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.

crystal

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.

montrose

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.

traillogo4

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 ).

aud

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.

vl

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):

ur

pVPr8yIA

mlFNd8ok

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.

20170411_130506

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:

bev

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)).

Image5

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

stanley

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:

bpool insp

rethink

bpoolbooys

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.

spray3

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.

df

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

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:

wood

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.

me

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?

grundy

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.

cent

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.

ag

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):

daily

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.

!cid_88F38C07-448D-4304-8BE9-5F9F3ED79C1B

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