Great divides? Community boundaries – Mean a lot, mean a little?

I have often pondered on boundaries especially those associated with local government. What forms a boundary, why was it chosen and who chose it?

Here are two boundaries close to my Lydiate home. One is with Maghull and the other with Aughton:-

Maghull Brook - On the left Lydiate (and me) - on the right Maghull.

Maghull Brook – On the left Lydiate (and me) – on the right Maghull.

Sudell Brook - On the left Lydiate - on the right Aughton

Sudell Brook – On the left Lydiate – on the right Aughton

In both cases the boundary is obviously a stream and this can often be the case with local government boundaries where watercourses have been chosen to divide communities up.

The boundary between Maghull and Lydiate simply divides the two Civil Parishes of Lydiate and Maghull and the only real obvious difference this creates is the amount of Council tax or Precept that the residents of these two communities pay to either Lydiate Parish Council or Maghull Town Council. Both Civil Parishes are in Sefton Borough and both are a part of the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside.

The Lydiate – Aughton boundary is of far greater significance though as it is all but an invisible barrier rather than a boundary because Aughton Civil Parish is in West Lancashire Borough and the County of Lancashire. The world does not look any different on either side of Sudell Brook but in fact it is as the Sefton Borough – West Lancashire boundary has, since 1974, become a local government barrier. Why you can almost hear senior council officers saying ‘we are a Metropolitan Borough [Sefton] and they are just a County’ and of course the reverse will apply too. Sadly, whilst I may well be exaggerating here the reality is that since 1974, in local government terms, Sefton’s communities and those in West Lancashire have mainly planned for their futures in glorious isolation – a great divide indeed.

Considering the massive boundary between West Lancashire and Sefton you would think there would be a huge amount of cross-border co-operation and planning for the joint communities. You would think so but I assure you there is not.

I recall during my time as Leader of Sefton Council I went to Ormskirk to meet the Leader of West Lancs Council to try to kick-start closer working relationships but it seems that those who followed us have not developed things further. What sense does separate transport planning in the two Boroughs make? Environmental protection issues must be similar surely? Health issues surely do not stop at a stream do they? Why we even have an NHS Hospital Trust on split between Southport and Ormskirk either side of the great divide.

I recall when Sefton and West Councils were planning for building on the Green Belt and on the highest grade of agricultural land in England that I started to ask questions about how closely the two two planning departments were sharing and consulting each other. The answers I got were hardly an example of close cooperation in my eyes and I wondered if the contact was little more that phone calls with one side saying ‘we are doing X’, ‘well we are doing y’, ‘OK speak again next year maybe’.

The bottom line is that Merseyside and Lancashire are very different worlds in local government terms. Is this something that is hammered into local government officers from an early age akin to religious indoctrination? Whatever the case it is very much to the disadvantage of communities which are near to a significant local government boundary in my view.

Bootle/Southport College Mergers

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/in-your-area/colleges-bootle-southport-set-merge-12440222

The Liverpool Echo ran this story recent – see link above

Quote from the Echo article – A review of further education in Merseyside has recommended Hugh Baird and South Sefton Colleges, together with Southport and King George V Colleges, should become a single college by summer 2018.

This will be a big move indeed but my understanding is that it is required to try to help balance the books of the 4 presently separate colleges. Southport College and the Town’s KGV College were already in the process of merging of course.

The rather obvious point is that they are geographically a long way apart and it does make you wonder how effectively two colleges in Bootle and two in Southport can be run as one organisation. But it causes other thoughts too about what will the future hold for the 4 educational institutions.

There’s some very big issues here indeed.

Lydiate’s John Goore Charity

I suspect that this very old Lydiate charity is not that well known in the community as maybe it needs to be. I have blogged about it previously and a past posting is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/06/16/lydiate-the-gores-charity/

BTW I have seen the charity’s name spelled Gore or Goore and it is sometimes referred to as the Gores or Goores Trust.

It is now being run by the Community Foundation For Merseyside. Here’s a link to their web site:-

www.cfmerseyside.org.uk/funds/john-goore

If you know any Lydiate (the charity does not cover Maghull) resident who could benefit from this charity – see the link above first to see what the benefits are – then why not let them know about Lydiate’s very own charitable trust and how it may be able to assist.

Cllr. Edie Pope is also a good contact for inquires, she can be reached via this e-mail address:-

info@churchviewfarm.co.uk

Bootle and its debt crisis

Bootle Crest. This version is fixed to the wall of the Council Chamber in Bootle Town Hall.

Bootle Crest. This version is fixed to the wall of the Council Chamber in Bootle Town Hall.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/revealed-true-scale-bootles-debt-12372291

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

Quote from the Echo article – ‘More people are struggling to pay their debts in Bootle than anywhere else in the north west.

New research reveals the scale of the debt crisis facing the town, which has the fifth highest levels of insolvency in Britain’.

Debt must be up there with poor health (indeed it is a significant cause of ill health) as being a blight on the lives of people. Many politicians have tried to fix the position of the poor, because debt and poverty go hand in hand, but still our society has a significant proportion of it where poverty is an everyday thing.

Our welfare system designed by William Beveridge (and tinkered with by government after government) forms the basis of the safety net to assist those with little yet problems of poverty still persist. Maybe it’s time for a new war on poverty as it will always fuel debt.

Here’s what Beveridge was trying to do, all be it in the first half of the last century:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Beveridge

Surely poverty is the greatest social challenge to the UK yet no prominent politician has obviously led a campaign to address it in recent times. Indeed, it was not so long ago that senior politicians in the Labour Party were all but falling in behind the Tories in attacking the poor in an attempt to gain votes from the middle classes. And of course even some Liberals (what would Beveridge have thought of them?) were sucked into what almost became a shameful mainstream political movement against those on welfare.

The longer that poverty and causes and consequences of it are political no go areas for major party politicians the more the poor will be exploited by UKIP and the the far right for their own purposes. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee all you supposedly progressive politicians, especially those of you who take far too much notice of the rabid right wing press.

Football in black and white? A remarkable story from 1979

www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-37924448

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

_92353598_matchphoto976

This was less than 40 years ago! Goodness me what a strange thing to do from the perspective of 2016, it certainly makes me feel very uncomfortable.

If we did things like this in 1979 just imagine how our society would regress if we really did go back to that 1950’s view of the world that some seem to crave!

This football match was, considering the time, probably well meaning. The segregation of black and white players into what were racial/ethnic teams was not seemingly seen to be an issue even though it was taking place at a time when South African apartheid was high on the world agenda.

So glad we have moved on, well most of us have anyway………….

Picture credit Laurie Rampling