Review of 2016

Our economy shrank compared to the rest of the world. The workforce became more casualised. Local factory jobs being lost. More people are dropping out of social security without proper income. More reports of young children bringing problems from home to school. Special schools growing and the associated special problems in the neighbourhoods grew too. Hospitals closing to emergencies for spells at the weekend, associated with funding for adult care falling. Demand for council housing growing.
Yet people consider 2016 a bad year cos of the celebrities who’ve died.
“It must be awful to be you … to have one scintilla of what is possible.”
Yes, it was worse than 2015.
Which was in turn worse than 2014.

Labour had some success in May – Paddy Tipping doing well – ditto Sadiq Khan and Bristol. But we only just scraped a victory in Derby.
Whatever we were saying in the EU referendum wasn’t heard and instead people bought the notion that a LEAVE vote woud mean more money for the NHS. People chasing me down the street, worried about “them” cos they’d cast their vote using a pencil. A vote against experts and the estblishment. It wasn’t just the vote, it was the paucity of the thinking.
Reflected in some poor British government decisions.  A Parliamentary boundaries review ignoring the number of people who live in places.
Committing to Hinkley Point C.
Ditto the USA.  A repeated bankrupt, who would not be pass safeguarding tests required to host events with teenagers in the UK, who spent years lying about Barack Obama’s birthplace elected with the USA now apparently set to focus on undoing climate change agreements and building walls against Mexico.
Charlie Brooker, BBC tv satarist, had enough about him to know that after the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory, there was very little point to all he’d been doing. A pause in his review of the year to reflect that a British MP had been murdered for her beliefs.

Jo Cox MP.

Looking back …

Cuts to the City Council’s budget next year confrmed, but a panic by the Conservative government as they realise that the unmet need in help for adults needing care does afterall reuire more money to be spent.

A month chock full of meetings and events.
Trying to make up for the cuts to public services, which has been fruitless because now (after years of cuts) the Government has given up on the targets on borrowing it had set, in a statement that didn’t mention the NHS once.
Worst of all, the United States is set for 4 years of erratic political conduct.

Good news often associated with leisure, culture and tourism events, especially in this month of festivals: Victoria Embankment Memorial Gardens tree trail, Diwali in The Meadows, the virtual cave tour, Notts County Football in the Community Day, new exhibition at The Contemporary, a play from the miners’ strike era, the new Nottingham Trail, and especially Goose Fair.
A bit of history too with the 250th anniverary of the cheese riots – reconstruction and monologue video.

A new fire station in The Meadows.  Community Gardens event.  Indian food stall holders.
Robin Hood marathon races.  Literacy medal awards at Central and in The MeadowsRepairs to Meadows Library brought forward. Touring The Council House with FoMLSupporting Nottingham Central Womens Aid.
A video celebrating green progress in The Meadows and the Green Festival.
£1m announced for updating of Galleries of Justice.

Event of the month was the WASPI stall in the city centre – busiest campaign stall I’ve ever seen.
The robbery of Meadows Post Office was a setback.  Ditto, the threatened loss of 300 jobs at the Pizza Factory.

Another awful month regarding attacks on innocent bystanders.
As for Nottingham, Pride and Splendour were highlights; events featured too in The Meadows – at the library, at Queens Walk Rec and at the community gardens.

Wet weather.  A referendum on the wrong issue and with the wrong result. An MP assassinated49 revellers at an LGBT club murdered.
British politics is in a maelstrom as Prime Minister who played politics with race (London Mayor) and membership of the European Union now has to resign.
The country will spend 2 years or more focussed on things international, when we need more done at the local level.
There is fear over increased hate crime.

The re-election of Paddy Tipping as Nottinghamshire Police Commissioner, the busy and vibrant Community Gardens spring open day, a statue to Jimmy Sirrel and Jack Warner, and a busy bank holiday weekend in the city featuring music and archery.

Normal politics was lost to rehearsals of what constituted anti-semitism, and what was just bad history (stubbornly re-rehearsed).  Just 8 days after a very positive visit by Ken Livingstone to Nottingham.

A month marked by an increase in Deash attacks, including Lahore and Brussels.
Police are continuing to work away at those thought to be trading drugs in The Meadows.

Friends of Meadows Library finished their tapestry that portrays many scenes of The Meadows today.

Big issues were the occupation of the Narrowmarsh playing fields and operations against drug dealing in The Meadows.
For the country, it was more storms.
Holocaust Memorial Day was moving, and surprisingly, a trigger for controversy.

Honours reflect well on The Meadows

Last time I reacted to the New Year’s Honours List, I sent a quote from Chamberlain (from Birmingham) to Dennis Pettitt (from Birmingham) when he was awarded a knighthood.
My favourte line on this is how all the Notts Conservative Agents for MPs who lost in 1997 got OBEs, and all of those who served the Labour MPs declined them in 2010.
Three of this year’s honours reflect on The Meadows.
Carol Norman – heateacher of Welbeck School;
Le-Roy Edwards – who has run an education, training and employment centre in Wilford Grove;
Marcellus Baz – who runs a youth boxing club from Portland Centre, and previously from QWCC.

Bridge ward monthly report 63

It’s been a melodramatic Festive Period in The Meadows, from the success of the Christmas Tree switch-on (we plan for a bigger event this year) to a break-in to the Co-Op on Christmas Day, some car accidents on Meadows Way and Wilford Grove.

