Sunday, December 31, 2006

Soggy delivery

The last couple of days haven't been fantastic for getting out on the streets, but I braved the elements to help Colin Ross in Tettenhall Regis ward. I was struck by how similar it was to parts of my own ward in Selly Oak, such as Corisande and Woolacombe Lodge. These are areas where we have worked continuously for some time, and are now strongly Liberal Democrat. I see no reason why Tettenhall Regis couldn't be like Selly Oak and return Lib Dems Cllrs.

Revitalised PCs

The post-xmas period is when I've got a few spare days that don't involve too much council work or liberal democracy. So I normally spend it "spring" cleaning...
So far I've thrown about 20kg of paper out, ready to be recycled, 2 PC base units that are either bare-bones, or empty. But, I've also managed to resurrect a couple of PCs that can now be used for various things (running committee rooms for elections etc). The last time they were up and running was during the Hodge Hill by-election. Now that we have a fantastic new PPC in place (Tariq Khan), they may well come into use again as his campaign gathers momentum in 2007.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hello from my country retreat...

Well Oundle is actually a smallish town (pop 5k). But if v.quiet at night you can here cows in the distance!
My parents are currently feeding and watering me, as well as a couple of chinese students from Durham Uni, who are here as part of the Hosts scheme.
I've had to do with patchy t'internet access (dial-up modem!), but I think I've persuaded them that broadband is the way to go (as last quarter they spent over £30 dialing up, so for a few more £s they can have a couple of Megs). Or they could "borrow" their neighbours wifi...
As usual the food has been excellent. Mainly because they can source some incredible meat from their local butchers (which is now owned by a farmers collective...). Xmas day lunch was a traditional piece of beef cooked on the bone (none of that turkey nonsense!). While other bits have included pheasant, pork loins and venison.
Will be a shame to return home to Brum, and the smell of chocolate from Cadbury's.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last working day

This week for most people is a bit of a write-off. Numerous parties, winding down for the christmas closedown and general wandering around being festive.
Today is even worse. The morning is spent discussing when "the email" will come from on high to say you might as well leave. Lunch is spent having a quick pint in the Staff bar, and then you go back to the office to clear things up. In the Academic depts it seems that things are even more laid back. When I was dropping things off this morning, I noticed several all dept gatherings even at 1130hrs. I guess most of them will clock off straight after lunch.
So why am I still sat here after 3pm writing this...?
Unlike many of the jobs around here, working in Planning is very unrelated to the academic year. When the students are long gone, we still have to finish off counting them, or working out how much money they are worth.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Milk regulator

During my dosing faze of waking up and listening to Today. I'm fairly certain I heard a report about control of milk prices, and that farmers wanted a regulator.
I'm sure Ofmilk will not be the cream of the crop, or top of the list.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cricket latest

Are the England team also part of the "take the trash out" conspiracy to cover for Tony's questioning?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Toothless weekend

Bit of a hectic weekend. Only marginally spoiled by Virgin Trains cancelling their services between London and Birmingham on Saturday afternoon.
I'd travelled down to the Big Smoke for an exec meeting of the Agents & Organisers Association. My journey down was dead easy on a Virgin pendo, found a table and plugged my laptop in and managed to work most of the way.
But the return could have been comical: got to Euston to discover that we would have to take a local train to MK, followed by a bus to Northampton, and a Silverlink service would be "waiting for us" there. Fortunately, there was still time to hop across to Marylebone to get the last slow train out of London. But that still meant not getting into Brum until gone midnight.
So quite a long day.
My Sunday was spoilt slightly by waking up to find one of my temporary dental bridges had come out during the night. So I had to concoct a soft diet for the day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Aston Hall

Last night I went along to Aston Hall to see it by candlelight. Quite a marvelous experience, and not one people will be able to see for over a year as the Hall is being closed for extensive works.
The number of candles used is far more than would have been employed during the main periods of occupancy but it still seems very dark! I could hardly make out the guide map.
The Hall is open until Saturday 9th, so still time to catch it before closing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cycle Advisory Group

Its been one of those weeks where I've either been at work, at council meetings or sleeping... The one evening I "had off" meant leaving the office at 8pm!
Last night the first Cycle Advisory Group was held for nearly 6 months. Which meant there were about 6 months of questions and gripes to air. As the only councillor who has continued their membership of this group, and the only councillor who regularly uses his bike for commuting to work and for council, I was asked to chair the group. Which I happily accepted.
Cycling in Birmingham is due an interesting year. Officers are busily working away at putting together an updated cycling strategy. The last one was completed in 1998!
The current arrangements are such that the cycle officers have a capital budget, but little or no revenue funding. In practice this has just about worked up to now as there has been a concentration on putting in capital schemes for the strategic network of routes in the city, which is gradually approaching completion in the north/east of the city.
But the current thinking is that there needs to be more promotion of the benefits of cycling (eg travel times, health & fitness), and whats available for cyclists (eg where bike racks are, where the quieter streets are etc). To do this though, there needs to be a recurrent budget, alongside a capital one.
So interesting times.