Maghull – A community survey by the churches of the Town

I attended a meeting a couple of days ago where members of the church community from Maghull, led by Maghull Baptist Church, gave interested local councillors a briefing on the survey they had conducted within the past year about community views on various matters.

The survey, which 380 people had responded to in detail, covered a wide range of matters – social, economic, crime, environmental, community facilities etc. and I think it fair to say that there were no really big surprises in the results presented to us. However, it was fascinating to hear a perspective from the religious community (and I say that as an atheist) about their engagement with the Maghull community.

One very interesting aspect for me was with regard to debt, housing and food bank issues that came out of the survey. To me these 3 things are linked and I would like to see some further in depth work done on them by Sefton Council in particular because of our straightened economic times.

Food banks are now a regular feature of media comment and they are being set up across the UK to assist folks who are really struggling to feed themselves and their families but trying to find out what the underlying need is for them, at least in my part of Sefton Borough, is like pulling teeth. I have asked Sefton Council on a few occasions to let me have some stats as to the need for, referrals to, take up etc. for food bank use in the 3 wards that make up the East Parishes part of the Borough but so far with nothing coming back to me.

However, this churches survey, which was conducted in one part of Maghull rather than across the wider community showed that of the 380 respondents 3 (1%) had made use of a food bank, 1 of debt counselling and 2 of housing advice. At face value these are all lower figures than I would have expected to see bearing in mind that the area of Maghull selected would be the one with the lowest average incomes in general terms. BUT when you look at the more detailed figures things seem to be different in that an additional 4% would use a food bank and 12% may use one.

My point here is that this is matter for which we need better data so to fully understand what is going on. The fact that the Council does not seem to know and that it took local churches to provide some stats does not fill me with a great deal of confidence in the Council.

Is it really the case that up to 17% of the 380 people surveyed may at some point need to use a Food bank because if you add up the 1% who have used one to the 4% who would use one and the 12% who might use one that is the figure you come to?

And this is in the context of Maghull and the East Parishes part of the Borough not yet having a formal operating food bank in terms of one of the Trusell Trust type that is now the generally accepted format for them. One is being set up though by the local churches who have obviously been acting as a more informal food outlet for those on hard times as the religious community has indeed done for generations. Despite being an atheist I a have often admired and supported the Salvation Army in their work to help those who have the least in our society.

So, what did I learn from the presentation by the churches? I suppose I learned that we still don’t know enough about poverty in our communities, even in relatively affluent ones like Maghull and that is not exactly something to be proud of is it.

More shootings in Sefton and Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo has the story. Is there no end to this utter madness?

For what it is worth and despite trying to raise the profile of this Sefton and Merseyside gun problem I am yet to hear how Merseyside Police and the Police Commissioner are actually going to tackle this menace on our streets.

Merseyside Police Commissioner comes under fire over decision making figures

The Southport Visiter has the story.

MERSEYSIDE Police Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has come under fire after making just six decisions in five months.

The figures released in a national survey led two Southport councillors to question the role of the woman charged with tackling local crime.

Simon Shaw, a member of Merseyside Police and Crime Panel and a Birkdale councillor, led the criticisms at Southport’s Area Committee meeting last Wednesday. The complaints stemmed from an article written by Lib Dem leader Iain Brodie-Browne based on the survey’s findings, which posed the question ‘what does our Police Crime Commissioner do, exactly?’

Cllr Shaw said: “According to their own official websites some commissioners had taken 40, 50, or even more decisions in their first five months in office. In contrast Jane Kennedy had made just six reported decisions.”

Editor’s comment – From my perspective the fact that our Merseyside Police Commissioner has appointed a press secretary on £45K per year in the financial times that we find ourselves is simply wrong.

No shooting (a challenging sign for South Sefton!) and no motorcycles sign


Thanks to Keith Page for this shot of a warning sign in one of the forestry areas to the west of Maghull.

You just know that a sign saying no shooting is going to be shot at but taking into account Maghull and district’s gun crime wave of March this year and the fact that the sign was photographed well before then clearly it was not just the sign that was being shot at!

By the way I hear that we have a problem with birds being shot in an around the canal area through Sefton. Is there no limit to the cruel activities of some folk.

Merseyside Police Commissioner – This must be a concern

The Liverpool Echo has the story which had been doing the rounds before they made it public.

I met Jane Kennedy at the crisis meeting held in Lydiate a few weeks ago when Maghull was being used for target practice by criminals. She came across as a decent sort but knowing some of the people on the watch dog committee I fear that there could well be a significant issue to address here.

I must say that having asked in public for the Police and the Commissioner to say what they are jointly going to do to tackle gun crime I have heard nothing much in the way of reassurance to date. Sadly shootings in Sefton continue to be a problem.

Shootings in Sefton for example – Is our Police Commissioner making a difference?

Two more shootings in Bootle this week mean that Sefton’s gun crime problem is still sadly very much alive and well but who is doing much/anything decisive about it?

Obviously we look to two major figures on Merseyside to lead the battle against violent crime – The Police Commissioner and the Chief Constable – but what game changing moves are they making?

I can’t really judge what the Chief Constable is doing but I can look at what the Police Commissioner is doing since she was elected 5 months ago. At face value not a huge amount can be the only conclusion as she has seemingly only made 6 decisions since being elected! Just look at my colleague Iain Brodie-Brown’s Birkdale Focus Blog for all the relevant stats about what Police Commissioners across England are doing.

In the East Parishes part of Sefton we had a ‘mad March’ in 2013 when shootings and fire bombings were happening almost daily! Things have calmed down considerably now and yes I did thank our Police Commissioner for attending a public meeting in Lydiate in March when things were at their worst. But what is Jane Kennedy doing to try to make that big difference to gun crime? If we are simply seeing a lull in shootings in say Maghull, because of a significant Police presence, but that shootings continue to be a problem in Bootle, what has been gained?

I think it is time for our Police Commissioner and indeed the Chief Constable to make some game changing decisions and make us all feel a little more confident that the war on guns is being taken to the streets.

Sefton is not America; we hate guns, we don’t measure our social status by how many we have at home.