Sunday, 23 December 2007

Winding down.

This last week consisted of Keith at the Northfield Healthy Communities and Older People group meeting where the constituency partners are all involved in trying to improve the health of our residents, the Education O & S, a meeting of chairs of Scrutiny and a meeting of the Vulnerable Children's O & S Committee.
Sue was decorating, shopping, and attending schools Christmas shows.
On Saturday morning we had the final gathering of volunteers who came to Longbridge to distribute our Christmas Cards. These are not bumper packs of personal cards but 11000 cards printed by the Council. There is a photo of us on the front, put it on the mantelpiece and it keeps the kids away from the fire. Inside it has our contact details and Advice Surgery details. There are also some useful numbers and a calendar on the rear face. All Councillors are entitled to them and we find them a useful means of communication.
Afterwards we met up at the Cock Inn for refreshments. This is our favourite pub in Longbridge. The owners, who only took over early this year have used the smoking ban to extend the menu and the food is to be recommended. This week we went there on Wednesday pm after judging the lights. Sue had Glastonbury lamb in a red wine and mint sauce, absolutely superb, Keith tasted it and wished he had chosen it but hie steak and ale pudding was tasty and filling. The pub is run by Damian and his partner, who are a gay couple. How we have come on when two gay men can take on a pub in a strong working class area and be accepted without a murmur, just one more reason why we are so proud of Longbridge.
That's it for this year. May we take the opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and we hope that your New Year is safe, happy, healthy and prosperous.
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Frankley Christmas lights competition

For the second year running Sue and Keith had the pleasure of judging the Frankley Christmas Lights Competition, sponsored by New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council.
It was a bitterly cold evening which may explain why our sensitive MP and our Labour Councillor did not turn up. However we Conservatives are made of sterner stuff and visited each of the 12 entrants and had a good look at their efforts. It is impossible to convey in a photo the music and movement of the displays but we hope these give you some idea of how good they looked and the work that goes into them. Altogether a joy to everyone. We are putting up some of the other entrants for you to see. The final one is in Mowbray/Fabian, it won last year but was not entered this year but is well worth taking the kids to see if you get the chance.

1st place

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2nd place. Santa's grotto

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3rd place

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Christmas party season starts here.

Last Saturday saw the first of the Christmas parties. We enjoyed a meal with the "Reaside Mob" who form the committee of the Reaside Community Centre of which we are members. Like a lot of our tenants halls, the Reaside had been somewhat forgotten and was looking very tired and neglected. We persuaded the Constituency office to complete a list of outstanding repairs and put some NRF money into a new kitchen. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress came along to perform a re-opening and a new future beckons. It still suffers from insufficient numbers on the committee and help with events but this is an issue we hope to address in the new year. A lot of parents enjoy the opportunity of leaving their kids there on Friday nights for a disco while they pop out for a drink but do not want to get involved in staying there to help out. This means that fewer kids can be accommodated because of lower numbers of adults to supervise them. At one stage the police asked if the numbers could be increased to about 100 but could offer no assistance in reaching this.
On Wednesday Mike Whitby threw a bash in the Conservative Group Rooms. This went very well but Keith had to leave to go to the Education O & S Committee.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

A message from our MP

We have no idea how many people view this blog and we don't get many comments but it does seem that our sitting MP keeps an eye on it. We are quite happy for him to do this, hopefully it will let him know about whats happening in this part of his constituency.

We received the following message from him:

Dear Keith and Sue
I am told your blog contains the following allegation:

" All our fundraising efforts are designed to ensure that when an election is called Keely will have enough funds to compete with a sitting MP who is sitting on a sackful of money"

As I assume you accept responsibility for the contents of your blog, Would(sic) you please inform me in writing, what evidence you have for the allegation about me and what you mean by it.

