Thursday, September 30, 2010

Merseyside Police Force's ASB Task Force at risk

A leaked paper to the Liverpool Echo yesterday tells us of proposals to scrap the ASB Task Force, something that has been fundamental to helping communities to get on top of this scourge.

I have been the darling of the BBC for the last two days, they found some of my blogs on ASB and asked if they could interview me and local residents about the positive impact of the Task Force and our fears for the future.

I did Radio Merseyside yesterday (2 minutes in) and North West Tonight today (7 minutes in) and will be on R4 next week, along with local residents and community workers.

Kensington in the spotlight.

But what I found most interesting was a tiny bit of footage that Stuart Flinders had found in the archives, of Kensington 10 years ago. My God, it left me speechless. I worry sometimes about whether we are pushing forward hard enough or fast enough, but when I saw the scandal of what it looked like in our area back then, I realise just how far we have come with a Labour Government supporting local regeneration.

Unrecognisable! We went today to the worst parts of the ward, and it all looks pretty damn good in comparison to how things were. Shame on the LibDems who at the time of my election in 2006 had served for nearly 60 years between them in Kensington and Fairfield. How did they live with themselves, if the place looked quite that bad back then?

Looking at our new houses, shops, the fire station, the new academy (opened by Tony Blair), the new primary schools and the sure start centre, the improved shop fronts, the environmental improvements to house frontages, new bus lanes, road humps, alley gates, cleaning and greening, new RSL head offices etc, we are the bees knees, we are the place to be, we are on the up! In fact Kensington is so much improved now that our new MP has moved in, permanently, buying her new home right in the centre of the ward.


What a disgrace then that the ConDem coalition is forcing cuts like these on our area.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mood music

Latest in my series of musical musings, isn't this possibly one of the most beautiful love songs ever written?

Unlike marmite, where you either "love it" or "hate it", this song goes straight to the heart of us all, surely?

Charles Aznavour understood. He speaks for romantics everywhere, it's a great song, listen and enjoy!


May be the face I can't forget
A trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
She may be the song that summer sings
May be the chill that autumn brings
May be a hundred tearful things
Within the measure of the day.

May be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into heaven or a hell
She may be the mirror of my dreams
A smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside a shell

She who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one's allowed to see them when they cry
She may be the love that can and hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
That I remember till the day I die

May be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I'm alive
The one I'll care for through the rough and rainy years
Me, I'll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I got to be
The meaning of my life is
She, she, she

Monday, September 27, 2010

Isle of Man - at LP conference

It's a funny old world really, don't you think?

Last weekend I went over to the Isle of Man for the first time. My only previous connection to the Island was that my parents went there for their honeymoon. I had never been but always fancied it, as regular readers will know, I am very keen on spending holidays in Britain/UK and places nearby as well as going to other places further afield, I do think it is important to explore your own country as well as everyone else's

I know that the Isle of Man is not exactly in the UK but then it is not exactly outside the UK either, so bear with me on this point.

I went to visit an old friend, Alex Powell, who I met before the 1997 General Election campaign when she was active with the Labour Party in the Calder Valley. I hope she wont mind my saying that she was a bit of a poster girl for the party for a while, being young, pretty and photogenic and was pretty much guaranteed to be somewhere nearby when Tony Blair was speaking.

She moved to the Isles a good few years back and we pretty much only caught up at conferences until the emergence of Facebook into my life.

I only went over for 36 hours but we managed to cram plenty in; a trip round Castle Rushen - a particularly fine medieval castle (I am a bit of an expert on such things, having studied them at both O'Level and A'Level, not many people know that!), lunch at Port Erin, a stroll on the cliffs at the Sound - and a visit to various local hostelries. I was amazed incidentally to leave her house in Castletown at 5.50pm last Sunday afternoon, get a lift to the airport, check in, get on the plane, arrive at JLA, check out, jump a taxi and be back in my own house at 7.50pm. Anyway, I had a fab time and hope to go again to see a bit more of the Island.

Alex now works as the External Relations Manager for the Manx Parliament, working with similar civil servants from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, Gib etc to ensure that all the various Parliaments and Parlimentarians keep in touch with each other through international conferences and so on. She was at the LP conference in Manchester with one of her ministers, Minister Bell and brought him to our NW Reception where she introduced us. So I was able to tell him that I had been on the Island only the week before.

He was very keen to develop stronger links between the NW of England and the Isle of Man, particularly given the financial links between many developers working in our region and his Island. Peel Holdings for instance, have their base in the Isle of Man. I suggested they might like to have a stall at conference next year when Labour comes to Liverpool, and it will give them a chance to explore that further with visitors to the stand - while helping us with an income stream. I introduced him to a few of our councillors and MPs and I hope returned some of the hospitality I had been shown the previous weekend.

North West Regional Receptions at Labour Party Annual Conference

I had two real reasons for making it over to conference in Manchester this weekend. The first was to join friends at the LGBT Labour bash on Saturday night, which was massive, absolutely heaving with people and I was in very good company - did suffer for it a bit on Sunday morning though.

But the other main reason for going was to host our two NW events. We had our delegates event on Sunday lunchtime - I forgot there was going to be food along with the briefing, so I had already eaten. I must just digress and tell you about lunch. I got into the conference centre about 11.30am and was ravenous, looking for a late breakfast, so I went to the cafe area. They only had lunch type food on offer though. So I sorted myself out with something to eat and sat down with an old friend I had not seen for ages. It was still pretty quiet in the centre and then along came a big load of TV cameras with John Prescott. They were filming him visiting stands in the exhibition area. He saw me and came straight across, with cameras trailing after him. "Hello Louise, how are you. Gosh, fancy eating bangers and mash at this time of day, shouldn't it be bacon and eggs?" They immediately focused on my plate of food, I was mortified, just hope I don't appear on whatever programme he was recording for, looking sheepish!

Anyway, to get back to the regional events. The first one was to welcome our NW CLP delegates, the vast majority of whom are first time delegates, which is always exciting - for them and for us. I encouraged them to get up and speak this week during conference and keep our NW red flag flying high. And encouraged them to join in the Labour NW Conference blog - will link to this shortly when I can find it. Everyone was buzzing about being at conference, finding out where to sit (they sit within regions and alphabetically by constituency, so the Liverpool delegates will be sitting together, whilst Bootle will be sitting with Burnley and Bury for instance), how to vote, how to catch the eye of the conference chair, which of the hundreds of fringe events they might choose to go to, which contemporary motions they might like to vote to see discussed on the floor of conference. I gave a shameless plug to the Marriage Equality motion, I do hope it was chosen for debate but I doubt it somehow. I know the delegates will have a great time, wish I was still there.

