Maghull & Lydiate Homewatch Association – April/May newsletter in colour!

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The other day my letterbox rattled with the delivery of the 262nd edition of this excellent community organisation’s newsletter. What’s more it is their first edition in colour!

It is nice to see them going from strength to strength but the demise of Southport Homewatch Assn, mentioned in the newsletter, is a sobering reminder of how voluntary organisations can struggle when the volunteers run out of steam due to age in particular.

Gun crime in Maghull – Matrix Squad are certainly responding

Anyone travelling around Maghull and district in recent weeks (especially in the evenings) can’t have failed to see signs that the Merseyside Police Matrix Squad have been on the streets stopping vehicles, checking out drivers and searching cars.

I must have seen them stop at least half a dozen vehicles myself and oddly I would say half of them have been Audi models. Is this the current make of choice for those up to no good or is it just a coincidence?

Last night I came home to find Matrix had stopped a Land Rover right outside our Lydiate home so I think I can say that there is little doubt that Merseyside Police have seriously reacted to the unprecedented crime wave of shootings and fire bombings that have bedevilled the normally quiet communities in the East Parishes part of Sefton recently.

Maghull North ward (or should that be Shooting ward?) by-elections 21st March (3 seats up for election – all Labour held prior to resignations)

What a campaign, 2 shootings in the ward as well as politicians taking verbal pot-shots at each other! These by-elections were held whilst leafy Maghull has sadly been going through an unprecedented crime wave. The elections are over and we can only hope that the crime wave is as well. Our normally quiet community has had a gut full of violent crime.

So what of the election results? Well we Lib Dems did remarkable well, far better than could ever have been expected. To come so close was a pleasant surprise.

The result:-

Labour 514 elected – Labour hold
Labour 509 elected – Labour hold
Labour 499 elected – Labour hold
Lib Dem (Bruce Hubbard) 410
Lib Dem (Wyn Maher) 391
Lib Dem (Jen Robertson) 398
Green 66

Turnout 20.51%, Swing – Labour to Lib Dems 3.2%

(Note- there was only one Green candidate for this 3 seat election and both the Tories and UKIP did not put up candidates at all. The expected intervention of independent candidates did not materialise either)

We called for the elections to be held to fill the 3 seats vacated by Labour’s resigning councillors who had got elected but did not want to be councillors. The farce whereby Labour held a secret meeting (following the last Labour resignation from the Council) and co-opted a Labour supporter onto the Council could not be allowed to happen again.

Bruce, Wyn and Jen our valiant Lib Dem candidates wish to thank the folks who voted for them in a hard fought campaign over the past 6 weeks.

Socialism remains the favoured creed in Maghull and the Town’s ability to forgive and forget all kinds of Labour cock-ups since they have been running the Town Council shows that sadly Labour really can get away with almost anything at present.

As if Maghull’s crime wave was not enough we now have arson attacks in Lydiate and Melling!!

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What on earth is going on, shootings in Maghull and now two arson attacks in Lydiate and Melling last night in quiet residential roads.

I have spoken with the family who found their cars on fire outside their Clent Avenue, Lydiate house last night and they are rightly very upset. There is no reason to believe that they are anything but the victims of some kind of random attack. The fire destroyed both cars one of which was close enough to the house to cause damage to that as well.

The second attack was in Melling’s Cunscough Lane, a reasonably isolated group of houses, out in the rural part of Melling. There, I was told by the Policeman guarding the property, that the house was set on fire from the rear .

Maghull was flooded with Police last night and I saw Police stopping a car in Sefton Lane around 6pm and again later in Buckingham Road. However the crime wave that has struck Maghull and its surrounding Parishes seems to be never ending with innocent folk getting caught up in the mayhem of shootings and now arson attacks.

I realise that the Police will be doing all they can but someone has to put a stop to this and quickly!

Gun crime in Sefton – Let’s look at some facts and some opinions

Yesterday and last Friday I posted about the 4 latest shooting incidents in Sefton, but how bad is gun crime in the Borough? A Freedom of Information request to Merseyside Police has released the following statistics. Hold on to your hat they are not pleasant reading!

How many gun discharges have there been in Sefton since January 2010?

Answer:- 39 + 3 on Thursday 14th March and another one on 17th March = 43!

2010 – 5, 2011 – 13, 2012 – 17, 2013 – 4 but add another 4 to that since I made the FOI request so it is 8 and we are only half way thorough March!

Which communities have the gun discharges been in?

Answer:-

Bootle – 23 + 1 on Thursday 14th March = 24
Netherton – 4
Litherland – 4
Maghull – 4 + 2 on Thursday 14th March & 1 on 17th March = 7
Southport – 2
Crosby – 2
Aintree – 1

Bootle is clearly and by a long way the Sefton community with the biggest gun crime problem and if you add together the Bootle, Netherton and Litherland figures plus 1 of the Crosby shootings above you end up with 33 gun discharges in the Bootle Parliamentary Constituency.

But clearly the problem is spreading. Take a community like Maghull; it is leafy commuter land with historically low crime levels. However, it has always suffered from being the victim of travelling criminals so far as burglary in particular is concerned. The Merseyside Police Neighbourhood Unit of Maghull covers Lydiate, Aintree Village, Melling and Sefton & Lunt Villages as well as Maghull. Virtually out of nowhere this area of Sefton, which is known as the East Parishes, with vast parts of it being semi or completely rural, has seen an exposition of gun crime with 7 shootings in the past 13 months.

