Lessons for Labour from Maghull by-election defeats

There were 4 very clear messages coming across from the electorate in the three Maghull wards where by-elections were held last week.

Sick of Labour’s internal warfare

Firstly, residents are heartily sick of Labour’s local infighting and the consequent 7 Labour councillor resignations. One thing the electorate does not like is political party splits and this recent long-running one has really damaged Labour’s credibility.

Green Bin Tax

Secondly, Labour’s proposed Green Bin tax for Sefton Borough has clearly been binned by the electorate. There can be little doubt that it has really got people upset as they see it as an idea from Bootle Labour Party being imposed on a community like Maghull (but you could easily say Crosby, Formby, Southport etc.) where virtually everyone has a garden. Residents also see it as a back door Council tax rise and are having none of it. The outright lie that was published in one Labour election leaflet which said that the Lib Dems were bringing in the Green Bin tax and that Labour was opposing it was openly being laughed at as ridiculous desperation.

Building on Green Belt

The third big issue was the Green Belt. Labour councillors voting to build on the Green Belt whilst saying they opposed building on it has made folk angry. This is a huge credibility issue for Labour and time after time people have been saying things like ‘Labour said they were not going to let building take place on the Green Belt and then their councillors go and vote for just that!’ Interestingly, Cllr. Peter Dowd, the Labour Leader on Sefton Council and a Maghull Town Council member seems to have a little more credibility than his Labour colleagues over this issue. Electors had noticed that whilst he was advocating building on the Green Belt, which they opposed, at least he was doing it by promoting it as a positive thing rather than saying one thing and doing another whilst blaming just about everyone else, as his Labour colleagues have been doing.

Embracing austerity

The final issue is a national one. Labour’s national position of recently embracing austerity and agreeing to follow Coalition spending plans, if Labour gets elected at the next General election, is making people wonder why Labour locally has been presenting itself as being against all cuts and seemingly giving the impression that it will reverse them. This issue is important in a community like Maghull because of the high numbers of public sector workers. Obviously, Labour’s ploy nationally, between 2010 and early 2013, was to play to this public sector worker audience. However, with Ed Miliband now backing off from that message it leaves local Labour Party folk who continue to hammer this for all they are worth very exposed. Public sector workers now know Labour will not reverse the cuts in their pay, pensions etc. so why should they continue to troop out and vote for a party that promised them everything but then dropped them like a stone.

These are the factors that led to the significant collapse in Labour’s share of the vote in the 3 Maghull Town Council by-elections.

Lower Alt Wind Farm – What our local Parish Councils in Sefton are saying

I have posted about this a number of times in recent months but thought the letter below may well be of interest.It has gone to all the 10 Parish/Town Councils in Sefton. It is from the umbrella organisation that all 10 Parish/Town Councils are a part of. Lydiate Parish Council, which I am a member of, has already expressed its concerns as previously detailed on this blog. The proposed site for the wind farm is actually in West Lancashire not Sefton.

17 July 2013

To: Clerks to the Parish Councils of the SAPLC (Sefton Association of Parish and Local Councils)

Dear Sir/Madam

Lower Alt Wind Farm Proposal

At the meeting of the SAPLC last evening 16th July, we were addressed by the Chair of H-ALT, the group set up in Ince Blundell to protest against the proposal of CoriolisEnergy to erect 24 enormous wind turbines close to our village and town communities overlooking the R Alt.

Kevin Sharpe presented information concerning the proposal and how the group had been set up to oppose the development. It directly affects the residents of Lydiate, Sefton, Maghull, Ince Blundell, Little Altcar, Hightown and Formby especially and to a lesser extent to the other parishes.

It was unanimously agreed that, while we do not oppose the concept of turbines that placing of these turbines each as tall as the Blackpool tower, on land, they would have serious and deleterious effect upon the area, our residentsfor generations to come, affecting their health,property values and well being.

The impact upon the land quality from the installation, in their construction and the environmental consequences will be enormous and will decimate the prosperity of a fragile local farming economy, disrupting the unique environment we share.

It was agreed that I should write to you asking you please to raise the matter with your council with the view of enlisting your opposition to the scheme, and inviting you write to the developers saying so.

The contact is Vicky Portwain at Coriolis Energy and the reports are available on their website – www.loweraltwindfarm.co.uk.

Her contact details are as follows

Vicky Portwain
Project manager
Coriolis Energy

info@loweraltwindfarm.co.uk

With thanks,

Yours sincerely

M. COLES
Chairman

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

Green Belt – Maghull Town Council – On the really big issue of the day Labour has failed Maghull

Labour is in the dock over their Green Belt building plan, as we saw only too well in their by-election losses of last Thursday, but when they won control of Maghull Town Council in May 2011 they knew this juggernaut was hurtling towards them, yet they did nothing.

If the Council had remained Lib Dem run the clear plan was to launch another campaign to save the local Green Belt around the Town just as had been successfully done in 1998. But Labour did nothing; they did not even make a submission to Sefton Council in the summer of 2011 in defence of the Green Belt when all the other parish councils in the Borough did.

Why did the Town Council offer no leadership? Where was the Town Council when in 2011 the community was saying just what it did in 1998 – No Green Belt building?

What Labour doesn’t seem to be able to grasp is that they are running the Council that represents the people of Maghull and it is not just another committee of Sefton Central Labour Party. It is their responsibility to stand up for the Town against all-comers. Just because Labour also happens to run Sefton Council does not mean that they have to agree with what Bootle Town Hall does or indeed tells them to do! Just because Peter Dowd, the Labour Leader of Sefton, also sits on Maghull Town Council does not mean they can’t challenge him; surely they should be challenging him if his policies do not fit with what Maghull folk want to see happening.

When I was Leader of Sefton Council I wanted and indeed saw strong independently minded Parish and Town Councils robustly promoting and defending their communities. I did not ask for nor did I want them to sit back and say ‘OK Big Brother Sefton we will stay quiet or do your bidding’.

When Peter Dowd and indeed his two fellow Bootle Labour Sefton Cabinet member colleagues attend a Maghull Town Council meeting their only interest is the people and town of Maghull. Why else would they have stood to be elected to Maghull Town Council in 2011 but to put Maghull first?

Sadly, Maghull has been let down by Labour because they have not stood up for the Town against Sefton Council and this sit back and watch stance has led to Sefton thinking Maghull is not bothered. On that basis it is no surprise that Sefton Council has proposed the biggest Green Belt housing development for Maghull!

Access to Southport from the east – Ormskirk/M58 Motorway

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

This is very much a long standing problem which not only has frustrations because of the poor nature of the main road from Southport to Ormskirk (for the volume of traffic it has to take at times) but which also has health implications due to the split site nature of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals.

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5489&pageid=29612

The web address above is a report by Lancashire County Council which, amongst other transportation matters, covers the Southport access problems from the east.

Sadly, this is a problem which has be talked about for years yet no progress has been made. Of course it links to the need to reconnect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk – Preston railway lines so that after years of the two working in complete isolation we can once again get a train from Southport to Ormskirk.

Regular readers will know I am a firm supporter and indeed member of OPSTA – Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Association – which campaigns for the reopening of the Burscough Curves amongst other local rail improvements.

One day access to Southport from the east will become a problem that is solved rather than just talked about and it is important if Southport is to continue to develop as a shopping and seaside town. This access problem is holding Southport back but the solution is not in Sefton but in West Lancashire.