hours on any channel to promote a single project. Starting at midnight on 31st December to midnight on 1st January anyone tuning in will see a promotional video for the year of culture.

This unique deal is part of a cultural relationship with Information TV that will also host a Capital of Culture Micro Channel across its service comprising of three fixed and three floating hours every day across the year – starting on January 12th – the day after the official opening to the year of culture.

Liverpool ‘08 officially begins at 20.08pm on Friday, Jan 11 with the People’s Opening at St George’s Plateau. This dazzling, free 40 minute show features Ringo Starr, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.

And at 20.08pm on Saturday, January 12, Liverpool – the Musical will be performed at the new Echo Arena Liverpool. Ringo and the RLPO perform again along with a host of Liverpool stars for what will be the opening show for the Kings Dock venue.

For more information on the European Capital of Culture 2008 please visit

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2008 programme


The official guide to Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008 is now on sale.

The 202-page publication, which charts the city’s year-long programme, is available for £5 at Liverpool's tourist information centres as well as Marks and Spencer’s outlets across the North West of England. It will also be stocked at St George's Heritage Centre and the official Liverpool FC store in Liverpool city centre.
More than 350 events including many World, European and UK premieres are highlighted in the guide, complete with listings information, maps and a detailed five-page calendar.

The guide takes a thematic and chronological approach to ‘08 with sections on Music, Literature, Art, Streets, Stage, Participation, Conversation, Sport and Exploring. There is also a section on the cultural offer of Merseyside and North West in 2008.
Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ‘’Liverpool’s year as the UK’s European Capital of Culture is of a scale that has never been attempted before. To see it all in one publication makes for a terrific read and should fill everyone involved with pride.’’

Bryan Gray, Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ‘’The guide to Liverpool ’08is easy to read and provides everything you would wish to know about what, when and where the city has in store. The creativity of the city shines out of every page and underlines the partnerships and sheer hard work among thousands of people to deliver this amazing programme.’’

Phil Redmond, Creative Director and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ‘’This guide is the perfect way for people to navigate 2008 and is a great memento of what will be a momentous year. It also illustrates the ambition of Liverpool’s cultural offer – including what the city already does on annual basis. As its says at the start, Liverpool ‘08 will be a year like no other.‘’
The official guide to the European Capital of Culture 2008, which was designed by Liverpool company Finch, is part of a family of publications. The Liverpool Culture Company is also producing free, four seasonal guides. The first is also out this week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is Liverpool the worst run major city in Britain?

Please see this email sent by the Chair of "A Mayor for Liverpool Campaign"

A MESSAGE FROM LIAM FOGARTY (not the Labour candidate in K&F next year)

"Dear Friend,

We all love Liverpool. And we all passionately want Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture to be a success.


Liverpool City Council is again synonymous with political infighting, incompetence and embarrassment.

As of today,

- its two most senior politicians , Cllrs Warren Bradley and Mike Storey, face a career-ending enquiry by the Standards Board

- its chief officer for Culture is quitting with a massive pay-off, two weeks before the start of Liverpool'08

- it's staring a £22m budget gap in the face, unable to meet the costs of being Capital of Culture

- its councillors' behaviour is condemned by independent auditors as worse than you'd find in Eastern Europe

2007 - Liverpool's 800th birthday year, remember - has been marred by avoidable fiascos, of which the Mathew Street debacle was the worst. The Council lurches from one crisis to another.

In 2008, Liverpool's creativity will be on show for the world to see and enjoy. There will be great art, great events and great performances here.

But the city's POLITICAL culture remains one of pettiness, incompetence and a chronic lack of vision.

Liverpool is crying out for real leadership so we can compete with more successful cities.

And if you need reminding why this campaign for an Elected Mayor really matters, take a look at…

2007, Liverpool's Year In Numbers:
22 million: Shortfall (in pounds) in Liverpool's budget for European Capital of Culture

100: Individual donation (in pounds) to be made by local firms to pay for Capital of Culture, as suggested by Council Leader Warren Bradley (12/06/07)

350,000: Estimated total (in pounds) in severance payments to be made to former '08 creative director Robyn Archer

200,000: Cost (in pounds) of abandoned '08 "concert of a lifetime" in Salthouse Dock

7- 8 million: Projected cost (in pounds) if the two-day concert event had gone ahead

100,000: Amount (in pounds) taken from Mathew Street Festival budget to pay for 800th birthday fireworks display

200,000: Number of visitors missing from the cancelled Mathew Street Festival

0: Amount (in pounds) spent on independent enquiry into Mathew Street

105: Number of days taken to publish internal Mathew Street report

0: Number of chief officers and senior councillors criticized in above report

150,000: Salary in pounds of Culture Company chief Jason Harborow

0: Number of other candidates when Mr Harborow was appointed as the Council's Executive Director, Cultural Services last April

0: Public statements made by Cllr Bradley in support of Mr Harborow since Mathew Street fiasco

200,000: Estimated severance pay-off for Mr Harborow , as he prepares to leave his post…
4,000: Estimated shortage in the number of Liverpool city centre parking spaces

17,000: Amount (in pounds sterling) spent installing a plastic shelter to protect council officers' cars from pigeon droppings

2: Audit Commission star rating (out of 4) for Liverpool City Council's overall performance. Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham received 3 stars. Knowsley & St Helens got 4.
1: Provisional Audit Commission star rating (out of 4) for Liverpool councillors' standards of behaviour and financial management (Daily Post 14/12/07)

20: Position (out of 20) of Liverpool in the UK's Sustainable Cities Index (21/10/07)

87: Percentage of Liverpool Echo readers who believe conventional politics has failed in Liverpool (14/09/07)

27: Percentage turnout in Liverpool city council elections, the lowest figure in Britain.

12: Percentage turnout in Liverpool's Central ward in local elections.

2: Party leaders now publicly in favour of having Elected Mayors (David Cameron and Nick Clegg)

Together, let's make 2008 the year we re-invent the way Liverpool is led and run.

