Save Our Green Belt – Primary school planning

I accidentally landed on this issue via the Local Government Information Unit site but it made me think about the potential for such a problem building up in Sefton, with building being the big word here!

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has called Leeds City Council’s planning “appalling” claiming it has left the city facing a primary school places crisis. The accusations centre on a potential shortfall of about 4,000 places in primary schools.

Whilst Sefton is not yet is such a crisis there is sadly a real chance that it will encounter similar problems because of the Labour-run Council’s rush to build house in the Borough.

We all realise that Labour will most likely now authorise building on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, having just completed a public consultation exercise which was very much based on such a scenario. Along with Labour taking all kinds of flak for proposing this they have also been criticised for the lack of any infrastructure planning to sit alongside the houses they are planning to build.

One of the significant infrastructure issues will be schools and school places but apart from vague promises along the lines of of ‘this will be sorted out as the planning applications are progressed’ it is not at all clear that anyone in the Council has really thought through the implications of a house building programme in terms of schools, GP’s, dentists etc. etc.

It’s bad enough to tell us that Sefton is determined to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land but then not to have any clear answers about the consequences of such a policy is making some folks wonder what on earth is going on. It seems Leeds is further down this most worrying track.

Fruit garden Project for Maghull

This really goes back to my posting of 26th January 2012 about Incredible Edible Todmorden and developing an edible aspect to Maghull in Bloom.

The M in B volunteers have been hard at it and having won a Lottery grant for the project and found a site to grow trees bearing edible fruit rhubarb etc. The detailed planning is now being done.

The chosen site is on KGV Park in Maghull outside Meadows Leisure Centre. A careful look at the two photo’s below will show some yellow line markings on the grass which indicate where the planting will be done this winter.

Maghull in Bloom Team on site

Maghull in Bloom Team on site

It rained very hard after the marking had been done so some of it had washed away when I took the photos at a site meeting last Monday.

A clearer shot of the design lines

A clearer shot of the design lines

Boots Chemist Westway Maghull – an accessibility issue

A local chap with a significant walking disability raised this with me and whilst the step into Boots and indeed its predecessor chemist, Bracey’s, has been there since the shop unit was built those of us who are fit hardly notice it.


But to a person with disability steps can be a real challenge, indeed an obstacle.

I have been in touch with Boots to see if they can do anything to help here. Maybe a ramp would be possible?

Just as I was about to post this item Boots came back to me saying they are to raise the matter with their newly appointed shop manager who will be in touch with me.

Alcohol on Trains – And what about Merseyrail Guard McGee?

A recent TV programme on Channel 5 that ran for a number of weeks followed First Great Western staff around as they tried to keep their trains running on time and smoothly despite all kinds of challenges.

But what struck me was the number of times that drunks were a part of their everyday working scene. I have mentioned recently my concerns about our booze dependent culture but here it was laid out before us on prime time TV.

The obvious question that kept coming into my mind was why does First Great Western allow such badly drunken folk onto their trains to create mayhem for their staff and their sober passengers? Indeed, why would any train operator allow this?

And this takes me back to a matter I blogged about some time (21st December 2012) ago when a Merseyrail train guard was jailed for the death of a badly drunken young lady who tragically fell under a train when it left a Merseyrail station. I said at the time that the conviction was wrong and that in my opinion the unfortunate young lady was surely substantially responsible for the situation that she inadvertently put herself in. My views have not changed and I still feel for Christopher McGee the guard who found himself in an impossible situation and was effectively blamed by society through the courts because one of his passengers was acting in a way that was clearly dangerous to her own health and wellbeing.

After watching the Channel 5 programme all I can say is that such a tragedy is going to happen again if train operators and British Transport Police continue to turn a blind eye to those who are dangerously drunk – they should not even be on the station in the first place never mind near a train. A recent Alan Williams article in Modern Railways Magazaine makes this very point very well.

But there is another aspect here and that is the sober passenger. Do train operators think that letting drunks onto their trains is treating the vast majority of the travelling public well? If they do they are in effect knowingly allowing drunks to spoil the journeys of the vast majority of their customers.

McGee was blamed because someone else got drunk – that’s not justice.

Guns and Alcohol

No matter how bad things get it seems that the Americans will not seriously tackle guns in their society, but is alcohol a similar issue for the UK?


All societies have their no go areas where politicians fear to tread because they worry about a voter backlash. Just look back to Blair and his timidity at tackling smoking in pubs and other enclosed places. He acted in the end but only when the evidence showed the vast majority of us were willing him to just get on with it.

In America their love of guns is their weakness and one that we in the UK can’t quite get our heads around. We deplore gun ownership and continue to be shocked by gun crime in our communities, which is sadly seems to be getting worse.

But is alcohol our big weakness? Is it the subject that we fail to tackle despite the fact that it ruins so many lives, costs the NHS a fortune and is a big contributory factor in violent crime? Sadly, I fear that it is and I say that as a Liberal who does not want the state to interfere with our lives.

The liberalisation of alcohol laws under Labour was meant to make us a society that was able to be sensible with alcohol but it seems that the 24 hour drinking culture is bringing violence to many of our cities and large towns. What’s more binge drinking is now a norm for some folk and alcoholism seems to be on the rise. In short lives are being destroyed and it is probably the case that most families have alcoholics or alcohol dependents amongst them.

But will we act? We talk of minimum pricing to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at pocket money prices but then we run away from doing anything. We talk of the huge cost to the NHS and say something has to be done but we do nothing.

I am not saying that I have the answers but I am sure that politicians will have to act unless like America and their guns this really does become the subject that will not be tackled.

Westway, Maghull – Dangerous narrow pavement


Cllr. Jen Robertson spotted this recently and discussed with me what we can do to try to get it cut back.

The land from which the overgrowth emanates is called The Dell and it is owned by the NHS as it forms part of the grounds of Maghull Health Centre. Recent NHS reorganisation required a bit of detective work to be undertaken to find out whom the responsible NHS official may be who can get the work done. We hope we have found the right person and this photo has been sent to them with a request for urgent cutting back of the offending overgrowth.

Separately, Maghull in Bloom volunteers are offering their services to the NHS to help maintain this dell (as I have posted about previously) and a response is awaited.

UPDATE – Still no progress in the NHS cutting back their overgrowth so another reminder sent 1/11/13.