Nick Clegg was visiting the Humber area yesterday and went to both Grimsby and Hull.
In the morning he was taken by Cllr Andrew DeFreitas, Lib Dem Leader of NE Lincs council, to see an area of Grimsby that is being completely redeveloped by the Council in co-operation with local residents. Large areas of sub-standard housing are beng replaced with modern homes. Nick met with residents to see how they had been involved in planning the scheme.
Then it was on to a local youth project working with pupils who have been excluded from school as well as young people from the local area. The project focuses on responsibility and includes care for various fish and reptiles. Nick handled a five foot orange grass snake which is being cared for by one of the young people in the project.
Then it was next door to see a dance performance by a group of local young girls.
We then crossed the Humber to Hull to meet with Dennis Healy, PPC for Hull North and his colleagues who run Hull Council. Our visit coincided with two events which show the difference between Lib Dems and Labour. The Town Hall was playing host to a cutting crime conference - under the Lib Dems Hull has seen a 41% drop in crime - with top police officers and council officials from all over the country.
At the same time, unions were holding a march to protest at the likely decision not to award a council contract for an integrated advice service to the local Citizens Advice Bureau. Councillors point out that the preferred bidder is capable of providing the same service at a much cheaper cost to council tax-payers. Whilst the final decision is yet to be taken it does seem incredible to me that Labour are in favour of spending more tax payers money on services which can be found cheaper.
We returned to this theme later during Nick's Town Hall meeting (actually held at the University). Members of the University Labour Club asked why the Council was ending the entitlement of all local school children to free school meals. Nick pointed out that Hull was reverting to the national policy of free school meals for those who need them but not for everyone. After all, why should scarce education resources be spent on free meals for kids from wealthy backgrounds. Such assistance should be targeted on those who most need the help.
Another great question came from one guy who asked Nick to support all strike action and show solidarity with all workers without question (I paraphrase only for the sake of brevity). He also claimed that the public do not care about issues such s crime and education, but only with jobs and pay levels and that politicians, because of their level of pay, could never relate to their constituents. Nick referred to this thinking as somewhat old fashined which got the angry reply 'It's not old fashioned, it's marxist'. Priceless.
Pics, from top: Nick and Cllr Andrew DeFreitas outside houses which will be demolished as part of the Grimsby regeneration scheme; Nick and the five foot grass snake; Nick with the founder of the Shalom Youth Project Canon John Ellis; Nick sees a PE lesson at Thoresby Primary School; and visits the IT suite; Nick at the public meeting at Hull University.