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.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

What a week

It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics, how right he was.
It actually started on the previous Thursday. Keith was at a meeting of the Longbridge Consultative Group expecting to chair the meeting as Steve Bedser was on his way back from Brighton when he and Richard Burden MP came bouncing in like a couple of puppies. Steve was full of it, OK, I know, he usually is, he rushed up to Keith telling him that the Labour Party were going to smash us at the election, they were going to get rid of Cameron, turn our leadership into a revolving door and bring about the implosion of the Conservative Party. He hoped we had not booked a full week at Blackpool. We shall not be offering to clean the egg off his face, I'm sure he can cope with that himself.
We had a good run up to Blackpool. There were 8 of us altogether in a B&B we had used 2 years ago. Its very clean and cheap and serves a damn good breakfast. We all had travelcards provided by Blackpool Council and used them to travel by tram & bus. Very useful.
Blackpool itself is rather disappointing. It looks shabby and on Saturday night was full of stag & hen parties whose main aim seemed to be to see who could get the drunkest, quickest and deposit the greatest amount of vomit up the wall. I think the hens just about shaded it.
Sunday started very well with a great opener by William Haque, he set the tone and it got better & better.
The one exception was Micheal Heseltine with his enthusiasm for Elected Mayors. This just seems a way to give Labour a way back into some of our towns and cities where we are in control. If we have so many Councillors and control so many Councils why turn them into hostages to fortune? He is yesterday's man and should be sent off to Oxfordshire to enjoy his wealth and position.
We managed to get to loads of fringe meetings and gatecrashed a lot of ticket only events in search of food. It is a matter of principle that the only food you pay for is breakfast.
We also bumped into Peter Hitchens and had a conversation, His view is that both main parties are left liberal parties and he would like to see the end of the Conservatives and the emergence of a sort of super UKIP which would leave the EU and dismantle the welfare state. We think this would be more likely to lead to a one-party labour state but he puts his ideas across well and should not be dismissed.
The week got better with the tax-cut announcements from George Osborne and good speeches from David Davis, Liam Fox and especially Micheal Grove and Greg Shap.
The Cameron speech was fantastic. We don't care how long he is supposed to have rehearsed the speech, it was a triumph.
We had been telling everyone before the Conference that we had to stand firm behind David and he made us feel fully vindicated.
A good trip back to all the speculation about the election. Keith had a lecture from a senior Conservative Councillor on why Brown would call it and he disagreed and said he thought Brown would bottle out. Keith has expressed this opinion since the beginning of the furore and will take great pleasure in telling everyone "I told you so". 4 of the nicest words in the English language.
We are currently putting out a leaflet introducing our PPC and local election candidate. Not quite as urgent as it was a couple of days ago.
We took a few shots while we were at conference so we will put them up for you.
Back to normal next week. Council on Tuesday so we should have some fun.