Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - A reflection

It’s December 31st 2010, time for a moment of reflection.

What were the best and the worst moments of my year (or at least those parts that are suitable for public consumption anyway, nothing intensely personal, don’t panic!)


1. 2949 and 62.05% - the number of votes I received in the May 2010 local elections upon my re-election to the wonderful ward of Kensington and Fairfield in Liverpool and the share of the vote that represents. 13% - the size of the swing from LibDem to Labour. Nothing has given me as much joy as seeing those votes piling up and realising that the voters and I were thoroughly sealing our ongoing pact with each other.

2. Labour taking power in Liverpool after 12 years in opposition.

3. Luciana Berger winning Liverpool Wavertree by a big margin – and then becoming a Shadow Minister. And Stephen Twigg winning Liverpool West Derby and also becoming a Shadow Minister.

4. £494,000 the size of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid we secured for the restoration of Deane Road Jewish Cemetery.

5. Being elected the Chair of Labour North West Region

6. The first official Liverpool Pride (although of course there were others in previous decades, but none that came with the support of the council, police, fire service etc in the past)

7. Kensington Remembers 2010 – six events bringing people together from across Liverpool to commemorate the holocaust, genocide and man’s inhumanity to man, in a positive and fulfilling way.

8. Venture Housing Association gaining a star from the Audit Commission

9. Edge Lane finally sees progress in terms of both the boarded up houses and the retail park

10. My brother Robert graduated from Cambridge University with BA MSci

11. Saul and Leanne’s wedding

12. Councillor Stephanie Till elected in Croxteth, go girl!

13. New Fire Station opened on Beech Street, Fairfield

14. Ian Jobling defected to Labour


1. Labour losing the General Election

2. Karen Harold RIP

3. BSF scrapped for former Littlewoods Building for St Hildas and ArchBishop Blanch

4. Councillor Rose Bailey RIP

5. Martin Pinder and Alan Kelly and Maria Curran and Cath Taylor move on, leaving a void in Kensington and Fairfield.

6. Demolition of lovely houses on Prescot Drive and Prescot Road, one of those “tough decisions” that politicians ordinarily seem to thrive on, but just made me weep.

7. The snow in January

8. The snow in November

9. The snow in December

10. Errr, there is no tenth thing

Here’s to 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Carbon Monoxide campaign in Liverpool - and a radio advert

I was proud to be asked to do a voiceover for an advert to be played on Radio City about Carbon Monoxide awareness.

Currently being played on the radio, the link can be found here  (go to the bottom of the page)

The campaign is being run by the Healthy Homes team at Liverpool City Council in conjunction with the PCT. Several people have contacted me to say they heard my voice coming out of their radio, one friend said it was "weird" to  hear me on an advert rather than commenting on a news item, but as long as it gets the message across then a bit of weirdness is perfectly acceptable.

Do be safe this winter, an audible alarm can cost as little as £15. Make it your Christmas present to yourself and your family.

Debbie Abrahams to fight Oldham East and Saddleworth for Labour

I realise this is not exactly news, but I had posted about the search for a candidate earlier so I ought to comment on the outcome.

I am absolutely delighted of course.

Debbie was the Parliamentary Candidate for Labour in the neighbouring seat of Colne Valley in May, and although she did not win, she was an extremely good candidate. Readers may be aware that I lived in the Colne Valley until 2004 (and was their LP campaign organiser from 1996 - 1999) and I know how Debbie won the respect of the local party for the way she conducted herself and her campaign. She is a highly respected academic with huge experience in Health and is professional, articulate, energetic, passionate and very bright. She lives locally and understands local concerns and issues. She will be a wonderful addition to Parliament if successful, I think the good people of Oldham East and Saddleworth can already see that and I look forward to seeing her on the Commons benches very soon.

