Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Community Centre AGM

So we reach the end of the May and what has been for me an extremely hectic month. Tonight was no different, first up was a community safety meeting followed by the AGM of the Community Centre. Before the Community Centre meeting, Andy the manager of the centre was taken ill and we had to call an ambulance, hopefully he will be ok but it held the meeting up for 1/2 hour and was very worrying to all, get well soon Andy and take it easy.

At the AGM we gave the go ahead for Pollards Hill Community centre to merge with the Commonside Development Trust. I regard this as a great success as it is something I have been trying to achieve in four years as a councillor and it finally looks like happening subject to the executive committee agreeing. In term of community services it will also allow greater co-ordination and innovation along with us allowing us to develop and move forward.

At the end of the AGM, I stood down as Chair of the Community Centre. I have enjoyed my year as Chair but with other commitments I believed it was best to move aside and let someone take over who can give the centre that time commitment that is needed. One thing I have learnt in the last four years as a councillor is about managing commitments and prioritising, in this case I believe I have made the right choice and will allow me to do other things in Pollards Hill over the next year.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back from Blackpool & Da Vinci Code

After a long weekend in Blackpool, I got back yesterday exhausted and very tired. Drive down was pretty good and managed to do it in 41/2 hours, which was pretty good going.

Today was a day off work (and I needed it!) and after having a long lye in got round to doing some Council stuff and meeting with Director of Corporate Services about my new role as Chair of Way we Work Panel.

Late afternoon I went to the cinema and watched the Da Vinci Code. I managed to get in just before the film started and thankfully managed to miss the trailers, which always go on for ages. Not a bad movie but not the best I have ever seen, the ending did drag on a bit as well and as for the plot even by film standards it was a bit far fetched (especially the Holy grail and the Mary Magdalene part). Having read the book I pretty much knew how it would progress though it did jog my memory in parts, as it is nearly a year since I read the book.

This evening I did some shopping and watched the England match, a pretty good performance lets hope they do as well when the play in the World Cup. Congratulations on Theo Walcott on his full England debut and becoming the youngest ever player to debut, I am sure it will be the first of many caps.
Back to work in the morning for the last ever day of NATFHE before we amalgamate with the AUT to form UCU on Thursday.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Annual Council meeting

The Annual Council Meeting in Merton was tonight a very lively meeting. Labour member Geraldine Stanford was elected as the Mayor of the London Borough of Merton, which means that the Conservatives do not have the casting vote on the council. Every member of the Council turned up (sixty in total) and we had four votes of 30 all(with the mayor using the casting vote in our favour each time), we were successful in making various amendments to the minority conservative administration proposals. The Labour group on Merton are not pushovers and we will fight for what we believe is right, if the tories think they can do what they like in Merton then they should think again, Council will be a check and balance on their power. Among the issues we were successful on was ensuring the Conservatives only had half the members on Licensing Committee, voting to keep the education forum along with the environment and safety fourm(obviously not tory priorities despite what they may say) and ensuring respresentation on Wimbledon bodies I was also confirmed as the The Way we Work Panel Chair at the Annual Council meeting.

My former Pollards Hill coleague John Cole was also made an Honourey Alderman of the London Borough of Merton along with Joe Abrams and Danny Connellan (who both recently received made Honourey Freeman of the Borough in March). I also gave a tribute to my former colleaguebJohn Cole for the work he had done in the area as a Pollards Hill councillor and his achievements are considerable. This includes getting the youth centre re-built, the community centre extension and being involved in the stock transfer of housing which has resulted in huge improvements to the social housing in Pollards Hill. Locally, he also served for many years as Chair of Governors at Sherwood School and was treasurer of the Community Centre. John has been a dedicated and hard working councillor with sixteen years service in total for Pollards Hill. In recent months he has suffered from ill health following an illness picked up abroad but now seems to be on the road to recovery and has considerably improved. I would like to thank John for his service and wish him well for the future.

Off to Blackpool in the morning for NATFHE Conference and up there till Monday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Labour group and Council AGM

I spent last night Chairing a Labour group meeting(the chair was absent) that went on for 2 1/2 hours, with the Council agm on Wendesday, I can tell you it was an exhausting experience. On Wednesday it is likely to be even more so as we have to elect a new Mayor, the Labour group nomination is Geraldine Stanford who has been a Labour councillor for sixteen years for Figges Marsh and been cabinet member for finance and then education, she has also been Labour group secretary for many years and does a a very good job in what is a difficult role.

The Merton Park residents who hold the balance of power are supporting Geraldine's nomination which leaves the Council at 30-30, with the existing mayor Judy Saunders having the casting vote, ie a second vote if is tied which is the likely outcome. If everyone turns up and votes for Geraldine, the Tories will not have the casting vote on the Council(de facto control), should be a very entertaining night and fingers cross that we win. We should win but it will be very nerve wracking night.

