Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Put Down Your Knives" Campaign launches in Camberwell Green, Weekend on the South Bank and Hibs buy new players!

Yesterday Harriet launched her "Put Down Your Knives" campaign with us on the Crawford Estate in Camberwell Green Ward. It was especially poignant to have the mother and brother of Edvin Johnson who was murdered on the Estate earlier this year! Over the next month we will be delivering a letter and poster and asking for the community's support in tackling the scourge of knife crime in Camberwell, Southwark and London.
I spent Saturday with Shauna in the South Bank and we went to see the new production of the "Wizard of Oz" at the Royal Festival Hall which was excellent and afterwards Shauna played with the science experiments which were good fun and interesting.

Hibs have signed a couple of new players. Steven Thicot is a 21 year old defensive French midfielder signed from Nantes who played well enough in the 6-0 Barcelona drubbing to suggest that he may be good for us. Joe Keenan, a 25 year old Australian who has played for Chelsea in the past, is the second signing after a thorough trial at Easter Road. ex-Gretna player Fabian Yantorno is also in the squad recovering from injury and should be another good signing. Other players on Mixu's Radar are Watford's Brazilian Douglas Rinaldi, Aberdeen's Steve Lovell and Leeds' Curtis Weston so perhaps a few more players in before the start of the season?

Friday, July 25, 2008

A bad night in the East End of Glasgow, week at Wivenhoe, Camberwell Labour Party Barbeque, Hibs thumped by Barca and "we're off to see the Wizard.."

A really bad night at the Bye-Election and the BBC reported it as follows:
"The Scottish National Party has pulled off a stunning by-election victory by winning Glasgow East, one of Labour's safest seats, by 365 votes.
The SNP overturned a Labour majority of 13,507 to win with a swing of 22.54%.The SNP polled 11,277 votes in the contest, while the Tories came third with 1,639 and the Lib Dems, with 915 votes, came fourth."
I really dont get was is up with people voting Tory and even worse SNP but there is a momentum building up that we have to put a stop too or people will "sleep walk" their way to a Tory Governmnet and even an Independant Scotland, neither of which I truly believe the population of the UK really want!
I really felt that we could hold on to Glasgow East and it is a really bad result for us! The SNP are a real danger to democracy in this country and all parties should be united in doing whatever it takes to stop them!! Always good to see the Lib Dems do so badly!!
I spent most of the week at the rather splendid Wivenhoe House Hotel Just outside Colchester running a 4 day Health & Safety Course for Managers at the University of Essex and the Campus University of Suffolk. all went well but weather a bit too warm for a training course and strange to see lots of rabbits hopping around outside my bedroom window each morning!
May be doing something similar for Bath University soon?

Got back in time to put the record button on for the Hibs Vs Barcelona match and get off to the Camberwell Labour Party Summer Barbecue in the gardens of St. Giles.
It was a lovely evening and we have a really good relationship with the members and get out together more and more. CLP Quiz night next Thursday with yours truly as Quiz Master so I need to get my thinking cap on next week and trawl the net for good questions!

Actually Hibs were 1-0 down before I even had time to get out of the flat with Gudjohnson scoring after 4 minutes and when I got back I found out that a further 5 had gone in for a 6-0 final score!
My dad, sister and nephews were all there and my sister sent a few pics back so a good day had by all but a really shocking performance from Hibs albeit against one of the best teams in the world!
Barcelona were unbelievably good for their first competitive game of the season but it was suggested that the incentive of impressing a new Coach was also very strong! Messi (above) was outstanding and was the named Man of the Match. It really was a "man against boys" situation 4-0 down at half time and only the fact that the second team came out for the second half and the fact that they clearly dropped down a few gears to save further embarrassment saved us from an even worse score! I cant imagine that we learned anything useful from the exercise and I am really concerned that we have seriously dropped back in terms of quality from where we were 2 years ago! lots of players moved on and very few coming in and I really dont think that we are even a top 6 side at the moment. It will be interesting to see how we do against Middlesborough and Wigan as last season we beat Boro and Bolton before going onto a 10 game unbeaten run to put us at the top of the SPL. That seems a very long way off at the moment!! Oh dear it could be a long hard season!!!

