Incredulous Lib Dem Save Our Libraries campaigners have said that Sefton Central MP, Bill Esterson’s plea to Government for it to ring fence library funding sounds more like he is asking Government to stop his own party from closing Libraries.
My Lib Dem colleagues and I can’t understand what the MP is saying; the library closures in Sefton are being promoted by his party, no one else!
Is he asking for the Coalition Government to stop Labour from closing our libraries; it seems that he may be. This is quite extraordinary when all the MP has to do is to get his own Labour councillors from the Sefton Central constituency to vote against the Bootle Labour Cabinet’s closure proposals. It needs just 4 Labour councillors from Sefton Central to vote with us to get the closures plan thrown out.
We Lib Dems are running a Borough-wide campaign to try to save libraries, which are on Labour’s hit list, from closure and we have set up an e-petition at www.seftonsays.co.uk which anyone with access to the internet can sign.
It no use Labour ducking and diving, they are the ones proposing library closures. Asking Government to ring fence funding to stop this is ridiculous. My challenge to Labour is for them to remove the threat of library closures now; the power is in their own hands as they run Sefton Council.
PLEASE HELP US SAVE OUR LIBRARIES – SIGN the e-petition at www.seftonsays.co.uk
As I mentioned in a previous posting we had a debate, if that is what you could call it, about the problems within Merseytravel at the Sefton Council meeting last Thursday. By the way the official name of Merseytravel is Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority.
What quite took me aback was how I inadvertently managed to touch an extremely raw Labour Party nerve with my mild motion. The motion simply welcomed the two recent reports on the running of the organisation and urged Merseytravel to take on board all the changes recommended. Labour’s reaction to my moving the motion was to say the least over the top and the Council’s Labour Leadership labelled my motion as ‘tawdry’. Bearing in mind that the changes within Merseytravel are being driven forward by the Labour Party across Merseyside we can only assume such changes are over the dead body of the Sefton Labour faction.
This is bizarre to say the least but so was the debate which virtually reduced to personal abuse as Labour got more and more upset. At one point, and whilst responding to the debate, I told the Council that I attended Maghull Town Council meetings to be personally abused by Labour not Sefton Council!
Having considered Labour’s reaction to my motion the thing that surprises me is how they showed their hand and indeed their fear of the matter under debate. The first rule of politics is not to let the opposition know when you are rattled and Labour were most definitely showing that they were very rattled indeed.
PS. A Sefton resident who sat through this Council meeting has contacted me to say how shocked they were about the rude way my motion was responded to.
Following the huge turn out of worried residents at Sefton’s Full Council meeting last Thursday this fundamental question, that is often asked, needs a clear independent response.
I have now written to the Council’s senior Planning Officer and the Planning Inspectorate (a governmental body that rules on disputed planning applications) asking for both their opinions on this crucial matter.
I have spent most of my adult life trying to defend the Green Belt in and around Sefton Borough which has, to date, successfully helped to retrain the character of our diverse communities. However, we all now realise that pressure on Green Belt land is growing and that protest groups are manning the barricades.
The big question protesters keep asking is will the fact that Sefton does not intend to have a Local Plan for land use in place until February 2015 going to put us all in a position where developers can gain the upper hand? This question needs a clear and unambiguous answer and residents need to be able to have confidence that any such an assessment is robust.
Clearly, the protesters at the Council meeting felt that this vital question was not answered to their satisfaction so I have taken up the search for a robust answer on their behalf.
I have commented on this odd state of affairs before but there were two examples of it again at the Council meeting last night held in Southport Town Hall.
Firstly, there was a Tory/Labour love-in about the proposed library closures. Readers will know that a Conservative member of the Council incredibly supported the Labour Cabinet decision to consult on the closure of 7 libraries at a Council Scrutiny meeting. This led to Conservative questions to Labour at last night’s meeting where unsurprisingly they were only too happy to give their supporting Conservatives the answers they wanted to hear.
But then we moved on to Merseytravel, an organisation deeply troubled and undergoing great change. My motion welcoming the changes was defeated by a combination of Labour and Conservative votes! Tories even got up and praised the former leadership at Merseytravel which recently bit the dust. I have read the publicly available reports about the problems within Merseytravel yet these damning reports, such as the one from the Chief Executive of St Helens Council, seem to have passed the Conservatives by. All the Tories could muster was backing for the former rulers of Merseytravel rather than any support for the much needed changes!
We have discovered that the result of a Police investigation into Maghull Town Council has not been disclosed. We know the Police have told the Council of the result of their investigation as we hold a letter from Merseyside Police telling us this.
We raised this at a Town Council meeting on 14th November having previously discussed the matter with the Council’s most senior officer who seems to be as much in the dark as we are.
From what we have been able to piece together there was not even a proper report put before the Council detailing why it should refer the Town Hall roof recovering to the Police in the first place never mind the result seemingly being buried!
When we told the Council that we held a letter from Merseyside Police that said ‘Maghull Town Council was advised of the outcome’ [of the investigation] Labour councillors responded by saying they were waiting to hear from the Crown Prosecution Service. However, the Police make no reference to the Crown Prosecution Service in the letter that we hold.
The Council has provided no information about the conclusion of the investigation which it has clearly known about for some weeks.
Frankly, this is a farce and as elected Town Councillors we find it incredible that at least 3 members of the Council and its most senior officer are being kept in the dark about such matters. Why are the council so reluctant to reveal the results of the Police investigation? Is there something they wish to hide?”
We have now written to the District Auditor and Merseyside Police to try to get behind the wall of silence.
Cllr. Tony Robertson
Cllr. Andrew Blackburn
College Road Library is another that is under threat from Labour’s closure plans although it could survive if Crosby’s other library, in the Waterloo area of that community, gets Labour’s chop instead.
It is a beautiful building and is one of the Carnegie Libraries. The building is listed which is frankly no surprise as the photos below show; what a delight it is.
The day I visited a group of retired users were involved in a discussion about the old department stores of Liverpool. I listened to the discussion and then as the session drew to a close one of the participants asked about the planned library closures. This put the librarian, who was leading the discussion, in a difficult position and she said she really could not discuss the matter.
I had not said anything up until this point so told the group that I was a Sefton Councillor and would be happy to discuss the matter. A chat ensued particularly with an elderly lady who told me about her use of the College Road Library over many years – I have heard similar stories at other threatened libraries.
I was asked which party I represented and when I said Lib Dem there was clearly a realisation that we are the ones fighting for Sefton’s Libraries.