And then at 5.30pm we had our NW Reception which was fabulous. Sponsored by United Utilities and ResManNW (I will have to check that, it  doesn't look right), we had a buffet and some drinks and speeches and lots and lots of guests. I had been a bit nervous that people might not come as it was not in the most glamorous of locations, being upstairs in the GMEX but I needn't have worried. I welcomed everyone and introduced Joe Anderson who kindly compered the event for us and he variously welcomed to the stage Harriet Harman, Andy Burnham, Angela Eagle, John Prescott, the sponsors and of course our new leader, Ed Miliband. We had a few short speeches and then chatted together, then a few more speeches, as people arrived, and more chat, before the main event so it was a very relaxed affair and I know people really enjoyed it, there was a lot of laughter too, if Joe ever tires of being the leader of Liverpool City Council then he could take up MCing for a living. Andy Smith, one of our staff, kept whispering in Joe's ear things like "Keep talking a bit longer, Andy Burnham is on his way" or "Shut up now, Harriet has come in". It was a real exercise in ad-libbing but he is pretty good at that to be honest!

Ed was great, he paid tribute to Andy Burnham and looked forward to working with  him in the future as a strong voice for this part of the country. The main thing that he said which stuck in my mind was that the coalition is too focussed on the deficit to the detriment of everything else. He said that in particular in 1945, the new Government did not say "Oh dear we have a massive debt (which we only finished paying off about 8 years ago incidentally - Louise), we can only concentrate on slashing public spending" but in fact they got on and introduced the NHS and the Welfare State. There was huge cheers for that. He also said that one new member had joined the LP every single minute since the leadership election results had been declared 24 hours earlier. Wow!

Everyone was very buoyant and looking forward to a great week of conference. It is hard sometimes to hold together in your mind the fact that we lost the election, that we have a horrible coalition in power now, that there are some very scary cuts coming the way of our people, and yet we still feel positive about the future and the fight to protect public services and the fight back into power.

Photo: JP entertaining the crowds while I discuss the running order...(that's my excuse anyway, I was probably telling my mate about the bangers and mash incident!)

Ed Miliband - new Labour Leader

I have finally broken my duck! After 18 years I have voted successfully for the new Leader of the Labour Party. I voted for Ed Miliband because I think he has good things to say about the things that I care about - ordinary working people in our country, equality and diversity, co-operation and mutualism and reconnecting with members and the elecorate.

I only popped over to Manchester for the weekend - I am too busy really to take the whole week off work, and I did not bother to order a ticket for the Leader's declaration - and was feeling too tight to buy the day pass that I would have needed (that is probably nearer to the truth really), so I watched the results live on TV.

I wandered into a bar just outside the conference cordon where I recognised my mate Darren Clifford and he told me that a big group of young people who had worked on Ed Miliband's campaign had reserved a part of the bar with a big television, ready to watch the coverage as it came in from the conference centre next door, so I went to join them. And found I knew some of them who live in Manchester and from our region.

When the result came in they were delirious with joy, you would have thought we had just won the world cup, at the very least. Then Ed came to the rostrum and you could have heard a pin drop in the bar as they all watched their man address them for the first time as leader. I thought I would share these few photographs with you.

Ed was keen to stress that a new generation is now taking the lead within the Labour Party and if these are his supporters then I can quite believe it.

If you are interested in such things, I voted EM1, DM2, DA3, EB4. No fifth

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sue and Jim Mulholland's 40th Wedding Anniversary

I was delighted to be invited to Sue and Jim's 40th Wedding Anniversary - they live in Fairfield but held the party in Wavertree which was very handy for me!

Their stunningly talented daughter Carmen made the most amazing cake, reflecting on their joint love for their caravan retreat. If you would like to see more of her cakes then let me know and I will send you a link to her FB page where you can see some outstanding examples of her very tasty work.

A great evening was had by all.

Love and best wishes to you both on 40 great years, and here is to the next 40! 

Louise, Liam and Wendy.

Kensington Remembers 2011 - Planning Meeting

"Kensington Remembers" will once again be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day with a special event of remembrance and reflection in January 2011, open to people from across Merseyside.

The event will focus on the Holocaust, but also other genocides and tragedies that have been experienced by communities of people now living in our area, including Jewish, Congolese, Darfurian, Kosovan, Kurdish, Polish, Roma, Rwandan.

Last year more than 500 people were involved in our programme.

We are holding a meeting on October 13th at 5.30pm at St Francis of Assisi Academy, Gardners Drive, Fairfield, L6 7UR to which we would like to invite anyone who would like to be involved in the event, either as a performer or as a volunteer.

Please come and please tell people who you think might want to play an active role, too.

Top Political Blogs

Up 66 places from 280 to 214 in this year's Total Politics Top Political Blogs

My fourth and final award.

To coin a Liverpool phrase, I am "made up", perhaps this should be suggesting to me that I spend a bit more time on here and a bit less on Facebook in future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Free cash machine for Kensington and Fairfield - update

When I was first selected to stand as the Labour candidate for Kensington and Fairfield in November 2005, I embarked upon a serious door-knocking exercise, what did local people want?

One thing they clearly wanted was a cash-machine that was free to use.

This came up at several Your Community Matters meetings too, so as a then representative on the board of Kensington Regeneration (which I later resigned from in disgust at their plans to spend half of their income on admin instead of on local people's priorities), I pushed very hard for this.

Having been at the opening of the new Iceland store on Prescot Road, joining many very happy local shoppers, I thought again about this promise and so I wrote this week to local Liverpool City Council officers to ask them whether we in the council are still progressing this on your behalf.

This is the reply I have received.

"I've had a further update on the cashpoint and apparently getting them fitted is a lengthy and complex process (security, technical issues and insurances etc) and the probable installation date is January 2011 but the relevant officers are working to speed that as best they can. I think there is a clear understanding of the importance of free cash machines to low income communities so this won't be forgotten about."

This is good news and I am looking forward to standing in the queue to be one of the first people ever to draw cash from a machine that does not charge.

In the meantime you may wish to know that the machine located at the petrol station in front of the Devonshire House Hotel (which you can walk to down Deane Road or Beech Street) is free to use.

Labour in Kensington and Fairfield - keeping our promises.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What do you have on your back seat?

