Monday, 30 March 2009

Regeneration in the recession

That time of year again. You know when the kids are all sick and suddenly Liberal Democrats re-discover the areas that the represent. So with a new focus out in Kings Heath (featuring three photos of Councillors in Spencer and focus on Dallington Park and Spencer Brook ... do they really know so little of what exists North of Mill Road) what's interesting is the news that isn't there. Over the last few weeks the talk from West Northants Development Corporation has been about demlotion of some of the housing on Kings Heath. It's fairly horrifying how blasé the discussion is on the destruction of people's homes. What's more horrifying is that the demolition being proposed is not for the worst housing on the estate. Given this fact, it just does make you question to motivation of actions like this.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Community Prosecutor

The real heroine of today for me was Grace Ononiwu of the Crown Prosecution Service (however she always is ... just love her smart dressed lady look ... just wish that I was able to pull it off). Having been invited to the Northamptonshire CPS staff development day, it was a real eye opener to see the drive to embrace the role of community prosecutor. Despite my dislike of much that has come out of Louise Casey, this is a real revolutionary step forward in transforming the organisation responsible for ensuring that justice is delivered for victims into something that is a public service in the real sense of the word (focussed on communities, delivering to communities and being held to account by communities).

Over the last few months there has been a growth in hate incidents without identified victims. These include aggressive racially and religiously motivated graffiti in public places. All the evidence shows that the increase in this kind of offence increases offences of violence against people and property in addition to having a significant impact on relationships within communities.

The concept of the community prosecutor, encourages the gathering of a different kind of evidence ... evidence that relates to impact on the community. To date impact evidence has generally focused on impact on individuals and sometimes even that is not consistently presented. The concept of the community prosecutor will also provide opportunities for other criminal justice agencies to raise their game by putting the focus on the community. Can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Kings Heath in the Springtime

In May 2005, the Silver Cornet was where we stopped to wind down at the end of a campaigning session. This is what it looks like today. I guess the derilict environment is slightly better than the wreck of the Morris Man on the other side of South Oval. Both sites have had planning permission to build housing for a good three years or more now. Doesn't stop the rumour mill of the potential of a mosque being built there. Local Lib Dems don't seem to care that the rumours exist or even that the sites remain eyesores for the local community. Clearly, with overwhelming control of the local Borough Council, they could do something about it if they really wanted to. Perhaps, the real priorities are shutting down services and axing neighbourhood wardens.

The merit of pounding the streets

It's been a tough week or so, emotionally with death issues around. One of my strategies about dealing was trying to stay focused on what's important and trying to stay busy. I've been doing a bit of delivery of late in Spencer, Dallington and King Heath. I was eased into it through a request from the Neighbourhood Manager to deliver the neighbourhood newsletter. Given the amount of casework I still get from that part of the town I thought it maybe was time to start acting like a councillor in the better sense of the word. I did get quite a bit of feel good walking around as people came up to chat about the forthcoming elections. Going to ponce a cup of tea after delivering is always a good idea. I dropped into a local residence in Kings Heath to be told that the Tories had been paying for their election leaflets to be delivered in St. James. The poor kid who had been saddled with the task has been telling folks the leaflet “Was just wrong!”. Having never read a political leaflet before, the beleaguered Tory leafleter commented that it just seemed wrong to scrap National Insurance so that the health care could be purchased privately. Who says young people don’t have the right political instincts!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Careful who's bandwagon you jump on

I have a lot of respect for Tim Hadland, having served as a borough councillor with him. I remember when he expressed his condolences at the death of my parents, he wasn't aware that they were Conservative voters. He said that they didn't seem to be on their voter identification list. I did let him know that I seemed to be on the Tory voter ID list given that I seemed to get all the promotional literature from them.

However the letter six of the letters page of the Chron today really does concern me.

With the local Northants Patriot website (local BNP website) hoping that muslims stay away from the march through the town this week, I believe it is a case of being careful what bandwagon that you are climbing on.

Talking to key Army recruitment personnel in the region they talk about the activities of the British army from this region returning from Afganistan. They talk in terms of those from the forces responsible in reconnecting electric and water supplies for the area that they were working in. The officer I spoke to, spoke in very emotive terms of the muslim officer killed alongside him when trying to undertake the task. Almost exclusively, the muslim community would accept the actions of this regiment as support for Afgani communities and would celebrate the courage and commitment to duty that these individuals have shown. No need to think the worst of people.

Friday, 6 March 2009

When can a whole be part

The part privatisation of Royal Mail simply makes no sense in the current climate. The spade work of getting us out of the recession must be done through greater investment in public services not by selling bits of it off. There has been a massive groundswell of support for this matter locally. Even the teenagers living in my house recognise that the postal service is something owned by them.

It's really positive that there has been so much support for the Early Day motion opposing the plans.

It's interesting that after all the bluster over the campaign to save post offices like the one on London Road in Delapre, the only way that this proposal will go through will be through Conservative support. Mores the pity, if the proposals go through it will represent a breach of a cornerstone manifesto commitment by the Labour Party.

Contrary to popular belief, Private Finance Initiatives approaches are not the only game in town and it's supporters in the Labour Party represent the part of the party who still think people are fooled by spin.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Council Tax - do people really matter?

What's clear is, people are willing to pay for better public services but if they think they're being palmed off with dross, as an electorate they'll reap their revenge.

In Northampton do people think their getting better public services for their council tax? ...after speaking to people today ... I think not.

Despite Lib Dem protestations that services have improved, the
people really just can't see it. One of the key issues is the scrapping of award winning public toilets. Many up and down the country see this as a key indicator of public pride and active citizenship.

I guess for me the key question is what town do we want to be and who in the town need to be supported as the recession bites?

With a Council tax increase higher than the national average increase, the question has to be asked "Are we doing our best to help the right people through the credit crunch".