Monday, September 22, 2008

Labour Party Conference

The wise amongst you will have discerned that I am not in Manchester. I dearly wish I was but I have neither the money nor the holiday entitlement to make that possible.

But the little bit I have watched tonight on the Parliament Channel - for the first time this week - was really good.

I turned the TV on and pressed the buttons and the first face to come into focus was our Wendy, speaking on behalf of UNISON about equal pay. Then I saw my old friend and new Facebook friend, Huw Lewis from the Welsh Assembly (which we worked together to establish) giving a speech and then I saw the councillor who is supporting Liverpool Labour Group through the IDEA improvement programme. I also saw friends from the NEC and was thrilled to see Zimbabwean Nicholas Mutize from Liverpool Riverside, unsuccessful Labour Candidate for St Michael's ward this year, speaking to a motion on foreign policy.

I saw my friend Gary Titley get a standing ovation and heaps of praise for his last ever speech as leader of the Socialist Group in Europe (he is retiring) and also Glenys Kinnock who is also retiring and was equally praised and feted.

I saw an old Batley colleague, Cath Speight, chairing conference and lots of other old friends. I miss being there but the Parliament channel helps a lot.

Well done everyone, keep on keeping on, and if you see John Braggins, if he still goes to conference, give him a big kiss from me

Cath and Steve's wedding party

On Saturday night I was safely ensconced back in the Holme Valley with my mate Pat, at the wedding celebrations of Cath Ingham and Steve Seymour Clancy. Pat was a very good hostess and generally we enjoyed catching up and visiting old haunts, I had a tremendous time.

The wedding celebration was quite an intimate gathering, families, close friends and old friends, and I was priveliged to be included in the small circle of those who merited a meal and a glass of wine before the others arrived.

I had a great time re-meeting old friends, the entire officership of Holme Valley South BLP were present, Jack and Janet, Rob and Di, Rita, Bob and his new lady friend as well as CLP stalwarts Hilary and Barrie. I eventually decided to forgive Janet for saying "Louise who?" as Cath told her who she might meet aross the dance-floor, it is amazing how long four years can be - four years and indeed five years too since I was their council candidate in Kirklees. I enjoyed chatting with Jack about his time at Liverpool University some 40 years ago and what of his memories he could still expect to find in terms of buildings, pubs and theatres etc. Rob told me that he still sometimes reads my blog although it makes him tired because of the busy life a councillor has. I told him to leave a comment next time, it is no good doing your reading in secret!

The bacardi-drenched wedding cake was suprisingly tasty Cath, well done for that, and your grandchildren are growing up to be as beautiful as I would have expected, but the highlight of the night was of course the special performance of the Travelling Bilberets who I suspect have rarely performed outside of Labour Party functions. However, from 1997 at the celebration party following Kali's election, through to my adoption meeting in 2003 and my farewell party in 2004 at Marsden Mechanics, and many in between, including Barrie's 60th, they have always played a blinder and Saturday was no exception. "We aint gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more" was the massive success it always was, we may have missed "No Riddick, No cry" but otherwise all the old favourites were to the fore. Mustang Sally had everyone on the dance floor although by that time they would have struggled to get us seated!

A fab night, and I was particularly pleased that Cath and Steve wore their wedding outfits for the guests and that every family member was present.

Very special, thanks for inviting me and may I send you both all best and most sincerely felt good wishes for a happy life together (and a special thanks for the order of service you gave me as a gift, showing my reading on your happy day, albeit courtesy of an MP3 player)

Labour Party City of Culture celebration dinner

I thoroughly enjoyed Friday's night Labour Party dinner at the Devonshire House Hotel, in celebration of the Capital of Culture, and hosted by Maria Eagle MP for Liverpool Garston, with speakers Professor Phil Redmond and Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and compered by Councillor Joe Anderson, Leader of Liverpool Labour Group and Leader in waiting of Liverpool City Council.

I invited Caroline as my guest, you will recall that she is my Kenyan shadow Councillor on the OBV scheme and we both had a good time - I just wish the LP would allow for dancing, we never get to dance and we all love it!