Yours sincerely

Richard Burden MP

We suppose with all the dodgy donor stories doing the rounds at the moment all Labour MPs must be feeling a tad sensitive but Mr Burden need have no fear. This was merely a reference to the extremely generous salary that all MPs receive from the taxpayers. It does seem to us that his questions were in the wrong order, surely he meant what do we mean and where is the evidence, not the other way round. Still Mr Burden has never been appointed to any ministerial position so we don't suppose his grammatical skills matter too much.
This set us in mind of some of our experiences of campaigning over the years.
When Keith was first elected he stood against 3 Labour candidates. 2 were sitting Councillors, the 3rd was Fiona Saxon who was, we believe, an employee of Richard Burden who worked in his office and was presumably paid through his office allowance.
For the last 2 years the Labour candidate in Longbridge has been Amy Watson. She is also an employee of Mr Burden, her title, we believe, is Community Liaison Officer.
This is not in any way a personal attack on either of them, Amy is a personable and friendly young woman who we regard as being professional, hard working and politically experienced. She is a formidable opponent. She does in fact have a young son who was born not long before one of the campaigns. His name is Arlo, presumably named after Arlo Guthrie, He was an American singer who sang about the plight of the "Dust-Bowl" farmers and is a bit of a left wing icon. Keith always gets mixed up and calls him Aaron, which is Elvis Presley's middle name. Elvis was an alleged FBI agent and a bit right-wing so therefore not a favourite of the left. Keith promises to do better and remember to ask after Arlo and not Aaron in future.
To get back to the point, when Keith stood in 2004 he was working as a lorry driver. This meant long hours of hard, physical work and 1 and sometimes 2 nights away from home each week, not the ideal circumstances to be trying to win a seat against established Councillors and a member of an MPs staff.
Amy actually appeared in a leaflet Mr Burden distributed as a Parliamentary newsletter. The circumstances were that at a Longbridge Ward Committee Keith started extolling the virtues of the Neighbourhood Caretaker Scheme which we were running, Sue said after the meeting that when I was speaking Mr burden was scribbling furiously and she expected him to use this item at some future date. Sure enough a little while later up popped this newsletter with a picture of Mr Burden, Amy and 2 of the Neighbourhood Caretakers. Amy was listed as his Community Liaison Officer, no mention of a candidature at the time although as it was before the election was called there was no requirement for this. One of the outcomes of this episode was that all Council Employees were advised not to get involved with having their photos taken with politicians which could appear to endorse any candidate. That is why on our blog you will very rarely see a photo of a Council Officer except in exceptional circumstances were we want to pay tribute to them and the work they do. It also taught Keith to be a little bit circumspect when Mr Burden is in attendance.
Now we are quite sure that all this is perfectly within the rules, electorally and as far as the expenditure of Parliamentary expenses etc are concerned. It is merely to point out that no matter what advantages your opposition may have, you can still win, you can keep on winning and you can increase your majority, so get out there and fight! If of course there are any factual errors in this report we would be perfectly prepared to publish a correction, we believe that the truth is always sufficient and welcome comments from anyone who feels that we have the facts wrong.
Personal opinions are another matter but we enjoy a good argument.

A mixed week

Just to let you know what we have been up to this week.
Keith is still recovering from his hip operation but is gradually easing back into things. He managed a short drive on Tuesday to see a constituent with a problem. This involved using muscles which he has not been using since the op but came through fairly well. Afterwards a meeting of the Great Park Business Group followed but as the police were unable to attend there were no crime figures available and a little bit of a waste of time. We did hear that PC Stuart Smith had resigned. He has been an extremely hardworking officer and made a real difference to the area. He will be missed but the upside of it is that he is joining the Kickz Project at BCFC.
Sue actually chaired the meeting at St. Andrews on Thursday of the city wide Kickz Project. This has been very successful in London were it was mainly funded by the Metropolitan Police who recognised how useful it was in diverting youths away from crime. We can only hope that West Midlands Police show such judgement. We always live in hope.
we both went into the Council House for a meeting on Wednesday only to find that it had been cancelled. A bit of window shopping down the Bull Ring followed but by the time we got back Keith was feeling the effects. He had already had a long walk in the morning and a very uncomfortable night followed. That'll teach him!
Luckily another meeting early on Thursday was also cancelled so Keith was able to rest up.
There was a full day on Friday, Keith went to a meeting of the Northfield Strategic Partnership in the morning followed by a meeting of Chairs of O & S at the Council House and then off to Frankley to talk to the Ward Support Officer and the Constituency lead on the Safer, Greener project. This was to discuss ideas for using up our remaining NRF allocation and trying to look forward to next year when the system changes.
Sue has also been busy in the Ward supporting several projects which are contributing to the improvements to the quality of life of everyone.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Opening of Longbridge Innovation Building

