Friday, July 31, 2009

Kensington's reputation as a crime hotspot

The fightback starts here!

I have just read a story in the Echo here which talks about a Kensington man setting up a drug farm in his flat on October Drive.

But October Drive is not in Kensington, it must be either Anfield or Tuebrook, I am not sure where the border is but it most certainly aint in Kenny.

No wonder people think lots of crime happens in Kensington when it gets misquoted, and this is by no means the first time I have seen this either. So I have decided that from now on I will always contact the Echo and ask them to correct stories like this, I have just got off the phone to Claire at the Echo and I hope this story gets put right!

Monday, July 27, 2009

My 1002nd post!

I have voted for my top ten blogs, have you?

Motion to full council, 8th July concerning social enterprises, credit unions and co-operatives

CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES BY COUNCILLORS LOUISE BALDOCK, TIM MOORE AND NICK SMALL

This Council recognises the importance of Co-operatives, Social Enterprises, Community Land Trusts, Community Interest Companies and Credit Unions to our City.

Council requests the Executive Member for Corporate Services to ensure that an audit is undertaken to identify the existence of and contact details for all such organisations within Liverpool and that this information is then made publicly available.

Council suggests the Executive Member to request assistance with this audit from organisations such as Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS), the Association of British Credit Unions, CommunityLandTrust.org.uk and New Start magazine, CICregulator.gov.uk, National Association of Housing Co-operatives, Companies House, the Social Enterprise Coalition, and any other similar bodies.

This motion was not taken but was referred to the Executive Member for Corporate Performance for consideration and response within 1 cycle

I put this motion because I think such a directory would be particularly useful, particularly in the creation of Local and Neighbourhood Area Agreements and plans, where we might wish to work with social enterprises etc in the provision of services, watch this space

Equality and Diversity questions to the Leader

I have asked all of these questions below because I am genuinely concerned that we are not doing enough as a council to honour our obligations, many of them statutory. What do you think of the answers? What particularly concerns you or your organisation?

I shall leave these all up on my blog as they will then be found by anyone researching in these areas in future.

I intend to do everything I can to ensure that this is not left as it is and will be pushing for change at every opportunity.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q31

Question

The current BME workforce population within LCC is 6.7% and falling (April 2009
Workforce Monitoring Report). The BME population within Liverpool itself is 8.1% and
rising. Given the abolition of the Positive Action Team in last year's budget round, can the Leader say what steps are LCC taking to address the under-representation of BME officers?


Answer
LDL HR and the recruitment agencies, who between them deal with all adverts for
permanent posts, all seek by their choice of media to encourage applications from under represented groups (e.g. advertise in Diverse Magazine, send job vacancies to People Pool who distribute to local community groups)

Procurement requirements for managed services contract for agencies workers (which
LCC is currently renewing this contract) requires bidding agencies to outline how their methods will lead to an increase in recruitment levels under-represented groups. The authority’s planning for apprenticeships will actively seek to place care leavers, for whom the council acts as the corporate parent, into jobs within the council or partner agencies.

Verbal supplementary question

My understanding is that the council’s standard practices for recruitment are that jobs are advertised in the Echo and that only those for grades SO1 and below are shared with local community groups via Property Pool. Posts for SO2, Principle officers and above are not shared with community groups. Furthermore any advertising in any specialist magazines or newspapers are carried out only at the behest of the vacancy holder.

Would the leader agree with me that if we are serious about attracting more BME staff then we need to be very much more directive in our recruitment practises, making it clear to LDL HR and others that we expect them to do considerably better.

Furthermore, would he agree with me, that we should not be allowing them their choice of advertising media, but instructing them to advertise in national newspapers like the Voice for instance when seeking to fill posts in departments and at grades that are under represented.

Verbal answer


Cllr Twigger would consider all such items and report back in due course

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q30

Question

Can the Leader say what steps have the council taken to encourage applications from the BME communities for Executive posts?

Answer

Recruitment consultants engaged as part of a procurement exercise – Oct 08 were
challenged by award of contract as to how they will ensure that they attract a diverse range of applicants through their search process. This will be evaluated after 12 months.


Verbal supplementary question

The report from the review, chaired by Cllr Fielding in 2000, stated “In the year 2007, Liverpool will celebrate 800 years since it was granted the charter which made it a city. In the next seven years the City Council must take up this challenge to change in a planned, strategic way. The city’s celebrations in 2007 will be a milestone. The council will have a public opportunity to show that equality is at the heart of its vision, values, pledges, policies, contracts and actions.” 2007 has been and gone, and that public opportunity was lost to us. Equality, it seems, is no more at the heart of what we do than it was back in 2000 when Cllr Fielding published her damning report. Why are we only addressing this now?