We were also fabulously entertained by Sense of Sound who are a wonderful choir that went all the way to the semi-finals in the competition "Last Choir Standing".

I wont tell you what Phil Redmond said, he was amongst friends, but variously all speakers praised the 08 programme, detailed the huge financial and moral support contribution that the Labour Government really has made, despite the gainsayers, and praised events like La Machine.

Personally I was disappointed that nobody remembered to mention the superlambananas which in my view have done the most to draw all section of the community together. I recall one day when Mum and Roger were visiting and we went down to the Arena - it may have been for the Tall Ships race, and we stopped to look at three lambies on the side of the canal.

There were children, parents and grandparents jostling for photo opportunities and in a quiet moment two young hoodies came forward. With great glee they took photos of each other posing with each Lambie and it was at that moment I knew we had a real success on our hands.

The evening was not overtly party political, it was about celebrating Liverpool and we did that, but we also celebrated Labour and watched once again the 100 years video that was made in 2000 on the anniversary of the creation of the party.

I enjoyed my chat with Gerard and we plotted and planned some great new campaign ideas.

And of course we made loads of money auctioning some great prizes - and all hail to Jamie Carragher for his personal generosity.

Caroline loved it as did her friends that she met by chance from her church and from various community organisations concerning youth engagement and domestic violence.

Thanks Maria, we had a lovely time

Working Class Music Festival

I really enjoyed the Sunday night session. I have been looking forward to it for months, the idea of Robb Johnson and Roy Bailey on the same bill, magic!

Al Baker was on first, a young man just out of Manchester University, radical, angry, zealous, but also funny and not a little charming. I particularly enjoyed the song, "I wish I had a Mohican", about the indignities of a Socialist falling in love with a young Tory girl and "Till the Fences Fall". He wore a black hat which reminded me very much of Boxcar Willie if such comparisons are allowed?

Tracey Curtis astounded the whole audience, by appearing to be aged about 16 or 17 yet telling us at some length about her four daughters and about her history years ago in a punk band! She sang lilting, melodic, haunting songs, some for her daughters, (“This is Rosa’s Happy Song” particularly delighting the audience) and another song which I did not get the title of, which went along the lines of “I am not proud to be British but I like the town I live in and the people who live there” which made reference to the many ways we can hurt each other, including war and unfettered capitalism.

Robb Johnson was on very good form, he did say at one point that he was not very famous, but he must be wrong there, he has always been famous in my household. “We are Rosa’s Lovely Daughters” rings out on a very regular basis for instance. And whenever I have seen Roy Bailey he always does at least one Robb Johnson number. I particularly enjoyed No-one Wants to Look Like You (Jack Straw) and you could not help being moved by his song about the Liverpool football tragedy at Hillsborough. We did our best to get the butterfly/chaos theory going, in the skies over the Picket, by joining in with a song called Up the Workers, hoping to encourage our Lady of Grantham to go to a better place. He came off stage about 10.30pm to set-off back to Hove to be ready to go back to work on Monday morning – that is dedication!

Roy Bailey is an old favourite of mine, and of many in the audience too. He is now 73 and getting a bit forgetful with some of the lyrics (although he had us wiping laughter tears away as he talked about forgetting the names of things and forgetting what he was going upstairs to collect and sometimes even forgetting whether he was on his way up or down the same stairs.) I particularly enjoyed his rendition of Crawford Howard’s parody of Willie McBride which he sang unaccompanied. This is not a skit of anti-war songs, but a skit on all the people who insist on singing it in pubs when they have had too much to drink and are maudlin and thus have turned it (according to Crawford) into the kind of song you never want to hear again. I was hoping for “You cannot break the oath of a Tolpuddle Man” but sadly it was not to be. He was funny, wise, warm and very well-received, a good half of the audience gave him a standing ovation and he delighted with “Rolling Home” for his encore.

He is having a concert in October to celebrate his 50 years in the business, more information here.

I sat next to a guy named Boris who told me he had come all the way from Switzerland to Liverpool for the weekend, just to attend the festival and had been to Friday night and Saturday night’s performance. He really enjoyed it although was a bit concerned that there were only two women out of the 15 or so acts he saw. Perhaps we women politicos need to learn to sing and write songs, or else we need to politicise those who are already doing it. He was very impressed with Liverpool and had flown straight to JLA from Switzerland so perhaps there is a new route there we can exploit.