A breakfast meeting this am at Longbridge Technology Park. We were there at 8.15 to listen to Liam Byrne MP. Who says we don't earn our crust? It was the long
awaited official opening of the Innovation Building, although it has been open for some time and already has over 40% occupancy.
Afterwards we listened to Mr Byrne presenting the Regional Investment Strategy. This will show the way that investment will come into the region and what local leaders will have to do to ensure that this bears fruit over the next few years. Keith managed to ask a question about how the government will get all the "neets" out of bed, into training and into jobs. Mr Byrne gave a long winded answer about the need to do this but no hint or suggestion about HOW we can do it. Same old same old. We suppose we will have to wait for a Conservative government with its ideas on the Wisconsin experience before we get any answers.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Back to normal.

After the Michael Gove visit it was back to the grind yesterday.
Keith was at the Coordinating Committee followed by a pre-agenda meeting for the Vulnerable Children's Committee.
Sue went to a girly lunch with friends she worked with at the BMA. A good time apparently.
That evening we both popped in to a punch & mince pies do put on by Northfield Conservative branch and then on to the Allens Cross Working Mans Club for the Northfield Constituency Housing Liaison Boards Christmas party. Members of the HLBs give up their own time to look after the interests of tenants and leaseholders in their wards and are part of the great voluntary movement of which little is heard but which does so much to improve conditions for so many people. Most people will get involved when there is an issue which directly concerns them but it is the folk who put in the day to day nitty-gritty work to whom we owe so much.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Michael Gove at Colmers School

Today we were delighted to welcome Michael Gove MP, Shadow secretary for children, young people and schools, to Colmers School. This is an excellent school with marvellous Ofsted results and a "Whole pupil" philosophy which does a magnificent job for the people of Longbridge. The Headmaster Pete Jones and all his staff turn out young people who are a credit to our neighbourhood and together with Tony Colville, the Extended Schools Coordinator, are extending best practise to schools across the ward.
Michael had a tour of the school and then met up with the School Council for lunch. A really impressive bunch of kids who are destined to go far. Michael had some fascinating conversations and was reluctant to leave but we hope to get him back soon to visit Frankley Community High school and others, particularly when he is the Education Minister. Also there were our PPC Keely Huxtable and Community Liaison Officer Ken Wood.

The Longbridge team,Michael and Pete Jones, Headmaster.

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Michael and Ken Wood

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Keely talks to Michael

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Confirmation service

Sue was recently invited to attend a Confirmation service at St Steven's Church in Edgewood Rd. She had the pleasure of meeting the Bishop of Birmingham the Rt Rev David Urquhart. It was a marvellous celebration at a marvellous church. If people think the Church of England is on the rocks just pop along to St. Stevens and see the congregation there, you would get a very pleasant surprise.
Last Sunday we went along to another local Longbridge Church, St John the Baptist, where they were celebrating 50 years of the church and celebrating the Longbridge area in general. The Bishop was there again along with the vicar Colin Corke who is a real petrol-head and local historian. He has had a book published recently entitled "Making cars at Longbridge" as is well worth a look.

Sue puts the Bishop right on a few theological points

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Sue & the Bishop

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Catching up with photos.

We've not posted many photos lately so here are a few for you.
Before Keith went in for his surgery we had a visit to Morrisons by the "Breath easy" Bus. This offers free checks to people to identify any cardio-thoracic problems they may have. It mostly involves blowing long and hard into a tube to test lung capacity. In order to get some good photos Keith had to do it 4 times, thats probably why he looks a bit pasty faced in this shot which was taken afterwards. If you see the bus anywhere go and take the test, especially if you smoke.

