Bridge ward monthly report 85

Have sought to keep writing up progress reports this month: today (below), 20181031 230831 ab0259h home budgie style pumpkin_Fotorlast week (on parks)mid-month, and at Area 8.
The AGM of Meadows Advice Group, following on from a depressing Conservative gov’t budget statement, underlined that under the surface, people are struggling – low incomes, low or no social security.
More and more difficult housing cases are coming through.

And then the tragedy of 11 Jews shot in their synagogue as reprisal for asking people to welcome a caravan of poor people from Mexico who are seeking relief from poverty and no hope.  Shot cos Trump has been frightening people about immigrants, even by suggesting people born in the USA should have their constitutional rights revoked by his own order.  The fear is that the USA will fail the challenge.
Peanuts satire on trumo and brexit 45198400_10156944318682873_5569949902848393216_o
An expected (by some) deal with the EU fell through, but even if one is agreed in November, it’s no longer a deal, it’s a divorce bill – with no arrangement for future trading. Hence assessing the challenges of Brexit to Nottingham and attending meetings on Brexit, elsewhere a campaign stall for Remain in Hockley.

On brighter notes, Goose Fair!
We enjoyed the AMCG food festival, a celebration of local artists, a church raising funds for Macmillan’s nurses, Halloween art and black history awards.
FoML held their AGM.
I enjoyed showing some Kenyan visitors around the city centre, but not sure they did after 5 hours.
Jess Phillips came to Nottingham.
Progress on bringing County House back to life.
A visit to the Atrium to view magistrates in action.
Films: Columbus celebrated architecture and caring; First Man celebrated the first landing of man on the moon with being celebratory; other good films – Les Gardiennes, The Wife, and Peterloo; the documentary Science Fair prompted thoughts about how to excite young people about science.
Plays: you wait your whole life for plays from Nigeria and then 2 come in 2 days – New Nigerians and The Fisherman; also Kindertransport.
Oh, and finally got to see Salop 2018/19.  Good game, but tired of facile football analysis – i.e. sack the manager.  Was actually sorry for former Salop manager who lost his job at Ipswich, despite the late pre-season chaos he caused us.

Latest bits of local news:
* Police recently executed 3 search warrants, ad made 3 arrests.
* Move to London Road fire station has not quite happened. v
* Keepmoat and the city council have reached an agreement on bringing Arkwright Walk up to standard; so more houses will be made available for sale soon;
* a retractable bollard will replace an existing bollard to allow service vehicles to access Bridgeway shopping centre from the south-east car park;
* designs for the 21 flats at Meadows Police station are near completion.

Kinda realised that I’ve now done 25 years service as a local Councillor, and found it difficult to pick out real individual achievements.
Finally, we remembered the life and the contributions of former Councillor Tim Bell.

Friends of Meadows Library AGM 2018

20181031 133126 ab0300h FoML agm_Fotor
A celebration of further progress, especially this year, The Lego bought using local Councillors’ funds, has attracted strong numbers (50-55 kids, plus the dads!), and received further donations from the public.
The book club meets on first Wednesdays, a walk around The Meadows, a new wall hanging was made, and the sewing club continues every Wednesday morning.

Meadows Advice Group AGM 2018

The advisors have served more clients in 2017-18 than ever before and helped bring in more extra benefit than before.
902 clients.
This for an operating deficit of £966.
Been helping elsewhere, e.g. Clifton, too.

But it turns out that the extra benefit raised is cos DWP have been more awkward in accepting claims.  One of the daft things has been making venues for processing appeals more distant – at the end of a bus route in Strelley, and even in Leicester and Derby, instead of the previous venue in the city centre.  And being able to make the more difficult locations has sometimes been suggested as reasons as to why they don’t need the benefit.

The rock bottom benefits are to be frozen for another year – that’s 4 years at £73 a week.
Meanwhile, the Conservative government have announced that tax allowances and the tax threshold will be raised in a ways which gives most tax reductions to the better off.
20181029 153000 budget redistribution of tax cuts to the rich DqsbnOcWsAIREf-
There’s been some surprise that some Conservative MPs have only just realised that Universal Credit means people will lose out.
Meanwhile gratitude to the 3 Nottingham Labour MPs and Vernon Coaker MP for attending a CAB 2-hour briefing 11 days previous.  Concern was expressed that the disabled and children are the ones losing out most.

My concern remains how the poverty is not visible enough.  Health visitors and schools report the issues, but the public awareness and concern is muted.
Unemployment is down, except suspicion is that it’s the ability too claim that explains the reduction.  For instance, you are punished if you don’t answer phone calls, and DWP expect you to have a phone, and what’s the cost of that?

Meanwhile, people need help for money to get a bus ride for a job interview, or even money for new clothing, and organisations like the One Stop Shop ate Bridgeway Centre try to help with that.

I tried to explore whether Brexit and new less helpful trade deals threaten the kind of jobs low income families rely on.

