Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tune into Radio Four tonight, Tuesday, at 8pm

BBC File on Four documentary on Liverpool council tonight, Radio 4 at 8pm.


"Allan Urry reports from Liverpool. The city is celebrating its status as European Capital of Culture and its regeneration programme is one of Europe's biggest.

The area should be booming, yet Liverpool City Council is mired with mounting debts and rated by government auditors as the worst in the country.

Critics say the city's resources are so stretched it is close to becoming a basket case."

Thanks to Susan Watson and Jonathan Brown for pointing this radio programme out to me. I shall be tuned in and we can exchance some comments afterwards perhaps?

Podcast here

Friday, May 23, 2008

A funny story from today's Echo

Nurses Sabotaged

Cardboard cut-out nurses designed to ask hospital visitors to wash hands have been sabotaged.

Instead, the figures at Lincoln County hospital are playing theme tunes from the A-Team, Top Cat and Mission Impossible and shouting "Boo" at passers-by.

..... well it made me laugh anyway

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dance Pad launch at the Sure Start centre - Lifebank - in Kensington

I left Crewe about 4pm to get back to Kensington for the launch of the Dance Pad.

Parks Partnership who manage (own?) the Lifebank, have noticed the increasing popularity of the dance pads at Amusement Arcades throughout the country and have replicated the idea, but significantly improved on them, in a local setting.

Colin and I like to pop into Arcades when on seaside days out, mainly to play on the 2p cascade machines and we have admired the youngsters who dance on the spot, moving their arms and legs in a preordained pattern, to match the moves identified on the screen in front of them. Left, right, up, down, stamp etc, all together, moving as one.

This idea has now been further developed so that youngsters at the Lifebank have about 10 individual mats which they can line up in front of a wall where a computer screen is reproduced and they compete with each other for the best and quickest and most accurate mover.

There was an equal number of boys and girls which was particularly pleasing and they had a very thorough physical workout. Lots of water required at break times!

It seems the Lifebank has hit on something that is great for physical health, great for improving reactions, great for bringing boys and girls together in one activity, the parents all love it because they know their children are safe for those three sessions a week, and it is all free!

The PCT were there to celebrate the launch, as was local international athlete, Beth Tweddle.

Well done to all concerned

Crewe and Nantwich - Polling Day

I spent about six hours in Crewe today, working on the polling day operation in Crewe and Nantwich byelection.

In the morning I went out with young Mark, Joe from Guisborough and Tim from Portsmouth, knocking on the doors of Labour promises, reminding them that today was polling day and urging them to go out and vote. In the afternoon Mark and I went it alone.

I have to say that in our deliberations, the "outs" had it by a very long nose.

It was very warm again, the sun shines a lot in Crewe compared to Liverpool, I can confirm that most confidently.

Mark and I enjoyed our chat as we walked round, putting the world to rights.

We espied lots of people on our travels. First to be spotted was Colin Eldridge, a Liverpool LibDem, hordes of Labour activists, including organisers, MPs, an MEP, and people I have not seen for years. Masses of hugs and kisses, which I really enjoyed.

Joe from Guisborough turned out to be a friend of one of my best mates - Eileen Johnson in Stockton, so that was lovely. I phoned her to tell her we were together and she rang me back from her holiday in Crete, lucky lady!

We worked very hard and put in a lot of graft but the time we were there - between about 10 and 4 was generally dead-time, in the new Labour era most people go to work, I blame the government on the number of outs we found!

I took lots of photos of Labour houses with huge poster displays - but in the end I am not sure any of it will have been enough. Our 200 workers will have easily knocked out our promises, but I suspect the Tories had more promises and their appetite was probably stronger than ours.

They will be counting now but I dont look forward to the results, if this was really a two-horse race, we may find one of them was hobbled!

If the Tories win, which I am sure they will, this will be their first win from us in something like 30 years. Not a great day for the Labour Party.

Deane Road Jewish Cemetery Open Day - June 18th - 3pm - 7pm

You are cordially invited to attend the open afternoon at Deane Road Jewish Cemetery (just next to Lidl on Kensington) on 18th June.

We are very proud of our Victorian cemetery within which many famous and wonderful Jewish people are buried.

