Merseytravel and that £1.5m ‘U’ Turn on rail integration

First just a brief recap. It has long been the view of most people who understand railways that the Conservative policy to separate railway infrastructure (for this posting we shall say the rails) from the trains that run on them in the 1980’s was bonkers and that in practice it has probably led to higher operating costs for the railway.

So during the last Government a sensible plan was hatched to try to bring the two back together. Merseyside’s Merseyrail Electrics system was in effect volunteered by Merseytravel, the Transport Authority for the County, as a pilot.

Eventually and after spending £1.5m of public money the pilot was about to be rolled out BUT Merseytravel pulled out at the 11th hour. They have never satisfactorily explained their ‘U’ turn and no report has been presented to Transport Authority members. In effect the members of the Authority voted ‘blind’ to back out and ditch the £1.5m project. We Lib Dems continue to pursue the facts and truth behind their highly surprising move.

One of the most prominent independent experts on railways is Christian Woolmar he wrote a thoughtful piece for RAIL Magazine recently about Merseytravel’s ‘U’ turn.  Like Christian, we have found that getting answers is hard work as Merseytravel are not seemingly going to publish anything, other than propaganda, that details why they ran for the hills when the Coalition Government gave them what they had been campaigning for since as long as most folks, who have taken an interest in railways, can recall. His conclusions probably indicate why Merseytravel are so keen not to publish any real information i.e. the decision did not have any logical coherent facts behind it; it was simply the Labour run Authority being spooked/pressured by the RMT union

However, I can assure Merseytravel’s Labour Leadership that we Lib Dems are still on this case and we are not being put off by the Authority telling us all that it is funding legal action against one of its own Lib Dem members who keeps on asking awkward questions about the Authority’s activities.

A Merseyrail tain at Maghull Station

Here is a link to the Christian Woolmar article:-

Delivery Companies!!! – Use Royal Mail is my advice

We all use the Internet to order things these days and there are a number of national delivery companies about. When I order things I always ask, if possible, for the delivery to come via Royal Mail. Why? Well I find that delivery companies are too inflexible to be of any use to the customer at the end of an order. One I have recently had dealings with only delivers in a time slot of 7am to 7pm on the day of delivery. Come on, who can afford to stay in for 12 hours, especially if they are trying to hold down a job? That’s not customer service it is doing what suits the delivery company.

But what happens when (usually on the first delivery attempt) you are not in? Well like the Royal Mail you get a card through the door but unlike the Royal Mail you find out that the depot of the company is many miles away. I have come across delivery companies with  depots in Preston, Warrington, South Liverpool etc., all miles away from where I live in Maghull.

With the Royal Mail a Sorting Office is usually not far away, most of us know where they are so there is no need to reschedule a whole day to be lost waiting around; you simply pop along to the Sorting Office.

And there’s more. When something goes wrong the Royal Mail tries to sort things out whereas my impression is that delivery companies wash their hands of things as quickly as they can.

Sadly the English cricket season is over

But just the other day my old chum Jack Colbert gave me a book of cricket jokes and one joke stood out. It went something along the lines of a cricket fan only realises in October that his wife left him in May. It made be chuckle anyway.

My best two days of the summer were at Birkdale Cricket Ground watching my team Notts beat Lancashire. Trouble is Notts did not win a trophy this year whilst Lancs became County Champions, but there can’t be a cricket fan in England who was not glad to see Lancs win after so many attempts.

The i – ‘Ball’s to Labour: don’t promise to reverse the cuts’

I don’t really read national newspapers much but I was taken with the ‘i’ headline of yesterday probably because it was a ‘Private Eye’ type headline and I love reading the Eye.

The articles were all about what Ed Balls has been telling the Labour Party i.e. that he has:

* Banned Shadow Cabinet members from pledging to reverse Government spending policy

* Told Labour MP’s not to, promise any undoing of Coalition’s cuts

Let’s be fair these are very big statements to make within a Party that has consistently been trying to give the impression ever since the last General Election that the cuts are too deep and too quick and even not needed at all. It seems that economic reality has hit the Labour leadership between the eyes.

What the union barons will have to say to Ed Miliband, who is badly in hock to them, in the light of what Ed Balls has said will not be repeatable in polite company I would guess. But I am going to give Labour some credit here. Having tried for some time to take the ‘economic collapse was nothing to do with us gov’ approach and still had opinion polls saying that the public do hold Labour (and the bankers) accountable for the mess we in they have started to come out of denial.

Now about that cancelled Firework Display in Maghull

It looks like the comrades are doing a swift U-turn having found out that cancelling Maghull’s firework display will make them about as popular as snow at harvest time.

Everything is now pointing to the fact that they are going to provide a display having told the community that they can’t afford it and need to save the money via their own Labour gloom and doom press release that the Aintree and Maghull Champion used as its headline article only two editions ago. Indeed, a printed report is going to Maghull Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday that clearly recommends that the display is cancelled and that the the money saved be used as a budgetary saving. To quote directly from that report “… recommend that the Council does not fund a fireworks display in 2011 and takes the £4,500 as a budget saving”. Whilst the report is in the name of the Town Clerk he would not have issued it without the Labour Leadership of the Council agreeing it. And they had better not try blaming the Clerk for this carry on.

So up until the Town Council papers were issued late last week Labour were all for cancelling it but now, after some bad publicity in the press, they look to be doing  just the opposite!

I must admit that I am glad that they have sobered up as for the life of me I could not see what their objective was in trying to cancel it in the first place. It has been a hugely popular community event for many years but my suspicion is that Labour wanted to save the money to then spend it elsewhere and boy have they had their finger burnt in the process!

Labour to cut Maghull’s firework display

In the light of Maghull Town Council’s ruling Labour Group threatening the community with the withdrawal of the Town’s long-running fireworks display we Lib Dems have called on Labour to sort themselves out.

Parish and Town Councils are ‘can do’ not ‘can’t do’ organisations as they are beholden to no one but the community that elected them. They don’t get any Government funding so all this nonsense about Coalition Government cuts putting the firework display at risk is utter rubbish.

The fact is that the Town Council took over running the display from the Round Table in the 1990’s when the charity could no longer keep it going. We promised then to keep the event running and have done so year after year. In the past couple of years Sefton Council has given money to run it but we all knew that it was short term funding and that the Town Council would have to cover it once again. Had we Lib Dems been re-elected with a majority last May, on the Town Council, the firework display would not have been under threat, neither would we have closed the flagship Youth Coffee Bar, in Maghull Town Hall, for weeks on end as Labour have done.

I really do wonder if the Labour Group are dedicated Maghullians at all. To be on a Parish or Town Council you need to be passionate about the community and accept that you are elected to sort out challenges and problems – there is no one else to blame.

My fellow Lib Dem Maghull Town Councillor Andrew Blackburn, who with Cllr. Jane Day and I form the opposition to Labour’s 13 councillors agrees. This what Andrew thinks

“We have heard nothing but bad news from Labour since they took control of the Council in May. So far they have:-

  • refused to submit a detailed paper on why our Green Belt needs protecting – despite having written one
  • they have been all over the place on Academies – refusing to debate a motion they had put down for debate themselves
  • they have closed the Youth Coffee Bar because they could not find solutions to alleged health and safety problems
  • and now they want to bring the curtain down on years of a community firework display which is aimed at stopping injuries amongst local youngsters!

What will Labour seek not to address next? I am proud of Maghull and its community but Labour seem to be hell bent on stripping the heart out of the Town whilst trying to blame others.”