Lydiate – RIP John Kitson

I had a phone call yesterday from my good friend and former Maghull Councillor Roy Connell to tell me that his friend of many years John Kitson had died. I met John just the once myself and the link below outlines the circumstances:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/02/13/lydiate-meeting-a-lydiate-parish-councillor-from-the-1960s/

I don’t think that anyone involved in Lydiate Parish Council from the 1980’s onwards recalls John due to him being a councillor back in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s but never the less I feel it important to acknowledge his work for the community even though it was a long time ago.

If you’ve clicked on the link you’ll now know that Roy and John were connected with the trade union movement, a movement close to my heart too.

If anyone has any memories of John in his Parish Councillor role I’d love to hear them……

RIP John Kitson

Blue Wheelie Bins – It’s all about communication

Whatever the rights & wrongs (in recycling terms) of Sefton Council indroducing a 4th wheelie bin per household the issue is one that has many Sefton folk hot under the collar about, indeed some folks have been asking me (I’m a Lydiate Parish Councillor) to explain to them why it’s happening.

My understanding is that Sefton Council’s leaders must beleive there’s a good reason to separate out glass bottles and jars from other recycling materials which presently all go into the Borough’s brown wheelie bins like paper, cardboard, plastic, tins etc. It must be a good reason, or at least I really hope it is, because it’s costing £1.7m to order 100,000 Everton or Manchester City coloured bins! But as I’ve not seen the background information I don’t know whether the move is a good or bad one and I say that as a committed environmentalist & recycler.

But what I do see is a communications disaster due to the lack of clear messaging from Sefton Council. And that takes me back some years to when I was Leader of Sefton Council and a certain Councillor David Tattersall was Cabinet Member for the Environment. David was in public relations professionally and he realised as soon as Sefton was moving towards separating household waste into non-recyclable and recyclable that public messaging was vital. If I recall correctly some of the popular national press were sending out messages at the time against wheelie bins so clearly getting messages out to residents in the Borough was going to be difficult; all but a propaganda war.

The point here is that David realised that proper timely messaging was important via mail shots and even sticky labels placed on wheelie bins together, of course, with carefully placed local newspaper adverts and news items. I also recall that David told me that officials were not too keen on his demands for messaging but he was not to be put off.

Councils so often do things to their residents rather than working with them, command and control management I suppose you could call it. But, of course, imposition breeds resentment and a lack of cooperation/buy-in in a democracy, especially where folk are subject to alternative views and ‘facts’, or should I say even fake news/opinion.

Now I also realise that people with small outside spaces will, almost as a matter of course, be far from chuffed to find room for yet another wheelie bin. I even know of a Sefton resident who hardly ever uses their recycling bin but who drives to a local recycling centre to dispose of glass items. And yes there’ll be folk who oppose recycling in any form because that’s their political stance you might say. So there was always going to be a section of the Sefton community who just don’t want more wheelie bins, be they blue or any other colour, and they may even send their new bin back. However, the vast majority of folk just want to know in straight forward terms what they are being asked to do and why it will be of benefit to the environment, their ability to recycle etc. etc.

But, if you don’t get a clear message out or you just rely on messaging via press articles don’t be surprised that folks start asking ‘what’s going on?’. Politicians all know that personal messaging is what voters are more likely to respond to positively, that’s why political parties will often address political propaganda to you at elections. Why do those same politicians not realise that similar messaging is required when it comes to important council communications?

And to put the tin lid on it, so to speak, it’s only just over a year since Sefton ceased collecting food waste and that service cessation suffered from poor communication too as my blog posting of the time made reference to:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/13/sefton-council-food-waste-collections-cease/

THE GRAVY TRAIN SET – Guest posting from Bob Robinson

Michael Lewis in his seminal 2018 book “The Fifth Risk” describes how with each change of administration, supporters of the American President are appointed to head various Government Agencies. The LSE blog, at the time, crisply summarises Mr Lewis’s account of what went on at the National Weather Service.

“The choice of Barry Myers, head of private weather firm AccuWeather, to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, a scientific agency within the Department of Commerce) is both striking and predictable. Acknowledging that Mills’ appointment represents an attempt to effectively ‘dismantle’ NOAA through privatisation, Lewis writes that ‘the private weather industry, unlike the (government-based) National Weather Service, has a financial interest in catastrophe’ (172). The ‘dystopic endgame’ Lewis senses with weather forecasting can be extended to a host of other issues and risks, from nuclear waste to food security”.

blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2018/11/18/book-review-the-fifth-risk-by-michael-lewis/

For those who think it could not happen here – you might be in for a shock

On the 16th September, The Guardian reports that Shanker Singham, one of the main proponents of the so-called “alternative arrangements” for the Irish border, is understood to have teamed up with the customs expert Robert Hardy and the technology company Fujitsu for the Trader Support Service (TSS) contract. It goes on to describe the contract, the as the first of the “BREXIT SPOILS” in Northern Ireland, that was put out to tender in the summer with the appointment announced in time for implementation in September.

www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/16/alternative-to-irish-backstop-consultant-shanker-singham-in-line-for-200m-contract

How easy is it for Liberal Democrats to hold the government to account on what appears to be, in euphemistic terms, “Cosy relationships”? Are there other examples of this? Does it amount to crony patronage? Robert Townsend in his seminal pop business book “ Up the Organisation” described Management Consultants as “Someone who borrows your watch to tell you’re the time – and then walks off with your watch”. Plus ça change……………………………….