We have been working for some years now on a refurbishment project and we would like to invite you to come and have a look round while the work is still in progress.

There is a lot done and very much more still to be done, but the first step has to be inviting our agents, partners, staff, residents and politicians to come and see this hidden jewel for themselves. You might be interested in our project in terms of personally volunteering, organising projects, donating funds, or maybe you have Jewish ancestors who might be buried here? But whatever the reason, you are assured of a fascinating visit.

We are opening from 3pm until 7pm so that you can either attend as part of your working day or after work, it is very much a drop-in session. Come at any time within those hours.

There will be guided tours by committee members and our resident genealogist and we might manage a cup of OJ or water if the weather is nice

Please pass this on - let's try for a champion turn-out

Mayor Making and AGM and Special Council meeting

The Investiture of the Lord Mayor went very well, Councillor Steve Rotheram (Labour) was proud and humbled by this chance to serve his city. One of the younger Lord Mayors I think he is going to be keen to make his mark and has already set up a new Lord Mayor's funding pot for small local projects and a Lord Mayor drop-in session, both quite new.

He wants to raise £208k for 2008 - and lets hope he pulls it off, all charities are very worthy.

The AGM was a bit of a mess, we were fighting against cuts in select committees, against the abolition of local area committes, against allowances for assistant executive members (assistant cabinet members) but we lost them all, even with the help of the Liberal Party and the Green Party. A devastating day for democracy - a fair result reflecting the numbers in the council chamber, but a terrible day for the voters and their idea about fairness.

We did win a few small local victories, around chairing neighbourhood partnership working groups for instance, but in general there was a sour taste in the mouth.

We now have fewer committees to scrutinise and fewer members to sit on those committees.

We went from that disappointment to the Special Council meeting called to try one last time to save Boaler Street and Leighton Dene.

Mary, an 81 year old lady, who is the principal carer for her 104 year old mum, spoke very eloquently about the care they have experienced from Leighton Dene, particularly in terms of rehab and respite. It was very powerful and she received a standing ovation from Labour, Liberal and Green members on her way into and out of the chamber.

Roz powerfully presented our case to keep the centres open, along with our leader Joe, but alas the voting went 40 - 44 and the centres are probably doomed.

Ironically Nadia Stewart, the new LibDem, elected a Labour councillor, who propped up the administration that would otherwise have gone into no-overall-control, abstained from voting. As did her co-councillor Phil Moffatt.

I was very unclear as to why that was.

They could have voted with the Lib Dems who would then have won by 6 votes, or with us and the LibDems would have won by 2 votes. There was no reason for them to abstain, it just looked like a cop-out to everyone present.

There were tears afterwards, some of which I am not ashamed to say were mine, as we tried to comfort the staff, the service-users and their carers. We now need to save their jobs, or any job for them within LCC as a cursory look at the current internal jobs showed only a tiny handful of suitable jobs for all these many jobs.

It was a very sad evening which was mixed with the pleasure of welcoming our new Lord Mayor.

I felt almost schizophrenic.

Alex is 9

Happy birthday to my wonderful nephew Alex, 9 years old

He had a lovely birthday, going on cubs camp to Commondale and getting ready for a trip to NY this weekend.

You know you are getting old when your nephews want cash for their birthday, for spends, rather than a real present

Have a great time all of you, you deserve it!

08th Wonder of Kenny

Wendy and I went to a special evening at Central Youth Club this week to celebrate the work of local young people in the creation of a wonderful film, 08th wonder of Kenny.

This is their second piece of work after the prize-winning football film from last year

Well done to all the young people, to Maria and the staff at Central Youth Club and to Tony Ealey and his colleagues at Eek films.

You have done us proud once again!

U-turn at top of Laurel Road

I have met Rob M from Liverpool Vision on site to discuss the inadequate U turn provisions at the top of Laurel Road for residents and shop keepers on Edge Lane and in the CML, Birchfield area.

The swing is fine for cars but no good for anything with a longer wheel base

He has promised to talk to Highways about better signage, pointing out that it is not suitable for bigger vehicles - I lost the fight for a wider turning space. So this will be a start, if it keeps pedestrians safe on the pavement where longer vehicles are currently mounting the kerb

Will keep you posted.

