Just say ‘NO’ to a Merseyside ‘Boris’ Mayor

I am firmly against an elected Mayor for Merseyside a position that Sefton Council’s Labour Leader has said that he supports in the Daily Post.

Sefton and its diverse communities would be ignored by a Liverpool
centric Mayor. The vast majority of Sefton has a boundary with
Lancashire so an elected Mayor for Merseyside would only put another
artificial barrier between Sefton and some of the communities that it
naturally sits with.

Merseyside, or the ‘City Region’ as it is now called, has long been
looked upon by Governments and others as being dysfunctional. This
problem is presently being highlighted by the troubles within
Merseytravel and I don’t think that simply finding one person to run
Merseyside will help at all. We need more power for our communities at
the local level not another expensive person on the Merseyside
payroll.

I am also opposed to putting power in the hands of one person so this
idea is a nonstarter as far as I am concerned. What Lord Adonis may think is good for Merseyside is frankly a bonkers idea to me.

Well done Sefton Parish – St. Helens Well

I have never hidden the fact that I think that Parish Councils are a great form of local government as they are closest to the people.

Our Borough is named after historic Sefton Parish which has had its own elected Civil Parish Council since 1894 when Gladstone established Civil Parish Councils in England. Some time ago I got into discussion with a Sefton Parish Councillor about their wish to recreate the site of St. Helens Well.

Today I went to check out the project with my good friend Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and very nice things are looking. So congratulations to the campaigners who have brought back a piece of important local history.

Andrew took this photo of me at the well, although I must point out that Andrew and I are certainly not trying to claim any credit for the restoration works; such credit is down to Sefton Parish Council and (New information from here onwards) the Friends of Sefton Church.

The East Parishes Area Committee of Sefton Borough Council agreed a funding partnership with Sefton Parish Council tonight (30/09/2011) to enable a road sign to be erected in Sefton Village directing folks to this historic site.

My thanks to a member of Sefton Parish Council for some further information enabling me to update this posting

Protest Songs – Did I miss a good one for the illegal war in Iraq?

Being in my 50’s means that my formative years were during that period when protest songs were the in thing. One of the best was Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s going on’. Some years later Paul Hardcastle did ’19’ but now Hardcastle has brought the two together – mashing I am told. The result is quite beautiful.

Did I miss it or was the illegal war in Iraq one that did not produce any memorable protest songs? Maybe they had had they day but to old folks like me there is nothing like a good protest song and protesting about the Iraq war, even now, is something that radicals should continue to do. Labour took us into a war, with Tory support, that brought shame on the UK and many dead as a consequence.

If you get the chance search out ‘Rainforest/What’s Going On’ by Paul Hardcastle a great ‘mashing’ of two protest songs.

Remembering Labour’s attempt to privatise GP services further for a rather odd reason

Yes I know this happened some 3 to 4 years ago but something has happened recently to bring it all back to mind. If you recall Labour, when in Government, were trying to bring more private sector companies into providing GP services within the NHS. There was a big kick-off in Maghull at the time as seemingly Sefton Primary Care NHS Trust were a pilot for such privatisations.

Of course, GP services are mainly delivered by the private sector now as most GP’s run their own businesses on behalf of the NHS as has been the case since the NHS was formed. However, the Labour move was to bring in big private sector health providers who would maybe own many GP practices.

But what has brought all this back to mind? Well in the press recently there have been articles about a Maghull man who has found himself in deep trouble over benefits; one Peter Crowder. And the point is that Peter Crowder led a strong campaign against Sefton Primary Care Trust at the time. He held public meetings in Maghull and Lydiate and lobbied councillors and MP’s.

So a very high profile matter that we had all put to the back of our minds popped back into mine when it dawned on me who the chap in the newspapers with the benefits troubles was.

Green Belt – Can anyone tell me what the Tories and Labour are up to?

Last Thursday’s Sefton Council meeting was farcical and not just because of the latest in the Merseytravel saga that I have already posted about.

The most important thing happening in the Borough at present (certainly in the eyes of its citizens) is Sefton Council’s consultation on the future of our Green Belt. With this matter firmly at the front of Lib Dem councillors minds we put down the following motion to the Council meeting:-

  “This Council:(1)      congratulates the Government on abandoning the artificial targets for housing imposed in the Regional Spatial Strategy by the previous administration;(2)      recognises the fact that Sefton MBC can currently identify sites that will meet identified housing demand for the next ten years without encroachment on green belt land;

(3)      notes the present Council policy against green belt development;

(4)      acknowledges that Sefton MBC is required to present a broad indication of housing supply for the years beyond 2021 and, in connection with this, instructs the officers to quantify:

a-     the increase in the number of households which would be obtained by reducing the number of empty properties in Sefton to the national average

b-     the potential increase in accommodation achievable through progressing ‘homes above shops’ and contraction in retail space with re-designation of property to housing

c-     the potential impact of further windfall ‘brownfield’ or derelict sites and possible impact of variations in household and dwelling mix per hectare. “

You would think that it would draw all-party support based on how keen local politicians say they are to save the Green Belt. However, the Tories refused to discuss it and left the Council Chamber during the debate and Labour actually voted against it!

What the Tories were up to beats me and the more they tried to explain why they would not participate in a debate about the Green Belt the less we understood what on earth they were on about. Suffice to say that they ran away from a vital local matter at a crucial time.

As for Labour, they have been all over the place on this subject in recent times. I have already posted about how on Maghull Town Council (where they have a majority) they refused to make a detailed submission to the Core Strategy consultation process that ended a couple of weeks ago. And of course we all know that under the last Labour Government 500 houses per year were to be imposed on Sefton as a building target without so much as a by your leave and that this would have led to building on the Green Belt. What’s more no representative from Labour attended the Planning Appeal Hearing at Bootle Town Hall about Lydiate Marina and if that was not a front line Green Belt battle I don’t know what is!

So a sensible motion backing up the concerns of Sefton residents was defeated by a combination of Conservatives running away from the matter and Labour refusing to back the concerns expressed by residents. We raised the fact that we need to protect Grade 1 Agricultural Land, why residents were concerned about what they saw as a poor consultation process and why our Green Belt is so important. All we got in response was nothing from the Tories as they had run for the hills and what amounted to little more than verbal abuse from Labour who only wanted to talk about the Government’s draft planning policy document which is presently out for consultation. Not one Tory or Labour councillor got up to talk about resident’s concerns regarding the Green Belt consultation process.

Darling lets another the cat out of the Labour bag

Despite Labour or at least many Labour supporters and activists still sticking to the mantra of there is no need for cut backs in public expenditure and them still very much promoting the ‘spend and borrow and everything will be all right’ spin, senior Labour figures continue to tell a very different story.

This time it’s the turn of former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling whom I must admit I did not see in a very good light at all during the early years of the financial crisis. However, we can all be wrong and the recent pronouncements of Mr Darling seem to shine him in a better light in that he clearly wanted to cut borrowing in half. He also says that Gordon Brown was in denial about the need to rein in spending. In other words Mr. Darling is telling us that Brown would not listen and act decisively.

Whilst times are very hard indeed now the bottom line is still that we are all suffering more than we ever needed to because Labour when in Government did not tackle the financial crisis as it developed.

I personally hold Labour responsible for the deep cuts in public services; they borrowed too much and spent too much. Jobs are being lost now to pay for what they did or indeed did not do.