Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A bit of a round-up

All is going extremely well in the Liverpool Labour campaign.

On Saturday and Sunday we got a full round out in Picton and in Kensington.

15 of us rewarded ourselves with a night out on Sunday night, meeting at Esteban on Lark Lane for a tapas meal and a drink and to exchange campaign stories.

A few sore heads turned up on Monday morning but we still got a delivery out in Kensington and Fairfield - a targetted letter from Wendy, Jane and me supporting our wonderful candidate Liam. He has been revisiting all the Labour promises - people who have said they are voting Labour - and they are all solidly behind him.

Today we got out a ground-breaking leaflet - we must be the first political party ever to put a photo of their own candidate's home on the front of their leaflet! Liam and I standing in our respective doorways, 3 doors apart, to prove he lives in Wavertree, Liverpool not Blackpool, or indeed Mossley Hill come to that. I am not sure where that particular little fib came from, but some voters have been phoning in to tell us that this is another line that is being used on them. You probably wont notice me in the photo, I am only a little figure in the corner, but I am there waving, honest! Our car insurance would be a lot cheaper apparently if we had a different post-code - but other than that, I am happy in my street with such nice neighbours!

Arlene McCarthy MEP came over to help today, knocking on doors in Kensington and in Knotty Ash and stuffing a few envelopes for me. We have also been joined in the campaign centre by Teresa Griffin every day for the last week - Labour's number 3 in the Euro ballot next year, she lives off Sefton Park.

Tonight the campaign centre was full to bursting with volunteers to prepare target mail for Anfield and County and Belle Vale and Kensington. I left at 10.15pm, having done 13 hours, feeling a bit guilty as I left 20 people still there getting everything ready.

A funny story from County - young Daniel knocked on a door and a bearded man opened it, dressed up as a female nurse with his hair up in a little pony tail. He was so gobsmacked he could not actually remember when he got back to the person holding the clip-board, what the answer had been!

Gerard says he does't mind even if the bloke wears a wedding dress, he will happily take him to vote if he is voting Labour.

I haven't spoken to our Rose today but she wont be happy about the libellous leaflet the Independent candidate has put out in her ward. However, I am reliably informed by her agent that she has been receiving messages of support every day. These things usually back-fire and I am positive that will be the case this time too.

The only bit of really bad news is that our agent in West Derby, a lovely young man Kevin, who works really hard for the party, has turned his ankle out leafletting and is now cast as our data manager, updating all the contact statistics on the computer - so we are all thrilled even if he isn't.

Claire is in great spirit in Belle Vale - we hope to have Liverpool's first women-only councillors ward there come Friday morning. She is very upbeat and I cannot wait for her to join us in the group.

Indeed, one of the things that is keeping us going, when we are foot-sore and it is late at night after a very long day, is thinking about the Labour gains we shall make on May 1st - looking forward to a raft of new colleagues who will join us on the Labour Group and help drive our policies forward. If we win where we hope to win, we shall have some great new councillors who are young and full of great ideas, passion and dynamism.

I was struck on Sunday night at the restaurant that so many of our activists and new blood are under 35. Actually I might be doing them a disservice, many of the people folding and stuffing and sticking tonight were under 30. And so many women, we had at least a dozen women out campaigning in Kensington and in Picton today. I love working in big teams, we have people who prefer to leaflet and people who prefer to knock on doors and those happy to ferry volunteers from other parts of the city about. We have those who like to sit at our big tables and stuff and stick and those who want to stick sellotape on posters. The only thing we have not done much of this year is telephoning. Most activists prefer to go out on the doorstep and meet people in the flesh so to speak.

I don't think the LibDems must have a very big team. I only ever see them in either very small groups or more usually on their own and very rarely do I see anyone who is not a councillor. I am delighted that there are hundreds of volunteers for Labour in Liverpool. West Derby constituency is now up to 60 I understand, which is amazing. It is all thanks to the dynamism of Stephen Twigg and his agent of course who have driven their active numbers right up.

I guess it is because the scent of victory is in the air. And we all remember John Prescot's last speech to conference in the run-up to 1997 when he asked us to think whether we had done enough, could we do more? Had we stuffed enough envelopes? Knocked on enough doors?

We wont be found wanting.

This will probably be the last post from me before May 2nd because I dont see where the time is going to be found.

Good luck to all our candidates and particularly those in our key seats. Break a leg!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Last push in Kensington and Fairfield

Things are looking very good.

Lots of Labour promises, who are nicely firmed up and solidly behind Liam

Good campaign plan organised for the last five days - it seems to have been a very long time in coming but polling day really is on Thursday.

Now the final task is to build up our polling day team for a really big knock-out of all the Labour supporters.

So if you want to help us to get Liam elected and help to drive out the failed Liberal-Democrats from the city of Liverpool, send me an email or give me a call and sign up to a door-knocking session on May 1st. Or you can leave me a comment on here and rather than publish it for everyone to read it, I will read it and then delete it. There are thousands of promises and it is going to be a big job to get round them all so everyone who turns up will be really important to the cause.

