Wednesday, 13 November 2013

John Rolfe tribute

Our tribute to former Labour councillor John Rolfe, who passed away in September, at Full Council.

John was a Councillor for Priory Ward from 1998 to 2002 and then for Kilburn Ward with Phil Turner and Charlie Hedges from 2002 to 2006. Before becoming a Councillor John had been a highly effective representative of Hilgrove Tenants Association on Hampstead District Management Committee and as a Councillor he continued his work on behalf of tenants and those in housing need.

In 2003/4 he chaired the Scrutiny Panel on Housing Repairs and apart from serving for a time as Vice Chair of Housing during his term of office he also chaired Hampstead DMC. In the period after 2006 he chaired the Camden Tenants Federation and Swiss Cottage Community Association.

In this capacity I remember John as well-read - pragmatic, and not dogmatic – cutting through the noise and getting to the substance in a field which people have very strong views.

I served with him on the board of the Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust during a period of great change.  Here as elsewhere John was an effective negotiator of the often tricky cultural difference between local council and NHS accountability structures.

John sought to improve public services – his evidence to House of Commons on Public Service Targets in 2003 appealed for a more dynamic way of holding public services to account.

We believe targets are a good idea within an overall performance management framework and culture, taking account of context and local priorities.  All too often the targets get in the way of effective delivery and become an end in themselves rather than a means to an end. They are a tool within a performance management framework and should not be seen as a weapon. Quite. 
John was a man with a powerful social conscience who was prepared to devote much time and energy helping individuals and working for tenants' rights and economic and social justice. He will be sorely missed by many tenants and residents of Camden and particularly by those who knew him well - he was a man of principle and of good humour.
He liked to define himself as a community activist: he was exactly that and the Camden community is the poorer for his passing.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Free training course to set up stall at QC Market

Queen's Crescent Market is running a Retail Business Training Course to help unemployed local (Camden) people learn how to set up a business and start their own stall on our market.  Those who complete the course, which is accredited by City & Guilds, will be eligible to pitch their business idea to us in a Dragon’s Den scenario for an investment to kick start their business. 
….and attached more details on the course.
Eligibility:  must be Camden resident, over 19 years and unemployed for at least 3 months and receiving benefits.
Screening & Registration: Wednesday 13th November from 2.00 – 5.00pm at QCCA
Course dates: Monday 18th November to Friday 29th November daily from 9.30am – 4.30pm
Venue:  QCCA & Weedington Road Play Centre

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Lib Dem IPNA powers (and busking)

For all the years of Lib Dem whining about 'draconian' use of ASBOs for 'trivial matters' under Labour, especially here in Camden, they are now introducing new civil injunctions - less snappily called 'IPNAs' (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance) - which have a lower evidential threshold and cover a wider range of activities.

Here's Nick Clegg in 2006 saying that ASBOs were "demonising" young people

Labour was careful that there were appropriate safeguards - as well as tough action: before an Asbo could be issued a court has to be satisfied that someone had at least caused or threaten to cause “harassment, alarm or distress” to someone else and the order was “necessary” to protect the victim.

But the new system will allow courts to impose sweeping curbs on people’s liberty if they think they are “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”. They will be able to impose them if they think it is “just and convenient” to do so.

Former DPP Lord McDonald QC has led the criticism arguing in the Telegraph that Christian preachers, buskers and peaceful protesters could effectively be driven off the streets under draconian new powers designed to clamp on anyone deemed “annoying.” Others have also pointed out their illiberal nature.

Postscript:  The irony for Monday's debate about busking in Camden is that licensing busking, derided by critics as Town Hall over-reaching, could actually be protected from IPNAs under our new regime!