Verbal response

The Leader said that he was disappointed in me for asking so many questions on this subject, that it was not like me to press in this fashion and that I had clearly been put up to it. He repeated his insistence that Cllr Twigger would deal with all such matters in due course.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q29

Question
Since 1997, can the Leader say how many applicants from the BME communities have
submitted applications for Executive posts?

Answer
Since 2006 in relation to the recruitment of 18 Executive posts. The number of candidates from BME communities that have submitted applications for Executive posts is 13.

Verbal supplementary question

Given that we have only received 13 applications for 18 posts over the last 3 years, which is fewer than 1 application per post, is the Leader satisfied that the council is doing enough to attract BME candidates to these key posts? Will he agree with me that we have not moved forward since the review report which said “Liverpool City Council continues to exclude many people from its workforce.” And “Liverpool City Council’s recruitment and employment practices are discriminatory. Many skilled and talented people are prevented from reaching their potential.”

Verbal response

The leader gave way to Cllr Twigger who said he would be picking up all such issues as part of his E&D review that the Leader had tasked him to do.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q28

Question

Since 1997, can the Leader say how many candidates from the BME communities,
successful or otherwise, have been interviewed for Executive posts by the Appointments Panel?

Answer

Since 2006 18 Executive posts have been recruited to. The number of candidates from
BME communities that have been interviewed, successful or otherwise for Executive
posts is 2. This is based on information supplied by candidates on the equal opportunities form. Please note that submission of an equal opportunities form by the candidate is optional and we will not have necessarily received a form for every candidate who applies.

Verbal supplementary question
I began my question by responding to the Leader's point about why I was asking him all the E&D questions by saying that in my view something this serious required leadership from the top and I saw it as his role, however, if he wished to give this important responsibility over to someone else, then I would address them elsewhere in future.

I then said

I am disappointed that the Council has only provided figures going back to 2006 when LDL took over responsibility for HR. I am aware as he will be that this exercise was carried out once before at the behest of Councillor Marbrow and I know there are figures going back as far as 1997, which is why I asked for them today. I also know that the last time this exercise was carried out, there had been no BME candidates interviewed for Executive Posts. This means that we have interviewed precisely 2 candidates for these senior posts in 12 years. Is it not therefore the case that we have made no progress whatsoever since the 2000 review chaired by Cllr Fielding?

Verbal response
The Leader said that candidates might not be completing their monitoring forms in full, so there might be more candidates than we knew about.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q27

Question
Can the Leader say is Equality and Diversity training mandatory for councillors in
Liverpool? And if not, what steps can be taken to introduce this?

Answer
Equality and Diversity Training is currently offered to all Members of the City Council as part of the Member Development Programme. Whilst this is not currently a mandatory requirement, Members are strongly encouraged to attend these sessions.
Of the current Membership of the City Council 60 out of 90 have attended specific Equality training or briefing sessions. The remaining Members of the Council have attended a range of other sessions which include references to Equality and Diversity issues. The Induction Programme for Members includes a session on Equality and Diversity and Community Engagement.

The current Member Development Provision will shortly be subject to a comprehensive
review. Whilst Membership of certain regulatory Committees currently has a mandatory
training requirement, the issue of whether mandatory attendance can be achieved for a
wider range of sessions will be considered as part of this process with reference to
relevant legislation and following due consultation with Members.

It must be understood many members are employed and also undertake such training via
their workplace.

Verbal supplementary question

The report of the Equal Opportunity Public Review in 2000 recommended compulsory E&D training for all councillors, this recommendation – number 9 – was accepted by this council. Whilst I am pleased that so many councillors are committed to this training, I am also aware that the Scrutiny Panel of Operation Black Vote has heard evidence from some mentors and mentees that discrimination and prejudice still exists to some degree, with some councillors continuing to behave inappropriately, either deliberately or through ignorance of different customs. Examples were given for example of male councillors touching women’s arms or embracing them for instance (at this point the Leader embraced Cllr Marilyn Fielding who was sitting next to him), contrary to their religion.

We also heard some evidence that inappropriate words and language which are offensive particularly to black people.continue to be used by a small minority of councillors.

What efforts will the leader take or ask the Executive Member for Ethical Governance to take, to ensure that all councillors are given proper training so that these types of behaviours stop in future?

Verbal response

The leader said he did not know why I was addressing all these questions about Equality and Diversity to him, he thought that Cllr Twigger should be answering them. He then said that we could not make training mandatory for councillors but that some would get the training through work.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q26

Question
Can the Leader say what Equality and Diversity training have each of the Chief Executive, Executive Director’s and Assistant Executive Director’s had since the publication of the Equalities Act in 2007, to update themselves on the new legislation?

Answer

For courses booked via i-learn (corporate training system) 2 AED’s have attended
Managing Equality and 1 has attended Disability Equality training.

