A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

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.

2 Comments:

Anonymous ted harvey said...

Luke what I found most telling about what you posted about the Labour Local Govt Forum was on it was relocated :

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.

I’m regularly struck about how many meetings, conferences, conventions… and even so-called consultation exercises… are held in venues that are almost inaccessible to anyone travelling by public transport. In fact I take this as an active indicator now about how far some public, private and third sector organisations have became detached from the client groups they are supposed to be attending to.

For example, applying this indicator to the social housing sector, I somehow suspect that the housing associations and their member organisations and federation are not overly concerned about how many low-income tenants are able to actually access many of their events. Of course, in many sectors this inaccessibility is a useful thing for boards and senior staff who might otherwise have to answer to their non car owning members, customers or clients – for example as to why some of these rather up-market and costly venues get chosen.

9:31 pm, February 11, 2007

 
Anonymous observer said...

I’m regularly struck about how many meetings, conferences, conventions… and even so-called consultation exercises… are held in venues that are almost inaccessible to anyone travelling by public transport. In fact I take this as an active indicator now about how far some public, private and third sector organisations have became detached from the client groups they are supposed to be attending to.

For example, applying this indicator to the social housing sector, I somehow suspect that the housing associations and their member organisations and federation are not overly concerned about how many low-income tenants are able to actually access many of their events. Of course, in many sectors this inaccessibility is a useful thing for boards and senior staff who might otherwise have to answer to their non car owning members, customers or clients – for example as to why some of these rather up-market and costly venues get chosen.


Wow! Who is the author of the intelligent observations made above?

7:59 am, February 12, 2007

 

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