Sophie Arthur

‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ Live Podcast Recording at Mountford Hall 19/02/18

To open their live podcast recording of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’, Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd invited members of the audience to share their ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ for the week, which included passing their driving test (fifth time lucky!), before Ed and Geoff shared theirs. Geoff recalled how as his train pulled in to Lime Street Station earlier today, the announcer played ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ with the intention of making the passengers’ day even better, if it was already a good day, or simply to make them smile if they’re having a bad day. Ed found his reason to be cheerful in the power of ordinary people and their ability to bring about change, using the recent example of US high school students demanding that their government revise federal background checks.

The pair then invited up three guests to the stage to discuss their ideas, achievements and reasons to be cheerful in the community. The first of these guests was Theresa MacDermott from Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust fund, here in Liverpool. She spoke about her role in the regeneration of the streets following the 1981 Toxteth riots and the market set up there by locals- that started from a table stall- with anything from their attics, to over 80 traders once a month. MacDermott spoke about how the local council have really supported this by closing off the road on these days. So, if you want a visit while you’re here in Liverpool to see the work of Theresa and her team first hand, head down to the monthly market when it’s on. The conversation ended with the hosts asking MacDermott for her advice to anyone wanting to do something similar: Have perseverance and a strong vision for what you want. Stop being angry all the time, and try and remember the limits others are working to and come to a mutual conclusion.

Their next guest was Cllr Matthew Brown, a Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Inclusion & Policy in Preston City Council. Cllr Brown spoke about what has become known as the ‘Preston Model’, which allows Preston and the areas around it to be more self-sufficient, instead of relying on outsourcing. Through this model Cllr Brown spoke about the implementation of the Living Wage and the support larger institutions, such as the University (UCLan) and the local housing authorities, give to local businesses to allow local goods and services to be available wherever possible. He then went on to speak about the upcoming proposals of having a community bank in Lancashire and finished by giving his advice to those in power: to give more power to local communities as has been done in Preston.

The third guest was Neil McInroy, who started his conversation with his reason to be cheerful by finding hope in poorer communities like Preston and Barcelona, as he travels around the world. He explained how economies should be something that work for the local community. His advice for those in power is to recognise that it should be local councils who are co-directors of any actions taken in local communities, and they must have their say to make things work for the people and communities around them.

Following a short break, the hosts returned to a game of ‘Do I look like a badger?’ (to find out more listen to the podcast once it’s released!) They then invited up their final guest of the night, comedian, Tez Ilyas, who spoke about his time working in the Home Office, including working on the security for the Olympics and before leaving in 2016 to become a comedian. Ilyas finished with some ideas for reasons to be cheerful, including the introduction of slides instead of lifts, cakes that cure toothaches and Ilyas, himself, taking up the next lead in Doctor Who! This was followed by audience suggestions for potential cheerful policies, which ranged from cafes in which you talk to people with different opinions to yourself, to the introduction of compulsory voting.

To find out the responses to these suggestions and hear answers to other questions the audience asked, look out for the release of the podcast. In the meantime, have a listen to previous episodes here.

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