Cardiac check

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

A wheelie bad idea.

Yesterday's Council meeting consisted of false outrage and crocodile tears. Sir Albert jumped on the passing pay & grading bandwagon, urged on by his trade union friends. Although the single status agreement was signed about 10 years ago the Labour Party did nothing about it. They looked at it, found it would be very difficult and tortuous and said " no thanks Guv. Now the deadline for sorting this out looms and Alan Rudge has worked mightily to get a scheme together which complies with the legal requirements of equal pay law and the single status agreement, using the national pay scales agreed, no demanded on, by the unions. There are some employees whose salary will drop due to them receiving a higher pay grade than the job calls for but even their salaries will be protected for 3 years, the maximum allowed by law.The unions will huff & puff but I think back to my days as a TGWU shop Steward and I don't think they will have enough support to be able to do a lot of damage and they will quickly lose the support of the citizens if they leave the rubbish uncollected. Most people see council workers as overpaid and under-worked. This is a very unfair view as the majority of workers I meet are dedicated to their work but who said life was fair?
There was also a threatened kerfuffle about a Scrutiny report calling for pilot schemes using wheelie bins for recyclates and green waste. We believe this is a Trojan Horse to get wheelie bins adopted across the city. This will also involve all the other things associated with them, fortnightly collections, chips and "pay as you throw". It would also mean extensive capital outlay which the city cannot afford.
Keith's view is also coloured by the topography of Longbridge. The area stands on a sandstone outcrop of the Lickey Hills and is very convoluted. We have many hills around here with roads cut into the side of them. This means that to get from a front door to the kerbside can mean going up or down a great number of steps, to do this whilst pulling a heavily loaded wheelie bin would be dangerous if not impossible for thousands of householders. Bags are not perfect but they are manageable and flexible, you can put out as many or as few as required. That is why we will always oppose wheelie bins in Longbridge.
There had been fears that Labour and some Lib-Dems would combine to defeat us on this but in the end it rather fizzled out.
Sue and I had already agreed to attend a charity function and it looked at one stage that we would have to miss it but we managed to get paired and got there just in time. A good job really as Keith won first prize in the raffle, a 36" flat screen tv...RESULT!!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Fundraising, the honest way.

On Wednesday evening Northfield Conservative Association held it's annual dinner at the Clarendon Suite. It was an enjoyable evening but a lot of hard work.
During the run up we suffered withdrawals by 3 senior names, a change of date and were on the verge of cancelling several times. However, thanks to the people who attended we made a few quid on the ticket sales, £186 on the raffle and about £30 on a quiz, all arranged by Keely Huxtable who must have felt like tearing her hair out at times.
This is the reality of fundraising for the majority of associations, the money comes in dribs and drabs, not in large cheques from insiders.
Our main guest and speaker was David Liddington MP. He is No2 to William Hague. He is an excellent speaker and only a train timetable cut short the time we wanted to listen to him.
All our fundraising efforts are designed to ensure that when an election is called Keely will have enough funds to compete with a sitting MP who is sitting on a sackful of money.
All local elections are funded by the wards themselves and this requires another effort to keep funds topped up. Most Conservative Councillors we know, including ourselves, pay into Ward funds to make sure that we do not lose our seats through lack of money for leaflets, posters, postage etc. It is an expensive business fighting elections and all the coffee mornings, social events, quizzes etc although enjoyable at the time are all hard work which at least encourages teamwork throughout the organisation.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Deja vu

