Sefton Borough – Are our local Police Stations being considered for closure?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Having dragged out of Labour run Sefton Council’s undergrowth information, which they had sat on, about proposals to close Lydiate’s Ambulance Station recently (see previous postings), rumours from seemingly credible sources reached me about the potential closure of Police Stations in the Borough.

A worrying question indeed and when the rumours about such closures seem to be emanating from Merseyside Police it really makes you wonder what on earth is going on.

The Police Station which there seems to be most speculation about is the one in Maghull and despite having been in touch with the Police locally about the rumours I was still not clear about what’s going on beyond being told that an estates review is taking place. In the case of Maghull the very clear community speculation has been around the site being sold to Morrisons who are desperate to enlarge their adjacent store, which is far too small.

Separately, readers of this blog will also recall that when I dragged the Lydiate Ambulance Station closure into the open I openly said that co-location with Maghull Police Station could be a runner because that is where many police cars are maintained and the two sites are within a mile of each other. The response of North West Ambulance Service was that they had never even thought of this and had plumped for a site miles away at Netherton Fire Station instead to place their ‘local’ ambulance.

Anyway back to the Police Stations. It was time to write to Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Labour’s Jane Kennedy, for a clear answer as to what is happening. My first letter to her is below:-

Dear Commissioner,

Re. Future of Maghull Police Station

I write due to continual rumours across the East Parishes part of Sefton that the site of Maghull Police Station is to be sold; indeed such rumours seem to be emanating from Police sources.

I have taken the matter up with our local Police Inspector who in turn has raised the matter for me with his command team.

What I am being told is that whilst there is a current Force Estates Review on going no proposals have been made, let alone decisions being imminent and that any decision such as the future of Maghull Police Station will not be taken without full widespread prior public consultation.

Can you please outline for me what is happening from your perspective as Merseyside Police Commissioner? Obviously, I would appreciate an assurance that Maghull Police Station is not under threat of closure.

Yours Sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson

Back comes a reply saying ‘Maghull Police Station is an operational police station and will remain so for the foreseeable future.’ However, she goes on to say that all aspects of Merseyside’s Police budget are under review including ‘maintenance of the current estate’.

Still not too clear to me what this means so I send Jane another polite letter trying to gain a little more information, such as what is her minimum length of time definition of ‘foreseeable’.

A second reply comes back and talk about curt and short! She says ‘foreseeable means as far as she can see at this time’, so no clear answer there then. In response to my request for where I can find further details of any decisions made to date on this matter her answer is ‘Under MPA’, which I assume means Merseyside Police Authority? And finally a clear(ish) answer to my request for a guarantee of public consultation if she does decided to close any Merseyside police stations – She says ‘There will be public consultation regarding estate provision’.

Frankly, I am disappointed in Jane’s answers to my second letter as she seems to be trying to give me, as a fellow elected public representative, as little information as she can, at least that’s how it looks to me. And please bear in mind that during Maghull’s ‘Mad March’ of gun crime, earlier this year, I posted on this very site that she had handled a difficult public meeting on the matter in Lydiate quite well.

Mm, maybe time to reassess her if, as I perceive, she is not being open enough about an issue, such as Police Station closures, which will have massive public concern around it, should it happen.

Gun Crime in Sefton – Bootle really needed this poster – NOT

Just what Bootle needed!!

Just what Bootle needed!!

Driving down Aintree Road in Bootle yesterday and what do I see but two huge posters that could not be more inappropriate in a community with more than its fair share of gun crime!

What do posters like this say about our society when guns are being so overtly promoted. I despair.

Meols Cop Station – Vandalism destroys the work of volunteers

I met by old chum Cllr. David Sumner last Wednesday at a Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting and because we are both interested in railways he told me the sad story of the recent vandalism on the station which is maintained and indeed has been considerably improved by the work of a volunteer group led by David, his wife Pat and Dr Jim Ford.

Cllr. David Sumner

Cllr. David Sumner

Meols Cop is an odd station because whilst it is in Merseyside it is not really much loved by our Integrated Transport Authority Merseytravel. The trains calling at the station are all those of Northern Rail on the Southport – Wigan line.

It seems that a few days ago someone or a group of people simply trashed the station plants and the planters they were in causing a huge amount of damage. I wonder how they would feel if we turned up at their house and trashed their garden.

Knowing David and his fellow volunteers they will try to pull things together again but why should their efforts, on behalf of us all, be ruined by thugs? Stations being adopted by volunteer groups are now the norm; just look at Maghull on the Liverpool Ormskirk Line. There volunteers have transformed the station and won many awards in recent years.

Good luck to the Friends of Meols Cop Station.

Have a look at this link for more information about the Friends of Meols Cop Station:-

http://www.southport.gb.com/southport/news_list/Friends_Of_Meols_Cop_Station-51448953.htm

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

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-gun-crime-rise-after-4862541

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.

http://www.southportvisiter.co.uk/southport-news/southport-southport-news/2013/06/27/merseyside-police-commissioner-comes-under-fire-over-decision-making-figures-101022-33530636/

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.