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.

Green Bin Tax – Has Labour run Sefton come unstuck with their attempted back door Council tax rise?

Following Lib Dem campaigning which highlighted what we all knew already i.e. that folks will not be ‘volunteering’ to pay Labour’s back door Council tax rise, it seems that the comrades are sounding the retreat and looking for a way out.

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Frankly, why Labour ever thought residents would pay to have their green bins emptied beats me. What’s more whilst the comrades on the cabinet that runs Sefton are all from Bootle, where there are fewer gardens, the biggest losers under the plan would be communities like Maghull where many houses have big gardens. Sudell Ward (North and East Maghull) for example was going to feel the hit of Labour’s green bin tax as would the two Formby wards and indeed virtually all the wards outside of Bootle.

This all makes you think that the myopia of looking at things from a Bootle only perspective leads the comrades into not seeing the bigger picture.

We await some firm proposals from Labour run Sefton to confirm that they really are ditching their garden tax but to date the Lib Dem campaigning has certainly given them a lot to think about; indeed Labour’s lawn really has been given a low cut!

Sefton’s Local Plan consultation – A war of words between Council and environmental campaigners breaks out over accuracy of newspaper ‘wrap-around’

Sparks have been flying between Council Officers and local environmental campaigners over Sefton’s launch material published as a wrap-around to the Borough’s newspapers this week.

Having seen both sides of the dispute I fear that the Council is not providing information that is clear and understandable. It is obviously the case that their words are open to different interpretations.

Sadly, the first round of consultation, held in 2011, did not go too well and with the second round of 12 week consultation having just started my fear is that it will not go well either.

I have said before that the ability of the Council to put Local Plan information clearly before the public is the problem. I have no doubt that some of the issues are complex and interrelated but if there is to be a successful 2nd period of consultation it needs to be via a process whereby all those who wish to engage can reasonably easily get to grips with the important issues. My former councillor colleague David Tattersall, an expert in communicating messages, always said the council was not good at explaining things clearly to residents.

The Council will do itself no good at all if it looks like all it is doing is blinding folk with stats and information that residents can’t make any sense of.

And the facts are important as we are talking about a document that will have a huge impact on the Borough for many years to come. Our Green Belt is under threat again, high grade agricultural land could well be built upon and Labour, who run Sefton Council and have said they would not support Green Belt developments, has been voting to do just opposite.
The fact that the lid has come off already is sadly no surprise.

I think I will be returning to this subject quit a bit……………………….

Lydiate Parish Council – Please don’t make our residents pay twice!

Double Rating in Sefton – Lydiate Parish Council’s response to Sefton MBC’s proposal to stop repaying the affected Parish Councils

Dear Sefton Council,

In Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village (and to a lesser extent in Melling Parish – see note below) all of the parks are looked after by the Town or Parish Councils and these Councils charge residents for the cost of doing this, via the Council Tax – the separate ‘parish precept’.

Sefton Council also charges for looking after parks in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village even though it does not deliver any such service in those three communities. This means residents potentially paying twice for having their parks looked after. This is clearly not fair or right so, some years ago, an agreement was reached for Sefton Council to pay these Parish & Town Councils the same per acre that Sefton spends on its own parks, elsewhere in the borough. This stopped residents paying double, so the agreement was called “Double Rating”. In other words Sefton has been returning to these Parishes what it has been taking from them but not spending on their parks.

However, Sefton Council is now planning to scrap the “Double Rating” agreement and the payments it makes to the Parish Councils which maintain their own parks and gardens. This will mean residents paying twice for having their parks looked after. First they will pay their Parish/Town Council for actually maintaining the parks and second they will pay Sefton Council to do nothing to them. Sefton will just take the money it raises in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village and spend it on parks elsewhere in the Borough.

Lydiate Parish Council’s view is that Sefton Council’s proposal to stop paying back Double Rating money to the affected Parish Councils is clearly unfair and the Borough Council needs to reconsider. If the proposal is carried forward the result will be that Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council tax payers will be paying twice.

The good news, however, is that Sefton Council does have two quite viable alternative options to resolve this matter without putting the Council tax payers of Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village at disadvantage. These options are:-
a) To continue to make the payments but at a lower level commensurate with the reduced standards of grounds maintenance that the Borough has already budgeted for and may well budget for in the future. This option would mean that all of Sefton’s communities would be treated the same by the Borough Council no matter whether the parks and gardens are run by Borough or Parish Council.
b) For Sefton Council to charge a differing level (lower) of Council tax in the Parishes which maintain their own parks and gardens than in the rest of the Borough. This option would stop Sefton Council collecting money in the Parished communities that look after their own parks and gardens and then having to refund the money via the Parish Councils. Doing this would also mean that Council tax payers in the affected Parishes would not be put at a disadvantage.

Simply stopping the repayments to the Parish Councils is unfair and will lead the Borough Council open to the charge that it is raising money in one part of the Borough simply to spend it elsewhere. We contend that this is not a position that the Borough Council should wish to find itself in.

Finally, we would add that we fully appreciate the level of savings the Borough Council has to make; all we ask is that in this case of Double Rating the savings are made fairly.

Yours sincerely

Lydiate Parish Council

*****

Note 1:- Melling Parish is also affected but in Melling there is recreational land provide by both Sefton Council and Melling Parish Council so the situation there is more complex.
Note 2:- The other 6 Parish Councils in the Borough do not own or lease land that is used as parks or for public recreational purposes so ‘Double Rating’ is not an issue for them.

A few random events – Maghull Council meeting cancelled, thoughts for Library staff & what’s going on with Southport Pier?

I got a call this morning to tell me that the Maghull Town Council meeting due to be held tonight was to be cancelled due to the Acting Town Clerk being unavailable due to illness. I can’t recall a meeting being cancelled before because of officer illness in all my years as a Maghull Town Councillor but let’s hope that our Acting Town Clerk is well soon.

Tomorrow is the day, I am told, when Sefton’s Library staff will find out the employment consequences of the Labour run Council’s Library closure programme. I came across many helpful friendly library staff when I was visiting the libraries under threat of closure a few months ago and I covered my visits at length on this blog site. I think we will all feel for them.

And what about the surprise news regarding Southport Pier and the cracks in it? The pier tram has stopped running and engineers are giving the whole structure a detailed examination. Let’s hope for some better news here as Southport pier is to repeat a phrase I used recently on this site, in respect of Bootle’s Litherland Road canal bridge, an engineering gem.

Lydiate Parish Council’s boundary sign is KO’d

A knock on my door around 6.30pm yesterday told me that there had been a road accident on Southport Road down by the Maghull boundary and that Lydiate’s boundary sign had copped for it!

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I went to look and whilst one of the poles was mangled the sign was OK. Sefton Security and the Police were there and said that a contractor was coming to take the sign away as it was dangerous. I took an executive decision and unbolted the boundary sign and have it in my back garden because having been through such before in Maghull (Melling Lane) the sign never subsequently resurfaced and had to be remade.

I will pass in on to Lydiate Parish Council as they paid for it to be put up a few years ago. The Parish Council will have to fix up with Sefton to get it put back up when a new pole has gone in.

My understanding of the accident is that a vehicle came from the Maghull direction at speed and hit a parked car. It was the parked car that was shoved up the verge and into the sign. Must have been quite a bang! I hope no one was hurt.

The irony is that the sign askes drivers to drive carefully!