Friday, 30 May 2008


Not sure how much I am supposed to say as the programme won't be broadcast for a while.. but I am now revising my subject for the semi finals!!!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Foster care cut off

This article from todays Times (29th May) will hopefully help prompt some changes.

A couple of years ago I visited a family in Speke. Without going into huge details, a 17 year old girl was happily there as a foster child, but the funding was about to end. She was applying for University courses and the family would have been more than happy for her to stay while studying at one of the Liverpool Universities or another one reasonably near. Yet because of the money situation it looked as if either she was going to have to put this off for a while or move out, with all the implications of that. She had had a difficult few years beforehand and by the sounds of things had turned her life around. The law, and with it the funding, needs to be changed to acknowledge that leaving the care system, or the support at the end of the care system, should be a gradual process which may well run up until someone is 21.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Read this book!

Am currently reading "An utterly impartial history of Britain" .... "or 2000 years of upper class idiots in charge" by John O'Farrell.

One of the few books to have me laughing out loud on the train.

Do get a copy of you can.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Smoking - a step too far?

When Liverpool was trying to get smoking banned in public places and workplaces I was 100 percent in support. I was delighted when this actually became the law. It didn't conflict with Liberalism because this was about individuals not being forced to breathe in other people's smoke (secondary smoking).

But whatever we think about smoking and whether or not people should smoke, the government's latest suggestions are going too far.

Keeping cigarettes under the counter, and banning packs of ten,will do nothing to stop young people smoking. These measures would simply be an attack on an existing adult freedom that is not of itself harming anyone else. I don't think you should harm your health by smoking, but as long as you are not harming others health by doing that, it is quite frankly none of my business.

The argument that displays of cigarettes are attractive and so persuade young people to attempt to buy is particularly mad. Cigarette displays are no more attractive in appearance than displays of, say, toothpaste. Anyway, in a supermarket surely the most attractive display area is the fruit - and we don't assume this will cause a lot more apply buying among under 18s.

Surely the point is to give young people the information and arguments so that they can make decisions about whether or not to attempt to smoke. Sticking things under the counter is a good way of making them seem more desirable!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Garston Embassy event - 31 May

Next weekend the Garston Cultural Village project has another event which sounds like it will be great fun.

Using a former school on Wellington Street in Garston Village (tocky tech to those who know it) there's going to be the opening of the Garston Embassy. There'll be a ticker tape parade, a President, a band etc.

There are flyers and teaser posters all over the area - so hopefully there'll be a big turnout. It all starts at 2 30 on Saturday 31st.

It's part of the Biennial and I understand there are also "pavillion" projects in Kirkdale and Kensington.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Youth Live - anniversary already

I can hardly believe this, but we are soon to celebrate the first anniversary of our first edition of Youth Live magazine!

It only seems like yesterday that we were at Radio Merseyside having the party for edition one.

Since then the team of young people has grown, as has the team of volunteers. And the magazine has gone through changes based on talking to potential readers.

Youth Live exists to provide opportunities for young people to get involved in writing, editing, designing and so on.

If you want to know more, have a look at

On the board!

I have been appointed to the Executive Board on Liverpool City Council! I was offered the position last week, but it only became official on Tuesday as it had to go through at the Council AGM. I am now the Executive Member for Ethical Governance. It's a new portfolio so I am spending the next week having loads of briefing meetings and setting things up.

It's going to be a big challenge, but the more I read my way into it the more I can see how there's lots that can be done.

Monday, 19 May 2008


A plug for this blog. One of my work colleagues has gone to Serbia as one of the UK experts on the Eurovision Song Contest.

Hub Festival

I was revising for my Mastermind recording at the weekend so I couldn't go to this.

Reading this story now though I wish I had!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Expecting the most

I was listening to Diane Abbot's Desert Island Discs earlier today. One incident from her past struck me. She talked about how she had spoken to a teacher about attempting to get into Oxbridge and had effectively been told she wasn't up to it. She replied that she thought she was up to it.... and wasn't that the point?

She's obviously someone who carried on despite some low expectations. But I wonder how many other youngsters achieve a lot less than they could because of the low expectations of teachers, parents or others.

It strikes me that poverty of aspiration is almost worse than material poverty.

Obviously it would be wrong to give young people the impression they could achieve things that are always going to be way beyond them. But surely we need to make sure they can aim realistically high.

There are schools in which high attainment is seen as employment in the local catering or retail sectors. And there is nothing wrong with working in either of those fields. But youngsters will probably never think they can be doctors, or company directors etc if they are constantly given the impression - by their school and adults around them - that they are destined to work in a hotel.

I guess its all down to role models - to children and young people seeing that "people like me"can achieve all sorts of things.

Burma emergency

This story deserves plenty of attention.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Do we want an off licence there?

