Sunday, 28 May 2017

Council Tax exemptions data update

As regular readers of BeestonWeek will know I have a thing about council tax exempt properties, especially in relation to occupants in 'full-time education', generally referred to as 'student housing'.

My 'thing' relates to how too much student housing in any one area (eg. Lenton, Beeston) upsets the 'balance' of a street and the community it is part of. You have to look no further than electoral rolls for evidence of this fact. In turn this impacts on local shops, schools, house prices and local government revenue in the form of council tax income and any additional services as a result of the exemptions .

In February 2015 I Broxtowe Borough Council kindly provided me with data which I used to create a table of council tax exempt properties in the Borough by street and areas, plus a map of Beeston showing the density of council tax exempt properties by street (you can still see all this in my pages section to the right, where there are links).

At the end of 2016 I began the process of trying to update the data, but Broxtowe Borough Council refused me the data I requested. After I submitted a Freedom of Information request to Broxtowe Borough Council I was promised the data for mid-March 2017. I didn't chase it because by then I was in hospital having just had open heart surgery. When I did get onto it in April, there were clearly problems because the council officer who compiled the data in 2015 had left and what detailed data I was given was clearly inaccurate, so we arranged that I would have the data by the end of May (ie. about now).

In the event the data problems have continued, but I have found myself in contact with the person who has responsibility for compiling the data. After exchanging e-mails and on reflection we have agreed to compile detailed data about council tax exempt properties in Broxtowe for the end of September 2017. This has the advantage of coinciding with the beginning of the new academic year and the preparation of draft budgets for the next financial year.

As I have said on countless occasions this is not a party political issue as far as I am concerned. The fact that I am a Labour Party member does not prevent me from working with members of other political parties when it comes to council tax exempt properties. I believe a joint approach to this sensitive issue makes sense.

I was recently invited to write a contribution to the Beeston & District Civic Society Newsletter on the issue. I don't know whether it has been used, but I have just noticed an error on my part, brought about by me transposing two digits and, as a consequence, turning £590,000 in £950,000. The former is, according to a senior Broxtowe Borough Council officer in an e-mail to a borough councillor, 'The full council tax charge for Broxtowe residents in full time education in 2016/16 is around £590,000' (includes Borough, County, Police and Fire precepts).

Given that a 1p council tax charge produces c£53,000, then 11p of our charge goes to covering the lost council tax exemption income before any services are provided. The officer in question says 'The cost to (Broxtowe Borough Council) will be around £59,000'.

My numerical 'slip' may have been my mind thinking that in just a few years council tax exempt properties in Broxtowe will be costing council tax payers nearer £1,000,000.

I also know that this is not an issue Broxtowe borough councillors have investigated. Given the sums of money involved this is remiss of them. Even when they do see this information, as I know one councillor has, its significance seems to pass them by.

I am now extremely hopeful that the data I am working on with Broxtowe Borough Council will be shared with councillors and some way of putting the data in the public domain will be found which ensures a constructive dialogue takes place. Given the interest now being shown by Beeston & District Civic Society I hope they can be the mechanism by which this data reaches a wider audience.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A reader remembers Beeston and wonders?

I received an email today which read:

Dear Robert,

Mainly to say how I enjoy your observations and congratulate you on returning following major surgery, "ready for anything".

I'm a former resident of Beeston - over 50 years since I left - but enjoy reading about dear old Beeston, especially politically. You might be amused about my start in politics; way back, probably 1948/9.

I worked at Boots offices in Nottingham, with a day release to Boots College, Beeston Works. We had a mock election, and I ventured to be the Tory candidate - I was resoundingly beaten by the Labour candidate, which brought it home to me what were political leanings in the Beeston area.

Since then I've gone through Tory and recently Lib Dem phases, but seeing now how the polls are moving towards Labour, might even vote for them, even in this Lib Dem run area, with Tim Farron in charge.

One thing that surprises me about your online work is the absence of comments to what you say - why is this do you think?


Douglas Worrall

I'd like to thank Douglas for his kind words and to respond to his question in the final paragraph.

The answer is I don't know. Some folk tell me they have tried to post comments without success, some come through in the form of emails like Doug's. A few come direct.

Beeston is like its neighbour Lenton. Both draw you in and hold you fast. 

The important thing is that we all vote. I toyed with the idea of a postal votes at the county council elections, being just nine weeks after my op, but I decided I would go in person, as I will Thursday week. I really will miss not taking numbers on polling day at the polling station near our home with Susan. I look forward to doing it again in 2019 at the Borough Council elections.

