Monday, 27 October 2008

Northampton Borough Council Meeting

Quite a while since I've been to one of these.
I believe that this was the first meeting that members of the public had submitted questions during the "questions" item on the agenda.
It was quite a surprise to see the shambles that a Council meeting could descend into. Members of the public had not been given answers by portfolio holders despite protestations to the contrary and the Council had to allow time during the meeting for members of the public to read through answers (some of these stretched to over a page), all utilising precious minutes of the half hour allotted to this agenda item.
It also seemed that as a lowly member of the general public, I had been cast in the role of "el diablo" in not only questions that I submitted but also questions that other members of the public had submitted.
In one question about support for people with disabilities in their own homes, despite a member of the general public requesting me to raise this issue in Council, I was accused of trying to make political capital on the situation. Of course it would have nothing to do with the inactivity of the existing Borough Councillors for the area. The Borough Council portfolio holder sees the real problems as caused by previous administrations. Nearly, eighteen months following the current adminstration coming to power that excuse doesn't quite wash.
I raised a question about equality impact assessments by the Borough Council with the case law emerging from the High Court from Lord Justice Moses over the summer. Despite the admission that equality impact assessments in grant aid decisions were not taken before the decisions had been made (and thus decisions being made outside of the law) the administration did not seem to want to champion the cause of justice or even the legal way of doing business.
In the question by Kathy Smith about the rent charges to the Thorplands Brook Community Co-op and the Kings Heath Need"Know shop, despite proclaiming this as a Lib Dem victory in a "Focus" before the 2007 Borough elections, the Borough administration have painted this as a rash and potentially destabilishing attempt by little old me (presumably me and me alone - no mention of the other councillors who voted in favour of it) to throw the Borough budget off course. It seems that the Lib Dems are quite ashamed of their part in the two community spaces getting 2007/8 as rent free. They still don't seem to answer the question as to why in 2008/9 the two community spaces received information in August of this year that they would be expected to pay £15,000 rent for the spaces. Must be neighbourhood renewal the Lib Dem way.
Quite intrigingly, at various points in the meeting I was referred to as Councillor Roy. I did ask for the allowance but perhaps with the debate on the increase in allowances later on in the meeting, they might have decided that it was a bridge too far given the £7.2 deficit.
Lib Dem Portfolio holder, Sally Beardsworth suggested that I might be PPC (I'm going to really glad when we can actually tell people who gets that badge of honour) before being corrected.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The campaign continues - 11 days to go

Still campaigning for the Northampton South selection for Propective Parliamentary Candidate, I've been knocking on the doors of a fair few members. Given the recent announcements about deficits in both the Borough and the County Council, a lot of people are quite anxious about what the future holds. There does seem to be a lot of concern about how the Councils are going to get out of the mess that they are in. There's also a lot of concern about the provision of basic Council services.

With both the Borough and the County suffering the same affliction of an over dependence on very expensive interim managers and consultants there is limited direction for the development of Council services as decision after decision is postponed. With elections coming upon us at a rate of knots it's hard to know what the outcomes for hard working families will be. Time to remember election promises of better run Councils for the conservatives, and Town centre Car parking charge cuts from the Liberal Democrats.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Why things don't work out

Door knocking in Spencer again yesterday, it was good to see the amount of support we actually had. The turnout of activists was quite a bit more than I expected and so managed to crack through quite a bit of the area. Helal Uddin from Tower Hamlets joined us as an aspirant candidate for the parliamentary selection. With the sun shining it was an exceptionally pleasant afternoon. As an area of town that has recently lost CCTV coverage (previously donated by a private sector source) there still seems to be confusion as to why Council’s still do things badly when there are opportunities to do well. On resident told me, “it’s because it’s a hung council so they can’t make decisions”. I did tell him that in fact the Council stopped being a hung Council over a year ago and actually decisions to implement the CCTV in the first place had been achieved by Labour councillors at the time within the hung Council. The Lib Dem Councillors who controlled the administration had allowed the CCTV to be withdrawn all by themselves.

Frank Lilley comes out supporting the campaign

Frank Lilley, former Duston Parish Councillor dropped me a line the other day. He offered me a rather the lengthy endorsement. I’ve sent out an abridged version to members. Frank is the epitome of the “good Labour man” in Northampton. A union man, Frank is active in his local community and is Chair of Governors at St. James Primary. He’s also active in his local Anglican ministry in Duston. It’s really great to get Frank’s support particularly when he’s so connected to his local community.

He’s said,
“As a Bakers and Food Allied Workers Union branch secretary and Pastoral Assistant to Duston Anglican Team Ministry, I offer my unreserved endorsement to Anjona Roy in this campaign. As a churchman, socialist and family man, I know Anjona will be the best representative to really deliver for Northampton South. Anjona has that natural empathy with people. Something that is really important in serving those living in Northampton South”.

Thanks Frank. With people like you supporting my campaign, I know we’re fighting on the side of the angels.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nominations Weekend

This weekend Labour Party branches in the Northampton South constituency will be meeting to decide who to nominate from the twelve candidates who have put themselves forward for selection. There's been a fair bit of paper landing on people's doormats over the last couple of weeks from some of the candidates (including me). I've been hand delivering most of my literature to try and get to speak to as many members as possible.

I was talking to Jona Kotnis from BBC Radio Northampton about the selection who reacted with quite a bit of surprise that half the people putting themselves forward were from Black and minority ethnic communities and that I wasn't the only Black and minority ethnic woman putting myself forward.

Of course it's all about getting the "right" person for Northampton South, but with a wide selection to choose from, with candidates having a wide variety of professional backgrounds, skills and experience, it's more likely that the local Labour Party membership will get a candidate that genuinely can deliver for the Labour Party and for Northampton South.

I'll post the scores on the doors later on in the weekend when I know.