We have all just heard via the national media that Phil Woolas the former Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth has lost his appeal against being disqualified from office. I must say that I was not surprised by the end result having seen some of the leaflets put out in his name at the last General Election.
Some credit must go to the Labour Leadership for ditching Woolas as soon as he lost the legal case but as we all know some Labour MP’s were fund raising for Woolas to help him appeal! I was astonished by this move and I wonder if it was the old trade union and labour movement saying ‘an attack on one is an attack on all’ that was driving them to blindly do what was clearly the wrong thing? Anyone who doubts what I say should find a copy of one of the offending leaflets on the Internet, they are appalling.
I hear that there is concern out there in the media world that Sefton’s Cabinet is to have an ‘away day’ to consider the budget. ‘Away’ is an inappropriate word as the meeting is within Sefton and it’s in a Sefton building. The cost of the lunch is £2.50 per head and I have my money ready to pay over. Sorry, no junket on the rates here.
My colleague Ian Brodie-Browne has posted (click on Birkdale Focus in my list of links) about the potential for workers at Sefton Council’s plant nursery to take over the operation. Iain raised this at our Cabinet meeting last Thursday as an option he wanted to be fully investigated. The response of Cabinet was to both support this particular idea and to widen it to any other potential opportunities that there may be as Sefton Council tries to make very large savings.
It is good to see the Coalition Government trying to defend what is left of the Post Office network following both Tories and Labour in previous Governments continually reducing the number of Post Offices in our communities. I do hope that the Royal Mail can have a sustainable future as well as for too long it has been floundering.
Which brings me to one of my big moans. Why on earth do those companies wanting to send me goods through the post send it by carriers other than the Royal Mail? Whenever I can I tell those mailing goods to me not use anyone but the Royal Mail. Yes, it helps keep the Royal Mail going but even more than that I hate getting those cards through my door from all kinds of delivery companies when I am not in. You know the cards well I assume, the ones that say you can pick the item up from their ‘local’ depot! Trouble is their local depot is miles away on some run down trading estate. If I am to pick an item up I want to pick it up from somewhere close to home such as the Royal Mail local Sorting Office! We all know where they are, the cards pushed through your letter box when you are out from the Royal Mail are clear about what to do and I find my visits to my local Sorting Office in Maghull a breeze.
Today I had an excellent meeting with Cllr. Ian Grant the Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council. Surprisingly, even though we are Borough neighbours, Ian and I had not had chance to have a long chat about issues of mutual importance before but this meeting proved to be very useful.
As I have posted before Sefton has a bigger boundary with Lancashire than it does with the other Merseyside Councils. We have transportation, health and economic interests that are common so we need to try to break down the artificial barriers created by local government reorganisation in 1974.
What pleased me about today’s informal chat was that Cllr. Grant came over as a practical and determined chap who is quite happy to work with partners for the common good. We discussed a number of things but settled on the railway links between Sefton and West Lancs as being the matter we would most like to take forward. Again, I have posted before about the daft situation where the Ormskirk to Preston railway line crosses the Southport to Wigan line but the curves connecting the two have been taken away. I have worked with OPSTA, West Lancs Council, Sefton, Merseytravel and Lancs County Council for longer than I care to remember to try to get the curves reinstated but 30 years on the problem still remains there for all to see.
What we want is really quite simple, trains from Ormskirk to Southport and Southport to Preston as well as the present Ormskirk to Preston service. To me the project is a ‘no brainer’ as the advantages to communities in Sefton and West Lancs would be significant. If we can try to move this project on and greater co-operation with West Lancs Council helps us get there then let’s do it.
Today, whilst driving between business appointments, I happened upon one of those radio phone-in programmes that I rarely listen to. I was about to find another radio station when I realised I was listening to a racist. I could only stomach his ranting for a few seconds but the thrust of his call to the station seemed to be that most murders in this Country are committed by people who come from outside the UK! What a load of racist rubbish and to give the presenter his due he told the chap this very directly.
But this reminded me of a journey that I made by taxi a few months ago when I was treated to a lecture of a similar racist nonsense nature by my driver. His view was that the Council where he lived was helping drivers from eastern Europe gain taxi licenses with the poor old white taxi drivers having to wait in the queue behind the lucky east Europeans. I checked it out and guess what it was utter rubbish; an invented story passed around that had become something that those with a tendency to racism chose to believe and repeat.