I was also pleased that Richard McLinden came along with his colleague El, I didn’t see any other elected politicians, from any parties, but perhaps the politicians don’t have a history in Liverpool of engaging in musical solidarity or musical protest? I guess I have been a bit spoilt because as a close friend of Cath Ingham I have been taken along to see Raise Your Banners in Sheffield, Holmfirth Folk Festival and singer song-writers like Roy and Robb for years. I have also seen Roy with Tony Benn on the “Writing on the Wall” tour at least three times, including once at Labour Party conference in Blackpool about 15 years ago. I bought 8 copies of their double cassette tape in 1996 and every friend had it from me for Christmas that year, excellent I can highly recommend it if you have not heard it! I expect you can get it on CD these days.

All praise to Alun Parry for organising the weekend’s festival and Phil Hayes for hosting it, let’s hope it can become an annual event.

It was an uplifting event and gave my socialist faith a much-needed shot in the arm.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wild Wednesday

Wednesday was a very busy day - if you are looking here for an idea of the average day in the life of a Labour councillor, then don't look here, because if this was "average" I would be on my knees within a fortnight!

At 9am Wendy and I met on Lilley Road, Fairfield, with staff and officers from Liverpool City Council Neighbourhood Services, HMRI HIT team, C7 staff and wardens, Venture Housing staff and wardens/caretakers, the Clean Team, Rodney Housing staff and probably others I cannot immediately bring to mind.

There was about 20 of us and we blitzed the street. We pruned back hedges and bushes, mowed lawns, weeded areas of hard-standing, picked up rubbish, filled six skips, swept up broken glass, disposed of items of discarded furniture, a fridge freezer, two boilers, an arm-chair - and finally ordered the destruction of two wasps nests. It looked fantastic when we had finished - and all was done regardless of tenure - that is my kind of partnership working!

At 11am we went to Latham Court, Laurel Road to join some OAPs who had been reminiscing about their early lives in Kensington and Fairfield for a project with Steve Faragher and Wendy Miller from Kensington Vision. Their stories are now available for you to download on
Look for Dolly, John, Bertha and Laura. Find out about the secret BBC transmission station that broadcast during WWII from next to the biscuit factory on Binns Lane, find out about dipping the brazils at Barker and Dobson, find out about going to the pictures on Kensington...

And we had cake as promised

Then at 12.30 we went on the sponsored walk for Multiple Sclerosis - thankfully we did not have to walk very far to honour our commitment.

Then we went to a Partnership meeting hosted at Venture that we hold monthly called "Putting our Neighbourhood First" and believe me we do!
It was the biggest attendance we have ever had. Representatives from Venture Housing, Rodney Housing, Hornby Homes, Liverpool Mutual Homes, two police officers (our Sergeant and a PCSO), two teachers from the Academy who specialise in community development, along with 4 of the kids, the 3 councillors, LCC City and North Neighbourhood Management Team staff and the Chair of the two local TRAs.
We have agreed a whole host of actions and activities in the L6 area - which the group covers, including youth engagement work on Friday and Saturday nights in the parks, an initiative to grow veg in gro-bags in yards, two more open days (one around safety which we as councillors are funding from our WNF and a Jobs Fair during Respect week). It was great to have the young people there too, so that we had a lot of input from them about the ongoing debates about youth activity and facility provision.

At 5pm Caroline and I went to the Electoral Committee of LCC upon which I sit with Liam, so it was interesting to see him in action in a different role. He had the opportunity to talk about proportional representation which I know he is very interested in. We debated and all agreed on the merits of weekend voting (very little that we could see but we would watch with interest the outcomes of any trials held elsewhere), and an Electoral Commission report on the issue of citizen's juries and citizen's summits, referenda and electronic petitions etc (not enough teeth, but by all means Parliament could give it a go). Sadly we did not talk about those bloody boxes, but my day will come, mark you.

