Lydiate Primary School – its ‘bin’ done!

Yes, at last Sefton Council have put a litter bin outside the school in Lambshear Lane – previous blogs refer.

Andrew & I checking out the bin that took Sefton Council 5 months to put outside Lydiate Primary School

But the news is even better than that as the Council has accepted my formal complaint was a valid one regarding the 5 months of delay in resolving the need to move a couple of bins around to sites where there was the greatest need. To this end a bin in Stafford Moreton Way has been moved to Lambshear Lane and a second one placed at the junction of Damfield Lane/Liverpool Rd Nth as a bin is to be provided from elsewhere.

I must admit that when former Cllr. Fenton, Cllr Blackburn and I agreed the bin moves/relocations back in February I would not have believed anyone then telling me that it would take until August for things to happen and that I would have to make my first ever formal complaint against the Council to get things sorted out.

So all is resolved at last and Andrew and I thank the Neighbourhoods Team at Sefton Council for sorting this out. I would add that the Neighbourhoods Team, which I had a hand in setting up as part of my drive to make Sefton Council more accountable at a community level in my time as Council Leader, does some excellent work to help councillors resolve involved matters. I continue to be a fan of their approach which is very much one of ‘lets get the job done’ as opposed to what is often seen as the local government way of ‘getting there in the end’.

Death of Lord Morris

As a trade unionist who has tried to help people with disabilities succeed in the working environment I was sad to hear of the death of former Labour MP Alf Morris.

There can be little doubt that his efforts to champion the rights of people with disabilities back in the 1960’s and on throughout the next 40 years did a great deal to move the UK on from being a country that often used to put away or hide away those with disabilities.

Crosby – Sainsbury Store not to be built

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-19213963

News that the Sainsbury supermarket chain is not to build a new store in Crosby can be seen as a victory for locals who did not want a larger Sainsbury store or a lost opportunity to bring in much needed private sector investment into a shopping centre that needs to be upgraded.

My good friend Peter Hough, a former Crosby Councillor, clearly thought the investment trumped the argument so he stood up and questioned the campaigners who were fighting against the new store. Peter lost his seat on the Council for his trouble but you have to wonder where else Crosby will find another investor in its future.

I fear that Crosby’s principled stance against significant private sector retail investment could well bring it a much bigger challenge as there is little if any public sector money to turn around Crosby’s shopping centre.

If I have understood what the Crosby campaigners want of their shopping centre it seems to be more small shops offering what you could call a traditional shopping experience. I wish them well as it strikes me that a number of private sector investors need to be brought together who share this vision. I hope they succeed having turned down a single large scale investor who had a different vision.

Oddly, nearby Maghull is in a similar position. Here there is a small Morrison’s Store that the retailer and I think most of its customers want enlarged. My view is a larger Morrison’s would be good for Maghull shopping Centre and I hope that it gets built sooner rather than later.

Parish Councils – Long live what Governments can’t control but local people can

In the past couple of weeks I have been helping Lydiate Parish Council to find a replacement for the soon to be retiring Clerk to the Council. We had quite a lot of applications for this part time post and interviewed 7 people.

Over on next door Maghull Town Council I have also been involved in interviewing a couple of applicants for a 6 month fixed term job supporting the present Clerk.

I have interviewed for such roles before and what always strikes me is how little folks know about the world of Parish and Town Councils, their powers, activities etc. I suppose that is partly because it is difficult to find two Parish/Town Council that are alike.

Whilst localism is one of the prominent political themes of our time (as a Liberal I have of course always been on that agenda) the fact is that Gladstone set out the road to localism back in 1894 when he split C of E Parochial Church Councils away from governance of communities (rural ones in particular) and set up Civil Parish Councils. It was a huge step forward in its time but one that has not really been developed to its full potential. Indeed, I think that Parliament frightened itself to death after passing the Act and ever since has been looking to keep power at the centre – It’s a fault line in our politics.

Governments of whatever colour want to control as much as they can and micro managing councils is one way they have done it. Instead of realising that Gladstone was starting a process of setting local communities free from Westminster (whether he realised it or not) they have seen his localism initiative as something to be held in check – It’s dangerous to let the natives control their own communities and services you know!

But despite all that control freakery Parish and Town Councils have developed across England, done their own thing within quite open ended legislation and most of it under the Government’s radar! I am sure some MP’s would shudder to realise that they really can’t boss Parish and Town Councils about like they do Borough, District and County Councils. The reason for this is that Government does not financially support the activities of Parish/Town Councils but it does provide around 2/3rds of the funding for higher tiers of local government. It’s easy to control organisations you fund but when you don’t have your hands on the purse strings there are no strings to pull.

But I digress, the point I was making is that Clerks to Parish/Town Councils hold a unique type of job in the public sector and there are few folks that really understand them. It shows when you do interviews that many applicants really do not know much about England’s grass roots level of democracy.

Hall Lane canal bridge – An update

Just a brief update about the canal as the Canal and River Trust have been in touch to let me know what is going on at this presently closed bridge. This what they have told me

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Tony,

The reasons for the work being carried out at Hall Lane Swing Bridge are twofold:-

· Maintenance – The mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems are nearly 30 years old and so require a major overhaul and bringing up to current standards.

· Automating traffic control – The bridge is one of the older types on the canal network which requires swing arm barriers to be moved manually. After the works, the bridge will be operable from a tow path pedestal. The user will simply need to insert the key and press the appropriate button for full operation including traffic lights, barriers and bridge movement.

The actual bridge itself is not being touched.