Possible causes that have been put to me by concerned residents are:-

• The East Parishes are in effect surrounded on 3 sides by communities/Policing Units with much higher crime rates i.e. Bootle, North Liverpool and Kirkby.
• The character of the East Parishes has been changing with some of its predominately private housing stock now being privately rented due to difficulties selling during the economic downturn and the rise in investment properties. This, some fear, leads to a more transient population that can in some cases have less of a commitment to the East Parishes communities. Some residents seemingly link a small minority of privately rented properties to crime.
• This part of Sefton has extremely low levels of social housing. However, some residents point to concerns about social housing, at times, being allocated to problem families from elsewhere who bring criminal and anti-social problems with them.
• From an education perspective the East Parishes has always had high quality, high achieving schools although many of the youngsters attending those schools do come from a far wider area due to educational attainment problems in places like Kirkby, North Liverpool and Bootle. This, at face value positive angle, is pointed to at times as being a problem but such has been the case (although growing as a proportion) since I was at school in Maghull in the late 60’s and 70’s.
• There has always been local concern, acknowledged to me as being an issue by previous Police Inspectors with responsibility for the area, that those who have made money from crime have been attracted to live in the East Parishes because of its good quality housing stock, parks and gardens, schools and its semi rural nature.

My third question was to ask for a list of the roads in which the gun discharges took place and you can imagine it’s a long list but here goes:-

Year Street Area
2013 Marian Square Netherton
2013 Rufford Avenue Maghull
2013 Daley Road Litherland
2013 Litherland Road Bootle
2012 Monfa Road Bootle
2012 Hall Lane Maghull
2012 Cullen Avenue Bootle
2012 Unknown / Not recorded Bootle
2012 Akenside Street Bootle
2012 Stanley Road Bootle
2012 Wadham Road Bootle
2012 Partington Avenue Bootle
2012 Silcocks Field Bootle
2012 Harrops Croft Netherton
2012 Pembroke Road Bootle
2012 Abbotsford Road Crosby
2012 Shakespeare Street Southport
2012 Orrell Lane Bootle
2012 Rimrose Road Bootle
2012 Sefton Lane Maghull
2012 Hawthorne Road Bootle
2011 Ford Close Bootle
2011 Bedford Road Bootle
2011 Park Crescent Southport
2011 Wango Lane Aintree
2011 Amos Avenue Litherland
2011 Violet Road Litherland
2011 Bedford Road Bootle
2011 Croxteth Avenue Litherland
2011 Stanley Road Bootle
2011 Glover Place Bootle
2011 Ford Close Bootle
2011 Shelley Street Bootle
2011 Wakefield Road Netherton
2010 Monfa Road Bootle
2010 Warton Street Bootle
2010 Crosby Road North Crosby
2010 Harrops Croft Netherton
2010 Glendower Road Bootle

The 5 most recent shootings do not appear on the above list as they happened after it was produced for me. For completeness they are:-

2013 Parkbourn – Maghull
2013 Fernbank – Maghull
2013 Moorland Road – Maghull
2013 Timon Avenue – Bootle
2013 Fernbank (2nd shooting) – Maghull

My final question asked for the ages of those involved in the various shootings but Merseyside Police have not really been able to supply me with much information here. I asked for it because you get the impression that gun crime these days is something very much associated with those say under the age of 30, but evidence of this is clearly sketchy.

So there you have it; my attempt as a local resident (of 44 years) and councillor (for 28 years) to try to get behind the headlines of Sefton’s gun crime problems that are now a big headache for Jane Kennedy our new Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner and her Merseyside Police Force.

And one final thought; why is it the case that in years gone by disputes between those involved in criminal activity would normally be settled without the use of guns yet more recently such disputes are now more often settled with guns? Could the greater availability of guns together with a greater willingness to use them be the significant factors here?

The bottom line is that we want to stop gun crime in Sefton because the very last thing we want to see is another tragic Rhys Jones type death.

2 more shootings in Maghull and 1 in Bootle – ‘It’s like living in the wild west’

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2013/03/15/9-30am-update-just-hours-after-merseyside-police-and-crime-commissioner-says-gun-crime-is-being-tackled-there-are-three-firearms-incidents-in-under-40-minutes-99623-32994745/

The Post (see above link) has the story of the latest shootings and one former resident of Maghull said to me today ‘My god whats happening in my old home town !!’

Well here we go again with 3 more shootings in Sefton in just one evening of criminal activity; you just could not make this up.

And it all happened just a couple of hours after Merseyside’s new Police and Crime Commissioner was speaking to worried residents in a school hall in Lydiate. She had been invited because of the first 3 shootings in Maghull but by the time she spoke at the meeting there had been a 4th, with 2 following the meeting.

To give Jane Kennedy her due she was very good at speaking to the meeting in Lydiate Primary School. I had half expected her to launch into some kind of speech that we hear from many Labour politicians these days along the lines of slagging off the government. But not a word of it and no party political remarks from her at all; that must have disappointed Bill Esterson’s staff who were there in force.

So Jane hit the right notes and she was ably assisted by two senior Police Officers. But despite their good showing it was obvious that many locals in the Maghull area are very unhappy about the recent spate of gun crime. What’s more the unhappy coincidence of two further shootings in Maghull (plus one in nearby Bootle) within hours of the meeting will only increase such concerns

I first started to raise my concerns about shootings in Sefton Borough a while ago (see previous postings) but recently I decided to do a Freedom of Information request to find out what has really been going on in the Borough in terms of gun crime and I will publish the results of my investigations very soon.

Having lived in the Maghull and Lydiate area since I was 10 this turn of events makes me wonder whether, as one resident said at last night’s meeting, we are living in the wild west!

PS. No sooner had I posted this piece than I got into conversation with a chap who is Maghull through and through and he told me how unimpressed he had been with Jane Kennedy on local radio today. I have not heard what she said on radio but having gained a round of applause last night she seems to have gained a boo from Mr. Maghull today. Nobody said it would be easy to tackle violent gun crime on Merseyside and she has a lot of people on her back right now who are expecting her to take decisive and effective action.