17 May 2015

Child of Mine

You may not believe me but I think about you all the time. At least a hundred times a day my eyes fall upon one of the many photographs of you and I smile and remember one of the millions of memories of you stored away but kept within easy reach, ready to be treasured once again. Sometimes tears will fall when the memory is one where you were hurting and I berate myself for not having protected you from that pain. Mostly I recall all the many ways you  have me smile or laugh, enriching my existence in ways I could never have dreamt of when you were born or I have moments when my heart has nearly burst with pride recalling the so very many ways that you have made me proud of you and all your achievements.

Last weekend I was sitting in a hide watching birds when out of the corner of my eye I saw a young man perch himself on a bench just a few feet away. I caught my breath as just for a second I thought it was you. I stole many glimpses. He was a little younger than you, maybe just 18 but he was a similar build, tall but not quite as tall as you, slim with slender wrists and long, beautiful fingers. His beard was new with the young fluffy growth intermingled with the more mature manly whiskers. It was cut close to his face the way you used to wear yours. It was however, his eyes that mesmerised me. Dark endless brown just like yours, covered with lashes so long and curly that any woman would be envious of such a natural born gift.

Maybe he felt my glimpses because too soon he was gone.

And then the tears rolled down my face, slowly, silently. The pain in my heart solid like a rock. The longing to hug you and hold you, a physical pain almost renting my body in two.

Just a call. Tell me how you are, what you're up to, what your plans are, if you're keeping well and looking after yourself. Keep it light. No heavy stuff. Just a call.

I miss you Son.

4 May 2015

Sins of the Fathers: A Rant against laziness and an apology

I want to apologise to the young people of Aldridge. It isn't my fault because I didn't vote for any of them but I feel the need to apologise on behalf of those who are of an age to exercise their right to vote (and not to vote) for our local councillors who purport to represent the community of Aldridge Central and South.

Last Wednesday I emailed our local councillors, John Murray, Timothy Wilson and standing for re-election on Thursday, John Rochelle, as reported here. The email is reproduced once again:


Dear Councillor,

At the Hustings held at Aldridge Community Centre last Friday I asked a question regarding the future of the youth service in Aldridge and also about the sale of what is currently used as a community asset; Aldridge Manor House.

I was rather hoping that one of you would get in touch with me (I have emailed you on this subject before) in order to offer a helping hand in attempting to save the youth service in Aldridge. Alas this has not happened and so I am emailing all three of you in the hope that one, if not all, will step forward and help the parents who have children who attend Aldridge Manor House Youth Centre to assist in getting the wheels in motion to save this vital service.

When Walsall Council announced that much of the Borough's youth service would be closing, following the setting of the budget for 2015/16 I was most impressed with the way your party colleague and fellow Councillor, Garry Perry sprung into action to help organise and help those who wanted to save the youth service in Pelsall. All credit to Cllr Perry for his support of his local constituents.

There doesn't appear to have been any similar reaction in Aldridge. The young people who attend the centre would like to see it saved and there are parents of those young people who are prepared to go that extra mile to save the service. I can give you contact details if you so wish. One of the reasons that the parents and users of the youth centre have not come forward yet, is that they need constructive help, advice and organisational capabilities plus someone on the inside so to speak, to argue their case. I understand that with appropriate support and advice there is a possibility that this service could be run by the community. 

Furthermore, it is reasonable to say that many inhabitants of Aldridge would be sad to see the actual sale of the Manor House and more likely to be angry if it was bought and then used for a purpose that would not be of benefit to the local community! There is a possibility that the Manor House could be declared a community asset and for the local community to own and manage the building. This would also mean that the Youth Club would have a home as the council were unable to identify any building that was appropriate in the area when they searched for a new home for the youth centre! Again though, residents and those who care about this historical building need help, guidance, advice and some organisational application in order to go through the process if indeed it is a feasible proposition. It may not be. However, first a true temperature test of the strength of feeling would be helpful. If after all there is not enough interest in saving both the youth centre and the building then fair enough, sleeping dogs can be left in peace. I have to say from emails that I receive that there is interest, which is why I am pursuing this with you. Someone has to.

Would any of you be prepared to call a local meeting for the people of Aldridge in order to ascertain if there is sufficient interest and enthusiasm in forming a community committee that could perhaps in the future become a charity to help save Aldridge Manor House as a community building and asset run by local people for the local community?

I appreciate that this is a lot of hard work for one person which is why I am emailing all three of you. You have as Councillors, access to resources, help and guidance that the local people need. As councillors you are effectively facilitators.



Councillor Tim Wilson was good enough to respond within a couple of hours. This is what he had to say:



Good afternoon Linda,

Thank you for your email.