I have just been alerted to a new service now being undertaken in Liverpool whereby the police (and perhaps other crime-fighting organisations? not sure of the precise detail) are now alerting motorists to potential vehicle crime. Apparently, if a police officer has a look into your car and sees something that might be attractive to a thief, they will now write to you at home. The letter may something like "I looked into your car parked on the High Street and saw a bag/jacket/laptop case etc on the back seat/in the footwell and thought it looked tempting to a burglar, please don't make yourself so vulnerable again, take it away with you or lock it in the boot" Okay, I am only guessing what the letter might say but the implications are important and obvious. Well done to the Police Service for taking this measure, it's one to be applauded!

(Assistant Cabinet Member for Community Safety reporting...)

Monday, September 20, 2010

So what do our Labour Leadership hopefuls think about the Co-operative movement?

As a determined Co-operator with a membership that goes back 18 years, I was fascinated to read the responses of our Labour Leadership hopefuls on their views about Co-operation and its place in a future Labour agenda. Apologies for its length, but this article is well worth a thorough read. It is also a good exposition on just what Co-operation is all about, for those who are yet to become members or are considering it.

As ballot papers hit the doormats of Labour and trade union members, the Co- operative Party has asked the five contenders for the Labour Leadership their views on co-operative issues. These are set out below:

Andy Burnham
1. The Co-operative Party is the sister party of the Labour Party with more than 7,000 members. What has been your formal involvement in the Co-operative Party and the broader co-operative movement?
I joined the Co-op Party over 10 years ago, after being inspired by the potential of the co-operative ideal in football. At the time, I was working for the Government's Football Task Force and conducting an inquiry into the ownership of football clubs. I was struck by the success of supporters at Northampton Town, who had rescued the club via the country's first democratically-constituted supporters’ trust. It was clear to me then that this supporters' trust model, through an Industrial and Provident Society, provided the answer to many of the problems facing the game, particularly the asset-stripping of clubs by unscrupulous directors. In the Task Force report, 'Investing in the Community', I recommended that a new body be established to enable other clubs to follow Northampton's lead. The tremendous growth of supporters' trusts ever since shows how mutual ownership of clubs has caught the imagination of supporters everywhere.

2. One of the stated objectives of the Co-operative Party is to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation. What specific actions have you taken in your political career to advance this objective?
After working at the Football Task Force, I joined Chris Smith as his Special Adviser. At the same time as he received the Task Force's recommendation on club ownership, the Co-operative Party published a ground- breaking pamphlet by Professor Jonathan Michie – ‘New Mutualism: A Golden Goal? Uniting Supporters and their Clubs’. So compelling were the arguments made in both that, at the 1999 Labour Party Conference, I persuaded Chris to announce the establishment of Supporters Direct to promote supporter ownership of clubs. To date, more than 140 supporters’ trusts have been established and I was proud to have chaired Supporters Direct for three years from 2002 during the critical period in its growth.
In my view, the establishment of Supporters Direct was the Labour Government’s most impressive achievement on the promotion of mutualism. I say this not just because of the rapid expansion of the mutual sector in sport but because it brought the concept of mutualism to a new, younger and different audience, many of whom would not have known about co-operatives before.
However, my involvement in the wider Co-operative movement goes further than sport. As a minister and later as Secretary of State at the Department of Health, I was involved in early discussions about NHS Foundation Trusts as an extension of co-operatives into healthcare and as an answer to the powerlessness that communities sometimes feel in the face of healthcare changes.

3. The policies and resources of the Co-operative Party have historically been a great benefit to the Labour Party. If elected Leader, what specific plans do you have to introduce co-operative policies?
As Leader, I would put co-operative policies and new mutualism at the heart of Labour's future policy offer. This is because, post-recession, it speaks to the public's desire for a different approach to the ownership and behaviour of socially-important organisations. This can be seen in the success of the Co-operative Bank, which, at a time of crisis in the financial sector, was seen by the public as embodying trust and higher ethical standards. It can also be seen in the protest movements at Manchester United and Liverpool, as supporters call for the money motive to be tamed.
So Labour should be bold in calling for a return to the good mutual principles in financial services. As Leader, I will call for the remutualisation of Northern Rock, giving it the stability it needs and securing jobs in the north east. It is also the answer to another banking crisis that often goes unnoticed and unmentioned. Thousands of families up and down the country are paying more for their utilities simply because they do not have access to the right bank accounts. Even more worrying is that the lack of access to the financial services many of us take for granted leads some to take out doorstep loans, offered by unscrupulous lenders at extortionate interest rates. As leader, I will work towards establishing a National Credit Union, working alongside local credit unions, to offer people the right bank accounts so that they can get the services they need at a price that’s right and fair.
As Leader, I will work to increase the influence of mutual ownership in football. 15 years of rampant commercialism has poisoned our national game. Supporters' trusts are the way to tame the money motive in British Football. I will urge the football authorities here to adopt the rule from the German Bundesliga that all top-flight clubs should be at least 51 per cent supporter-owned.

4. The relevance and importance of the Co-operative Party and its policies and campaigns have grown considerably in recent years. What are the major challenges facing the co-operative movement and how can they be addressed?
The biggest challenge facing the co-operative movement is explaining its relevance and value to the wider community. As Health Secretary, I supported and defended foundation trusts, and continue to do so. However, one of the shortcomings of this policy in practice was the fact that too many trusts paid lip service to true community involvement. Going forward, we need to learn the lesson that successful mutualism can't be imposed top-down but requires bottom-up enthusiasm. In order for co-operative ideals to flourish, we have to be louder and prouder of the achievements that we have already made and bolder about what we can achieve in the future.

5. Co-operative Party members want to play an active part in the future of the Labour Party. Why should members of the Co-operative Party vote for you as Leader?
I will give Labour a Leader who will be true to our shared collectivist roots. I will also inspire a new generation with big ideas in the best tradition the Labour and Co-operative movements.
I want to see a world where the postcode of the bed you were born in no longer determines where you will end up. That commitment to fairness underpins my political philosophy: Aspirational Socialism.
We should celebrate social mobility but we must do more to help people achieve it. I will help kids without connections get on in life by ensuring that all work experience is advertised, not just carved up by those in the know. I will work to break down elites and create a fairer society by bringing an end to unpaid internships which mean that only those whose parents can support them are able to take up those opportunities.
Up and down the country, there are dilapidated terraces owned by absentee landlords who care about nothing but the Housing Benefit cheque that comes their way. I will give local authorities the opportunity to use prudential borrowing to buy those terraces compulsorily, turning them over to community apprentices to bring them up to scratch and available for local families to live in. Not only will this boost housing stocks quickly and effectively, it will give those apprentices the chance to learn a trade and bring pride back into communities.
As well as supporting those just starting out, I will do more for our ageing society. It is tragic that people fear getting older because they worry about whether they will be able to pay for their care if they need it. I will bring forward a National Care Service to give older people the care they need and the peace of mind they deserve: a truly co-operative answer, like the NHS before it, where everyone pays their way and everyone does their bit.
These are the principles upon which my leadership will be based, principles which have their foundations in the co-operative movement and which will take our Party back into government.

