Maghull’s Firework Display – Another successful year BUT only just!

For the first year in very many I was not at this year’s display, then again at one point no one was going to be there as the Town Council, under Labour, had threatened that it was not going ahead.

I am told by those attending, whom I have spoken to, that it went very well and I am genuinely glad about that. Yes, Labour made a right old mess of things with their threats about this annual community event not happening in 2011 but thankfully they did a ‘U’ turn.

Yesterday, I ran into a resident in Maghull who came up to me and said ‘thanks for saving the fireworks display; we all know it was the Lib Dems who fought to keep it’. Such comments are both welcome and very interesting in that clearly, despite Labour’s ‘U’  turn and even their denial of their own original statements about the display not going ahead, the message picked up by Joe and Jane Public is one Labour would rather they had not picked up. 

Every year this event happens and every year I think of how it started off as a voluntary community effort organised by the Round Table. Long may their good works in Maghull be remembered and long may Maghull Town Council take the lead in making the display happen as it promised it would when the event got too big for the Round Table to take forward in 1990’s. Please no excuses in 2012, let’s just get on with it and be proud to be doing so.

Public Sector Pensions again – A view on the promised mass industrial action from a different perspective

I got into conversation with a senior manager working in the public sector the other day and they came up with an angle that I had briefly pondered on but then thought no more of.

Their theory is that whilst Government is trying to find ways to persuade the unions not to strike it is actually, from a short term financial perspective, in the Government’s interest for the strike to take place! As all the striking workers are paid out of the public purse the fact that they are in effect going to hand back a day’s wages to their various employers will mean that the employers will be able to use at least some of that money to help balance their books in the present financial year. Yes, in areas where the strike impact means that others have to be paid to cover the work there is no saving but this will only be a small part of the savings made by employers on 30th November.

The question is then, are we trade unionists who will be on strike on 30th November simply electing to pay an extra one day of tax and/or volunteering to help our employer balance their 2011/12 budget. A bit off the usual industrial relations script these thoughts but how many senior managers in the public sector are there who are hoping the strike will go ahead because it will deliver salary savings for their hard pressed organisation?

Taxi, Taxi, Taxi…….!

Our door bell went at about 11.30pm last night and there was a taxi awaiting me. Trouble was I had not ordered it! It went away but then was followed by at least two more in the next half hour.

Looks like someone was playing silly beggars, at least that is what one of the taxi drivers thought, so he put a call into to his Delta controller to stop further visits.

I suppose this amused someone but taxi drivers are trying to make a living and they could do without being sent to addresses where there is no business to be done.

Sefton Central Labour – The gloss is certainly coming off!

Trade unions did everything they could to help Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson get elected at the last General Election and to also get Labour councillors elected. But 18 months on the trade union movement seems to have turned on Mr. Esterson in a row over pension contributions. The Daily Post has the story:-

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/10/18/sefton-mp-bill-esterson-at-centre-of-mp-pensions-row-92534-29612906/

However, when you look a little more widely it looks like the gloss is coming off Sefton Central Labour Party: just look at recent events:-

* The weird claims by Labour to have stopped Lydiate’s (Lydiate is in the Sefton Central constituency) canal marina being built (when Labour councillors on Sefton’s Planning Committee actually voted for it)are in the unbelievable category. Not only that but they have claimed to be backing those who are trying to stop developments in Green Belt – this proposed development was to go on Green Belt land showing that Labour can’t be trust to defend the Green Belt!

*Labour have found themselves on both sides of the argument over whether Formby (also in Sefton Central constituency) should be split in two as part of the Parliamentary boundary review. The MP saying one thing whilst the Regional Labour Party says just about the opposite. So where do Labour stand?

* Labour filled newspapers in the East Parishes part of Sefton with their own spin doctor story about them scrapping Maghull’s fireworks display. But only days later they were doing an embarrassing and swift U turn in the face of strong opposition to their ridiculous and unesessary cutting plan.

Looks to me like Labour are in a right old muddle and that their spin doctors are getting them into trouble as opposed to doing what you would expect them to do i.e. stop them getting into trouble! We are all paying for these spin doctors out of the public purse (which has to be a highly questionable use of scarce public money) but hey whilst they are turning the guns on themselves maybe we are getting something, if not a lot, for our money.

Public Sector Pensions

Firstly, a declaration of interest – I am a public sector worker and expect to receive a public sector pension.

Today, of course,  the Coalition Government made some concessions to the unions negotiating on behalf of public sector workers with regard to pensions reform.

This subject worries me as I can see things from both perspectives. That is the burden I suppose of being a Liberal by instinct i.e. not one to bring prejudice into our thinking as Labour/Tory politicians mostly do.

As a public sector worker I clearly want an A* pension as does everyone else working in the public sector. However, workers in the private sector are in a very different position i.e. having to pay more for a smaller pension. The Government clearly has to balance this knotty problem and frankly I accept that my pension entitlement is likely to be affected in a negative way.

I have read the Hutton report and think it is balanced and fair. On that basis the unions also have a difficult job to do. If they are perceived to be backing public sector workers too much, whilst seeing their members in the private sector get very much worse deals, then they are in danger of setting their public and private sector members at odds with each other.

Realism has to be the way forward as I fear that industrial action will gain little sympathy from the general public who will simply scratch their heads when they look at their own small pension pots. And I say that as a trade unionist of long standing. The trade union movement has much to lose if it gets this one wrong so cool heads are needed from the TUC.

Kennet Prison – Good progress in preparing offenders for life outside of prison

Melling’s Kennet Prison (yes, it is in the Civil Parish of Melling not Maghull as many think) has been open since 2007 and presently this ‘temporary’ prison will be on the site between Ashworth Hospital and the M58 until 2017.

Kennet is for Category C prisoners but it also houses category D prisoners who are about to released. I went there today, together with an officer from Sefton’s Community Safety Dept., to have a chat with the Governor and one of his senior staff.

Having been to the prison before I was already aware of its work to prepare offenders for the world of work. Of course, Kennet is also supporting Maghull in Bloom as the prisoners  grow plants for Maghull’s displays. On that basis they are very much a part of the success that Maghull in Bloom has had in 2011.

Re-offending is the major problem with people who are released from prison so it is important that when they leave they are prepared for the world of work, have some skills and an aptitude to working. This is now an important part of the Prison Services work and if Sefton Council can play its part to reduce the re-offending rate then I am all for such partnership working.