(Photo from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

Election day will be January 13th, see you on the (very cold) stump!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heritage Lottery Fund award to restore Deane Road Jewish Cemetery

Photo: Luciana Berger MP, patron of the cemetery, Ruth Webster, former Groundworks Trust who took the initial steps in the restoration process back in 2002, Bill Maynard of the HLF NW Committee, Saul Marks and Councilor Louise Baldock of the Deane Road Cemetery Committee

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £494,000 to support the restoration and conservation of Deane Road Jewish Cemetery

The project will focus on the full restoration of the important historic cemetery features, including re-erecting fallen gravestones and the ornate listed archway - on which is inscribed "Here the weary are at rest".

The funding will ensure that the cemetery is fully accessible and can be opened to the public. This will include a new landscaping scheme with safe and accessible paths around the cemetery, a seating area for contemplation and a new building for used by visitors and volunteers.

Saul Marks of the Deane Road Cemetery Committee said

"We are absolutely thrilled with the news. This cemetery is a wonderful historical gem within the city and it deserves to be appreciated by as wide an audience as possible. The Heritage Lottery Fund has finally made our long-standing dream possible and we are really excited about at last being able to restore the cemetery to its former glory."

Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said

"It is wonderful that we are able to support the vital restoration of Deane Road Jewish Cemetery. As a final resting play for some of Victorian Liverpool's most influential figures, it has huge significance to the local community, whilst the architectural features, such as the archway and tombstones, are important examples of the skilled stonemasonary of the era. By getting volunteers involved in the restoration, and opening up the cemetery to the visitors, more people will have the chance to learn about and explore the cemetery's fascinating history."

Deane Road Jewish Cemetery is the final resting place of many important Victorian Liverpool Jews like David Lewis of Lewis's store fame and the family of H Samuel (Jewellers). Charles Mozley, first Jewish Mayor of Liverpool and Dr Sigismund Lewis, pioneer of programmes of school vaccinations in the city and doctor to the Cunard Line are also buried here.

Over 1700 people were laid to rest in the Deane Road cemetery between 1837 and 1904, with a few reserved plots being filled later, up until 1929. After the cemetery was closed, a new one was created in Broadgreen.

In subsequent years, Deane Road Jewish Cemetery has became heavily overgrown, with trees and shrubs growing wild, the walls were breached in places and an accumulation of rubbish grew up. These plans for restoration will see the cemetery refurbished and renewed and will allow it to take its rightful place on the Heritage trail.

Councillor Louise Baldock, in whose Kensington and Fairfield ward the cemetery is located, has been a key member of the committee since 2007 and co-ordinated the HLF lottery bid. She said

"Today is a very special day for us all. We have spent nearly 4 years working towards this wonderful news. With the help and support of the Jewish community, local people, schools, organisations, agencies and partners we have kept the dream alive that one day we could be in a position to fully restore our beloved cemetery. With this lottery funding, the hidden gem that is Deane Road Jewish Cemetery will now be able to play its full part in the story of Liverpool's history."

Deane Road Cemetery website
BBC Coverage

Fee free cash machine for Kensington and Fairfield at last!

Great news! It is finally sorted!

My press release is below and we got a little bit of coverage in the Echo today

A fee free cash machine is finally coming to the Kensington and Fairfield area after a five year campaign.

Luciana Berger MP and local Labour Councillor Louise Baldock were celebrating today at the news that a new Tesco Express store, due to be opened in the new district centre on Prescot Road, Fairfield very soon, will be supporting a fee free cash machine.

Louise Baldock said “It is five years this month since our campaign was launched for a fee free cash machine for Kensington and Fairfield. Five long years in an area with no banks, where local people have had to pay £1.75 each time they take their own cash from one of many machines in our area. People on low incomes often wish only to withdraw £10 or £20 at a time, and are paying between 9-18% in charges. This new fee-free machine in the heart of the ward is extremely welcome and I know it will make a huge difference to people’s budgets and house-keeping.”

Luciana Berger MP said “We have been in discussions with Tesco about the vital importance of fee free cash machines for local people and I am absolutely delighted that they have agreed to provide this wonderful facility in their new store. My mailbag has been full with letters from residents in the Kensington and Fairfield area, desperate for the same advantages that others enjoy. And as a local resident myself, I know what a difference this will make.”