Verbal supplementary
The answer to q11 tells us that around 30 senior staff (there are 85 in this group) have undertaken “Managing equalities” training for managers. However this further question makes it clear that they must have been almost exclusively business heads.

The review in 2000 chaired by Cllr Fielding found, and I quote “Huge inconsistencies in the way equal opportunities policies are interpreted and implemented across the council.” it found “evidence that managers and staff were largely unaware, ignorant or insensitive about applying equal opportunities in their day to day work.”

Now here we are, 9 years later. And we learn that only 2 individuals out of our most senior team, the 23 people who make up the CEO, the Exec Directors and the AEDs, only 2 of them (for I am pretty sure that the person who took the disability training also took the managing equalities training) have undertaken any E&D training at all in the last few years, despite new legislation having been introduced and despite all of our many rejoinders for them to take this seriously. Does the leader agree with me that this shows a complete disregard for this vital area and a very serious failure of leadership, by both the Exec management team and also the cabinet? Does he agree with me that we have made no progress in the intervening years?

Verbal response

The Leader said that many of the Executive Directors and Assistant Executive Directors were only recently in place, so we could not say that they had not had training in their previous posts, also that their training records might not be up to date, he was sure that they were all actively undertaking the necessary training.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q25

Question
Given their public facing role, can the Leader say how many of the officers engaged in Liverpool Direct have undertaken the "Managing Equalities" training? What is this in percentage terms?

Answer
Not all LDL staff are customer facing (e.g. the majority of staff in ICT, Payroll, Benefits etc). However 428 out of 1070 (40%) have attended equalities and diversity training. 100% of LDL Management team (Heads of Service and CEO) have attended ‘Managing Equalities’ training. In addition 3 other managers have also attended this training.

Verbal supplementary
I am pleased that this service at least has recognised the need for managers to take the compulsory Managing Equalities Training. However, given that some element of E&D training is mandatory for all staff, whether they are public facing or not, because they need also to relate to their colleagues. Would the Leader agree with me that it is deeply disappointing that 60% of these staff have yet to receive any such training. What steps is he taking to ensure that they will receive this training?

Verbal response
The leader said that he had already answered lots of questions from me on E&D and would prefer it if we could refer them all to a review he was setting up with Cllr Twigger. There is no right of reply to a verbal response but as I had another question to ask straight afterwards, I was able to respond by saying that I intended to continue to ask my supplementary questions as they appeared on the order papers.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q23

Question
Given their public facing role, can the Leader say how many of the officers engaged in One Stop Shops have undertaken the "Managing Equalities" training? What is this in
percentage terms?

Answer
179 out of 206 people (87%) have attended equality and diversity training.

Verbal supplementary question
“Managing Equalities” is a particular course mandatory for all managers, can he confirm that all the managers in this service are included within the number of 179 people who have undertaken more general E&D training and that they have undertaken this particular training? And what steps is he taking to ensure that the remaining 27will be receiving more general E&D training, given that it too is mandatory.

Verbal answer

The leader said that he did not have the particular details available and would get back to me, but that he would ensure the training happened.

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q19

Question
Given their public facing role, can the Leaders say how many of the officers engaged in Neighbourhood Management Services have undertaken Equality and Diversity training?
What is this in percentage terms?

Answer
52 members of staff are currently in the Neighbourhood teams and of these 30 have
undertaken Equality and Diversity training. This amounts to 58%. A further ten have
training booked and arrangements are being made for the remaining staff including the
City Centre Management team once staff are in post.

No supplementary question asked

Questions posed to the Leader of Liverpool City Council, 8th July 2009 - Q11

With my E&D hat on, I asked a number of questions of the Leader at Liverpool City Council's full council meeting on 8th July.

Please see the written question, written answer and verbal supplementary questions (which I prepared in advance so have a record of) I have no record of the verbal answers, these are not recorded anywhere, but will do my best to recall them.

Question 11
If this link does not work, it may be because it is internal, however I have faithfully recorded the detail here below.

Question:

Training in "Managing equalities" is compulsory for all managers within Liverpool City Council. Can the Leader say how many of the Executive Directors, Assistant Executive Directors and Heads of Business units and the Chief Executive have already undertaken this training? What is this in percentage terms?

Answer
At present one third of the managers have attended 'Managing Equality' training. The
target date set for this for completion of this training for this group of managers is 31st March 2010.

