The sheer exhilaration of listening to music on a mini disc, Tom Watson’s brilliant book, Scrabble & Racko, Generation Zoom, Gas Street Church & the return of the Marigold’s – COVID-19 Blog – Day 6 to Easter Monday
When you are in Lockdown and it’s Bank Holiday Monday afternoon , with no football to look forward to it’s definitely time to catch up on your blog. So what has happened since days 1-5? (See foot of this blog for previous musings).
Today, Bank Holiday Monday
When the boss (AKA Wife) tells you it’s cleaning day again, I needed a pick me up, and for the second time in less than a fortnight I grappled with changing the bed, having to don another pair of marigolds for another bathroom clean and so on. Added to this I checked my diary and it was additionally my day for cleaning the window sills outside (which were absolutely filthy). The cleaning was made much more bearable by listening to music on my mini disc (they sort of came and also went and in a flash) several decades ago. Anyhow I’ve still got mine – picture below. Listening to Faith Hill, Paul Young, and Big Country blasting out of my mini disc was simply epic and nostalgic (both at the same time).
Before the cleaning I read a few more chapters of a brilliant book by Tom Watson (he was Deputy Leader of the Labour Party). I’ve admired much of Tom’s work as a Labour MP, and in particular the significant role he played in the News International phone hacking scandal by helping to bring the series of events at the News of the World into the open.
He did not stand for election as an MP again last December). His book is a funny, self-deprecating, yet very candid account of how he came to grips with his obesity – and yet turned his life around through embarking on some not altogether “conventional” ways of dieting. Anyhow the proof is in the pudding – and certainly as far as Tom is concerned – he is a transformed man.
The last week or so
Apart from Easter Sunday – which of course to all Christians is an extraordinarily joyful day (more on this below) – much of the past week has merged probably into one single continuous day. Or at least it’s felt like that. We’ve been to work (at home), played Scrabble and Racko, done a pop quiz on our street (via Zoom of course). We couldn’t get Zoom to work from the outset of the quiz – so we joined half way through. It would have made no difference to the outcome and overall result. Unless the questions focus on Leeds United, politics and 70’s soft rock music – I don’t really know that much. Though Sarah is far better at General Knowledge than me. We’ve got another Zoom quiz tonight – being hosted by a Facebook Group (Friends of Pefkos) – I hope I can get the technology to work (I will definitely recall this period in history as Generation Zoom).
So finally, to Easter Day – yesterday. Christians celebrate this day as the day when Jesus triumphantly rose from the grave, three days after being crucified (Good Friday). One of the highlights of yesterday was watching Songs of Praise (we don’t normally indulge). This time however we had a heads up that Gas Street church in Birmingham were being featured. The church is led by Tim Hughes and his wife Rachel. The worship was really inspiring and caused me to reflect that in these most difficult of times, there is always, always hope.
So back to today – Bank Holiday Monday, work tomorrow, the now daily and familiar Government briefing later – wow – these remain extraordinary times.
COVID-19 Blog – Day’s 3, 4 & 5 – The really good side of technology & social media, my good friend Bryan, turning 58, Labour’s new leaders, Sainsbury’s plastic bags & my Leeds United mug
Day One and Day 2’s musings are shown here: https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2020/04/covid-19-blog-day-2-getting-dressed-up-to-go-to-morrisons-radio-4-just-a-minute-community-heroes-dragons-den-masterchef-why-mps-matter-jeremiah-ch-6/
So it’s Sunday 5 April and Her Majesty the Queen has addressed the nation.
Also I shared my 58th birthday yesterday with the announcement of Labour’s new management (more of this below). For now – what else has been happening the last few days?
Day 3 – Thursday 2 April
In itself maybe not so eventful as days one and two above.
It was literally non stop work-wise (I work for an MP). I’m so thankful to have a job and to be able hopefully to making a positive difference in a small way. It does break my heart though to see so many people have such an uncertain future with regards to a job and financial security. Livelihoods of the many appear in jeopardy.
We did manage to get a Sainsbury’s home delivery at 5 30pm. In normal times we’d have a Sunday delivery slot night at 5pm (when the football is on & I’m not too chuffed to have to help unpack). These are not normal times however. The lovely delivery driver rang Sarah from his van outside our house to say the shopping was in plastic shopping bags at our front door. We’ve now inherited loads of plastic bags.
At night Sarah and me did our church Small Group via Zoom. Our church is Trent Vineyard in Nottingham. For those of you reading this who don’t normally do church (or God) let me say a few brief words about Trent Vineyard https://trentvineyard.org/ – we are basically very imperfect people who meet together on Sunday’s (when COVID-19 isn’t around). It’s maybe not quite church as you’d expect. We meet in a warehouse (there’s quite a lot of us), worship God and serve the poor. The church is led by John and Debby Wright (two of the most humble people I have met in my lifetime).