I also found out that I will be Chairing the Way We Work Panel for the next year, the panel covers Merton Council finances and corporate services. This will be a challenge, but it will no doubt provide many opportunities to exaimine what the new Conservative minority administration are up to and the scruitny aspect of the Council is extremely important in the decesion making process.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sandi- I wish I was a punk rocker

Good luck to Sandi who releases her debut single I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair). Think the track is brilliant especially the way it looks back on life in the seventies. On downloads alone it entered at no 15 before release. This singer should go a long way and I would not mind placing a few quid on her being best newcomer at the Brits next year, she is a real talent!

Hopefully it will reach no 1 as the current single Crazy by Gnarles Barkley has been at the top now for eight weeks, the longest run of the 21st century and the longest since Wet, Wet, Wet Love is all around in 94, in case you are wondering I read that on the BBC website tonight though it has a long way to beat Bryan Adams record of 16 weeks at the top in 1991. The single is getting a bit boring.

Hopefully enough people will follow advice and buy or download the single, Sandi debut album is out on 5th June.

Film Reviews/Da Vinci Code

Tonight I watched the film Domino starring Kiera Knightley and Mickey Rooney. Apart from the ending at Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas and the shoot out, the rest of the film was tedious to say the least and I can see now why it was panned and flopped when it was out at the cinema. Kiera Knightly is a great actress but this film was a complete turkey and is one that she will not be remembered for.

I also watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2 this morning (my way of chilling out on a Sunday morning), I have to say I found it great entertainment and Steve Martin and Eugene Levy who play their parts of Tom Baker and Jimmy Murtagh brilliantly, likewise Bonnie Hunt who plays the part of Kate Baker. With so many kids involved(the Bakers have 12 and the Murtaghs 8) and with them up to all kinds of pranks and stunts it provides so brilliant moments especially the part when the Baker’s have dinner at the Murtuagh's (the new rich family with a big country house with all mod cons) and the dog run amok and ruins the dinner. Likewise the scene at the country club which Johnny Murtagh owns, when the two Baker twins fireworks go off and end up blowing up the Murtagh’s boat causing scenes of mayhem. While it will not win Oscars it made me laugh. The film also shows the importance of family and like in the first one it shows our the Bakers and their 12 kids bond as a unit and are there for each other, it is poignant at the end when the daughter Nora gives birth and they are all around.

I also hope to watch the Da Vinci Code sometime this week, having read the book I have to see the film even though I know it has been panned by the critics, hopefully it will prove better then the reviews as I have been waiting months for it to come out. Not the Vatican's favourite film!

Watford get promoted/Weather

Watford get promoted in the playoffs, good bet to go straight back down next year.

What a damp miserable day it is today, in fact most of the weekend it has been raining.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Big Brother Seven

Hard to believe we are now onto no 7, having watched the first few I have got pretty bored of them (did enjoy originally especially the first), it is not the enlightening TV it was a few years and the format is always being changed. Indeed they have decided to allow some contestants to escape eviction the whole series. No idea who will win the series but I doubt I will be seeing too much of it over the next few weeks.

The show obviously still makes money for Channel 4 and keeps Davina Mc Call in gainful employment(well the Beeb chopped her chat show after one series due to poor ratings), though the whole thing is going a bit stale. One thing for sure is that I have no intention of ever being in Big Brother.

Finland won Eurovision

Goes to prove how rubbish the whole Eurovision contest is, the tastes of Europe beggers belief. UK still came near the bottom of the pile, still at least France did worse and poor old Malta scored nul points


Eurovision is on TV tonight, despite saying I will not watch it, I always seem to switch on and see if it can be any worse then last year. The fun part of the night is always the voting and the politics that come to the fore, i.e. Greece giving 12 points to Cyprus and vice versa.

Some of the countries entries are so diabolical, the Lithunia one was 'We are the Eurovision winner' and as for the Finnish entry frankly shows Eurovision at it's worst, they obviously were taking the extreme p*** when they put this up and their attempt at heavy metal mainly consists of screaming loudly. The only entry that was half reasonable was Ireland. The vast majority of the entries are as usual complete dross. I find it hard to believe that any country can take this contest seriously, only Abba has enjoyed any sustained success on the back of Eurovision.

Still millions tune in to watch this tact filled rubbish and Terry Wogan commentary does add some entertainment to proceedings. The Eurovision is really cult TV and has lasted 50 years so it will probably stay around for years to come.

The UK as usual are guranteed not do too well, though that is not surprising given the rubbish we usually submit, this year proved no exception. Daz Kennedy enjoy your moment of fame as you will not be heard of again unless like Javine a few years ago you score nul points!

Munster triumph at last!