Then at 6.30pm Liam, Caroline and I went to Stephenson Court on the Crosfield estate which I have never been inside before (Picton ward) to learn more about plans for a sculpture/piece of artwork in Kensington. It will be a stone frieze, something like 20 feet long and perhaps 3 or 4 feet high and it will be attached to a suitable wall at a suitable distance above the ground. They are still looking for locations but we offered half a dozen that we thought might be good - naturally all on our side of Edge Lane!! We also drew up a list of about 10 symbols of Kensington that the sculptor might like to consider incorporating, pretty much the same sorts of things we have included in our mural design, if it ever gets painted! - the Ice rink, the zoo, meccano, cross-words, Stephenson's Rocket, Littlewoods, the Quarrymen, Buffalo Bill etc. All those great things that make Kensington such a fascinating place.

Then I got home and wrote 64 items of casework by email.

An amazing day

Venture Housing Association AGM

I went to my first AGM on Tuesday and was confirmed as a proper board member, having been a co-optee for the period so far.

I am now officially Chair of the Scrutiny Committee where we will be reviewing policies and checking progress against business plans.

VHA aims to concentrate this year on Equality issues, and in particular Equality Impact Assessments; Anti-Social Behaviour and other behavioural issues affecting our tenants; Decent Homes Standards improvements; partnership working and tackling the actions in the action plan that has arisen from the last audit commission inspection.

I am really looking forward to this new challenge with these lovely people - board and staff alike

Sponsored walk for MS

I walked for the MS charity on Wednesday and raised £100 (it was £83, then £93 then today one of my bosses gave me an extra £7 to make it up to £100)

Thank you to everyone who supported the walk and thanks to Lisa, Rosa, Wendy and Caroline for walking with me.

I look forwarding to hearing from Andy Monk how much he raises overall

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy 70th birthday to my Dad

Colin and I went to Stockton at the weekend for a family meal to celebrate Dad's 70th birthday.

We ate at the Sutton Arms in Faceby, a lovely pub in North Yorkshire with a Boro fan landlord (best sort) and after lunch had a stroll round the village.

Faceby Church, St Mary Magdalene is worth a visit. We noticed the grave of a man from the local Manor who died just days before the end of the first world war and was awarded the military cross. Unfortunately I didnt write his full name down, but I noticed several plaques to others of the same surname - Morrison - in the church so they were obviously a very important local family.

There were little mice symbols of Mousey Thompson on many of the pews too.

A large plaque detailed a charitable fund/trust that was set up in the 1600s to provide 1 shillings worth of bread every Sunday for the poor. I wonder how they manage that these days? A loaf a year at Harvest Festival?

I noticed a proliferation of apple trees in full fruit, one in nearly every front garden, interesting, I wonder why that is? The houses are 300 years old in some cases, so they cannot all have been built on an orchard, the trees would not still survive.

Anyway, we all had a lovely afternoon, culminating in cake and champagne back at my sister's house and it was great to have all my nearest and dearest together in one place (nearly all of them anyway).

Happy Birthday Dad - the offspring have sprung for a hot air balloon ride, rather him than me though!

Farewell to PC George Rees

One of Kensington's favourite PCs, George Rees, has had his final day on patrol in Kensington as he moves on to a new post.

He has been in the area for 8 years and will be sadly missed by us all, as he was a much valued member of the New Deal Community Police Force

Here are a few photos of the Thank You and Farewell party, courtesy of Maria Curran at Kensington Regeneration

Good Luck George, from us all

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Second Mural takes shape

Liverpool's second mural is taking shape, thanks to Peter Morrison and the Liverpool Mural Project.

Wendy and I have been to see the work at my favourite music venue, the New Picket.

I have put a few photos up of the work in progress, but if you want to see the finished article, I suggest you pop up there next week when it should have been varnished and weather-proofed!

A mural which promotes the Liverpool-Ireland connections (North and South), the mural is bordered with celtic symbols and shows scenes from Belfast, Eire and Liverpool.

There are depicted famous people with Liverpool/Ireland roots - like Kitty Wilkinson who established public wash-houses in Liverpool and so improved public health, James Larkin the Trade Unionist, Agnes Jones who set up district nursing after being trained by Florence Nightingale, Elvis Costello too - and they have not finished yet so more may appear. As we left today one artist had started painting the Liverpool skyline, another had finished an image of Harland and Woolf.