As I am having to spend a lot of time watching daytime tv and reading the newspapers it is amazing just how quickly the Brown administration has become unravelled. I sent a letter in to the Birmingham Mail last night saying how I had been overcome by a great wave of deja vu. I saw all the reports of an arrogant control freak of a Labour leader surrounded by accusations of incompetence and neglect and mired in electoral irregularities and couldn't decide if I was in Birmingham 2004 or Britain 2007. It is so strange how history repeats itself.
During my lay-off Sue has been dashing about with her own responsibilities and covering mine as much as possible. Ken Wood, our local election candidate for 2008 has been helping out as well. This is good experience for him. As a candidate and campaigner I fought for 3 years to win my seat but had little knowledge of what to expect when I was elected. Ken on the other hand attends as many meetings as possible, goes to group meetings and has watched quite a few Council Meetings. This will stand him in good stead next year when he wins the 3rd Longbridge seat, at least he will know what to expect. He has also been instrumental in organising a petition aganst a phone mast in the ward which we have just been notified has been refused.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

without a leg to stand on

Keith went into hospital last Thursday for hip surgery. He came out yesterday feeling fine,just a little sore and stiff. Sue has been very busy with the house re-wire, redecorating, hospital visits and keeping up with all the ward work so we are both a bit knackered. We hope to get back to normal after a few days.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


On Monday Sue went off to do the Frankley Walk. This is another initiative to encourage people to improve their health by taking up some gentle exercise. Later we both went out to finish off delivering our latest leaflet, now that's what we call exercise. If anyone wants to join us in that they would be more than welcome.


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From the sublime to the ridiculous.

Sunday morning saw us at the Service of Remembrance at the |Hall of Memory. Once again a very moving ceremony. We met up with the ratings from HMS Daring, very smartly turned out. It was a cold day but at least the rain kept off. Afterwards back to the Council House for hot drinks and some snap.
Later that afternoon we went out in the pouring rain distributing Bulky Rubbish Collection leaflets. What a glamorous life we lead.

The lads of HMS Daring.

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March past

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Lord Mayor takes salute

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Marines in shirtsleeves

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Friday, 9 November 2007

Name, shame & socialism

Some of you may have seen the item in last night's Mail about the naming & shaming of four shops selling fireworks to underage kids. This is the operation that Sue & Ken joined in with last Friday night. We can now say that the major store that was caught was Morrisons on the Great Park. This is not the first time they have been caught out, last year they sold alcohol to a minor. They really must tighten up their procedures or face the consequences.
Keith attended the Co-ordination O & S Committee this morning. The main item was about the plan to increase Brum's population by 120.000 by 2026 and its affect on housing. Nice to hear Carl Rice & Peter Kane keeping the flag flying for good old-fashioned socialism. They still advocate sticking people in Council houses and keeping them there instead of bringing about equality of opportunity so that families can improve their standards and do not have to resort to social housing. Old habits die hard.
Sue spent the morning trying to improve the state of our house, we are having it rewired at the moment and is a real mess. Hopefully it will be finished next week and we can get on with redecorating.
This afternoon Sue was at Colmers School. The Extended Schools Co-ordinator is doing a great job for the schools in Longbridge and has some very big plans. We also heard that Frankley Library have succeeded in a bid to the Big Lottery fund for about £140.000. Well done to everybody.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

How very Daring of you!

These are the ratings from H.M.S. Daring who came along to do some work at Balaam's Wood. As tree fellers they make jolly jack tars, at one stage they struggled to fell a large dead tree with cross cut saws and when it finally started to fall it got tangled up with other trees. They were however very enthusiastic and got rid of a lot of holly which tends to clog up the site. For those of you who do not know about Balaam's Wood it is an ancient woodland which was coppiced during the middle ages to provide wood to build daub and wattle houses. It is a lovely spot to visit and walk and is now a Local Nature Reserve. Just one of the many attractions of Longbridge.

Hello sailor.


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Is that your hose or are you pleased to see me?

