Monday, 27 December 2010

A Better Northampton

I have a deep love of where I live and I do get frustrated when it's not all I want it to be. I'd like less closed down retail units in the town centre, I'd like more people to have work and have the economic power to figure out the changes they would like in their lives and how to get them, I'd also like an environment where there was more chance that my daughters can have relationships with other human beings without some thinking that because they are women that they are lesser human beings. I'd like to bringing my son up in an environment where he does not have to walk past a lap dancing club every time he goes to play warhammer at gamesworkshop, past unclad female images of bill board proportions. The outside of the venue itself is regularly strewn with litter and rotting food which in addition to the graphic marketing tools scream out that our town is not family friendly, and doesn't have a pride in the way in the place we live or the way people can expect to be treated as citizens. My town would be a better town without it. Join with me and others in objecting to its licence.

There is until 11th January 2011 to get objections in.

Objections can be sent by post to:

The Licensing Officer
Northampton Borough Council
Borough Solicitors Division
The Guildhall
St Giles Square

Or by email to

What's the difference or making a difference

With thoughts turning to the new year and resolutions, it's worth considering what a citizens manifesto for the May elections would look like.

One key concept that hasn't enjoyed much discussion is a Northampton Living wage. This would involve the Council committing to pay staff a living wage rather than minimum wage and also committing to only contract with companies and organisations that paid staff a living wage.

It was a key policy platform that all candidates for the London mayoral elections fought on, however in the face of austerity is it still an aspiration that is deliverable or even able to capture the imagination of the electorate. With so many going into 2011 with uncertainty about the future maybe all people want to hope for is security as opposed to hoping for something better.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Change - anyone else up for it?

With those great guys at 38 degrees fundraising for this and the CWU folk mobilising against the proposals for the post offices and the post, it seems to be activism all round. However the proof of the pudding is in the change it creates or doesn’t as the case maybe. With the key change point being next May, perhaps it’s time to think ambitious in the an alternative coalition ... a coalition for change. Post-Xmas and new year those into electoral politics will be winding up for the target of success at Borough and District Council elections. For those of us that have been here before, in the past it has meant that the better organisation (historically Northampton Town Football Club Supporters Trust), canvassed the opinion of all candidates on their views about the Sixfields stadium. A while back there was the semblance of a coalition for change with the debate in the Guildhall organised by Northampton town football club supporters and Market Traders. Unfortunately, the ruling Lib Dem group declined to have a formal presence with some individual Lib Dem Councillors skulking in the audience. Perhaps it’s time to renew that energy and as citizens make our own manifesto for the town and then ask those putting up for office what they will buy into. What’s certain is that it won’t happen on it’s own but with more than one local community group thinking of hosting a hustings, IMHO should be something that the party pundits should be thinking of their responses to.
Who knows it may even change the stability of the Westminster coalition?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

In the fast lane with a whole load of crashes around

I was presenting a statement signed by about a dozen Black and minority ethnic groups and 80 individuals at the Northampton Borough Council Overview and Scrutiny Panel tonight. The statement was developed by Voice 4 Change with input from NREC and Council for Ethnic Minorities. The first shocking thing about the experience was the paucity of Councillors in attendance. Although the weather was dire it was traversable and clearly myself and several other members of the public had made the trip out. Having elected Councillors the least that they can do it to actually turn up and represent you or in this case listen to you.
The statement was not news. It was basically the articulation of the frustration that many Black groups have had with not achieving any resource from Northampton Borough Council. The Council’s position is that the applications made by the Black and minority ethnic organisations were simply not robust enough to get through the scoring framework. One could argue a very similar argument used by 21 Oxbridge Colleges here.
The other big news is about the cuts released by the County Council so far but so far very little detail exists on what this means for specific communities. It’s all very well stating that bus route subsidies will have to be re-negotiated but to look at this effectively with an equalities eye, it is really important to identify which ones we are actually talking about and which communities that they actually serve. In the mean time things that were seen as important for vulnerable members of the community now seem to be put on hold