Burscough Curves debated in Parliament

I was delighted to see that John Pugh the Lib Dem MP for Southport gained a debate in Parliament a few days ago about small rail infrastructure projects, such as the Burscough Curves, that if reconnected could produce significantly improved public transport options.

As I have blogged before, I am a member of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association) as indeed is Maghull Town Council as a corporate member. If we can get the Ormskirk/Preston and Southport/Wigan lines (which cross over each other at Burscough) reconnected then East Parishes residents would be able to get to Southport by train without having to go via Sandhills. What’s more the Southport tourist economy would benefit as well.

Trouble is that the campaign to get these two lines reconnected has been going on for 30 years or more! Getting rail projects up and running seems to be incredibly difficult and complicated and that was the thrust of John Pugh’s message to Parliament.

Will John’s efforts take us any further? I don’t really know but John is not one to give up so let’s hope that he and OPSTA can eventually win this battle.

This is Ormskirk Station with a train from Preston just arriving

Canvassing – You really do meet all sorts of folks

One of the really interesting parts about being involved in politics is door-knocking as you never know what will be the reaction every single time you stand on a doorstep.

You meet some kind and wonderful people who are glad you called, you also meet folks who are not interested, apathetic or who are even going to vote for other parties. The vast majority of folk are polite and it really is rare to meet an angry or abusive person.

My worst experience of an abusive person in many years of canvassing was during the 2010 General Election campaign and it was at a large well to do house in Maghull. I don’t think I have every come across a more rude or ignorant person or ever will again. He hated everyone and everything and after his tirade I told him that he was rude and ignorant and that he should be utterly ashamed of his behaviour. We parted on that note.

But as I say such behaviour is rare and most folk are very nice. You do meet some odd people though; they say things like ‘I had no idea there was a election on’ or ‘can you send the Labour/Tory man around I want to give them a piece of my mind’ or ‘ can you come back tomorrow I am just bathing the dog’  etc. etc.

Some people seem to be waiting for you though as they give you a long list of things they want addressing from pot-holes to low flying aircraft. It makes you wonder what they would have done with their concerns if you had not called.

But my best canvassing story involved a chap who is quite elderly now but during retirement had joined our party and got heavilly involved. You have to picture a very proper gentleman who had retired from a senior professional occupation and who always wore a suite and tie. Off he went canvassing locally with our team and he was quite a hit on the doorsteps. However, at one door which was opened by a young lady things went wrong. The lady had a towel around her and as our canvasser was talking to her the towel fell down enough to be an embarrassment. But our gentleman carried on as though nothing had happened!

Let’s hear it for worker owned companies

It has been a busy day campaigning for the local elections and Fair Votes referendum earlier and then dealing with some family matters this afternoon and evening. Having got to my PC at gone 10.00pm I happened upon the blog of Iain Brodie-Brown and I was immediately reminded of one of the big reasons that a joined the old Liberal Party back in 1980.

Iain is a good friend of mine and has recently posted (see my Birkdale Focus link) about worker owned companies under the heading ‘About time there was more Lib Dem input…….’

Having been an active trade unionist (IRSF, PTC and now PCS) since 1975 and an elected lay official from 1978 to 2011, I have long wondered why worker owned companies have not become a big campaigning issue for British trade unions. You see I don’t want workers to be subject to being managed, I want to see workers taking a real stake in the companies they work for and where possible/appropriate becoming the owners of companies. I have never thought that the British ‘us and them’ model of industrial relations was taking us anywhere, indeed it simply reinforces the roles of workers and managers as though they were always meant to be at odds with each other instead of jointly pursuing the development of their company.

Well done Iain a tiring day has ended with me feeling refreshed because you have resurrected a most important Liberal policy matter which has, as you state, slipped from the mainstream Lib Dem agenda in recent times.

A sad story of ignorance and poor service

My campaign Team ended up at a local pub last night after a long day out on the streets. A quiet drink and a bit of relaxation was required, but it did not happen!