As a lot of people go to our church – it’s not always easy to be needed and known at a Sunday service (maybe around 1800 attendees all in all). This is why we have Small Groups. They are essentially groups of between six and twenty people who meet together on a weekly or fortnightly basis. We (that’s Sarah and me) lead a Small Group at our house. There’s around fifteen in ours. We aim to encourage one another and build relationships through prayer and practical support. So we all met virtually (thanks to Zoom) on Thursday – we were able to share each others difficulties and fears, pray and encourage one another. We also even managed some virtual worship. Let’s hear it again for Zoom.
Day 4 Friday 3 April
Social media – Facebook and Twitter in particular are often maligned because they are used so often as platforms to spread much so much vitriol and personal abuse. You have to be extremely disciplined, wise and be careful not to get sucked in.
It’s not all doom and gloom though – a well known British TV presenter and political columnist tweeted one of my blogs. This in due course reached its way through the Ethernet to Dawn – a friend in Scotland who I haven’t seen for almost twenty years – and she’s been in touch. We’ve been reacquainted. How social media can be a force for good. Thanks @steverichards14 – I’m forever indebted to you.
I also chatted this time on Facebook video messenger (I really am that tech savvy) with Bryan. He’s a lovely guy. He lives alone in Arnold (Nottingham). He had a stroke a few years back which leaves him with extremely limited movement down one side of his body. We put the world to rights – he’s very politically astute and is not afraid to tell me if he thinks I’m wrong. The world needs more folk like Bryan.
Day 5 Saturday 4 April
So now I am 58. I celebrated this with a 4(ish) mile run in the morning.
Earlier we went on a walk, which was interrupted by this time a WattsApp video call from my brother in law Tim wishing me happy birthday. We were in Heanor (that’s just a tad over the border from us in Amber Valley) at the time. It was lovely to catch up virtually – whilst at the same time walking and trying not to walk into lampposts.
Something else also happened yesterday – the Labour Party announced a new Leader and Deputy Leader – Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner respectively.
In February 2019 I left the Labour Party – see below. I was asked yesterday to rejoin. What a conundrum. Forty eight per cent of me wants to rejoin today. Fifty two per cent of me is a little unsure about this.
Should I have a second referendum? I’m now an Independent councillor having taken on both the Tories, Labour & Green’s at last May’s election and won.
I miss meeting and the camaraderie with so many friends over 38 years and the sense of solidarity. I do want the Labour Party to own its Christian Socialist roots again.
I need a huge amount of wisdom before rushing to any decisions.
The raw facts are about the Labour Party are this – in less than a decade it lost 4 elections (in 2019 of course catastrophically).
If you take Tony Blair out of the equation (for whom in large measure I have tremendous admiration) the last time Labour won a General Election was 1974.
I was 12 at the time and Leeds United were in the First Division (the precursor to the Premiership), for those of you reading this who belong to Generation Z & Millennial.
Wow – these are extraordinary times.
COVID-19 Blog – Day 2 – Getting dressed up to go to Morrisons, Radio 4 & Just a Minute, Community heroes, Dragons Den, Masterchef, why MPs matter & Jeremiah ch 6
So Day 1 – Tuesday 31 March went something like this: https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2020/04/covid-19-blog-day-1-working-for-an-mp-my-greek-friend-from-yiannis-being-a-cllr-cleaning-the-toilet-talking-with-friends-my-daily-run-new-statesman-psalm-23/
So what happened yesterday day 2 – Wednesday 1 April? Here goes:
a) I got dressed up to go to Morrisons
The clothes that I’d normally wear for going out going out (if you get my drift) I adorned to walk up to Morrisons in Eastwood with Sarah. Not many folk were around to say how smart I looked. I’d even had a shave too, so that was particularly disappointing that no one was around to notice. I couldn’t go in Morrisons as I live in the same house of Sarah. I flicked through my ‘phone outside whilst she bought essentials (we already have toilet rolls).
b) Radio 4 and Just a Minute
Probably my favourite all time radio programme. Hosted for decades by the late Nicholas Parsons. You have to speak for a minute without repetition, hesitation or deviation. I find it difficult to do that for 10 seconds. I heard that some of the best shows over the past few years are being played at 7pm on Sunday nights. It’s definitely a MUST LISTEN.
c) Community heroes
MPs and cllrs often get their pictures and coverage in local newspapers and other sections of the media. Community heroes rarely do. In Kimberley (my council ward) there’s a guy called Steve Robinson Day – who is masterminding community initiatives to support vulnerable throughout the area. He’s doing a brilliant job and I’m supporting him in whatever official ways I can as a cllr. He telephoned me yesterday.
It’s people like Steve who are unsung heroes. I shall nominate him for an award and recognition when all of this is over (though he probably won’t thank me for it).
d) Dragons Den & Masterchef
We’ve got some old editions of Dragons Den on the Planner. Managed to catch up with some of them before Masterchef came on at 9pm. Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire after that.
e) Why Members of Parliament matter
Members of Parliament often get criticised, occasionally fairly. More often than not unfairly. MPs of all political parties mostly try their best for constituents. Our MP took up a case for Sarah and me on an extremely difficult issue and his intervention has helped achieve a very positive result after a long previous impasse. Let’s hear it again for the Good Constituency MP (GCMP).
f) Jeremiah ch 6
The book of Jeremiah can be found in the Old Testament – flick roughly half way through a Bible, and you’ll find it. I read this yesterday (ch 6 v 16) “The Lord said – stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.