Are we witnessing “Déjà vu all over again”, bearing in mind the Conservative previous catastrophes inflicted in the name of Privatisation? This fiasco occurred in what seems like not too long ago not so good old days.

www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/16/part-privatisation-probation-sevices-to-be-reversed-offender-management-nationalised-chris-grayling

That by the way is the same Chris Grayling as this Chris Grayling

www.politicshome.com/news/article/conservative-anger-as-boris-johnson-makes-chris-grayling-chair-of-intelligence-committee

As Lib Dems, we should keep in mind the adage “What gets measured gets managed?” – Should we start keeping and publishing the score?

* Bob Robinson is a member of Central Bedfordshire Liberal Democrats

‘Life on Board’ Exhibition at Mersey Maritime Museum

Yesterday we went to have a look at this new exhibition which has recently been put tpgether by curators at Merseyside Maritime Museum. I say recently but it should have opened back in March however a certain lockdown stopped that happening. But with the relaxation of Covid 19 rules the exhibition indeed the Museum itself is now open for public viewing again, although it’s wise to pre-book your visit. It’s all free I might add.

‘Life on Board’ is a look into the lives of both crew and passengers of merchant ships and passenger vessels and it tells a story, indeed many individual stories, via the people who experienced work and travel by ship over many decades.

Now having been shown around this new exhibition by our daughter (one of the team behind it) means that my view of it must be biased; that said both Sheila and I really did find it fascinating and well worth the visit. What’s more, clearly great thought has been given into trying to keep visitors and staff safe during this awful pandemic.

I’m no maritime historian so the best way I can illustrate the exhibition is via the photos I took while at it. So here goes:-

There’s quite a bit about the loss of this ship including video interviews. So sad but the families got to the truth in the end thankfully.

The medal above was interesting to see as I’d blogged about Samuel Plimsoll a while back – Here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/21/plimsoll-the-man-the-mp-and-the-line/

I picked this shot of a Harrison Line poster due to it’s connection with my former home town of Maghull – Historic England says – Harrison Home [at the junction of Sefton Ln & L’pool Rd Sth] was named after Frederic Harrison, the President of the [Maghull] Homes in 1902 who operated a shipping line out of Liverpool. The home was constructed by Brown and Backhouse at a cost of £5421 and opened in June 1902.

To add to the photo above my Mum worked at the Harrison Home in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and I recall going into the building (which is Listed) at the time and thinking how beautiful it was and indeed still is. The Maghull Homes, as it was then known, was an epileptic colony and this was one of their buildings, it’s now known as the Parkhaven Trust.

I took a lot more photos as the exhibition covers many shipping issues and matters but the ones I’ve picked for this review are those which particularly interested me. Of course, other aspects will be of greater interest to others so if this review has piqued your interest it’s best to go see the the exstensive collection for yourself – I’m sure you’ll not be disappointed.

Please click on the photos above to enlarge them.

Maghull – Update on Stafford Moreton Way & Woodend environmental projects

Here’s an update on two significant Maghull environmental projects which are presently being pursued by the Friends of Maghull & District and which I thought were worth shouting about. I don’t have any direct involvement in either project [only so many hours in each day:-)] so any queries are best directed to Frank Sharp – woodendcwp@gmail.com – who leads on these matters.

Here’s the update:-

Thank you very much for your kind past support towards the ongoing Stafford Moreton Way Wildflower Project in 2019/20. We would like to take the opportunity to provide an update and to encourage you to support our latest project which is currently at 97% of its target total, leaving an outstanding £678.

Firstly, we hope you have been coping with the pandemic challenges and that our letter finds you in good spirits.

