Sunday, 30 September 2007
Always great to be back in Lancashire. The work for Tory conference starts tonight though - once I've taken my team to the Pleasure Beach, of course!
Saturday, 29 September 2007
I'd forgotten it was the draw for the next round of the Carling Cup today. I wouldn't have minded a big match or an interesting away trip - maybe Coventry, where I used to live, after they beat Man Utd in the last round. Or Luton, a ground I haven't been to yet.
Anyway, Alastair opened with: "Who are you going to support in the next round?". Because Spurs have drawn Blackpool.
The answer is easy - Spurs, of course. But it will be strange watching Blackpool and not supporting them. As I went to school there, I've been to watch them at Bloomfield Road a few times - as well as two play-off finals and an FA Cup tie at Charlton a few years back, which they really deserved to win.
So, it'll be odd to see our opponents in Blackpool's tangerine shirts. Hopefully it will be a good game.
Visiting my parents this evening, then on to the hotel in Blackpool tomorrow for the start of Conservative Party Conference. Will also take my team to the Pleasure Beach to go on the Big One, of course.
So, three more days of fringe meetings, dinners and receptions - then it's all over for another year. Well, workwise it is anyway, I will of course be going to Liverpool for Lib Dem Spring Conference in March.
It will be the first time I've been to a Tory conference and if Gordon does decide to call an election during the week then it could be pretty interesting.
Over four and a half hours just to get to Preston on the train today. Oh well, I've got plenty of work to be getting on with unfortunately.
Friday, 28 September 2007
Simon Key and Tim West are determined to bring a bookshop back to Wood Green. They have a blog, too, go visit it here.
I heard from them that it's National Children's Book Week next week and was asked to name my favourite children's book. That's easy, it's Where The Wild Things Are, probably the first book I remember being read to me and just brilliant. Have bought it for my nieces recently, and kept a copy for myself too.
Made me think, what are my favourite books? That's a tricky one. I don't get anywhere near as much time to read as I would like these days - and I have to admit I've been reading that Mao biography I've mentioned before for months now. I might give a bit of thought to my actual favourite books another time (don't get too excited), but there will definitely be some Steinbeck, a Jane Austen, probably a Haruki Murakami and certainly some Agatha Christie for old time's sake. I read all the Agatha Christie books when I was very little, when I should probably have been out playing football.
Anyway, if you live anywhere near Wood Green make sure you check out the bookshop blog and, most importantly, get ready for the opening. And if you don't live near Wood Green, go and have a look at the blog anyway, it's really interesting.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
There are four 'Local Authority' governors at Fortismere - the other one being me. We are appointed by our parties but required to act independently in the best interests of the school - not according to any party line. Certainly Lib Dem governors are never whipped or put under any pressure to vote or act in any particular way.
Haringey Labour have decided to effectively sack three hard working governors who have done a lot for the school over the years.
Why? Some sort of 'punishment'? Spite? To further prove their inability to work constructively with Fortismere? I guess you'll have to ask Labour.
These three governors have given a great deal to Fortismere and their contributions will be sorely missed. Haringey Labour should grow up and offer them reappointment immediately.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
It's my first trip to a non-Lib Dem conference and it's all gone well so far. Didn't go into the hall to listen to Gordon Brown's speech, as I was saving an area in the hotel bar for meetings later in the afternoon. That included stopping two former home secretaries from taking our chairs - one who was very charming (Charles Clarke) and one who certainly wasn't (John Reid).
Also had to get lunch in the conference hotel that day - two substandard supermarket sandwiches and two muffins, £15. How they do it at that price and still manage to make a profit is a mystery, that's for sure.
Got some very suspicious looks yesterday morning from some of my Labour colleagues, as they spotted me - I think they thought they'd been infiltrated. Have since spotted a couple, Emma Jones and Brian Haley, to have a quick chat with - but might catch up with some properly tonight, once all the work things are done.
Also just walked past Dennis Skinner in a corridor, singing a little tune to the people he was with. Nice voice.
Anyway, it's only my second time ever in Bournemouth and I really like the place. But, back in the office tomorrow then just next week's trip to Blackpool to go. After that the conference season will be over and life returns to normal...