Thank you for your support, have a Happy Christmas and a truly democratic New Year!"

For the avoidance of doubt, I dont support the concept of an elected mayor. And even if I did (which I dont), we would still have to have elected councillors as well. A point that Liam overlooks in my view in some of the above entries.

His argument suggests that local governance is ill served by the current structures, but what he has failed to understand is that local governance is in fact ill served by the Liberal Democrats

99% of the above criticisms can be laid at the door of the party in charge, not the fact that we dont have a mayor.

But that they are valid criticisms of our council I have no doubt and he is to be congratulated on compiling this helpful list.

Can you add any more "numbers" of your own?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas cards are all delivered!

Well we did it, 40,000 Christmas cards across the constituency

A wonderful effort, thanks so much to everyone for their hard and steady work.

Now I guess I need to find the time to write and send my own personal ones.

And finish the Christmas shopping

And wrap everything up

And get some washing done so I have something to wear over the festive season

Santa's little helper's work is never done

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Liverpool Nativity

Do you remember the Manchester Passion?

Telling the Easter story on the streets of Manchester City Centre with popular and famous locally produced music and popular and famous local actors?

Well tonight it was the Liverpool Nativity

Telling the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The story was acted out on the streets of Liverpool.

A modern take on the oldest story in the world.

Mary was working in a cafe on the Wirral, her boyfriend Joseph was a refugee.

The Angel Gabriel (the city CCTV operator) told Mary that she was to have a baby, and although Joseph took a bit of persuading, he did in the end support Mary who he loved very much.

Herodia, an important Government Minister trying to come to the attention of the President for her hard-line stance, heard from the Magi that a baby would be born to the girlfriend of an Asylum Seeker, who would be the King of Kings. So she decided to round up all Asylum Seekers by asking them to come to the passport office in Liverpool and review their visas. She was advising her staff from inside St George's Hall.

Mary and Joseph travelled to Liverpool on the Mersey Ferry and wondered the streets looking for somewhere to stay, subject to terrible prejudice from some people who had been inflamed by Herodia's castigation of Asylum Seekers. Eventually they made their way to a pub on St Johns Lane - Doctor Duncans. The innkeeper let them stay in his lean-to and the baby Jesus was born amongst the beer barrels in the cold and placed in a shopping trolley.

(Interestingly Doctor Duncan was a relentless campaigner against poor living conditions in the Liverpool of the Victorian era, and the first Chief Medical Officer of Health to be appointed in the UK. If you had to be born in a pub, then one named after him must be your best bet.)

Liverpool's shepherds were homeless people sleeping outside St George's Hall, outcasts from society, just like the original shepherds were.

The Angels came to them via their radio and showed them where the baby lay.

The Shepherds and the Angels and the Kings made their way to the lean-to (which had magically been moved to the main stage by this point). They came and worshipped the infant and there was much joy.

My favourite songs came at this part - John Lennon's Beatiful Boy and the Beatles' Lady Madonna.

Then the crowds parted and Liverpool people took Mary, Joseph and the baby into their midst and closed the gap behind them so that they could not ever be found by Herodia.

- The city and its buildings looked wonderful. St George's Hall, the Library, the museum, the whole of William Brown Street looked marvellous. The skyline from the ferry looked great too.

- great Liverpool music, great acting, great singing

We enjoyed a wonderful spectacle (staggeringly cold but utterly wonderful).

It was live on BBC 3 and then repeated at 11pm (which I am just watching now to make sure I have not missed anything).

It will be on again on BBC1 just before Christmas, either the 23rd or 24th, so if you missed it, you get the chance to watch it and can join the rest of the world in admiring our great city playing centre stage with such an important story.

GEARS Children's Christmas Party

Wendy and I popped into GEARS Children's Christmas Party on Saturday at the Police Club in Fairfield.

The music was absolutely deafening (or else I am just getting old) but the children had a fantastic time. They were running round, playing with their balloons, playing dancing games and jumping games and musical chairs. They had a party tea, full of e numbers and sugar and food colouring, so they could run round even more wildly, just how a proper kids party ought to be in fact!

And a selection box

And all for a pound

Well done to Ann and Shaun for organising it and I think I am right in saying well done to Kenny Regen for helping to pay for it

Merry Christmas GEARS

(Incidentally, we were visited by a TV researcher from FTP putting a taster together for a possible programme contrasting Kensington London with Kensington Liverpool and asking people if they might be persuaded to swap with each other. I know it has been done to death a thousand times before over the last 50 years but if they are determined to do this then it is incumbent on us to ensure that we put our best face forward, show them the good stuff so they dont just focus on the blight. And definitely not stand for any stereotyping.

FTP has been set up by Charles Furneaux who was a Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, where he was responsible for Documentaries and Specialist Factual programming. He commissioned and exec produced Touching the Void which received a cinema release and went on to become the highest ever grossing British documentary.

They filmed various people over the weekend, for the taster. So if it goes down well we can expect them back at some point to organise for the full programme.

I just hope they dont upset as many people as the Secret Millionaire did! But if we work with them constructively hopefully that wont happen.)

Riverside and Princess Park Labour Councillors Christmas Party

Wendy and I popped into the Riverside and Princess Park Labour Councillors' Christmas Party on Friday night at St James community centre.

More lovely food on offer, Somalian I think this time.

It gave us real food for thought, if you forgive the pun. I think we would like to emulate this great idea and put on a party next year in Kensington and Fairfield for members, friends and residents, partners and agencies, where we can thank everyone for all their hard work through the year.

Would you come?

Watch this space.

Asylum Link Christmas Party - Casa, Hope Street

I popped into the Asylum Link Christmas Party at the Casa on Hope Street on Friday. It was lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves, lots of traditional dancing from the men, waving a handkerchief and dancing round the room with their arms round each other. Fantastically loud music, great food, lots of warmth and a good family feeling. Thanks for the invite and keep up the good work.