Suffice to say that the pub, which also houses a restaurant, had a few families with young children in for meals. The problem was that some of the kids were running wild. One young lad was kicking a football around inside the pub whilst two little girls were play-fighting and making quite a noise.

What got me was that the parents just sat there and ignored the children and their inappropriate activities for such a place. What’s more the management did nothing to address the situation either!

I have noticed that this pub seems to be poorly managed when I have called in before. Indeed, only a few days prior I had walked out of it as I could not get served. From what I could tell a customer’s credit card had gone missing and 4 members of staff were looking for it. The trouble was that folks were queuing up to order of pay for meals and drinks and there seemed to be no hope of ever being served.

I have no wish to mention the pub’s name and damage their trade but please can we have bad behaviour challenged and customers served; it’s not a lot to ask for is it?

What will Labour claim credit for next!

This week’s Maghull & Aintree Star and a propaganda leaflet circulating in Park Ward from the comrades has Labour trying to claim credit for the new pedestrian signals that have been incorporated in the traffic lights at Sefton Lane/Liverpool Road South in Maghull. My blog of a few days ago refers to the campaign to get these pedestrian lights installed and the work Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and local businessman and resident Scott McCubbin put in helping me with this project. In all the discussions and meetings we had about the crossing there was certainly no Labour person there and none was ever mentioned. Make your own mind up………..

But let’s have a look at another couple of ‘claiming’ examples.

How about Aintree Davenhill Primary School’s rebuilding. Labour jumped on that band wagon when the campaign wagon actually belonged to Aintree Village Parish Council and the Chair of Governors assisted by the 3 Lib Dem ward Councillors. Labour showed no interest at all when we fought and won the funding for stage one of the rebuild but when stage two came along they acted like they had been leading the campaign for years!

And what about the Playbuilder children’s play equipment grant from Government? Well surprise, surprise you know who claimed credit for that as well. Yes, the grant was brought in by the last Labour Government but who was it that spotted that Sefton Council was seemingly trying to keep it all for parks in the non-parished parts of the Borough? In fact it was the Lib Dem Cabinet members who spotted this and insisted that Borough Council Officers work with the Parish Councils that have their own parks and gardens with the aim of helping them make successful bids. This happened but were Labour bothered, did they show any interest??………………… BUT then out of the blue the the propaganda machine of the comrades started to say how great Playbuilder was and how locally Labour had promoted it and how the new play area in Aintree, at Harrow Drive,  would not have happened without their campaigning or words to that effect!

One wonders what will be next on Labour’s ‘Claim’ list and I have not even mentioned their claiming to have sorted out the adoption of Satinwood Crescent in Melling (along with UKIP!) or other minor works that others have fought for.

But what about the Lib Dems, do we indulge in claiming credit for the work of others? Never knowingly. However, let me quote you an example of where things can be going on without us knowing it. Recently, we were asked to help get the grounds of an electricity sub-station tidied up. We took up the matter and it appeared in FOCUS our regular local newsletter, twice in fact. The second article led to a call from a local resident asking whether we really had been involved. Our answer was yes of course, if it is in FOCUS we have been dealing with the matter. The reason for the question? The resident had been pursuing the very same thing herself in parallel with us! This has happened before, at least twice to my knowledge but each time our team has been able to reassure the enquiring resident that our involvement was real and genuine.

One thing Labour don’t seem keen to claim credit for, for some strange reason, is the fact that their voting on Sefton Council would have led to a 29% increase in Council tax this year. Well I suppose you would want to hide that!

An update on the car sales at Green Lane Maghull

My previous post on this subject was a couple of weeks ago and it brought back what may be a potentially useful piece of advice.

A chap contacted me and suggested that instead of pursuing the cars (by slapping penalty notices on them) the Council should, in effect, be pursuing the individual or company responsible for selling cars on the highway via the Anti Social Behaviour route. He said that a similar situation (not quite the same) had been dealt with in Liverpool via this method.

I have now put that suggestion to Council Officers to investigate and thank the chap who contacted me for his suggestion.

By the way a car that had been given a penalty notice at Green Lane Maghull was found in Seafore Close Lydiate still for sale only last week.