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Shakin' all over

Wednesday was another round of meetings. Sue spent most of the day at the Fostering Panel. This was her first full meeting since volunteering to join the panel. Most of the applicants were "Kinship carers" that is people who take in children relating to them. This is usually a better solution as they and the child usually know each other and it can be culturally beneficial too. Of course past experience shows that stringent checks also have to be carried out.
Keith had a meeting with Coun Les Lawremce to talk about upcoming issues for the CYPF portfolio and how this ties in with scrutiny. Afterwards to a seminar on "Transition". This is the process whereby children with disabilities and Looked after children transfer from children's services to adult services. This is an area where we have been weak in the past and a lot of work is going on to remedy this. We now have a Transition Manager funded by both departments who can cut across the differences in the departments and make sure we operate a more seamless movement from one to the other.
Did anyone see Gordie's exhibition at PMQs yesterday? Surely this is the result of rage and frustration. He must be incensed that Dave keeps getting the better of him. The pressure is showing and we don't think this premiership will last 10 yrs.
Today we have a party of sailors from H.M.S. Daring coming to Balaam's Wood to do some work and we will be there to greet them. What is it about Sue and men in uniforms? Here's an example, we will post more later.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

An outbreak of harmony

At yesterdays Council meeting the Labour party were again subdued and in fact suggested a means by which we could all accept their amended motion on youth services and the New St announcement.
We think they were better last time without their "great clunking fist" Sir Albert, Ian Ward seemed to think so too as he sat there and didn't say a word. Of course Sir Albert is very busy with the new QE hospital so we can't expect too much from him, but I wonder how long his party will put up with the situation.
Coun Drinkwater made an astonishing intervention when she related the tale of her 14 yr old niece who had gone to town with her birthday money and proceed to spend it on strong drink. She was eventually taken to a police station for her own safety after becoming legless and losing her phone and money. We all wondered what this had to do with the provision of youth services and sat there waiting to hear why this was the Council's fault. It turned out that one of the girl's other aunts had made some query about why the Council did not provide a safe haven in the area were the drunken episode occurred but it did not make much sense. Teenagers have always behaved badly and always will. They prefer to make their own mistakes instead of listening to their elders who of course went through exactly the same process when they were the same age. Coun Drinkwater has now twice been near to tears when addressing the Council. Perhaps she should use her considerable intellect more and emotional blackmail a little less.
Some laughter when Sir Albert told us that he had spoken to Liam Byrne. Mobile phone in the car jokes were too good to resist.

Monday, 5 November 2007

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New member?

Just to let you know that Keely Huxtable our PPC and her husband, Councillor Tim, are doing their best to boost membership numbers by producing their own. Keely and Tim are proud to announce that they are expecting a baby around June, thankfully after the May elections.
Keely will be doing fewer and fewer low level letterboxes! CONGRATS.

Remember remember....18 and over.

Sue had a night out with the police on Friday night. They were doing test purchases on firework vendors. 4 out of 5 traders served underage children and have been reported. One shop owner seemed to think that because it was his shop he could do what he liked. Big mistake. Even one of our major stores failed, a big disappointment considering all the training their staff are supposed to have had.
On Saturday Keith did an advice centre at Frankley and then joined Sue over at Weoley to help out Adrian Delaney with a leaflet drop. Adrian got caught out as many more people than he expected turned up and he could have got rid of twice as many leaflets than he had.
On the evening we picked up the grandkids for a trip to Pype Hayes Park. Another great event with the gates having to be closed at one stage. The fireworks were even better than last year.
On Sunday Keith was out getting a petition together against a mast installation proposed for Lickey Road. That afternoon he was visiting local police stations to check out custody suites. They were depressingly full. Most of the offences were petty and drink related, mostly unnecessary and a real waste of everyone's time. There do not seem to be any proper criminals these days, just idiots who fail to think or have an arrogant notion that the law does not apply to them.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Thats quite enough

