Pugh likens Labour run Sefton to North Korea!

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport and former Leader of Sefton Council is not known for irrational outbursts; indeed he is a thoughtful man who does not crave media attention as do some politicians. On that basis when someone like John waves a flag of concern we should all take notice.

John waved his flag on the BBC North West Politics TV Programme last Sunday and you can see what he said by popping over to my colleague Iain Brodie-Browne’s Birkdale Focus Blog Site to watch a short video from the show.

Sadly, John has a point as Labour run Sefton is becoming very much like a communist regime. It does not like answering questions put to it at Council meetings and does its utmost not to do so. It will not engage in debate about the policies it is pursuing and it fears being scrutinised by its backbench and opposition councillors.

Take the Full Council meeting held last Tuesday. There were two debates initiated by the oppositions Lib Dems. The first was an attempt to open up the Council’s scrutiny process by having some of the scrutiny committees chaired by opposition councillors. The comrades opposed this but failed to give a single reason why they opposed it. Yes their Leader ranted on, for the benefit of his all too quiet troops who are rarely allowed to engage in debate, about this that and the other but he failed to address the point of the debate. Labour then voted to keep their closed shop very much closed.

We then moved on to a second debate where we again pressed for a 10% reduction in the wages paid to the 7 Cabinet members of the Council to assist with the Council’s need to make savings. Unsurprisingly, the comrades were having none of that even though the money we were trying to save was targeted at bringing back some decent democratic representation in the centre of the Borough where Labour have merged 3 Area Committees used by residents to raise concerns about very local matters. The merger was sold as a cost cutting measure but makes no sense at all – what on earth have communities like Formby, Maghull and Crosby got in common apart from all being within the vast middle of the Borough? So Labour again opposed the proposals but without giving a single reason why they thought that keeping more money in the Cabinet’s pockets is more desirable than improving engagement will local communities. No Labour member representing Crosby, Formby or Maghull rose to back their communities but they all voted to keep money in their Cabinet bosses pockets.

And it’s not just on Sefton Council where Labour closes down information channels. Take little Maghull Town Council where a matter was referred to the Police by the Labour run Town Council a few months ago but we opposition members have been unable to obtain the background documents (despite an FoI request) or the detailed reasons for that referral. Yes, the Police decided to take no action but who was under investigation – staff, people who worked for or with the Council? And what about Maghull Cricket Club? We think Labour are trying to use it as a cash cow to gain higher rents from but even another FoI request has yet to reveal what the Town Council’s objectives are in trying to change a legal agreement with the Club.

On a wider Merseyside platform you can also look at what went on with Labour run Merseytravel in the very recent past and where it seems another big financial scandal is about to be dragged from the undergrowth any day now.

So John Pugh MP has a significant point to make even though at face value it may seem like he is a politician simply throwing a little mud at his opposition. Unless Labour start to open up the local councils they run they will end up being accused of more North Korean type approaches to local democracy.

Lib Dems raise concerns about closure of Lydiate Ambulance Station

Plans by the North West Ambulance Service to close their ambulance station in Lydiate’s Kenyons Lane and relocate the ambulance housed there to Netherton’s Buckley Hill Fire Station have met with big concerns from local Lib Dem Sefton councillors.

The worrying news came in a letter to Sefton Council dated 12th March from the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust signed by Bob Williams the Trust’s Acting Chief Executive.

Says Cllr. Andrew Blackburn “My worry is that not having an ambulance based in the Maghull and Lydiate community will mean that the level of response to emergencies could well be less.

We have had a local ambulance station for as long as most people can remember and taking into account the size of the Maghull and Lydiate population, which has grown significantly since the ambulance station was built, it must surely be the case that an ambulance should continue to be stationed here.”

The Lib Dem councillors view is that the Trust needs to consult local people about this proposal and explain things to local people. The plans need testing against local opinion and residents need to have a say before the Trust takes any binding decisions.

I fear that this has been under discussion for quite some time but no consultation with residents has taken place. This is a big decision and I want it taken with the views of local people before the Trust Board. But for that to happen information needs to be put before residents clearly stating where all the ambulances that serve Maghull and Lydiate will be based and the estimated response times following any relocations.

I am particularly concerned about the large rural area of Lydiate to the north of the Parish which the present ambulance station can serve very well. The proposal to relocate to Netherton could mean that rural Lydiate becomes not so well served.

SAVE OUR LIBRARIES – Big protest at Sefton Cabinet meeting puts Labour under even more pressure

The message is clear but will Labour back down or swing their axe

The message is clear but will Labour back down or swing their axe

Residents, campaigners, Aintree Ratepayers and Lib Dem councillors protested outside Southport Town Hall last Thursday morning as the all-Labour Cabinet of Sefton Council were about to decided whether they really were going to close more than half the Borough’s libraries.