It’s in times like this, we realise that we have sadly forsaken the ancient paths.
g) and finally
My first blog yesterday got through a blast on social media – 14,072 impressions on twitter, 216 views on my website and got batted about a bit on Facebook.
It doesn’t really matter – today 2,921 people have died in the UK and 34,000 tested positive for COVID-19.
Wow – these are extraordinary times.
COVID-19 Blog – Day 1: working for an MP, my Greek friend Yiannis, being a Cllr, cleaning the toilet, talking with friends, my daily run, New Statesman & Psalm 23
Yes these are absolutely extraordinary times.
I thought I’d start a public daily blog – that will hopefully offer some encouragement and optimism tinged with a sense of humour to lighten the day.
I’ve kept my private own journal (not always daily) since 2011. It records days when I’ve had deep disappointment and records my personal feelings, when I’ve made many mistakes, and even when I’ve had glorious successes. It’s also littered with the ups (and mainly downs) (until of course this season) of Leeds United.
So what happened yesterday Tuesday 31 March?
a) working for an MP
My full time job is working for an MP. I’m working from home and started at 630am. There is a relentless and endless stream of emails from extremely worried residents and businesses about a multitude of issues. Not just about the future, but for many their everyday existence. One very local small business has around £30 left in the bank, with bills to pay. How really will they survive?
b) my Greek friend Yiannis
My favourite place in the world (apart from Elland Road) is the Greek island of Rhodes. There’s a small village on the south of the island near Lindos – it’s called Pefkos. Possibly not much larger than Matlock Bath – but much prettier (and no motorbikes or chippy’s). Me and Sarah have visited every year since 2010 (I was working for Ed Miliband at the time). Pefkos is a wonderful place. We’ve got some Greek friends out there where we stop who own a bar and apartments. I got a message from Yiannis (although TBH there are any literally thousands of Greek guys who share the same name). Anyhow it’s definitely our Yiannis. His livelihood depends on us Brits visiting them. He’s worried about the loss of income, how he’ll survive and realises that he’ll have to open later this year. I love Yiannis.
c) being a local authority cllr
I’m a Borough Cllr in Broxtowe (Nottingham). I love the work and am passionate about serving my local community – my ward is Kimberley (it’s got an IKEA near it), which usually helps people recognise the area.
I get a telephone call from a council officer to say that council meetings may have to be conducted virtually in the future and asks whether I am ok with this? Naturally I agree. I might be able to mute cllrs who persist in talking and talking and talking.
d) cleaning the toilet
To show some solidarity with Sarah (my wife by the way) I thought it was time to show willing. I put on the marigolds and cleaned the toiler (and shower). I then changed the bed. But I did take the marigolds off first.
e) talking with friends
I had telephone conversations with two dear friends in Nuthall (Nottingham). They are both keen Labour supporters. One also supports Sheffield Wednesday (never mind). We talk about Brexit, Hs2 and whether either of them will really still happen. We did not reach a satisfactory conclusion.
f) my daily run
Me and Sarah can’t go to the gym. We’ve resorted to going a 3-4(ish) run down the Erewash Valley trail near us. It’s wonderful. I find running a stress-buster after a tough day at work. Sarah’s not always so enthusiastic. She always finishes a country mile ahead of me though.
g) New Statesman
I’ve been a subscriber for around 150 years. I love reading my weekly subscription. One of my dear friends Adrian Pabst is a contributing writer. I read quite a bit of last Friday’s edition last night – there’s some excellent articles. My favourite was one from Jonathan Powell (Downing Street Chief of Staff between 1997-2007) on how COVID-19 will change the British state for ever in 10 ways.
I’d love to be a contributing myself writer one day. Who knows? I’m ever the optimist.
h) Psalm 23
I read this passage at 630am this morning.
One of the most famous Psalms of King David. One of my favourite Psalms. The first four verses read “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even through I walk through he valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me“.
Wonderful, wonderful words. No extra words needed.
i) & finally (for now) I’l blog again tomorrow
Our children Laura & Joseph being either millennial’s or Generation Z are of course more tech-savvy than me. I keep getting Marco Polo and Zoom messages. It was my daughter in law’s birthday yesterday. She said thanks for the present on Marco Polo. When I was a kid I’d send a thank you letter and put a stamp on it.
Wow – these are extraordinary times.
This was my May 2019 leaflet for the local elections in Broxtowe.
After very careful consideration and reflection having considered both offers first from the Conservative Party and second a coalition of Labour, Liberal and two other Independent cllrs I have decided to accept an offer support the coalition.
- I will be Chair of a Working Group looking at regeneration, resources and funding for Kimberley
- A one hundred per cent commitment alongside the Labour and Liberal Democract groups for the tram extension through Kimberley through to the proposed Transport Super Hub at Langley Mill: https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2015/02/tram-extension-line-4-phase-iii-to-kimberley-eastwood-into-amber-valley/
- Being made the council’s external representative both the HS2 board and metro committee
I write this today Wednesday 27 February 2019 personally from a good place. A strong place. My marriage to Sarah is strong, our children are flourishing. We have a strong network of close friends whom we have sought wisdom, prayer and advice from as this undoubtedly life changing decision has been made.
