Friday 19th May

A time to speak and a time to listen

IMG_0256.JPGFriday was a civic day - despite the election, I'm still a Councillor! Every year Plymouth City Council has its AGM, when the Lord Mayor changes and we agree who the Leader of the council is.   It's a formal ceremony, rather than a debate, but is important as it's where we recognise the importance of having a Lord Mayor as the civic ambassador of the city.

I was honoured to give the formal thanks to Councillor Pauline Murphy, the outgoing Lord Mayor. She has had a fantastic year. Pauline loves Plymouth and its people with a passion. She has been outstanding in her support for young people, community groups, voluntary organisations and, especially, veterans' organisations and their families. As I said in my speech of thanks on Friday, Pauline has been a Lord  Mayor of the People, for the people of Plymouth. A Lord Mayor for the many, not the few.

In the afternoon I visited Crossways in Ham, and met up with the Centre manager, Len. Crossways is a drop-in centre for people with mental health issues, the only one that allows self referral in the city, and has been up and running for 23 years now. Crossways can act as a gateway for support, but its main aim is to help support people to support themselves and manage their own mental health. The centre has an arts room, a small garden, an activity room as well as access to a kitchen. Over the course of a year it supports around 100 people. At a time when mental health provision has been cut back so much, it is really important that facilities such as this are available. I sit on the Health and Well Being Scrutiny panel at the Council and have seen first hand the impact cuts to mental health support create, are and I know full well the pressure mental health services are under.

IMG_0255.JPGI know my Tory opponent makes a lot of noise about mental health services. Fair play to him - raising awareness is important. But though he usually says the right sorts of things, and offers sympathy, he has never actually voted against his Government on this issue that he claims to hold so dear. He calls voting against the Government "vanity voting". Perhaps he sees the Whips' approval and Mrs May's favour as being more important than voting for Plymouth when it matters.

My evening canvass was out in the sunshine for once. This time we were up in my old stamping ground of Mainstone - always nice to see familiar faces. Then back into town for our weekly Labour Members' Campaign Briefing. Another packed one, with more new volunteers joining us each week. They are a great way to feel the buzz of campaigning together.

Having a  Labour manifesto to show people this week has been great. People are seeing that not only do we care about the suffering the Tories are inflicting on the country, but that we have fully costed plans to reverse their cuts, give opportunities to people to better themselves and so contribute to society, and that we really, really mean it when we say we are for the many not the few.

By comparison, the Tory manifesto was also out this week. Uncosted ideas, attacks on pensioners' income, more means testing, cutting back free school meals - the Nasty Party is back.

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