Doug, assuming you read this, thanks once again for your email, you seem an OK guy and I am sure you will vote wisely come the day. I hope it's for your local Labour Party candidate wherever you are.

Jeremy Corbyn draws attention to the elephant

I'm not a reader of The Independent but my attention was drawn to a story in the paper today (click here for link).
The Independent story said Corbyn made a good speech about terrorism, but it won't win him any support is the verdict. To quote:
His views on the causes of terrorism here are not new. Nor are they his alone. Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, has said: "Our involvement in Iraq radicalised … a few among a generation who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack upon Islam." Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said in a report for the Tories: "We need to recognise that a central element of foreign policy – the intervention in Iraq – has failed in its objectives so badly that the threat to this country is actually greater than it was before it began." David Cameron described this analysis as "a statement of fact".
The political establishment, with a few notable exceptions, and most of the media place the blame for the situation we are in with the terrorists. What Corbyn and others, like Baroness Manningham–Buller, point out is what most people know — as a state we have some responsibility and we should not be surprised if some of our enemies have chosen to become terrorists. I think their approach is wrong and attacking innocent people who and wherever they are has to be condemned. Corbyn understands this. To quote from his speech:

'Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed. So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.

I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace'.
That is my commitment to our armed services. This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people'

It will be interesting to see how people react to Jeremy Corbyn's Manchester speech over the remaining days of the general election. He reflected the actions of Mancunians and we stand shoulder-to- shoulder with them, knowing it could be anywhere next. Mindless terrorism didn't stop us in the seventies and eighties when Northern Ireland was part of our everyday life. Security on the surface was much tighter then. Now the security services have other means of monitoring terrorists. I don't expect them to tell us what they are doing. That is counter-intuitive.
I pray and hope sensible voters will support and thank Jeremy Corbyn for drawing attention to the truth of the situation we are in and vote for him.
I really thought this election was madness. My head still does, but my heart is saying otherwise.

FOOTNOTE: The Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has disowned Corbyn's speech. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Labour Party manifesto on local government and democracy

From the Labour Party manifesto for the 2017 General Election two sections which matter to me:

Local communities

Councils deliver vital local services to our communities, but their budgets have been slashed by Conservative cuts. This has led to a deterioration of local services, from bin collection to road repair, and the loss of important community assets such as libraries, youth centres and women’s refuges.

Labour believes in devolving power to local communities but that requires the necessary funding follows. You cannot empower local government if you impoverish it.

A Labour government will give local government extra funding next year. We will initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options such as a land value tax, to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term.

Labour is the party of devolution and we believe in handing back power to communities. We will devolve powers over economic development, complete with the necessary funding.

Extending Democracy

A Labour government will establish a Constitutional Convention to examine and advise on reforming of the way Britain works at a fundamental level.

We will consult on its form and terms of reference and invite recommendations on extending democracy.

This is about where power and sovereignty lies – in politics, the economy, the justice system, and in our communities.

The Convention will look at extending democracy locally, regionally and nationally, considering the option of a more federalised country.

Our fundamental belief is that the Second Chamber should be democratically elected. In the interim period, we will seek to end the hereditary principle and reduce the size of the current House of Lords as part of a wider package of constitutional reform to address the growing democratic deficit across Britain.

We will extend the Freedom of Information Act to private companies that run public services.

We will reduce the voting age to 16. At 16, you are eligible to pay tax, get married or even join the army. You deserve a vote.

I hope a Labour government gives the job of chairing the proposed Constitutional Convention to Graham Allen. He has the credentials and commitment. I am assuming the Convention will be free to recommend extending the proportional voting system used in Scotland and Wales to England and the UK Parliament as well.

Graham Allen has argued the local government needs its 'a Magna Carta' to protect it from central government and I agree with him.

I am in no doubt that the quality of all our daily lives has been improved more by local councils than Westminster. The Labour Party has seen the aim of its structure as being to primarily elect MPs. I believe it should be to elect councillors and from this will come electing MPs.

Last week in two consecutive posts we received four 'Vote Labour' posters. We have yet to see a poster saying 'Vote Greg Marshall'. I rest my case. If Labour wants to win Broxtowe it has to do more to promote its greatest asset — a truly local candidate. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Beeston should sell itself as a national walking centre

I have been walking around and through Beeston for more years than I realise. I first came here in 1975 with Susan, my wife, when she brought me from Mansfield to visit Nottingham University campus and Chilwell Vicarage, where she lodged for two years whilst attending Nottingham University in the late-1960s.