Labour might not be in a very good position electorally at the moment nationally, but locally in Liverpool we fully expect to make gains so if you want to be part of the winning team, come and join us on May 1st!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Richmond Tavern encounter

It was a bit of a shocker last night to run into a cabal of LibDems, when I wandered into our local to catch the end of the quiz, having been to a performance in the Anglican cathedral.

Councillors Bradley, Eldridge and Frank Doran with various hangers-on were in there, having a drink. It almost put me off my glass of wine.

As they were leaving, Warren said to me "What are you doing in my pub?" and I answered "I think you'll find it is my pub". Oh the wit and repartee we both managed, they should put us on the stage, weren't we both so erudite?

They didn't win the quiz though, signs of things to come on May 1st?

County tales

Gerard, Labour's candidate in County ward has been telling me some funny tales from the doorstep.

Apparently he met an elderly lady who asked him if his grandmother was called Cecilia. Yes, says Gerard, she was. It turned out this lady was his long-lost Great Aunty Annie! Family reunions are now being planned.

Another lady on the doorstep blessed him with holy water, saying she was praying for him to win.

And he met some of his old neighbours from his childhood who had since moved away. There was much reminiscing about the old days when Gerard and his little mates played tricks, tying door handles together and running away - still at least they weren't throwing stones at windows or mugging anyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Evening campaigning in Croxteth

Labour's women councillors in Liverpool were out en masse on the streets of Croxteth tonight to campaign for our colleague Rose Bailey.

It was really lovely, to have so many women out on the streets together, and we had a remarkably successful canvass too. It is awe-inspiring to meet lots of people on doorsteps who are expressing their personal satisfaction and deep admiration and support for their councillor after years of dedicated service. Rose has done so much for individual people and their families, almost every door had a story to tell. They are all very fond of her. It is like campaigning for a member of the royal family, or a hollywood star, except that Rose is very humble and shrugs off the plaudits.

Then our happy band went off for a meal and a drink and a gossip which was a great way to round off the evening. I do love my Labour Group.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Writing on the Wall festival

WoW Festival 2008

I have been made aware of this festival which is being organised in Liverpool throughout the month of May, do have a look at the website for details of some exciting events.

May 1st to May 31st

It’s 2008, and the writing is on the wall. With the whole city debating and engaging with its status as Capital of Culture, Writing on the Wall returns to the roots of that culture with history, drama, poetry, fiction, scholarship, journalism, and music. Throughout the month of May, our festival will ask some big questions about the nature of writing and its relationship to society. We hope our diverse array of guests, together with our audiences, will find the answers. With such eminent thinkers as Tony Benn, Phil Scraton, Yasmin Alibhia Brown; with the imagination of Poliakoff, Blake Morrison and Gilad; and the irreverence of Howard Marks and John Cooper Clarke, WoW 2008 will be a profusion of ideas and creative energy.

Writing on the Wall is a not for profit, social economy, organisation (company limited by guarantee with charitable status) established in 2002. The company was established to assure the continuing independent development of a festival that originated in 2000 as a Millennium Project sponsored through Liverpool John Moores University.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Visiting the Hindu Centre on Edge Lane, Kensington, Liverpool

Liam and I have been building links with the Hindu Centre on Edge Lane, Kensington, Liverpool over recent weeks.

We went this evening to meet some of the committee members and have a tour of the Temple, and a meal with the congregation.

I have to confess that my knowledge of Hinduism was fairly woeful but we had a very good grounding from the Hindu Priest. We took off our shoes, mainly he explained because the congregation sit on the carpeted floor and they dont want the floor to be dirtied by shoes. Makes perfect sense to me.

He said there were few rules in Hinduism, they ask that people concentrate on doing their best for each other and for peace and that is the main rule.

He showed us the Hindu Altar and explained the various incarnations of the one true God that are important in their faith. He also explained, while describing the beautiful paintings that local Hindus have endowed within the Temple, that Hinduism is a peace-loving religion, despite the fact that some of the incarnations had to fight and go into battle.

It was fascinating, and the food was pretty good too in the hall!

They have lost all of their council funding this year from Liverpool City Council, £33k at a stroke. We have promised to sit down with them after the election and work with them on securing some alternative funding to help them to carry on with their work as the only Hindu centre in Merseyside. We also discussed the possibility of holding regular surgeries there to supplement our existing services, after the election if Liam is elected and we have more capacity.

It was a very fruitful visit.

British Citizenship Service - mark 2

I took a break from campaigning today to take part in my second British Citizenship Conferral Service.

You may recall my blogging about my having been invited to take part and then telling you about how my first service went.

I was determined to get it just right this time, having read the comments in the visitor's book last time, so I changed a few parts of my speech. I am pleased to say that we got six very warm comments today. It is such a special day for the new citizens, there were 19 created today and about half of a dozen of them were lovely children. There were people from the Phillipines, Russia, Somalia, Iraq, Canada, Zimbabwe, Egypt and other countries this time.

At the end of the service we all stand for the national anthem and some have asked in recent months that they be invited to sing, rather than stand quietly. The staff and I have been talking about how this might be done, with them perhaps printing out the words and putting them on the seats so that they can sing if they want to, but need not if they don't. Also we can change the music so that it is a sung version they listen to, not just the music.

I shall have to sing along of course, if this goes forward, despite my pronounced republican views. Sometimes you just have to do the appropriate thing however you feel personally.