I am taking Shauna to see the Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall tomorrow and probably going to see Wall E as well on Sunday. We are off to Broadstairs again the weekend after!
Will be good to see the RFH after it's lottery make-over and of course Oz is much more my thing rather than the HSM of a couple of weeks ago! Oliver to come in the new year as well!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where has the £6.8M gone?, OSC (inc. Camberwell Leisure Centre update) and the Southwark LGBT, the Zutons and Hibs go out of the Intertoto!

Peter John, leader of the Southwark Labour Group rightly asks in today's Southwark News "where has the money gone?" We have to put up with the tedious rants from Nick Stanton about how this horrible Labour government is not giving him enough money but he has been strangely quiet on the Labour Government announcement two weeks ago that and extra £6.8M was being given to Southwark principally intended for business development. Why then, no announcement at last week's Council Assembly, no Press Release, no member briefing?? The Labour Group will press Stanton hard for his plans to spend this money that could make a real difference in the deprived centre of the borough where employment and economic development come at a premium and where local jobs are desperately needed by local people!!
I had an OSC Meeting which gave a positive update on Camberwell Leisure centre from new Exec Member Tory Lewis Robinson, who seems to be genuinely trying to get a deal together for the refurbishment of the Centre including keeping the Pool and is much brighter and much more trustworthy than any of his Lib Dem colleagues so we have to wait and see if he is genuine when he takes a final Report to the Exec probably in October?
I was also invited to the Southwark LGBT Forum in the week as the subject was Community Safety and was very impressed at the well run and focused meeting with very knowledgeable members and local residents alike! An excellent meeting and a very impressive group!!

I went with Alison and Ashwin to see the Zutons at Somerset House this week and it was a great gig with an on form group and a fantastic venue! More pictures on my Facebook!

Hibs fell at the first fence in the Intertoto going down 2-0 (4-0 aggregate!) to Elfsborg FC from Sweden (currently 2nd in their League)....not a very encouraging start!!
Now a hard few weeks with Barcelona at Murrayfield (wonder if new signing from Arsenal Alexander Hleb will play?) and two friendlies against Premiership opposition in Middelsborough and Wigan.
Ma-Kalamby is off to the Olympics with Belgium (who can blame him really?) so a few goalkeeping problems over then next month! Still no news on the future of Fletcher and Benji and new boy Keenan still trialling so no decision there either! Mixu seems keen to get shot of many of John Collins signings but no real indication of players coming in so we do seem a bit short? Hopefully we will see some new blood coming in over the next month?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Knife Crime, Council Assembly, Jeremy ordained and Hibs go to Sweden and I go to High School Musical!