Supplementary verbal question

In 2000, the Report of the Equal Opportunities Public Review, chaired by Councillor Marilyn Fielding stated that “Liverpool City Council has no strategic equalities training programme. As a result, councillors, managers and employees are ill equipped to understand the complexities of equal opportunities and how to apply it to their day-to-day work”. Consequently she and the other 13 members of the panel (7 councillors and 7 lay advisors), recommended compulsory Equalities Training for all staff. 7 years later, in 2007, following a disappointing start, it was agreed that all members of the Executive Team, AEDs and Heads of Business would complete a compulsory course named “Managing Equalities”, directed particularly at managers. The deadline for completing this vital training is indeed March 2010.

Does the Leader agree with me that progress continues to be disappointing with only a third of the team having received training with 2 years having already passed? What steps is he taking to ensure that these remaining 50 very senior managers undertake this training in time?

Verbal answer:
He said he did agree with me that more needed to be done and promised it would be

Can we make crime pay in Kensington and Fairfield?

Press release:

Crime Pays… For Community Renewal

A £4 million pilot programme has been launched to help local groups decide how criminals’ cash can change their communities.

The Home Office’s new Community Cashback scheme allows the general public in England and Wales to submit ideas that will reduce crime and anti-social behaviour whilst improving local facilities.

The total value of assets recovered from criminals during the past financial year rose to an all-time high of £148 million, with the Government now keen to divert some of these “ill-gotten gains” back into local projects.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

“The Community Cashback fund will ensure a portion of the ill-gotten gains of criminals are ploughed back into communities at a grassroots level, funding the projects that the public decide will make the most positive difference to their lives.”

Project ideas can be submitted to the relevant Local Criminal Justice Board through a dedicated programme website, while people will also get to have their say on shortlisted projects in their area.

Encouraging communities to get involved in the initiative, Louise Casey, the Government’s Crime and Justice Adviser, said:

“It is only right that the public should have a say on how cash from criminals is spent in their communities. This sends a strong message to the public that the criminal justice system cares about what they think and is on their side.”

Between January and April this year, more than £23 million worth of criminals’ assets were distributed back into frontline public services, with police forces across England and Wales sharing £7 million.

For further information about the pilot and to submit an idea for a potential project, visit the dedicated Community Cashback website

Your Community Matters - 28th July 2009, Kensington and Fairfield




Do join us to make your contribution to Your Community Matters - one of the most important dates in our calendar, and thank heavens it has been saved!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good news re new schools at Littlewoods on Edge Lane

I have been sitting on this story for nearly a week, but had promised Ben Turner at the Echo not to blog about it until the newspaper printed its story. I dont know why I bothered, given the slant he has put on it.

You will remember that I was approached by the governors of St Hilda's CoE school on April 16th to see whether they could move to a new school on the Littlewoods site, along with Archbishop Blanche CoE school(one of St Hilda's primary movers and shakers lives in Fairfield). Because St Margarets CoE school, who had been initially identified as suitable to move to the site, were refusing to come (because they have such a negative view of Edge Lane for some reason), the whole project was in serious jeopardy. I could see a situation arising where no schools came, we lost the building and the chance for top quality education for our kids in Fairfield.

So, I made an appointment to see Tim Warren who is the lead officer of the BSF programme (Building Schools for the Future) and asked him to consider this arrangement, given that St Margaret's were determined not to come. He was very interested in the idea and very excited when I told him how far the school was prepared to go to achieve this, mooting the idea of co-ed schooling.

Anyway, as a consequence, the governors of the three schools met last week, with representatives of the diocese and the council, and have now agreed to this, subject to it being formerly passed at Governors meetings.

It is fantastic news and I am really looking forward to seeing the next more detailed set of plans.

Incidentally, LibDem Councillor Paul Clein who also lives in Fairfield, obviously read my blog on June 14th and a couple of days later wrote an entry on Ben Turner's blog (the Echo journalist) more or less saying the same thing. (Edit: Paul's wife Jan has written to me to say that Paul would never read my blog, although she clearly does!)

This has earned him the credit for the idea from the Echo journalist here

I want to make it clear that the idea came from the school itself, nobody else. It is an insult to suggest otherwise, they have worked so hard to make this dream come true for their pupils, it is not for politicians - or indeed journalists - to be taking the credit.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Total Politics Blog Poll 2009

As a blogger who has made the top 100 Labour blogs, two years in a row, without knowing there was even a competition on, I thought I would make a bit of an effort this year and promote the poll properly. Of course I would be delighted if you would consider voting for my blog, knowing that people support you makes writing a real pleasure.

Here are the details from Total Politics

Email your ten favourite blogs (ranked from 1-10) to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

It's that time of year again, when Total Politics asks you to vote for your Top 10 favourite blogs. The votes will be compiled and included in the forthcoming book, the Total Politics Guide to Blogging 2009-10, which will be published in September. This year the poll is being promoted/sponsored by LabourList and LibDemVoice as well as Total Politics publisher Iain Dale's blog.

