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.