If anyone ever sends me a photo they have taken at one of the ceremonies I have taken part in, I will post it up for you. We have the pictures in front of the Union Jack flag, in one of the larger "marriage" rooms in the Register office, it is a lovely setting.

I cannot think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, personally.

Dirty streets in Fairfield - walkabout with a resident and an officer

At last week's Neighbourhood Committee, a local resident and I found out later, a former Labour Councillor from the old Tuebrook ward (1990 - 1994) asked the committee a public question about the dirty streets in Prescot Road, Fairfield.

Mike Cockburn, our neighbourhood Environment Manager was at the meeting and he agreed with Wendy and me that he would provide an officer from his team to meet the resident, Ann, and one of us, to go on a walkabout with her so that she could point out precisely what concerns she had.

We did this on Wednesday afternoon and Ann took us on the walk she regularly takes from her home, through Newsham Park and along to the bus stop on Prescot Road. All along the route there was evidence that although the road is kept clean, the pavements are sadly neglected. There are no "men with brushes" in evidence, only the vehicles with brushes that ride up to the kerbs. The park was dirty too. We spotted at least two dozen different problem areas and the officer, Larry, took loads of photographs of detritus that concerned us.

He has promised to meet Enterprise (streets) and Glendale (parks) "on site" and go over these with them and then get back to me with the results of their discussions. As I have said before, the people of this city pay a huge sum to Enterprise and to Glendale to fulfil their contract to keep our streets and parks clean and it seems clear to me that they are much more effective in some part of the city than others.

It would appear in the case of Enterprise that where an "enhanced service" is being provided by other organisations, as is the case in some of Kensington where the Clean Team operate, Enterprise do not find it necessary to work as hard on delivering their basic duties.

Not good enough! Labour will examine the fulfillment of these contracts very closely if elected to power on May 1st. If it is possible for my own street to be kept beautifully clean then it is also possible for the streets I represent to be kept beautifully clean. Nothing less will suffice for the people of Kensington and Fairfield (or Picton either, come to that)

How Liverpool should look in 2024

The Liverpool Local Development Framework Core Strategy Preferred Options Report (sexy title, huh!) began six weeks of statutory consultation on Friday 28th March 2008. This link takes you to the consultation portal.

The documents talks about the policy direction being proposed for Liverpool over the next 15 years and places considerable emphasis on the City and North of Liverpool areas. And so this consultation was important for our City and North Neighbourhood Partnership Working Group (NPWG)on Physical Regeneration to study and respond to(another sexy title, how do they do that?).

As Chair of the group looking at the physical regeneration for the city centre and inner core wards, some of them in the North, I asked that we dedicate a session of the group to studying the 15 year plan for the development of our city.

We had a very full and useful discussion about all 17 of the recommendations in the document - where should the main shopping areas be in the city, where should the main growth of jobs occur, where should new housing go, what public transport would we need to connect these areas, what about new schools to support new housing etc. How could we make sure all new developments were green and energy efficient etc.

Our findings will be published, in the name of the NPWG sometime in the next week or so, and you will be able to see them here

Currently the responses from Rick Parry at Liverpool FC are showing.

If you want your say on how Liverpool should look in 2024, this is your chance to read the documents and send in your comments.

I will let you know when our findings have been published so you can see our cross-party deliberations.

Carbon Monoxide alert

Today news has emerged of a death in a Great Western Hotel in Newquay in Cornwall.

This follows news last week about a poisoning which thankfully did not result in death but made several people very poorly, at a Liverpool hotel.

You can buy portable CO detectors for under £20.

It is not just holidays in apartments in mainland Europe where you need to be careful, or student halls, or privately rented flats.

Anywhere where energy is created for heating or cooking, that involves burning fossil fuel, has the capacity to create CO. Not just gas, but also oil and coal and charcoal and even wood.

These were nice hotels in this country, not flea-pits.

Please take my advice and buy two detectors - one for home and one to take with you whenever you pack your overnight bag. You cannot smell carbon monoxide, you cannot see, you cannot hear it hissing, you never know when it is there. Be safe!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maxine is 40!

Actually she was 40 yesterday but I didn't have time to blog last night.

It is a momentous day when your little sister reaches such a mile-stone.

(Nick Crofts was kind enough yesterday to say that I don't look old enough to have a younger sister of 40 - such a lovely bloke! But the facts are as they stand.)

Happy Birthday Maxi-BooDog. I hope your birthday weekend in London is fantastic, have a wonderful time. You deserve every pleasure. The birthday cake that Mum gave you, with a photo of you as a blonde Shirley Temple aged about 3 sounds fantastic, I hope you took a picture of it to share with me, I am so sorry I could not be there with you. What was Mum thinking of, having a baby in the middle of an election period?

Much love

All go on the campaign trail

Another busy day in the Labour campaign for Liverpool

Writing leaflets, direct mail letters, folding and stuffing, delivering, door-knocking, taking photos, chasing up casework (and still having to go to select committee meetings too).