In 1979 we bought a house beside Lenton Recreation Ground and in the years which followed canal walks took us, among other places, to Beeston Lock and onto Attenborough. The great thing, even then about canal walking, was the fact that it was all on the flat. In other words, no hills and even in my thirties I liked that.

Forty years on and so much has changed, so much more to see and do. The Attenborough Nature Reserve Centre, Beeston Marina, Lakeside (close enough for Beeston to claim as one of its attractions) and in just over a month the Canalside Heritage Centre will open.

Recovering from open heart surgery (now eleven weeks ago) I have found myself using Beeston Lock as a starting point for walks. Yesterday was one such day.

Until six months ago I would have walked to Beeston Lock, but right now if I walked from the top of Wollaton Road, where I live, I would get no further than the Lock, so I have been driving and parking on Canalside, as I did yesterday (there is a map at the end of this post showing route).

Click on the pictures to enlarge. They follow the direction of my walk.

Walking from Beeston Lock towards Beeston Marina with the River Trent beside you.

One of the odder sights is this outdoor launderette at Beeston Marina.

Just past the Marina on the right-hand side of the footpath you see this information board, where you turn right and walk away from the River Trent.

A lovely view of Beeston Pond to your right.

The path has Beeston Pond to the right and The Delta to the left. Ahead of you to the Meadow Lane railway foot crossing.

This glorious reed bed forms part of The Delta and can be seen from the left of the footpath.

The Meadow Lane railway foot crossing which Network Rail wants to close. Lots of local folk and users have registered their objections to the proposal. Network Rail say the crossing is dangerous.

These two photographs show that few foot crossings can have such a clear view of oncoming trains as this one. Above is the view towards Beeston Station and below is the view towards Attenborough Station.

There is something primeval about this rotting tree beside the footpath away from the crossing towards Attenborough village.

The footpath towards Attenborough has a spur to the left towards what is Meadow Lane.

This is the clearest patch of open ground on the entire walk and...

...leads you onto to yet another footpath with water on either side.

On the west side of the path there is a clearing and a bench, where you can sit and look across the main pond towards Ratcliffe Power Station.

Where the main pond meets the River Trent there is this footbridge. When there has been a lot of rain it overflows into the Trent.

The bridge provides a pleasant place to stand and view the Trent.

On the day I was there, water from the main pond was roaring into the Trent.

One of the many directional signs you will find as you walk beside the Trent and around the Attenborough Nature Reserve. Notice this one points you to Meadow Lane, where this walk has come from.

Across the Trent at this point, the chalets on the opposite bank are actually in the City of Nottingham. You are about as far away as you can get from the city centre. At this point you are heading back towards Beeston Lock, which is about then minutes away.

We walked passed the Beeston Lock cottage at the beginning of the walk, but I wanted to use this photo to mark what is, in effect, the end of the walk.

This banner is fixed to wall of the new Canalside Heritage Centre. The building looks far from ready, but likes so many building projects the last bit happens in rush.

As I walked away from the lock and back down Canalside towards my car I saw another banner. This time advertising the Attenborough, Beeston & Chilwell Art Trail which takes place over the weekend 3–4 June 2017.

I hope this little map helps. I think the new Canalside Heritage Centre has great potential as a walking centre, from where you can go off in lots of different directions. The list of potential walks is considerable. For some time I have had a draft walking map centred on Beeston Lock in hand, but I have some walks yet to do.

We really do fail to appreciate what we have around us and this little walk I did today is a good example of this fact.

I also wonder if an occasional ferry (say the 1st weekend in every month) could link the two banks of the Trent so that you could visit Clifton Woods?

This area has great potential and could be linked in with other heritage/nature sites near by (Bramcote church tower, Nottingham Canal Nature Reserve, Wollaton Dovecote, Wollaton Hall & Park, Dunkirk Pond, Highfields Park, Lakeside, Toton Park & Mill site, Barton's vintage bus collection, Hurts, plus, of course, Beeston and Stapleford's numerous blue plaque locations). I rest my case, knowing I have left other locations out.

Urban walking opportunities get little attention and what we have in and around Beeston I would rank as being of national significance because it is so varied (the annual Heritage Open Days weekend in September demonstrate this fact).

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The erosion of the Labour vote in Broxtowe does not look good for 8th June

The tables below are quite telling and suggest that for Labour to win they need a low poll.

Click on a table to enlarge.

