Windfarm proposal for West Lanacshire west of Lydiate

I have been contacted a few times in recent months about the proposal to install 24 wind turbines that will be around the height of Blackpool Tower on farming land west of Lydiate and out towards Ince Blundell and Altcar.

The recent mailing from the company who are promoting the scheme, to many residents in the surrounding communities, seems to have raised the anti of an issue that has been doing the rounds for some months now.

The plan will be decided upon by West Lancs Borough Council not by Sefton as the whole of the proposed site is within West Lancashire.

Yesterday I met a lady who is gathering a petition against the turbines who lives in the rural north of Lydiate Parish and asked her to let me have the completed petition so that I can forward it to both West Lancs and Sefton Borough Councils.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to the exhibitions that are being put on later this week in Altcar, Ince Blundell and Lydiate by the promoting company.

Has Formby Parish Council found a solution to declining maintenance standards? Grass verges for example.

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Readers will know that I am a keen supporter of Parish Councils because they are the very bed rock of grass roots democracy. Why every community in the land does not have one beats me.

Anyway, a recent chat with a member of Formby Parish Council got me thinking. There, a simple but potentially effective and sustainable solution to the problem of trying to halt the decline in street maintenance standards may well have been found. Frankly, it is so sensible and straight forward you wonder why it took so long to surface but maybe all good ideas come up like this.

The Formby solution? Well, they identify high profile parts of their community, such as entry roads into the Town, and then look at say the grass verges. Now Sefton Borough may only be able to afford to cut the verges say 6 times per year but for Formby’s leaders this is simply not enough to present their community well in prominent roads/areas. On that basis Formby Parish Council says to Sefton Council, we will pay your contractor the same rate you pay them but that will be for be X number of extra cuts. No need to tender as that has already been done by the Borough Council, no form filling other than the very basic required and hopefully no declining standards.

A good idea whose time has come I would suggest.

Animals in Need, Melling – An update

The struggle of this animal charity to keep a pitch for their fund-raising stall in Maghull’s shopping centre seems to be drawing support from far and wide.

I have had e-mails from residents asking me to do all I can to help the charity and of course I will do that.

I await a detailed response from Sefton Council which seems have refused to issue a street trader license to the charity for a pitch on public land. The charity had always pitched their stall on land which presently is in the ownership of a the company (Maghull Group) that owns the shopping centre buildings on the northern side of Westway but it has been asked to move on by the owner.

The obvious alternative site would be on a part of the land in the shopping centre that is under the ownership/control of Sefton Borough Council but I am told that the Council has refused to allow this and I need to get to the bottom of why the Council has refused. I am told that the Council’s initial view was that it would agree to the charity using public land but that it then changed its mind.

As a further alternative I have put the charity in touch with the other major land owner in the shopping centre (London and Cambridge Properties) to see if they can offer a site for the fund-raising stalls that have become such a feature of Maghull over the last 15+ years.

More news when I get it.

Barry Smith – former Clerk to Maghull Town Council – A tribute

Barry died yesterday after a very long struggle with poor health.

He was Clerk of Maghull Town Council for 13 years and then, despite declining health, he returned just over 2 years after his retirement to help out at the Council when his successor as Town Clerk but one took seriously ill. Barry stayed with the Council for a few months on a part time basis until his health precluded him from working any longer.

My memories of Barry are of a good humoured chap, who was good at his job, who did not suffer fools gladly and who worked very hard indeed.

An accountant by trade Barry was recruited by The Town Council from his previous job within the NHS. He liked to save money and an often used phrase of his was ‘I have done a deal’ when he had negotiated a reduced price on a contract, purchase etc.

On one occasion, whilst Barry was still getting to grips with how to work with an elected body like the Town Council, he said to me that he had found a better way to get the Council’s wages/salary processed and that he had given the work to a specialist company. A great initiative but Barry had not taken into account that the Council needed to approve such a move before he implemented it! With hindsight this showed how committed Barry was to getting good value for money and we often laughed about it in the following years.

In many ways he was a quiet unassuming man with a dry sense of humour but you could not but like him. What’s more the people who worked for him liked him too, probably because whilst being firm and clear in what he wanted he was also a kind and caring man.

My most memorable Barry moment was at his interview for the Town Clerk’s job. You see we got to that part of the interview when we had asked each of the applicants to present a short paper on a particular matter but Barry told us we had picked the wrong approach to the subject and launched into his own take on the matter. It was a risky approach to take but we were hugely impressed with what he had to say and he was clearly the stand-out candidate and was appointed to the job.

Barry leaves behind a lovely family whom he clearly thought a great deal of. His daughter Nickie became a local councillor herself and she has been the inspiration behind Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar and unstinting in her support for Maghull & District Youth Council. I know Barry was proud of her even though he was not the kind of chap to overtly praise anyone.

But finally, my private Barry moment was when I went to him for a bit of advice. Finding myself in a position whereby I was likely to become not only the Leader of my political group on Sefton Council but also Leader of the Council I wanted an independent view on whether I should take on such responsibilities. I knew Barry would give it to me straight, whether I liked the response or not, so I asked him what he thought. He was supportive and told me to go for it, adding that if I turned the opportunity down I would regret it. I followed Barry’s advice and the rest, as they say, is history.

We have lost a great public servant, a decent and kind man and I will miss him.

Maghull Town Council’s Labour rulers go for slash and burn despite a mountain of cash in the bank.

The cash reserves of Maghull Town Council, as set at its budget and precept meeting on 20th March, are truly enormous – £420,153 and this figure has been rising for quite some time now. Ironically, when the Lib Dem’s ran the Council I clearly recall an auditor raising concerns that a reserve of £50,000 was too high! However, I hear chatter from within the Labour run Council that indicates a desire to get the cash reserves even higher. It is this cash awash background in which I make the following comments.

Why take away from local youth groups across Maghull a small fund of £1,500 made available each year to help with youth projects?

Why take away funds of £4,000 which were aimed at kick starting the establishment of the skateboard facility in Maghull and also refusing to allocate the required capital money to make this long-promised facility for the Town’s young people a reality?

Why refuse to support a £20,000 proposal to work in partnership with Sefton Council to refurbish Maghull Town Centre’s down at heel public toilets?

Why refuse to put £20,000 to one side in case it is needed to keep the Town’s highly successful Youth Coffee Bar going?

Why take away the money to run the Town’s annual fireworks display when it helps keep families who want to celebrate 5th November safe and without the need for far more dangerous private displays?

Why refuse to reduce the Town Council’s tax demand on Maghull’s Council tax payers by 10%?

Why indeed……………………………..

All the above could easilly have been done if Labour had supported the Lib Dem budget proposals on the Town Council.

Green Waste Recycling – Sefton Council plans to charge you

http://suemcguire.mycouncillor.org.uk/

My thanks to Cllrs. Sue McGuire and Pat Keith (both Cambridge ward of Sefton) for giving this ill thought out policy some prominence. You can read their concerns, which I share I would add, via the link to their blog above.

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My old chum and former Maghull Lib Dem Cllr. Roy Connell has also raised concerns with me recently about the consultation process on Sefton’s web site. Roy’s concern, and again I share it, is that it is consultation after the event which does not give residents who participate in it any real opportunity to comment on the principle of charging for the collection of green waste.

Roy is of course right and the policy move is clearly not consistent with the Council’s green agenda as previously outlined by its former Lib Dem Cabinet members for the Environmental portfolio David Tattersall and Simon Shaw. Indeed, Sefton under Labour is clearly moving away from such a green agenda.