Save our Libraries – Labour’s Aintree Library ‘Advice’ an utter disgrace

Sefton’s opposition Lib Dem’s are furious over the comments made by a Labour councillor in last week’s (Wednesday 19th Feb’ edition) Aintree & Maghull Champion about Aintree Library and the failure of Labour-run Sefton Council to agree a take-over package with Aintree Library Action Group’s volunteers.

Me outside the Aintree Library before Labour swung the axe to close it and then block volunteer efforts to reopen it.

Me outside the Aintree Library before Labour swung the axe to close it and then block volunteer efforts to reopen it.

As someone who represented Aintree for 12 years, I was flabbergasted by the Labour view. I personally invested time assisting volunteers who wanted to take over Aintree Library (and College Road Library in Crosby) because I was convinced by the case the volunteers put forward. Where were the 3 Labour councillors who now represent Aintree during that campaign? I never saw them backing Parish Councillors, such as Peter Gill and Terry Baldwin, and the volunteers.

This is Independent Aintree Village Parish Councillor Terry Baldwin speaking at a meeting. He and Peter Gill ran a great campaign to try to save Aintree Library.

This is Independent Aintree Village Parish Councillor Terry Baldwin speaking at a meeting. He and Peter Gill ran a great campaign to try to save Aintree Library.

For a Labour councillor to say now that the group should have followed Labour’s advice is ridiculous; it was the Labour Party closing the Library and Labour blocking the volunteer bid to run the Library!

Only on Merseyside could its leaders look so dysfunctional!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-super-council-called-halton-6719391

The Liverpool Echo has the story.

You could not make this up! And down the East Lancashire Road in another place, where the Councils do get on, the investment will continue to made by Governments (of whatever colour) and their council leaders will be having a good old chuckle at this latest example of self inflicted Greater Liverpool embarrassment.

Beware – Politicians pledging to devolve power will probably do just the opposite!

People-powered public services pledge from Ed Miliband – pull the other one!

Ed Miliband has been detailing a future Labour Government’s objectives for public services. His vision is about the individual acting as a consumer [well that’s about as far away from socialism as you can get!]. Specifically, he mentioned giving parents the power to oust head teachers [you can bet that this throw away pledge would be so complex to use in reality that it would be all but worthless even if it was wise, which it is not]. “We will put more power in the hands of patients, parents and all the users of services. We will help people work together with each other and with those professionals who serve them, giving them voice as well as choice [politicians love a rhyme voice – choice and his one echoes of Tony Blair who succeeded in making Britain less equal!].” He also pledged to devolve power from central Government down to local levels [This one comes from all politicians but when they get in power in Westminster they want to pull all the leavers themselves – we should not assume anything but the opposite when this pledge is made].

This agenda should mean significantly less central government from London, huge reductions in the power of Whitehall, far less Big Brother telling us what to do and when to do it, BUT both Tories and Labour have been centralising power in Westminster at least since the Second World War and at a frightening pace. Every Labour government ends up telling us what is good for us. Sorry Ed, only Liberals really believe in truly empowering people and I have my doubts about some of them, so no benefit of the doubt for you and your vague promises of power to the people!

Everton FC – A nice touch but in Sefton we need to find a way to similarly celebrate Southport FC

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-26039334

The BBC has the story and it made me start to think about how our local senior football team could be celebrated in a public and noticeable way.

Here is the Southport FC crest:-

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How about projecting an image of the crest onto Southport Town Hall for example. It would help to bolster Southport’s independent civic pride and support Sefton’s leading football club, which admittedly is going through a tough patch at present. Just an idea, I am sure others may have better ones.

The Priory – Litherland – Another local pub has gone

rsz_photo0484

As we all know pubs across the Country are closing in large numbers and there have been examples across Sefton Borough of the demise of numerous outposts of the pub trade. The photo above was taken on 24th January with the battle to save the pub seemingly all but lost.

The Priory is in a prominent location and is an interesting building in its own right so why would anyone want to demolish it?

The story of its demise and the fight to stop it closing and being demolished has been carried in the Champion newspaper – read on via these links:-

www.champnews.com/newsstory.aspx?story=3043277

www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-our-pub-the-priory-save-our-pub.html

www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-priory-pub

The Pub Co’s have a lot to answer for in my view – Pubs are not just property to be bought and sold they are usually at the very heart of a community.

And a second question to Labour Cabinet Member Trish Hardy

This second question, which I also asked at the Sefton Council meeting last night, is related to Labour’s appalling plan to stop paying a ‘refund’ grant to Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree Village Parish Councils that will mean Council Tax payers in these communities will be paying Sefton Council for a service that it does not provide in those communities and it will be spending the Council Tax money raised in those communities elsewhere in the Borough! This problem arises because in these Parishes parks, gardens and play areas are provided and funded by a Parish Council. However, Sefton Council still collects the same amount of Council Tax in those communities that it collects elsewhere in the Borough where it provides this service.

The sums of money involved are very significant as these two examples illustrate – In Maghull this compensating payment in 2013/14 is £131,000, in Lydiate £46,207. In 2014/15 both figures will be NIL as it will be in Aintree Village and Melling*.

Question – The Parish Charter, available on Sefton Council’s web site, clearly states that the Borough Council aims for ‘Fairness between council tax bills in parished and non-parished areas’

Can the Cabinet member confirm that this fairness principle is still a strong guiding principle for the Borough Council?

This was her response:-

“This Council is committed to treating all the people of Sefton fairly” followed by some party political point scoring.

To which I responded:-

“Will you confirm that removing Double Rating payments from Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Parish Councils means that this Borough will be taking money from the residents of these Parishes and then spending it elsewhere in Sefton thereby treating the Council Tax payers unfairly and with contempt?”

At this point she told me that I should be asking my question to a different Labour Cabinet Member despite the fact that I had been advised by Council Officers that questions about Parish Council matters were within her portfolio! If I suggest that not wishing to engage with the matter in hand was my thought I think you get my drift.

* Note: I should add that this issue also affects the Council Tax payers and their Parish Council in Melling to some extent, although it is slightly more complex in that Parish due to both the Parish Council and Borough Council providing outdoor recreational facilities.