The things you overhear

Sheila and I went to Ormskirk to do a bit if shopping this afternoon and being a bloke that finds shopping a bit of a challenge I stood outside one shop watching the world go by. Next thing I knew some folks were stood next to me having a conversation about the snow problems! They obviously lived in West Lancashire and West Lancs Borough Council was getting a right old verbal seeing to. Seems it was not just Sefton where we were left questioning the response of the Council.

Snow and Ice Inquest starts in Sefton

Today, along with 6 other concerned members of the Council, I attended a meeting with senior Council Officers to discuss the Council’s reaction to the unprecedented weather we have just experienced.

I passed to officers every contact that I have had with members of the public. We discussed particular issues across the Borough and the wider problems and concerns that affected us all.

I think it fair to say that the Council members present were of the view that the Council could and should have done more. Could it have started snow ploughing earlier? Could it have brought in JCB type diggers earlier to clear compacted ice on the A59 and Formby By-Pass. Does the Borough need more snow ploughs? In fact it has just 3 but they have not been used for so many years no one can quite remember when they were last used!  Should the Emergency Planning processes have been enacted earlier? All these points were discussed at length.

Some of the local issues in the East Parishes covered were the A59 being ice-bound through Aintree, Maghull and Lydiate, danger at the Aintree Lane/Ormskirk Road junction caused by packed ice, The Rutherford Road/Bridge Road Footbridge being dangerous for pedestrians, packed ice at the junction of Dodds Lane and Liverpool Road North and the closure of part of Hall Lane due to accidents by the canal bridge. This is just a flavour of the many such specific sites raised during the discussions.

May I once again thank everyone who has been in touch with their views and concerns about the worst winter weather anyone can recall locally. The cold snap caught Sefton off guard of that there can be no doubt but then again we had the lowest temperatures in England for 3 days recorded in Crosby. When you have year on year of mild winters such severe weather can come as a big shock; it certainly did that!

Thank you for your comments about the Council’s snow and ice reaction

My thanks to those who have e-mailed me to pass on their views about how the Council responded, or did not respond, to the cold snap. All comments are being taken with me to the promised meeting tomorrow.

For what it is worth I went to Ormskirk yesterday and saw a mechanical shovel being used to clear the main shopping street there. Today I went to Southport which was very busy. Of course the thaw sent in yesterday so the main roads both within Southport (that I travelled on) and indeed those to Southport via Halsall were reasonably clear. Chapel Street pedestrianised area was OK but there were still areas of ice and I can see how bad it must have been prior to the thaw.

I have also been talking to East Parishes residents who are upset about the lack of snow clearance in Aintree’s retail parks as much as they are with the Council for not keeping the main roads moving.

 Once again thanks for taking the trouble to get in touch.

Meeting with Council Officers on Wednesday 29th to discuss snow problems

My colleague Birkdale Councillor Simon Shaw has organised a meeting with senior Council officers on Wednesday to discuss widespread concerns over the week-long freeze-up affecting Sefton’s roads.

Our Team contacted officers on Wednesday of last week to ask for a meeting, but specifically wanted to delay the meeting until after Christmas, so as to allow officers time to deal with the priority – which was trying to get Sefton on the move again.

Over the last week residents have contacted me (see my previous postings) and other local councillors with their concerns and we wanted the opportunity to discuss these with senior officers at the earliest opportunity. We agreed that having a meeting on the first day back after the two days’ bank holidays was a sensible balance.  

We have already started compiling a list of the questions we want answered – these take account of points already raised by residents. However, if any other residents want to forward concerns or questions they are invited to e-mail me at  by 10.00am on Wednesday morning. Please include your name and address.

The national media just don’t seem to get it – there is no money!

I have been struck for some time about the superficial way cut backs and savings in the public sector are being reported in the national media (printed and TV); it’s as though they report the situations as being ones with obvious  (and I assume no pain) alternatives. The context of this is the reporting of savings required within the NHS. We all know that the NHS has been ‘protected’ from cuts but we all also know that it has to make very large efficiency savings especially in areas of management. Sefton Council will be making management savings of 25%+ so surely the NHS can do the same or more, can’t it? But in the national media we see stories one day that say the NHS has bloated management with too high costs and the next day stories along the lines of the NHS can’t make savings!

Of course the ‘alternatives’ are to to let the economy drift in an Irish or Greek direction. The Governments in those counties tried it and the scale of savings they are now having to make are so huge that it makes ours look rather small in comparison.

Another odd position is the public v private wages one. We hear that Heinz staff are to go on strike as they have only been offered a 3% pay rise when in the public sector Councils are looking at reducing pay! What a turn around from not so long ago when public sector wages were always said to be on the rise with the private sector holding wage rises down.

What was normal is now not normal yet the national media are still reporting as though the past realities are still present realities. It’s a bit like the Coalition and the disagreements within it. The reality is that two parties are cooperating who have very different views of the world.

Even more about the ice and snow

I have reported two dangerous ice problems to the Council today :-

*Junction of Liverpool Road North & Dodds Lane in Maghull

*Junction of Aintree Lane and The A59 Ormskirk Road at the Old Roan (filter lane off northbound carriageway)

Both sites have had accidents happening today so I am hoping that something can be done. I have also received a useful piece of work from the Chairman of Thornton Parish Council about the ice and snow problems and the Council’s response together with concerns from a Formby resident.