Maghull’s Civic Awards Night

As usual this pleasant community event saw two well deserving people from the area gain recognition for their local voluntary work on Wednesday evening. Indeed, this year the two winners were both young people under the age of 18.

The two awards, that are presented every year, are The Maghull Civic Award presented by Maghull Town Council and the Youth Award presented by Maghull & District Youth Council.

All in all a great evening but I find it rather sad to be told that the local Labour Party were seemingly trying to use the event to recruit helpers! What an inappropriate forum for such an activity.

Southport Cultural Centre Developments

Cllr. Mike Booth (Sefton Cabinet Member for Leisure) and I were today treated to a behind the scenes look at the work going on behind the hoardings. Turning the Art Gallery, Museum and Library into a modern Cultural Centre is a huge undertaking especially as parts of the buildings are ‘Listed’.

The work so far is impressive and some old, long forgotten parts of the buildings have been uncovered as the work has progressed but the state of the roof, which we walked on today, makes you realise how desperately needed this massive project is.

There is a long way to go before the buildings are open to the public again but I hope that when we get there we will have a Centre of regional significance. My thanks to all involved, in what has become a hugely complex project for all their hard work to date, as Cabinet Member responsible for the development

Corporate Parenting Board

I have been at this tonight hearing what we try to do for the looked after children in our Borough. It is a sobering thought that these days around 380 children are being looked after by the Council at any one time. With Christmas just around the corner you feel for those children without a family.

Tuition Fees – Credit to Dr John Pugh MP

News that Sefton’s Lib Dem MP (John Pugh – Southport) has come out against the rise in tuition fees pleases me. John is a deep thinker and is not one to do knee jerk reactions when the pressure is on so if he is stating his case so clearly that is good enough for me and it is to John’s credit that he is doing so.

My view is that a pledge is a pledge so the answer to the question, ‘should we put up tuition fees?’ has clearly got to be NO.

Prescot a town under the thumb?

Last night I was guest speaker at Prescot Lib Dems excellent Christmas Dinner. I have been a regular at this event for 10 years now and the quality of the food is always top notch at Prescot Leisure Centre and the meal was a bargain at £15.95. But is Christmas 2010 the last one for this long-standing community building that is both run by and the home of Prescot Town Council?

I have known and campaigned with Prescot Lib Dems for many years and had great fun doing it. Their Leader Ian Smith is a Liberal through and through whom I have huge respect for, so imagine my surprise to hear that Ian is being reported to the Standards Board by Knowsley Borough Council! That’s about as off the wall as David Tattersall (Sefton’s Cabinet Member for the Environment) being reported to the Standards Board and in effect being found guilty of doing nothing! Ian and David are both kind hearted but determined community campaigners. So what has Ian Smith done? Well it seems he has simply and very robustly defended his community against the might and will of socialist big brother Knowsley Labour; what any good Liberal would do when their community is under attack.

The issue is the proposed closure and demolition of Prescot Leisure Centre that Labour, who run Knowsley, has decided to take forward. My point being that whenever possible decisions about community facilities need to be taken in consultation with the level of local government nearest to the people, in this case Prescot Town Council. Yet here, I am told, instead of a partnership approach to matters in Prescot, Labour have taken a ‘we know what’s good for you’ stance. No surprise there then as socialism is all about doing things to people (no matter how benevolently) rather than facilitating communities to tackle their own challenges and opportunities. Of course, it is all about power and dependency. Labour wants to be seen to be exercising power over a dependent community. We Liberals seek to empower communities by giving them the power and responsibility to decide their own destiny.

The contrast between Prescot and Maghull could not be greater as in Maghull a new Leisure Centre has recently been built in partnership between Sefton Council & Maghull Town Council. Maghull TC put land and money into the project and three other local Parish Councils also chipped in money (Lydiate, Melling and Sefton PC’s) as did  the Trustees of the former Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club. This new leisure centre is connected to Maghull Town Council’s community building and the aim is to ensure that both work as a seamless community facility. It can be done if power is put in the hands of the community.

So good luck to Ian Smith and his brave community campaigners who are fighting for Prescot’s Leisure Centre. I look forward to another excellent Christmas Dinner in 2011, wherever it may be. Prescot and Proud  is their rallying cry.

Sefton Cabinet -Saturday meeting

Today Sefton’s Cabinet met with senior officers in an all day session to discuss the need for the Council to make huge savings. £10m+ of savings has already been agreed by the Cabinet but it seems that another £15m may be needed to balance the books for the financial year 2011/12 with more to come after that.

The purpose of today’s work was to go through options in great detail. It was not a decision making meeting, more one to explore all possibilities. Suffice to say that no part of the Council will be immune from savings but we can’t see the whole picture until we get a settlement for 2011/12 from the Government that defines exactly where we are as opposed to the estimates that we are presently working on. The Government announcement is expected any day now. Such meetings must be going on in Councils across the UK as the recession and the overspending by the last Labour Government hits them hard.