The rules are simple.
1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and ranks them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).
2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.
3. You MUST include ten blogs. If you include fewer than ten your vote will not count.
2. Email your vote to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com
3. Only vote once.
4. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents are eligible or based on UK politics are eligible.
5. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name
6. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2009. Any votes received after that date will not count.

If you have your own blog, please do encourage your readers to take part. Last year, more than 80 blogs did so. We hope this year it will be far more than that. BUT, DO NOT list ten blogs you think your readers should vote for. Any duplicate voting of this nature will be disallowed. If you do not wish for your blog to be voted for please email katy.scholes@totalpolitics.com. You will see a list of the blogs who have chosen not to be included in the comments shortly.

There are many ways of measuring a blog's popularity. Wikio and Technorati have complicated logarithms which measure the importance of incoming links and traffic. Google Analytics does it by measuring how many people visit. But our poll gives blog readers the opportunity to vote for the ones they like and visit most often. It's not scientific. It's impossible to achieve 100% balance and we don't pretend it's perfect.
The results of the poll will be published in the forthcoming book the TOTAL POLITICS GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING IN THE UK which will be published in mid September in association with APCO Worldwide.

So, go to it. Email us your Top Ten Favourite Blogs

Gone AWOL

I guess I should apologise for being missing from the blog – two main reasons being I have got the Facebook bug and these days I put all my news on there first, which is fine for my mates, but not much use to anyone who is not on there with me, and the other reason is because I have been working on my latest marketing commission, putting a newsletter together for a local business forum, so I have been busy. I hope these entries today make up for it a bit though!

Nearly a very big upset!

I spent several very wet hours in St Helens yesterday, helping out in the Moss Bank byelection. Had we won the seat from the LibDems it would have returned St Helens to a Labour council. Sadly we were close but not close enough.
Scores on the doors were LibDem 1480, Labour 1011, Ind 71, Green, 73, Tory 111
Last time this seat was fought the LibDems had a majority of over 1100, so it was a good advance, the Libdems lost about 20% of their vote. Perhaps the Labour candidate will take heart from this advance and put some more work in between now and May and who knows what might happen next time?
I must say though, for a byelection with such a potentially important outcome, I would have thought a bit more publicity might have been in order. Can you imagine the headlines of "Labour wins back control of council"? Such a shame, if only we had had another week to find more promises, we could have done it.

Goodbye Caroline

I was in a very posh cocktail lounge last night, me, I know, laughable really. Sitting in luxury with all these very beautiful young people, who were dressed up to the nines, in the Palm Sugar Lounge in Chevasse Park. I was there to celebrate (or mourn?) Caroline Chege’s leaving of Liverpool. Her visa has expired and she is going back to Kenya, good news for her because she has her family there and life is good for her at home, but bad news for us because we will all miss her so much. We got on really well when she was shadowing me on the OBV councillor scheme, although it did get a bit tiresome, how everyone always stopped in their tracks with their mouths open when they met her, because she is so beautiful. I expect she will turn up again one day, probably as the next President of Kenya, knowing her. Goodbye Caroline, Good luck! Photos to follow

Equality briefing from the NWEO

Claire Wilner and I were at an interesting briefing from the NWEO last week on the new Equality Act. LCC are really going to have their work cut out to keep on top of this, they are not even fulfilling their obligations under the existing legislation so how they are going to get to grips with the new duties and the new strands I cannot imagine. I was very impressed with the tutor, Bernie, one of the best I have ever seen, and believe me I have seen hundreds and hundreds. I dont know what she has, but it should be bottled and sent to everyone who ever gives presentations! We met in the Crowne Plaza and our room had a view to the rear, I have never seen that side of the dock before, it looked beautiful, with the office blocks, other hotels and the canal basin. Very smart.

Vigil for Michael Shields

Over 200 people turned up for the vigil on Saturday for Michael Shields at the Anglican Cathedral. The Lord Mayor read out Michael’s favourite psalm – one that was given to him to read in prison by Bishop James Jones who is a big supporter of his campaign. Then Joe Anderson made a speech about the need for Jack Straw to change his mind after reviewing the evidence and statements again, particularly the report from the Merseyside Police and then Gerry Marsden got up and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone. How impressive is that!!! And then we all lit a candle while listening to Billy Joel singing “I am an Innocent Man” but that was on the CD rather than live, shame, a missed opportunity methinks! Jack Straw must be Public Enemy Number 1 in Liverpool I reckon for being so blinkered and keeping that innocent lad in prison, it is a real miscarriage of justice.