David Miliband
1. The Co-operative Party is the sister party of the Labour Party with more than 7,000 members. What has been your formal involvement in the Co-operative Party and the broader co-operative movement?
I am a proud member of the South Shields Co-op Party and during my career, I have always been committed to the co-operative values of social justice, solidarity and responsibility. I joined the Labour Party when our communities faced decimation by the hyper-individualism of Margaret Thatcher. I always have and always will stand with our people.
I am also a member of the South Shields credit union. Credit unions are one of the ways we pool our resources and efforts to the benefit of all. At the beginning of the campaign I spoke about the need for Credit Unions to play a greater role in making sure we capitalise communities and restore stability after the financial crisis. As Leader, I would work with you and other groups to see how we can make this a reality.
Both our parties are stronger because of our partnership based on shared values. I want a Britain where we re- distribute power as well as wealth. Models of mutual ownership have a crucial role to play in this.
I want to make sure communities can take control over improving their own neighbourhoods. That’s why, as a starting point I have used my campaign to train 1000 future leaders in the principles and practices of community organising. We need to be a living breathing movement; a place where people come together to change things.

2. One of the stated objectives of the Co-operative Party is to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation. What specific actions have you taken in your political career to advance this objective?
I have tried to live out co-operative values in my political life. As Local Government Minister I was serious about devolving power not just to councils but to communities, providing opportunities for different models of ownership.
As Schools Minister I initiated the Building Schools for the Future Programme which delivered some of the new co-operative trust schools around the country. This diversity of provision has been at the heart of delivering higher standards and school visions and values. Crucially, the co-op ethos, woven into the curriculum, gives children the opportunity to develop social as well as academic capital, and build connections with the co- operative movement around the world.
As Leader I would take forward co-op principles. Our election proposals for British Waterways to be turned into a mutually owned co-operative and our promotion of the use of community shares in football clubs, pubs, renewable energy and shops remain key to delivering better and more accountable services.

3. The policies and resources of the Co-operative Party have historically been a great benefit to the Labour Party. If elected Leader, what specific plans do you have to introduce co-operative policies?
I am proud of our record in Government, such as the creation of more than 120 NHS Foundation Trusts and more than 50 co-operative trust schools. However, now is the time for mutualism to play a critical role in the future of our economy and our society.
As a starting point, I believe that a strong and vibrant mutual sector will strengthen our banking system. A return to mutual ownership for Northern Rock, for example, would put the bank back in the hands of its customers and allow it to take a long-term view of its members’ interests.
The mutual principle could also play a role in strengthening the democratic accountability of the BBC. Under a mutual model, membership of the BBC could be open to everyone who pays the licence fee. Members could have the right to elect representatives to a Member’s Council that would elect a majority of members of the BBC Trust. This would give licence fee payers a way to democratic voice in the priorities of their broadcaster.

4. The relevance and importance of the Co-operative Party and its policies and campaigns have grown considerably in recent years. What are the major challenges facing the co-operative movement and how can they be addressed?
In confronting the big challenges ahead of us, whether it’s rebuilding our economy, tackling climate change or protecting frontline public services – the need for collective action is greater than ever. This is a moment for mutualism, which offers us the opportunity to take collective action in step with individual aspiration, drawing on the values and practices of the co-operative party and movement.
We can already see progress with community ownership models helping in our transition to a low-carbon economy. The recent case of laid off workers starting their own collective to manufacture wind turbines on the Isle Wight is an example of the sort of innovation we need to stimulate growth and create jobs.
The challenge for both our parties is to use the power of community ownership to deliver our goals: an economy where the benefits of growth are fairly distributed, and a society where people take greater responsibility and ownership for the services they rely on.

5. Co-operative Party members want to play an active part in the future of the Labour Party. Why should members of the Co-operative Party vote for you as Leader?
I will fire the imagination of the public as well as the party. I will unite the party and be a credible alternative Prime Minister; the pre-requisite for electing a Labour government and changing the country. Co-op members can see every day the damage being done by a Tory Government. My message is simple: there is an alternative, but only if you make the right choice for the leadership of our party.

Diane Abbott
1. The Co-operative Party is the sister party of the Labour Party with more than 7,000 members. What has been your formal involvement in the Co-operative Party and the broader co-operative movement?
I am not formally involved in the Co-operative movement. But I support its aims and objectives.

2. One of the stated objectives of the Co-operative Party is to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation. What specific actions have you taken in your political career to advance this objective?
In the eighties I was member of a journalistic co-operative called The Leveller. As a local MP I have also supported a number of co-operative organisations in East London.

3. The policies and resources of the Co-operative Party have historically been a great benefit to the Labour Party. If elected Leader, what specific plans do you have to introduce co-operative policies?
I think the mutual model of organisation is a very relevant model going forward, particularly in financial services.

4. The relevance and importance of the Co-operative Party and its policies and campaigns have grown considerably in recent years. What are the major challenges facing the co-operative movement and how can they be addressed?
My mother was an enthusiastic co-operator. But, as a society, we have lost faith in collective solutions. We need to make the Co-op relevant to a new generation. But younger people are acutely aware of issues like fairness, fair trade and sustainability and we need to make them aware of the Co-op's relevance and record on these things.

5. Co-operative Party members want to play an active part in the future of the Labour Party. Why should members of the Co-operative Party vote for you as Leader?
The Labour Party urgently needs to rebuild, revitalise and defeat the Coalition at the next general election. I am the candidate to do it because I have the longest history in the party: councillor; trade union official; member of the Labour Party National Executive and twenty three years in the party. None of the other candidates has my knowledge of the party. The other candidates all rose through the New Labour machine. They are the Westminster insider candidates. I am the grassroots candidate. They are the continuity candidates. I am the only real change candidate. And the party needs to move on.