It’s life changing as whilst I have been married to Sarah for 33 years, my marriage to the Labour Party has surpassed this by some five years. It’s simply therefore not possible to leave something that has been an integral part of your every day existence and DNA for nearly four decades without heart aching sadness. Yet there is no bitterness or regret. Just the innate sense that politics in this country deeply yearns and demands something new, an approach that leaves the old tribal culture dominating so much of the current traditional party political culture behind, and embraces the values of integrity, openness and critically being able to disagree well. I want to play my part in enabling a new politics proliferate.
My Labour history
I first joined the Labour Party in 1981 aged nineteen – no doubt against the wishes of my parents. I worked for the then Department of Health & Social Security and started to witness first hand the misery of long-term unemployment – and recall grown men crying in front of me having being put out of work because of the repressive Thatcher regime.
I was also horrified how the Miners were treated by Thatcher and MacGregor; this served as another reason for joining the Labour Party.
- In terms of elected office at borough and county council level, I have fought and won elections as a Labour candidate in Broxtowe, Nottingham in 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2007, 2011 and 2015. In 2003, 2007 and 2011 I topped the poll in my 3-member borough council ward.
- I was Labour Parliamentary candidate in Charnwood in 2005. I put my heart and soul into this. We came second in a rock solid Tory seat. I’m told that this was fourth lowest swing against Labour (0.68%) throughout the whole of the East Midlands. House of Commons statisticians equated this to an additional 2,500 votes taken off the Tories which went to Labour.
- Since 2005 I applied to be the Labour Parliamentary Candidate in Shrewsbury (2006) – got to the hustings and came 2nd, South Derbyshire (2008) also got through to the hustings and came 2nd as I did in 2014 for Hemel Hempstead.
- I applied twice to be Labour Parliamentary candidate in Amber Valley – the area where I was born, but was thwarted on both occasions.
- I worked on Ed Miliband’s Labour Leadership campaign in 2015 as Regional Organiser in the East Midlands.
- I have attended every Labour Party Conference between 2002 and 2018 and spoke on the Conference main stage in 2007 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-VQLB-cphE
- I was the Vice Chair of Ashfield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) until today and also Chair of Eastwood & Brinsley Labour Party.
- I have served on internal Labour selection, disciplinary and appeals panels.
- Apart from Gavin I have worked for Labour MPs – Helen Clark, Natascha Engel and Andy Reed.
So why Leave? – A matter of integrity
I have battled through many recent days with my conscience (and encountered a number of sleepless nights). I have decided that it would be disingenuous of me to continue campaigning and stand for re-election as a Labour councillor knowing that I can no longer publicly endorse the national Party leadership. I am not a supporter of the “hard left” in the Labour movement which has near total control in the Party, but fully accept that the leader has unprecedented legitimacy having been voted in twice overwhelmingly by the current Labour membership.
I work for Gavin Shuker MP in Luton South, and have done since 2012. He was one of the seven Labour MPs that left Labour last week to form the new Independent Group in the House of Commons. The decision that I have taken to leave the Labour Party though is entirely mine after much personal reflection.
It would undoubtedly have been easier for me to play this low key and continue as a Labour councillor. Probably not that many people in Nottingham know I work for Gavin. Opponents could have well pointed however out that here was a Labour councillor working for an MP who has left the Labour Party. A conflict of interests here surely?
Or I could look for another job – that was another possibility.
However my heart and head says Gavin has done the right thing. I support him. In the bigger picture and beyond Broxtowe – our current politics is broken and tired; a different culture is required. Does this mean that I mean I wholeheartedly and immediate endorse and agree with every stance that will be taken by the Independent Group? No. There are some huge challenges!
I do want to play my part though nationally in helping shape this new culture. I was listening to a Craig Groeschel podcast at the weekend where he interviews Chip Heath an American academic & Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Stanford Graduate school of Business. He talks about how Leaders have at times and particular moments to be more unreasonable and of the need to break the script.
We live in an ever changing, fast moving and increasingly complex society. The Brexit debate of course epitomises this complexity perfectly, and dominates the whole political discourse.
Whilst I personally voted for and enthusiastically support Remain, I acknowledge though that there are completely understandable reasons why so many constituents I have talked with in Kimberley voted to Leave and have not changed their minds. I don’t think they are racist. Neither do I get the sense that the majority of people want a 2nd Referendum. Some do I accept, but I do not share that view.
Furthermore what appears evident to me is that many who voted Leave wanted to shake up the broken settlement of our national politics.
However all of the current MPs in the new Independent Group support a 2nd Referendum, whilst still wanting to shake our system. Here then perfectly demonstrates the complexity!
A further significant challenge for me personally is the fact that there are now former Conservative MPs who voted through austerity measures hitting the most vulnerable in our society, sitting side by side former Labour MPs. I admit that this does not at all naturally sit easily with me. However I want to start to put behind me the narrow party interests and pursue policies that are evidence-based, not led by ideology, taking a long-term perspective to the challenges of the 21st century in the national interest. Where we have to disagree, we’ll disagree well.
