Frank Field MP
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A Life in the Day of Birkenhead's MP

Friday 11th December 2009


With an 8.45 start, I met the education boss of Wirral, Howard Cooper, with Cllr Phil Davies who is the council's lead spokesman. Where to site Birkenhead's new Academy was one issue we discussed.

I was anxious not to use the Park High school site as this threatens the long term existence of Ridgeway. But there aren't many other suitable sites - the best one is off Borough Road, but we are told by two activists that the Resident's Associations here are adamantly opposed. If we are to get the money for the school before the clamp down occurs ahead of the election we simply don't have time to challenge how representative these views are. I have dug in and insisted that the University of Liverpool is the lead sponsor.



By 10 o'clock I was at Birkenhead Timber Supplies in Campbelltown Road. Almost two years to the day the business was burned out of existence, but Barry Pilgrim has brilliantly fought back and rebuilt the business with his son keeping together the staff during this wretched period. It was wonderful to salute his spirit and determination to maintain jobs in Birkenhead.


Photo Courtesy of Jill Quayle, Tranmere Community Project

Just as poor education results are likely to lead to permanent poverty, so does very young single parenthood. The Tranmere Community Project would take some beating as the most innovative voluntary group in the country. Here I am discussing with Jill Quayle what young mothers have told her with respect to being in families as a teenage parent, as well as beginning to plan how parenting can become part of the national curriculum.


By 12.45 I was visiting the residents in Over Leasowe in Eleanor Road. This property was donated to Age Concern who then sold it on to a Housing Association. The Association now wishes, possibly, to redevelop the site. It illustrates that, what was seen originally as a new arm to the housing movement which would attack the bureaucracy of local government administration, these programmes are now in danger of becoming as bureaucratic as the body they replaced.


Then on to the Noctorum Pensioners' Christmas Dinner, although I'm not pictured eating my share of the spread. Some of the Ridgeway pupils were on hand supplying an entertainment which stretched through the generations.


It was then off to Wallasey to meet Jon Ward our area police commander. We discussed the changing nature of anti-social behaviour, from a small number of lads being out of order to one which is now more cruelly operated by neighbours from hell. Jon, as always, gave me a number of ideas which I shall try and turn into legislation.


The next stop out was to meet two tax credit officials, Darren Snowball and Anne Cadman, and a constituent who has been sorely messed around by tax-credits' inflexibility. My constituent who is in the TA and fought twice in Bosnia and also served in Iraq deserves a first class service rather than the shabby treatment that has been handed out. I will be doing the appeal with my constituent.


I was in the same building for my next meeting with Brian Simpson who heads Wirral Partnership homes. It was interesting how WPH is reinventing the wheel. They have found that there officer in Noctorum, working along with the police and confronting parents with the yobbish behaviour of their offspring, has had a dramatic effect. These two agencies working together have simply informed parents that if the yobbishness continues their tenancy is at risk. This is the way housing authorities used to behave.


Then on to my surgery in the Treasury Building. This used to be known as the Golden Tower. It proved itself unsafe and now all that remains is the little stump of the building in which I hold my surgery. At WPH I learned they were taking down another tower block in Birkenhead.


The day finished in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King for SAMM (Support After Murder and Manslaughter)'s annual memorial service. Linda McDermott and Roger Phillips read the list of those murdered and who came from the Merseyside area. The list was painfully long, and with each name was a devastating tragedy for each family. As the list was read I couldn't but reflect on the trendy prison reformers who keep asserting that the murder rate is dropping!

Here are some of the candles lit for those whose lives were wickedly snubbed out.
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