I paid a visit to the headquarters of Age Concern ( or to give its full name Age Concern Metro Bury )today. The setting for Bury’s Age Concern’s main building must be one of the most peaceful and picturesque anywhere in the Country situated as it is in Clarence Park on the edge of the Lido.
I met with the Chief Officer Sue Clayton and we discussed the work of the Charity including the problems facing them as there is an ever increasing demand for their services. The charity, which covers the whole of the Metropolitan Borough of Bury relies on income from its three charity shops together with the small subscriptions and any grants it can get to keep going.
This afternoon I have had a run down to Manchester airport to drop my friend off who is jetting off to Sri Lanka to watch the England cricket team play in the first two Test matches. I hope all goes well as there were two bombs exploded in the capital yesterday as part of the Tamil Tigers continuing terrorist campaign for an idependent Tamil State.
Yesterday, the General Secretary of the Labour Party resigned as apparently he was the only Labour official who knew that one of their donors was routinely in the habit of making donations to the Labour Party through third parties. Today we learn from Hilary Benn MP that Baroness Jay knew about the “problem”. I think that the fact the Labour Party find themselves mired in what in previous years was called sleaze is due in no small part to the damage that has ben done to the image of politics in the past ten years. I think it is very regretable that any businessman should feel afraid to donate to any political party under their own name.
Today I have been out delivering a few leaflets and dealing with my own emails and correspondence.
One of the two Liberal Democrat MEP’s for the North West has today defected to the Conservatives. Saj Karim was elected at the last European elections in 2004. I know many Muslims in Bury will have voted Liberal Democrat because Saj was on the Lib Dem list and I trust they will realise why he has chosen to give his support to the Conservatives and take the Conservative Whip in the European Parliament.
It may only still be November but yesterday I attended my first Christmas Fair of the year complete with Father Christmas in attendance. It was in aid of the extremely worthy cause of raising funds for Bury Hospice. The Fair was held at the Civic Hall in Ramsbottom and after an extremely cold night the frost had given way to low cloud and rain so I suspect the attendance was rather down at what was expected.
On Thursday and Friday I popped over to Morecambe so that Sue and I could visit our two god daughters. Talking of Morecambe unfortunately the Morecambe football team managed to beat Bury yesterday. I had thought that I might be able to stay in Morecambe long enough to catch the gane but as I had engagements back in Bury that was not possible.
Well, as they say you couldn’t make it up! After £25 billion of our cash is loaned by a desperate Government to bail out Northern Rock now 25 million private and personal details of parents and children claiming child benefit go missing apparently lost in the post. In Bury alone this affects over 42,000 children. How on earth after this latest disaster can the Government really contemplate proceeding with the national Identity Card scheme?
Today I visited Broad Oak School and heard about the tremendous progress this school has made since it faced possible closure in the review process of 2005.
Monday, was a quiet day on the work front as it was our Wedding Anniversary so other than a quick shop an engagement in the evening I spent most of the day catching up with my paperwork after being away for a few days.
I have been away for the past four days on a trip to Belfast. I have never been overf to Ulster before and it was very interesting to see how the politicians over there operate. After decades of “the troubles” as the terrorism campaign waged by the IRA is referred to things have changed but in no way could things be described as back to normal.
We had a tour of Stormont where the Northern Ireland Assembly sits and we had meetings with both Ulster Unionist Party ( UUP ) and Democratic Unionist Party ( DUP ) politicians. We had a meeting with the Lord Mayor and the High Sherrif of Belfast who are presently occupying temporary accomodation away from City Hall as the City Hall building is closed for large scale renovations.
One of the most revealing meetings we had was with faith and community workers frim the Shankill Road. This was one of the most troubled areas and it was a real eye opener to hear how difficult things still are for volunteers who simply want to try and improve the lives of local residents.
It is clear that despite the peace process there is still a very long way to go before life in Ulster could be described as normal
Lat night Bury Football Club became the first side this season to beat Leeds United on their own ground by winning 2-1 in the Johnstones Paint Trophy quarter-final. Bishop netting the winner again following on from his hat-trick on Saturday. I must be honest and say that I didn’t expect Bury to win and in a way that makes the result even better. Well done the Shakers.