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Lib Dem conference went really well all round - the work side went well for me and also managed to get some time to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, as usual. It was the first time I've been at Lib Dem conference for work rather than pleasure, so it was a bit odd - I only ended up getting into the hall once, and even that was work related, for Norman Lamb's speech.
Aside from drinking in the evenings, of course, the only two non-work things I really did were go to the London mayoral candidate hustings and last night's Haringey dinner.
I'll blog more about the mayoral selection sometime, but the three candidates all gave excellent speeches to a packed hall and I think everyone left feeling really positive about having any of them take on Ken next year.
The Haringey dinner was good too, despite being at Pizza Express - about 20 of us including Lynne, always good to get together at conference.
Right, nearly at White Hart Lane to see Spurs take on the mighty Anorthosis Famagusta...
Jose Mourinho has left Chelsea. I don't think anyone was expecting that.
The news story tries to make a thing of the low attendance at their last European game - but, to be fair, Chelsea attendances are never too exciting.
Mourinho leaving Chelsea is a massive event for English football though... where will he go next?
Monday, 17 September 2007
This is the first time I've been to Lib Dem conference in a work capacity, so it's all a little different and can't pick and choose what I do like normal.
Anyway, I didn't win the award - although I did get some sort of commendation. I need to find out now if I get cookies for that.
Results are here.
Friday, 14 September 2007
We all know plenty about Boris Johnson - too much, really - but I hadn't heard of her before so had a quick look at her website yesterday.
Basically, she seems to be somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun on the political spectrum. Her plans include a 'zero tolerance policy on even minor crime' and the installation of a 'top US police chief' here in London.
Victoria also shows her green credentials with a promise to scrap the congestion charge.
But the most laughable bit of her Daily Mail policies is the plan to remove the right to strike from tube drivers and other tube staff. She actually describes the tube as an 'essential public service'.
Now I'm not saying that tube strikes aren't annoying and I'm not saying anything about the merit of particular strikes. But hang on, an ESSENTIAL public service? What an incredibly stupid thing to say.
Doctors, nurses, firefighters, Victoria's zero tolerance police, I'm sure we can all think of some genuinely essential public services. The tube is a major part of Londoners' lives, but during a strike people get *inconvenienced* by it, not put in life threatening situations.
If people believe in removing the right to strike from everyone, that's one position you could take - and ensuring essential public services continue to run is obviously vital.
But to remove the right to strike from one group of people who might cause you to get a bus occasionally or get off your backside and walk somewhere, that's just obvious selfishness - although I'm sure she'll win a few votes with it.
Her website is:
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Found out today about two people with marathons coming up. So if any of you have any money to spare for two very good causes, then click below...
Jo Swinson, who used to be on the Lib Dem Youth & Student Exec with me quite a few years back and is now MP for East Dunbartonshire, is running the Loch Ness Marathon for the Anaphylaxis Campaign. You can sponsor her on this webpage.As for me, I have applied for next year's London marathon, will decide on which charity if I get a place - and if I do then I will be sure to let you all know how to sponsor me, repeatedly!
Matt Cooke, a Labour colleague on Haringey Council, is running the slightly further flung New York marathon, for the NSPCC (one of my former employers). You can sponsor him on this webpage.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
At last night's meeting there was a short discussion on the out-of-hours customer service provided by the Council, as a colleague questioned the Labour Cabinet Member for Community Involvement (and Deputy Leader of the Council) about it. She actually said "I don't think we are offering a good out-of-hours service" and I think it is an area that could do with some further scrutiny.
I would be interested to hear from residents of problems they have had in getting in touch with the Council after office hours - whether for noise nuisance, traffic issues, anything at all - so please drop me an email (address on left) or leave a comment. Similarly, if anyone reading has good experiences with other councils on this, please let me know.
My Lib Dem colleague David Winskill continues to hold the Council to account over the £15m overspend Labour managed to reach on the £10m IT 'Tech Refresh' project. Many of us have questioned the Council on this over the months, but David has definitely been the most persistent - if you do a news search on Lynne Featherstone's excellent website for 'Tech Refresh', you'll see just how much he has done on it.
