So where does Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson stand over Brexit?

My letter to the Champion newspaper following it publishing a photo taken by the MP in the ‘No’ lobby of fellow MP’s voting against Teresa May’s appalling Brexit Deal:-

*****

Dear Sir,

I notice that MP Bill Esterson photoed fellow MP’s in the ‘No’ lobby during the defeat of PM May’s Brexit Deal.

So whilst we know that Mr. Esterson does not like May’s Deal what Brexit solution does he like? I ask because to date I have contacted his office 5 times in recent weeks asking him to let me know where he stands over Brexit. Sadly, I have received no response at all.

Is it too much to ask your MP for their view on a matter and to expect a reply?

Yours sincerely

Tony Robertson

Stop Press – I think I am now up to 9 contacts – 6 by e-mail, 3 by Twitter. Could be wrong though, I’m losing count.

The letter was published in the Champion Newspaper on 13th February

Liverpool’s ‘Bucket’ fountain’ – move proposal sparks protests

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/people-dont-want-liverpools-bucket-15801178

I recall going to watch the bucket fountain as a young lad and yes it can be mesmerising as described in the Echo article. I also agree that it’s almost hidden location is a part of its charm.

I’ve signed the petition and would urge others to do so as well. Here’s a link to it:-

www.change.org/p/liverpool-city-council-save-the-bucket-fountain?recruiter=45146312&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

So why are Labour members & supporters letting their party leadership back Brexit?

Labour voters stack up like this over Brexit:-

And just look how badly Jez Corbyn is doing in terms of the most recent approval rating:-

Just 17% Approve of him – 72% Disapprove – That’s a score of minus 55!

The two have to be linked, don’t you think? Yes, we all understand that Corbyn is a life-long anti-EU person because he thinks it’s some kind of capitalist conspiracy yet by enabling Brexit he is actually helping the far-right to get their way and trash our economy, living standards, employment rights and much else.

The big question is why are Labour members & supporters letting their leadership get away with doing the exact opposite of what they believe to be right?

I understand that loyalty to The Party is everything in the Labour Party and that it goes back all the way to the trade unionists who founded it but Brexit is putting at great risk many of the advances that the trade union movement has fought for and won! Sitting back and letting the present Labour leadership have its way is akin to Labour members and supporters voting for UKIP and far-right Tories for goodness sake.

What’s the point of being loyal to The Party if all you are doing is helping the far-right?

As a life-long trade unionist and someone who considers themselves to be well to left on the spectrum of UK politics I despair, I really do.

Please click on the graphic above to enlarge it

Sefton Borough – It lacks balance

In the light of recent local Conservative claims that all of Southport’s money is being spent in Bootle (a rather coarse popularist approach which tries to pinch more sophisticated Lib Dem clothes) I thought I would revisit my piece on this matter from 2015 – you can access that blog via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/28/borough-of-sefton-what-a-mixture-of-diverse-communities-that-have-little-common-with-each-other/

Mm well, my views have not changed and I still think that Sefton is a geographically bizarre Borough and that this situation can only be changed for the better by looking at West Lancashire Borough at the same time.

West Lancashire is not a unitary authority its a District Council within a County so all its major services are provided by Lancashire County Council – Highways, Social Services etc. And thereby hangs the major problem to changing local government boundaries locally – It’s not comparing like with like. West Lancs, for example, is only an Associate member of Liverpool City Region so it can’t really sit at the same table as the big boys and girls. That’s a problem as it means that West Lancs finds it hard to have much of an influence and it means the boundary between it and Sefton/The Liverpool City Region is more like a barrier to progress all round.

Do you remember when John Prescott was all-powerful in the Blair Government years and he came up with a plan to split West Lancs in half putting one half into Wigan Metropolitan Borough and one half into Sefton Borough? Yes, there were significant issues about where the splitting boundary should be but frankly, it was not a bad plan it just needed fleshing out and developing. What actually happened was that it fell off the table and was not pursued at all. The effect has been to keep West Lancs in a weak position within Lancashire (where it has always struggled to make its voice heard) and it, in effect, stopped Sefton Borough being able to review it’s own somewhat bizarre geography.