Which brings me onto another point that has increasingly frustrated me over the past few years. Our traditional party political culture of politics in this country and believe you me this is just as evident in Broxtowe as it is in Westminster, dictates that it’s essentially impossible at times to work together openly with members of different political parties. Of course politics is a tribal sport. However – very often good local grassroots campaigns are hijacked needlessly by the more confrontational cllrs from an opposing party for no other reason than blind party loyalty (and often jealousy because of the publicity a good local campaign has had).
For example in Broxtowe there are a few very good Conservative councillors including Lydia Ball, John Handley & Margaret Handley, and we work well together on various projects with them that will benefit the whole community. We clearly don’t always agree on everything but have a mature working relationship, and respect our differences. Where we disagree, we agree to disagree well. I know that Margaret and John have been subjected however to the most ridiculous insults and criticism from some quarters – particularly on how we are working together in looking at the tram extension from Phoenix Park to the new Super Hub Transport Link in Langley Mill https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2015/02/tram-extension-line-4-phase-iii-to-kimberley-eastwood-into-amber-valley/ – just because of my involvement as as a Labour councillor. Is this really a mature way to do politics in the best interests of the community?
I am not leaving the Labour Party because I have fallen out with any one individual. I haven’t, and life is way too short for that anyway.
I have resigned from the Party today, will sit out the rest of my term as an Independent councillor until May 2nd this year, and stand as an Independent in Kimberley for the Broxtowe elections. I have served constituents in Kimberley with fierce loyalty and passion since I first became elected there in 1997 and hope to continue this after May. I cherish them (well most of them) dearly. Everyone hasn’t and won’t always agree with me, that won’t stop me working however for the whole community, and engaging constructively with councillors from all political parties.
Some may argue that this is a reckless gamble on my behalf as opposed to a calculated risk. I believe it’s the latter, I appreciate I will come in for some criticism but what I have done is to try and take a brave, open and principled stand.
I have Labour friends that span the decades, I have both grown up with, and campaigned with for Labour throughout many areas of the country – from Norwich to Dagenham, Amber Valley to Northampton, Broxtowe to Chesterfield, Charnwood to Ashfield – from Derby, Loughborough, Stoke on Trent to Leicester and Luton.
Many Labour Party members have been friends for what seems like time immemorial; Andy Cooper & Colin Sansom (Nuthall & Giltbrook respectively), Ted Perfect in Stapleford, John Legrys in North West Leicestershire, Max Hunt and Betty Newton in Loughborough, Paul Gill, Tom & Marilyn Cowles in Charnwood, Gloria De Piero MP and James Robinson in Ashfield, Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West, Francis Steer and Olly Martins in Luton, David Mellen in Nottingham City, Andy Furlong (Labour Regional Board East Mids), Kathy Salt in Bolsover, Chris Ostrowski Labour PPC for Watford, Celia Cox, Pete & Meg Baxendale, Chris Emmas-Williams and Paul Jones (Amber Valley), Rachael Maskell MP in York Central, Paddy Tipping the Police & Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, Nick Palmer the Labour MP for Broxtowe between 1997 and 2010, Louise Davies from Sheffield (and Director of Christians on the Left).
To my dear Blue Labour friends including John Milbank, Adrian Pabst, Maurice Glasman, Ed Rennie, Ian Geary, Rowenna Davis, et al – they have for a long time been a source of inspiration and encouragement.
I will remain a proud member of my Trade Union GMB. In the GMB Midlands and East Coast Region – Richard Oliver the Regional Organiser is an outstanding colleague and friend. Trade Unions are a non negotiable part of a fairer more equal society.
I’ve always enjoyed a strong relationship with Labour Party Regional Office staff in the East Midlands, in particular I will miss George Carr-Williamson enormously.
I should also pay tribute to the leader of the Labour Group in Broxtowe Cllr Milan Radulovic – we’ve remained friends through thick and thin since 1991 – when we first stood together. I hope our friendship can continue.
Finally there are a couple of people in Eastwood & Brinsley Labour Party that are absolutely salt of the earth and never get any headlines – Matt and Bob Bullock. I will miss them also dearly.
In terms of the particular policy areas I am interested in and will pursue as an Independent councillor, this will include:
- Increasing power from Westminster to the most appropriate level, trusting and involving local communities
- Giving every child the best start in life through investment in early years provision
- Electoral Reform
- Fairer & genuinely re-distributive Taxation (looking at the idea of a Land Value Tax)
- Public transport investment
- Preventative measures to reduce health inequalities
- Promoting renewable energy
In addition to drawing on my faith, inspiration and clarity from the Bible I have been actively reading and undertaking research to sharpen my thinking and rationale for the decision I have now made. I have also sought the counsel of close friends and colleagues and spent many hours meditating on the pros and cons of this decision. This course of action has not been taken without significant reflection on my part. At the end of the day I have to be true to myself and the people I have been elected to serve. The following books have proved really helpful to this extent:
- The Leadership Lab – Understanding Leadership in the 21st century – (Chris Lewis & Pippa Malgren)
- Why we get the Wrong Politicians (Isabel Hardman)
- Lincoln on Leadership (Donald T Phillips)
- 12 Rules for Life (Jordan Peterson)
I’d also recommend any podcast from Craig Groeschel (there’s one in particular talking about six aspects of a better leadership) – a) have the discipline to start b) the courage to stop c) a person to empower, d) a system to create e) a relationship to initiate f) a risk to take.