Have been saying for some time that we are concerned about fewer secure jobs, more agency working, more low-hour contracts and fewer people receiving social security, tied in with more youngsters being turned away from mainstream schools might develop into something we’ve seen before and one aspect of this appears to be a number of locations where people are now reporting concerns about drug dealing and drug taking.
Poorer mental health services might also be leading to more time taken up in A&E etc. and even more suicides – 2 suspected in The Meadows in recent weeks.

Recognition in the New Year’s Honours and BBC Sports Personality of the Year (!) (community award) for boxing coach Marcellus Baz, who runs one of his clubs from Portland Leisure Centre.  However, we are asking for proper proposals and proper finances before considering anything in the former eastern half of the Co-op supermarket (and for which we already have an expression of interest from another worthy cause).

The next big change to The Meadows will be the introduction of parking permits for residents, for many more streets in the New Meadows.
Current implementation date is 6th February and a lot of commuters, and some football fans are going to be taken aback by the change.  Whilst good news for residents, we are already checking for possible knock-on consequences.

We’ve decided to ask for the removal of skips for clothes from the SW car park at Bridgeway – badly managed and the charities are unresponsive to requests for action.

A heritage board for Carrington Street has been set up; 2 local residents have joined.

Aprrox 1815 matters have been raised for tracking since 2011..

Church (Rock) Cemetery

HUGE crosses, stone angels standing blind and silent, weathered markers for the rich and famous, the poor and downtrodden … ” – Nottingham Post.
Rock Cemetery has to be my favorite Cemetery of all. Its combination of its history, the fantastic graves, obelisks, plaques and busts. This is all combined with its sandstone cave setting.” – Nottingham Hidden History Team.
A cemetery laid out by Edwin Patchitt for the Church Cemetery Company and opened in 1856.” – Historic England.
Visited in bright, low, midday Winter sunshine.

Planning committee December 2016

Interesting development from Nottingham Trent University for their Confetti campus which is bordered by Parliament Street, Convent Street, Huntingdon Street and Beck Street.
The campus provides education in media technology.
There’s a need for more space and a clearer, more emphatic entrance to the collection of buildings.
So, a 6 storey building, clad in weathering steel, varied in colour with some holes for decoration.
I expressed concern that the patterns in the steel seem neither interesting or pertinent, could do more to pick up on the horizontal lines of neighbouring buildings, could do more with the eaves, that the black brick that emphasises the metal is nevertheless too dark and that the public space (pavements) under the overhanging building needs active management, including proper lighting.
But it would be nice to see such a steel building on the city centre and the building was approved subject to another review of the detail, decoration and colour of brick.

Meanwhile, a mosque already approved for development in Sneinton, has been approved again with an updated design including the use of Portland stone and marble.

Notts Police and Crime Panel December 2016

The first meetiwp_20161219_14_02_07_pro-ab0078h-ch-police-panelng after the appointment of the new Chief Constable who takes up the post on 1st February.
Sue Fish’s service was acknowledged.
Current issues:
– fall in satisfaction with the service – probably tied in with Police having to choose to not provide enough service, cos of the cuts (100 fewer officers);
– recruitment of BME officers;
– problems with changes in standards to the national recording system;
– national initiatives (d.g. digitalisation) requiring finance;
– grant for budget remaining constant for next year, but with inflation requiring savings of £5m.
Paddy expressed dismay at signitificant aspects of an HMIC report on Notts.
I raised concerns about how poverty, job insecurity, mental health provision and the broken up schools service were creating conditions for a repeat of the problems of the eighties.


Park Estate house gig


Sceptical at first.  Then walked into the living room.  And Megan Kelsey was singing a Smiths song – “Asleep” – whilst playing the piano.  (“Sing me to Sleep”. )   Nice.

Also heard Harrison Rimmer and Taylor Giacoma (USA & Heaton Moor).
Also on were James Letta and Alan David Mansbridge. 

Around 20 people sat in the room listening.  Novel experience.
Our thanks to former work colleague Peter for the invite. 

Megan Kelsey =
Harrison Rimmer =
Taylor Giacoma (USA) =

James Letta =
Alan David Mansbridge =

Lilian launches Nottingham’s new electric bus fleet


A new fleet to support new services, including the new park & ride link to the 2 city centre shopping centres, starting in January.
Celebrated by winning posters from 10 pupils at Welbeck primary school, who have each had a bus named after them!
Fuller write-up by Nottingham Post available.
Some more photos available in Facebook.

If it seems smooth today, it’s because of the conviction and steel shown by those from the ’70s, who are most defibned by their belief in local public ownership. Cos –
The controversy was in the mid-seventies – when radical policies were first introduced – e.g. Bus lanes and zone and collar;
The controversy was in the mid-80’s when the City District rates wre doubled to provide free travel on buses for the elderly; (a national first);
The controversy was in the 90’s, using reserves to put Bulwell and Mansfield back on the railway map;
The controversy was pushing for a tram to serve the busiest bus corridor in the city;
The controversy was creating a clear zone in the city centre and re-organising the NCT buses (unchanged for decades), and more bus lanes;
The controversy was introducing a congestion charge so that commuter in cars paid for improvements to public transport, not the people who live in the city and suffered the commuting;
The controversy was expanding the tram system in the last few years when people projected an increase in deaths and injuries.
What seems like seemless now is cos of the values, vision and struggle from those of our recent and not quite so recent past.
Some of the names may surprise you – Frank Higgns, Betty Higgins, Terry Butler, John Taylor, Brian Parbutt, and there will be others.