Quite a bit of controversy locally over an application from a local garage to start selling alcohol. The BP garage is off Aigburth Road and surrounded by residential streets including quite a bit of sheltered housing. We have already had quite a few residents get in touch to object. Our job now is to make sure everyone knows about the application and so can decide on their own response. Annoyingly the current laws mean that as councillors we can't automatically object unless someone living very locally to the site makes a point of asking us to. And in licensing issues not everyone wants to use their name which can make it hard to get all the proper requests. Anyway, we are making sure people are aware of the process. Anyone who wants to comment has until 23rd May to do so.

Neighbourhood fund

Today I was at a meeting with my two ward colleagues, Councillors Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe, and one of our neighbourhood officers. Each ward in Liverpool has a different amount of neighbourhood fund to spend - decided on by the local councillors. We don't have a huge amount- 40,000 in fact - and needless to say we have a wishlist that would cost a lot more. What we want to do is based on a mixture of knowledge of the ward and feedback from local people. We went through a menu of possible spending options and agreed to meet again in around a months time.

ID cards put poorer people at risk

This from the Guardian today.. yet another reason to abandon the ID cards scheme


An official report has warned that the government's plans for ID cards may put poorer people at greater risk of fraud, and that ministers are failing to coordinate implementation of the 10-year programme.

In a blow to Downing Street, which insists that biometric technology will make ID cards safe, the report says people with a "rich biographical record" will have better protection when the cards are introduced by the target date of 2017.

The warning, which prompted Tory calls to abandon the scheme, came in the annual report by the Independent Scheme Assurance Panel. It is formally charged by the Home Office with overseeing the implementation of ID cards.

The panel, chaired by the non-executive director of the Identity and Passport Service, Alan Hughes, says mistakes will inevitably be made by machine and man, and warns that not enough work has been done to assess them.

"The integrity of the scheme and trust in it are essential, yet it will never be free of errors (for example, the biometric matching services will always return some matching errors). Public trust in the scheme will be dependent on the protections within the scheme from misuse of personal data, and the diligence with which mistakes are corrected."

Poorer people could be at particular risk of having their identity stolen because their cards could be their only form of ID, unlike holders of credit cards. "Identity verification is a process and should not be dependent upon any one piece of data (biographic or biometric) alone. It is already difficult successfully to pretend to be someone who has a 'rich' biographical record - provided the verifying organisation does adequate checks. Care must be taken that confidentiality and integrity are supported by proper processes and policies are not over-dependent on technology."

Damian Green, the shadow Home Office minister, said the danger to poorer people showed the need to scrap the scheme. "Poorer people who don't have lots of credit cards will be exposed to the mistakes and will therefore have their lives made a misery by being unable to prove their own identity.

"Gordon Brown is getting used to U-turns. This would be one of his more sensible ones before he makes the lives of poor people in this country even worse."

Parliament will decide whether the ID cards should be made compulsory for British citizens. They are to become compulsory this year for non-EU foreign nationals living in Britain, and for 200,000 airport workers and Olympic security staff from next year.

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, hopes to build up a "critical mass" to support the £4.4bn scheme by giving incentives to public sector workers in "positions of trust", including nurses, care staff and teachers, to sign up early. They will be allowed to obtain a card without renewing their passport.

The panel also pointed out that a ministerial committee charged with coordinating identity management across government had been disbanded, and highlighted a "risk of shifting sands": ID cards could take so long to introduce that technology will move on and "priorities will shift".

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Crewe by election

Spent yesterday in Crewe helping with the by election campaign. Another day of great weather - to the extent that the HQ was offering sun tan lotion before we went out. A very efficient operation - hardly any waiting, jobs given out straight away.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Crewe soon.. and more walking

I am going over to Crewe later this week to help in the by election, but suddenly realised a major logistical problem that needed to be solved.

My trainers have literally fallen apart.

I think the crucial damage was done in Dignum Mead which, for the uninitiated, is part of a leaflet round in Netherley. I walked the shoes to destruction - next election I think I will get a reserve pair.

Anyway - trip to the retail park means problem solved and am ready to start walking again!

Another plug -environmental initiative in South Liverpool

Transition South Liverpool invites you to a Climate Change Visioning Day!
Transition South Liverpool is a community-based group thinking about what climate change and the end of cheap fuel means for Liverpool's future.
This is a chance for us to think about what the main issues are for Liverpool, and get some practical projects up and running that will make a real difference to a sustainable Liverpool given climate change and the end of cheap fuel.

What kind of projects would you like to be involved in? What groups would you like to see developing projects? Come along and exchange ideas!
Some key areas that might get projects going are waste, working with local businesses, energy, a local documentary project, local currency, local food, a car share, community composting, growing food in back alleys, local reusable bag project, and......???