A cone free Edge Lane

I was invited this week to a event to celebrate the lifting of the cones on Edge Lane as the road works and improvements from the M62/Rocket up to Botanic Road are (more or less) finalised.

It was held in the wonderful Littlewoods building on Edge Lane where the various contractors all had corporate display boards.

There was a video running on the big screen, showing a car driving up and down Edge Lane, with the camera on the dashboard, which must have been filmed last year sometime. Having driven down the new road to get to the event, it was interesting to mark the contrasts.

The cones will be kept off the road now until January to help with the Christmas flow of traffic.

I do like the blue lights, what do you think?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Community Justice Centre, North Liverpool

E-bulletin from Community Justice Centre, North Liverpool - reproduced for your interest. Readers may recall I went to visit earlier this year and was extremely impressed. I am only sorry that my residents cannot take advantage of it as it is outside of my area.

Welcome to the Community Justice Centre, North Liverpool e-bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with our latest news and progress.


The Community Justice Centre has produced a report outlining its key activities during 2005 and 2006. ‘A Year in the Life’ of the Community Justice Centre, will be available on the website from January 2008.


The Community Justice Centre has been awarded two major accolades in the National Justice Awards 2007, as part of Inside Justice Week.

Avril Ainsbury, a volunteer at the centre was crowned Volunteer of the Year in the prestigious awards. She has worked with communities in Liverpool since 1970 and works as a volunteer within the criminal justice system. She has been a mentor for adult offenders and a Victim and Witness Support volunteer at the centre since 2006, supporting witnesses at trial, from their first contact with the court through to after court care.

The centre’s multi-agency community problem solving team was also Highly Commended for its outstanding contribution to tackling youth crime.

In addition, a local community organisation, the Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council (BNENC) which provides advice, support and training to residents in the area, won an award for its outstanding contribution to engaging local communities.

Inside Justice Week is an annual campaign aimed at engaging the public in the work of the Criminal Justice System.


Grot spot clean up

11 van loads of debris and rubbish has been cleared from grot spots across North Liverpool by a team of young offenders carrying out unpaid work orders from the Community Justice Centre.

As part of the multi-agency Respect Action Week, which was held in Everton during the first week of October, young offenders cleared grot spots, removed fly tipped rubbish and picked litter, filling skips provided by Liverpool City Council. Work was carried out in streets across the area and feedback from local people has been very positive.

Meanwhile a team of 46 adult offenders worked at the Soho Street all-weather pitch in Everton, removing graffiti from the goals and repainting them, clearing broken glass and bringing the pitch back into use. As a result of the success of the project, the team has started work on a project to repair and re-paint the railings and decking at the West Everton Community Centre.

The Respect Action Week brought together more than 65 representatives from agencies across the area and also included targeted activity by the police to tackle drug dealing and prostitution.

Boat Restoration

Up to 50 young offenders carrying out unpaid work orders are set to begin the refurbishment of two 40ft Dragon boats donated to the Community Justice Centre by Liverpool Marina.

Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese tradition involving teams of up to twenty paddlers in each boat with a drummer at the front beating time and a helmsman at the tail steering a straight course. The Dragon boats were formerly used for competitive racing but are currently in a state of disrepair. They will be renovated by the team of young offenders, supervised by the Youth Offending Service.

Restoration will include replacing and repainting the timber. Once the renovation is completed, the boats will be returned to the Albert Dock and teams supervised by the Youth Offending Service, will use the boats for fundraising and team building events in 2008.

Garden Make-Over

Twelve young people, sentenced to unpaid work by the Community Justice Centre have transformed the garden of an 82-year-old woman from Walton.

The young men and women re-turfed and landscaped the woman’s garden and demolished a 30-ft shed, managed by the Youth Offending Service.

The woman, who is visually impaired, had been unable to maintain her garden and was delighted with the work carried out, writing a letter of thanks to the centre.


Putting on Panto

Young people from the centre’s ‘Rock School’ have staged a special performance of Cinderella for local senior citizens as part of Hope University’s Cornerstone Arts Festival 2007 and the centre’s seasonal festivities.

‘Check out Cindy’ was performed for a specially invited audience of senior citizens’ from North Liverpool and falls within the police team’s work to support out of hours diversionary activities on a voluntary basis.


New Advice Surgery

The Community Justice Centre is working with a number of groups across North Liverpool to tackle issues with anti social behaviour and has established a weekly surgery at the Liverpool Six Community Association in Queens Road, Everton, for residents to report issues of concern.

The team has also set up a weekly lunch club at the Liverpool Six centre where young offenders prepare and serve meals to a local senior citizens’ group. This follows positive feedback from an event held as part of the Respect Action Week where young offenders cooked and served lunch to the local senior citizens’ bingo club.

Tackling Anti Social Behaviour

The centre is setting up a new community Problem Solving Group in response to ongoing issues in the Stanley Road area of Kirkdale.

This follows ongoing progress with the centre’s Queens Road (Everton) Problem Solving Group, which met at the beginning of October. Success has included the identification of the main perpetrators of anti social behaviour in that area and the discussion of potential referrals to the Youth Offending Service.

We are very keen to receive feedback and any comments regarding the contents of this e-bulletin.

Please email -

BNP in crisis

I was tonight sent an email from SearchLight detailing the current state of disarray in the BNP.

The full story on the Crisis as described to me in the email is available here on

There are times to keep your head down for fear of reprisals and times when you just have to make your stand clear.

The BNP has fallen apart

Those facists who purport to be democrats have split from those BNP who are straightforward facists

The vile and odious Nick Griffin has been trashed by most of the BNP because he has failed to censore and indeed appears to have supported some of the most disgusting and vile of his high profile and high ranking members above the more mundane repulsive racists of his party.

I know, I know, it is a hard one to call

And believe me, I am not calling it

I think they are all seriously damaging and appalling.

