Purdah She Wrote

Greetings all

I trust that you are all looking forward to the long weekend? I know that I am – Easter already seems a very long time ago.

Anyway, here is what I have been up to of late:

Early this week, myself and Cllr Cain had one of our catch up meetings. As you might image, campaigning in the Bloomfield Ward for the forthcoming general election was our main discussion point, but we also managed to cover some fly tipping issues and some ASB issues in the ward.

On Tuesday night, I attended a Public Protection Committee meeting. This is a sub-committee of the Licensing Committee and as the name implies, considers matters of public safety relating to licensing matters. Some of the matters discussed are of a confidential nature, but most of the subject matter of the meeting can be viewed by clicking the link below:

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Which brings me onto Wednesday night.

For any of you that haven’t heard of purdah, this is a convention whereby government (local and national) do not deal with any matters that could be considered political during the period before elections (you may have seen the government trying to stop the publishing of a report on air pollution citing purdah – they failed!) . As such, both local and central government departments are now in the purdah period.

Why am I explaining this? Well, on Wednesday night I chaired the Health Scrutiny Committee – the three juicy items – young persons mental health, a progress report on the Harbour mental health facility and a finances report from the Blackpool Vic – were all pulled from the agenda due to purdah. D’oh! The meeting took 17 minutes.

This was especially annoying as I had met with a group of young people a few weeks ago to take away their personal stories of mental health provision in the town – it was something that I was really looking forward for the committee to get it’s teeth into as it is a massive issue. Many of the young people were also planning to attend the meeting until the agenda item got pulled – so apologies to them.

However, as soon as the general election, I will get this item back onto the agenda for a forthcoming meeting. It will be scrutinised soon, worry not.

Yesterday afternoon, myself and several other local Labour activists did a bit of door knocking for the election in Bloomfield Ward.

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“On the knock” in Bloomfield Ward yesterday

Gordon Marsden has been working hard for you for the last 20 years and it is SO important to get him re-elected this time – it could be a close fight in Blackpool South and every one of your votes matter. I can’t understate how important it is that you get out there on June 8th and get Gordon back in. And tell all your friends and family to as well (unless you fancy a Tory MP).

Can any of you help out? You don’t need to be a member of the Labour Party to do so. If any of you can take posters or garden stakes (the ones that look like estate agents boards), then give me a shout using the comment button above.

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My house!

Anyway, that’s me for now. I’m off to see the band Future Islands in Liverpool tomorrow – hence the above video. The lead singer looks and dances like a drunk uncle at a wedding, but I really like them.

Until next time, Jim.

My evenings have suddenly got a lot busier for the next 7 weeks

Hello again one and all

The horrible, right wing and downright unpleasant dross already being peddled on the front pages of our newspapers in support of Theresa May is the inspiration for the above track by Billy Bragg. He absolutely nails it.

As per my last blog, I’ve had a few days off over Easter, but here is what I have been up to over the last couple of days:

On Wednesday morning, I met with Cllr Cain and some officers to rubber stamp some mini parking schemes in the Lytham Road area. I have been blogging about this for over a year now and the original proposed scheme pre-dates me by couple of years, so I am delighted to say that it looks as though we can get moving on this in the near future.

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Works will start to drop kerbs on roads like this to increase parking capacity later in the year

We have to go out on a final statutory consultation with residents but I am sure that this will not be a problem – the overwhelming response to the last survey was massively in favour of the parking schemes, So, keeping fingers, toes, legs, etc, crossed, your parking woes should be coming to an end soon!

On Wednesday evening, I did a little door knocking on Rydal Avenue and Montrose Avenue. As a councillor, you really can get asked some tough questions on the doorstep from constituents, but it does allow you to really get to learn about peoples issues in the ward. Tonight I took away enquiries on street cleansing, “inconsiderate” parking and visitor parking passes.

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Door knocking on Montrose Ave

Today, it was again my pleasure to visit Woodlands School where I am a governor. I was able to have a look around the school today whilst the children were there and I must say, I really do think that the staff there are doing an amazing job. The kids really seemed happy and engaged and I was made to feel very welcome by all.

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Then this evening, I was back to the town hall to sit on the Audit Committee. If you are that way inclined and you love all things audit (there must be 1 or 2 of you ;p ), please find the agenda attached below.

There was a interesting item on the agenda regarding change management – I asked if the council had a change management framework and if so, how is change integrated in to the council plan 2015-2020 (incidentally, the answer was “kinda” and I know – I need to get out more ).

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And finally, the general election…

Are you sick of seeing the NHS being destroyed by underfunding – where people are stuck on trollies in the hallways for hours at the Vic A&E because the hospital is under resourced?

Are you sick of reading about the crisis in social care for the elderly where pensioners are trapped in hospital beds for weeks when they should be in care homes?

Are you sick of seeing schools struggling to cope with financial pressures and the re-introduction of grammar schools that will create a 2 tier education system where poor kids will be left behind?

Are you sick of seeing your council having to cut public services (such as free green bin collections) due to central government cuts but having to take the blame for them?

Are you sick of permanent austerity where the money in our pockets hasn’t kept up with the cost of living for years?

Are you sick of a government making a complete and utter hash of Brexit?

Well, you’ve got a chance to do something about it on 8 June – Get Up, Stand Up.

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That’s all for now folks, drop by again soon,

Jim

Listening to young people

Tenuous Easter music sorry! Great tune though (although I saw them in the Lancaster Sugarhouse in 1989 – he couldn’t sing for toffee. Anyway…)

Hello – this is just a really, really short update this week as I am off for a few days from tomorrow.

