Monday, 16 June 2008

The future comes to Lenton

Lilian Greenwood, if I have anything to do with it, is going to be the next Labour Party MP for Nottingham South, which includes Lenton, as our present MP, Alan Simpson, is standing down. He will be a tough act to follow, so if Lilian is to succeed him she has to look beyond the Labour party and into the wider community for her support — which is why I invited her to come and spend a couple of hours in Lenton, beginning with a sandwich lunch at home with me and Susan and a number of Lenton community activists (all women), so that she could hear first hand about the kind of issues which concern them.

This occupied the first hour of Lilian's visit to Lenton, then I took her off on a short tour of New Lenton, beginning with the park, which was full of bowling ladies about to play a county match between Nottinghamshire and Cumberland. Lilian was soon deep in conversation with Dave, our groundsperson, and some of the ladies. I then took Lilian down to the office of the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, where she heard first hand about what the Forum does, before I moved her onto The Lenton Centre where we managed to get a peek at the swimming pool. Then it was off to The Lenton Flats and back to my house, where her quick tour of New Lenton ended (a visit to Old Lenton and Dunkirk will have to wait until another day). We did a lot in just under 2½ hours.

Being an MP is no easy task. It calls for a lot of sacrifices in terms of family and privacy. As an MP you become public property, ready to stop and talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Lilian will be a worthy successor to Alan, as she is driven by ideals and passion in a time when all too many MPs and their would-be replacements are motivated by little other than status and self-interest. Lilian will win Nottingham South by looking beyond the Labour Party and trade unions and building strong community ties in the same way as Alan has done. From what I saw of Lilian today I am sure she can create her own constituency of ready voters and supporters. For my part, I will do everything I can to help her in my part of Nottingham South, so, Lilian, it's go go go until the last vote goes into the ballot box at the next general election. You can do it, you will do it, OK, no argument!

Lilian meets Dave, Lenton Recreation Ground's very own groundsperson.

A Nottinghamshire County Team bowler has a pre-match snack as she and her colleagues wait for the opposition to arrive from Cumberland.

Dave and Lilian have just spotted a gravy stain… I must ask Lilian what they are looking at. The bowling lady features in the blog I posted on 14 April 2008, when she braved the weather to play the first few ends of the season. She told me her daughter had printed the pictures off my website and she had them with her to show her colleagues (if she or her daughter read this, they are welcome to have the original, higher resolution pictures if they contact me). It was lovely to have such positive feedback.

These ladies are the presidents of the Nottinghamshire and Cleveland Ladies Bowling Federations. The lady on the right is the visiting president and I took a couple of lovely pictures of her, which I will try to get to her somehow.

Andy shows Lilian the swimming pool at The Lenton Centre as it gets some final touches before it comes into use again. Nottingham City Council closed the pool and Lenton Leisure Centre on 5 September 2004 and the pool's official re-opening will be on 5 September 2008. After a two year campaign and lots of hard work by many volunteers the city council sold the building to Lenton Community Association under its new name of The Lenton Centre for £10. Andy was the manager of the leisure centre for many years and helped local residents to maintain the pool during the two year period when its future was in doubt. Afterwards he came back as The Lenton Centre's first paid employee. Andy is a very special person and he told me today that he will be leaving us before too long, as he planning to open a 'whiskey shop' in St Ives, Cornwall. In true 'master' style he said 'I have taught them (the TLC staff) all I know, they don't need me any more'.

Some wealthy Britons are exploiting a tax loophole that allows them to retire abroad with their UK pension savings and live tax-free. Within a few years the loophole could cost the exchequer hundreds of millions of pounds as increasing numbers of retirees with large pension pots escape paying UK tax rates on their pension income.

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