I was unable to attend the hustings on Friday and was therefore unaware that you had raised the important question of youth services in Aldridge.

Youth service provision in Aldridge is important to all three ward councillors and we have been monitoring what IYPSS propose for our young people and have voiced concerns where appropriate.

I think the best way forward is for IYPSS to provide an explanation of their plans for providing the youth service and then we can meet to discuss it if that would be acceptable to you?

Regards,



My response was swift (so apologies for any incoherence, it was bashed out in an angry manner) and to the point as I did not consider the response to be adequate to the requests for help that had been made:



Dear Councillor,

Thank you for responding so swiftly.

The plans for the Youth Centre have been well publicised as have the plans for all but one Youth Centre in the Borough to be closed, hence my reference to Cllr Perry. It was to close on 31 August 2015 but has been reprieved once again and will now close on 31 December.

The closures are down to the budget cuts.

The sale of The Manor House was agreed by the Council in 2011.

IYPSS searched for a suitable alternative premises but none that were suitable could be found in Aldridge. The Youth Centre was therefore to close with or without budget cuts! The decision was made by the Conservative administration!

IYPSS don't really have much input when budget constraints mean that virtually all youth centres are to close, so I see little point in prevaricating especially when the Centre has lived under the shadow of closure for some considerable time. IYPSS were not even willing to follow up on their promise of a further public meeting with the local community although they did consult with the service users and young people in the locality.

Are you willing to help through direct assistance or not? I don't personally want to get heavily involved although I am willing to be involved. I'm better serving as a campaigning mouth piece as my blog has a reasonable readership. However, I can supply details of one of the parents involved who would like the sort of support and help that Cllr Perry has provided to his constituents. Or perhaps you could attend the Youth Centre and talk to parents and the young people? Or both?

Kind regards



There has been no further communication from Councillor Wilson but at least he tried even if he failed miserably to take on board what the situation is and what help was requested. This is more than can be said for either Councillors Murray or Rochelle. To give them their due, they are merely being consistent in not responding to correspondence from me. 

I'll make no bones about naming and hopefully shaming the three conservative ward councillors for Aldridge Central and South. They each pick up an expense allowance of £10586 per annum to cover costs and help reimburse them for their time and trouble in the onerous job of representing the ward. That's over £200 per week! Now I know that there are Councillors out there that really do help and assist their individual constituents and local communities. They are out there visiting the elderly, the disabled and those that are neither but are needy, to assist with problems that a local councillor can help with and lending a sympathetic ear for problems that perhaps they cannot help with. They are worth every penny and I take my hat off to them and acknowledge the wonderful job that they do. However, Councillors Wilson, Rochelle and Murray have not covered themselves with glory thus far in  helping the young people of Aldridge and also  all the  people of Aldridge that would really like the opportunity to at least try and save the building for the local community. With help, a start could be made but we need that help and it is entirely appropriate for a local councillor to provide it and as I said in my original email, if the interest really isn't out there, then fine. Subject closed. The subject of provision for young people is not however, closed. The majority are not of age to cast a vote but I really hope that they have some influence over their voting parents and grandparents and ask them to NOT VOTE for the lazy, lazy councillors that currently represent our ward. 

No, I don't think calling them lazy is strong. It is my personal opinion based upon my own experience. When Tim Wilson was seeking election for the first time in 2013 he did pop into the Manor House Youth Club during the campaign period. He hasn't (so I've been told) returned there since his election.

Is this really what the people of Aldridge Central and South want? Councillors who are happy to take the generous allowances paid (and funded by us the ordinary people) but who ignore members of the local electorate, ignore the young people of the ward and do not give tuppence about the future of one of the few historic buildings that remains standing in Aldridge?

So I am sorry. I've tried. I asked a question at Hustings and Wendy Morton told me that the issue was of a local council nature, so I once again approached our local tory councillors and have been effectively turned down there too. There you have it. The Tories in Aldridge (unlike those in Pelsall) do not want to know and whilst I think about it, is Wendy Morton even registered to vote from the address given on her nomination form or does she remain on the electoral register at 'home' in Yorkshire?

I imagine that come Friday morning we will have another tory MP who does not engage with all of the electorate, her failure to respond to tweets (on this very subject) is proof enough of that but who in the eyes of many appears to love a photo opportunity more than any super model and come Friday tea time, we will have the same tory councillor who as reported by me along time ago, thought the sale of the Manor House was a good thing. Is that what we really want? Is that what we should be inflicting upon our young people?

Wake up people of Aldridge before it's too late.

3 May 2015

Sitting, waiting, wishing....

To Aldridge Central and South Conservatives. I'm still waiting. Very politely but getting impatient just like the young people of Aldridge.