Stupid Questions

Hello all

This is my 4th blog in 3 weeks! Don’t expect this level of service all the time!

Anyways, here is what I have been up to:

On Monday afternoon, myself and Cllr Cain had one of our regular catch up meetings to see where each of us is up to in dealing with different ward matters. We really do work very closely as a team in Bloomfield and these meetings are a chance to give input on various ward issues. This meeting included issues with alley gates on Palatine Road (now sorted hopefully) and development issues on Central Drive.

On Tuesday afternoon, I had my first meeting with the head teacher of Woodlands Primary School as I have very recently been appointed a governor there. In case you don’t know Woodlands school, it is a school for 2 – 19 year olds with severe learning disabilities (it is at the rear of the NHS Walk In Centre on Whitegate Drive). It really does seem to be a great school that is really striving to provide the best possible life chances for their children and I was struck by how committed the head was to the school and the kids. I am very much looking forward to being a part of the management and trying to get the best education possible for the children. See below for a very thorough website:

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On Wednesday night, we had full council. Amongst many other matters, the subject of begging and homelessness in town was brought up by the Tories – they seemed quite upset about numbers of people begging on the streets. However, they did not seem to take the point from Cllr’s Singleton and Blackburn that Tory austerity policies are driving people (often with mental health conditions) on to the streets and the possible Blackpool Tory scuppering of the Lancashire Combined Authority (that would have allowed the council to get rogue landlords even further under control by driving up the quality of the local housing stock) would have gone a long way to addressing this issue. Nevermind, they didn’t want to hear that. The video of the meeting can be found below – the begging issue gets raised at 51 mins and the rebuttal is at 1 hr 12 min. On a plus point it does mean that I can put the video for the rather splendid Stupid Questions by New Model Army at the top of this blog!

This brings me on to this evening. After work, I did a little door knocking around Nelson Road and Barton Avenue and spoke to several residents and hoteliers. This was a productive hour and I have taken enquiries away on issues including tipping, seagull proof bags and the poor condition of an old hotel. These are all logged and officers will deal with them shortly.

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A very damp councillor on Nelson Road this evening

In other news,  Cllr Cain, myself and several other councillors across the town have chipped in funds from our ward budgets to buy kits, high vis vests, a gazebo and pitch hire for Foxhall Under 7’s football team that play in the ward. I’m very happy about this – it’s little wins like this that make it all worth while.

And finally, stuck for something to do this weekend? There are not 1, but 2 new exhibitions opening at the Grundy Art Gallery in town this Saturday afternoon. If you have a couple of hours to kill, why not pop down?

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Well, that’s all for now folks, so have a good weekend and drop by soon.

Jim

I would walk a 1000 miles

Greeting folks

Here is what I have been doing over the last 4 days:

On Sunday, myself and Lisette attended a celebration of the Hindu Festival of Holi organised by the Fylde Coast Hindu Society. This is a festival of colour and you may have seen it on TV where celebrants throw bags of coloured powder all over each other.

Thankfully, there was no paint throwing at this event (Lisette was in her favorite top) but a very fine time was had by all – they really are a nice bunch of people in the society and as ever the entertainment and food were excellent. By coincidence there were a few medical professionals present that gave me a lot to think about in my role as Health Scrutiny chair especially regarding mental health assessments – I am aiming to look at this topic in the July committee meeting.

I also attended a Public Protection Sub-Committee meeting this week where we considered which charities would be given licenses to go street collecting this year. Everything was fine with the applications but it is worth noting that sometimes street collectors can be bogus. Click HERE for a story about a bogus collector from Blackpool that has been caught and jailed for fraud.

On Wednesday, myself and Cllr Cain had a meeting with officers to discuss some issues that include development on Central Drive. I know that I promised some action with regards to this back in the summer, but after a couple of false starts, hopefully we should be able to get things moving on this front in the near future – more details to follow when I have them.