There are terrible depictions of famine stricken victims in supplication, next to vibrant Liver birds.

Sponsored in this case by the Capital of Culture company who have thankfully got over their fear that the murals are "not edgy enough" and have finally put their hands in their pocket, good for them - it is going to be a masterpiece, get down there and have a look!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Update on the MS walk

Lisa and I and hopefully others are meeting Andy at 12.30pm at the junction of Wavertree Road and Durning Road on 17th September. We will walk down Durning Road then along Edge Lane (and I shall pop my head into my workplace to collect any donations) and then we shall presumably part company somewhere down by the Royal.

Do join us if you can, or send money

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kevin and I share lunch with the PM (and others)

When my mate Kevin and I agreed to lunch last Thursday, little did we realise that our get-together was going to be gatecrashed by 70 LP members and the PM!

(Facetiousness alert!)

Of course we changed our plans when we heard that the Leader was coming to Liverpool and would be speaking to and talking with LP members as part of his visit.

We all met in a place that in my eyes is the centre of the known-world, Kensington and Fairfield.

GB came in, shook hands with everyone, not just a few, and then made a short speech before going round every table and talking properly to everyone. I was rather impressed by that if I might say so, I have been at perhaps three or four dozen such events over the last 16 years, and I doubt if I have ever seen any politician, leader or otherwise, take quite as much time as that to be with every attendee.

He had also taken the time to learn and remember people's names so that he could welcome the local government Labour Leaders present (not just Liverpool) and to indicate to them during his speech, also the Euro candidate, the MPs present, the Parliamentary candidates etc. And he smiled a lot and kept a lot of eye contact while he spoke.

Why can't he be that good on the TV? He was most engaging.

The content was pretty good too, I wont bore you with it, but he talked about the hard times we are in and the measures he wants to undertake to sort them out and how the Tories would put all this at risk. All as you would expect.

I picked up on a pledge he made that Labour would have as a manifesto commitment that we would restore the link between pensions and earnings in the next Parliament. I got very excited about this and asked him more about this when he came over to talk to us (pictured)

Although subsequently research has shown that this is already public knowledge, I confess I had missed it altogether, so it was news to me, but what GREAT news!

I also asked him about the 08 badge he was wearing. He said Phil Redmond had given it to him (well done Phil) and we teased him about whether he would be wearing it when he reached Glasgow later that afternoon.

Anyway, it was a very productive event and he got away before the truly horrendous downpour that kept the rest of us penned into reception waiting for it to subside a bit.

Welcome to Liverpool Gordon.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Beating Domestic Violence - Free Survivors' Handbook

I got notice of this through the Women in Business Bulletin and thought some readers might find it interesting or useful.

As many as one in four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime, and at least two women a week die as a result.

This free Survivor's Handbook, from Women's Aid, provides practical support and information for women experiencing domestic violence, with simple guidance on every aspect of seeking support.

Click here to read this free handbook! It is also available in different languages

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fraud within LCC going unreported

See the story from page 2 of today's Liverpool Daily Post here

There was a lot of dicussion about this at the last Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Internal Audit are being thwarted in their policing role by senior managers who are not reporting cases to them!

Imagine someone committing £40k worth of fraud (allegedly) and it not being reported to the police or the internal fraud people.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

In other news...

I went to a session on chairing committees this week, courtesy of Liverpool City Council and Mike Jones from Committee Services - all good stuff which will be very useful I am sure (although nothing about how precisely to deal with certain particular chairs who have ruined every session I have attended, no names no pack drill but you know who he is!)

The Good Neighbourhood Agreement in the GEARS area of Fairfield moves on with over 100 residents signed up. The wardens and the clean team are going to assess the scheme along with the neighbourhood services team of City and North in Liverpool City Council to see if it is yet ready to roll out in other areas.

I got another four rows of shelving done in the children's library in Kensington library today whilst in my surgery. It is the free coffee that keeps me going!