Having brought down the mood of the meeting by exploring all the problems we face, I dud take the time to thank the advisors of Meadows Advice Group, and the volunteers on the board who serve most, those who are in most need.

Missing out on EU opportunities

201810 anti Brexit art work joke 50p coin 45119637_1012210822296694_6402268990915215360_oI attended a couple of “Another Europe is possible” meetings in part to reflect on a previous post about the challenges Nottingham faces as we are preparing for, or rather threatened by, Brexit.
Reports of how the EU is now bigger than the. USA in science prompts thoughts to how we might miss out on their progress.  Moving on with progress on health, the environment and tackling corporations on tax avoidance.
One risk that deserves better understanding is the impact of people who are European citizens, but not British.  Up to 3.8 million were mot allowed to take part in the 2016 referendum.  Might people leave Britain, many of them working in the hotel and catering trade?  What might the challenge to the economy be, and to public services, if shortages there make public sector caring jobs less attractive.  A take that this means more jobs for local people begs the question about how crops can to be left in the fields, or in the greenhouses, this year.
The group are pushing for a People’s Vote, which is often challenged with how do you choose 2 options from the 3 touted?  One retort – list the three options – Crash out; May’s deal (which is crash out after a while before new trade deals can be struck), and Remain. A more complicated referendum might actually re-iterate how this matter deserves consideration.
The early challenge to leaving with or without a deal is the race to strike new trade deals, especially with an America with lower standards on food (e.g. chlorinated chicken).
Reminders too, of people like Professor Minford, who wanted to write off Liverpool.  The raw globalisation that will follow Brexit will threaten most what traditional manufacturing businesses we have, a constituency that seemed particularly motivated to vote Leave.
I’ve been wondering about withdrawing Article 50 – which I am assured the UK can do – we must be able to, cos what if a General Election led us to say we’ve changed our mind? Concern at the meetings was to do that in isolation leaves that sense that the result of people expressing their view is to be merely turned over by the political class.   But I think it may be needed cos realisation of  the crisis to come will prompt people to say “stop” cos we’re not ready.
A reminder that the process will be, and has been, making young people feel like they have not say.
For me, another chance to say the challenge to EU membership problem developed from a ruling (by the European Court of Justice) saying that people from abroad could be paid different rates of pay, and terms and conditions, and that by 2010 at least, so many people were bewailing lack of opportunities for employment for local people, and problems caused at work places by people who were not properly trained.

All in all, time for a stock take of the challenges to Nottingham prompted by Brexit.

BTW Independent article on public understanding of Brexit.


Assessing the challenges of Brexit to Nottingham

Nottingham City Council’s policy is that Britain should not leave the European Union, and I imagine that if asked to express its view again, 3 years on from passing a motion, our stance would remain the same.
Notably in that debate, the Conservatives refused to take part.
The council is likely to publish a revised assessment of the challenges posed at its 12th November full council meeting.

= Key Challenges =
The identifiable risks for Nottingham and the City Council, based largely on a report  from 2 years ago were –
Timing: there is uncertainty as to whether March 2019 will remain the leaving date, and as to the significance of some changes coming in 2020;
Uncertainty of final agreement content: there is still no clear model for what “Leave” will mean;
The Pound: what damage high variations in its value triggered by uncertainty and change do;
Inflation: expected to rise and has since;
Economy: the removal of 750 or so trading treaties, with significant delays to be expected in reaching new ones, will affect growth, the ability to export, the timeliness and posts of imports; the desirability of Nottingham for inward investment; growth is expected to fall;
European Structural Investment Funds: their loss will cut off useful alternative routes for external funding when national government has been less supportive;
Hate Crime: might it grow?
Skills: the impact on changes to the labour market to being able to fill posts;
Public spending: a smaller economy will lead to even lower public spending;

= City Economy = 
ESIF: was worth £214.3 million to Notts and Derbyshire for 2014 – 2020; the programme may have slipped; Nottingham had received at £190 million of such funding since 2000;
University Research: around £20 million of our universities’ annual income had come from EU sources;
Exports: around 45% of our exports goes to the EU;
Company ownership: out of 205 local companies that have group ownership overseas, 80 have parent companies in the EU;
Digital single market: the UK stood to be one of the countries that could have gained most from the introduction;

= City Council Treasury Management = 
Risks identified then need a re-statement since many of the issues concerned short term investments and then current events;

= Since 2016 =
Preparing Emergency plans to cover the period of withdrawal has become the main major concern.
In July, concerns mainly focussed on huge delays at ports in Kent.  Now planning is having to cover failures of supplies to reach factories and offices; and failures of supplies to shops, including food.

= More widely =
The status of the British-Irish border and potential threats to the Good Friday agreement is a very widely held public concern. .