Whether they bottled it, were having second thoughts or simply did not know what to do we will probably never know but the end result was that they decided not to make a decision. The matter will now be decided at the next Cabinet meeting on 28th February so we are told.

SAVE OUR PUBLIC TOILETS – Maghull campaign launched

Maghull toilet campaigners fighting Labour's axe

Maghull toilet campaigners fighting Labour’s axe

Lib Dems launch round 2 of their campaign to save Maghull’s Central Square toilets from Sefton’s axe.

Liberal Democrat campaigners in Maghull are putting down a clear marker that if Sefton Council closes the toilets at Maghull Square the Town Council should take them on.

We launched a campaign to save the toilets in 2012 when closure was a possibility but now that Sefton’s Labour run Cabinet has earmarked all public toilets in the Borough for closure the Lib Dem campaign has swung back into action.


Says Lib Dem Sefton Councillor Bruce Hubbard “Maghull’s toilets once won awards because they were so well thought of and were so well kept. Now they are not so well kept and the axe of Sefton Council is set to close them. We can’t allow this to happen so I am calling on Maghull Town Council to clearly state that they will save the toilets from closure.”

Bruce is right, these are Maghull’s toilets and Maghull Town Council has to take them on. What’s more they need to be brought back up to a good standard and then well looked after like they used to be. That is just what a Town/Parish Council is all about looking after a vital community facility and Parish Councils across England do this all the time. The challenge is there for Labour run Maghull Council; I know if we were running the Council we would not have to think twice before saving them and making them award winners once again.

SAVE OUR LIBRARIES – What on earth is going on at Birkdale Library?


My colleague Cllr. Mike Booth has this story on his blog site at


Frankly, it is all rather odd. Why has Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) come up with their ‘idea’ of moving into the Library seemingly after Labour run Sefton Council closes it. Talk about stamping up and down on the grave before the patient is even dead! I thought CVS was supposed to support the voluntary sector not to look for opportunities to do the Labour Council’s bidding by providing it with a tenant (CVS) should Labour go ahead and close this excellent community facility.

Please read what Mike has to say and then have a look at the document below that was put together by a group of non-political people working towards a common goal of saving the Library.


BLAG. Birkdale Library Action Group.

In response to consultation by Sefton Council regarding proposed closure of Birkdale Library.


Following a proposal by Sefton Council to close down 7 Libraries in Sefton, BLAG set up an action group to investigate ways that a library service could continue to operate in Birkdale. Various BLAG sub groups have carried out research on library issues, which was co-ordinated into an overall plan by a central steering group. A petition was signed by just under 2,000 people demanding that Birkdale Library should be saved.


• To maintain a valuable Public Library/Reference/Information Service.
• To create a more cost effective & manageable service.
• To maintain an accessible library service for all.


It is essential that the library service in the Southport area should be accessible to all people and for this reason thought must be given to disabled and elderly people who can only access a library by car.
Birkdale is the only library in Southport with a dedicated car park containing reserved spaces for the disabled. ( The councils chosen library option for Southport – The Atkinson – will have the worst possible access for anybody arriving by car.)
It is felt that if Birkdale library were to close, that this user group could be victims of discrimination.

Another group that would be greatly affected by closure are pupils of the 8 local schools who would not be able use a library without travelling by public transport out of the area. By removing the “convenience factor” of not being able to use the library on the way home from school, it is thought that most of these children would be lost to the library system at the expense of their educational needs.

BLAG have investigated how Birkdale Library could remain open at a reduced cost to the council. This report contains details of how a saving of 48% can be made to the current revenue budget reducing the net annual cost to £43,460.

This report also contains details of how Birkdale Library could provide an improved service in meeting local community needs whilst generating increased income which would contribute towards library running costs.

The submission above is much more detailed but I have not produced the whole of the excellent document here. However, my point is why have Sefton CVS not been working alongside the volunteers who made the Birkdale Library submission. To throw in their own curved ball after the volunteers have spent hours working on their plan is frankly a disgraceful way to treat volunteers.

Youth facilities – Caught in the economic crash and mad local decisions to spend money we don’t have!

You can’t but be impressed by the determination of Sefton’s young people as they fight for their youth centres across the Borough.

The trouble is that because Labour and their mates the bankers bankrupted the UK economy we are now having to consider withdrawing youth facilities and youth services. Thanks a lot Labour and the bankers for putting us in this appalling position! And thanks even more to both the Labour and Tory Parties on Sefton Council who continue to blindly go ahead with the rebuilding of Southport Indoor Market and a new Netherton Activity Centre at a staggering cost of £8m in total! No wonder youth facilities and indeed other valued community services are under even greater threat when some people think that money still grows on trees.

My campaigning Lib Dem colleague Jack Colbert, a former youth worker, shares my frustrations and is pictured outside Aintree Youth Centre before works on the excellent new GP surgery (next to the Youth Centre) were completed.