Lancashire – Flying the flag at Sefton’s Town Halls in celebration of a cricketing triumph

Despite my being firmly a Nottinghamshire supporter born in the same mining town as Harold Larwood (probably the greatest fast bowler England has ever produced) it gave me great pleasure last Thursday evening to propose that Sefton Council flies the Lanshire flag from its Town Halls in celebration of Lancashire County Cricket Club winning the County Championship in 2011.

I love cricket and as a teenager I could easily recount the Lanshire team by name; they had so many famous players. Yet despite players like Clive Lloyd, Farook Engineer, (Flat) Jack Simmons, David Lloyd, Barry Wood, Frank Hayes, Peter Lever etc. they never managed to win county cricket’s biggest prize. However, some 77 years since Lancashire won the County Championship outright they won it in 2011 with a young, reasonably inexperienced side that had no really big names in it. That could bode well for Lancs if they can bring this young side on.

So yes, let’s celebrate this great triumph whilst I apologise for Notts coming to Southport this summer, turning over Lancs and nearly upsetting the Lancs apple cart!

Merseytravel – Still not keen to publish evidence saying why they did a ‘U’ turn over vertical integration

At last Thursday’s Sefton Council I again tried to push Merseytravel to publish the background papers and evidence they used when they made their highly surprising policy ‘U” turn earlier this year on vertical integration of our local Merseyrail network.

Whilst this can be perceived as a complex issue it is all rather straight forward. For years rail experts have been saying that splitting the operator and infrastructure parts of the railways up has led to greater costs and therefore higher ticket prices. They also say that we could run our railways better if the two were joined back up. Most folks who have looked at this, probably with the exception of die hard Conservative privatisers, have agreed that the two parts need joining back up. So a campaign started during the last Labour Government to push them into doing this. By the time the wheels of Whitehall had final got around to it the Government had changed but fortunately the Coalition Government was in agreement. A couple of pilot areas were agreed, one being Merseyside’s Merseyrail network, to see if it could be made to work, what the savings would be etc. All well and good, as Merseytravel had long wanted to be such a case study. However, Labour run Merseytravel then backed out, as I have posted before, for reasons they are far from keen to talk about.

My motion to Sefton Council, where Labour’s Merseytravel Chairman is also a Sefton Councillor, was designed to try to flush out the facts behind the ‘run for hills’ so to speak. I got nowhere as Labour just don’t want to publish the papers, evidence etc. Yes, they said they were confident that they had made the right decision, indeed they have previously indicated to me and repeated it on Thursday evening that they think the pilot study would have cost money rather then saving it! Are they right? Frankly, I have no idea and that’s why I want to see whatever they saw that made them do their swift about turn. However, it looks like the only papers anyone is going to see about this matter will have to be dragged out of Merseytravel via Freedom of Information requests. Why? Is this the way an accountable public body spending public money should behave? 

I am sorry to say that Merseytravel still acts as though it does not have to account for its actions or be subjected to scrutiny. Is there any wonder it has found itself in conflict with the 5 District Councils that make up Merseyside over issues like this, the infamous Merseytram project etc.

Lib Dem proposals to invest in Maghull’s green spaces

Let’s continue to invest in Maghull’s

parks, gardens and open spaces

A few years ago a ‘Best Value’study was undertaken on the maintenance of Maghull’s parks and gardens and it found that our many areas of public green space are a significant asset to the community and they are a big factor in why Maghull is such popular place to live.

 In recent years the former Lib Dem administration  on the Town Council embarked on a second programme of upgrading children’s play areas in particular (of which there are now 11 across Maghull’s parks) following the very significant upgrade programme of the late 1980’s and through the 1990’s. As with many things the life cycle of play equipment is finite and new more exciting play items come onto the market.

 In the last couple of years the children’s play areas at:-

 KGVPark, Dodds Park & Glenn Park

have seen considerable investment from the Town Council’s own funds but also via the Playbuilder Government funded grants. Other individual items of play equipment have been replaced across the parks as they have become life expired.

 However, much more needs to be done and local residents have highlighted the need for more investment in the following play areas in particular:-

 Moorhey Park, Moss Park, Round Meade Park & South Meade Park

 There has also been a recent push towards fencing in of children’s play areas (by the previous Lib Dem administration) to keep out dogs and this process also needs to be moved on to complete the programme. Presently the fenced in play areas are:-

 Balls Wood, Lathom Gardens, Moorhey Park, Mersey Ave Park, KGV Park, Old Hall Park & Glenn Park (toddlers play area only)

 This leaves the following to be done:-

 South Meade Park, Round Meade Park, Dodds Park, Glenn Park (older children’s play area) & Moss Park

 Skateboard facility – We are also aware of the long held view of young people, as expressed to the Council via Maghull & District Youth Council, for the Town Council to try to facilitate the provision of a local skateboard facility. We are pleased that this wish is being seriously investigated and hope that options will be presented to the Town Council in the near future.

 Sefton Sudell Ward Cllr. Cliff Mainey has assisted in bringing in some Section 106 money (planning gain money) from a development off Station Road Maghull to enable cash from that source to be used to further upgrade Maghull’s play areas.

 Green Flag– With regard to the Town Council’s parks and gardens we would like to see ‘Green Flag’ opportunities developed, firstly at KGV Park, where such a project was shelved due to the building of Meadows Leisure Centre, and then to bring in other Maghull parks for Green Flag entries/awards.

 Our proposals are therefore to encourage the new administration of Maghull Town Council to both continue and develop the established investment programme in the Town’s parks and play areas and we hope that proposals can be brought before the Council for discussion as soon as possible.