I wont be taking sides when one facist criticises another, but I will be jubilant to learn that the BNP is falling apart at the seams.

And when you represent a seat like mine with new immigration and lots of uncertainty about the pace of change then you have to be very sensitive and thoughtful to how this is managed. And believe me, it is not managed through fascism.

I sincerely hope it is years if not decades before the bastards can regroup.

A truly great day for community relations.

Queen of the Podcasts!

Kensington Vision's blog says I am the Queen of the Podcasts because 13 of you have already downloaded mine and Wendy's radio show from this blog as posted earlier this week.

Great news, but 13 is not a lucky number for some, so how about another dozen of you download our show and let's put Kensington and Fairfield's people's choice at the top of the list for keeps.

We had a great show, we worked really hard to get it ready but none of it would have been worth a light without our wonderful guests, Saul, Maria, Marie, Jonathan and Dave.

All plaudits really go to them, I am sure the police have boosted our podcast download rates, wanting to hear how the boss fared (he was great) and the kids at Central Youth club would have wanted to hear Marie. Jonathan is very popular in the environs of Newsham Park, perhaps he could put a link to his interview in their next newsletter.

The only guests who might struggle in the first instance to find directly interested folk ready to download would probably be Saul and Maria who were promoting the need to restore the final resting place of some of Liverpool's finest. No podcast connection in Deane Road cemetery, although perhaps some descendants would like to hear the interview? Saul and Maria were great advocates of our project, for sure and I would hope the Jewish community in Liverpool would love to hear more about their hard work (pictured).

Come on you lovely people, get your download here and enjoy our community news show in all its glory.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Very sad news about Terry Pratchett

Yes, as Terry says, he is not dead and we should keep cheerful, but frankly I am finding that a little difficult

The BBC tonight is reporting that author Terry Pratchett is suffering from a rare form of early Alzheimer's disease (have a look at the link).

Can I just say Terry, if you are googling your own name and come across this entry, I admire your work tremendously. I love everything you write. Last week I reread the God of Small Things, last month I was delighted to read the book about the Mint (okay I dont remember titles all that well) which was a fantastic follow-up to a really top book about the Post Office.

So many books have brought me pleasure. The witches, DEATH, the watch... and the Johnny books are unsurpassed, have no doubt.

Never has one author been so successful, on so many occasions and so thoroughly and for so long and with so many titles.

At least two of my close friends have every single book, one has them all in hardback because she cannot bear to wait for the paperback.

Please know that your readers recognise in you something truly outstanding and we will be there for you, buying your stuff and willing you on and for those of us who do such things, praying for you, for as long as you need us.

We certainly need you!


Those of you who have been watching the developments with regard to the shambolic cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival cannot have missed the reference to Warren Bradley having allegedly offered Peroni to Lee Forde when they met to discuss whatever it was, in Warren's house last month.

Give him his due, he found it quite funny to see Peroni on offer tonight at the Lord Mayor's Christmas drinks reception in the Town Hall after the full council meeting and took great delight in offering a bottle to various Labour members.

I quite warmed to him, for a few seconds, before reason returned!

Update on my resolutions

Well it is bad news and bad news, with a bit of good news thrown in

The bad news is that the LibDems opposed both motions.

Consequently we will not be offering a taper to residents keen to take up the enveloping scheme in the Holt Road neighbourhood.

Incidentally I have had a call from Cathy at Kensington Regeneration to remind me that they paid for the works (the wonderful works) at Cheviot, Middleton and Lindale in L7 and there is no taper. Good for them, well done Kensington Regeneration, well done for trail blazing. Well done for supporting true regeneration. Well done too for the Labour Government for funding the New Deal which Kensington Regeneration has used to pay for the works.

But a big raspberry to the LibDem city council and their elected representatives.

All the Labour councillors voted with me to support a taper so that homeowners benefitting from home improvements wouldnt be penalised for daring to leave within ten years.

But the LibDems voted against it.

Why? Who knows, I expect they cobbled together some kind of an excuse (although they have not taken the time or the trouble to tell me what it was, they just stuck their hands up and voted against it with no discussion). The truth is that they dont like to see Labour councillors having successes in case it results in a few more votes for us and fewer votes for them.

So, Labour, through government funding through Kensington Regeneration, pays outright for home improvements in one area, but the LibDems in charge of a different scheme, put the people of Holt Road in an arm-lock and insist on them paying for the lot unless they can commit to their home for a full ten years

Happy Christmas to you miserable Scrooges, I am quite sure the voters will understand which party it is that puts residents first in Kensington and Fairfield.

The second motion, on selective licensing was also rejected out of hand and also with no explanation.

Wendy and I were at a meeting today where we discussed with residents and agencies the whole idea of selective licensing for private landlords, as I explained in the earlier post. They were wildly supportive and very excited.

But as I pointed out at the time, Frank Doran, last remaining LibDem in the ward, would have to ensure that his party voted with me (as well as all my Labour colleagues) if we were to make this happen.

Needless to say, despite nodding in all the right places, he did not bring his colleagues to the table. And for the record, the three LibDems in Picton ward who also cover the New Deal area didnt vote for this.

As far as I am concerned, once I get this message out there to our residents they will see the clear difference between a Labour Council and a LibDem one. Political games on their part while I do my best to bring about the changes they all want.

The only positive note was that I got an amendment/composite through council on the blood service which I wrote hurriedly this afternoon in the car between one meeting and another (thanks to Wendy for scribing) after a long chat with the NBS Union Rep from Unite, and will reproduce in a week or two when I get an electronic copy for you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Louise Baldock's Motions to Council - 12th December 2007

Here are my motions to council this month, let's hope the LibDems support them, as well as the Labour councillors who have already signed up to them.

