Southport – A last English Summer – Will we see First Class Cricket there again?

Southport once had a long and proud history of hosting a Lancashire County Cricket Club match each season at the Birkdale Ground.

I attended the last one; when my team Notts beat Lancs but Lancs then went on to win the County Championship. That was last season; there have been no County matches at Birkdale this season. Indeed, 2011 was something of a one off due to building work at Old Trafford meaning that Lancs had to use other grounds. Oddly though the crowd at Birkdale in 2011 was the largest of any at Lancs home games throughout the season so we wondered if this would lead to Birkdale getting another match this year – it did not and sadly things don’t look good for future seasons.

Summer of 2011 at Birkdale

All this came back to mind as I have been reading Duncan Hamilton’s excellent book ‘A last English Summer’ where he comments on the loss of County Cricket from many (at least 26) towns across England. Strangely, Duncan does not list Southport amongst those he says are much-lamented but seaside resorts such as Hastings, Eastbourne and Weston-Super-Mare are amongst those he does mention. I could add Blackpool to the list as well.

Cricket is no longer the mass spectator sport that is was in times gone by but cutting off towns like Southport where folks do like to turn out together with selling the TV rights to pay to view channels must make it more difficult for Joe Public to access the sport. I was lucky as my Dad and Grandfather were cricket fans (well we were all born in the same Nottinghamshire mining town as Harold Larwood) but how many young people are not picking up on this greatest of sports simply because they only come across it when England play Australia and the media hype is in overdrive?

On the positive side Maghull Cricket Club goes from strength to strength but Lancs are not having a good season at all, to follow their 2011 Championship winning one, indeed they are to be relegated to the second division.

Lancs should keep playing at sunny Southort but is anyone listening?

Southport Beach – Why do the Tories put down a motion that contradicts what they agreed in a Council Committee only 6 months ago?

My Sefton Councillor colleague Haydn Preece says this:-

“Cllr Terry Jones [Conservative] was Vice-Chair of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee which reviewed the management of Southport Beach Vegetation in March 2012. He and his colleagues all voted to accept the report which included a number of key findings including that ‘maintaining a beach free of vegetation in this location is not a viable option’ and ‘the beach will still be there but would be further seaward as this length of shoreline is accreting due to the influence of the Ribble estuary’.”

In the light of that I am surprised that the Conservatives now say they want another urgent review. What has changed in the last six months? This motion [was] pointless.”

Haydn’s remarks were prompted by a Tory motion to Sefton Council’s meeting on Thursday 6th September which, amongst other things said “There are significant concerns amongst residents with the grass encroachment north of the pier and the disgraceful deposits of sludge covering Birkdale beach.”

My Lib Dem Sefton Council colleagues on the beach - Sue McGuire, Tony Dawson and Haydn Preece

The fact that Southport beach has been and is being taken over by grass etc. is all part of a natural process so why do the Tories accept this in March but then play a different tune in September of the same year. Could it be that instead of being straight with folks about the natural processes, that they accepted only 6 months ago, have now seen some potential party political advantage in backing other folks who do not accept the natural way of things?

At the end of the debate the Conservative motion was heavily defeated as frankly it made little sense.

National bad driving week and the A5036 closure

No one told me that last week was national bad driving week! Sadly, I saw all sorts of mad things going on across the local road network.

For starters why on earth would the driver of a Merseyside Fire and Rescue vehicle be on his mobile phone whilst driving? You would think that having cut people out of vehicles due to accidents caused by mobile phone use by drivers would be enough to make them think twice about doing it! It was in Walton Vale last Thursday morning that I saw this happening.

Later on Thursday I was stuck in the horrendous traffic jams around Switch Island and Copy Lane in Netherton that I later found out had been caused by a burst water main on Dunningsbridge Road the A5036. In fact I was sat in Cllr. Bruce Hubbard’s car with Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and it took us an hour and three quarters to get from Lydiate to Bootle – that must be a record! But the bad driving we saw as cars weaved around trying to get a couple of feet forward was both comical and highly dangerous – there were plenty of drivers who were so desperate to get out of the jam (which was not really possible) that any stunt was seemingly worth trying.

But the next day saw me having to slam the brakes on hard twice and all within a couple of minutes. First, a car driver tried to turn right across me at the Liverpool Road North/Westway traffic lights in Maghull and then only a couple of minutes later a chap came straight out of Damfield Lane in front of me by the Red Lion Canal Bridge!

Friday also saw a Sefton licensed taxi belting through the traffic lights at the Alt in Maghull on the A59 well, well after the lights had changed to red against the taxi.

What’s wrong with some drivers do they have a death wish?

As an aside I complained to a senior Sefton Council Officer about the lack of advance signage about the Dunningsbridge Road problems and then on Saturday I was travelling south on the M6 and was taken aback to see the matrix signs warning of the A5036 road closure – Now that really is advance warning!

Local Authority secrecy – Another attempt to put a stop to it

Will this help to stop things being done in secret? – I wonder…….

1. The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 (the 2012 Regulations) will come into force on 10 September 2012. Changes include:

· Presumption in favour of openness: In the past councils could cite political advice as justification for closing a meeting to the public and press, or state that decisions being made were not ‘key decisions’. The new regulations create a presumption that all meetings of the executive, its committees and subcommittees are to be held in public (regulation 3) unless a narrowly defined legal exception applies. A meeting will only be held in private if confidential information would be disclosed, or a resolution has been passed to exclude the public because exempt information is likely is be disclosed, or a lawful power is used to exclude the public in order to maintain orderly conduct at the meeting (regulation 4).

