Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Family at Christmas

It's just that phase when it's getting all too much. Too many of MY chocolates being eaten by children and their entourage. Too many presents still strewn over the floor with no apparent home. Too many of those really horrid sour sweets (the ones that are covered in sugar) ground into the carpet, and to cap it all I've just spilt the alien (and associated alien fluid) in the kitchen. I've yet to tell my son about it but I'm sure he'll be understanding. The last few hours he's been playing happily on the X-box with his sister having said he was doing "family bondage".

However, still on a high with by election fun. Apparently, the really important people who are hanging on to my every word about the campaign are incommunicado. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Being agent again - part 2

This is sooooo goood!

Having an active ward membership that delivers stuff even when I don't expect them to! Sooooo goood!

This is the easiest gig I've had in the Labour Party!! Might even convince me to stand seriously for council again.

Had a local member today in stitches about how the Lib Dem leaflet says that they'll report a local issue to the Council. Maybe report it to their alternative schizophrenic identity.

The e-culture in elections also makes a real difference. No more sitting outside the ERO's office waiting for them to open up. Joy ... Bliss ... or maybe I'm just a by election junkie.

Saturday, 27 December 2008


Last week, the Chron's Aufona awarded me with Blogger of the year. Unfortunately, they seem to be under the impression that posting has stopped (obviously a short term memory loss thing - we of course have to make reasonable adjustments).

Just to say that I am appreciative of the award and will treat it as encouragement. It's hard to come down from the heady heights of being Aufona's darling but I suppose Blogger of the year is the next best thing.

Mervyn Felix - Not Forgotten part 3

So Mervyn's funeral came and went. In true tradition of direct action, the trinity of the Council, the undertakers and the appointed vicar did not succeed in ensuring that there was no embelishment to the funeral. Julia Bush was allowed to pay tribute to his life in her synopsis of the interview that she undertook about his life. I was not prevented from handing out an order of service sheet and the local conservatives (bless 'em) did put on his wake.

Those who attended included those from the NREC Board, contacts and associates from the local Black community, the Conservative association the Labour party and at least one of his neighbours.

I was anxious about it all partly due the that last minuteness of the preparation and the need to muscle in the things that Mervyn would have wanted. Also, this was the first funeral I had been involved in planning since my parents. The only downside really was the multiple occasions before and after the event that the right hon member for Northampton South chose to indulge in lip action about my person. Well - maybe Mervyn was worth it.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Being Agent

So once again I am in the role of agent. My candidate is Geoff Howes. Geoff asked me to take on the position of agent and I gladly agreed. Geoff is a candidate that was principled and trustworthy – a golden combination. Since my late teens, being agent is what I wanted to do - paid or unpaid. The worst experience of this has to be May 2007 and the fall out beyond. However, this time it's going to be different. The advantage is that Geoff, being an old school politician knows the personal responsibilities that agents take on.
Geoff and I have talked about the regrets we have about the circumstances of the by election. Geoff has known Rick Taverner since childhood. Attending Liz's funeral a couple of weeks back Rick, his daughter and the rest of the family were clearly devastated by her passing away.

Mervyn Felix - Not Forgotten part 2

It does seem that there there isn't any family for Mervyn to be there or make the arrangements for his funeral. So being consigned to a local authority funeral, people who were closer to him are finding it hard to make the funeral something that he would have wanted. The relationships between local council, funeral director and appointed vicar seem inpenetrable.

In some ways Mervyn was indicative of political circles in Northampton - drifting from Party to party as first he displayed passion for his cause and then disillusionment when political breakthroughs seemed unattainable. The only consistency was his committment to anti-racist activity. In some ways, it's a reflection on the kind of animal that local politics attracts. In some ways its a reflection on how hard it is for people who are not really part of the popular crowd.

The funeral is at 11am on Christmas Eve at the Counties Crematorium.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Behaving badly

All political parties have people who behave badly in them. However the Liberal democrats in Northampton seem to have a little spate of them at the moment. The leader has had to deal with this

Strictly speaking that car park although used by Councillors for evening meetings in the past was more a resource for the Council to run it's day to day affairs .. the management of the huge Guildhall building ... ensuring that there is good communication across an organisation that is based across a number of sites. In my opinion, quite definately a misuse of Councillor privelidge to leave the car there for months.

Now hot on the heels is an allegation that a Spencer ward Lib Dem Councillor has gained another council house by presenting as homeless. The Councillor in question had previously had a two bed roomed Council House in St. Davids which they had sublet, whilst they lived in their partners Council House. I am advised that the two bed council house offer came within 8 weeks in the precise area of her choosing. Whilst I was a Councillor most of the casework was housing related. It's interesting that this Councillor managed to figure out the system for herself as when she needed ground floor housing for her partners mother who had failing health it was me who had to organise it.

All of this behaviour gives all politicians a bad name and taints those of us that are genuinely in it to get a better Northampton.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

neigbourhoods and renewal - Council priorities or not?

With the continual revolution both in the County Council and the Borough Council, the new dynamic seems to be the unilateral decision by the County Council to at short notice ditch multi-agency neighbourhood renewal arrangements. With the County taking that stance with the alleged deletion of all the neighbourhood manager posts in the County. Again allegedly, the Police (in the middle of their own negotiations on their own re-structure) have stated that if the County don't want to play ball then neither will they. For voluntary sector agencies there are concerns as to what will happen to infrastucture (support) organisations. A County Council cabinet report suggests that there is an expectation that local District and Borough Councils will pick up the resourcing of support organisations.

So when car crashes like this take place one has to ask, "where's the learning in this". The learning is things don't change if statutory agencies can really improve their image by appearing to care about the County's most disadvantaged communities and then feel that it's totally acceptable to leave the most vulnerable communities in our County in the lurch because they want to take quick (presumably budget saving) decisions. There really isn't any point in being two-faced with the communities that need the most help.

The other surprising thing is the inability or lack of concern of the Borough to prevent this hiding to nothing. Honestly, I really don't know which it is ... but if things could be changed ... I think that can be changed. You just have to want it.