Pilling Lane Canal Access, Lydiate

I have posted about this problem before. In brief the steps up to the road from the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath to Pilling Lane have been out of use for a long time and local walkers are getting very frustrated. So much so that every time the Canal and River Trust rebuilds the fence that is supposed to stop pedestrians using the steps it is broken down by determined folk wanting access.

I took this shot of the steps during the last snow to hit Lydiate

I took this shot of the steps during the last snow to hit Lydiate

The issue is that the steps are sinking and are unsafe due to subsidence so you can understand whey the Trust does not want people not to use them. However, with repairs being as far away as October (or later) and the steps having been closed for months on end already it is hardly surprising that folks are taking things into their own hands even if that is putting themselves in danger of injury.

But yesterday I got a call from a Lydiate resident who had been walking past the bridge when he saw Canal and River Trust workers there. He stopped and asked them when the repairs would be done and was told next year! Lydiate Parish Council had been told, as I have previously reported, that repairs were scheduled for October. And that was not the end of it because the resident also asked the workers why they had not built a temporary set of steps, only to be told that such would have been quite possible. Possible, why then was I refused my request for this to be done months ago?

Lydiate Parish Council Clerk Barbara Kennan is now back on the case to try to get to the bottom of things.

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.

Lydiate – A Parks Inspection

Here are the Lydiate Parish Council Team at Coronation Park

The Lydiate Parish Council Team at Coronation Park

Last Wednesday evening Lydiate Parish Council conducted an inspection of a number of its areas of public open space. Some are owned by the Parish Council and some are leased from Sefton Council.

The condition of play equipment, trees, fences etc. was on the agenda and the expedition was led by the redoubtable chairman of the Council’s Amenities Committee Cllr. Andrew Blackburn.

Andrew has, in a previous life, been chair of Amenities at Maghull Town Council and he would often lead such inspections across that Council’s vast acreage of land spread around some 15 or more sites so visiting 5 of much smaller Lydiate’s sites was a breeze for this seasoned campaigner.

The good news is that things were looking well, it was a great evening out and we had a chat with some of the many residents who use Lydiate’s parks. Here are some further shots of the inspection:-

Cllrs. Edie Pope, Robbie Fenton, Andrew Blackburn and Parish Clerk Barbara Keenan discuss an issue with Head Groundsman Steve at Mallory Avenue Park

Cllrs. Edie Pope, Robbie Fenton, Andrew Blackburn and Parish Clerk Barbara Keenan discuss an issue with Head Groundsman Steve at Mallory Avenue Park

Amenities Chairman Andrew Blackburn with Parish Clerk Barbara Keenan at Oakhill Park bowling greens

Amenities Chairman Andrew Blackburn with Parish Clerk Barbara Keenan at Oakhill Park bowling greens

THis is Kenyons Park

This is Kenyons Park

Sefton Central Labour – Watch out they are spitting their dummies out!

You don’t need me to tell you that Sefton Central Labour is in one hell of a mess at present because:-

7, yes 7 of their councillors have resigned in recent times

They are fighting pitched battles with people who are trying to defend the Green Belt

Their proposed Green Bin tax is about as popular as snow at Harvest!

But now the panic button has really been pressed hard as the comrades try to make out that black is white over the Green Bin tax and just about everything else. In a move that surely shows political fear (something you should never show to the opposition, I would add) they have produced a leaflet which is circulating in Maghull that is so over the top it is laughable.

As we all know (and this is on public record) Labour run Sefton Council proposed in its 2013/14 budget to introduce a Green Bin tax; a budget that Lib Dem councillors opposed.

Now, on the basis that if you are going to tell untruths tell whoppers, how about a Labour claim that ‘Labour has binned the Lib Dem proposals to introduce a green bin tax which would have hit us here in Maghull hardest’! From ‘which would have hit us in Maghull hardest’ I agree with but to claim that Lib Dems proposed a Green Bin tax and that Labour binned it is turning black into white!

How rattled can you get to try to pretend that your own policy which has proved so unpopular is that of another party!

Green Bin Tax – Has Labour run Sefton come unstuck with their attempted back door Council tax rise?

Following Lib Dem campaigning which highlighted what we all knew already i.e. that folks will not be ‘volunteering’ to pay Labour’s back door Council tax rise, it seems that the comrades are sounding the retreat and looking for a way out.

epd_wheelie_bins_group

Frankly, why Labour ever thought residents would pay to have their green bins emptied beats me. What’s more whilst the comrades on the cabinet that runs Sefton are all from Bootle, where there are fewer gardens, the biggest losers under the plan would be communities like Maghull where many houses have big gardens. Sudell Ward (North and East Maghull) for example was going to feel the hit of Labour’s green bin tax as would the two Formby wards and indeed virtually all the wards outside of Bootle.

This all makes you think that the myopia of looking at things from a Bootle only perspective leads the comrades into not seeing the bigger picture.

We await some firm proposals from Labour run Sefton to confirm that they really are ditching their garden tax but to date the Lib Dem campaigning has certainly given them a lot to think about; indeed Labour’s lawn really has been given a low cut!