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Sue working out

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Catch up

This has been a very heavy week. Monday am we both went to the opening of a new gym room at Frankley Community High School. We have a couple of pics of Sue on the equipment.
Keith went off to the EMT away day at Warwick University. 2 days of intensive work on the Council budget
Sue was busy on Tuesday with 4 meetings, the Great Park Business Group, an Advice centre at Frankley Plus Children's Centre, a meeting of Colmers management group and finally a meeting of Northfield with Local Control. This last one is a small group of people, the remnants of Northfield HLB. They have this strange idea that they can take over the running of the 6000 council houses in Northfield and make a better job of running it than the Housing Dept can. Complete fantasy. They are in the process of changing the Section 16 officer, who has done very well out of it thank you. They have the idea that they can sack the repairs team and employ their own. A few years ago this was called a Direct Labour Organisation and was an unmitigated disaster. Still one suspects the dead hand of socialism behind it all.
On Wednesday Keith went down to London for a seminar on "Every disabled child matters" whilst Sue dealt with several lots of casework. That evening she went to Frankley HLB whilst Keith attended the Egghill Development Group.
Thursday saw Keith at two workshops on Special Education Needs at the Campanile Hotel in Aston. Keith's first job was at a factory in the same road as the hotel. It was a glass factory and he still has the scars to prove it. Sue went to a presentation on counter terrorism at Bournville Lane police station.
Today Keith was at the Library Call-in at the Council house. This saw the Labour members reducing the tone to the level of playground name calling but Len Clarke bought his keen intellect and analytical skills to bear and they meekly went along with his suggestion. A triumph for common sense over sour grapes. Sue went to the Northfield local area agreement performance board where there were updates on all the projects going on in the ward.
We would like to apologise for the paucity of entries this week but we are having the house rewired and the computers were switched off.
Tomorrow Keith is going to an advice centre at the Frankley Parish Council offices and then we will both be trying to get to Moseley School for an event called "Peaceful Communities". This is a meeting for all faiths and races to come together and talk about community cohesion.
On Sunday Keith will be making the rounds of the police custody suites on a snap inspection.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Pink Lady

After The Scrutiny Committee on Friday Keith popped in to the Lord Mayor's Parlour to support the Lady Mayoress's Breast Cancer awareness day. This involved Sandra turning the fountain in Victoria Square pink. The fountain has a statue of a naked woman in it and is known locally as "The floozy in the jacuzzi".
Sue had already dashed in earlier but had to get back to Northfield Fire Station for a passing out parade for youngsters on a Junior Firefighters scheme. They all seemed to have really enjoyed it and it looks as if it will be done again.
That evening we went to the NIA for a performance of "La Traviata". A spectacular opera featuring about 10 pupils from Colmers School who had previously trained and performed in Verona along with about 300 other people. There were about 5000 people in the audience and they all enjoyed themselves.
Next week sees Keith at an Executive Management Team away day which involves staying overnight at Warwick University for some heavy duty discussions on the future plans and finances of the Council. Then on Wednesday it is down to London for a conference on "Every disabled child matters". Hopefully he can get back for a meeting of the Egghill development Group whilst Sue goes to the Frankley HLB.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A little local spat

Keith is engaged in a letter bash with local Labour activists in Kings Norton at the moment. The KN3Estates organisation have asked John Lines, cabinet member for Housing, for help in getting their redevelopment plans back on track. After years of consultations and inactivity they have turned to the Council for help and the Labourites, who presided over the worst period in the Housing Department's history, have immediately started to criticise John and question his commitment to consult with local residents. They ignore the fact that locals have been consulted to death over the years but of course decent housing means nothing to them, only their own lust for power for its own sake. When will people realise that the comrades care nothing for ordinary people, only their own narrow interests and the comfort of their apparatchiks and fellow travellers?
Enough of the rant. This week has seen the Children's and Education Committee, Keith has done some training on how to handle the media and we have both been down to Somerset for the continuing saga of Sue's Mother's will. Hopefully one more trip will see it all finished.
Tommorrow is the Vulnerable Children's Committee and Sue is off to a meeting at Northfield Fire Station for a passing out parade for Junior Firefighters. Not all our kids stand around on street corners and it is right that these should be recognised. This evening we are off to Weoley to give Cllr Adrian Delaney a hand with his leaflets.
Friday evening we are attending a performance of La Traviata featuring local youngsters who went out to Verona to train and perform. A report later.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