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Also on Wednesday, I chaired the Health Scrutiny Committee for a special meeting looking at the young persons health issues (agenda, etc, below). I was delighted to see representatives present from organisations such as UR Potential, Headstart, Streetlife and others present at the meeting and quite a few young people. I was also very pleased that these additional attendees were able to contribute their views over the course of the meeting. Myself and the scrutiny officer have taken away a few ideas on how to better to engage with young people from the group and we hope to do even better at the next such youth orientated meeting. As a general point though that I have taken away from that meeting is that I want much better public engagement in health scrutiny going forward.

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An outcome of this meeting was that the committee have recommended that council public health officers consider a scheme running in schools throughout the UK called The Daily Mile. Blackpool children are amongst the most obese in the country so I will be very interested in what the officers have to say about the scheme (scheme info below):

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Yesterday, I did some door knocking along Park Road and Palatine. I really do enjoy these sessions and it’s always nice to meet the constituents and I think that they like to see their elected councillors on the streets too.

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Door knocking Park Road yesterday 

From this, I have taken away enquiries regarding littering on Park Road, abandoned cars, ASB/rogue landlord issues and parking – I have instructed officers to report back on all of these.

I also spoke to a constituent who lives near Central Drive a couple of days ago regarding a scam. Dodgy sales people are targeting old people trying to sell them “new” mattresses. However, these “new” mattresses are actually reclaimed from fly tips and re-covered! The lady in question lost several hundred pounds and the police are involved. So please folks, be very, very careful with doorstep sales people.

Right. that’s me done. I am having an afternoon off tomorrow to go a beer festival at the Winter Gardens – I am always pleased to talk to residents, but I should warn you that after about 3pm tomorrow, I may not be at my most eloquent self. Incidentally, I think that there may be some tickets still available – link below.

beer

Anyway, until next time, take care,

Jim

Eye Opener

Hello all

Here is what I have been up to of late:

Last week, I sat on a licensing panel to consider an alcohol licence at a town centre hotel. I can’t go into specifics but there had been some issues previously and we had to consider the new application. The application wasn’t clear cut so some debating was required before a decision could be made.

Myself and Cllr Cain held a surgery last week at Bloomfield East Residents Assn – we weren’t exactly rushed off our feet (nobody turned up!) but it was a chance to catch up with what we have been doing in the ward.

This week I attended a conference on Human Trafficing and Modern Day Slavery with some other Blackpool Labour Councillors at the De Vere Hotel in Blackpool.

This was fascinating – I never realised that this was such an issue. Some real areas of concern are Eastern European girls being trafficed into the UK for prostitution, Vietnamese people being trafficed in to be used as near slaves in cannabis farms and incidences of “slavery” in the criminal elements of the travelling community.

Some of the stories that we heard were honestly harrowing.There really were some hard hitting presentations and it really made me think how much of this sort of stuff is going on locally.

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Delegates at the Human Trafficing and Modern Day Slavery conference

On Tuesday evening, I went door knocking in the ward around Louise Street and Middle Street and had quite a few doorstep chats with the residents. If any of you read this, then it was a pleasure to meet you. I also took away a few problems/issues that I hope to get solved for you very shortly.

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Door knocking earlier this week

On Wednesday evening, it was my very great pleasure to be shown around St Anne’s Synagogue (with some people from work), by the very genial Rabbi Ephraim Guttentag. He gave us a very pleasant and often humerous tour of the building explaining how the synagogue operates. Did you know that it is the last Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Lancashire (after the one near Raikes Parade closed 5 years ago)?

Last night after work, I spent 3 hours pounding the streets doing some last minute canvassing in the Warbreck by election. We lost. I’m more than a bit sick about that as we really did have an excellent candidate in Ian Treasure. He would have worked his back side off for the residents. Anyway, I’ll leave it here with Charlie Brooker’s thoughts on the Tories (who won):

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This morning, I took some time off work to attend a meeting run by Social Enterprise Solutions. They are looking at doing some business development work around Lytham Road and Bolton Street. I’ll post some more on this when the details have been hammered out.

Over the last 2 weeks I have dealt with constituent enquiries regarding prostitution around Central Drive, abandoned cars, illegal parking, rubbish issues on Princess Court, fly tipping in the same area and some anti social behaviour issues on Rydal Ave.