 Campaigning for the wider environment

 Maghull TC has a history of investing in the environment via Maghull in Bloom, Maghull Station Volunteersetc. It was probably all started by former Town Councillor John Sharman’s Whinney Brook Volunteers many years ago.

 Two presently stalled projects that could do with being resurrected though are:-

 The Dell– This piece of land at the junction of Westway and Liverpool Road North is in the hands of the Primary care Trust (NHS) and the Town Council tried to get The Dell passed over to it a few years ago. The NHS was not keen on doing this and said they wanted to await the potential redevelopment of their neighbouring Health Centre. A number of years have gone by sine then but it looks like that promised redevelopment is now firmly back on the table. On that basis the Town Council needs to campaign for the future of this green lung at the heart of the Town. It is vital that it is not lost and the most likely way of making it secure is for the land to become the direct responsibility of the Town Council as originally intended. Without such a move the land may well be saved from development but the maintenance of it will continue to be at a very basic level. We call upon the Town Council to take up this challenge once again.

 Land fronting Royal Mail Sorting Office– This Liverpool Road North plot was adopted by Sefton Council many years ago and it remains a poor advert for the Town as the maintenance is inadequate yet the site, like The Dell, is very prominent.

 The Town Council agreed to fund the landscaping of this site some time ago but the project was shelved pending possible redevelopment of the site. That redevelopment is not now going to happen so the Town Council’s investment in the land can be taken forward.

 As well as investment from the Town Council both the above sites may well be able to benefit from S106 (planning gain) monies that will be available because of development plans for Maghull Shopping Centre. We call upon the Town Council to take a lead here to ensure these two prominent environmental projects are followed through in line with previous decisions made by the Town Council.

 In conclusion

 We wish to encourage the new Town Council administration to take on board these environmental and play area projects as both will assist with and complement the efforts of the Maghull in Bloom and Station Volunteer groups as well as presenting the Town in a better light to both residents and visitors.

 We appreciate that large investment programmes such as the ones we propose can only be sensibly addressed over a number of years but the commitment to pursue them is vital if the Town Council is going to lead the Town towards a better and more sustainable environment for the future.

Cllr. Tony Robertson, Cllr. Andrew Blackburn, Cllr. Jane Day

Lib Dem Members of Maghull Town Council

October 2011

Maghull Town Council – Less party political conflict? I hope so

‘Well that was a change’ I said to fellow Lib Dem Town Councillor Andrew Blackburn at the end of last night’s Maghull Town Council Meeting.

Change? Well yes, we had a meeting without a party political slanging match and all the better it was for that too. You see since Labour took control of the Town Council meetings have been rather unpleasant and quite unnecessarily so. I know the new Labour lot needed to get their feet under the table and yes that was always going to lead to a bit of showing off but frankly it was getting rather tiresome and Jane, Andrew and I (as the Lib Dem opposition) wondered when the penny would drop that this is a parish council and party politicking at such meetings is not really on.

But hey, maybe that penny has dropped so thanks to Cllr. Patrick McKinley for chairing the meeting in an inclusive and friendly way. Let’s have more of that approach as we all sit on the Council solely for the benefit of the people of Maghull not for the benefit of our respective political parties.

Cockling – Trouble brewing off Lancashire coast it seems

I have posted a couple of times recently about this activity off the Sefton and Lancashire coast and last night my heart sank when I saw a BBC North West TV item about rescues being required for cocklers operating off Lytham in Lancashire.

I have no doubt that cockling can be both financially lucrative and potentially a very dangerous activity as well. The deaths off Morecambe a few years ago brought that home to us all. Of course in times past the cockling was done by locals who knew the Ribble estuary and the sandbanks like the back of their hand. Now it can be a multi-national activity with gang masters employing people to do the work who do not know the coast well at all.

What has worried me since I became involved in this matter in my Sefton Council Cabinet Member capacity is that there seem to be many statutory and non-statutory groups who have a say in what happens and frankly coordinating the various bodies is not necessarily easy. I know that officers of Sefton Council have tried very hard to bring all interested parties together so to try to ensure that cockling activities undertaken off the Sefton coast are as safe as they can reasonably be. However, there will always be dangers especially when winter weather becomes a big factor as it is now.

I am not a big fan of red tape/regulation but neither do I want lives to be put in danger. Clearly, we have had a warning following the rescues of the Fylde coast but with the cockling season lasting until the end of next April the potential for more rescues must always be there.

Outdoor Gym/Fitness equipment – How about it in a Maghull and/or Lydiate Park?

My colleague from Cambridge Ward Cllr. Sue McGuire has recently posted about gym/fitness equipment that has been installed in Southport’s Hesketh Park. Check out her blog for more information – see my link to Cambridge Ward – Sefton MBC from the list at the side.

This is a subject close to the heart of Maghull Lib Dem Councillor Cliff Mainey who was been speaking to me about trying to get such equipment in a Maghull park. Clearly Cliff is right to pursue such a project but one word of caution. When Lydiate Parish Council first started to investigate putting such equipment in one of their parks it drew some unfavourable criticism via the letters page of the Aintree and Maghull Champion. Indeed, I seem to recall the project being dubbed as ‘adult play equipment’ by one detractor.

Cllr. Cliff Mainey

I suppose this just goes to show how what seems to be a good idea to help us lead healthier lifestyles can be seen as just the opposite by some in thecommunity. However, I hope that Lydiate Parish Council can pursue their project further and clearly Cliff is campaigning along similar lines in Maghull