We have got all of Liam's election address out in Kensington and Fairfield and continue to garner great support everywhere we go. Apparently Frank Doran has been door-knocking in Fairfield and lamenting the fact that he is on his own and so can not do as much as Labour can, he cannot go to all the meetings. Poor chap. It must be awful being the only councillor representing your party in a ward, working hard to ensure that you go to everything, that you are informed about every issue, that you contribute to every consultation, that you listen to as many residents as you can, regularly, week in and week out, that you don't leave everything until the last minute. I cannot imagine what that must be like.

A couple of things are worthy of mention today

Government Minister Ivan Lewis (and an old friend from the two byelections in 1999 in the region where he worked like a trojan and was a real star motivating other MPs to come to Wigan and Eddisbury) launched the Government's Alzheimer's Strategy about 6 weeks ago. Today he was visiting Leighton Dene, an Alzheimer's Special Unit today with Councillors Roz Gladden, Labour Spokesperson on Health and Adult Social Care and her Deputy, Councillor Wendy Simon. You will recall this is the centre the LibDems have voted to close, claiming it is Labour Government policy that drives them to this terrible decision. He has made it clear today that is not the case.

He said most emphatically that it was a marvellous facility, a centre of excellence, and one that the Government would consider to be a national standard-bearer with very committed staff, providing a fantastic service. He was extremely impressed with it and said other parts of the country could learn a lot from it.

And the LibDems are shutting it down along with Boaler Street Rehab and Respite Centre!

I stopped counting the petition returns ages ago, but we must have topped 5000 by now. At least another 150 arrived today, as arrive every day. Many of them collected by carers of those who use the service.

I understand that Channel 4 were filming in Belle Vale with our candidate today, trying to find any evidence of a Tory revival - "Call me Dave" Cameron has been making much of their party's chances in the north. I wouldn't hold out much hope if I were you "Dave". Liverpool is still 100 years away from forgiving your lot for what they did to this city. And of course for the right and far-right voters, there are some candidates and councillors who would be very suitable repositories of their vote within factions of the Liberal-Democrat Party locally.

We were door-knocking in Liverpool tonight with The Times in tow too. Lots of evidence of switching, the LibDem vote is not soft any more, it is now crumbling. Actually, soft things don't crumble, they just squish and squash so that is a rubbish analogy. The LibDem vote is factured and riven with fault lines, causing cracking and splintering and falling away. There, that is better.

The writing is on the wall for this administration. More and more seats inexorably move from unlikely towards possible and others move from possible towards probable and finally, others move from probable to highly likely.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday's World at One - Radio Four

Did I tell you that Liam and I went out door-knocking last week with a Radio 4 journalist who was doing a piece about Liverpool?

You can now download it and listen to it yourself

We are on the Monday Episode with the piece beginning roughly 24 minutes into the show (you can skip through so you don't have to sit through the George Osborne interview at the start!)

Liam was great, so was the lady whose door we knocked on. Yes, it is true that she is a confirmed a Labour voter, although when I first met her two years ago she was not, she is a real switcher. But the real beauty of the interview was that we did not know it was her door until she opened it. I had her name on my list of residents in the street but had not put two and two together.

She was not the only door we knocked on either, we spoke to lots of people while we were cold-calling with the reporter, but this particular lady did have a lot to say about the city (as did most of the people we visited) and he obviously chose this as typical of the reactions we were getting.

The reporter cut out the sound of himself snorting when Liam mentioned dog-muck, because by the time we had finished on our campaign session, he must clearly have seen for himself that it was a real issue.

If you listen carefully in the background you can hear me telling Liam the names of the electors behind each door.

All very exciting and I would say a very positive outcome to what was truly a "finger in the wind" exercise requested by the BBC to help with their programming. It can be a very risky exercise, to knock on a random selection of houses, thankfully the Kensington doors we knocked on were at home and were keen to talk.

What's that all about then?

We have gathered a wide selection of LibDem leaflets this weekend from across the city.

I am somewhat bemused to see that they are being printed in red and black - and not a spot of yellow to be seen.

Why is this, I have asked myself. The obvious answer is the LibDems are hoping that readers think, for a while at least, that these are Labour leaflets.

But why would they want to do that?

I am not a stupid woman, I have 13 years of professional campaign training with the Labour Party. I am aware of leaflets that have gone out in the country before, in Labour colours, that purport to suggest that Tony Blair was urging people to vote Liberal Democrat (as if!).

But these leaflets are not pretending to be Labour leaflets, indeed they still have a Focus banner at the top, although it is greyed out hard to spot.

So what is it all about, I keep asking myself.

But then the only answer presented itself to me at yesterday's Labour Liverpool campaign meeting. They must be so fed-up of people throwing their yellow leaflets away un-read that the only slight chance they have of anyone reading their propaganda is to put it into the colours of the party that people do want to read about - Labour.

This is the party running the city (down), this is the party that claims to be taking Liverpool back to the top, but they are in such a slough of despond that they have to pretend to be Labour to even get anyone to read a word.

That this is the party that also has failed to manage to stand a candidate in two wards out of 30, is also not lost on the voters

A busted flush!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

LGA First - a day in the life of a councillor

I was very honoured to be asked by the Local Government Association to contribute "a day in the life of a councillor" article for their First Magazine. It was published today and I used the opportunity to promote two of the projects in the area that are very close to my heart.