And finally, have you heard about In The Know About Lancashire?

Stay In the Know sends you messages from your local officers about exactly what’s happening in your area plus valuable crime prevention advice and exclusive news on recruitment and events.

You can decide on the type of issues you want to hear about and even choose to receive information from our partners including Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service.   We do our best to make sure your alerts are about local issues and useful to you and you can rate messages to let us know how we are doing.

It only takes a few minutes to sign up and it is totally free!

Just use the button below and follow the registration steps:

inthe

Anyway, until next time folks, take care,

Jim

Whip it

Hello you lot

I’ve been a busy bee over the last few days, so here is what I have been up to:

Last week I attended a training session run by North West Labour for group whips. Whips are used in central and local government to keep politicians of the same party singing from the same hymn sheet and I perform this function for Blackpool Labour. It was a very interesting session lead by Cllr Alan Dean from Liverpool City Council and I have taken away some ideas that I hope to help implement here.

I also attended a special budget council meeting last week. I am sure that I speak for all the elected Labour members when I say that none of us wanted to vote for another 18 million pounds worth of council cuts, but the Tory government have literally left us no option. Labour politicians want to spend money on public services, not slash them. Did you know that since the Tories got in in 2010, Blackpool has cumulatively lost over 450 million pounds worth of spending from its public services? That’s a jaw dropping amount of money drained from the local economy, courtesy of Mr Cameron and Mrs May – cheers guys, you’re all heart.

Earlier this week, I had a  very worthwhile meeting with the head mistress at Blackpool Gateway Academy. It really is a smashing school and just walking around the place you get a real sense that the kids are really enjoying their schooling. So hats off to all the teaching staff there. It was very interesting to hear about some of the problems that the school is facing including the issues with language that are faced by children from many nationalities being taught there. Click below to visit their website:

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Blackpool Gateway Academy

In my role as chair of Blackpool’s Health Scrutiny Committee, I met with the head of Healthwatch Lancashire this week, who have recently taken over certain health monitoring functions from Healthwatch Blackpool. Healthwatch basically do consumer testing on health care providers, so they go out and audit their service. They perform a really useful role in health care in driving up quality of provision by producing reports and recommendations. I used a report from Healthwatch Blackpool extensively on a recent Health Scrutiny meeting looking at the Harbour Hospital in Marton. Anyway, it was nice to meet the new head and I look forward to working with her. Link below:

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Also last week I attended a further dementia training session. This is incredibly worthwhile training given the number of people who are forecast to suffer with some form of dementia. By 2025 the number of people suffering from dementia is expected to rise to over one million and by 2050 it is projected to exceed 2 million. That’s mind numbing numbers of sufferers – money needs to be spent on this NOW but you can all see what state the NHS and social care sector is in at the moment under the Tories. It really is a scary thought what provision will be in place for people suffering from this awful illness if we can’t get rid of a frankly uncaring Tory government.

On Wednesday, Cllr Cain and I turned up to St Peter’s Church for our monthly PACT meeting with the police and community. Unfortunately, nobody that actually had a key to the church turned up, so after standing outside for 20 mins, we had to abandon that meeting. Nevermind – we do have a surgery at East Bloomfield Residents Assn on Wednesday at 6pm if you needed to see us but couldn’t.

I then attended an Audit Committee on Thursday night. There’s not really much to say about this meeting unless you’re really interested in audit but please find a link to the agenda and minutes of the meeting below:

audit

Adrian Street bins: After a minor geological age, they’re installed! Thank heavens for that – I was nearly buying the constituent enquiry a birthday card. Anyway, fingers crossed that they should help with the problem of rubbish on this street.

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The long awaited bins on Adrian Street

And finally, this week I have dealt with constituent enquiries including a clean up of Henry Street, noise issues from a local pub and road sweeping around Lytham Road.

Right, that’s me done. Time for a glass of vino me thinks, so until next time, take care.

Jim

PS – if you’re looking for something a little different to do in town tomorrow night, then this will be good (they’re usually a REALLY good laugh – give it a try!):

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