Place-shaping comes to Mare Street
Yesterday was Labour's Local Government Forum. The financial plight of the Party means this has somewhat downsized from the Spring Conferences of yesteryear.
Actually it has completely downsized and conveniently (for me, not for any delegates from outside Hackney trying to penetrate north London's only tube-free borough) was held at Hackney Town Hall, rather than the Gateshead Sage Centre or the Blackpool Winter Gardens.
The assembled massed ranks of Labour's municipal praetorian guard got to hear from Hilary Benn (very impressively without notes), and attend worthy seminars about such concepts as "place-shaping" (local government jargon for making somewhere nice to live).
LGA Labour Group Leader Sir Jeremy Beecham cheered up everyone there from Hackney by saying we were now "a leading Labour local authority".
I met fellow Labour blogger Antonia Bance who made a spirited case for unitary status for Oxford City Council in one of the seminars.
The day was enlivened by a mini-demo on the Town Hall steps by the Hackney Stop the War Coalition, who may have been a bit misguided about where power lies in the Labour Party (clue: a small group of councillors having earnest debates about place-shaping are unlikely to be able to stop a war, however much they might want to).
A pleasant if rather anoraky day was rounded off by dinner at The Empress of India an excellent new restaurant near Victoria Park. A restaurant in Hackney that serves foie gras and lobster thermidor. There's place-shaping for you.