Ed Balls

1. The Co-operative Party is the sister party of the Labour Party with more than 7,000 members. What has been your formal involvement in the Co-operative Party and the broader co-operative movement?
I'm proud to be a Labour and Co-operative MP – and the first Co-op MP to stand to be Labour leader. That’s because I believe in the co-op vision of people working together for the benefit of the whole community, a society that values all its people and makes sure that they are heard.
I believe my record in Government shows that I am serious about promoting the co-operative agenda. As a Treasury Minister responsible for financial services and as Schools Secretary, I sought to drive forward the co- operative vision of society.
From the parliamentary group – which now counts amongst its number many of the great new intake of MPs – to the Normanton and District branch's Friday night meetings which I first attended back in 1998, the Co-op Party is in many ways the conscience of our movement.
It's great to have seen the Co-op Party grow over the last few years, including with many more young members. The Labour and co-op movements have a proud shared history but a bright future too.
2. One of the stated objectives of the Co-operative Party is to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation. What specific actions have you taken in your political career to advance this objective?
I promoted co-operatives throughout my time in government. As Economic Secretary and the first Labour and Co-operative Minister responsible for mutuals and financial services I ensured Government support for the modernisation of co-operative law through a range of statutory instruments that built on recent Private Members Bills.
I was able to show this by ensuring Treasury support for a new Private Members Bill that led to the creation of the first ever 'super-mutual', bringing Britannia Building Society and the Co-op Bank together in the interests of customers, rather than the banking elite.
When I became Schools Secretary, we took the radical step of supporting the establishment of co-operative trust schools – to give parents and the whole community a greater say in their local school, without expecting them to go it alone and set up their own new school in competition to others - as the Tories want.

3. The policies and resources of the Co-operative Party have historically been a great benefit to the Labour Party. If elected Leader, what specific plans do you have to introduce co-operative policies?
Now is the time to put more co-operative approaches in place and there are three key things we should do to help develop and grow the co-operative and mutual sector in our country.
First, recognition for co-operative enterprise, with a level playing field for co-operative and mutual business.
Second, a financial services sector that serves people instead of banks with an unequivocal policy commitment that promotes mutual financial institutions
Third, putting the people into public services by supporting public services to be more directly accountable to the people they serve. For instance in schools, establishing co-op trust schools to give everybody with a stake in the school's success a greater say. I am also in favour of a major extension of locally controlled housing. This can be achieved by making housing associations democratic, by expanding access to shared-ownership and by promoting co-operative housing through community land trusts.

4. The relevance and importance of the Co-operative Party and its policies and campaigns have grown considerably in recent years. What are the major challenges facing the co-operative movement and how can they be addressed?
I would promote a Labour strategy for getting the best out of the co-operative and mutual sector, ensuring that their role is considered across all policy areas. In practical terms, this means better tailored business advice, start-up finance, and ongoing business support.
Labour should create a Government Office for Mutuals with a designated Minister for Mutuals to ensure Co- operatives are given equal treatment in dealings with Government. Labour should also commit to ensure that mutual sector legislation keeps pace with company law reform.
I believe that we should commit to taking bold steps that will demonstrate our intentions and return Northern Rock to the mutual sector. Diversity matters at a local community level too. Credit unions are a force for good in financial services, so we should help credit unions to offer new savings products through many more outlets, such as the post office network.

5. Co-operative Party members want to play an active part in the future of the Labour Party. Why should members of the Co-operative Party vote for you as Leader?
I am proud to be the only Labour Party Leadership candidate to be a Labour and Co-operative MP and to have a track-record of advancing the co-operative agenda in government.
The global financial crisis has reinforced the need for new mutuals to emerge providing employment and community based goods and services – they did not cause the crisis and have been solid servants of consumers at a time of great uncertainty. I believe passionately that our public services must be organised in ways that benefit users, not private companies, and I am convinced that mutuals can help deliver this too.
That's why as Leader I would make mutualism central to our policy thinking. We must root mutualism in Labour values and develop policies that put it into action to benefit individuals and communities. This will help us to see off the Conservatives' outrageous attempt to exploit co-operative ideas for their own very different political purposes – using the language of co-ops as a cover for cuts.
I will rebuild Labour Party membership and strengthen Labour's links with the trade unions and the Co-op Party, so our movement can win again for the millions of people who depend on us.
Most of all, Labour needs a strong leader in command of the economic arguments who can argue credibly that the Tory-Lib Dem spending cuts and VAT increase will destroy jobs and risk a double-dip recession. A leader who can show the country a real alternative – based on a more sensible timetable for deficit reduction, fairer tax rises and a plan to boost jobs and growth.

Ed Miliband

1. The Co-operative Party is the sister party of the Labour Party with more than 7,000 members. What has been your formal involvement in the Co-operative Party and the broader co-operative movement?
Cooperation and mutualism are not only key Labour values but also cornerstones of healthy and vibrant communities and a fair economy. As a member of my local Co-operative Party in Doncaster and in my role as Minister for the Third Sector I have been keen to put those values into practice and enable the Co-op movement to thrive. The Labour Party's manifesto in 2010 incorporated a number of commitments to extend and promote cooperatives and mutuals. As the co-ordinator of that manifesto, full engagement with the Co-op Party contributed to the wide range of policies consistent with the aims and values of the cooperative movement that were included in Labour's offer to the voters. I particularly value the role the Co-op party plays in policy- development.

2. One of the stated objectives of the Co-operative Party is to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation. What specific actions have you taken in your political career to advance this objective?
Co-operatives and mutuals have a key role in improving public services and empowering both staff and users. Our 2010 manifesto included commitments to increasing the number of co-operative schools, and the option for health services to operate using cooperative principles. And it is right to consider mutual structures for national assets. I am proud that we promised to consider returning Northern Rock to a mutual model, and would argue for greater use of the mutual model in future reform of the banking system. As Minister for the Third Sector I developed the social investment bank, funded by the assets from dormant bank accounts, to provide something co-operatives and mutuals are often in need of: capital. Now re-badged by the Tories as the Big Society bank, this is a Labour legacy we can be proud of.
Co-operative values don’t only change the nature of the way markets operate and strengthen communities; they enable people to tackle big problems on a human scale. That's why I encouraged the development of renewable energy co-operatives, pledging a support service to enable communities to develop co-operative models for renewable energy projects. The Co-op movement asked for greater flexibility in the legal structures for companies wanting to run on a mutual basis. So as Third Sector Minister I pioneered Community Interest Companies which now offer increased flexibility for communities keen to be part of the mutual movement.
I am proud of what I have done, yet there is more to be done; and to achieve it Labour must win again. While the Tories talk about the Big Society they actually are pulling away the vital support that communities need to develop mutual and co-operative solutions to the challenges they face.

3. The policies and resources of the Co-operative Party have historically been a great benefit to the Labour Party. If elected Leader, what specific plans do you have to introduce co-operative policies?
There is a hugely important co-operative tradition in the Labour movement which the Labour leadership has not always drawn on as fully as it should have. I want to see a mutual future for our banking sector, and a return to mutual ownership at the heart of our plans for a new economy in which everyone has a stake. I want to see mutualism and co-operative ideas at the centre of Labour's plans for the public services. From the NHS to schools, our public servants and public services users should have a greater opportunity to get involved in running and even owning their services and co-operatives are one of the best ways of achieving this.
Co-operative principles, particularly through the vitally important credit unions, have been ever present in the campaigns for fairer lending practices, and I want to see a much tougher code of conduct than the current system enforced on financial institutions so that it is far harder to exclude or disadvantage the poor when it comes to lending and insurance practices.
And I believe it is the example of responsible businesses, including many co-operatives, that has shown the way when it comes to fairness in our communities and fairness in business. I want Labour to again be the party which stands up for responsibility in business and in community life. I want to see Labour campaigning for a living wage for all those in work. I want to see greater power given to local communities to hold public and private vested interests to account.

4. The relevance and importance of the Co-operative Party and its policies and campaigns have grown considerably in recent years. What are the major challenges facing the co-operative movement and how can they be addressed?
This is a moment for the Co-operative Party to show how its values of fairness, justice and co-operative endeavour can be at the heart of Labour's rediscovery of its mission to change Britain for the better. Campaigns such as "the feeling's mutual" have been a hugely important part of beginning this process, but I believe the party can play an ever greater role in the future of Labour. As Labour seeks to reach out to those who share our values but have not always identified with our leadership, the Co-operative Party can bring new people and organisations into the Labour movement. It can offer a direction and set of principles from which Labour can draw across the widest possible range of policies.
The campaigns on banking and public services can be broadened to show how co-operative principles can inform progressive politics in addressing the role of markets, fairness and democracy in local communities and policy areas such as criminal justice – all of which would benefit from a distinctively co-operative input. And the party can and must play a major role in shaping the future policy programme for Labour in government.

5. Co-operative Party members want to play an active part in the future of the Labour Party. Why should members of the Co-operative Party vote for you as Leader?
I will build on the great things that Labour achieved in Government. But we should be under no illusions; to return to power we must put the era of New Labour behind us. We lost the election because people lost a sense of who we were and what we believed. We started as the government of the windfall tax and the minimum wage and ended up defending bankers’ bonuses and failing to listen to our party members, embarrassed by our trade union links. We need a leader who is proud of our Labour values and will speak up for them loudly and clearly.
Our values of equality, solidarity and opportunity are what brought me into the party as a teenager and they are the reason I want to lead it now. I will turn those values into action: a living wage of more than £7 an hour, a High Pay Commission to stop the abuses in executive pay, a graduate tax to replace tuition fees, a foreign policy driven by our values, not simply our alliance with America.
We need a leader who will listen to our members. We won’t get back into power or sustain ourselves in power unless we create a genuine Labour movement again. My vision is to inspire millions to join us in our vision of a fairer, more equal, more just society.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's all happening in the People's Republic of Sheffield

Tonight, with the defection of Councillor Ben Curran from Liberal Democrat to the Labour Party, the state of the parties are as follows

LibDem 41
Labour 39
Green 2
Independent 1 (former LibDem)
Vacancy 1 (traditionally secure Labour seat)

So, who knows but that Councillor Julie Dore, the new leader of the Labour Group, elected only two weeks ago following the very sad death of Cllr Jan Wilson, might even become the Leader of the Council in a very short while. I have not asked around yet to discover the current state of play in Sheffield with the Greens and the Independent, but it would not take much to tip the balance in this city now. I bet Nick Clegg feels like crying! His party in Sheffield (where he has his constituency) is in disarray and his party in Liverpool (where he has his conference) has already lost control and is in the trough of despond.

I would just like to say a couple of things about Jan and about Julie, both of whom I know very well, having been the Labour Party Campaign Manager for a few years from 1999-2001 and then working for two Sheffield Labour MPs until 2004.

Councillor Jan Wilson, Leader Sheffield City Council

Jan Wilson as a leading woman in Local Government, has long since been my role model. I used to sit in Labour Group meetings in Sheffield, both while they were in opposition and then after they won power, watching, listening and taking notes. When I decided to put myself forward as a potential Councillor, she was the Councillor I wanted to be most like. Straight speaking, honest, genuine and passionate, the first female Labour leader I properly met, she will be a very great loss to the Labour Party and to the good people of Sheffield. Rest in Peace Jan.

And then there is "Our Julie". I trust I am allowed to call her that, after all, I coined the phrase! Julie stood for the Labour Party in a byelection in 2000 (from memory). It was a byelection we were absolutely not expected to win. We had lost two seats in Park ward already and the third one became vacant when our elderly remaining Councillor fell and hurt herself and her non-attendance clumsily slipped past the 6 months mark without anyone noticing. It was thought to be a foregone conclusion that the LibDems would take the third seat, so much so in fact that the LibDem candidate went on a few weeks holiday during the middle of the short campaign.

As LP Campaign Manager I was Julie's Agent and we ran a very busy campaign, loads of door-knocking, thoughtful leaflets, direct mail and help from a huge number of members. Julie was the best candidate I have ever worked with in any election. Even despite injuring her foot and having to campaign sitting down for the last 10 days of the campaign, she was both tireless and imaginative. As a truly local candidate, she went through the electoral register identifying everyone she knew personally and dedicated herself to contacting them all and explaining she was standing for election as the Labour candidate and would hope for their support. Many of them we found had never voted, but with her support and encouragement (and much explaining of the voting process) they came out for "Our Julie".

We ran a very positive campaign, focussing on Julie and her links and work locally and her active take-up of casework. Despite all the odds, and with a huge team behind us, Julie won the seat by around 150 votes. Almost precisely the same number as that of Julie's friends and neighbours that she spoke to personally. I have used the Park Ward Byelection as an exemplar in hundreds of campaign training sessions ever since.

And now, "Our Julie" is the leader of the Labour Group in Sheffield and with a fair wind could be the new Leader of the Council in a very short time. I wish she could have been in this position for a more positive reason, but I am delighted all the same. I still treasure the framed photograph from the Sheffield Star of Julie, with her crutches and her foot in a bandage, celebrating at the count with me and other local Labour stalwarts.

Great news for Labour, for Sheffield and for the sisterhood.

LibDem conference demos are NOT CANCELLED

Ignore the sloppy journalism in the Echo, the demonstrations have not been cancelled. Turn up as asked on Saturday and Sunday.

