Vaccine saves the day or does it?

The hopes that are being pinned on a new vaccine getting us out of the big pandemic hole that we are in are very high, probably far too high.

The dangers are that some folks will let their guard down thinking that all is now OK and they don’t need to take precautions much, if at all. The second danger is that some will think they’ll get a vaccination by the turn of the year when many will be waiting much longer.

Of course there’s also the issue of conspiracy theorists who are still taking to social media trying to persuade the gullible that the virus does not exist or that even if it does it harms few if any folk. Why some of them were even shouting outside a Liverpool school recently trying to stop children being tested! Yes I know, it’s beyond belief……

I was taken by this sober assessment of the situation by Jim Hancock – see link below

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

As is often the case Jim’s assessment is realistic and well thought through. So don’t get carried away by being too unrealistic and think things through. Oh and don’t fall for quack theories on social media………

We might be able to see a possible glimmer of light at the end of the very long Covid tunnel we are all in presently, but we won’t be getting to the end of the tunnel soon.

Mask wearing – Men in vans

As an observer of life in general one thing about our current pandemic has got my attention; men in vans generally don’t wear masks.

This is not intended to be a piece regarding the rights and wrongs of mask wearing but more about who does and who doesn’t comply with the rules.

I cycle a lot and in a similar way to walking you see far more than when we all speed about in vehicles. What’s become apparent to me is that you see men riding about in all kinds of vans, often 2 or 3 of them, and virtually none are wearing masks either in the vans or when they get out of said vans to go in shops. The odd ones may be in the same family bubble but that’s probably stretching it because my observations are that they are nearly always in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s age group.

I wonder why so many of them choose not to wear masks? I’m guessing it’s a bit like teenage peer pressure and not wanting to be seen as uncool and not fitting into a perceived male invincibility culture.

Yes, I’m sure there are some reading this who’ll want to cheer them on as they oppose mask wearing whilst many others will be concerned about the risks they are bringing into their households.

It’s clearly a cultural thing as I’ve seen so much of it. I wonder how many of them are trying to look macho whilst wishing they had the courage not to put their elderly relatives at risk? What I’m saying is that if it was seen to be cool to be wearing a mask they would be doing it.

And to close this short posting about what motivates human behaviour I was in a shop today when 2 men stepped out of a van and entered the shop with no masks on. One got what he wanted quite quickly and shouted to the other he’d wait for his mate outside. I’m guessing that he got rather self-conscious whilst outside as there was a short queue to get in and all those in the queue were wearing masks. So what did he do whilst waiting for his mate? He pulled his jacket over his nose and mouth trying to fit in with a different group as he did not want to be the odd one out? I did not see his mate come out but what’s the betting he let his covering drop when he saw his mate…….

Lydiate and its volunteer litter pickers

There’s a band of volunteer litter pickers in the community I live in and they go out regularly to try to keep Lydiate clean. They don’t ask for recognition and unless you see them doing their bit you might think our reasonably litter free community is being kept clean by ‘the council’.

Some impressive lengths of roads are litter picked by the volunteers and sadly they are always kept busy because a certain section of our society seems to think that chucking litter, bottles, dog poo bags etc. is a positive contribution to local life. They love throwing litter out of the windows of moving vehicles or picking up dog poo where they think they may be seen only to then deposit the very same bags anywhere they can’t be seen. The participants in these anti-social activities must feel they have a social duty to keep ‘the council’s’ street cleaners busy and in work. However, the reality is that councils do much less litter picking these days as they’ve cut back on such work to try to better fund other vital work such as paying for children in care and social care for the elderly. These two council activities cost an arm and a leg no matter which party runs ‘the council’.

I’m not trying to make excuses for ‘the council’ but having been a Borough Councillor for 16 years (1999 – 2015), 7 of those as a Council Leader, I know how desperately stretched nearly all councils are and why the likes of street cleaning has slipped down their list of priorities. It’s not a good situation but sadly it’s reality. Of course that’s why in so many communities volunteers can now often be the backbone of keeping our streets clean.

I have nothing but admiration for the work of Lydiate’s volunteer litter pickers many of whom do far more than my own very limited contribution.

I look after a footpath which connects Southport Road, Marshalls Close and Coppull Road and I litter pick it around once a month. I did it yesterday and despite only doing it around 3 weeks ago I still collected half a back bin bag of rubbish and litter. I know this path is well used but it’s also secluded so I’m guessing that a very small minority of its users chuck all the litter along it on the basis that with a quick look around to check no one can see them they can just drop whatever they want – and they do.

Whenever I see litter my mind goes back to my favourite author Bill Bryson and his book Notes from a Small Island. Bill, on travelling to Liverpool happened to do so whilst there was an industrial dispute on-going between refuse/street cleaners and the City Council. Liverpool was indeed a mess at that time and he dubbed it a ‘festival of litter’. Sadly, whilst that situation was subsequently resolved there are a small number in our society who have opted out of civic life to create work for those who really care about their community. I fear that the volunteer litter pickers will be doing their rounds for a long time to come because some in our society really can’t give a damn!