(It was quite funny when I talked about the possibility of a big wagon full of bikes coming to deliver to Quinns, and three minutes later the very same thing occurred. I think he thought I had set it up, but it was a true coincidence).

Plans for a new Community centre on Fielding Street

I have met Highways Officers on site on Fielding Street to discuss the application for a community/training centre for part of the BME community.

I am generally in favour of bringing this empty premise back into use, but worried about the parking implications. I have asked Highways to get back to the applicant and find out how their visitors will travel to the centre, before I can make up my mind whether to support or not.

European Neighbour's Day on Boaler Street

Just a quick note to alert you to the European Neighbour's Day on Tuesday 27th May at Venture Housing on Boaler Street

Children's hour - with great stuff for the kids, from 11am-12pm

Bingo from 12 - 1

International Food Tasting from 1 - 2 (will see you there in my lunch hour)

2-3 free hanging baskets and massages

And photo displays and art displays and a great time had by all

Do come, it is for everyone in L6 and L7, not just Venture Housing residents, or C7 residents (they are supporting this event too)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Liverpool Labour Shadow Cabinet

Shadow Executive Posts/Cabinet Posts/Spokespeople

Leader to Council - Joe Anderson
Deputy Leader - Paul Brant
Education and Skills - Ann O'Byrne
Environment - Alan Dean
Ethical Governance - Louise Baldock
Corporate Services - Joe Hanson
Assets and Development - Malcolm Kennedy
Enterprise and Tourism - Nick Small
Health, Care and Safeguarding - Wendy Simon
Safer, Stronger communities - Steve Munby

Chair of Education Select Committee - Jane Corbett
Chair of Health, Care and Safeguarding Select Committee - Roz Gladden

(In Liverpool they carry a greater level of responsibility that shadow spokespeople roles so this is a promotion for these two in effect)

I have not seen who we are putting up for all the Deputy Select Committee Posts yet -I think there are three, but Beatrice Fraenkel will be Labour's Deputy on Regeneration which makes perfect sense given her level of expertise and skills in this area.

Unfortunately the LibDems have slashed the number of committees and the number of committee places so we are having to make more of the outside bodies this year, so that as few a number of councillors as possible end up with no committees and no responsibility.

So Rose Bailey will be our member on the Police authority, which she does extremely well and achieves great respect for, but wont now be a front bench spokesperson, as that would mean having two big roles while others have none. She is going to work with Steve Munby and keep her involvement in the Community Safety aspect of his brief.

I am so proud and pleased to have become a spokesperson, and determined to do a good job. And I know the others are too. Wendy, Ann and I are all still a little bit wide-eyed as we only found out on Monday night, and whilst I cannot speak for them I know I feel a mixture of being delighted, keen and a wee bit daunted, but once I get the bit between my teeth I am sure it will be great.

Ethical Governance is a new role in Liverpool, created to try to counter the 1 star rating the council received from the Audit Commission - a big part of that was for financial management but also a big part was about the bad behaviour of councillors and the bad relationships they have with officers - I think mainly in terms of the administration rather than the opposition, although I would think there are faults there too. You will recall the Audit Commission referring to council meetings that were more like Eastern Europe...We also as an authority refer a huge amount of cases to the Standards Board, many of which are vexatious, something else that needs to be gotten on top of.

So I will be shadowing Paula Keaveney and together hopefully we can start to shift some of the more overtly testosterone laden behaviour back a bit. I was thinking about looking out my school prefect badge!

(More about last night's meeting, the result of the Boaler Street and Leighton Dene special meeting, the mayor making etc later today - I have a load of meetings to go to.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Labour Group AGM Part 2

- was very exciting, but I cannot really tell you the detail of Labour's new Shadow Cabinet until after the full council meeting tomorrow night.

I can however reveal that there are three new women now holding shadow Cabinet posts (or Executive Board posts, as we call them in Liverpool) and you won't have to look very far for the names of two of them. There are also two Labour women taking the two Select Committee chairs we have been offered as a group, and a further Labour woman taking at least one of the three Deputy Select Committee chairs.