The online link to the article is here

The magazine article contains this brilliant photo of the Deane Road cemetery taken by the tree-feller as he hung on a rope high over the cemetery wall.

You can see other photos and detail on the Deane Road Cemetery website

A wet and dry, hot and cold Saturday

What a day

This morning at 10am I was leafletting in Fairfield and we had not one but three separate hail storms. Thanks heavens for my "John Lennon" cap which stopped me from getting stung. It was awful but the trusty team pushed on and we got the whole patch done.

At 11.30am Wendy and I joined staff from the RSLs and residents on a litter-pick off Shiel Road as part of our "Putting Neighbourhoods First" Sparkles Day. The rubbish was all soggy and much harder to pick up, but the skips were all getting used and we made some good progress. I suspect some people thought we were doing community service in our yellow day-glow tabards. We also identified a location which is obviously being used by prostitutes and their clients which we reported to the community police who caught up with us as we "picked" our way round. We went back to Venture Housing on Boaler Street at 1pm for lunch, with the sun shining, to find out how colleagues had done with the great hanging-basket give-away.

They had managed at least 100, making the baskets up for residents or helping them to plant up their own. It was very popular and we are going to do it again, only bigger, in May or June, probably May around Neighbours Day, with summer plants that will last until October.

We had a look at the new clean machine the Clean Team have purchased with support from C7, Riverside, Venture, Hornby, the council and Kenny Regen. It was having its inaugural day out, cleaning pavements and roads in the Molyneux area as part of the event. It is going to be a very useful addition to our cleaning arsenal.

The best news really is that all those areas we cleaned up on the last Sparkles Day have more or less stayed clean - like the land at the bottom of St Michael's Grove.

I went back to the office to do some work on Tim's next leaflet and then did a few home visits to people who had asked for copies of our manifesto and also to report back on a few issues. It was bitterly cold again, the sunny and warm spell lasted only as long as we were picking litter, and now, as Liam would say, "It is black over Bill's Mother's" so anything could happen.

That is the British weather for you - why can't we have elections in July instead?


Imprint (pushing it back on to the homepage)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Valiant campaigners in Toxteth/Picton

The valiant were out in Toxteth/Picton tonight.

Despite real authentic April showers we were not deterred from our leafletting and door-knocking.

Wendy was battered and bruised (if only on her right hand) from tussles with letter-boxes. Paul and Tim rose equally to the occasion and stopped only to shelter briefly while the rain was threatening to (hopefully) wash away the extreme detritus from the streets.

If you want to know the difference between a Labour councillor or candidate and a Liberal-Democrat councillor or candidate it is this:

We think the streets of Picton ward should be clean, the waste-grounds of Picton ward should be free from debris and fly-tipping, the "fronts" of houses on Picton ward streets should be clear of dumping, the people of Picton ward should be given the opportunity to be proud of their area.

I have delivered leaflets and knocked on doors in every ward in this city, at least once. But nowhere in the whole city, nowhere, NOWHERE, is as dirty and neglected as the streets of Picton ward.

I have taken lots of photos, perhaps it is time to share them with you? You, the majority of readers who live in Liverpool, need to know that in this particular ward people are living in the kinds of conditions that our national TV channels tell us are typical in war-torn countries.

Don't believe me? Go down to Apsen Grove, go down to the waste land on Fern Grove for instance.

There is no way on earth that I would allow any street in any ward that I represented to get as bad as this. I would stand on that street with my mobile phone, call the neighbourhood managers and wait there until they arrived and saw for themselves just how bad it is. Go to Wilkie Street. Go to the back entries of Cadogan. Just stick a pin in the map, you will find the same wherever you go.

Our people deserve the best, the very best, and Liverpool City Council is not directing its staff to make our streets the cleanest and the best. The LibDem politicians have forgotten this area, the staff have not prioritised this area and the residents are living in appalling conditions.

Abject Failure!

Sort it out!

Frogtastic at the New Picket

From an email

‘Frogtastic’ is Liverpool’s premier ‘inclusive’ club night for people with learning disabilities, their friends and guests. For further ‘Frogtastic’ details and information about other Heroes Project events and initiatives please visit www.heroesproject.org.uk

‘FROGTASTIC’ Club Night News – Next Liverpool Event

The premier ‘Club Night’ Experience for people with learning difficulties

7.30pm to 11.00pm – The New Picket, 61 Jordan Street, Liverpool, L1 0BW.
The entrance to this venue is located on New Bird Street.

Wednesday 30th April 2008 – Tickets now available!

Tickets can be reserved from ‘The Heroes Project’ on 07946 424075 or by email at info@heroesproject.org.uk

Advance Tickets for all ‘Frogtastic’ events are £4.00 each. - ‘Dare to be Different –Enjoy Yourself’

Please Note: Admission to ‘Frogtastic’ is strictly by ticket only.

These events are strictly for people over the age of 18.

You may be asked to provide ID and proof of age - If in any doubt please carry suitable identification.

Admission will be refused to anybody not able to qualify their age if requested to do so.

See you there for a ‘Frogtastic’ Time!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

LibDems cannot manage a full slate

I have been so busy I have not had time to properly lift my head above the fray and notice what is going on around me.

I have just realised that the Liberal Democrats are not fielding candidates in two of the thirty Liverpool wards.