The police have asked the demo organisers if they would please relocate to a very visible and high-profile spot in front of Salthouse Dock where they will be on public land (and the council has repaired any loose cobbles to make it safe for everyone). The location will take 4000 people - and let's hope that many turn up to make their passionate feelings about LibDem/Tory coalition government cuts plain to both the visitors and local people who pass the spot.

The demonstrators had originally intended to protest outside Jury's Inn but now understand this is private land and wont in any case accomodate a group of their size without seriously interfering with public safety or the legitimate passage of staff, police, innocent passers-by etc.

One demo organiser has posted this message on her Facebook

"I have spoken to the police, we are working together, we have an allocated area, the police support our right to protest. We are bringing our children, and our picnics and we will not tolerate any anti social-behaviour! We are all in it together x"

Further changes on Edge Lane

Very sady and sorry state of some beautiful old houses on Edge Lane south

An unexpected view through to the cathedral

Now you see them, now you don't

Both photos taken by Louise Baldock, if you copy them and use them elsewhere please give her credit.

The changing face of Edge Lane

Some demolition has begun on the north side of Edge Lane but the south side is still standing

Clearance well under way on both sides of Edge Lane

Both photos taken by Louise Baldock, please give credit to her if copied and used elsewhere

Monday, September 13, 2010

And an award too for our own David Bartlett

David Bartlett's Blog at the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post is a must read for anyone interested in local politics.
Well done on your award at Total Politics David, with your placing at 37th top Media Blog. You beat Andrew Neil!
Read David's Dale Street Blues if you want to hear the whispers in the local corridors of power! I did of course vote for him because I read him every day.

Top 100 Left of Centre Blog awards

It's a veritable array of riches in this year's Total Politics Blog Awards for the Louise Baldock blog. Thanks to the support of my readers, I have been awarded with a place in the Top 100 Left of Centre Blogs to add to the two awards you have already supported me into. I am 81st this year, up from 100.
Thanks again everyone!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Venture Housing Association Inspection

I joined the board of Venture Housing Association in June 2008 and discovered at my first board meeting that the Association had sadly just had a very poor audit commission inspection and had received no stars and poor prospects for improvement.

We managed to counter some of their findings and pushed the judgement to “promising prospects” by November 2008, but the no stars remained. We drew up an action plan to get to one star and beyond and to tackle our shortcomings – gas safety checks, asset management, equality and diversity, our Wirral office’s DDA compliance and in November 2009 I became the Vice Chair of the Board and took on some responsibility for some of this progress work.

This week the inspectors have been back to reinspect us and see whether we have improved sufficiently to merit a better scoring, we are aiming for one star and promising prospects, but personally I would like us to see win two stars.

I have had a long interview with one of the inspectors about our E&D work and think she was quite impressed with our fresh new focus since June 2008. We talked about work with the Michael Causer Foundation, Equality in Housing, Transgender consultation about best practice in Housing, improved profiling and data collection, training on Equality Impact Assessments, Consultation with the Disability Network, and much else besides. We should receive the informal feedback later today with the formal findings next week. I am keeping it all crossed because if we still have not done well I shall feel obliged to fall on my sword and that would such a shame as I love the association so much.

Liverpool Pride Review

Labour Party at Liverpool Pride

We had a Pride Review meeting earlier this week to assess what went well (pretty much everything) and what we might do differently next time. If you have any thoughts about any aspects of the day please do let me have them and I will add them to the review. All of the agencies reported back total satisfaction: with the turnout, with the way the crowds behaved, with the weather, the route and flow of the march, the fact that community groups and organisations were able to play such a strong role and that nobody (well nobody except for you know who) dominated the event or tried to take over. Also praised were the volunteers and the police, fire, council and travel officers who were on duty on the day. Planning will need to be begun much earlier for next year, which is likely to be during early August again, and any lessons learnt will be taken up by them. We created quite a comprehensive list at the review meeting. My thanks again to everyone who took part.

Pictured: Some of the Labour members who attended the Pride event and marched in the parade

Liverpool Malayalee Community Association (LIMCA)– festival of Onam, Broadgreen International School

Pookalam Display
Luciana lights the lamp

Claire with some of the Pookalam teams
Children dancing
Dancing and acting

A festival related to the rice harvest, celebrated in Kerala, the most southern state in India. Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Councillor Claire Wilner, Assistant Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism, and I were delighted to attend the celebrations for the festival of Onam last weekend.

The event began with Onasadya, a vegetarian meal, not eaten from a plate, but off a large banana leaf, rice and various curried vegetables, sweet dried banana chips and banana and rice pudding. Very yummy! Then we joined the parade as it crossed the school yard, everyone was beautifully dressed in traditional costume with face make-up and a smear of sandalwood on their foreheads.

We went into the gymnasium to see the Pookalam display – intricate flower carpets laid on the floor. There was then a formal event in the assembly hall, with speeches, singing and dancing. Luciana helped light the lamp in a special ceremony that was not unlike the lighting of the advent candle. Claire gave awards for the Pookalam competition and I gave awards for the tug of war competition. There was also a special set of awards for the many Kerala women who are nurses in Liverpool and who had recently been on a training course organised by LIMCA.

It was a delight and a pleasure to have been invited and I hope our links will strengthen in coming years.

Saul and Leanne’s wedding

And talking of Deane Road Cemetery – members of the committee were delighted to attend the wedding of our project manager, and senior warden at Princes Road Synagogue, Saul Marks to Leanne Matalon. The service was very interesting and exciting as I had not been to a Jewish wedding before and Saul had thoughtfully provided a brochure which explained what was being said and what each part of the service meant.

It was very different to a Christian service, it took place under a canopy in the centre of the synagogue, at one point Leanne had to walk round Saul 7 times. Saul was also asked, as part of the formalities, to go into the Bride’s Room in the Synagogue to establish that the bride that was being presented to him, was in fact the woman he wanted to marry - this in remembrance of Jacob who was tricked in marrying Leah by her father Laban when really he wanted to marry her sister Rachel. All Jewish men now check that they are marrying the right woman, before putting her veil down for her. Later in the ceremony Saul stamped on a glass and broke it, to symbolise that though this was a lovely, special day, all was not well with the world and we should remember trials and tribulations elsewhere.

The wedding reception was in the Racquet club and it was fabulous, wonderful staff, wonderful service and wonderful food, catered by a Kosher firm. Maria, Cath, Muriel, Arnold, his wife and I all had a wonderful time.

