I am really pleased that Andy Western – leader of Trafford Council has made the comments I’m sharing below.
It’s something I’ve been uncomfortable with since the outset of the first lockdown. I was never happy that schools were shut down. With hindsight, I can see we needed a pause to get on top of the virus. However, I was very supportive of Kate Green’s stance that children needed to be back at school at the earliest date. She took flack for that position.
It’s never been the loss of examinations that’s been my prime concern. With the right provision of lifelong learning, this can be addressed; and maybe even improved upon, as we’ve never been good at it. Now it’s imperative, perhaps at last we can dream of the universal provision we dreamt about when Labour created the ‘Open University’.
I agree with Andy that it’s the loss of socialisation skills and friendship forming that’s the real worry. We’re seeing an increased prevalence of mental health problems and worsening anti-social behaviour. I sense there’s a stronger element of pure anger contained within the motivations for that behaviour than I have seen before. I get that anger. I get angry at those who pontificate at parents for the reaction their children are demonstrating.
It’s something that we’re going to have to address and there’s an urgent need for the conversation to really get started. That conversation has primarily to be driven by the young people and we need to find new ways of getting the voice of those most at risk from problems we’ve created. The catchup plan needs to be owned by those children and it needs to continue to be owned by them as they move through their life. We owe it to them.
Circle Court caps a busy week but shows in adversity the very best of Lostock.
Saturday 4th Jan
Marshalling the first corner at Wythenshawe Pk Run. First time I’ve marshalled, but I’ve now done 12 runs and that’s not a bad ratio. One morning volunteering for a dozen runs.
In the afternoon I cycled round Gorse Hill identifying the full set of streets that had missed bin collections as the council had arranged additional Sunday shifts of collections.
Sunday 5th Jan
Spent the morning trying to establish whether the promised bin teams had gone out and whether they doing Gorse Hill. Took until lunchtime to get confirmation. Frankly, being told that they’d be reporting the next day just infuriates. Don’t often lose my temper but came close over that. Anyway the word was the teams were out and were doing the streets I’d submitted. Not totally as it turned out, but most.
Receive an update on the Education portfolio. Can’t hide the fact that there’s some local schools giving concern. School finances, it seems to me, are more responsive to school numbers than they ever have been. This is a good thing if your school is attracting good numbers, but if, for whatever reason, you’re not getting the demand, it can quickly spiral. Going to need different approaches, but the bottom line is we can’t just stand by.
Monday 6th Jan
Fury on the emails about the bins. Flixton particularly angry. Make some progress on casework. Christmas has been particularly busy.
I’m also putting together the spending return for the election. These have to be submitted next week and it’s not the sort of thing you want to do during the festivities so I now need to get going with it.
Tuesday 7th Jan
Labour Group meeting. Started late and slowly ground to a halt. I think Christmas has frazzled us. I’d be tempted to avoid the first full week of the year for a Labour group meeting next year. Anyway City won the first leg at United, even if I missed the first half, and apparently we played quite well.
Wednesday 8th Jan
More work on the spending return. In the evening it’s to Stretford Mall for an officer meeting with architects, planners and Bruntwood over the next consultation event.
It’s not long since the last one and whilst that means actual tangible progress might still be a little way off, I think this was a useful meeting. I think the public drop in will also be useful too.
At November’s drop in there was a discreet minority who felt the best option was to knock the mall down. To be honest, that has been my view too. I think it’s fair to say that isn’t a view shared by the planners and architects. I quite like the fact that they saw positive strengths in parts of the Mall and really saw their role as trying to design and enhance those strengths. So whilst I seem to have lost one argument, I’m far more energised by their way of thinking. Don’t be expecting fleshed out designs, but I think their approach both to the mall and to the wider Stretford town centre neighbourhoods is measured and exciting.
Consultation Drop-in at the Mall – Saturday 25th January 8am until 6pm
You really need to attend this. It’s your Stretford. And the planners need to hear from you.
Completed the ‘Doing Buses Differently’ consultation on bus franchising. This is something I’ve actively supported for a long time. The free market simply doesn’t work for bus travel. It’s my contention that the bus companies should really embrace this. It’s the only way they will ensure a long term future for their business. It’s an incredibly positive proposal that will support the bus companies and build the bus transport sector.
Thursday 9th Jan
Library Volunteering and in the evening yet more planning previews
I’m a member of the planning committee so I have to be circumspect over live planning applications, but we were previewing the new stand and hotel extension planned for Lancs Cricket Ground, as well as a tall hotel at the corner of Chester Road and Warwick Road.
Friday 10th Jan
Casework and a Labour Party Meeting reflecting on the Election Defeat (oh, and I went for a five mile run!)
The Labour Party meeting was interesting, particularly the thoughts of ordinary members rather than MPs or Councillors.
I think the scale of the defeat is taking some adjusting to. There’s a rawness to the wounds that have been rendered. I don’t think anyone has the complete answer. I’m not going to spend a lot of time dissecting our manifesto or the likeability of Jeremy Corbyn. He is already in the past. There were a lot of textbook failings in our campaign that will have to be put right whether Labour chooses to tack to the left or right: the lack of a story that related to people’s lives, the diminution of shared values. We failed to connect
We were for the many, not the few, but came across as a party too often set apart from and contemptuous of the very people we wanted to vote for us. That is a charge that can be made against both wings of the party; and one particularly apposite with regard to Brexit.