How can they claim to run the city, to be the party of government, to be the right choice for Liverpool when they are not even offering a candidate to some 20,000 electors in the city.

This is simply unheard of, surely.

Can anyone think of a single authority in this country where the ruling party cannot manage a full slate of candidates?

Calamity Clegg does it again

Nick Clegg has written to people in Kensington and Fairfield - and who knows where else in Liverpool, asking people to consider their choices on polling day.

In a letter designed to solicit postal vote applications, he has included a small glossy brochure called, "Liverpool Decides 2007".

I wonder if he knows that in 2007 when Liverpool did "decide" in Kensington and Fairfield, it decided Labour

Or in Warbreck and Speke/Garston where in both seats it decided Labour not once but twice last year.

Or in Belle Vale, where it decided Labour

and in Yew Tree where it decided Labour

I could go on......

I look forward to seeing how Liverpool decides in 2008!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wonderful news today - the birth of Alice Wright

Give thanks

Alice Amy Katherine Wright was born at 9:31am today (8/4/08) in York hospital, weighing 8lb 1oz, (3.67 kg)

Isn't she simply gorgeous?

Alice's mummy and daddy are my very good friends Susan and Tom.

We all worked together for the Labour Party in the run-up to the 1997 General Election. Susan and I worked very closely together on regional budgets and Tom was the brains behind Elpack stats. We all got on famously and I was thrilled to see them married in a posh hotel in the New Forest in 1998.

They moved from Battersea to York a few years ago, which was great for me as it brought them closer. Then my god-son Dylan was born (actually we didn't use religious references, I am his "special person", I am not sure what phrase I should use for him, other than "gorgeous little lad").

Anyway, they have now been safely delivered of a lovely baby girl, Alice, sister to Dylan, and both mother and baby are doing fine.

What wonderful news, well done, I look forward to seeing the four of you as soon as the frantic schedule allows

Lots of love

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Two-All at the Riverside, hello hello!

That's it really


We might be rubbish against the teams at the bottom of the premiership, but give us a real contest and we rise up to meet it

"You are my Boro, my only Boro"

Up the Reds!

Going back to my roots

(Political opponents, skip this entry, it is not for you)

In the words of Odyssey, for those of you who are of the right age to remember back to the disco hits of 1981, when I was a mere girl of 16 (sic), this song has been echoing in my mind for the last 36 hours.

"I feel my spirit gettin' old, it's time to recharge my soul.
I'm zippin' up my boots, goin' back to my roots, yeah,
To the place of my birth, back down to earth."

This weekend saw the rededication of my childhood church, St Andrew's Methodist Church, Tamworth, Staffordshire, following a refurbishment. The church opened on September 3rd 1966, my family arrived in Tamworth from Sedgeley on my 4th birthday in 1969. This weekend the church celebrated its 40th anniversary and refurbishment with a "Friends Reunited" service and supper.

I went to Sunday School every week at St Andrew's until I was old enough to stay with the congregation for the whole service. I also joined the 4th Tamworth St Andrew's Brownies and later the Guides at the church and remember with great fondness the Gang Shows we used to put on each year. It must have been 1977 when we guides did "Coconut Airways" by Typically Tropical "Woah, I'm going to Barbados...I'm going to see my girlfriend". We were dressed in flower garlands and bikinis and grass skirts as we danced along to the music in a suitably demure routine.

I also recall going camping with the Brownies to mid Wales, probably about 1973 or 1974, I dont know where it was, but we stayed in converted stables somewhere sufficiently close to Ffestiniog that we went on a railway trip and also to the Blue John Caverns. A few years later when I was a Girl Guide we went to Beaudesert at Cannock Chase and camped, in old khaki ridge tents which were probably war issue and definitely coming to the end of their useful lives.

We sat round camp-fires and sang "Land of the Silver Birch" and "Gin Gan Gooly Gooly" in "rounds" and roasted sausages.

It was all great fun, and my first times away from home without my family. I found out years later that they were quite anxious about me and how I was fairing, but it was nothing like Alan Sherman (to quote yet another old song at you). I had a good time really, although it did rain very heavily in Cannock Chase and apparently it was a miracle that I was the only girl to sleep through the downpour overnight as our belongings floated out of the tent and down the hill.

I think I was a Brownie (rather than a Guide) when I helped plant a tree in the church grounds, so this weekend I paid particular attention to the trees, in case one of them was "my" tree. We took lots of photos of me in front of the few likely trees that I might have planted and we hope to compare the background, showing the church, in the cutting Mum still has from the Tamworth Herald showing me wielding the spade, so we can see which one it was. I can feel another old song coming on, prizes for this one too, but I could not resist

"See the tree, how big it's grown
But friend it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big
I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it, was just a twig
Then the first snow came
And she ran out to brush the snow away
So it wouldn't die"

Yesterday it was a sunny day, for the celebration supper, but today, when we arrived at St Andrews Methodist Church, Thackeray Drive, Leyfields, Tamworth, snow was covering the tree top. Now how appropriate is that?

Certainly it was just a twig when I planted it, and assuming it survived and is one of the trees there today, it has certainly grown "big" in the intervening 30 odd years.

I will post the "before" and "after" shots when we are sufficiently organised.