With knife crime still high in the national and local media Southwark News are organising a Knife Crime Summit and I wrote them the following letter:
Dear Southwark News,
With both national and local news full of knife attack stories, and Southwark being very prominent in a number of them, I fully support the Southwark News plans for a Knife Crime Summit and would very much like to involved. I think there can be a clear separation in terms of strategy between the "stick" and the "carrot" and we need clarity of position in both of these areas. I support the current Met Police's "Operation Blunt 2" and, like Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse, that it proves as successful as Operation Trident has been and the early signs I think are positive. I fully supported the Labour Government's tough sentencing policy of gun possession and the current policy of longer sentencing for murders with 20 and 30 year terms being given out by the Courts. I also think that longer and consistent sentences for knife possession should follow accepting the difficulties in knives, unlike guns, having legitimate uses. But as one police officer reported to me last week he found a man with a knife hidden in his buttocks which suggested that he perhaps was not a catering student on his way to class! In terms of this current Administration in the Town Hall we still believe that the lack of a strong coherent strategic view of serious violent crime and how to tackle it is a serious flaw and can have the effect of lessening the impact, or even undermining, some excellent work currently being undertaken on the ground. Last year we raised this 3 times in Council Assembly and three times were voted down. That I believe is a serious mistake! On a more positive note the Council has run a very good in my view "Enough is Enough" poster campaign and in the past had an equally good campaign highlighting the consequences of carrying a knife, ie the risk of being a victim as well as a perpetrator, with split screen images of a family at a graveside and a young man in a prison cell. perhaps this campaign could be resurrected at this present time? We do need to up our game in terms of the "carrot" elements of youth engagement, be it educational, sporting, cultural and political. The Government have provided, and are providing more, significant for youth activities and a promise of a "youth offer". Mayor Livingstone committed to significant funding for youth provision in London which, as far as I am aware, Mayor Johnston has not re-committed to yet? Southwark Council puts a lot of resources into youth provision in the borough and I have been involved, in my past role as Chair of Education and Children s Services Scrutiny Committee in a significant review of existing needs and provision for young people involving meeting lots of dedicated and hard working youth providers and lots of very positive young people! My colleague and new Chair Councillor Barrie Hargrove will hopefully be taking the Report and it's recommendations to the Executive in the autumn, the key recommendation being that the views and needs of young people need to be moved up the political agenda and we need to more closely match what young people want with what we can reasonably provide! With a Labour Government, a Tory Mayor and a Lib Dem/Tory Council there is lots of scope for political posturing and arguing as we clearly have differences in our approach but we need to continue to work together to bring about a short term and longer term solution to this problem and me and my Labour Group are committed to doing that with anyone who wants to achieve the same end!
Councillor John Friary
Labour Group Spokesperson for Community Safety

Wednesday night's Council Assembly was different from the norm as we actually made a decision, and a cross party one at that!, to agree to get the much needed redevelopment of the Aylesbury Estates moving. Whilst there is nothing that can be said about the detail it was clearly the best deal available and it had to be agreed when it was!
Of course that was not good enough for The Leader Nick Stanton who, despite the unanimous support, dusted of his blame the Labour Government for everything speech ( to Labour cries of "change the record!") . He has had to change his one and only speech slightly and omit criticism of the horrible London Mayor now that he is a Tory and a Lib Dem friend! Not surprisingly new backbencher Richard Thomas joined in and even Lib Dems and Tories seemed frustrated by their incoherent rants!! As I have said before "toy town politicians playing toy town politics!" Worst thing is of course they do it in our name!!
It was interesting to see the only two good Executive performances on the night from David Noakes and Paul Noblet which really brings into contrast the woeful performance of the rest of them! The two of them must have been cringing all night!
It was great to see that my good friend Jermey Fraser was ordained at the weekend at Southwark Cathedral after a number of yeasr preparing for the Ministry!
He of course will become one of the official clergy for the London 2012 Olympics so I am sure that will be an interesting and exciting challenge for him?
To Jeremy and his family many congratulations and best wishes for the future!
On the Hibs front they go to Sweden to play the second leg of the Intertoto Cup match against Elfsborg, 2-0 down against a team currently second in the Swedish League, the prospects are not good with even the Manager's comments suggesting a bit of a lost cause!
New rumours of Portsmouth interest in Stephen Fletcher to join Peter Crouch with a £4M+ bid likely and Anderlecht looking to buy Benji for £1M!
With a new stand being build and the Training Centre up and running it may be a "treading water" season for us! Could be a long hard and frustrating season ahead!!
I am off with Shauna to see High School Musical on Saturday at the Hammersmith Apollo and, as not being a HSM aficionado, I really dont know what to expect apart form the fact that "Sharon" from Eastenders is in it!! Report back on Monday but with the Zutons at Somerset House next week and Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall in two weeks I am sure that I have enough to look forward to!

Monday, July 07, 2008

An Irish Festival without Guinness,another Boris appointee goes under a cloud, and Hibs lose opening game of the season!

