Last night at Maghull Town Council a representative of the Merseycare Trust that runs Ashworth Hospital and other mental health care facilities across Merseyside came to update the Town Council on the plans to build houses on part of the Ashworth Hospital site. This was his second visit in recent weeks and as I have said before the process being used by the Trust to pursue their project is very good indeed.
When I first met them to hear about their plans I asked them to get involved with the public and consult them. This they are doing and an information event will be taking place at Northway Primary School in Dodds Lane Maghull on 13th July at 6.00pm.
If only all potential developers were so willing to discuss their plans openly! Well done Merseycare, you listened and are acting on what I and my colleaguie Cllr. Cliff Mainey asked of you.
Sudell Ward Councillor Cliff Mainey
My view is that this development and the possible additional house building on what was the proposed prison site (the sites are next door to each other across Park Lane) could well help save our local Green Belt from the pressure of house building; a subject I have posted about quite a lot recently.
Our local Lib Dem FOCUS Team surveyed the residents living around the Ashworth site a few months ago when news of the potential house building first came out. The result of that survey was that local folks seemed to be reasonably at ease with the development with only the balance of private and social housing coming out as an issue of significant concern.
Today saw Maghull folks get their chance to respond to proposals that could end up with houses being built on our local Green Belt and Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land.
The Maghull event was at Meadows Leisure Centre. I went along at the start of the 6 hour event and there were quite a lot of residents there already. One of them was my old friend and campaigner Charles Walker, a veteran fighter from the last round of Green Belt defending some 10 years ago. The land under threat then is back in the frame now i.e. the huge piece bounded by Poverty Lane, the Liverpool-Ormskirk railway line and School Lane. We won that battle and Charles was on the front line with me then. He is 90 now but just as determined to fight for the Green Belt. Here is Charles filling in his form at the event:-
Charles says NO to Green Belt building!
I posted not long ago about the project to make Maghull Town Hall a more environmentally friendly building by the recovering of the mansard roof. The end result will be far better insulation which will reduce greenhouse gasses and reduce heating costs. On top of that solar panels will generate electricity which will mean that the building will be producing a fair chunk of its own power whilst reducing the amount of electricity that needs to be purchased by the Town Council.
This has been a long planned project which brought in grants to help support it. The public consultation event run as part of the project build-up showed significant local support for this Lib Dem ‘green’ initiative.
Regular readers will know that I have been an active trade unionist for over 30 years but that does not stop me being critical of unions when I think they are wrong.
My own union is PCS, a public sector union in the main representing civil servants in the main. Clearly PCS, as with all other unions, is upset about the savings that the public sector has to make but then again the depth of the savings is deep indeed and they worry most people. Why even the Archbishop of Canterbury (normally seen as the Leader of the Conservatives at prayer) has been having a pop in recent times but he, like many in the trade union movement, misses the fundamental point which is that we have an economy that is shot full of holes (because of Labour’s unsustainable borrowing and the irresponsible antics of their banking mates) and if we don’t sort it out we will get into a worse mess and end up like poor old Ireland or Greece or Portugal etc. If we go there the present savings will seem tame indeed!
Fundamentally I have a big worry about where our trade unions are going as my instincts tell me that they are in great danger of raising expectations amongst their members well beyond what can be delivered. It is all well and good telling your members that the savings don’t have to made, that the deficit is not really there and that socialist solutions exist that, if Labour were in power, would lead to no public sector cut backs etc. etc. The trouble is that Darling and Mandleson have already let that cat out of the bag and it is clear that for every £8 the Coalition is presently saving Labour planned to save £7. And Labour’s plans were written before the depth of economic collapse was fully realised as that only happened during and just after the 2010 election. It would therefore not be unreasonable to assume that if Labour were in Government that the level of cuts would by similar, as I have posted before, with only small differences at the margins.
My point in all this is that some trade union leaders are misleading their members into thinking that there are obvious and easy ‘alternatives’ and that with Labour in power they would be there. But as the Archbishop of Canterbury also pointed out the opposition (Labour) have yet to show us how it would be different. The problem is that the left are now running many unions and of course they quite obviously believe in a socialist economy. It is no surprise therefore that they are using the economic crisis and cuts to try to deliver a true socialist economy. I don’t blame them for holding such views but I fear that trade union members are being asked to fight for an end game that is clear to those trade union leaders but is not at all clear to union members. And before I made these remarks I ran them past a trade union official, who for obvious reasons I can’t name, and their response was to substantially agree with me. Indeed, they said that ‘the trade union movement is losing its head after years under Labour when it had to keep quiet’.
The real ‘alternative’ offered by the left is their socialist economy but the Labour Party will never deliver that no matter what left wing trade union leaders say or think. Having said that, Tony Blair is concerned enough to be offering words of caution to Labour as he can see the drift to the left that will, should it become embedded, ensure that Labour is out of office for a generation.
As for Ed (the wrong Miliband got elected), having let the left back out of his political kit bag he will need to find a way to put them back in it. If he leaves them out too long Labour will be back fighting them as per the Kinnock days and there is every sign that that they have been out too long already.
Today, together with Council Leaders and Deputy Leaders from the 6 Merseyside Authorities I met Lord Heseltine and Sir Terry Leahy. The event was associated with Liverpool City Region and progressing its economic regeneration.
An hour of discussion and debate took place and a stimulating conversation it was.
Then from speaking to a member of the House of Lords I went on to real parish pump politics in Lydiate as Sefton Council held one of its consultation events with local residents about that Core Strtategy thing that I have posted about before. There was a very good tun out and clearly many locals were raising unsurprising concerns about loss of Green Belt.
I spoke to quite a number of residents in the hour I spent at the event and there was certainly a common theme about defending the Green Belt from developmnet. A petition had been handed in earlier in the day to this end and our own Lib Dem petition has gained a large number of signatures from folks who want to stop Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land being developed.
All in all an interesting day and a useful one. Whilst it was facinating to meet Lord Hesaline and Sire Terry Leahy there is nothing like getting down to local issues with local residents. And I walked away from Lydiate Vilage Centre with two items of casework to try to sort out for residents.
My Lib Dem colleague and fellow Sefton Councillor Haydn Preece has scored a significant hit in the campaign to democratise the Academy conversion process that is presently sweeping Sefton’s high schools.
Haydn put a motion to Sefton Council which gained all-party support that called on high schools to ballot parents as part of the consultation process. Haydn’s initiative has since been copied by others, including Labour led Maghull Town Council.
Well done Haydn, you deserve credit for the fact that the first high school (Deyes High) to agree to ballot has come forward