The first motion concerns the house improvement work (called "enveloping") being done to the front of houses (mainly) in terms of small walls, gates, brick cleaning, new steps, porches, side gates etc. This has already been done in the Cheviot, Lindale, Middleton area and has started in the Holt Road triangle, a few streets done, and many more to do. The rationale behind my motion is that some people are put off from having the work done because they have not got the cash to pay for it themselves and they dont want to commit to living in the same house for 10 years. It is longer than I have ever lived anywhere myself too so I can sympathise with that.

Another reason is that by forcing people to hang on to their houses for ten years, new people cannot buy these houses from them because they wont sell. Finally it worries me that some people, particularly noticeable in the Holt Road area (Cotswold etc) have not taken up what ought to be a copper-bottomed improvement scheme.

To get the full visual benefit for the neighbourhood we need to see every property signing up for improvements. So we clearly need a taper system in place before we roll this out to more streets.


This Council notes that a grant scheme is available to assist home-owners with enveloping schemes for their properties in HMRI areas.

The Council notes that the grant is repayable if the home-owner sells their house within ten years.

However, this Council is concerned that the full grant is repayable right up until the ten year deadline, so a resident wanting to move house after 9 years would have to repay as much as someone leaving after 1 year.

This Council proposes that the repaying of grant monies should be on a sliding scale of a 10% reducing repayment over the same ten year period. So that if a home-owner leaves after 7 years they will only have to repay 30% of the grant.

This Council welcomes the enveloping scheme which has been designed to benefit the whole of a sustainable neighbourhood, including future residents.

It believes that the repayment of the grant should not act as a block on the desire of local people to move into the new sustainable areas, or a block on residents wishing to move out.

This Council calls on the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to review the grant scheme and consider introducing a taper.

(If Standing Orders are not suspended the motion will be referred to the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing for consideration and response)

The second motion is one I have submitted with Nick Small, councillor for Central Ward who has part of the Kensington New Deal area in his ward. This refers to selective licensing for private landlords.

Let me explain. In 2004 the Government passed the Housing Act. Amongst other things it allowed that in selective areas chosen because they are suffering from a crisis in housing and where there is strong evidence of anti-social behaviour, it is possible to oblige private landlords to sign up to a set of rules that requires them to ensure that their tenants are well-behaved, do not create disturbances for their neighbours, put their rubbish out on the right day and any other things that show that they are generally good tenants. This would put private landlords in the same bracket as Registered Social Landlords in the selected area.

I made my maiden speech on this subject, about 18 months ago and asked then that Kensington and Fairfield be used as a pilot project.

Subsequently I also distributed a petition to residents suggesting that our area was chosen as a pilot for the scheme, this was overwhelmingly and massively supported.

Now we need to put the pressure on to make this happen, we cannot wait any longer for the council to act in its own good time. Nick and I are in total agreement about this and to add weight to our call we have chosen a part of the geography that is served by three wards, by 5 Labour and 4 LibDem Councillors so we ought to get agreement on all sides of the chamber. That is the plan anyway.

This is our motion


This Council reconfirms its support for selective licensing for private landlords, as passed in motion 118 in July 2006:

“Council notes and welcomes the introduction of licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the Housing Act 2004, which requires all HMOs of three or more stories occupied by five or more people to be licensed by local housing authorities as well as allowing local housing authorities to introduce selective licensing primarily focused on areas of low housing demand (or areas likely to fall into that category) and other areas suffering from anti-social behaviour.

Council further notes the successful voluntary licensing scheme for student landlords operated by Liverpool Student Homes (a joint venture run by the City’s three universities and their respective student unions), which requires providers of student housing to sign up to a Code of Practice, which goes further than the statutory requirements, as a condition of achieving approved status with Liverpool Student Homes (LSH).

Council requests that the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing, while meeting her statutory obligations, works with Liverpool Student Homes to focus enforcement of licensing on those landlords not currently registered with Liverpool Student Homes to avoid duplication.

Council further requests the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the City to determine whether selective licensing would be appropriate in certain parts of the City to address issues of low housing demand and/or anti-social behaviour.”

Council further notes previous motions agreed by this Council calling for mandatory landlord licensing along with the progress already being made by the Council on this issue including:-

66 landlords with 500 properties already accredited through LSH using CLASS (Liverpool City Council Voluntary Landlord Accreditation Scheme).

200 application received for mandatory licensing.

In common with some other local authorities, the Council now calls upon the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to initiate a pilot scheme for selective licensing for private landlords.

Council asks that the pilot area chosen should be the Kensington New Deal area.

Council believes this will help counter extensive problems with anti-social behaviour and help aid local housing market failure.

(If Standing Orders are not suspended the motion will be referred to the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing for consideration and response)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our radio show - on podcast

Sorry you missed it first time round?

Desperate to hear our dulcet tones?

Find the Wendy Simon and Louise Baldock Community News Radio Show here.

A rather grainy photo of me with Saul Marks and Marie Curran talking about the Deane Road Jewish Cemetery project too.

I think there are more photos, the lovely Sheila took lots, hopefully she can email a few over and I can put them on here. You do need to see Wendy sitting at the microphone too after all.

Boro Resurgent

I was dreading today's match, anticipating a slaughtering.

My Boro team, struggling in the relegation zone, having to play the mighty chart-topping Arsenal, and we haven't won a game in three months.

And would you believe it, we won 2-1.

Arsenal's first defeat of the season.

As Arsene Wenger said “They were sharper, we were second best.”

I'm told our fans were singing "Top of the league, you're having a laugh". We can be really cruel sometimes, I must give Stephen Twigg a call and gloat ;-)

I'd be stunned except we have made quite a habit out of defeating the top-flight clubs. Now we just have to learn how to beat the rest of them. A very welcome 3 points that see us lifted out of the relegation zone.

Christmas Presence at the Bridewell Studios

Wendy and I visited the Christmas Presence Christmas market this afternoon at the Bridewell Studios on Prescot Road, Kensington.

I bought some Christmas cards, Christmas decorations and knocked another stocking-filler off the list.