My personal view is that until local government, in general, is reorganised to make all councils unitary i.e. getting rid of the outdated split between District and County Councils in the shire counties (thereby finding a fix for out on a limb West Lancs) then fixing Sefton will be very difficult indeed.

That the Lib Dems and before them the former Liberal Party has been leading the charge to fix Sefton’s bizarre geography ever since 1974 is a given but what about the oft-made claims that one part of the Borough is subsidising another? Does this argument have any basis in fact? It’s probably true of all council areas where there’s a part or parts of it which are poorer and therefore more disadvantaged that council expenditure has traditionally been higher in the poorer communities to try to pull those areas up and support the social/community infrastructure. So in Sefton, the poorer areas are obviously significant parts of Bootle but also parts of Southport. Yes, Southport clearly has it’s affluent areas but like most UK seaside towns it has its fair share of poorer districts too with all the social, low paid seasonal work and housing issues that go with seaside towns.

The problem with poorer areas though in local government finance terms is not just where the money is spent but how it is raised. By this, I mean that in poorer areas there are far more Band A properties in Council tax speak. This means they generate less income for the Council running the area. Merseyside, in general, suffers from this problem and it means that Councils can’t raise anything like the amount of Council tax that more affluent areas of England can.

Austerity, as it’s been applied to local government finance, has had the effect of making poorer council areas poorer because they have become more reliant on the Council tax they can raise locally rather than on government grants which used top up/prop up their services. This is probably the basis of some saying that community ‘X’ is having its money spent in community ‘Y’ and on a crude popularist level there’s a case to hear where you have a council area with wealth in some parts but poverty in others. Put it this way, if you have a council area where 50% of it is affluent and 50% is poor then the effect will be (if you run your council services at the same level across the borough) that the affluent areas will be subsidising the poorer areas.

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s not just about where a council spends its money, which may well be unbalanced across its area, but its’ also about how it raises the money that it spends too. OK, I’ve simplified the case for illustrative purposes but I hope you get my drift.

The bottom line is that with Council tax being a property based tax as opposed to one that is based on the ability to pay then such problems will always be the case. And of course, it is why Liberals and Lib Dems have consistently argued for a Local Income tax to replace Council tax ever since Council tax was introduced as a quick fix following the Poll Tax troubles of the 1980s. Both Conservatives and Labour oppose a fairer local taxation system based on the ability to pay and want to keep our property value based tax.

So you could say and indeed I do say that Sefton as a Borough is unbalanced both geographically and in local government finance terms. That it has a ‘viable’ future is more down to the fact that governments, of any colour, have failed to act on the root causes of its difficulties than anything else. My solutions are:-

* Bring in a Local Income Tax and scrap the unfair Council tax
* Reorganise those areas of England that still have District and County Councils so that all councils are unitary
* Empower communities to run far more services at a very local level

What’s the connection between Melling’s Waddicar Lane and Maghull’s Woodend Avenue?

Or more to the point what’s the connection between the area of Melling Civil Parish known as Waddicar and the area of Maghull known as Woodend?

For clarity, we are talking about the built-up part of Melling on either side of Waddicar Lane and the part of Maghull between the Meadows and Alt estate either side of Liverpool Road South.

The connection?

‘At the time of the Domesday Survey, Godiva, the widow of Leofrie, the Earl of Mercia owned Melling which was surrounded by a huge forest that stretched from Waddicar (Wood Acre) to Wood End in Maghull’

This is according to The Maghull Trail walking booklet published by Sefton Council a few years back and now out of print. The booklet is one of a series of such walking publications and they are beautiful pieces of artwork in their own right being watercolour illustrated throughout. The cover of the one I’m referring to is shown below:-