Our fantastic new school

I’ve reported before on the fantastic £9.5 million new Colebourne and Beaufort School, which I helped open with Schools Secretary Ed Balls on Monday. My video report is now online on LiamTV. The even better news? We have won some £40 million from the Education Secretary to rebuild more schools for our young people across the constituency. Our campaign to make Hodge Hill the best place in Birmingham to be a young person is starting to pay off. So when the leaflets asking your support come through your door – please keep filling them in!


Who inspires you?

We had the pivilige showing the Guardian round Hodge Hill on Friday, ahead of our week’s report on aspiration. I wanted them to see some of the work in places like International school where an inspirational head is re-inventing the idea of how a school sits as a hub in the centre of a community, offering a whole host of new services – like post-16 training, IT facilities for silver surfers, and family learning classes. The point is that to turn around aspiration, you have to harness both families and communities. And schools are central because in poorer places, schools are often the biggest public investments – and likely to remain so given our £35 billion of building schools for the future investment. But, arguably front line leaders need still more flexibility to mix funding and roll out new services.

We had a little workshop with some International school students on role-models and ambitions. They were incredible. Plenty wanted to be doctors, surgeons, lawyers. All wanted to go on to college and university. And almost always the big sources of inspiration were people who believed in them, picked them up when they were down and taught them the value of trying and trying again until they got it right. Inspiring stuff.


On Friday I met two amazing people. One of the great joys of my job is the work I do to try and build a network of social entreprenuers who are as passionate about local change as I am. I’m always on the look out. On Friday night, I tracked down Jean Preist in Bordesley Green who’s worked wonders for her road and others. I’ve heard about her amazing work, and wanted to meet her, hear her views and say thank you.

As we were chatting I expressed my view that we need to do more in Birmingham to bring different communities together, to show folk the amazing amount we have in common, and the potential of working together to deliver change. Her husband, Joe said something interesting; that in Birmingham, as far back as he could remember – back decades – our streets have always been a bit ‘clannish’.

So, maybe today’s challenge is nothing new. You find in politics that not much is. But earlier that afternoon, I’d met the new man in charge of Saltley Methodist Church, Andy Smith. He too is thinking about how we get people to face out towards each other, not look inwards. He had a simple way of explaining it. We have to stop thinking about the ‘problems’ other people cause us. We have to remember that everyone has gifts – and gifts to give. I think that’s right. In modern communities like ours, that’s the right way to think about how we get out there and ‘build a house together’.

Rubbish TV

Big day today. Today i meet the head of street cleaning for my district. Hodge Hill. I got so sick of the state of our streets that eventually I had to resort to posting videos of rubbish strewn streets on YouTube – my very own Rubbish TV. I felt sad that it had come to this – but my constituents love it. People are constantly emailing me to let me know where there’s a mess they need clearing up. I’ll have a simple message for city officials today. I think they are good people. But they seem trapped in some pretty bad systems. And we want faster progress. Watch the videos for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eaj1_MbMauE