Saturday/Sunday – Serious Incident at Circle Court
Start the day away with the Labour Group but quickly learn of the Circle Court fire and flooding. Tell Dave Acton and we get over there. It was an everchanging set of circumstance throughout the weekend. The fire and initial water leakage were dealt with quickly but from then on there was loss of power, further floods and the affected area would enlarge, shrink and enlarge again. It would vary from almost no tenants needing rehousing to substantial decanting. The residents were superb and so were Trafford Housing Trust staff. When you go through something like this with people, you realise how stoical people are, how they deal with setbacks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to represent this place.
I know things are not yet back to normal for quite a few residents and we’re continuing to monitor. I was really pleased to invite Kate Green over on the Sunday to see the recovery operation and to meet with staff and residents. I know she was impressed.
How do you think it’s going? Are you fed up with the lot us? What do your friends think? Is it going to change anything?
Are you fed up with all the leaflets?
Or should I ask, “Have you seen any leaflets?”
I’ve only been made aware of Labour and Lib Dem printed material. Neither of the other parties seem to have even put out an election address.
The next door seat of Altrincham is very busy but we seem to be campaigning alone here.
So who is winning the national race?
I don’t know about you, but I was expecting a very different election. I think we may have built Johnson up as this great campaigner, but he really isn’t very good and he’s turned out to be distinctly cowardly.
The country desperately needs a radical Labour government to reset the dial towards a high skilled, fairly distributed, healthy, society.
We have the policies (perhaps a tad too many… ) and they’re good ones. This should be a straight-forward landslide if it were not for Brexit.
There is no easy political solution available to Labour on the question of Brexit and I am content enough with where we are on that.
But it’s clear that only Labour has the policies to redress the imbalances in the economy and move us to towards a much more productive and sustainable society with no one left behind.
The Scandinavian economic model is very much suited to 21st century UK.
Totally in awe of Kate Green. I don’t know how she has so much energy.
There’s a huge amount of personal enthusiasm. The candidate still can make a difference. It’s the last seven days, please make sure you vote Labour, vote Kate Green.
Pleasing to see it in black and white. We have our election. No surprises. I like the monster raving loony party, but they never seem to stand here. I want to be next to Lord Buckethead’s agent at a count. In 2019, we’ve just got the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Green and Brexit parties. This is serious.
Another occasional post on being agent for Kate Green
This Monday was in effect the start. Trafford issued their notice of election. If feels as though we’ve been in election mode for a while but Monday was the start.
Do we downplay the civic aspects of an election these days? I have vague memories of the notice going up in the windows of post offices when I was young, but I might be wrong. Nevertheless, the wording of the notice is almost worthy of the an announcement on the steps of the town hall. Instead it’s slipped out onto the council’s website.
The notice is an invitation for candidates to be nominated, and voters to be registered assuming they’re not already on the register. It gives the dates for when these have to take place.
No one wants to leave the nomination until the last day, so for most candidates it really gives two days to have the papers submitted.
There’s two vital forms, the nominations and the consent to nomination. Providing these are in order and submitted on time the candidate is on the ballot paper. There’s authorities from the political party and appointment of agent that we also submit but technically they’re of secondary importance. We elect the candidate, not the party and you don’t actually have to have an agent.
If you have an agent, it’s the agent who goes to jail if the rules are breached rather than the candidate. So most candidates appoint an agent.
The nomination paper is interesting. We used to put in a great deal of effort in inviting community leaders and respected figures across the constituency to sign the nomination papers. It was quite a thing. The names of the persons nominating the candidate definitely were published in those post office windows, so it mattered. These days you’ve got to go looking on the council website to even find the papers. It’s lost its impact. It’s a shame really.
Having said that, the decline in public curiosity as to the persons nominating Kate made it easier for me. I had sufficient nominations signed and verified in one sitting of the Labour Group instead of cycling round the constituency to get the signatures.
Even if it was less of a task I’m still mightily relieved they’re checked and submitted.
So, Kate Green is now Labour Party candidate for Stretford and Urmston!
I’m delighted Kate Green has asked me to be her agent for the forthcoming election. It’ll be my fourth time. At least I’ll know what I’m letting myself in for. It’s a generally thankless role. You’re really there to make sure everything’s legal and accounted for and to step back into the shadows.
My first time as agent was 2010. Kate was stepping in to fill the shoes of Bev Hughes. Labour were facing a difficult election nationally and the Tories were targeting the seat as winnable. Kate was (and still is) an absolute force of nature. We had a great team with Antony McCaul directing the campaign. Together we smashed that election.
It was a fantastic team effort. I took the role incredibly seriously. I still do. You’re always a missed signature away from a disaster that lets down so many people. At the same time you’re trying to be a grounding force, keeping the campaign focused and together. There’s so many external provocations not to mention those from within the campaign.
The two subsequent elections in 2015 and 2017 were somewhat different. We didn’t see any serious campaign from the Conservatives really, or anyone else for that matter. They rather abandoned their candidates to get on with it on their own. It meant we had to generate our own energy. Given we took Kate’s percentage of vote to 66%, the other parties probably took the correct decision.
So we’re back again. We have the same team, we’ve had for the last two with Tom Ross in the Anthony McCaul role. It’s a winter election. I genuinely don’t have a problem with that. We do what we do and it’s the same for all parties. The political dynamics are different, but they always are. From the agent’s point of view it’s a logistical challenge as much as anything. I aim to come through it in one piece and so far, I have always managed to end the election with more friends than when I started including from the teams of other parties.
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