Date: Sunday May 18, 2008
Time: 11am - 4pm
Location: Unitarian Church
Address: 57 Ullet Road

refreshments from 10.30am
There will be a break for a bring-and-share lunch

Suggestion donation to cover costs: employed £3,
not employed £2

Peak Oil and Climate Change are swiftly bringing big changes in how we live on a day-to-day basis: Global agreements on climate change come with legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, which can only be met if we lower our use of energy. Peak Oil, which experts expect to happen within the next 20 years but possibly could be happening right now, will result in big price increases on all goods that rely on oil. In the current economic system, most of our food, clothes and other goods, come from abroad, meaning they require energy for transportation, but there are other energy inputs too. Industrial farming requires oil to power machinery, as does manufacturing. Fertilisers and pesticides are made using oil. Plastic packaging of goods is made with oil.
In order to reduce Liverpool's carbon footprint, and in order to increase the resilience of our communities in the face of an increasingly precarious link to the food and other essential goods, it is time now to take steps that will guarantee our community the chance to prosper in the future.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Home Start

Off to a meeting of people interested in getting a Home Start scheme going in parts of South Liverpool. It looks like we may be able to get at least some areas covered. Home Start is a registered charity which recruits volunteers who then visit families to offer some support. Its run at local level with each area having a committee and staff and recruiting volunteers locally. There used to be one in Speke/ Garston which closed a while ago. There is an existing scheme now based in Toxteth. I really hope we can make some progress - we all agreed to follow up various contacts and ideas.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Plug for new book - climate change

New Friends of the Earth book

'How can I stop climate change?'

released this week

Friends of the Earth's new expert guide to climate change reveals how getting involved in your local community can help to stop climate change - while also being fun, sociable and rewarding. The step-by-step guide to today's hottest issue, provides a complete run down of how you can improve the quality of your life and the planet's - and save some cash while you do it. Featuring real case studies, top tips and a myth-busting analysis of climate change, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to unravel the truth behind the headlines and greenwash.

With chapters including 'In the home,' 'Out and about,' and 'Scaling up your involvement,' the book tackles the question: "What's the point? Isn't this problem just too big?" and looks at how people in homes and neighbourhoods across the country are coming together to help save the planet. From green homes to green schools and communities the real-life stories in 'How can I stop climate change?' show us that, if we act together, we can all help to stop climate change.

Marcus Brigstocke, comic and presenter, on How Can I Stop Climate Change?

"It's the end of the world as we know it - HOORAY - let's make a better one. Nothing's more delicious than the vegetable you've grown yourself, few things feel better than a cosy, well-insulated home, riding a bike is fun and it makes your bum smaller. Renewable energy is cheaper, cleaner and safer for us all - switching things off saves you a fortune and we are lucky enough to live in a beautiful, spectacular country with a handy rail link to the whole of Europe. Someone tell me, please, what's not to like?"

The book is available for £14.99 from

If you have any further queries, please let us know by contacting Rita Marcangelo, Marketing Officer, at or

020 7566 1654.


1. Established in 1971 Friends of the Earth is the UK's most influential environmental campaigning organisation. Dependent on individuals for over 90 per cent of its income, it has the most extensive environmental network in the world with almost 1 million supporters across five continents and more than 70 national organisations worldwide. For further information about Friends of the Earth, please visit
2. For top tips on the practical things you can do to help to tackle climate change visit Friends of the Earth's Living site:

Cats for Obama

My cats are supporting Hillary (well we are all feminists at number 75) but some of these felines are rather cute

Just when you think its all over...

Popping across campus for lunch yesterday I bumped into a man dressed as a rubic cube and handing out leaflets. A little further along was a man dressed as a bear.

These entertainments are part of the campaigning for the Edge Hill student union elections - voting is this week.

Certainly a lively form of campaigning - but being old (or rather older) and on the teaching staff I don't have a vote in this one!

Looking at the literature I think the rubic cube campaign will edge ahead.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Signing the book

I went in to the Municipal Buildings yesterday to "sign on" as a Councillor. You have to do this to accept the elected office and if you don't do it by a certain date you are out(although why anyone would not turn up after so much campaigning effort is beyond me).

There is actually an opportunity to do this at a sort of ceremony a bit later this month - which is nice for new people. For myself I just want to get going!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The problem with election campaigns...

... is that you don't notice what else is going on in the world.

Having dealt with a huge backlog of domestic things I am now noticing that there are new plays and films out there that I have never heard of.

And Eastenders seems to have several new plotlines that have started since early April.

Here's to a bit more normalcy.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Election thoughts

Still very tired after polling day on Thursday. I feel as if I haven't had enough sleep for about a month!

I was elected in Cressington ward - a Lib Dem gain as the former Councillor defected to Labour back in March (she stood in the elections for Labour but not in Cressington - in Kirkdale). When the defection happened, the Liverpool Echo editorial said that Cressington was now a marginal seat - so my majority of more than 1,000 is particularly pleasing!

I was very sad to see Lib Dem Tom Marshall lose in Belle Vale. Tom is the sort of person who really stands up for his community and he didn't deserve to be defeated. I was one of his campaign team and so spend quite a bit of time in Belle Vale and Netherley. Something tells me Tom will be back.

Good news though in Halewood (I am chair of Garston and Halewood constituency) where the Lib Dems took a seat from Labour in Halewood South. We now have six Halewood reps to Labour's three - well done to all the team there.

Other election thoughts will have to wait - still working on the sleep defecit and the backlog of domestic jobs that haven't been touched.