Arty in Southport

On another trip to Southport last week, I went to see an art exhibition in a cafĂ©, showing work by my friend Sheila McCoy. We sat and had a hot chocolate, with all the trimmings, and a piece of cake, and watched all the ladies coming and going and admiring the art. I kept wanting to jump up and say “My friend took those photographs, aren’t they great!”. And they were great, abstract shots of the docks, exquisitely done, you can tell she has an arty background! The only single downside was that her work was on a wall above a sofa, and it meant shoving out of the way, the woman trying to eat her soup, each time anyone wanted to look at them. I have told her that next time she needs to be more diva-esque and insist on a better set-up. I will have to find out the name of the cafe so I can put it up here and you can go see for yourself

Bloomin' lovely


Wendy, Liam and I joined the Kensington Clean Team last week to plant some plants in the planters (that sounds stupid) at the top of Needham Road and also on Gannock Street, which we had paid for from our devolved budget. It really brightens the place up to have flowers and shrubs, we have gone for perennials this time as the annuals were all stolen. Hopefully this time the plants will stay in situ!

The next generation?

I spent last Saturday with Peter Wheeler in Warrington, interviewing people who would like to be considered as Labour candidates for a forthcoming General Election. There were lots of them which is just as well considering the number retiring this time round! We were particularly impressed by a young woman from Bolton, definitely one to watch.

Being posh in Southport

I went with Stephen, Nick and Peter to the Southport CLP annual dinner last week at the Old Links golf club. Stephen was the speaker and we went to support him, not that he needed it. He was feted by all, I was amused to hear that in a recent survey of Guardian and Observer readers, his defeat of Michael Portillo in the 1997 GE, features as the third best ever TV moment, behind men landing on the moon and Nelson Mandela being released from prison. We had a good time catching up with old friends, and the food was lovely. Cath Cookson was in top form, taking the mickey out of everyone. Mind you, I am not used to going to Labour Party events at Golf Clubs, they must be posh up there!

LCVS Faith network event

LCVS Faith Network had an event in the Anglican cathedral last week, congratulations to everyone for the wonderful organisation and planning. I spent a couple of hours there talking to all the various stall holders. It was interesting how Kensington and Fairfield was at the heart of so many of them. L’Arche for instance, who had a stall selling candles and cards, and whose residents performed a short play based on a psalm about feeding and supporting those in need, have several homes in our area. The Muslim stall was featuring a film about the first ever Mosque built in the United Kingdom, at Brougham Terrace, Kensington. Plans are currently underway to turn it into a heritage centre. The Hindu Association had a stall, their temple is of course on Edge Lane and I was there in two weeks ago for a BME social event. Nugent Care had a stall, they too are based on Edge Lane, and they carry out much supportive work in the community, I am going to see them soon to get the full sp. There were also stalls from the Jewish Archive, Merseyside Christians Against Poverty (or some such, MARCAP, I think they were called), the Boys Brigade, a group of young women who go into schools to talk about body image and eating disorders (very interesting, we might get them into St Francis of Assisi Academy) and SIGMA, the Police’s Hate Crime people. All very good and positive, I really enjoyed it and came home with a bread roll from the Methodist Church who bake bread and pray together above the News from Nowhere bookshop on Bold Street each week. If you want to know more about any of these organisations, then please let me know.

Could this be good news for Kenny market?

I have met with Graham Pilkington from Maplegrove to talk about his plans for the Kensington Market site. Working with the owner of the front part of the site – the building and the waste ground where the boot sales were being held – and the developers of the Neighbourhood Centre site next door (the old ice rink), they would like to build a new supermarket and car park. We should hear any day now whether they have been able to do the deal with a well-known supermarket. If they can pull this off, with our support, then we could potentially be looking at a stretch of the road where we have Iceland on the corner, in the new development, then some other shop units down to the Lister pub, and then the new supermarket, all facing the modernised shops across the road. Is it too much to dream that Kensington and Fairfield could feature once again as a district centre with this as the catalyst?

You can see a story about some other work that Maplegrove have done here

Little red purse

My stolen purse has finally turned up. It was stolen by a junkie who came into our Labour Party office and found my handbag unattended. I can say that with confidence because we saw him in the office and recognised him – although did not actually see him commit the act, so the CPS wouldn’t take it forward. Anyway, a guy phoned me last week to say he had been pruning in the window bottom of a house in Whitland Road and found my purse under the hedge. The money was gone (and my worthless Grand National betting slip, that being the day it was stolen) but the credit cards, library card, driving licence, kidney donor card, photo of Michael etc were still all inside. This was great news for two reasons, firstly because some of those things were irreplaceable, and secondly because it means nobody has been trying to steal my identity.

Kensington BME

There’s been quite a bit of movement on the BME front in Kensington. The BME Strategy Group has finally got going properly, with a grant from Kensington Regeneration which will fund admin support and consultants (Barry and Alison Navarro) to get things moving forward. We have a chair and a vice chair now, David Derefeka and Madeleine Heneghan, both BME residents, one from Kensington and one from Fairfield. We have aims, an action plan and some real direction, so I am confident that we can build on the good work that Martin Pinder has been doing over the last 10 years, once Kensington Regeneration comes to an end next year. If you want details of the next BME strategy group meeting, let me know.