We spent some time with Cynthia and Patrick Rickwood who were friends of Mum's all those years ago and who now play a very big role in the church, and while we were chatting on Saturday night the possibility arose of my doing a reading at the re-dedication service this morning.

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to read Luke chapter 24, The Road to Emmaus. It was appropriate for Easter-time, appropriate too for the rededication of the Church after its refurbishment, but also an interesting choice for a reader who the congregation did not yet recognise (and of course I am not comparing myself to our Lord, but the synergy of him speaking to fellow travellers on the road who did not realise that he was an old friend, while I spoke to members of the congregation who knew me only as a child, was not lost on me).

So supper on Saturday was good, we met some old friends and ate a lovely buffet, not quite as "special" as Carol's but not very far behind, believe me, and today we had our service.

Because I introduced myself before the reading, explaining my relationship with the church, afterwards lots of people came forward to introduce themselves. And you would not have believed it, even if you had seen it with your own eyes.

Even 30 years after we left the town, even then, people still remembered and made those old connections. I was approached over coffee by the lady who was one of my Sunday School Teachers, together with the widow of the man who lead the Sunday School. I also renewed my aquaintance with Brown Owl, my Brownie Leader and my Captain, who lead the Guides.

I told them all that the community hall in St Andrews was key to my upbringing and key to my christianity. I am a Christian because of those people, they took a 6 year old child, they talked to me about Jesus, they enrolled me in the Brownies and later the Guides, they taught me to "do a good deed everyday" and to "Love my neighbour" and "not to pass by on the other side" and to "love my neighbour" and today I am a Labour Councillor in Kensington and Fairfield because I genuinely believe that is the best way I can fulfill those childhood instructions.

If ever a soul required recharging, then it would have been super-fired today. "Going back to my roots" this weekend has reinforced my determination to "do my duty", not just as a Brownie or a Guide or a member of the Sunday School, but as a fully fledged member of the adult community.

I owe so much of my character and my beliefs to St Andrew's - and of course to my family, who it was a real pleasure to have with me this weekend. I hope I can repay their efforts to keep me on the right path. Thank you so very much for being there for me.

Saturday morning on the Molyneux

Wendy, Liam and I were joined by LP members from across the city on Saturday morning for an hour or so. They were knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and getting on the phones.

Despite the bitter cold (although the sun was shining), we made a good impact across the ward.

Our team was knocking on doors on the Moly, we had some remarkable results. One man we met on Sutcliffe Street told me that he was a long-term, hard-wired Liberal Democrat but was now seriously considering his position. He was appalled by the council tax rise, the audit report and the cuts. I introduced him to Liam as he was walking past between houses and he shook his hand, said it was good to see a young man getting involved in politics. Then after Liam had explained a few of our policies for the area he said he had now decided it was time to give Labour a chance and to give Liam a chance and that he would commit to voting Labour this time.

Claire and I also met a man on the Phythian late last week who said he now felt that enough time had gone by since Militant that he felt able to vote Labour.

I think the voters are coming to understand that our current crop of politicians were not around in the Militant days. Indeed some of our candidates were barely born when Militant were in the Town Hall. Our Labour team are a representative mixture of women and men, young and old, experienced and fresh, and every one of us is passionate about Liverpool and about serving Liverpool people.

I think this message is becoming clear to voters. The scare stories don't work any more.

The campaigning across the city this is year is going even better than last year, or the year before, we have lifted our game even higher. Seats are now being considered as worth "a good go" this year that we would never have thought likely in previous years.

Campaign social in West Derby

We had a great turnout for the social on Friday night for the Liverpool West Derby CLP social event. Members from across West Derby were joined by members elsewhere in the city for a lovely evening with friends, a special buffet from Carol and some inspiring speeches from Councillor Joe Anderson and Stephen Twigg.

I said 12 months ago that Stephen would reinvigorate this fairly moribund constituency Labour Party if he was selected as the Parliamentary candidate and I have to say even I vastly underestimated the impact he would have. They now have 50 local LP members working in the constituency every week, and when I say local I mean from within the constituency. They are also joined by some members from elsewhere in the city who can see the good work they are doing and want to help the campaign for Labour in the area.

If there was one constituency in Liverpool to watch, both in terms of local and national political results, this is the one!

Thanks for inviting me

Friday, April 04, 2008

UNITE - I joined a new union today

I thought it was about time I joined a new Union. I was in PCS when I was working at HMRC but that is only for civil servants so I needed a new union to go with my changed job.

Years ago when I was working in private industry I was in MSF and they are now part of the UNITE Union with Amicus and TGWU (who I was also a member from 2001-2004) so it made sense to join these on two fronts.

I have just joined online, job sorted!

So, come over and say hello all you UNITE members in Liverpool, let me know when my next branch meeting is going to be..

Thursday, April 03, 2008

On the stump...

We had a team out on the Phythian tonight, Me, Liam, Jane Kennedy, Rob and Claire, and we got hundreds of Labour promises and loads of poster requests. I love going on there, everyone is always so happy to see us and we get lots of hugs. We did at least three quarters of the estate, the sun was shining too, which considering how wet it was on Saturday was amazing.