Matt Magee, Corporate Affairs Manager at Tesco said “We pride ourselves in meeting the needs of the community and giving customers what they want. When we heard about the need for a free cash machine we just had to put one in. When it opens, the store will create around 20 new jobs and will bring great value, fresh food to the area.”


Notes to the Editor

1. Every survey that the Labour Party has carried out in the area since November 2005 has highlighted the need for a fee free cash machine
2. The last bank (Midland I think, did that become HSBC?) closed on Kensington in around 2005, it is now the New Holt pub
3. There is a fee free machine at the petrol station in front of the Devonshire House Hotel on Edge Lane but that is not suitable for footfall
4. Every “Your Community Matters” event over the last two years has raised the need for a fee free cash machine
5. Machines in the area currently charge from £1.70 to £1.80 per transaction, there are at least a dozen, mainly in off-licences and newsagents and corner shops
6. Councillor Baldock has previously contacted several banks and several stores in a bid to persuade them of the need to fit one, we even had a promise of a fee free machine from a firm who usually charge for transactions, as a gesture of goodwill under their CSR policy, but we could not find a store willing to take one – they enjoy commission from fee paying machines.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas cake recipe


* 2 cups flour
* 250gms butter
* 1 cup water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs
* Nuts
* 2 bottles wine
* 2 cups dried fruit

Sample the wine to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the wine
again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and
drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a
large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point
it's best to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup... Just in
case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the freakin fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried
druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt.
Or something. Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your
nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you
can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to
fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl
through the window. Finish the wine and wipe counter with the cat.
Take a taxi to Tesco and buy cake.

Bingle Jells

Friday, December 17, 2010

Heritage Lottery Fund say yes to Deane Road Jewish Cemetery "Good cause"

I have a proper press release to put up here over the weekend, hopefully with more photographs, but just to pre-empt my own publicity as it were, I wanted you to know that the wonderful people at the HLF said "Yes" to our bid for £494,000 to fully restore our beloved cemetery and build a small visitor's centre.

I have sat on the news for nearly a fortnight, bursting to tell you, but it was embargoed until today.   Truly fantastic news!

Here is the news as reported by the Jewish Telegraph. Go to News and then to Liverpool

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Senior LibDem on tuition fees - "not only divided but clueless"

Interesting (leaked) note from Chris Davies MEP, Liberal Democrat, North West England, to LibDem members in his area. Edit: It is a precis of his  blog article, so he meant you to read it. Hard to believe isn't it?


Splits weaken parties, and sometimes destroy them. The reputation of the Liberal Democrat brand is being undermined with each passing hour as the impression grows stronger that on the issue of tuition fees we are not only divided but clueless.

The case for supporting the recommendations of the Browne inquiry is strong, and if I were in the Commons I would be voting with Nick. The real damage to the party comes not from our adjusting course to take account of changed conditions, nor from rebellion by backbenchers on grounds of individual conscience, but from the impression we are now giving of being all over the place.

Some Liberal Democrats will vote for the recommendations, some against. Some want to defer the vote, others want to abstain. In short, we are creating the impression not just of being weak, but of being a joke.

I would rather us have a reputation for being tough (but fair) bastards than for being indecisive. (Note to self, Editor)

Liberal Democrat MPs must now decide how to vote. If they want to limit the damage there should be only two options for them to consider . Either they vote for the recommendations, recognising that they provide funding for higher education in a progressive manner that protects those on lowest incomes, or they vote against on grounds of individual conscience.

There are times when an abstention is an honourable third option. This is not one of them.

Chris Davies MEP
8 December 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Seeking Labour Parliamentary candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Note to all Labour Party members:

There will soon be a Westminster Parliamentary By-election in the Oldham East and Saddleworth Constituency. The date has yet to be announced but the Labour Party now wishes to select a candidate as soon as possible to contest this seat.

Applications may now be received from aspiring candidates. These should be in the form of a standard two page CV available from the members area of the national website at

CVs should be emailed to

The closing date for receipt of CVs is 6pm on Wednesday 8 December. Any candidates invited for shortlisting interview must be available for interview in London on Friday 10 December.