A real family day out


Newsham Park Festival was fantastic, the weather stayed mainly bright with only a short shower that did not put anyone off. We met loads of friends out on the park, and enjoyed watching the choir made up of girls from St Francis of Assisi Academy which we are supporting through our devolved budget. We also did a short radio show live from a tent on the site, and because it was not being broadcast as part of the licence that demands impartiality, we were even allowed to say the L word. Jane took the opportunity to talk to Ghosia about her plans for celebrating the big anniversary of Polish Solidarity next year, we will be inviting her to address one of our meetings shortly to explain.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Liverpool Triathlon


My bezzie mate Colin did the Liverpool Triathlon in 1 hour 40 mins, a few weeks ago. Swimming, cycling and running for miles.
Not bad for a man with a heart condition, diabetes and heaven only knows what else.
I am really proud of him, here he is in his special commemorative t-shirt which shows the name of every participant.

Jimmy McGovern's The Street starts again on July 13th


Jimmy has asked me to help advertise the new series of one of my favourite programmes on TV, I hope you will join me in watching it!
If you click on the picture it will be displayed in a larger format and you can get a clearer look.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Permanent Bass Player Wanted

Please see this email from Alun Parry


I'm looking for a new permanent bass player.

He or she needs to be a very good bass player, and ideally either a very quick learner or knows my music pretty well already.

Also, I need someone who is available on average twice a week to either rehearse or gig.

Some quality gigs coming up, including playing support to Chumbawamba in September.

I am a signed artist with a new album out at the end of August, and a national distribution deal. If you fit the bill, get in touch.

Please pass this message on to friends who you think may be interested - or may know someone who may be interested. My website address is www.parrysongs.co.uk

Thanks

Al

PS I'm playing support to Chumbawamba in September. So could you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Liverpool Wavertree CLP GC

Last week we had our Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party General Committee (or Wavertree GC for short) and I dont usually blog about these monthly meetings because either you would not be interested or they are too full of secret squirrel stuff for me to share.

And I am not going to tell you loads about this one either, but a few points merit mention.

We had Joe Ando to give the council report, he is normally too busy to come to us, so it falls to me, Wendy, Liam or Jim, he was great. Then Jane talked about the background to her resignation, which was fascinating and for which we gave her our support.

We also discussed our local policy commissions, just getting started for next year's manifesto, there is going to be massive member engagement and also members of the community, partners and agencies, I am really looking forward to it.

But I was particularly delighted at the sheer diversity round the table, men and women, black and white (and Asian), young and old - from 20 something to 70 something, members with disabilities (physical and learning), from LGBT - at least two of those groupings, different religions, TU members, co-operators, from different countries - within the UK and wider. I have never in my life been to a meeting with such diverse members, I had a tear in my eye on the way home, just thinking about how far we have come over the years since I became a member.

If we can maintain that level of diversity and keep listening to and heeding all those voices then "the future is ours my son" (she paraphrases)

Judging the year 7 gardening competion at St Francis of Assisi Academy, Fairfield

As the granddaughter and greatgranddaughter of Corporation gardeners (in Coventry) as well as the great niece of a third Coventry council gardener plus also a Wolverhampton Council gardener (count them!!!), I was delighted to be asked to judge the year 7 gardening competition at St Francis of Assisi Academy in Fairfield.

Each class (7 in all) has its own garden, about the size of an average family garden, in which they have been growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, a few flowers and encouraging wild-life. There were 7 prizes in all and by happy chance each class won one of the prizes.

After judging the gardens in the morning, along with a professor from a University in Hull, the Principle and Vice Principle of the Academy and three of the staff, I then had a school dinner with the students. A roast chicken dinner, very nice!

In the afternoon, in an Oscars style awards presentation assembly, I gave out the certificates for all the winning gardens. They really have done a great job, I understand this was the fourth year and the gardens clearly go from strength to strength each year.

Liverpool Eastern Approaches Business Leaders' Forum

We had a really interesting speaker at last month's business breakfast at Gardners Systems on Wavertree Technology Park - no less a person than Bernard Hogan-Howe the Chief Constable of Merseyside. As a councillor I have heard him speak many times - not least of which was the previous week at the Redeeming Communities event - but many business people present will not have had that opportunity. He explained the set-up of our police force, his mission statement, vision and driving priorities. Everyone really enjoyed it.

Afterwards we had our usual half a dozen 2 minute presentations from local businesses explaining what products or services they offer in East Liverpool.