Update on Deane Road Cemetery and our HLF bid

The HLF NW Regional Committee (sic) met yesterday and have agreed to welcome a second round bid from us for the funds we need to restore the cemetery.

Last week, on one of the hottest days of the year, Saul and I showed a couple of their office management team around while we explained how and why the bid had increased nearly twofold between rounds 1 and 2. This conversation was vitally important as we needed them to maintain their faith in our project and our beloved cemetery in the face of this increase. We heard today that they were still positive about the programme so we have today submitted our round two bid. Now please keep everything crossed for us! It will go to the December committee for a decision.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Road closure in Fairfield

Letter I have sent to local residents in south Fairfield this week - for information

In April 2007, before the new houses in your area were built, local people learnt that Lomond Road would be closed from the Edge Lane end, and partly built upon, and they were worried about how those living in Cheviot, Middleton and Lindale Road would be able to access their own estate.

In particular they were concerned that traffic would be using the Grampian/Cheviot route which you may know is quite a tight turn, particularly for larger vehicles.

So, in response to concerns, I called a public meeting, on the street, with Bellway and with the council, which many local people attended and we agreed between us that the road between Grampian and Cheviot would eventually be closed, and a turning circle created. Traffic would instead be encouraged to access Cheviot, Middleton and Lindale via either West Bank Road/Birchfield Road/Lomond Road or by Grampian Road/Birchfield Road/Lomond Road.

This road closure has yet to take place and so I have contacted Bellway on your behalf.

This is the response I have now received from them.

“There is an area of footpath at the new site access and along Grampian Road that requires to be finally surfaced once BT have removed a redundant telegraph pole that is within the footpath.

It is our intention to have the bollards installed across the top of Grampian Road at the same time as the ground worker is on site finishing off the footpath area.

I have asked the former site manager to check if BT have removed the telegraph pole and if so I will arrange for the bollards to be installed as soon as possible.”

I trust this information is helpful to you but if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Poverty and Housing Crisis

Conservative and LibDem coalition Government plans for the revision of Housing Benefit will leave many people in dire financial straits and will inevitably lead to an increase in homelessness.

Shelter tell us that 54,000 children will be in households left with less than £100 a week after housing costs to cover all other expenses including utility bills, transport, food and clothing. Shockingly, a further 33,000 children will be in families forced to survive on less than £50 a week.

Crisis figures show that 12620 households in Liverpool alone will be adversely affected by the first lot of changes planned, which hit pre 2013.

What changes are planned?

1. Housing benefit in the private rented sector (local housing allowance) is currently calculated at the mid-point of the local market. The Government has proposed that it will now be calculated on the bottom 30th percentile of rents in a given area.

In Kensington, Liverpool where there is a paucity of social housing and many people are forced to live in poor quality but expensive private accomodation at the mercy of landlords, will their rent be in the bottom 30th percentile? I wouldn't be surprised if it was not.

2. The maximum possible rate of LHA will be capped. In reality this change will only affect London.

3. Currently those whose rent is lower than the total possible LHA rate have been able to keep up to £15 of the difference to encourage them to shop around. The Government is carrying forward plans to scrap this policy. This will obviously encourage landlords to increase rents if there is no incentive for tenants to bargain them down.

4. Restriction of the bedroom entitlement to the four bedroom rate - this will adversely affect larger families and families living together as extended families (with three generations perhaps) and it is my guess that this will be particularly damaging to BME families.

These cuts will then be exacerbated by further plans to reduce Housing Benefit by 10%for those in who have been in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance for a year.

There are many people in Liverpool who have already been on JSA for more than a year, and those numbers will only increase as job cuts increase with Government cuts. Liverpool has an unusual dependency on public sector jobs, which are likely to be lost to the tune of 25% - 40% as part of the ConDem coalition planned cuts.

I wonder where all these jobs are, that the Government feels that JSA applicants are somehow failing to take-up, I am not aware of them, are you?

So, we cut the rate of housing benefit to people, they then cannot meet their rent obligations in full and begin to rack up debts with their landlords. Eventually they are made homeless. But we know that places in homeless hostels are limited - particularly for larger families, and so we shall be obliged to house people in B&Bs and hotels, one assumes - we cannot throw children on the streets, there is a statutory responsible to house them somewhere, and so the cost of this will outweigh any savings in Housing Benefit.

I am forced to wonder whether the only answer shall be the building of large public instutitions where people who are no longer able to claim benefits and have fallen on hard times, with nowhere to live, can be found a bed and board. Or perhaps we could convert large empty buildings like the former orphanage on Orphanage Drive, Newsham Park, and put them all in there? And we might want to put the women in one part of the building and the men in another, perhaps dormitories might be the answer?
And we could give them a name that would symbolise the route we wish them to take, to lift themselves out of poverty - something that perhaps relates to our desire that they should get a job! I wonder, perhaps could they be called Workhouses? How does that sound? Just a thought!

Top 100 Labour Blog

And the good news goes on! I am number 33 in the top 100 Labour Blogs in this year's Total Politics Awards.

Thanks again to everyone who voted for me!

And it is good to see so many of the people that I voted for myself doing well.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Top 30 Councillor Blogs in Total Politics Poll

A bit of good news today as I have made the top 30 Councillor blogs this year, coming in at number 15!

Will stick the logo up later, thanks to everyone for voting for me!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Louise Baldock is on holiday

...but normal service will resume very soon.

I am loving the Liverpool sunshine, two days straight now of fantastic weather, a great time to have a birthday.

However, I have got a packed diary to tell you all about, not least of which are an Audit Commission inspection at Venture Housing and a decision from the HLF about whether they wish to encourage us to place our round two bid for the Deane Road Jewish Cemetery. And lots of holiday pics and stories and tales to share too.

Watch this space, I shall return!

In the dog house?

So, I finally have it confirmed by one who knows, the true identity of the poisonous little canine. I knew it was you all the time, Dude, and you know I knew, despite your many denials. Yes you clearly had a couple of helpers (and I know who they are too but I have already made my peace with them). But there were too many stories where there was only us there - like the time I set the shower off and some poor woman got wet. And then there was the title of the photo of the dog that graces the front page of your blog, you've obviously spotted your mistake at some point and changed it, but not before I clocked it using "view source". You just weren't clever enough. You built your "fortress" on shifting sands, but the game is now up. I shall say no more on this subject, since you appear to have reformed somewhat of late and I suspect you are hurting - and I don't relish pain in others. But I will say this, don't get too cocky again, little dog. As the man at the back of the shops where I hung out as a kid, used to say, as he shook his fist at us for being naughty "I know your name and I know where you live".