Third time lucky for Munster, it was pretty nerve wracking to say the least but the end result is that we are European Champions. Shame I could not have been in Cardiff but it is a great achievement for Munster rugby, the played magnificently. Glad we have also got our own back on Biarritz who we lost to last year in the quarter final.

Good luck to Munster in the rugby!

Good luck to the boys from Munster in the Euroepean Cup rugby final today, I hope they beat Biarittz. Funnily enough I was in San Sebastian when they played in the quarter final against them last year, unfortunately on that occasion they lost but hopefully today they will triumph and it will be third time lucky. Would have loved to have been in Cardiff but unfortunately I could not get tickets.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Valiant losers

They were only fifteen minutes away from winning the Champions League, yet it all ended in tears for 10 men Arsenal tonight. They put up a good fight but were always up against it, still no Champions League success for a London team, will London ever break it's champions league duck?

Barcelona is a great side and deserves their success, for such a huge club it is hard to believe it is only their 2nd success in the competition.

Liverpool will hopefully make it a sixth success next year and are still the most successful English team by a long way in the Champions League.

Good luck to Arsenal

Good luck to Arsenal in the Champions League Final tonight! Hopefully you will win and ensure the European Cup remains in England for another year and comes to London for the first time.

First Capital incompetence

The new operators of the Thameslink service of First Capital Connect as they have rebranded themselves really are a useless bunch. This morning my train was delayed for six minutes, fine I thought par for the course and happens most of the time. Then a few minutes before it shows delayed before turning to cancelled a few minutes later, you really need to get your communications in order as it meant that I ended up getting into work 25 minutes late(had to get a bus to Brixton), with the frequency being so crap in peak hours(one every half hour) you also too something about the frequency.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My new role on Merton Council!

With us been in opposition in Merton (sad but true), I have now been appointed the Labour spokesperson on finance. I am looking forward greatly to my new role (though I would of course preferred if were in power), having done Licensing for the past two years, this will be a new challenge and will involve scrutinising the actions of the Tory minority administration and their financial decisions. Should be filled with opportunities as with the Tories it nearly always involves cutting services to the most venerable people though with this being a 'hung' council, opportunities will no doubt present themselves and as a Labour group we hold them to account every step of the way.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Today is what I can call a lazy Sunday, have spent most of the afternoon downloading my cd's onto itunes ready to download onto my Ipod(something I have meant to do for ages). Managed to get round to doing a pile of domestic chores something that I have not done in ages.

Still have election fatigue, woke up this morning thinking that the election had still to happen and panicking, then I realised it was over. When it goes on for so many months it is difficult to get out of your system, especially as it was nearly every single day for many weeks prior to May 4th.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Comeback Kings again, yes Liverpool won the Cup!

Well it was a close run thing and I nearly thought myself the games was up until Stevie Gerrard's amazing strike on 89 minutes, has to be one of the great goals of all time. Behind 2-0 back to 2-2 and then behind 3-2 before 3-3. Players were dead on their feet in extra time but when it came to penalties our nerve held and we triumphed again. West Ham made a great fist of it and their performance deserves a great deal of credit, but one team can only win and that was Liverpool.

Here's to winning the Premiership next season!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Canary Wharf & Docklands

Late this afternoon I got a call from my cousin Kieran who was over from Ireland with his girlfriend Jen and whether I wanted to meet up for a drink, as it was a fairly free night (I do not do politics all the time contrary to what you may think) I met up with them near the Tower of London.

After a drink we went on the DLR to Canary Wharf and Docklands, the growth of this area is phenomenal and it is really is getting more and more like Manhattan. They were taken aback with the scale of the place and the size of the buildings; it really is so different from the rest of London. To think this was docks only a generation ago, it shows what regeneration can do to an area and even at seven at night the piazza was packed with people taking in the glorious sunshine. The whole area is a vivid example of how successful the British economy has been over the past decade and Docklands is testament to that. As a financial city London is second to none and Docklands has provided the capacity to expand office accommodation along with allowing an area that suffered after the closure of the Docks in the sixties and seventies to re-invent itself.

Middlesbro,Merton and Nanny McPhee

Middlesbro had a pretty poor showing last night and ended up being hammered 4-0 by Seville. Nevertheless it was a great achievement getting to the UEFA Cup Final. Next week sees Arsenal in the Champions League Final, hopefully they will win. In other footie news it seems the Tottenham players did not suffer food poisoning but a virus.

In terms of politics, it has now been confirmed that we will have a minority Tory council in Merton, always sad to lose power after sixteen years but I have now doubt our day will come again in Merton and hopefully we will take back power in 2010. The Merton Labour group will be closely watching the Tories and will hold them to account at every opportunity. Despite losing power last Thursday morale is pretty good in the Labour group and we have some excellent new members elected who will be a great asset to the Labour party in Merton.