It’s the people who matter most, that must come before Party loyalty, and as one constituent in Kimberley said to me on Monday when I was visiting a broken fence with her (yes that’s the glamorous job of a councillor) – “it’s really rather quite an exciting time in politics isn’t it”. She wasn’t referring to the fence.
Lenin once quipped there are decades in politics when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happens.
I’m 56 and I hope during the next decade we can start on the course of reconciling a divided and fractured nation with a new robust and relational politics in Britain embracing the Common Good.
I would want my 38 years in the Labour Party to be viewed and remembered as a celebration – but it’s time to move on. Despite the inner turmoil – I’m in a good place.
Saturday 16 February 2019
Live music plus refreshments
See document here: 3188177 for full details
This article by James Morris appeared in the Fabian Review – Up Our Street – Winter 2016 http://www.fabians.org.uk/publications/fabian-review-winter-2016/
James urges the Left to look at the gig picture and argues astutely that however effective our “ground field campaign” is, it’s of little use if the message and messenger is found wanting.
You can find James on Twitter at @JamesDMorris
Submission to Nottinghamshire Council regarding suggested highways improvements in Kimberley – Swingate and Maws Lane areas
Wednesday 24 August 2016
This letter – at the Word document (and also shown below) – represents a culmination of extensive consultation with residents over a significant period of time (and their subsequent feedback). It asks Nottinghamshire County Council to take a serious long term look at the traffic problems in Kimberley and urges a detailed plan to be drawn up looking at various proposals for improvement.
A Word document can be found in full by clicking on:
The text of the letter is also shown below:
Nottinghamshire County Council
FAO – Mrs Steph Walford
Senior Improvements Officer
Via East Midlands Ltd
Major Projects & Improvements
NG2 7QP 24 August 2016
Request for consideration of suggested improvements for traffic flow and pedestrian safety
Swingate, Kimberley & Maws Lane area Kimberley
(Swingate & Hardy Street Action Plans)
I have pleasure in submitting papers for your detailed consideration with relation to community consultation exercises that have been undertaken in Kimberley during 2016.
I hope that we can work together with partners to produce some imaginative and long term benefits for local people and therefore address long standing traffic problems in this part of Broxtowe.
Many thanks for your time and assistance in this matter, and would be happy to meet up to discuss in more this in more detail.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Richard S Robinson
Labour Councillor – Kimberley
Broxtowe Borough Councillor
4 Peacock Drive
0775 1970 640
In my January 2016 newsletter https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2016/01/broxtowe-news-update-information-service-main-edition-january-2016/ I produced a report as follows:
This report emanated as a result of discussions with residents of two separate areas of Kimberley – Hardy Street/Maws Lane and Swingate, during 2015.
I subsequently held two consultation meetings on Wednesday 27 January 2016 and
Saturday 30 January 2016 to discuss with members of the public the suggestions contained in the above report.
As a result of the public consultations – a number of detailed suggestions for improvement came forward from local residents – these are contained within my March newsletter:
Extracts from this are shown below:
With regards to Hardy Street area a number of residents requested that consideration be given to making Maws Lane and Hardy Street a one-way system. Particular issues were raised about traffic congestion in and around Hardy Street and also poor visibility at the Eastwood Road/Maws Lane Junction.
Additionally, I was presented with a petition regarding the possible loss of two car parking spaces on Eastwood Road Kimberley, close to the Maws Lane junction. The feedback from local residents was that taking two car spaces away would only be a short-term solution and would not resolve the wider issue that needs to be addressed; that of the traffic congestion in and around the Maws Lane junction, and that a more comprehensive solution was required.
- Make Maws Lane and Hardy Street a one -way system: traffic would flow up Maws Lane and down Hardy Street. It is envisaged that having this arrangement in place would reduce the congestion at the Maws Lane junction, and make traffic flow better overall. This would also have the added benefit of potentially keeping the two parking spaces that were at risk.I have also designed a special survey about the suggested one-way system, which you can access here:
- Traffic exiting Greens Lane
- This is a summary of points raised by local residents at the January public meeting concerning the Swingate area of Kimberley:
- Traffic needs to be able to exit Greens Lane more quickly; this would relieve congestion – this could be achieved by having traffic lights at the bottom of Greens Lane to replace the mini roundabout.
- Make a wider exit at the bottom of Greens Lane having a left and right turning lane – this would enable traffic to exit Greens Lane more quickly – this would involve taking some of the flowerbed away on the left of Greens Lane.
- Pedestrian crossing too close to mini roundabout at bottom of Greens Lane.