The studio is more or less opposite the Royal Hospital and I heard about it when they had a radio show on Kensington Vision's KVFM community radio station.

There was one surreal moment when we passed a printed notice in the hall that said in bold "Have you seen our aluminium step ladders?". We both looked around in anticipation of a modern sculpture, only to read in the small print that someone had nicked them from the toilets and were being urged to return them forthwith!

Labour Group Christmas night out in Blundell Street

Great night out on Friday night with the Labour Councillors, we know how to party!

Blundell Street (manager insists it is prounced like "trundle" by the way)

Three course meal, two "turns" and a disco

The last remnants of the party left at about 2am, foot-sore after an evening's dancing.

It is really beginning to feel Christmassy now

Working with Liverpool's Polish community

Liam and I had a really useful meeting with Andzej (Andrew) from a Polish organisation in Liverpool who have designed a website, and a magazine to help new Polish arrivals settle in Liverpool.

The first edition of the magazine, Czas na przerwÄ™ was launched last week.

He has lots of great ideas and we came away with a huge list of contacts we need to identify for him, so that the organisation can begin to work with public agencies and organisations in the city, for mutual support, publicity, advertising, spreading the message etc.

They are also keen to set up a Polish Club in Liverpool. I have heard rumours of clubs already in existence, somewhere off Ullet Road for instance. Do you know if there is one already? Some people tell me there are none, others that there are.

Andzej says they would ideally like one in Kensington, I have promised to make a few enquiries on their behalf. Liam and I were thinking about empty pubs they could perhaps take over the management of for instance, there are a few in Kensington and Fairfield. Or perhaps the managers of existing pubs might like to turn themselves into an "official" Polish pub? It could do wonders for falling trade.

I did tell him there are no empty buildings in our gift.

Help please with this idea and with contacts.

Celebrating the "life" of St John the Divine Church

Liam and I went to St John the Divine Church on Holly Road on Thursday night to join them in a farewell celebration.

The church is in a parlous state physically, the steeple will have to be demolished as it is now extremely dangerous (part of the church is already roped off to prevent anyone having any rubble falling on them, both inside and out). The roof of the adjoining community centre has already exceeded its lifespan by some 7 years.

It is a terrible shame, nobody wants to have to move out of their church and centre, but if something truly cannot be saved, then needs must.

So the challenge now is for the Vicar and congregation to find a new place to worship and new venues to host their community activity. Most of this has now been resolved but they are still looking for somewhere with big ovens where they can cook the food for the luncheon club they run in conjunction with Age Concern.

I am making some enquiries on their behalf, I have thought of the Fairfield Centre on Sheil Road, Venture Housing on Boaler Street, the Sure Start on Quorn Street so far. I have written some emails to them today. Can you think of anywhere else which might have big enough ovens and a nice area for dining?

The party was absolutely packed with supporters, extremely well-attended, despite the atrocious weather, loads of lovely children and their parents, but also the older users of the community centre, congregation members and local residents. The PCSOs were there too and also the Community team from Kensington Regeneration.

Just while chatting to a few people I picked up four bits of casework.

What a shame to lose this resource, good luck to them all in finding new homes

Great night out with Liverpool West Derby Labour Party

Last week Wendy, Liam and I were pleased to attend the Liverpool West Derby Labour Party fundraising dinner at Retsina on Derby Road, Old Swan.

It was very well attended. Stephen Twigg had asked Michael Cashman MEP as after-dinner speaker. He was very funny, and as a former actor, he acted the part of various European politicians, and some UK ones, as he told his tales. So we felt we had not one speaker but many.

Arlene McCarthy MEP also came, which was very supportive of her.

We also had regional TU friends with us.

The food was lovely too, course after course of Greek dishes, I would definitely recommend it.

Stephen is doing a wonderful job of re-energising the local constituency party and they are providing lots and lots of activists for campaigning activity every week now. I can see some great electoral results coming in the West Derby area!

Pushing on with our Neighbourhood Agreement process

Progress at last on our Neighbourhood Agreement for City and North neighbourhood, Liverpool City Council.

In essence, funding for providing local services will now move from a city wide approach, to a localised system of funding based on local priorities. The city agrees on a Local Area Agreement which is then reflected through 5 neighbourhood agreements.

The City and North joint neighbourhood committee contains 14 Labour and 4 Liberal Democrat Councillors. Steve Munby is the Chair and I am the Deputy Chair. The neighbourhood includes the city centre, the Dingle, the waterfront, Kirkdale, Everton, Kensington, Fairfield and Picton

Steve is chairing the Children and Young People Partnership Working Group (PWG), Jane Corbett is chairing the Health and Older People PWG, our Neighbourhood Manager, Karen Lewis is chairing the Strong and Safe Communities PWG.

I am chairing the new Physical Regeneration PWG.

I was chairing Economic Development and Enterprise, with Physical Regeneration but we agreed at our last joint wards that this was far too big of an agenda for any group of people so we have split it in half. Nick Small is going to chair ED&E. This makes sense as he is also our Shadow Exex Member for the same brief, city wide.

Last week we spent the whole day in the wonderful Blackburne House on Hope Street, deliberating over local priorities for these two "blocks" of the Neighbourhood agreement. We were joined by all the relevant council staff, partners and agencies as well as other local councillors. We have come up with some very strong aims and priorities which will dictate our spending over the next three years.

Once the NA is published I will link to it on here.

Our final task will be to identify which Key Performance Indicators we wish to prioritise in order that the relevant funding can make its way to us.

It is very powerful stuff, to engage on such important future spending with the ability to address local need and local issues. I am enthusiastic about this process, even if it has taken us about six months to get to this point.

A bit more on the new Liverpolitalia

I have been contacted by Gerry Murphy, Chair of Liverpolitalia who has been alerted to my earlier entry. I want to help the group by publicising their activities a bit more widely.