Anyhoo, Monday – I had a very productive and informative meeting at the offices of UR Potential on Central Drive to meet with some of the young people who use their services as well as staff and service users from Blackpool Carer’s and Headstart Blackpool – all groups dealing with mental health issues of young people in the town.

I attended the meeting as there is an item on young peoples mental health on the agenda of the Health Scrutiny Committee that I will be chairing later this month (26 April 6pm Blackpool Carers Centre, 147 Newton Drive – ALL welcome). It was incredibly useful to hear the first hand experiences of mental health referrals and treatment directly from young users of services – I will be using this feedback to ask questions of providers at the meeting.

If you are interested in seeing what services the above mentioned organisations provide, then click the links below (all well worth a look):

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Yesterday, Myself and Cllr Cain attended the Memory Lane Easter event run by New Revoe Residents Association – it was nice to see all the good folks down there as ever. I ended up judging the Easter Bonnet parade – I’m not sure that I am suitably qualified for this job but I gave it my best shot. Congrats to all who entered – there were some very clever designs.

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The incredible bonnets on display 

This brings me onto this evening. Myself and Cllr Cain held one of our surgeries at Bloomfield East Residents Association. It was another quiet one tonight but as ever, these surgeries allow us to touch base and see what each other is up to.

This week I have also been dealt with constituent enquiries on public housing and tipping and I have started to make plans for Blackpool Labour @ Blackpool Pride.

I don’t usually re-post memes, especially political memes, but I saw this earlier and I think that it’s worth a look:

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Spot on. I grew up on a Liverpool council estate in the 1970’s and 80’s. My father was disabled as he had been a bricklayer and he had fallen off a roof and my mum worked a few hours a week as a cleaner in a social club, so we were heavily reliant on benefits. We were skint. And I mean really, really skint – we would definitely have been classed as living in poverty. Thatchers government pulverized the working class with an iron fist – I remember the slum housing (the pic below is a real pic of the estate that I grew up on – I remember that burnt out van!), woeful, woeful healthcare and dreadful education aspirations at working class comprehensives (I was only 1 of 4 boys in a year group of around 200 to go to university (the first in my family)).

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The estate where I grew up – lovely wasn’t it?

And then in 1997, after many years of Tory not giving a flying **** about the poor of this country, things changed at last – Labour got into government.

Billions in extra funds were spent on education (with thousands more working class kids going to university), the health service, other public services and paraphrasing the line in the song, things really did get better. Hospital waiting lists went down, millions of children were taken out of poverty and the economy was booming. That slum above was bulldozed and decent housing was built instead. That’s what Labour does – it looks after everybody – the poor as well as the rich. People felt better off, better looked after and just downright happier.

But jump forward to the present day – we’ve had 6 solid years of Tory imposed perma-austerity with no end to it in sight that hits the poorest the hardest. 6 years of feeling steadily poorer and poorer. The health system is massively underfunded and literally struggling to cope, social care for the elderly is near collapse (just don’t get old at the moment folks, no, really don’t) and most people are feeling skint and under the kosh. Let’s not forget what an under funded healthcare and social care system means to people – actual pain and suffering, although for the rich with their private health care packages, that isn’t an issue.

Local councils are having to slash front line services to stay afloat and not to go bankrupt. Labour councils like Blackpool want to spend more on public services but our hands are tied by the cruel cuts imposed on us by the Tories – ironically, we then get the blame for the cuts in comments sections in the local press.

The country feels the same as when I was a kid and that’s a bloody shame – the Tories are simply not bothered about the lives of those struggling to keep afloat – if they were bothered then they would do something about it.

So well said, Nye.

Finally, and changing the subject ever so slightly, looking for something to do this Easter weekend? Well, please see below for info on what is going in in Stanley Park.

Until next time folks, take care and have a great Easter,

Jim

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A varied week in Bloomfield…as ever!

Hello all

I was chuffed to bits earlier this week to get tickets to see these old electro old timers in September, hence the video above to accompany my blog!

Anyways, here is what I have been up to over the last few days:

On Monday, myself and Cllr Cain attended our regular PACT meeting at Ibbison Court. As well as the usual on going issues such as low level ASB, I was very concerned to hear of another old person in the ward being stung by the mattress sales scam that I mentioned in a blog post recently. PLEASE DO NOT BUY FROM DOOR STEP COLD CALLERS – I cannot overstate this enough.

On Wednesday, I met with representatives from various mental health support groups and charities including Re-Think, Blackpool Inspirations and Blackpool Boys and Girls Club – links below. We will be looking at mental health as an item at a Health Scrutiny Committee meeting on 5 July (6pm Town Hall – all welcome to attend). This was a very useful fact finding meeting to get direct information from people dealing with the mental health issues of sufferers in the town and it will really help the committee to ask patient centric questions at the meeting. If you know somebody that is currently suffering from mental health issues, you may find the links below very useful:

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On Thursday, myself and Cllr Cain took to the streets of the ward to engage in the ever so glamorous job of spraying dog fouling warnings on the pavements. This week we did our portion of Park Road, Kent Road and Princess Court (the issue on Princess Court has been raised at the PACT meeting on Monday). If you would like your street done then drop me a line – I will add it to the list.

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Myself and Cllr Cain on Thursday

On Saturday morning, we attended the Revoelution annual general meeting at Revoe Learning Academy. This was really well attended (a huge increase from last year) and it was good to see new faces volunteering for positions in the committees. It was also a good opportunity to have a look at the different work streams that the group have on the go at the moment.

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The Revoelution AGM on Saturday

That’s me just about done other than to say that myself and Cllr Cain will be holding a surgery this Wednesday 12 April 6pm at Bloomfield East Residents Association on St Heliers Road – if you would like to speak to us about something, then please do drop in.

Anyway, until next time, take care,

Jim