It has been a long day though, I have written two leaflets, sorted out a load of photographs - then had to go back and do some again because they weren't good enough - handed in 4 more sets of nomination papers, loaded the first batch of survey results onto Contact Creator (and isn't it just fantastic by the way, being able to do in from home in your own time!)ran some stats to see how we are doing against our promise target...I didn't get home until 10.23pm!

Gerrard is doing exceptionally well, he has made 1000 contacts this week, or just over. We are going to get a chart and put it on the wall to spur everyone to even greater heights, but who could beat that magnificent effort?

Young Daniel was around too, working on a few leaflets, he has done some very smart letter-heads for Brian which I rather envied.

Liam had to report a fire while we were out earlier, in the gardens of a house on Anglezark Close, we couldn't see the flames but there was a lot of black smoke. There were lots of people coming out of the Liver Vaults to see what was happening. We didnt hang round for the fire engine though, too much to do.

Some LibDem leaflets were brought into the office today, they are making "local champions" of all their candidates. Dave Irving was photographed brushing up the litter and fly-tipping that the council have completely failed to remove in his area (that will teach him to vote LibDem), and also posting a letter in a pillar box, no really, that is how good a councillor he is. You just don't realise.

Amazingly Gary Millar has become a "local champion" in Old Swan already, he has only been there a week, having been parachuted in to replace the deselected Kevin Firth because two weeks ago he was a "local champion" in the city centre where he was going to be the candidate. I am still waiting to find out who they will stand in Central Ward, or will we have a LibDem free zone down there?

I notice their bar-chart of how many councillors they have got is wrong (again), another one defected today, this time to the Liberal Party (Ann Hines), they are dropping like flies! I guess they wont bother to alter the bar chart, because another one might defect the next day and then they will only have it all to do again.

The LibDems are down to 47 now, Labour on 35, Green 1, Liberals 4, Independent 1 and 2 vacancies (one a Labour retirement in a seat with a strong Labour vote which we should win handsomely in this double header election, the other caused by the death of a LibDem councillor who was due to face re-election this year. We would hope to win his seat this year, as we won the first one in the ward last year.)

A majority of only 6! Now that is something to get your teeth into!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Liver Bird Sang - opening night

Wendy and I attended the opening night of A Liver Bird Sang this evening.

This operatic production, funded on a shoe-string because Capital of Culture wouldn't support it, was a true Liverpool musical production.

The cast all performed for free, and some of them, like the magnificent Nick Hardy, and highly talented Jane Hamlet, Julie Davitt and Valerie Watts must surely have been professionals from time to time.

It is the story of the revival of a Liverpool night club - the Scouse 'Ouse, and a love story between Ella McCabe, cabaret singer in the club and Matt Lightfoot, who wants to buy the club. The whole set against a backdrop of class differences and the striving of the working classes of Old Swan to achieve through education.

The music is by Schubert, arranged beautifully by Geoff Lavelle, with lyrics by John Dixon.

The opening song and regular refrain "The City passes by" was stunning, although there were so many actors performing in this busy city scene that it was hard to catch all of the action at the same time. We got used to the bustle in each scene though and it allowed for some wonderful pastiches and bursts of comic genius from the young Ashley Guidera in terrific form as the nightclub bouncer.

It was a very catchy refrain, and I enjoyed the way that John played with the lyrics to suit each scene.

"The city passes by, winds blow, gulls fly too high for troubles we all know down here below" - we all knew the words by the end and I could hear someone softly singing it behind me.

Jane Hamlet with the most beautiful red hair was fantastic as Ella and remained unfazed even when she knocked over the microphone and broke it. She was rushing on and off stage to change into some great cocktail outfits and yet still found the breath to keep singing. Her "Buns of Steel" was very good.

I dont know any opera singers in Liverpool, other than Carol next door, and she was not in the cast, I must drop her a note to ensure she goes to see the show before it closes. But Nick Hardy must clearly be someone that is familiar to Liverpool audiences even if I had never seen him before. He was magnificent, clearly the ace in the pack. "All in the Mind" stopped the show, Bravo!

I enjoyed "Killarney Road" with Julie Davitt, playing a woman studying for her PHD in Genetics and reminiscing about her ordinary working class background in a street in Old Swan.

All the clubbers - the WAGS, were very convincing actresses as well as good singers. The Liverpool Lou's - Stephanie Guidera (sister of Ashley, their proud Mum stopped for a chat with us in the interval) and Sabrina Longo were as beautiful and as stylish as any amount of Victoria Beckham's but sang a thousand times better. Some real stars of the future there.

The best song of all though was the Irish jig, "Back in the City of Liverpool" - with the lyric "The Capital City of Ireland is Liverpool, the capital of the world!" It had everyone clapping and dancing in their seats, I wonder if they are going to make some DVDs, I would love to hear that again.

I spotted Phil Hayes, Picket manager in a cameo role, and then again in the chorus for the finale, and he was clearly having a great time too. All praise to him for trying such a different kind of performance in his club.

First song apart, it was a bit slow to get going and it went on a long time - from 7.30 until 11.00 with only a fairly short break, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anyway, tickets are £10 and you can pay on the door.

Do go - the Culture Company might have scorned this operatic musical for Liverpool 08but we the public know a good thing when we see it.