He said last night that the Council have told him a post implementation review of the project would be pointless - because at the 'planning' stage they never detailed what this massive project was meant to provide to the Council so have no way of evaluating it now! Brilliant.
The target for Haringey's schools achieving Healthy School Status is 47 (out of 79 schools and Pupil Referral Units) by December. As the current tally is 21, I was concerned that it looked like we would miss that target. But I was given reassurances that they are on the way to 47 and expect to reach that on time - so I hope they do and will be keeping an eye on it.
As usual there were lots of things discussed and you can read all about it in the minutes or watch the webcast on the Council website, if you really suffer from insomnia and my blog is not quite enough.
Last year, for Local Democracy Week, I went to talk to the students at the Vale base at Northumberland Park School - which happens to be directly behind White Hart Lane. It's a special school and it was a great visit.
Well, Jermaine Jenas has been there too - I expect the students were marginally more excited by that. He was taking part in a session of boccia.... No, I hadn't heard of it either. But it's recognised at Paralympic-level and is apparently something like boules or pétanque - players have to get a ball nearest to a jack. The Spurs session seemed to go down well with the Vale students - you can get a better idea of how boccia works by looking at the photo of JJ having a go.
As I have blogged before, I went to the launch of some Noel Park teams into the Spurs supported football league a little while back. They have now got two teams from Bounds Green playing too - Lynne Featherstone was back for that launch as well. The league is supported by the Safer Neighbourhood teams, who are also pictured along with the two new team captains and the three Bounds Green councillors Matt Cooke, John Oakes and Ali Demirci - I'll leave you to work out who's who.
There are ten teams in the league now, who play a league and cup competition - and also an 'All Star' match against a police team. All a good opportunity to get some exercise, build up those teamwork skills and have a bit of fun too.
Back on the White Hart Lane pitch, hopefully there will be some good news to blog on Saturday after we play a certain other team, now based in North London too...
Monday, 10 September 2007
The other nominees in my category are a Welsh Assembly Member, two fellow councillors and Adrian Sanders MP. Coincidentally, following my weekend reunion and my last post, Adrian came up to speak to our Lib Dem group in Durham back in around 1998 - gave a great talk and helped get a few extra people out campaigning!
Anyway, the list of all nominees, in the unlikely event these sorts of things excite you, can be found here.
It seems that not all Haringey bloggers are pleased at my nomination though.
"Why, it's a perfect little city. If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful."
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
TfL do review bus routes regularly, but now is a good time for any local residents to feed in their views on frequency, bus stops, links to other bus routes, types of bus - any comments at all that you have about the buses you use (or reasons why you don't use them) would be useful.
The routes that they are looking at are the 232, 73, N73, 76, N76, 144, 221, 259, 279, N279, 476, W3, NW3, 134, N134, 234, 123 and 444.
My ward colleague Cllr Martin Newton is collating responses from residents and Lib Dem councillors - so if you have any comments or suggestions then please drop me an email (address on left) or post a comment by September 11th and I will feed them into our response.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
And I mean *plenty* of bars. It seemed that every other doorway (at least) was a little bar and, away from the more overcrowded tourist bits around Wenceslas Square/Charles Bridge especially, there were some great ones.
The photo is of what became our local - well, for four days. Really chilled out, great music playing and very comfy chairs. And at 25kr a pint (about 60p) it wasn't breaking the bank either. All very nice indeed.
It was a one minute walk from our hotel, the slightly naffly named Eurostars David. About 10 or 15 minutes walk from Wenceslas Square, so in a slightly quieter area but still very close to everything. Top quality hotel, excellent service and reasonably priced too. Sadly, the only English speaking TV channel was the excruciatingly dull CNBC Europe, but we weren't there to stay in the hotel room anyway - and when we did flick the telly on I had a chance to brush up on my German instead. Anyway, if you're going last minute like we did, then a good bargain deal at that hotel is the way to go.
We walked along just about every street in Prague while we there (only partly due to my lame sense of direction) and it is a beautiful city, with great parks and buildings as well as the bars. And I enjoyed the Czech dumplings with the meals... though it's probably a good thing healthwise that I don't eat them all year round.