The Stafford Moreton Way Wildflower Project had two stages: (1) November 2019 involved removing turf in three areas and planting mixed wildlife friendly hedging, 12 trees, 1500 bulbs, covered with bark chippings as a weed suppressant, and (2) in April 2020 we had to postpone the installation of the recycling rhinoceros sculpture, the wildflower turf, and noticeboard, due to the pandemic restrictions. We are hoping to lay the turf on the 22.9.20, install the rhinoceros in October/November and following this install the noticeboard. We have had a terrific response from the community in collecting the plastic bottle tops for the recycling rhinoceros particularly from three local primary schools, the children of which we hope will proudly unveil the statue and insert the bottle tops. We had some small teething problems with the maintenance on site as London and Cambridge Property Management’s subcontractors (Marshalls) were unable to work during the pandemic and then this was compounded by new subcontractors (Spacecare) who were initially not fully briefed of their responsibilities which we hope to resolve this week. Continued updates are still available on our website at www.spacehive.com/stafford-moreton

The Woodend Community Woodland Project – www.spacehive.com/woodend – , is at Bobby’s Wood situated at the junction of Liverpool Road South and Northway, across the road from Lidl and the Alt pub and neighbouring Bumbles Children’s Nursery.

Rationale.

We are conscious that developers are seemingly keen to build everywhere in Maghull at the moment despite planning refusals by Maghull and Sefton Council’s Eg Damfield Lane was a blue plaque preservation area but central government overturned their refusals and the land is currently being built on. Consequently, we want to preserve the natural beauty of Bobby’s Wood but make it more user-friendly by improving upon the handful of dog walkers that currently use it. To achieve this we have focused on creating a (1) safe hedging and rail perimeter and (2) an accessible natural Cotswold path, which will be the springboard for all the other proposed natural improvements.

We developed the proposals earlier this year, consulted a variety of horticultural experts and stakeholders. Spent July undertaking a survey open to the whole of Maghull and also focused on door knocking on over 600 houses in the vicinity and received overwhelming support as can be seen in the online survey report, including Q&A and information sheets available at http://www.maghull-tc.gov.uk/news The survey also amazingly resulted in 30 respondents expressing an interest in becoming volunteers as part of a Friends of Bobby’s Wood group.

We started crowdfunding in April 2020 and will finish in late October 2020. By some miracle, during the incredible pandemic challenges for everyone, we have somehow raised £22,913 which is incredibly humbling and also perhaps an indication of how refocused people are now about nature. If we over fund we are targeting the first £3000 on populating the huge rear borders with community engaged planting.

We have provided further introductory information below and have created an introductory video on the crowdfunding website at www.spacehive.com/woodend

We hope you can help again with this new project and thank you once again for your past and hopefully future motivational support.

Best Wishes and Take Care,

Frank Sharp (Friends of Maghull and District).

Extra Information.

To reinvigorate an historic woodland entrance to Maghull, with a welcoming, accessible, iconic and engaging wildlife friendly space, focusing on enhancing the environment, history, community, legacy and economy.

Our Ambition.

Between April and October 2020, we are initially targeting funding to create a safe and accessible area as a platform for community led projects for years to come. This involves (1) ‘accessible’ 230m pathway (cost £6,500) for dis/abled, prams, elderly, to join together various future destinations that will eventually include the following:

RHS mentored community led designed and managed planted borders

Under-planting current trees with hundreds of free Mersey Forest donated tree whips and bulbs to future proof and enhance.

A 6m banqueting table and benches near Bumbles Nursery to act as a fun picnic table and community hub.

A wisteria arched tunnel

Signage to welcome and inform regarding the rich history (remnant of a 2×5 mile mediaeval wood belonging to a Saxon called Uctred referred to in the Domesday book (1086)).

The potential loan of a 15 foot Saxon warrior sculpture.

Our other initial target is to purchase and install (2) 92 m of diamond rail fencing (cost £4500) around the perimeter for the following reasons:

To protect the beautiful 1385 wildlife friendly mixed hedging whips we are obtaining from the Tree Council for free, that will form the 230m perimeter and will be planted in November 2020, during National Tree Week with the support of every aspect of the community eg local nursery, two primary schools, one high school, the local Scout groups and U3A etc.

To protect children and pets from directly accessing the busy roads

To provide habitat and food for wildlife, whilst providing a beautiful appearance.

To provide research evidence on how hedging can reduce 60% of the vehicle pollution, produced by the daily 20,000 vehicles, conducted between Sefton Council, the Tree Council and a professor & his team from Bangor University.

To protect from vehicle pollution and noise.

Through the planting activity we want to establish a specific friends of community group to care and support the wood.

Our democracy is under attack!

Fake news, Russian bots, millions not even on the electoral register so what is the response of Government? Propose abolishing the Electoral Commission which actually needs more powers rather than being kicked into a ditch!

Here’s what the Electoral Reform Society thinks about Government threats to our electoral guardian:-

www.electoral-reform.org.uk/our-elections-watchdog-needs-strengthening-not-scrapping/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ers-email&utm_campaign=blog-roundup&utm_content=Blog+Round+up+4/9/20

My good friend Bob Robinson sums up the worrying situation very well when he says – ‘Not content with ploughing up the level playing field – the Tories now want to nobble the referee?’

My thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting