Turnaround in Glebe Farm

Something truly impressive is going on in Glebe Farm. This place means a lot to me. Before I got elected I ran my first campaign here back in 2004 against drug-dealing. Crime has proved tough to crack. Yet, this year its down some 20 pc thanks to a new approach from the police and partners, not least the extraordinary Phil Grainger – much tougher enforcement against a targeted handful of problem youngsters plus investment – initially some £60,000 from West Midlands police – in new youth services ie something for young people to do. Inspector Jennings and his team took me for a walkabout on Friday morning to see the approach in action. in my view its fresh evidence of the kind of innovation you can unlock when frontline leaders have the flexibility to bring together a range of funding and develop new services.

At my school gate surgery at Audley school in October I admired the new investment in the school – but more impressive was the number of parents who said they now went to the neighbourhood tasking meetings – and they made a difference. Let me know what your impressions are.

Aspiration

Investing in aspiration is one of the most important priorities for the next phase of new Labour. This week, I’ll publish a major report looking at how aspiration differs across deprived communities. The truth is our low income neighbourhoods have very different horizons. But some low income, largely white working class places have 10pc fewer kids wanting to stay on at school than the national average. Look out for the report later this week.

Gifts

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’.