Monday, 28 July 2008

Still In darkest Peru

First trip over and now in Lima waiting for the second group to arrive. Lima is far different today than it was 3 weeks ago, though neither day could be classed as normal!

3 weeks ago we arrived at the start of a General strike, we managed to get north before all the roads were closed, the strike was started by the miners but it ended up covering the whole country for 3 days, as a bit of a political spotter it was a good way to start the trip but was quite difficult to work out the level of support for the strike. The unions seemed able to cut off each town by putting in barricades to stop traffic but the demonstartions/ protest marches each day seemed to have little support. Walls were also covered with graffiti, with many of the slogans seemed to be aimed at not wanting the strike to be taken over by the communists.

As you enter each town the walls are often painted with political messages and the names of those seeking election as Mayor or local, regional or national representitive.

Today is different as it is National Independance day- 28th July. Since we have been here, we have noticed that each house has a Peru flag outside it, yesterday we found out that each house/ shop has to fly the flag for a month before Independance day, not that the people mind as they take great pride in this day and many wear a small rosette badge on their clothes to celebrate the day. Yesterday in the main square they changed the fountain from water to Pico, the local drink- large queus formed to get their free Pisco drink! Though it was day of celebration, it was noticable that at the corner of each square was placed an anti-riot vehicle or a water cannon and around the sqaure were groups of armed military style police. Then again Lima is a city of varied life styles, in the beach area an apartment sells for $400,000 and this is for the smallest one available, but at the smae time many of the 9 million population live in small huts placed on sandy hills that are not much more than pre fabricated sheds. But what has been the highlight of the trip is the friendleness of the Peruvian people, from the city of Lima to the northern villages to the former Inca stronghold of Cusco, definately a county to visit.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Off to Peru!

And not to search for Paddington- This weekend I leave for a 6 week trip to Peru - this was planned before my election. i will be taking two groups of young pupils to Peru. we will be doing the Inca Trail including visiting Machu Picchu but we will also trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash, the setting for "Touching the void". The two young groups will also spend some time in local villages, helping put in solar panels alongside the Juniper Trust.

It may mean not much blogging for 6 weeks but I should come back with plenty to blog about!

Rushmere Update

Campaigning has continued in the ward and on Monday we had a walkabout on Rushmere estate and spoke to a number of residents, many of the issues concerned the poor state of the roads on the estate.
Bristo's garage in Woodbridge Road have had two planning applications in, they wanted to demolish a house in Belvedere Road - this was refused. they have gained planning permission to build 14 houses on the site of their old car showrooms - this was passed but after a number of changes to the original plan. I passed on a number of residents concerns to Bristo's and the planners and this new development will see the retention of the wall backing onto Khartoum Road. The developers will also build a bus shelter on Woodbridge Road.
I have also been campaigning in Whitehouse and St Johns.
A number of my fellow Labour activists were in the town centre today to help celebrate the 60th birthday of the NHS.