In the four general elections from 2001 to 2015 the percentage turnout increased from 68.5% to 74.4%, which is good news. The bad news is that the Labour Party's vote fell from 23,636 in 2001 to 19,676 in 2015.

The Green Party and UKIP did not contest the 2001 General Election in Broxtowe (hence the zero). The Conservative vote went up in every election, as did the Liberal for three elections until the party's vote collapsed 2015.

I heard Nick Palmer say more than once that he lost because electors voted for the Green Party. The truth is a little different. He lost because more people voted.

Perhaps what surprises me most is that the no. of electors fell from c73,690 in 2001 to c71,828 in 2015. It will be interesting to see the size of the 2017 electorate, given the number of students now living Beeston. Based on my own experience, which I have blogged about, Broxtowe Borough Council does not make it easy to register as a voter, nor is it ever keen to share electoral information (eg. the no. of voters living in each ward and polling districts).

Students attending Nottingham University, based on my experience of being actively involved in Dunkirk and Lenton ward in Nottingham, are more likely to vote Conservative than Labour. It has been their failure to vote in city council elections which has kept the ward Labour. In other words if students living in Beeston have managed to register as voters, the chances are they won't be voting for Greg Marshall.

Like it or not there has been a erosion of the Labour vote in Broxtowe since 2001 and I am working on tables using data from borough and county council elections to see if the trend in general elections has been mirrored in local elections. The above table is an attempt to match county council ward results with the Broxtowe constituency and not the Borough, so I have excluded Eastwood and the Beauvale/Greasley ward (which includes Brinsley). It shows Labour's low point in the five county council elections between 2001 and 2017 as being in 2009 — the year before the 2010 general election. The evidence suggests that the party which gets most votes in the county council elections wins the general election, so you understand why Labour entered the 2015 election on a high, not that I thought the optimism was well founded and said as much when I blogged in December 2014 about the Toton by-election result. I hope I'm wrong.

Broxtowe Borough Council is being its usual awkward self, not providing data from the county council election results it could compile for me in five minutes at most (ie. the actual number of electors in Broxtowe by county wards and by polling districts in Bramcote & Beeston North ward). I asked for it a week ago. It seems they are 'very busy' registering voters (I wonder how many will share my experience of being refused registration  by Broxtowe Borough Council and having to appeal?).

Perhaps Greg Marshall has to follow Theresa May's example and pretend to be a loser. That as good a candidate as he is, he needs every Broxtowe vote he can get and not just Labour die-hards. He needs to have different messages for different parts of the constituency. In the county council election just gone Steve Carr used this tactic to good effect and I admit to being full of admiration for him and what he achieved.

Theresa May knows that the worst thing that can happen as far as she and the Conservatives are concerned is a low turnout. Historic evidence suggests that the Labour Party should focus on identifying its core vote, working it and praying for a low turnout.

When I was younger and running elections I used to identify the core vote early, then work it. I was the view that I could win any local election with 10% of the vote as Labour by election day. As far those firmly against Labour were concerned there was no election taking place. I simply didn't contact them and as a strategy it worked. I am pretty sure the Conservatives in Broxtowe are doing this. 

In the county council election my wife and I had to pick a window poster for Ellie Winfield up from the Labour Party stall on Beeston High Road. For the 2015 borough council election we had to make our own. By now every Labour Party member in Broxtowe should have been taken a window poster. We're still waiting.

On county council election day only Steve Carr was outside the polling station in Bramcote & Beeston North ward where we went to vote. No one from Labour was there. If you can't distribute posters to your members or have tellers at every polling station then you get some inkling why things are as they are.

Finally, saying this in private doesn't seem to work or get any acknowledgement, and your enemies will delight in your shortcomings, saying nothing — hence this blog as a critical friend.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Looked in the eye at Hallam's

I walked into Hallam's on the High Road looking for fish and all I saw was this — an eye staring out at me.

I don't know if the display on Hallam's fish counter intended to be as eye-catching as it was. My next visit will be on Tuesday and I will be looking for a treat. Until I was in my thirties it would have been skate, but a visit with my children to the then newly opened Sea World in Birmingham ,where we had skate eating from our hands made me see this wonderful fish completely differently. I don't eat chicken because I use to have a pet hen when I was child. Irrational I know. When we have visitors I take them into Hallam's with me. A wonderful greengrocery and fishmonger by any measure.

The Fabric Place on Chilwell Road has a lovely 'seaside and beach hut' display in its window at the moment which caught my attention. Susan had gone there to buy some denim. To see the display in more detail click on the picture and it will enlarge (as will Hallam's fish counter).