– Confidential information is information provided to the council by a Government department upon terms which forbid disclosure to the public or information which statute or a court order prohibits from being disclosed to the public.

– Exempt information is set out in Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and it includes information about a person, or information that would reveal their identity, consultations or negotiations relating of labour relations, or information in connection with preventing and detecting crime.

· New legal rights for citizen reporters:Local authorities are now obliged to provide reasonable facilities for members of the public to report the proceedings as well as accredited newspapers (regulation 4). This will make it easier for new ‘social media’ reporting of council executive meetings thereby opening proceedings up to internet bloggers, tweeting and hyperlocal news forums.

· Holding private meetings: In the past council executives could hold meetings in private without giving public notice. Where a meeting is to be held in private, the executive or committee must provide 28 days notice during which the public may make representations about why the meeting should be held in public. Where the notice requirements for a private meeting and an agreement of the chairman of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee or chairman of the relevant local authority has been obtained, the decision-making body must publish a notice as soon as reasonably practicable explaining why the meeting is urgent and cannot be deferred (regulation 5).

· Less red tape for councils: Removing internal bureaucracy introduced by the last Government about ‘key decisions’, quarterly reports and ‘forward plans’. Instead, a document explaining the key decision to be made, the matter in respect of which a decision would be made, the documents to be considered before the decision is made, and the procedures for requesting details of those documents, has to be published (regulations 9).

· Special urgent decision: Where it is impossible to meet the publication requirements before a key decision is made and an agreement has been obtained from the chairman of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee or the relevant local authority to make the key decision, the decision maker must publish a notice to explain the reasons why the making of the decision is urgent (regulation 11). Previously no notice was required.

· Stronger rights of individual councillors: Where an executive has in its the possession a document that contains materials relating to a business to be discussed at a public meeting, members of the local authority have additional rights to inspect such a document at least five days before the meeting (regulation 16). Previously no timescale existed.

· Stronger rights for scrutiny members: Where the executive decides not to release the whole or part of a document to a member of an overview and scrutiny committee as requested by a councillor, it must provide a written statement to explain the reasons for not releasing such document (regulation 17).

· Publication requirement: Publication of any notice by a decision-making body or a proper officer; or any document in relation to a key decision or public meeting and background papers must be on the relevant local authority’s website (regulations 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 21).

1. The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 opened up meetings to the public, allowing members of the public and press to attend meetings of certain public bodies including councils. Margaret Thatcher was the backbench MP who championed this as a Private Members Bill.

2. Part 5A of the Local Government Act of 1972 applies to access to meetings and documents of the full council and committees of the councils. It states that ‘duly accredited representatives of newspapers’ should be afforded ‘reasonable facilities’ to attend council meetings ‘for the purpose of reporting proceedings for those newspapers’. It also sets out that for those parts of council meetings that are open to the public, councils are prevented from ejecting members of the public unless they are guilty of disorderly conduct or other ‘misbehaviour’.

3. The Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 provides for greater public access to local authority meetings reports and documents subject to specified confidentiality provisions; to give local authorities duties to publish certain information; and for related purposes

Lydiate’s People

Cllr. Dave Russell Chairperson of Lydiate Parish Council writes:-

Over the past two years the Family History Group of U3A has been looking at the censuses from 1841 to 1871 for Lydiate. They have now produced a CD which is an Historical Document showing the development of Lydiate from its entry in the Domesday Book to the changes that occurred over the period of the censuses.

The CD will not only be of interest to us now, but to future historians, people searching their Family Trees, and those interested in the development of an English Village.

The Group are going to give two presentations and I attach a poster advertising them.

We would appreciate it if you would spread the word that all are welcome to either presentations, and of course if you can make it all the better.

Thanks

David Russell
The presentations (Free admission) are on the following dates:-

Tuesday 18th September 11.00am at the U3A Coffee Morning, Baptist Church, Hall Lane, Maghull

Friday 21st September 10.30am at the Lydiate Village Centre Coffee Morning, Lamshear Lane, Lydiate

Aircraft of WWII & The local chap who met Monty!

My dear friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker got into a conversation with me the other day about the aircraft he worked on as an RAF electrician during WWII. It is an impressive list so I asked him to write it down for me. Here’s the list:-

Catalina
Sunderland
Coronado
Halifax
Stirling
Lancaster
York
Liberator
Flying Fortress
Dakota (Uncle Albert’s favorite)
Wellington
Warwick
Whitley
Hampden
Albemarle
Beaufighter
Mosquito
Beaufort
Blenheim
Baracuda
Boston
Baltimore
Marauder
Mitchel
Aerocobra
Oxford
Anson
Spitfire
Hurricane
Dominie
Hudson
Lodestar

Me and Charles at his 91st Birthday Party earlier this year

Charles lives quietly in Maghull and is now 91 years young. His memories of WWII are fascinating but probably most interesting of all is that he knew Field Marshall Montgomery’s brother before the war as he was a local vicar in Wallasey where Charles then lived. What’s more he met Monty in Gibraltar during the war and had a chat with him about his brother!