Light a Candle – Go Vote

Having been following the mid-term election campaigns for some weeks, and then viewing the coverage of killing 11 Jews in a synagogue, and the mail bombs sent to leading Democrats, I worry that the United States is about to go into a deeper political darkness.
A friend we celebrated yesterday said rather than curse such a darkness, you should light a candle.  The best way to light a candle is to vote, and if an estimated 90 million people cast votes in the 2014 mid-term elections, let us hope an extra 10, 20 or even 30 million candles be lit on November 6th.

– –

Found it re-assuring to see Channel 4 tv’s Jon Snow had gone to Pittsburgh in the USA to cover the murder of 11 Jews in a synagogue.
Was disappointed to hear him ask the Mayor what could be done to get the temperature of exchange by the political classes in the USA brought down a notch.

On one level, as if journalists and news media aren’t also a significant part of the problem.
On another level, cos the actual challenge is to equip people so that they don’t reward people who tempt them with messages of hate.
On another level, cos not all in the political spectrum are casting problems to an equal extent.

Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the anti-Semitic murders in the synagogue on Squirrel Hill.
Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the mail bombs to notable Democrat supporters.
Cos the Alt-Right were responsible for the death of a civil rights activist in Charlottesville last year.

Cos Donald Trump is culpable.
Cos when people are murdered in a synagogue in a hate crime, the response is not to suggest a degree of culpability cos they hadn’t employed a security guard.
Cos the first response to hate bombs being sent to opponents is not to say that you’ll tone down your language, but to say agents of justice will identify and try those responsible.
Cos the first response to Charlottesville should have been to condemn the anti-Semitism (remember “the Jews will not replace us”).
To paraphrase the movie “The Contender”, “culpable, but not responsible”.

A further challenge to the politics of the United States (and to all of us – cos they are that important) is is demagoguery and Nationalism.
– I don’t agree with those who call Trump a s fascist, but many pf the tests set out for fascism are ticked by Trump.
– Trump redefining the Republican Party as a Nationalist party, on top of the previous phase of what’s called Neo-Liberalism (but I see as globalism being used to give more to the very rich) rather than a conservative party grounded in the public health provision and the common endeavour of the two world wars.  (A phenomenon we’re seeing in the UK with the British Conservative party.)

So what should the common endeavour be?
Promoting a free society, where people are able to organise as they wish to win mandates to become the government of the country, principal authority or any other local authority.
A democracy – all responsible adults having a vote is very radical – underpinned by a full electoral register and proper elections.
Judicial systems and community safety.
Rights and responsibilities, that come with citizenship, for all irrespective against class, gender, race, sexual identity.
Full employment in proper jobs, and tackling all the other giant evils – with social security, housing for all, free education and free health at the point of use.
Tackling the opportunities and challenges that come with globalisation, people living longer, climate change and peak oil.
Proper conduct in public life, including being accountable for what you publish in social media (see Nolan principles below.
Audit systems and freedom of information to enable better debate and better journalism, especially over the ambitions and use of public assets and resource.
Politics overseeing how we organise and live, but not replacing it – everything is not political.

Is the above only supportable by democratic Socialists?  Well, Socialism would go further – “no unjustifiable inequalities”, test what we do against deprivation, and greater emphasis on industrial democracy, public ownership and co-operation.

We don’t need a fresh constitution either – although “love, life and the pursuit of happiness” carries a certain zing (More fully”… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …“)
P.S. Not sure calling Donald Trump a Fascist is particularly helpful.
The Washington Post has done a check and think Trump falls short.
I think more a demagogue.

Tim Bell

20181027 143000 aa0809h celebration of the life of Tim Bell E77675F8X111378_10282018_000414_014592Elected to the County Council for Beechdale in 1993, where he became Chair of Social Services.
He later served on the City Council until May 2003.
Son of a vicar, living in Kent for 6 years, Northants for 6 years and Dorset for 6 years, where he met Lyn.
A year teaching in Rwanda before studying law, spending 1969 in hippy California, starting in probation in Lancashire before studying in Nottingham to go further in probation. Working in NACRO and devising new approaches like specialist housing to help people in their way back from crime and punishment.
An enquiring mind, a voracious reader, gentle talker.
Labour Party member and democratic Socialist – one leftist acknowledged how he could credibly argue being Socialist and a Tony Blair supporter.
An atheist, humanist and rationalist.
Husband, father and grandfather.
All explained at a special service held six weeks after his death, having lived with cancer for 5 years.
One quote he loved, or re-worked, along the lines of “rather than curse the current political darkness, better to light a candle“.

Celebrating the artists who have exhibited at Meadows Art Gallery

20181027 133300 meadows art gallery artists and their work
“An archipelago of artists”.
A made-up mass noun by organiser Pat Thomas.
Missed the group discussion, but pleased to take photos of many of the participants.
Higher res photos available.

20181027 133000 ab0625h LGtweet DqhgnxCX0AAfx_E meadows art gallery chat bel pt MME_Fotor.jpg
Lilian Greenwood MP joined the organisers, Pat and Bel, for a discussion about local issues in The Meadows.