Shortlisted candidates must be able to attend a selection meeting of members of the Oldham East and Saddleworth Constituency Party which will take place in the constituency on the afternoon of Sunday 12 December.

Photo: Horse on Saddleworth Moor, one of at least two in the race perhaps?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

News from Andrew and Gwen Monk, fundraising for MS

Those of you who walked a mile for MS or sponsored us, please see the latest update from Andrew and Gwen. And I am sure like me, you will all be sending them your best wishes..
Dear Councillor Baldock,

After completing 2,000 miles of our sponsored walk to every newspaper office and radio station in England we have had to postpone it temporarily. This year has been a particularly bad year for Gwen who has had MS now for 18 years, and she is just too poorly for us to go on.

But we have hopes that her symptoms will be alleviated by an operation she is having this month in Edinburgh, and that we will be back on track at the beginning of next year.

An Italian Doctor, Dr. Zamboni, has found that MS may well be caused by a narrowing of the main veins in the neck, dubbed CCSVI. Gwen had a scan in July which found that she does indeed have this narrowing of
the Jugular veins on both sides of her neck, and she is heading up to Edinburgh later this month to have a simple angioplasty procedure which will correct this narrowing and hopefully put her back on the road to recovery. The one sticking point at the moment is that we are struggling to raise the £5,500 pounds to pay for the procedure. It is not available on the NHS.

The reports we have heard from other people about their amazing recoveries after the procedure sound too good to be true, but our hopes are high.

In the meantime, to continue the fundraising for The Myelin Project, I have produced a CD called the Northern Word which features 11 tracks from bands from around the North of England, and I am in the process of photographing MPs and horse riders for two new calendars.

Thank you once again for the support that you gave us during our sponsored walk and I will let you know how everything goes in Edinburgh.

Kindest regards

Further update: We have raised the money for Gwen's op. and we are heading up to Edinburgh tomorrow, Tuesday. The op. is on Friday all being well, and we will be back home on Monday after the post op.

Please do put the email on your website, we'd really appreciate it.
Will let you know how things go in Edinburgh.
Gwen sends her love, and love from me too.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas, Florida style

Some years ago I spent Christmas in Florida visiting a friend and of course it was warm and sunny and a very different climate. I took a couple of photographs I would like to share with you.

Ponsettias growing in the ground in Leu Gardens, Orlando

Life size nativity in a front garden, Orlando

Christmas lights on homes, Orlando style... we found these by going on to the local newspaper website where they were all listed, and then drove out to see them.

Or perhaps you would prefer a Victorian Christmas?

Christmas Carol Service - celebrating British, Polish and Hungarian festivities

Friday, December 03, 2010

Kensington and Fairfield - your good health!

Just a quick note to update you with some important news.

I was at a councillors' briefing earlier this week when I heard the good news that the proposed health centre, planned for the corner of Holt Road/Edge Lane, will be going ahead.

I had feared since the coalition Government came to power in May, and since they slashed most capital spending (that is spending on buildings in the main), and since they plan to scrap the PCT, that our new health centre was likely to be pulled.

But Liverpool Vision staff told me that it is still on track and that (yet another, another, another) consultation is due to begin any day, asking local people what services they would like to see delivered at this new health centre in Kensington.

You will know that one of our GP services is currently operating out of a temporary facility at the back of the library (on the reservoir site), this is to be moved to the new health centre, accessed from the rear corner of the reservoir site, and will hopefully be joined by the GPs currently operating on Clint Road.

Local people will be asked what else they would like to see there, so perhaps people will want a diabetes nurse, or a choropodist, or blood-taking services and will offer this up. There is of course no guarantee that the wish list will be honoured and I do wonder at the reason for yet another round of consultation, I remember the first round in 2006 for instance, but I am told they must do this again as the population and the need may have changed.

Anyway, whatever services end up at the health centre, what is the best news, clearly, is that the new health centre is still going to happen.

Your good health!