Youth unemployment conference

Welcome event at The Council House tonight for delegates to a European conference on tackling youth unemployment.
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Treated 5 delegates from Portugal to a tale of Nottingham’s history, including the assertion that we invented lasagne.
20121204-100011 PM.jpgOn reflection, I think they saw through me.
Heard a series of presentations on Nottingham initiatives to create local jobs and opportunities for local people.

Rotherham by-election

Talking to voters in Rotherham all through the day, things felt fine.
Not at all as bad as was predicted for us, given why the by-election was called, what might have gone wrong with the local children’s services, the allegations around grooming, how things had gone wrong in the Bradford West by-election with Respect, the selection process for the Labour candidate and the newness of the Labour candidate to mainstream politics.
Indeed, people not known to us were coming forward to vote Labour, people previously undecided were voting Labour (“I like what the Labour candidate is saying”).
One lady even tapped her living room window to fetch me to see her and it turned out she once lived in the parts of Nottingham city that I first represented as a County Councillor.
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So the only thing to stop us now appeared to be over-optimism, about which campaign organisers are irrational – saying we’re gonna win is like an actor mentioning Macbeth. Oh and the cold; glorious sunshine but very cold.
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A good result for Labour and a sense that some kind of corner has been turned. All contrary to the shallow and trivia level of the “Rotherham politics” wordpress blog site which convinced itself on the basis of the trivia and the poison that Labour was set to lose. Perhaps I should refer them to Leveson.
Some photos follow.

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From Cllr. Meredith Lawrence, with MME and Alec James.

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Floods and drainage

Hearts go out to those suffering from flooding.
The Lord Mayor and I once visited houses in Wollaton hit by heavy rain and a blocked culvert. The flooding was unexpected and very distressing.
Fortunately, Nottingham does not appear to have been hit this time, although some areas will be suffering from high ground water levels and some will be suffering from poor drainage.
The Council is aware that Victoria Embankment and the Meadows Recreation Ground has some drainage problems. The flooding at the bandstand is a long standing issue. Some compacting may have developed under the football pitches and steps are to be taken to fix this. Compacting may well be worse south of the new flood protection bund and the City Council will be talking to the Environment Agency about fixing this.
Meanwhile, the River Tent is not currently at the level of the old flood defences, but it is assuring to know that the new defences are in too.
Given we appear to have had one month’s rain in one night last week, and two weeks of rain in one night this week, some of the points made in public meetings might be perceived as less than charitable.

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Photos of River Trent today.

20121128-063611 PM.jpgAbove, flood defence opening 2 months ago on the Victoria Embankment.

“To be honest, I just want a job”

I’m grateful to the Guardian who reported the UKIP candidate canvassing at the weekend
On the street outside, Robert Miles, an out of work locksmith, complained that he was finding it impossible to get a job. “You’ll probably agree, then, that this government’s open door immigration policy is wrong?” asked Collins hopefully. “To be honest, I just want a job,” said Miles.
Read the full Guardian article here.
This is a mad time in politics.
MPs on celebrity shows. Elections for new posts on dark days. BBC losing people in days over Savile whilst Sky and News of the World ploughed on for months over tapping.
Floods and bad weather should put what actually matters in perspective, especially since public investment has saved thousands of homes from being flooded.
The secret company practices to avoid paying tax should create some anger,
But it seems social workers’ decisions over foster parents, about which we still don’t know the full story, might affect voting intentions, even though no politician would have been involved in the decision.
But back to the locksmith – “To be honest, I just want a job.”
Today, the BBC report that the Gov’t scheme to get long-term unemployed back to work has missed it’s targets, by a long way.

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Read the BBC article here.
What will make people focus on what the locksmith said so simply and rightly?
A reminder then of the unemployed in Nottingham …

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And of what the ConDems promised …

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Austerity failing

Gov’t look set to have to borrow more this year than they did last year.

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Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East has been on TV to point out that the ConDems have choked off the recovery with their commitment to austerity.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies report – “In next week’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor may have to abandon one of his fiscal targets – that debt should be falling in 2015–16. He may also need to announce yet more spending cuts or tax increases for the next parliament in order to continue to meet his other fiscal target.”
See IFS statement here.