Keep up the campaign for Maghull North Railway Station

If I hear another Labour politician try to kill off  our much needed new railway station………………!

What’s the matter with them; why can’t they be consistent and back the campaign? In July Labour said the station was dead, next they said they were wanted to spend some of the money set aside for the station on fireworks, then said they were launching a campaign to get the station built, now they are back on their original tack of saying it will not be built again (because the new prision has been knocked back on adjacent land). Flip flopping does not come close to describing their position/s.

The bottom line is this the new station has been on the cards for many years, well before Labour’s big idea of putting a prison next to it was thought about. The fact is that a second railway station is required in Maghull because the present one can at times be beyond capacity, its car park (though massive) is too small to accommodate all who want to use it and the roads around the present station have had to have parking restrictions placed on them as commuters vehicles were blocking drive-ways and causing access problems for deliveries and emergency vehicles. So, if Labour want to be unpopular, all they need to do is to tell folks living around the present station that they are not in favour of a second railway station, which seems to be their policy on the matter this week!

So let’s get on with the campaigning. Yes, it will not happen quickly due to the national economic crisis but sitting back and saying it is not going to happen will simply lead to it not happening.

Play is vital for the development of children

Today Sefton’s Cabinet agreed the 3rd and last round of grants under what Government calls the Playbuilder Capital Grant scheme. The 8 final schemes approved today are in Crossens Community Park – Southport, Deansgate Lane Park -Formby, Moorside Park – Crosby, Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre, and 4 others promoted by 3 of Sefton’s Parish Councils. These 4 are Lydiate Parish Council’s Sandy Lane Park, Aintree Village Parish Council’s Harrow Drive Park and Maghull Town Council’s Glenn and Dodds Parks.

Whilst because of the national financial crisis the grants have had to be reduced the fact that we finally got this list approved pleases me greatly. When the 3 year package first appeared I noticed that Sefton did not exactly break a leg to tell the 3 Parish Councils who run their own parks and gardens in the Borough about it, so I did! In the end all 3 wanted to bid for a grant and all 3 did so. My Parish Council colleagues led by Andrew Blackburn, who is well known for his youth work in the East Parishes part of the Borough, got bids in for Lydiate and Maghull and Terry Baldwin’s Team in Aintree Village got one in from their Parish. All were good bids and now all 3 have been successful. Another feather in the caps of our local Parish Councils.

Yes, Sefton could have taken the money and used it elsewhere but my strong view was that we had allowed these 8 schemes to run on and it was just not right to pull the money at the last gasp. A little good news in a sea of very bad news as far as local government is concerned, so lets celebrate it!

A prison or not as the case may be

So Government has decided it does not need to build a prison in Maghull after 13 years of mucking about. It was 1997 when out of the blue the previous Government said it wanted to take the Ashworth South site, that had previously been the home of Moss Side Special Hospital, to build a prison on it. Things have gone around in circles ever since but in recent months the old buildings have been demolished, the site cleared and access roads put it so it was a big surprise to hear that the prison was not going to go ahead.

Just before the 19997 prison announcement was made, indeed only a week or so before, I was discussing with Maghull Town Council colleagues how we could launch a proposal to try to get the site used for a business park to help with employment opportunities locally. Of course that rug was well and truly pulled from under our feet but now 13 years later could it be an opportunity to revisit that plan? I certainly think it is worth a go.

Of course, we don’t know what Government intends to do with the site and that is the crucial bit of information we need to know. Also, how does this turn of events affect the new Maghull North Railway Station that we have been campaigning for? The prison was due to hand over £480,000 to help get it built and although this is only a tiny amount of what will be needed to gain the new station it was a starting point. Many questions and at present few answers but we will be pressing for information and to be consulted over what the site is to be used for in the future.

By the way it is worth remembering that the proposal to build the prison was highly unpopular locally with petitions being supported by Lib Dem Councillors. In those days Tories and Labour kept their heads down and said nothing, indeed they gave it planning permission. So after we lost the battle to stop the prison we got stuck in to trying to negotiate the best compensation deal that we could and my former colleague Cllr. Roy Connell did a huge amount of work to this end.  I wonder what Roy thinks about his hours of negotiating now this has happened?

Savings, savings, savings

Having been informed about the level of savings that are required to be made by local government you can’t but realise how shot full of holes our national economy is. What was normal is now very much the opposite and local government like so many public services will never be the same again.

When you look back the bankers greed did for our economy and now public services are being cut back as a consequence. Add to that the former Labour Government that just kept on borrowing and spending to its last gasp instead of turning off the money tap much earlier and you know where the blame sits. Bankers and socialists, what an odd partnership leading us to this sorry state.

A weekend away – Parish meetings, expenses and merging Parishes

For only the second time this year our family has had a short break. We have been up in North Yorkshire at our usual pre-Christmas haunt of Littondale a remote part of the Dales some 15 miles north of Skipton. Our hosts Bryan and Lyn of the B&B ‘Park Bottom’ serve up excellent breakfasts and over one of these we got talking about how their small village runs. Small being the word as there are so few inhabitants that they don’t have a Parish Council but a Parish Meeting. This means that the whole community comes together around twice per year to decide local matters with the Chair and Vice Chair doing the day to day business on their behalf. Having been a Parish Councillor for some 26 years it was interesting to see how democracy works at a very local level in an isolated rural community like Litton.

Staying on the theme of Parish Councils I notice that the Aintree & Maghull Champion published a letter this week advocating the merger of Maghull Town Council with Lydiate Parish Council and Melling Parish Council with Aintree Village Parish Council on the grounds that it would save on councillors expenses. I have never been paid an allowance as a Parish Councillor and know for a fact that neither Lydiate or Maghull Councils have ever paid one. I am 99% sure that Melling and and Aintree Village Parish Councils don’t pay allowances to councillors either. I recall that the last Labour Government gave Parish and Town Councils the right to pay allowances but I have yet to come across a Council that has taken this up. Maybe the correspondent had heard about the right to pay and was assuming that all Parishes had taken it up? Whatever the case I find it rather encouraging that folks are still willing to give up their time to help run their community, by being a Parish Councillor, without the wish to be paid for it.

And finally, in that same letter to the Champion a suggestion that the new excellent Lydiate Village Centre and Maghull Town Hall could be used for a youth facilities. Well, Maghull Town Hall already is doing that via the highly successful Youth Coffee Bar. It is run by Maghull & District Youth Council with financial support from the Town Council and Youth Workers from Sefton Council. A youth facility is also being set up at the Lydiate Village Centre and at the last Parish Council meeting the President and Chair of Maghull & District Youth Council met with Parish Councillors to discuss how to take the initiative forward. The moral of this last story seems to be that these two youth facilities are not well know about by adults, then again the facilities are not aimed at them. 

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.