What prompted our walk was the  need to collect our car from the garage after servicing and when we got there we noticed some cottages we had, somehow, managed to miss before, even though they were right in front of us all the time. It is so easy to miss Bridge Avenue on the south side of Chilwell High Road, sandwiched as it is between to large garage forecourts packed full of cars.

Three houses collectively named Carlyle Cottages dated 1906...

...and to their right another three named Ruskin Cottages dated 1906.

What we now have to learn more about is how they came to be built, assuming that their naming is linked to the 19th century radicals Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin. This would would suggest they were built to house workers. A quick search of the web provides no answer, so we will have to ask around.

The one other house on Bridge Avenue is called Rugby Cottage and also dated 1906, which suggests all were built at the same time, though the latter in a very different style. Were all three built by the same person?

It never cease to amaze me how every time I walk along a road or ride the same journey on a bus I notice something new or different every time. It shouldn't, because that is how life is... a ever changing right before our eyes. To have gone to the garage to collect our car and to have left wondering made the visit special.

The afternoon ended beside the Trent. Lenton, where we lived for thirty-five years, and Beeston are neighbouring historic parishes with the River Trent as their southern boundary, yet both seem to have turned their backs on this river which in the minds of many (wrongly of course) is what seperates England into north and south. I do sometimes wonder how both would see themselves if they were named Beeston-on-Trent and Lenton-on-Trent? I suspect it would be a little differently. The outside world would be more attracted to them as destinations, of that I am sure.

The picture is from the east side of Beeston weir looking across the Trent to Clifton Hall. I think this section down towards Clifton Bridge is one of the loveliest.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Corbyn and McDonnell take us on the ride of our lives since 1945

We have yet to read the small print, but any socialist worth the name must, like me, have puffed out his or her chest and said 'yes' if they saw the front page of today's Daily Mirror.

Even Polly Toynbee in The Guardian today described the leaked draft of the Labour Party manifesto as 'a cornucopia of delights' adding 'The leaked Labour manifesto is a treasure trove of things that should be done, undoing those things that should never have been done and promising much that could make this country infinitely better for almost everyone.'

I still think this general election is madness, but watching Corbyn and McDonnell on BBC TV News today they seemed to have gained in confidence and, in the process, have become more animated - which has to be a good thing.

Toynbee, the old social democrat that she is, is no fan of the pair, so hear her enthusing really suggests that they have done something right at last.

The BBC was going on about the cost of such a program and how will it be paid for? This is the same BBC which joined the rest of the media, with the exception of the Morning Star, in supporting the multi-billion pound bail-out of banks, not questioning the decision of Brown and Darling to print money and introduce a decade of ongoing austerity.

It is worth remembering that most utility companies were created by Conservative and Liberal politicians before the Labour Party existed. Back in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century local businesses wanted water, sanitation, gas, electricity, mail, communications and transport services, which were owned and managed in all their interests and, by default, the interest of the community as a whole. We all know energy and rail privatisation was, and remains, stupid.

What little I have heard in the last few hours is up-ifting. People never expected this from Labour and if any other two Labour politicians were fronting this manifesto, most voters would be cynical, but this pair could just ensure Labour performs much better on 8th June. Labour will need to tailor its campaign and be open about what it is doing. What it needs to be promising in the East Midlands is different to the North West, Scotland and Wale etc.

Andy Burnham made this point after his election as Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester when he said "I have long felt that it is nigh on impossible to renew politics from the Westminster level,” he said. “The party has been too London-centric in my view for too long, and I don't see that correcting itself any time soon. You see it from Scotland. Having one line to take for the whole of the UK will never work, and therefore the rebuilding has got to be done in a different way." (The Guardian, 7 May 2017).

We will have to wait now and see how right-wing Labour MPs react. They may stay quiet until after the election, but they have, individually and as a group, a long history of betraying the Labour Party.

In the meantime, let us enjoy and take full advantage of this rare opportunity to elect a Labour government which offers a chance to capture the essence of Attlee and the 1945 Labour government.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Something nice to get your teeth into with Fang-Ju

Three weeks ago I blogged about 'The changing face of Beeston' and what changes I had noticed after an absence of seven weeks. One of my photographs showed the new Johnny & Phil's Healthy Bakery on Chilwell Road, which is owned and managed by Fang-Ju Shen. I had left the shop with a couple of rolls, which were very enjoyable with cheese from the Local not global deli a few doors down.