- Bus stops on Greens Lane – opposite each other, also bus timing point on Greens Lane – contributes to congestion – could timing point be moved to Knowle Lane?
- Construct lay-bys for buses on Greens Lane to relieve congestion – Sainsbury’s to contribute to cost. Acknowledged this would take space from car parks in both precinct and Sainsbury’s.
- Possible escape road for Swingate residents from Sainsbury’s car park routed through old telephone exchange on High Street, Swingate. This would avoid need for Swingate residents to turn onto Greens Lane when exiting Sainsbury’s car park.
- Cherubs Day Nursery – problem caused by vehicles exiting onto blind corner – suggested these vehicles could exit via road through old telephone exchange (see above).
Suggestions relating to both areas
- 20mph limit through centre of Kimberley from Broomhill Rd to Nine Corners (Hardy Street)
- 20mph limit along Maws Lane, Cliff Boulevard and Hardy Street.
This is a summary of points raised by local residents at the January public meeting concerning the Maws Lane area of Kimberley
Findings from survey – and individual feedback from constituents:
As a result of the public survey https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2016/03/consultation-on-making-maws-lane-and-hardy-street-kimberley-one-way/
the following results have been compiled as follows:
Consultation on Proposals to make Maws Lane/ Hardy Street One-Way:-
Summary of individual email responses on proposals (see Appendix 1):
Number of email respondents who agree with proposal 24
Number of email respondents who disagree with proposal 19
Summary of results from online consultation on proposals (see Appendix 1):
Number of online respondents who agree with proposal 38
Number of online respondents who disagree with proposal 41
I presented a petition to Broxtowe Borough Council on 2nd March this year urging that Broxtowe work with the County Council to look at the longer term traffic problems in and around Eastwood Road/Maws Lane junction. I understand that this petition subsequently was presented to the County Council and was referred to the appropriate committee for consideration.
I have seen correspondence from the County Council during the past couple of weeks from Crash Investigator Phil Gow – and have a site meeting on Thursday 25 August 2016 to discuss the proposals to remove car parking spaces on the Eastwood Road/Maws Lane junction.
My recommendation is that the County Council look seriously at the long-term traffic issues affecting Kimberley, and in particular address the problems that have been highlighted in both the Swingate and Hardy Street areas. The problems identified are long-standing issues that will not go away and will only increase in intensity as increasing numbers of houses are built locally.
The feeling of many local residents for example concerning Maws Lane is that purely taking away two car parking spaces will simply act as a ‘sticking plaster’ over many more significant problems.
I have, for example, at the request of local residents, asked the County Council to relocate the bus stop in this area that causes much annoyance to both pedestrians and drivers alike.
Clearly there are divided opinions on making Maws Lane one-way. I would like to specifically request that detailed transport plan be drawn that considers the advantages and disadvantages of a one-way system on Maws Lane and also identifies the indicative costs.
I would specifically like to request that the County Council undertake a separate study of the Swingate area – to consider the problems on the corner of Greens Lane and High Street near the Cherubs Day Nursery. There are tangible suggestions that local residents have mentioned for improvement here – for example changing the egress for drivers coming out of the Nursery.
Consultation on Proposals to make Maws Lane/ Hardy Street one-way
Responses received April/May 2016
Number of respondents 45
Respondents’ addresses (not given by everyone):
Maws Lane 7
Hardy Street 6
Beverley Drive 4
Eastwood Road 3
Edinboro Row 2
Kempton Close 1
Haydock Close 1
Truman St 1
Jubilee St 1
Town View 1
Number of respondents who agree with proposal 24
Number of respondents who disagree with proposal 19
Respondents who make observations but do not express an opinion 2
Maws Lane residents:
Number of respondents who agree with proposal 5
Number of respondents who disagree with proposal 2
Hardy Street residents:
Number of respondents who agree with proposal 2
Number of respondents who disagree with proposal 4
The parking places at the bottom of Maws Lane:
- Specifically mentioned by 12 people,
- 6 people think they should be removed ,
- 3 people think they should stay,
- 2 people think a one-way system isn’t justified to save parking places,
- 1 person thinks parking does restrict view of right turners.
Reasons for agreeing with one-way system
- Removes confusion over right of way on Maws Lane; some people don’t understand it,
- Avoids aggressive road rage incidents on Maws Lane,
- Avoids dangerous right turn at bottom of Maws Lane,
- Removes dangerous bend on Hardy Street about halfway up by Parkham Road,
- It would improve traffic flow,
- Retains parking places outside shops on Eastwood Road.
Some people express agreement but do have reservations about it.
- Wider road network needs to be taken into consideration e.g. Newdigate Street which is considered worse than Maws Lane; residents feel that proposals would displace traffic onto Newdigate Street,
- Reduces options for Hardy Street residents to avoid congestion as they would be forced to use Maws Lane or Newdigate Street to access Watnall/ Hucknall area,
- Hardy Street would become a main road with increased traffic flow and speed causing concern for school children’s safety; traffic calming measures would be needed. Apparently the brewery avoided using top part of Hardy Street as a courtesy to the school,
- Issues surrounding parking – inconsiderate parking, school parking. Parking problems on Hardy Street would not be solved by one-way system. Haydock Close already used as school carpark and possibly this would be made worse.