If you would like to be invited to a future breakfast, please let me know and I will pass your details to Phil Linley or Graham Knott.

A beautiful weekend in Cornwall




I spent Father's Day weekend in Cornwall visting my father and other members of my family who had also converged there. The weather was glorious and we had a wonderful time, I was only sorry not to be able to spend more time there.

I drove down on the Friday, 375 miles in 6 and a half hours, stopping only once for a pitstop somewhere south of Weston Super Mare, and coming home on the Monday I did the same journey in 6 hours. It was less painful a journey that I had anticipated, both ways, I should go more often, although it is still a long way to go for a weekend.

We didn't do anything wildly exciting, but really enjoyed being together, it was heart-warming and spirit lifting and I am really pleased I made the effort.

I also took the chance to see old Labour colleagues and friends Jude and Steve for a coffee before driving home.

Here are a few photos - I understand it was raining back home!

Celebrating Liverpool's Sirolli Projects

I went to a celebration of the 3 Sirolli projects in Liverpool on June 18th in Liverpool Town Hall.

The Sirolli Institute was set up by Dr Ernesto Sirolli to facilitate enterprise - to support new and existing businesses to overcome hurdles.

In Liverpool the three projects are Dream High (of which I have been a panel member for several years), Waves and Enable.

We were celebrating our 3rd birthday and our successes and highlighting some of the businesses who have benefitted from our support.

With contributions from Warren Bradley and Gary Millar from LCC, amongst others, we learnt that 1300 businesses have been supported by the three projects, creating 1900 new jobs and supporting a further 2200 in pre-existing businesses.

I started attending as a councillor, because I can make the links between residents who want to get going in business and business people who can support them, but also in the last couple of years, I attend as a local business woman myself, who works for a firm of business advisors and for other local firms.

In an area of high unemployment, when good jobs are hard to come by, it can only help if talented individuals set themselves up in business and maybe later hire other local people too

Kensington and Fairfield businesses that we celebrated include Leah Eaton from Le Spa nail salon on Kensington and the Sign Shop on Prescot Road, Siddi Majubah's Inflatable Clown, Nick Taylor at e-blueprint who loves Dream High so much that he became the Chair, and many others.

Congratulations to Nick, to Claire Chang the facilitator, to Phil Linley from Liverpool Vision, former Chair, and to all the panel members and businesses involved in Dream High.

"We believe in you 100% and we will help you achieve your passion"

New Chair of City and North District Committee

I was delighted to have been elected as the new Chair of the City and North District Committee on June 17th. Having been the Deputy Chair of the Area Committee in 2007/8 and the Deputy Chair of the District Committee in 2008/9, I have been doing my homework and learning about local devolved budgets, Neighbourhood Area Agreements and Neighbourhood Partnership Working Groups.

Now I will have an overview of the areas of
Health and Older People
Children and Young People
Safer Stronger Communities
Enterprise and Economic Development and
Physical Regeneration (of which I am also the chair of the NPWG)

in the geographical areas of
Kirkdale
Everton
Kensington and Fairfield
Picton
Riverside and
Central (the city centre)

We work with partners and agencies such as council staff, PCT, Police, Fire Service, schools, colleges, the JET, Elect, LCVS etc to ensure that the priorities for our residents and businesses in our area are clearly highlighted and focussed on.

This is in fact a bigger responsibility that being a shadow spokesperson for the Labour Group, and receives a bigger special responsibility allowance (about £6k I believe), because it is an actual "doing" post rather than a shadow post, although it is of a lesser status in terms of party politics.

Anyway, I am really delighted to be in such a privileged position and I would like to thank my councillor colleagues for giving me this wonderful opportunity to shape developments and services in our area over the next 12 months.

Redeeming Our Communities

I went to a great event at the Liverpool Arena a couple of weeks ago, organised by the Merseyside Police (the SIGMA team in the main part I think) and faith groups, working at reducing gun and knife crimes, particularly those that affect young people.

About 4000 people from churches and faith groups all round Liverpool were in attendance along with about 200 police and a group of civic leaders and other "dignatories" (I do hate that word), to watch young people perform song and dance and to hear from upteen projects who work with young people to engage with them.

We heard from street pastors who go out on the streets after midnight and clear away glass so people don't hurt themselves or use bottles as weapons, and help drunken girls get home - thousands of them now across Britain. The Eden programme where youth workers move into empty houses in deprived areas to make sure they are always around for the young people... I certainly learnt a lot. Manchester turned itself round almost completely after they had a similar event. Only 3 shots have been fired in the first 5 months of this year, I think they said, in Manchester, which is gobsmacking.

It was great, loud and fervent and very motivating. I sat with Cllr Steve Rotheram and Ann O'Byrne and waved to our local neighbourhood offices in the next block of seating.