When I'm wondering how to make a difference in my own area it helps to find out how others have dealt with a similar problem.
Today I returned to Birmingham Northfield where I stood as the parliamentary candidate two years ago. In Longbridge the Rover Factory has been almost entirely levelled. Acre after acre of what was once the centre of the British car industry lies flattened. The 6,000 ex Rover workers mostly have "jobs" but many are temporary, part-time or low skilled. Loan sharks hover, and of the £175 million that the government promised for "re training and re-generation" £50 million never arrived.
However, where people live I can see a real difference. Streets are cleaner, graffiti has disappeared, many estates have been tidied up. The council now under Conservative leadership for 3 years has given local councillors power over local cleanliness, machinery and manpower. Its better. I learnt from them.
I went out canvassing with Cllr Keith Barton and his wife (since last year Cllr Sue) and then with Cllr Andrian Delaney as well as Keeley Rodgers their new Parliamentary candidate. The Labour vote appears to be melting but there are lots of smaller parties, including the BNP, who are picking up votes as well as the Conservatives. The stay at home vote say they will be large too.
Then I went out Maggie Throup canvassing in Solihul. She had her team had been joined by election observerers from Uganda to learn about local democracy in the UK. We can all learn a bit from others.