I paid a return visit last week to see how Fang-Ju is getting along. It's early days, but her rolls are as tasty as they were three weeks ago. As someone who has been making bread, rolls and bun loaf almost every week since 1977 I have become a creature of habit and stick to what I know and like. When I buy bread it is either from Birds or Home Bakery, the latter make especially large baps for their lunchtime roll service, which I buy to fill with watercress. They guard these large rolls carefully, so I ask nicely and, if they can, they will sell me a couple of rolls.

My own rolls are sugar free and made quite small to go with soup, something we have as a meal several times a week, but I do add butter and not nearly often enough I put a filling in the middle, so I was interested to see that the Taiwanese like rolls with toppings baked onto the crust. Fang-Ju had two toppings on offer: sausage & onions with herbs and cheese & tomato, also with herbs. Both were delicious with soup. One of the rolls Fang-Ju is holding is called a 'pineapple roll' because of its cracked top. This roll is lovely and chewy and has a firm bottom, almost like that of a pikelet/crumpet, slightly greasy. It is also sweet. We filled the rolls with cheese and their chewiness meant they took longer to eat and they were bursting with flavour. One roll was filling and I will be going back next week for another couple of 'pineapple rolls'.

Feng-Ju deserves to succeed and be rewarded for her enterprise, so pay her 'healthy bakery' a visit and she will explain the different rolls she makes. She also make desserts and cakes. I took home a slice of 'Yogurt cake' made with a Victoria type fat free sponge. Fang-Ju knows how to make a beautiful moist sponge.

In the midst of elections and Brexit mania, enjoying some of the good food Beeston has to offer is a welcome distraction and Fang-Ju is a welcome addition to our small town's pantheon of great cooks and food-makers. Pay her a visit and discover all that she to offer for yourself, you won't be disappointed.

My final 'slice' of good news about Fang-Ju and her Healthy Bakery is that there a few tables and chairs in the shop, so you can buy and eat on the spot — life doesn't get much better than that when it comes to good rolls!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Anna Soubry heads straight for the gutter

Within hours of the General Election kicking off Anna Soubry's first e-mail shows that she intends to spend the next five weeks in the political gutter. To quote:

'Support from More United (for me) came shortly after Broxtowe Labour broke its long standing tradition of selecting moderates as their parliamentary candidate. Broxtowe Labour have selected a member of the hard left to stand in the June General Election. He is not just a full supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, but someone who has named John McDonnell as his political hero "the epitome of a progressive socialist". The Shadow Chancellor is one of the most divisive figures ever in the Labour movement. When I called him out on BBC Question Time for failing to stand up against vile sexist abuse from the hard left towards moderate Labour women MP's, many thanked me both publicly and privately.

McDonnell said of the IRA it was "about time we started honouring those involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands, that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA".

John McDonnell has never apologised for the content of what he said - only (and only recently) for any offence he caused by his comments.
I very much hope Broxtowe Labour's parliamentary candidate disassociates himself unequivocally with McDonnells comments about the IRA and might consider some less unpleasant and extreme Labour figure as a fitting hero.'

Notice how she does not name Greg Marshall. If a named Labour Party candidate doesn't exist he cannot defeat her - this seems to be Anna's approach from day one.

The 55% Irish in my DNA is enough to ensure the 100% Englishman that I am understands that Conservative Unionists have, historically, more experience of state sponsored terrorism than any group of Irish nationalists and to draw attention to Ireland today of all days, well, that shows Anna Soubry has no intention of addressing the important issues facing Beeston residents both locally and nationally.

I had thought until today that Mrs May was going to box clever and that Anna was going to follow her example, but now I see hope. Both have chosen personal abuse instead of taking the imperious path.

I admit to still being fearful about the outcome of both the county council and general elections because of the way elections work. Yes, I would like the Liberals and Greens to give Labour a free run in Broxtowe and, in return, Labour should stand down in seats where a Liberal or Green candidate has a better chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. I know it won't happen, but today Anna Soubry and her sidekick Theresa May have given me hope that wasn't there this morning. I thank them both.

New look Nottingham City Centre Guide

I have been playing around with a grid like map of Nottingham city centre since 2013 and this is the latest version, which will be launched at the Nottinghamshire Local History Fair at Mansfield Central Library this coming Sunday.

To see in the map larger just click on the map. It prints off A4 portrait size extremely well and has been designed to print in mono as well as colour.

If anyone thinks they might be able to use the map in some way please contact me for permission.

Robert Howard