Other concerns raised and opinions expressed
- Lorries are using Maws Lane/Cliff Blvd as access from Watnall/Hucknall to IKEA island – is a weight limit in place and is it enforced?
- Large volume of traffic using Eastwood Road instead of the by-pass,
- Excessive speed of traffic on Eastwood Road – dangerous for pedestrians,
- Position of bus stop and pedestrian crossing is very close to exit of Maws Lane onto Eastwood Road, this makes situation worse; feeling is these could be moved nearer Premier shop/Gilthill,
- Mini roundabout would be needed at the bottom of Hardy Street (Nine Corners) as this is another difficult right turn,
- Impact of the new housing on Hardy Street and Brewery site not considered,
- Unknown effect of the Golden Guinea becoming a Co-op shop,
- Proposals could affect Truman St and Jubilee St – could increase traffic on these roads,
- Concern re impact on bus provision for elderly residents,
- Concern re emergency vehicles access if one-way system introduced, would it cause delay?
- What would happen to Brewery Street?
- Occasional flash flooding on Eastwood Road by Church Hill has caused diversion up Hardy Street and down Maws Lane; this would not be possible if new system in place,
- If Parkham Road is part of solution – it is un-adopted and no one knows who owns it,
- Things are better left alone; narrow streets just have to be accepted.
Other solutions suggested relating to Maws Lane
- Traffic lights to control traffic on Maws Lane instead of Give Way,
- STOP sign at top of Maws Lane instead of Give Way which drivers ignore, also improve painted lines to prevent confusion over who has Right of Way,
- Make Maws Lane exit onto Eastwood Road left turn only,
- Mini roundabout at Maws lane exit,
- Alternative one-way system suggested: Jubilee Street one-way up and Maws Lane one-way down; takes Hardy Street out of the equation,
- Build new road on derelict land behind Maws Lane (which used to be builders yard) to relieve Maws Lane problem,
- No parking outside shops at Maws Lane junction or restrict parking to 30 mins.
- Make parking on Maws Lane residents only,
- Maws Lane parking impossible as Council refuses to drop kerbs and allow front gardens to be used for parking.
Other suggestions and concerns
- 20 mph speed limit needed
- Pedestrian crossing on Cliff Blvd by Hardy Street; this is needed by school children
- Widen Cliff Blvd and take out speed bumps and chicane
- Cliff Blvd problems are worse; rearrange parking to be diagonal rather than horizontal to create more spaces. Take away some grass verges on Cliff Blvd to make more spaces
- Build new road from Watnall to IKEA island
- Poor street lighting on Maws Lane
- Difficulty getting to IKEA as a pedestrian due to traffic/ traffic issues at IKEA island
- Concerns about more housing
This document has also been sent to Nottinghamshire Police and Nottinghamshire Fire Authority for their comments
Wednesday 2 March 2016
Madam Mayor, Fellow Councillors, officers, ladies & gentleman
I want to start off my brief comments by commending the Labour Group – on producing a comprehensive and rational alternative Budget Statement. Something we never ever received during all the many years the Conservatives spent in Opposition at Broxtowe.
In fact It’s been over 20 years since a Tory controlled Budget presented to this council. Milan, me few others here witnessed that. Over 20 years, I had a full head of hair, Tony Blair was leader of the Opposition, Donald Trump was anonymous, Leeds United were in the Premiership, Howard Wilkinson Manager.
Some things have changed – fortunes of my beloved Leeds United, runners & riders American Politics my hair radically changed, somethings however remain exactly the same.
That is this, lack of leadership, lack of leadership shown by Conservatives in Broxtowe, controlled by a vocal yet manipulative inward aggressive looking elite.
Lack of leadership
Madam Mayor – Conservatives have had over 20 years to present a vision, work out where they want to take Broxtowe- yet their message from the early 90s, is just the same as today
- They don’t really want to build houses
- They don’t like public transport
- They want to close Durban House
- Close cash offices (hit poorest areas hardest)
So translated – particularly in the north of the borough – Broxtowe is closed for business. No vision, no plans, no asks. No willingness to be brave or think outside the box.
And it is particularly closed for business with regards to Oxylane. This is the starkest example of single lack of leadership.
Myth that the leisure centre in Kimberley can continue until further notice, – is that a myth. That Oxylane would spell it’s death knell is also a myth. Conservative members been told that.
Yes, you can turn around and say that we had several goes to see this development through. We ain’t perfect. We failed, failed because every single Conservative member voted to oppose. Some however, since very bravely and commended can see here an opportunity. They see what’s in the interests of the people of Broxtowe, and not in the interests of the Tory party.
Oxylane you have the Opportunity to invest, enhance environment, improve health sports provision for youngsters, and families. Boost council finances. That’s what Labour would do.
You have the opportunity to make life better, fairer residents Broxtowe, but you have failed after 1 budget.
This budget fails, fails though lack of leadership, lack of vision, lack of credibility, after over 20 years opposition people of Broxtowe deserve better.