Gerry tells me as follows:

Liverpolitalia was formed last year as the 'Children of Italy'. Having discovered the existence of other organisations in the USA with similar names we decided to call the organisation 'Liverpolitalia'

We have a membership which is growing all the time and have a committe of representatives of sometime ancient Liverpolitalian families in the city.

Our particular emphasis is on the representation and re-establishment of the presence of Liverpolitalians in the make-up of the city. Ours is not, therefore an organisation which seeks to bask in the 'Glory that was Rome' but to celebrate the achievements of those who for whatever reason found themselves having to emigrate.

There is, however a particular emphasis on the re-discovery of Italian language and culture in the form of taught courses and of course Liverpolitalia itself.

I attach here the prospectus of the organisation and hope you will nmaintain contact with us in the future. If you received an inviation and were able to come to the meeting on the 28th then please forgive me repeating what you probably already know!


A Prospectus

The Idea

The idea of Liverpolitalia is the formation and formal constitution of an organisation which seeks to bring together the relatives and associates of all Italian immigrants who came to the city of Liverpool from the 19th century onwards.

Liverpolitalia grew out of the original idea for a group called “I Figli d’Italia” (Children of Italy) to provide a focus and forum for the sharing of collective and individual memories and perspectives on the nature of Liverpool Italian identity. The first meeting of the embryonic “Liverpolitalia” was on 21st June 2007.

Composition and Constitution

The organisation is open in the first instance to all who possess Italian relatives of any sort, who are interested in their Italian heritage and in developing contacts with other of similar generation in the U.K., the U.S.A. and Ireland as well as Italy itself.


Within the first six months the organisation has set up a working party and steering committee to draw up a formal constitution paving the way for the election of a committee and officers of the organisation.


The activities of the organisation will be chiefly concerned in the first phase with the drawing together of the many citizens of Liverpool and its hinterland that are of Italian origin.

The organisation will host Italian food and culture evenings and seek to liaise with other like-minded organisations in the area. Italian language courses will be organised for those who seek to learn the language of their ancestors.

In these the early days the organisation will lay the foundations for a representative and proactive community and charitable organisation which will provide a “focolare” for the Italian community, its descendants and all who empathise with and hold Italian culture in a position of esteem.

For further information contact:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Yellow House - Radio City Community Project of the Year

Great news from Yellow House - I just had this message from Gosia Mc Kane

Well done!

"Yellow House were named as Winners of the Radio City Community Project of the Year Award at the Ceremony on Thursday 29th November 2007 at The Royal Court Theatre - we believe it was well deserved for our commitment to young people over 25 years in Liverpool - we do not know who nominated Yellow House but thank you whoever it was - we will continue our innovative and exciting work every day with young people as usual - Yellow House is proud of its work, the young people, of Liverpool, its people and history

Thank you to Radio City."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Interesting article in Progress about the future of the Liberal Democrats and their relationship with other parties in the UK

What do you make of this article by Andrew Russell in Progress this month? He is senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester and examines here the Liberal Democrat's electoral and political strategy and its relationship with the other parties.

Personally I would rather go into coalition with the People's Front of Judea, or even at a pinch, the Judean People's Front

"Opportunity knocks: The government must persuade the public of the overwhelming benefits of immigration"

Real food for thought

Philippe Legrain is the author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute

In this article he discusses the benefits of mass immigration.

I feel real sympathy for this point of view, what are your thoughts?

Double dose of church services

Cath and I went to the Civic service in the Bethel Presbyterian Church of Wales, Heathfield Road, Liverpool (at the end of my street essentially).

We sat with the mayors from all over Merseyside, with the Recorder and the Chief of Police and all sorts of other dignatories. There were about 8 LCC councillors present I think.

I love civic masses and civic services but this was particularly interesting.

Half of the hymns and half of the service were in Welsh, which was fascinating. Cath said she felt like John Redwood trying but failing to sing the Welsh National Anthem. We did try to sing along with the Welsh but at times fell back on la-la-ing and singing the words quietly in English where we knew them - like Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

The Minister was particularly welcoming and stressed the importance of the city coming together for our 800th birthday.

There were moving contributions from Welsh congregation members, including the wonderful singing of Muriel Cunningham, very much reminiscent of Charlotte Church and a lovely 800th birthday song from another member of the church whose name I missed.

We were made very welcome and I wouldn't mind worshipping with them occasionally on a Sunday morning.

Thank you for inviting me.

In the afternoon I went with Lisa and little Isaac to the Christingle Service at All Souls CoE church on Mather Avenue on the corner of Springwood Avenue.

If you have been to a Christingle service you will know it is really a service for children to help introduce them to Advent and to Christmas.

Wikipedia tells us that "a Christingle is a symbolic object used in advent services in churches of many Christian denominations. It has its origins in the Moravian Church , with the first recorded use, in Germany, in 1747.

This is the story of the first Christingle:

One Christmas time back in 1747 at a town in Germany, Pastor John sat at home in front of his fire. He was thinking how he could explain the love of Jesus, and what Christmas really meant to the children in the church. He decided to prepare a simple symbol to help make the message of Christmas fresh and lively for them. Pastor John gave each child a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon, with a prayer that said "Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these dear children's hearts". This was the first ever Christingle service.

Many years later, in 1968, Christingle services were introduced to the Anglican Church in Britain by John Pensom of The Children's Society, and the custom spread quickly; each year there are more and more Christingle services in England and Wales, although today's Christingles are a little different.

The Christingle consists of:

an orange representing the world with
a red ribbon around it representing the blood of Jesus
fruits and sweets (usually dolly mixtures) are skewered on 4 cocktail sticks which are pushed into the orange representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons
and a lighted candle is pushed into the centre of the orange representing Christ, the light of the world"

Our service followed this faithfully, although my Christingle only had three cocktail sticks instead of four - I was robbed!