Come back on Wednesday for the full sp and the opportunity to hear me being "made up" yet again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And a busy Sunday too

I met Peter and Nick to deliver the first of our "Thank You" leaflets - Wendy is still in Portugal and Liam caught the early shift at work.

I then went for a coffee at the home of two of our big supporters on the CML estate in Fairfield and caught up with some of their issues before going back to Lisa's to spend more time with Rosa and Isaac. I was only at the party for the dying moments yesterday, having been in Crewe, so wanted to spend a bit more time with them and with the children particularly. Rosa was enjoying her presents and they had been to the Hub to watch older kids on their BMX bikes. It is very fulfilling to have such lovely children in my life when I was not in the end able to have any children of my own. I took a lovely photo of Isaac, which I will show you if I ever work out how to get pics off my phone and onto the computer.

Then Colin and I went for our regular Sunday afternoon date with a carvery at the Halfway House and I came home to sort out some of my paperwork.

The diary is pretty full this week - I have five appointments tomorrow alone, but I enjoyed my week and my weekend and spending so much time with the people I love.

A busy Saturday

Liam and I took one of Frank Doran's old surgeries on Saturday morning - just in case anyone was out there who did not know he was no longer their councillor but needed assistance anyway - and someone did turn up, so it was useful.

The three of us have had long talks about extending our surgery offerings, now that there are three of us, and have two or three new possible venues, now we have to negotiate them with the building managers in the different places. More on that later.

I then went down to Crewe with Claire and Tim Beaumont and we joined John Healey, Local Government Minister and a young man from Salford, out door-knocking. It was a fairly basic poll but I think I can safely confirm that the "outs" won, by a long head. The reaction in down-town Crewe was very positive, those who were actually at home, including one young woman who has never voted before. It was good to have John with us as he could engage people in the more lengthy conversations while we pressed on, persuading people with posters up to upgrade to our newer ones and chatted to more people. It was particularly good to turn a corner and meet Liverpool members Gerard and Miriam out delivering leaflets - Tamsin with Alex Ferguson, Tamsin with the regenerated Vera Duckworth for instance - on the other side of the street.

After Crewe I made it to Rosa's second birthday party - presents from the Farmer's Cart in York, a Farmer Ted DVD and a farming jigsaw. She is a lovely little girl and was beautifully dressed in a red gingham layered outfit, quite the belle of the ball.

Then I rushed off to the secret bunker in Fairfield to join Steve Faragher and Sheila Fazakerley from Kensington Vision in a podcast which you can download at

They are doing great work to promote our neighbourhood and I really admire their work. Sheila made a great supper and we sat and chatted about the ways of the world and reminisced about our youthful ways, a smashing evening.

It was a lovely day all round.

Liverpool Wavertree Labour Party dinner

We had a great dinner on Friday night at the Devonshire House Hotel (my second visit in a week!)

About 150 people helped us raise vital funds for the constituency Labour Party. We were joined by guests from the Liverpool Scottish regiment, by local teachers and head-teachers, staff from Boaler Street and Leighton Dene old people's care centres, the Chrysalis Domestic Violence Project and various other organisations (I didnt take a list but there were loads) and also by some special individuals who I shant list for fear of causing them to blush - but we knew who you were.

We were supported by two local Housing Associations, Thomson's Solicitors, UNISON and all the other Labour Party constituencies.

We were also entertained all evening by wonderful young people from the Liverpool School of Music.

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families was the after-dinner speaker, introduced by our own Minister, the Rt Hon Jane Kennedy, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the MC was none other than Old Swan member Councillor Joe Anderson.

We had a lovely evening, made lots of money on the raffle (and I should know, I sold the tickets) and I recruited three new members. It was a really good evening, but I think next year we shall have to close with a disco as there were lots of itchy feet and no chance to strut our stuff. And Mr Twigg and I do like to strut our stuff in the Dev!

The evening came to a surreal end as I shared a taxi home with Tim Moore and a vaccuum cleaner, singing Jerusalem. A great time was had by all.

Committee of Selection

I would have liked to stay in York a bit longer but needed to come back to Liverpool for my first Committee of Selection.