Left to pollsters, right in the polling booth

The problem of opinion polls being wrong because the right wing vote is often under estimated has blighted polling for many a year. Voting for right wing parties can often be socially unacceptable so some folks don’t admit to doing it.

If you live in a rock solid Labour area which has returned Labour MP’s and councillors for as long as anyone can remember are you going to admit that you’ve just gone out and voted for another/different tribe? I use the word tribe deliberately as that’s what politics in some areas is like and I’ve commented on political tribalism before of course. People don’t like standing out from the crowd, they don’t like being unpopular they want to be seen to be following their friends, family and fashion. But it goes even deeper than that sadly. In my 40 years of active politics in the cause of liberalism I’ve met folks on the doorstep who are trying and sometimes failing to vote the way they want because of family pressure.

I recall calling at an elderly lady’s bungalow a few years ago now having got the Council to sort out a street lamp that had been bust for ages. She said she wanted to vote for me but in the conversation which followed it became very clear she was more than a little worried about her family finding out she’d voted against a Labour candidate as voting Labour was compulsory in her family. I had to promise her I’d not tell anyone what she was intending to do in the ballot box and reassure her that no one could find out from her ballot paper!

Right wing populists, like Johnson or Trump or anyone of their ilk, have an advantage in that they are prepared to say anything to gain support, in Trump’s case literally anything it seems. They are also very good at playing to voters prejudices sending out messages they will want to hear. Johnson is just a populist entertainer who is utterly out of this depth in responsible politics, Trump well beyond that, way, way beyond it……

There have always been populists in politics, it attracts attention seekers of all kinds, but it seems of recent years the attention seekers now have no boundaries at all. They’ve also realised that often their supporters are not interested in facts; they don’t care if much of what their political hero says is nonsense or lies. If the message is what they want to hear then it’s well received. The poorly educated, easily influenced and those who don’t have enquiring minds can be manipulated and they certainly are.

On the left the populists are generally more subtle, like bandwagon jumpers following the crowd their objective is to be saying the right thing at the right time. However, like with the far right the far left has its own brand of fantasists with their own set of conspiracy theories which they like to peddle to the easily influenced.

The problem progressive politicians have is how to counter the simple messaging of the populist conspiracy fantasists. Facts don’t cut it as they’re often long and boring explanations which whilst true will be dismissed by folks who want to blame whatever their ills are on immigrants, refugees, idlers etc. etc. But then you look at the leaders of supposedly progressive parties in the UK and most of them are totally uninspiring, no fire in their belly, grey middle aged men in grey suits. How on earth are they going to cut through?

There’ll always be voters who say one thing and do the opposite thereby misleading pollsters and let’s not forget that some voters will deliberately lie to pollsters. But my point here in bring in the kind of politicians we have, particularly in progressive politics, is that without inspiring alternative messaging the Johnson’s & Trump’s of this world will continue to flourish. What’s more some voters will not be brave enough to say that they voted for the populist right as doing so is just not socially acceptable.

Lydiate – Sandy Lane Playing Field

My previous posting of a few days ago regarding this subject refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/10/28/lydiate-progress-on-sporting-fitness-facilities/

The photos in this posting illustrate, I hope, what is happening. The lead photo shows where the outdoor fitness equipment (presently at LPC’s Lambshear Lane site) will be going i.e. along the line of the fence/hedge. The 2nd one shows the internal works starting to create a toilet facility within the old changing rooms. The last shot shows the land where the additional changing rooms will be placed. This will facilitate women’s football being able to be played at Sandy Lane. A door into the present building will also be created on the gable end to provide access to the new toilet and refreshment facilities.

More news as things develop.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Public Inquiry to decide 1 planning application for Maghull’s vast urban extension

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it is to be covered with housing.

Sefton Council has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.sefton.gov.uk/planning-building-control/land-east-of-maghull.aspx

Quote from Sefton website article – ‘Application (a) (reference DC/2017/01532) proposed the following:- Hybrid application seeking full planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of 841 residential dwellings (C3), new vehicular accesses off Poverty Lane, public open space and ancillary infrastructure and outline planning permission for an older persons housing scheme (C2, C3) and ancillary infrastructure with all matters reserved.

This application is now subject to an appeal against non-determination [by Sefton Council] which was lodged on 5 August 2020. The appeal will now be heard at a Public Inquiry scheduled to commence on 15 December 2020.’

My own view is that this site has been nothing but trouble ever since Sefton Council close it to be developed. It truly is vast with @1600 house to be built there. Regular readers of this blog site will know how much I opposed Sefton’s determination to build on this high grade agricultural land. Indeed, with fellow campaigners we beat them in round 1 back in 1998 but sadly lost round 2 more recently.

For all the hand wringing by Sefton Council what is happening now is a consequence of their designating this former Green Belt site for building.

The large red area is the ‘Maghull East’ urban extension to the Town. The M58 Junction 1 is in grey – top right with Prescot Road running north to south on the far right of the map.