Sorry if the title of the last post confused anyone. We should have said that we were off to Wem in Shropshire for the weekend of the North Shropshire Beer Festival. This is an annual event and features a whole load off real ales from the region. There were some excellent examples on offer and a good time was had by all. This is our last weekend in the campervan before we put it away for the winter. It now has a new laminated floor. Looks good and easy to wipe clean.
As we said Keith was in Bournemouth for a conference on Adults and children's services. This was a very mixed event with contributions from Ed Balls, Andrew Lansley, Alan Johnson and Norman Lamb. Ed Balls speech lived up to his name, 45 minutes of talking without saying anything. Andrew Lansley was as good as ever and Alan Johnson was very good, quite animated and on top of his brief. Perhaps if he had been talking about hospital infections he would not have been so comfortable. Norman Lamb MP is the Lib-Dem spokesman on health. He is long on detail but a very flat speaker.
The conference has not got it's head around the split of Adult and Child services. You were either interested in one or the other and it was difficult to sit through everything if it was not relevant to your interest.
We had another contribution in Community Care magazine from a disgruntled former social worker. There is no doubt that the services in 2004 were in a dreadful state but we have made very big strides since then in improving conditions for both users and the workforce. Keith has always asked for comments from any social workers out there who want to say what they think. All in complete confidence of course.
Not a lot on this week. Keith has Education and his own O & S Committee, Sue has plenty to keep her busy and we are having the house rewired. We will keep you informed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Wem will I be famous?

We forgot to tell you that Sue is joining one of the Fostering Panels. These decide on who should be foster parents. We are desperate to recruit more foster parents, both long and short term, but safeguarding of children is the first priority. Perspective foster parents have to go through a lot of checks and training and it is an exercise in perseverance. They are a valuable resource and we must look after them as much as possible.
Sue was also on the licensing panel which heard the complaint against the Nightingale Club. Although this is a gay club Sue listened to the evidence and concluded it was not a gay issue, just one of a developer trying to get its own way against a long established smaller business.
This week Keith is off to Bournemouth for a conference of the Assoc of Directors of Social Services until Friday when we are taking the campervan to Wem for a beer festival over the weekend.
Sue has quite a few meetings this week including the Forestdale Community Park Project, Licensing Committee and a couple of others concerning projects we are committed to but don't want to disclose yet. No point in giving the opposition a heads-up as we know they read this site.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

the dogs of Bore

The rest of the week has been the usual round of casework, meetings and paperwork.
On Wednesday pm we had a bit of a revolt by residents from Egghill. For several years the Egghill Development Group have met at the Hollymoor Centre. Since Bournville College took the site over they have announced that they will no longer let out rooms for evening meetings. It was decided that in future the meetings would be held at Frankley High School. The residents of Egghill have a long held belief that Frankley is in the Dark Zone and refused to go there. Their view of Frankley is way out of date but to be fair they made their views clear, dug their heels in and have got their own way. "People Power". The meetings will now be held in a local school.
On Friday Keith went to the launch of the new Central Library. This went really well and received a lot of support. We will have to see if Labour keep up their "dog in a manger" attitude but I suspect they will be unable to resist the temptation.
P.S. Does anyone know what "dog in a manger" means?

Friday, 12 October 2007

Food4Sport and food for thought

On Tuesday Sue left the Council meeting to head off to Colmers School where pupils from 4 local schools were presented with a booklet which is designed to promote sport and healthy living. Sue was invited to make a short speech and the booklets were presented by Stuart Taylor and Curtis Davis from Aston Villa.
There had been some argument as to who should go, Keith lost.
Council was a little bit more lively than the last one, perhaps because Birmingham's own "clunking fist" Sir Albert was not there. Ian Ward tried to put up a spirited defence of Gordon the bottler but found it difficult to explain why, when they could and would win an election whenever it was called, he had not done so. After all it was Gordo who had sent them home from Brighton expecting an election and a landslide win, no-one else. Personally I think it is Mike Leddy's fault, his win in Brandwood started off election fever and Gordo caught it.