Jack Straw has a good point to make about ambulance chasers

Turning on the Radio 4 lunchtime news today whilst out and about on Council business in my car (going to visit Chief Superintendent Pilling the boss of Merseyside Police in Sefton in fact) I quickly picked up on former Home Secretary Jack Straw going on about how when you are involved in a car accident the ambulance chasers keep chasing you.

It rang a bell as it has happened to me. A couple of years ago a woke up to a note pushed through my letter box. The note said that a Merseyside Police car had bumped my car during the night during a turning manoeuvre and it gave contact details.

The damage was not great and as readers will have already worked out I was not only away from the car when it happened I was sound asleep in my bed. However, some weeks down the line I started to get phone calls from accident companies who wanted me to say I had been injured so that they could help me make a claim. I got about 4 of these calls and started to question the callers as to who they were and how they knew about my car’s accident. They were always evasive as to how they had got on to me but the fact is that they were being given my personal details by someone.

Frankly, I found it a bit much and then I got another call only a few weeks ago ! If I understood Jack Staw and other contributors to the radio programme correctly today they seemed top be saying that insurance companies, garages doing the repairs and even the Police are selling the information to the ambulance chasers! What on earth is going on here; how dare these bodies treat personal data as a commodity they can sell for their gain.

Clearly, this is an issue that the Information Commissioner has to sort out and my thanks to Jack Straw for giving this matter some profile. I never thought that I would be congratulating Jack Straw for anything but there you go.

Southport Model Railway Village

Jen (my daughter) and I paid this great Southport attraction a visit yesterday having not been for a couple of years. It is not expensive to get in and I recommend it.

The folks that run it (Ray Jones and his family) are friendly and it is a good place to relax whilst watching some large scale trains run through the model village. The track gauge is ‘G’ i.e. 45mm between the rails so the model engines and rolling stock are quite large; much bigger than say the usual OO gauge model railways that most of us are used to.

Ray and I got into a discussion about the plans to upgrade the area around his site via a Heritage Lottery Grant application that Sefton Council is presently pursuing in partnership with the likes of the Model Railway Village and other nearby attractions. Clearly there are some challenges to be overcome here and I agreed with Ray that I would raise some of his concerns with council officers pursuing the Heritage Lottery grant bid.

Here is a photo that I took on a previous visit in 2007. The same engine is still running now as Ray maintains them all himself.

Labour starts to come clean on their failings

I have been posting for ages about the failings of Labour when in Government but now they are agreeing with those of us who have been making such comments. The article below is from the Independent:-

‘Labour will not win the next general election unless it admits the mistakes it made in power and learns the lessons, the head of the party’s policy review warned yesterday.

 Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, admitted the last Labour government did not secure value for money from all its spending. “Oppositions that stay in opposition for a long time are the parties that fail to confront and take on the weaknesses the public see in them,” he said. Mr Byrne acknowledged that Labour had:

 * failed to spend every pound wisely

 * underestimated the effect of eastern European migration and failed to manage it properly

 * moved too slowly on welfare reform and demanded to little from benefit claimants who were not trying hard enough to get a job

 * failed to regulate the banks properly and stop executives rewarding themselves for financial failure.’

A further admission that Labour borrowed too much would be nice but confessing too many sins at once may be too much to hope for. Having said that I hear that the wrong Miliband who got elected as their Leader is going to confess more sins today. We will see……

Green Belt campaigners turn out in force at East Parishes Area Committee meeting

Last night the Sefton East Parishes Area Committee met in Aintree Methodist Church and a fair number of angry residents turned out to let Planning Dept. Officers and councillors know how upset they are about the threat to our local Green Belt.

A very strong message that came through was that Sefton Council had not made residents aware of the process at all well and much of the debate was around this aspect of the process. Interestingly, the only organisation that has leafleted virtually every house in Aintree Village, Melling, Sefton and Lunt Villages, Lydiate and Maghull with details of the Green Belt threat is the Lib Dems. Our campaign team issued a special FOCUS leaflet which majored on this subject during March.

Sadly neither Labour or the Tories gave residents the information they required and Labour led Sefton Council is now being criticised and put in a similar category. I am informed that Aintree Ratepayers Association also leafleted Aintree Village though about this matter.

This is what the Lib Dems issued to East Parishes residents in March:-

This was the Molyneux Ward edition but the same leaflet went out in Park and Sudell Wards

The reverse side was common across all 3 wards

Ashworth Hospital- House building plans

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.

Charles fights for our Green Belt

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!