Last night for the first time in weeks I sat down and watched a DVD, this time Nanny Mc Phee. The film was not the best I have ever seen but is starred Emma Thompson who played Nanny Mc Phee and Colin Firth(Mr Browne), both played their parts extremely well though the storyline was a bit disjointed. The kids who starrd in the film did however provide some great entertainment and some comical moments, especially the part when then the got Aunt Adelaide(played fantastically by Anglea Lansbury) to think that Evangeline was related to her. At the end Evangeline marries Mr Brown and Aunt Adeliade finds out she was nothing after all to her and had been fooled.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Theo Walcott & Middlesbro

Well congratulations to Theo Walcott on getting into the England squad, funnily enough I thought a few months ago of having a bet he would get into the England squad(never got round to doing it). He may be worth the risk bearing in mind that Rooney is out of the World Cup.

Good luck to Middlesbro tonight in the UEFA Cup Final, lady luck has been on their side so far and hopefully it will be again tonight.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Back to Work

Well today I returned to work after a week away. A wet miserable day to return on bearing in mind the glorious weather we had last week, still we need the rain given the shortages. Loads of e-mails to wade through and deal with.

To finish of the weekend, I went last to my Merton Colleague Mark Allison's birthday meal in Radha Krishna restaurant in Tooting. First time I had been to the place but the food was excellent and I would recommend the place, had a very good time and having the opportunity to relax is much easier given the elections are now over.

Tonight it is back to the Council for the first meeting of the new Labour group.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Getting Back to Reality!

After the local elections dominating my life for the past few weeks I am finally getting back into the land of reality. This weekend has been a bliss, did one ward event last night (an international night in Pollards Hill) and caught up with a variety of things like shopping that I had not had time to do. Looking back over the past few weeks they have felt like a bit of a blur, time whizzed by and I seemed to be on the go non-stop.

Tomorrow it is back to work after a week away, no doubt loads to catch up with and get to grips with. In the evening we have the first Labour group meeting of this Council where we will elect the leader. With things they way they are on Merton it promises to be an interesting few weeks ahead.
This afternoon I will watch the football and I have not seen too much recently. I heard a story that apparently Tottenham players have fallen victim of foot poisoning and wanted to call off the game but it is going ahead, maybe making their excuses in case they fail to get fourth place. Hopefully Liverpool will get 2nd in the Premiership, though it does unfortunately favour United.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Chilling out!

First weekend without any campaign activities for ages, glad that I have the time to relax. Dissapointed at us losing control of Merton but compared to results eleswhere it was a pretty good performance given the circumstances and we had no wipeout. Indeed in my constituency of Mitcham and Morden we won 27 out of 30 seats and this is a seat that had a Tory MP tilll 1997.

Next week it will be time to get back into the swing of things though thankfully between now and the Council AGM on 24th May it is a relatively quiet time.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Election Result

Managed to hold my Council Seat and this time topped the poll. Turnout was significantly higher then last time in the ward, my actual vote significantly increased by over 300 votes and I polled 1351 votes. Zenia and Richard also got elected along with me so I have two new colleagues for the next four years, both of them are younger then me and the councillors average must be one of the lowest in London.

Longthornton the key marginal and the neighbouring ward to Pollards Hill, we had a significant swing in our favour and a much increased majority. Yesterday was hard work, a long day that went by in a flash followed by a long night.

The more unfortunate news is that we lost control of Merton Council after sixteen years, thankfully the Tories failed to gain an overall majority(as was been widely predicted in the media) and we have a Council with no overall majority, should be a fun four years. The result in Merton was one of the best for Labour in London.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Election Day

Election day is here at last, after months of campaigning today is the day. Weather forecast if for a warm day which should hopefully encourage the Labour supporters to come out and vote. Will report back tonight!

Yesterday we also had a visit from Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Tessa Jowell which was a pre election rally with hundred of people from across Merton. The event was a real morale booster and went very well despite the heat of the day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Getting an MOT

In the middle of the campaign trail I had to deal with getting an MOT as I discovered it was up on 2nd May(of all times), arranged last week to go to Kwik Fit at 3.30(delays happened) and it was 5.45 when I left(I will not be returning there again) and to top it all it failed which I now need to rectify, somthing I could have done without, two days before an election. I usally get it done at another garage but when I rang the earliest they could do was Friday, and been the day after the election I did not fancy getting up and doing it that day. Should be all sorted tommorrow.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Manic May Day

Today brought the 9th anniversary of Labour coming to power in 1997, hard to believe it was all nearly a decade ago.

Anyway, the campaign trail had no let up, had a group of Labour students out in Longthornton today and overall we made a large impact across the area, vote is holding up here despite what is been written in the press.

Along with the campaigning, I also had a plumbing problem which meant that water was pouring down on my patio due to an attempt to fix the toilet cist, thankfully I got someone out(who had done plumbing for my family for years) and managed to recitfy the problem, something I could have done without!