A very useful pre-meeting of the Physical Regeneration Neighbourhood Partnership Working Group for the City and North Neighbourhood (there is a mouthful for you!) today. We shall have a fascinating agenda on the 10th, I look forward to it.

I am holding back news of the St John the Divine Church, Holly Road, Fairfield fight although we are only days away from winning and lunch today with my mate Kevin (and the PM) as you should read about them first in the newspapers. But watch this space.

Birthday card from Gerard

My mate Gerard wins the prize this year for the best birthday card. It came all the way from Guernsey to wish me a belated happy birthday and showed on the front the picture of a youthful judge in wig. The writing on the front said "Guilty Louise...of forgetting your birthday" and inside said "To Louise, Hope you had a great day, best wishes, Gerard, xxx". All done professionally.

I have never seen one before but it says on the back that it came from

If you want to impress, may I suggest this option?

Thanks Gerard, you made me feel very special!

Kensington Regeneration - annual board photo

We had the annual photo taken today and the photographer was lucky to come away with his life!

He was perched on step ladders at the top of the stairs as we ranged below him, but he didnt fall and he didnt drop the camera so all being well the results should be good. It was only a shame that we had a very severe rain down-pour just before the photo opp which meant that we were a very bedraggled group!

New Dream High website

I have met with the chair of Dream High, Nick Taylor, this week to help with his plans to develop a new website for our organisation.

You may recall that Dream High exists to help budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses within East Liverpool to achieve their business dreams.

We offer free help and advice to overcome obstacles, with some of the best known names in industry, finance and the business and charitable sector voluteering their time and advice.

Look out for Nick's great new website really soon!

Auditons for a Youth Choir/Singing Group in Kensington and Fairfield

We are funding the establishment of a youth choir/singing group in Kensington and Fairfield for young people.

Young people aged between 14 and 18 and who ideally live in L6 or L7 are being invited to an audition on Thursday 11th September from 5.30pm - 8.00pm at

Venture Housing Association, Boaler Street, Kensington is the venue, and thanks must go to them for their hospitality in hosting this.

We intend that the successful young people, having passed the audition, will undergo 10 sessions with a LIPA professional trainer before performing as part of the One World Festival.

If you know of any aspiring singers, please send them along!

Happy Birthday to me!

I had a great birthday weekend, in many and various parts.

Mum and my step-father Roger came to stay which was great in itself

We went out for a meal on Saturday night to the Mexican restaurant on Allerton Road, the Tavern and I had a chicken chimichanga, now you dont get the opportunity to say that very often! and very nice it was too.

On Sunday morning we took a trip to Reynolds Park (I am whispering now because it is a fantastic park where the grass is clearly cut with nail scissors and the gardeners were all best mates with Percy Thrower, or my Granddad Baldock, or his Dad, or his brother, or my Great Uncle Reg on the other side, I mean true gardeners who take a lot of pride from their municipal flower growing)

It was wonderful and the dahlias were spectacular, if you have not been then I would advise it, but you might need a passport as it is Woolton.

On Sunday evening, Claire Wilner, Colin and Mike and I went to the New Picket for a gig to celebrate Love Music, Hate Racism. I was promised a bigger group of guests but they were variously struck down with illness and alternative arrangements (or perhaps they couldn't face the spectre of me making a political speech while party-goers were supping away, fair do's!)

Anyway, I did make a short speech, it cannot have lasted more than three or four minutes, on behalf of the Liverpool Labour Group, and followed the head of the NW TUC, Steve who had paid for the event.

It was well received and a few people came over to chat afterwords but I was getting stuck into the Magners and the wine by then (it was my birthday after all) so we didnt get into detail.

I had some really lovely gifts - the highlight would have to be a small yellow superlambanana, who would not love one? But I also had some great stuff for the yard, which I am hoping to turn into a lovely yard garden next year - hanging baskets, plants, hand tools, vouchers etc. I also had some great jewellry and not one, but two handbags, my cup floweth over!

Since Sunday the days have been brighter, I have achieved more and had some notable successes on ward issues which I probably wouldnt wish to announce here in this blog, but they will come........maybe 43 is THE year to aspire to?