Save our Libraries – Birkdale Library

I think it fair to say and I think I said it myself when it first became apparent, some months ago, that Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) wanted to take over the Library, that I was at best uncomfortable with the idea.

Cllr. Iain Brodie-Browne

Cllr. Iain Brodie-Browne at Birkdale Library

You see I look upon Sefton CVS as being there to support volunteers yet in Birkdale they went over the heads of the volunteers who had come together to try to save the Library and put in a bid of their own. This is hardly supporting volunteers, more seeing an opportunity.

Sefton CVS is one of the biggest CVS’s across the Country and I know that in some quarters there is a fear that it has grown into too much of a business and not enough of being a volunteer organisation. And I must say that I have heard such concerns over a number of years.

Moving on, please take a look at Birkdale Focus the blog site of Cllr. Iain Brodie-Brown as the consequences of the CVS bid to take over Birkdale Library seem to quite profound indeed.

http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/

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!

A bit of Maghull casework

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I spotted the above probelms recently and have asked an officer of Sefton Council to try to track down the owner of the wall and hard standing concerned so that reapirs can be undertaken. It is in fact the frontage of a short row of shops in Liverpool Road North Maghull between Gordon Ave and Granville Ave. Whilst the hard standing and wall is private land the reality is that the area is a public place. I hope we can find the owner and get things sorted out soon.

Maghull Town Council – Will it challenge big brother Sefton?

Lydiate Parish Council, as I posted recently and as many folks also read about in a recent edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion, has challenged Sefton Council’s plan to stop making ‘Double Rating’ payments to the 4 Parish Councils in the Borough that maintain their own parks and gardens.

Residents should not be paying twice

The challenge is of course right because if Sefton Council goes ahead with its plan Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village residents (and to a lesser extent Melling) will find that they are paying Sefton Council to do a job in their community (maintain parks and gardens) only for that money to be spent by the Borough Council elsewhere in Sefton! This will happen because the 4 Parish Councils covering these communities legitimately raise Council tax money to maintain their park and gardens.

Lib Dem Lydiate leads the fight for fairness

Lydiate is leading the charge for fairness but what will Maghull Town Council do? Will they fight for the money that should be fairly paid to their community or will they follow Bootle Labour Party orders and keep their heads down saying nothing?

Will Labour Maghull put its community first or keep taking orders from Bootle?

It’s a big challenge for Maghull Labour who are used to being told what to do by either Bootle Labour or MP Bill Esterson’s office.