Lydiate’s People – The meeting

To follow up my recent posting which advertised two events where local historians would be presenting their findings from a detailed look at census records from Lydiate in the 1800’s I attended the second event at Lydiate’s Village Centre last Friday morning.

And an excellent presentation it was. I picked up a copy of their data CD which I am looking forward to having a good look at when I have some time to spare and at only £3 it was excellent value.

I am sure that the 40 odd people at the meeting I went to were as pleased as I was with the presentation. Should you wish to obtain one of the data CD’s I am sure that a call to Lydiate Parish Council (527 2662) will get you pointed in the right direction.

Deyes High Academy – But where was my chocolate sponge and pink custard!

I had a great afternoon at Deyes High today helping year 11’s with interview skills as part of their work experience learning. In fact it was almost a Lib Dem outing as fellow activists Val Jay and Bruce Hubbard had also volunteered to help out together with many other local people.

It was one of those things that you look forward to as helping youngsters develop is important. BUT having been told that lunch was to be provided my hopes went sky high. Memories of roast school dinners at Maghull High in the 1970’s followed by chocolate sponge and pink custard were on my mind! However, healthy eating is now the thing and sandwiches were on the menu. Whilst they were very nice sandwiches I did try my luck and asked if the youngsters ever got chocolate sponge with pink custard. The answer was sadly that they do not. Oh well back to my memories!

The serious part of my afternoon was to help 4 fifteen year old’s with their interview techniques and frankly I was quite impressed with them. Smartly presented, polite and well informed they were. I only hope that I was able to help them.

Labour – Why do they seemingly crave rules and ‘red tape’?

What you notice is that there is that wing of the Labour Party that seems to think that rules, regulations and the control of just about everything are useful ends in themselves.

I have heard questions such as ‘where is the Standing Order for this’ or ‘we must have a regulation for that’ a number of times and at various meetings and it has struck me that this almost obsessive need/search for red tape is one of the things that divides us Liberals from Socialists.

I like a practical ‘lets get on with it’ approach whereas some of the comrades want meeting after meeting (where things are often deferred) and where they seem to spend much of their time debating rules and regulations or going through pointless verbal updates.

I don’t think I will ever forget sitting through a Maghull Town Council meeting last year watching Labour Councillors debating with themselves whether a paper that had been put on the table by a Labour member should be debated or not. The matter (should Maghull Town Council make a submission to Sefton Council about protecting the Green Belt) did not get debated because they decided not to discuss the paper at all!

My view is that this seems to stem from a lack of trust both amongst them and in their interactions with others. It is as though they are simply not comfortable dealing with matters unless there is a rule they can turn to. I am going to return to this general theme when I get chance to write up another posting about enjoying life as a councillor.

Ernie – The Fastest (texting) Milkman In The West)

Readers will know how cheesed off I get seeing vehicle drivers on their mobile phones and thought I had seen the ultimate bad driving the other week when I spotted a Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority van being piloted by a man on a phone.

But to put the tin lid on it, at the other end of the vehicle scale, I was on Dunningsbridge Road (Bootle) last week and there chugging along at maybe 10mph was a milk float with the driver well engrossed in his mobile rather than on his driving!

I don’t suppose you can do a great deal of damage at 10mph and I must admit that even I had a laugh at this one. However, it still goes to show that far too drivers are more concerned with answering/making calls and texts than they are for their own or indeed anyone else’s safety.

Public life – Are we now to assume that everyone is intent on criminal activity?

I know I said that the item at a recent Maghull Town Council meeting was dry but parts of it made me reflect on why we have such in depth financial regulations and standing orders in public bodies. Bluntly, everyone working on or with a public body is seemingly assumed these days to have dodgy motives. Why else would a Parish Council have a list of you must do this on pain of death or you must not do that on pain of death as long as your arm?

I have been a Parish Councillor for 27 years and whilst Parish and Town Councils are pretty much free to do as they please policy-wise without big brother’s big nose being poked in they have become more and more bound up in legislation aimed at controlling how people do things, who checks up on them and the punishments to go along with it all.

Frankly, reading through Maghull’s financial regulations and standing orders, which I am told follow national guidelines, would make any volunteer thinking of getting involved in the Council think again. Yes, Parish Council’s are voluntary organisations in that Parish and Town Councillors don’t get paid – they do what they do because they want to improve their community.

I suppose in public life the emphasis in relationships is now not to trust anyone, to assume that councillors or staff have ulterior motives and to have one hand on the phone to the Police at all times as someone within the organisation must be doing something untoward.

I have had many happy years as a Parish Councillor working for and with the community but the continual questioning of people’s motives and actions is sad indeed and these rules and regulations only seem to back up such a regrettable conclusion.

Joe Benton MP

Out at my regular water hole last night with a couple of friends in West Lancashire who should I run into but Joe, Bootle’s Labour MP.

British politics teaches us to be tribal and not to say nice things in public about opposition politicians but not being a tribal person by nature I am happy to say that Joe is probably one of the most decent people I have met in political life.

We had a good chat about many things and Joe introduced me to members of his family who were out with him for the night.

I can see why Bootle folks vote for Joe, so long may he be their highly respected MP.