That is the committee that works out the structure of the new council, suggests who the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor should be, agrees any select committee changes, levels of councillors' allowances and other such similar matters.

It was a real eye-opener, I don't mind telling you!

The committee is politically balanced so it was inevitable that the LibDems should win the lion's share of the votes at the meeting (but with Sir Trevor Jones and Steve Radford of the Liberal Party voting with us on a couple of votes we did win at least two of them.)

The committee recommendations then go to full council on Tuesday to be ratified - I hope some of them will NOT be ratified.

The political headlines would be

1. The LibDems have chosen Mike Storey to be the Deputy Lord Mayor (we take it in turns and it is their turn to select a Deputy, who will work with our Labour Lord Mayor, Steve Rotheram this year, and then take over as Lord Mayor next year - barring accident or scandal). To say the room went totally silent when Warren Bradley proposed him would be an understatement. We were truly stunned. You could have heard a pin drop.

Mike was sitting at the table with us, indeed had chaired early items on the agenda, as we waited for the current Lord Mayor to fight his way through the terrible city traffic caused by the Big Dig. Perhaps nobody wanted to say anything to slight him while we were in his company, I dont know, but as the shock hit us, nobody could think of anything to say. The chair asked for "those in favour" and a few voices said "agreed", but only a few. It didnt go to a vote that I recall but nobody verbally dissented and usually you only have a vote if a voice says "opposed". I think we were all too stunned. We could not quite believe that the leader was proposing a man who was shamed into resigning as leader of the council in anticipation of a serious Standards Board enquiry and who has since been reported again.

Warren quipped that he expected the proposal to have been more controversial, expecting a back-lash presumably, but I think he misjudged us. It is controversial, but we were all dumb-struck. The waves have been felt since, according to the newspapers and one or two local websites, and I suspect will go on being felt.

2. The LibDems propose cutting the number of select committees from 8 to 6, bundling up together a whole host of important matters and thereby limiting scrutiny. But it occurs to me that they may also have limited the number of posts they reward the loyal 26 with - the people who voted for Warren in the leadership contest - and not rewarding those who did not support him. They intend to have 8 cabinet members plus a leader and deputy leader. Add 8 assistant cabinet members and 4 committee chairs, plus a deputy Lord mayor and throw in 3 neighbourhood committee chairs and you more or less have a full house.
Of course this is the cynical view, I could be very wrong. I only offer one possible reading of the facts, and will authorise any dissenting views through the comments, providing they are not personally rude or aggressive. One needs to be fair about these particularly controversial items.

3. The LibDems intend to disregard the Independent Panel who recommend the level and range of councillor's allowances, to allow Assistant Cabinet members (Assistant Executive members as they are known in the city) to go on collecting allowances. The Independent Panel has asked that Assistants should not receive special responsibility allowances any more as there is no way of demonstrating that they deserve them (in a nutshell. I think the wording talks about the lack of a job description or any mechanism to demonstrate effectiveness.)
They will only win this vote in full council by asking the 8 lucky Assistants to vote themselves an allowance that the independent panel does not think they merit. It is a disgraceful situation in my view.

I reeled out of the committee, my head spinning with the spectacle of a disgraced party clinging on to power and influence through all manner of sleight of hand.

(It was however very thoughtful of Councillor Ron Gould, who I have a lot of time for, to support me in calling for the answers to questions asked in the formal part of council meetings to be less offensive or childish or provocative and rather more professional. Thanks Ron!)

I will never get used to not staying in York with Alice...

(Titles are always the hardest part of making an entry)

I have spent a couple of days in York this week with Susan and Tom, Dylan and at last, with baby Alice.

I had a truly wonderful time, I cuddled Alice for hours, she is such a placid baby (at least once she has been fed!) and played with Dylan and caught up on all the local news with Susan and Tom. We went out during the days on adventures and gossipped about York and Liverpool politics, and the national picture, during the evenings.

Susan, Dylan, Alice and I went to the Deep in Hull on Wednesday, the world's only submarium. Dylan was fascinated by the interactive displays, pressing all the buttons and running on to the next. He loved watching the divers feed the sharks and eels and other strange (and very big) fish in the huge tanks. For my part, it felt a bit like a Doctor Who set - the biggest Ray (not my photo, but a similar fish) looked just like Lady Cassandra and there was a big blue fish - don't ask me what kind, at least a metre long, that had a very human face, it looked exactly like the kind of monster that Russell T Davies would create.

The following day we had a trip to the Farmer's Cart near York, which has a small farm of young animals - pigs and piglets, goats, rabbits and guinea pigs, horses and chickens, and of course the all important tractor to delight young children, and a farmer's shop with fresh produce and a very nice cafe to delight their parents.

I really loved being with them and was sad to leave. I can really believe in Alice's existence now that I have held her in my arms and it was so good to spend time with Dylan, who now that he can talk in full sentences is proving to be a very engaging little boy with a personality all of his own.

I shall be back soon!

Liverpool Labour Group AGM part 1

Last Monday night we had the first part of our two part AGM and re-elected Councillor Joe Anderson as our leader, unanimously and with cheering.

I was delighted to be re-elected as the policy convenor and blushed a little at the words of praise for our 2008 manifesto.

Wendy is our new chair, replacing Steve Rotheram who becomes Lord Mayor on Tuesday night. I am absolutely delighted that her hard work and commitment have been recognised by the leader, I was very keen that she should put her name forward, although her natural modesty was hard to overcome as she deliberated over whether to put her name forward. She is already chair of our constituency Labour Party, of a governing body, of various Unison committees and practically every other organisation she sits on (there are so many that I dont even know the full list), so it made perfect sense that she should offer herself for this role. She was very warmly welcomed, in absentia (she is in Portugal, the lucky so-and-so) as Chair of our Labour Group and I texted her to let her know the news as we left the meeting.

Another reason for me to be "made up" this month. The advance of the Labour women goes forward another pace!

The Light of Bengal

Colin, Mike and I (this is beginning to sound like a menage a trois) went to the Light of Bengal on Saturday night to celebrate Mike's birthday - I wont say how old he is, but he is older than me!

What a fantastic Indian restaurant, quite simply the best in Liverpool.

Twice I have been there now, the second time to check that the wonderful meal we had the first time was not just a flash in the pan - and it was not

Miles better than the Gulshan, in my view.

As a former resident of West Yorkshire who knows a good curry house when she sees one, I can heartily recommend it, and it was not particularly expensive either!

Kensington Regeneration Neighbourhood Awards

Wendy and I spent a pleasant evening at the KR Neighbourhood Awards, recognising some of the real local champions in our community.

We sat with the Kensington Vision members that I had nominated for the Culture awards for their work with KVFM87.7 and with Alan Tapp - we know where you are!

Very convivial company, we really enjoyed ourselves.

It was good to see all our friends in a social setting and to enjoy their successes with them. Well done to all the award winners.

Oscar the Dog - in Chester

Oscar has been pestering me to tell you all how we met on a pedestrian crossing in Chester on bank holiday Monday.

I was in Chester with Colin and Mike, relaxing after the frenetic election campaigning. We fancied a trip on the vintage open-topped bus and as we made our way to the bus pick up point, and were crossing the road, I spied newly elected Tim Moore with his girlfriend and Oscar, crossing towards us. They had not seen us, so I shouted out "Aternoon Councillor!" and they did a double-take. They retraced their steps and we had a chat at the roadside. I suspect it was the first time Tim had been so hailed and I think he was quietly chuffed.

Oscar was charming, polite with beautiful manners and looked quite jaunty as he enjoyed an afternoon walk in the sun.

Lovely to meet you Oscar, I am sorry it has taken me a week or so to catch up with my entries, this one is for you!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vote for Liverpool as England's Most Musical City

That lovely bloke Phil Hayes has just sent me a note about this online poll.

We are asked by the Arts Council to vote for the most musical city in England

And there can be no contest - so visit the site here and get voting for Liverpool!

(And it is not just about the Beatles is it, I love the Zutons for instance, and wasn't Billy Fury fantastic, and what about our wonderful orchestra? There are some great comments on the site too, about how Liverpool has shaped the music world, never mind just this country. But we will only win if you go and vote for us!)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Astonishing LibDem leadership election

It is truly gob-smacking to report that Councillor Warren Bradley has clung on to power as the LibDem Leader of Liverpool tonight.

Following another disastrous set of local elections, which saw the LibDems only keep control with the support of a defection from someone who was voted for by Labour voters in 2006, the leader faced a challenge from two members of his party.

Councillors Richard Kemp and Paul Clein challenged Bradley in a leadership contest run this evening in the town hall.

The online newspapers report that each was asked to make a speech to the 46/90 Liberal Democrat councillors and then answer questions from the floor.

Despite his presiding over 14 seat losses in 24 months, and being in the middle of a standards board investigation for trying to get staff sacked (along with former leader Councillor Storey who was reported for a second time for the same offence), and being the leader of a one-star authority, condemned by the Audit Commission for a failure to manage the books, the LibDem councillors voted him back in by a margin of 26 to 20. (13 votes for Kemp, 7 for Clein).

So Bradley is still at the helm and we can only assume the LibDem ship will run aground very quickly.

What were they thinking of?

How will they manage group discipline now, at a time when they need it more than ever before? How are they going to ensure that all 46 are in their council chamber seats ready to put their hands up for crucial votes when 20 of them voted for someone else? It will be very tempting for people to drift off to the toilets or for a smoke just before the voting bell rings.

And the LibDem Chief Whip has other matters on his mind, he might not be able to give this his full attention, given that he is currently appearing in court on charges of electoral offences.

There are always byelections, people sadly die, or they fall into ill-health, or have to care for relative, or get a new job or move house. And there are defections too of course.

I would not imagine that this disgraced and disgraceful group will make it all the way until 2010.

We can only watch and wonder as the LibDem ship takes on more and more water, listing dangerously. They wont be playing "Nearer my God to thee" though as they go down, there is not enough of them to scratch up a decent band and they most definitely won't be able to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Boro give Man City a thorough trouncing

What a result!

8-1 - against a team four places above us in the tables.

Sven wont be a happy man. Manchester must be a city feeling schizophrenic today, with glory glory Man United on one hand and an embarassing rout on the other.

Now why can't we play like that every week? Finally saved from the relegation threat last week by a victory over Portsmouth, scraping back up the table, and then this week, mighty and all-conquering.

What a funny team we are, we can beat the big boys - Arsenal and Manchester United, but we always hang around the bottom half of the table because of our failure to beat the little teams. I do hope this is a sign of things to come.

Great to be ahead of Sunderland at the end of the season of course, but very disappointing to be one place behind Newcastle, one measly point between us. Not good enough Gareth, but at least you ended the season in style.

Wet and Dry

Leafletting in Crewe at lunch-time was red-hot, we were burning under the sun. An interesting housing estate, reasonably well-to-do, nicely kept, privately owned, and more Labour posters than Tory ones. Now I know that doesn't mean anything but it gave me some heart.

I see in the papers (the Tory papers actually, when I think about it) that the Tories are in line for a 1000 vote majority. That is a better scenario than I had imagined and gives me extra heart, we can reign it back from that situation. The difficulty as always is getting our voters out on the day. Sheila said she had had at least 60 volunteers in today, including our Liverpool contingent, so people are going over there and getting stuck in, which is good news. It is not a constituency with computer records of voting intention so I was pleased to hear they have managed to contact a quarter of the electorate in a week, from a standing start.

Surely the good people of Crewe and Nantwich cannot really want to elect the toff in the top hat who is the heir to the Timpson's shoe empire?

Fantastic weather. Then this afternoon, back home, the heavens opened with a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain, wasn't I glad to be indoors! Still, it has saved me having to water the patio plants.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Cleaner, Greener, Safer fund

Cleaner, Safer, Greener Fund

open again for applications !

The LCVS Grants Team is administering on behalf of Liverpool City Council the Cleaner, Safer, Greener Fund for Communities for 2008/09. This is a small grants programme for voluntary and community sector groups and is aimed at projects based in Liverpool that contribute to the Cleaner, Safer, Greener element of the Safer and Stronger Communities Programme under the following themes:

Environmental improvements

(e.g. renovation/refurbishment projects, improvements to local green spaces, energy saving/environmentally friendly improvements that improve recycling or tackle pollution)


(e.g. projects that tackle issues of crime, crime prevention and community safety)

Empowering local people

(e.g. projects that encourage local people to take a more active role in the promotion and development of safer, cleaner, greener communities and that promote community cohesion)

Grants are available for projects between £100 and £5,000. Decisions on funding will be made by local panels of elected community representatives in each of the five Neighbourhood Management Areas.

For more information contact the LCVS Grants team on 0151 236 7728. Full guidelines and an application form are available on the LCVS website http://www.lcvs.org.uk

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

That mythical period "after the election"

Well it is finally here, that mythical period "after the election" where everything is shunted to.

So now there is no excuse.

I have to sort out the back yard - clean up the moss and the weeds and prepare it for summer, and some patio planting.

I have already sorted out the two light-bulbs that were out for up to six weeks, unchanged since they blew.

I have made a stab at some shopping and the laundry - but there is still much to do.

I have spoken to some of my long-suffering friends and family, but there remains some still to call and write to.

I need to sort out my travel diary from Ireland last year - when I cannot truly recall some of the funny stories I had noted.

Then there is the back-door which still needs varnishing, I promised the carpenter in February I would get it done straight away, gulp, all that rain!

And the curtains for the front room - don't get me started on the last abortive attempt.

I have been promising myself to file away the papers and hang the pictures and paintings piled up in the middle bed-room.

I need to get my fledgling consultancy under-way before my savings run out.

And I need to see baby Alice, before she has learnt to toddle! That has to be the top of the list.

And in the middle of all that, we have a byelection to win in Crewe and Nantwich, now where did I put my list of Labour campaigners?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Kensington and Fairfield victory and brief news round-up

They threw their worst at us but in Kensington and Fairfield, Labour's candidate Liam Robinson was victorious.

His majority was about 200 - more than mine and Wendy's - for now!

Joe, our local psephologist, reckons it is 42 years, at least, since there was last 3 Labour councillors in Kensington and Fairfield (or its component parts)

Claire Wilner also won in Belle Vale, she was our other choice of candidate in Kensington and Fairfield, the competition was between the two. So it is a win win for the Liverpool Labour Group. We get both. Claire breaks history tonight by helping Belle Vale to become the first ward in the city with three women councillors.

Two other victories were John Prince in Yew Tree, our second seat there and the mighty Brian Dowling who took Anfield on his third time of asking.

We fell short of taking Knotty Ash ward by 36 and County ward by 7. Heart-breaking results that will haunt us for weeks and months.

Picton fell short of about 250 which is magnificent considering Tim only started in March really, he didnt even knock on a door until April. His team was very small too - I was hardly ever there and I was his agent! So to take Makinson from a majority last year of about 600 to a piddling 250, he polled fewer votes than the much nicer Ian Jobling, is a real result for Tim. We will be back!

Croxteth was a success story as I said it would be, Rose won comfortably with a majority of over 600. So the gainsayers who kept sending me nasty notes about her - which I did not publish, were all wrong. She is a very popular local councillor and the nasty notes backfired.

The fourth Liberal councillor, in West Derby, following a deselection and defection was short-lived as she came third in the contest between LibDem and Labour. So Councillor Radford is back to three again. Which is at least one more than it should be!

This took the LibDems to no-overall control (they also lost a second seat to the Green party in St Michael's ward)

However, we learnt after the count that Nadia Stewart from Croxteth who jumped from the Labour Group before she was pushed and became an independent, has now defected to the LibDems just in time to save them from going to no-overall control.

Without her Boaler Street Elderly people's Care Centre and Leighton Dene centre for people with alzheimers and dementia could have been saved.

Now, thanks to Nadia Stewart, 160 people will lose their jobs and hundreds of residents will lose their care.

Boy will she be popular with the residents of Liverpool when they find out that they could have been shot of the LibDems for good, had it not been for this woman. And when they find out that she comes from an old Labour family, then they will say she has besmirched the memory of her Labour Party representatives in her family.

So a great night for some wards and a bad night for the city as we limp on through another two years of this terrible administration

Good night everyone, you did a great job, thanks for all the support!