I went along to the Southwark Irish Festival which was dampened by the mixed weather but mainly by not having an Alcohol Licence due to putting in the application one day late! Nevertheless there was good music and I met up with my cousin and his friend, a local Catholic Priest and we drank some Guinness with a lovely Thai meal in Nunhead! It was interesting to have a look around Peckham Rye Park as the Scrutiny Chair looking at it's current usage. I tried to go into the cafe but it was packed with a long queue so I made do with tea from one of the stalls.
Ray Lewis became the second Boris appointee to go after only 2 months in office! Boris is no fool but he is looking like more and more of a lightweight and a potential liability for Cameron with 2 years to go until an election. Apparently there will not be an inquiry as Boris think that will be "a waste of tax payers money" Well that's all right then!! This is an administration of no interviews, no inquiries, no debate just a bunch of Tory suits striding around City Hall being rude and threatening to people apparently! Clearly a perfect model of a Cameron Tory Government?
Hibs Intertoto adventure seems to have come to a sudden end with a whimper as they went down 2-0 to Swedish opponents Elfsborg at home (I even persuaded my dad to go!). The reports are that Hibs were quite dreadful and nowhere near match fit and an Elfsborg team, midway through their season, ran them into the
ground and we were lucky to get away with a two goal defeat! It is a worrying sign that Hibs just don't have a strong enough squad for the new season so I hope more signings are around the corner or the Barcelona game could be embarrassing! Van Zanden looks like the only new player in to date with Yantorno still fit from his injury.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Task and Finsh Scrutiny on Peckham Rye Park, more murders in Southwark, Hibs in Intertoto and Murray marches on!

Last night I Chaired the first"Task and Finish" Scrutiny Committees in the Town Hall and topic number one was the current use of Peckham Rye Park.
As well as my old colleague Mick Bernard, we had a number of the Carrib FC Football players as well as representatives from other football clubs, Southwark Tigers Rubgy and the Dulwich Harps Gaelic Football Team pictures below.

It was a good chance for everyone to air their views and concerns and I am confident that we will be able to make sensible recommendations on a way forward when we next meet in Peckham in September. I will of course be in the Park this Saturday for the Southwark Irish Festival so I will have a chance to use the cafe and have an informal look around as it has been some time since I have been in the Park. There are clearly some tensions between the user groups and we will have to come up with a way for them to work together in the future probably by establishing some sort of Management Committee? it was good to see young people come to the meeting and hopefully we can really use this type of Committee to really engage with people outwardly rather than being an internalised naval gazing group!
Yesterday there was a March from local people in Islington condemning the murder of 16 year old Ben Kinsella and in Southwark we have had 2 more murders, one in the Old Kent Road and the other last night in Bellenden Road, all knife attacks! This in a week when the TV have been focussing on youth crime and gun and knife attacks. Whilst I accept the need to examine the real root cause of all of this violence, and hopefully our Youth Scrutiny and the work we are currently doing in the Parks, may find a way forward in engaging young people, but there is really no excuse or rationale for people who carry and use knives and guns and I am all for stricter punishments and more stop and search to get weapons off the streets! I did watch some of the programmes and listen to some of the people involved and it was all about easy money and not having to work, one said why should he work in a chicken factory when he can run his own little "hustle" from his own home, the "Hustle being selling crack and pimping prostitutes!!

Hibs play their first competitive game of the season on Saturday at home against Swedish Club Elfsborg in the first round of the Intertoto Cup. The swedes are currently playing their season so will be sharper so it will not be an easy tie to get past them! It will be interesting to see Mixu's first real team selection with his own players since he took over!

There is another cautionary tale for rising stars in Scotland as Derek Riordan looks like he is on his way to Burnley! A few years ago he was Hibs top scorer, Young Player of the Year and had his first full Scotland Cap. Then came the inevitable move to Celtic, long periods on the subs bench and now he is on his way out to, no disrespect intended, a lowly English Club! It is hard to know what else he could have done at Celtic as every time he came on he seemed to score and the fans loved him but Strachan clearly did not! It was rumoured that he was coming back on loan but Celtic want him out so that is not going to happen. Still a really good player and a real natural goal scorer who I hope can "do a Kenny Miller!" and come back to play at the top level where I think he belongs?

Great to see Scot and Hibs supporter Andy Murray still in the mix at Wimbledon after that fantastic come back against Gasquet on Monday! All he has to do is beat Nadal today in the Quarters and he has a great chance of getting to the Final! Should not be a problem for him!