Isaac volunteered to take part in the service and went up to the altar with the big boys and girls to play his part. We held our breath, Lisa and I, but if anything, this lovely little boy was better behaved than the bigger children who stood with him. The curate said later that his face and his poise gave her a really strong sense of the meaning of Christmas as she watched him solemnly taking part in the service.

A rousing rendition of "Is this the way to shine for Jesus" to the tune of Amarillo and a candle-lit Away in a Manger were particularly memorable.

Celebrating Liverpool Life at the New Picket

My mate Cath Ingham and I went to the New Picket on Saturday night to an event to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

A cause dear to both of our hearts. Cath has two sons with CF, both in their 30s and doing well, thank you. I lost my friend Dominic McElroy to CF in 2001. Gordon Brown's younger son has CF too.

It can be a devasting disease claiming young lives but with careful management it does not have to be a death sentence as Cath's sons show.

The gig showcased 6 acts.

My favourites were TJ and Murphy - an accoustic folk duo with lovely lyrical songs - and the Alun Parry Band, enthusiastic folk to get the dancers on to the dance floor (My Grandad was a docker was particularly well received).

We were somewhat startled by the announcement of a 5am bar - needless to say we were home safe long before then, but pleased with the raffle where I won a £120 service from a Ford garage in Birkenhead.

It was my first trip to the New Picket but it wont be my last, a great venue, fantastic DJing between the bands and really friendly and supportive bar staff and bouncers.

A great evening

Liverpool Co-operative Party relaunch

We had our AGM at the Eldonians, a really positive example of co-operation in action. And as if I dont already have enough to do, I have agreed to be the new Secretary of the Liverpool Co-operative Party.

The Co-operative Party is a sister party to the Labour Party and it is perfectly possible, acceptable and even desirable to hold joint membership.

Louise Ellman is a Labour/Co-op MP and hopefully Stephen Twigg will be our city's second Labour/Co-op MP after the next general election in Liverpool West Derby.

Gordon Brown is the first Co-op member to become Prime Minister.

We want to reach out to co-operators right across the city, whether they are in retail, music, housing, art, farming, sport, whatever it may be.

If you are a co-operator and would like to join the Co-operative Party and engage with us in debates about how co-operative solutions can be found for local policy challenges then please do get in touch with me. You do not have to be a Labour Party member to be a Co-operative Party member.

Tories however need not apply, whatever David Cameron might pretend about them embracing co-operation and mutualism, we all know they are the party of the individual and co-operation doesn't work like that.

Au Revoir not Goodbye to KVFM

4pm on Friday saw the last transmission of KVFM from McDonalds in Kensington

A fortnight of excellent community radio, with 94 different organisations featured and countless presenters and guests.

Great music, great public information and great radio

This was not ordinary radio, this was 100% home-grown, organically packaged, community radio (or words to that effect, thanks Sheila Fazakerley)

I have not been able to keep away over the fortnight, I have been into McDonalds on most days and had the car radio permanently tuned to KVFM on 87.7FM. I listened on the way to work very morning, catching some great shows presented by our junior and senior school kids. Then I listened on my way to meetings after work catching partners and agencies in the area promoting their services. And I had the pleasure of listening to crazy Carl and Captain Rob on the way back home around 8pm.

My personal favourites, without doubt, were Lauren and Demi from Sacred Heart primary who were on the radio on Saturday afternoon and again as the last show on Thursday night before switch off. Those two girls were full of confidence and joie de vive, they were chatting, singing, engaging and fantastic. Move over Jonathan Ross, move over Terry Wogan, these girls are coming for you!

Wendy and I loved our show and for the knockers, Frank Doran was on the radio on Saturday afternoon, 24th November too.

We have to bring it back next year.

So much hard work went into this project, Steve Faragher from Kensington Vision and Carl Speares from Likely Alliance deserve all our praise, thank you so much for bringing community radio to our area and please come back soon.

Flint Street Nativity at the Playhouse

Wendy kindly invited me to accompany her to the opening night of the Flint Street Nativity at the Playhouse on 29th November.

It was great fun and quite moving too really.

The actors play children engaged in a nativity, with all the usual angst over who gets to play Mary and Joseph and who is fed up being an angel or a shepherd.

Pushy mums, absent dads, stage fright, it is all there.

And in the final act the actors become the parents of the children they have played in earlier acts and the angst becomes more understandable.

Very funny, some great moments, great acting and a lovely play.

Thanks very much to Wendy for inviting me, we had a great time. Do go and see it.

It reminded me of the tale of a boy who wanted to play Joseph but was shoe-horned into the part of the Inn-keeper.

When Joseph knocked on the door of his inn, asking him if there was any room for him and his pregnant wife, the disgruntled inn-keeper threw open the door shouting "Absolutely loads mate, do come in".

Electoral Committee - very cross!

My first ever Electoral Committee meeting on Thursday where I got the issue of those bloody boxes on the agenda. Readers of the blog in years gone by may remember this story.

Well I did my best, I told the primarily LibDem led committee about the ballot papers we found in the boxes this year. I reminded them about close elections - Croxteth ward was won by only 10 votes, Winchester by one vote in 1997.

They were unmoved.

I told them they were a failure in terms of knocking out supporters because the opposition steal the boxes or the cards from inside them.

We dont actually keep our cards, they all go in the bin (such few as are not stolen by the LibDems), we only have boxes in K&F because the LibDems have them and so we must.

I told them that they are a distraction from the real business of elections.

They were unmoved

I told them that nobody else in the country has boxes, but they refused to believe me, or the Returning Officer, or the Elections Officer.

They offered suggestions of places in the country where they believe the boxes are duplicated - I am positive they are wrong and that no-one outside of Merseyside does this. I know for sure that the national Labour Party is not happy with boxes.

And then my late-arriving Labour Councillor colleague failed to support me. He thought they helped remind people there was an election on. I am not sure how this is supposed to happen as you have to be at the door of the polling station before you see the box.

So we are stuck with them for another year at least and my blood pressure will have to suffer through another eve of poll


I am very cross!