Bootle job losses

Bootle Crest. This version is fixed to the wall of the Council Chamber in Bootle Town Hall.

I spent my whole working life in Bootle as a civil servant, or more precisely as a PCS trade union officer looking after the interests of civil servants, so to see significant job losses in the town in both the public and private sectors troubles me.

It’s a subject I’ve blogged about previously on the back of the announcement of the loss of civil service jobs in Bootle. Here’s a link back to my most relevant posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/05/bootle-yet-more-civil-service-jobs-to-be-withdrawn/

And now things on the Santander front look more than a little gloomy too as the long-promised redevelopment of the former GIRO building in Netherton has been cancelled. The Liverpool Echo has an article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/huge-new-75m-santander-bootle-20252021

As I’ve said time and time again, public sector and in particular civil service jobs were brought into Bootle in the 1960s and 1970s to boost job opportunities in a town that was struggling with the demise of the docks and associated industries. To now remove those civil service jobs elsewhere (in HMRC’s case into central Liverpool) makes no sense to me at all. Those jobs and those at Santander will have had a positive effect on the local economy, indeed I’ve often thought that without the thousands of civil servants in Bootle’s mini-Whitehall the Strand Shopping Centre would have encountered serious trading problems many years ago.

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

Removing public sector jobs from Bootle can only make regenerating the town a much bigger job and the investment in jobs that would have flowed from the Santander project makes that tough job even tougher.

As an aside, I also wonder how big an influence the Liverpool City Region is on the sucking of jobs into central Liverpool. My fear is that Liverpool’s gains are at the expense of its surrounding towns…….

My thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Lydiate – Tyson’s Triangle to be built on

Tyson’s Triangle – March 2021

It must have been back in the 1980s that the triangle of farmland bounded by Liverpool Road, Kenyons Lane and the A59 (Northway) in Lydiate became known as Tyson’s* Triangle, indeed I seem to recall there was an advertising hoarding up for a while in that company’s name which led directly to it being dubbed Tyson’s Triangle.

And now to bring this all up to date. Not so long ago Sefton Borough Council published its Local Plan which defined land use across Sefton for around the next 15 years or so. This plan replaced what was previously know as a Unitary Development Plan. The major changes with regard to the new plan were that various sites across the Borough were taken out of Green Belt and in effect opened up to development/building. Tyson’s Triangle is one such site.

Readers of this blog site will know that I worked to oppose the emerging Sefton Local Plan during my latter years as a Sefton Councillor (I ceased to be a Sefton Borough councillor back in 2015) for Lydiate but that in the end I and the other environmental campaigners whom I worked with lost that fight.

And I mention this all now why? Well, moves are clearly afoot to press on with the building of 300+ dwellings on the land with a draft site plan of the proposals being made available to Lydiate Parish Councillors this week.

I’ve got past the raw anger I once felt at high-grade agricultural land (which much of the former Green Belt to be built on has been) being sacrificed for building but still feel that both government and council have failed to value some of the best food-growing land in England.

So built upon this site will be no matter what I or anyone else thinks; the die has sadly been cast. The only arguments now are about the site layout, the access roads to it, flooding mitigation etc. etc.

OK, I’m still angry really it’s just not as raw!

* I’m guessing that Tysons were possibly the first developers to have an option on this site should Sefton Council take the land out of Green Belt but if I’m wrong please shout out.

Liverpool City Council – Has no one been reading ‘Kilfoyleonpolitics’?

Liverpool Town Hall

The really surprising thing for me about the damming independent ‘Caller’ report into the workings of Liverpool City Council, is that if Labour’s leaders nationally had taken the time to read Peter Kilfoyle’s blog site Kilfoleonpolitics then they would have known long ago about much of this whole sorry mess. Of course, they may well have read it but decided to brush his concerns under the carpet? If they did it was a big error of judgement.

Here’s a link to Kilfoyleonpolitics:-

kilfoyleonpolitics.wordpress.com/2021/03/13/worse-and-worse/

And here’s the Caller report:-

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/972756/Liverpool_Best_Value_inspection_report.pdf

And finally here’s a link to the blogsite of Cllr. Richard Kemp the leader of the opposition on Liverpool City Council:-

richardkemp.wordpress.com/2021/03/24/the-damning-report-that-shows-liverpool-to-be-the-worst-council-in-england/

Apart from no one seemingly taking any notice of Peter Kilfoyle the former Labour MP for Walton (and Kinnock’s man in Liverpool during the Militant era) where was the regional media in uncovering this growing fiasco?

OK, to put my comments in context I’m am of course an opponent of Labour as that party has always been too right-wing (yes you read that right) for this old Social Liberal of the left. On that basis, I’m hardly going to be seen as a reliable commentary source about a council-run by my political opponents and I guess that’s the problem Richard Kemp has run into too; the ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’ response. The trouble is he was right just as Peter Kilfoyle has been. In other words, all this could have been unearthed a few years back but no one was listening or maybe was willing to listen.

LEP’s won’t be missed if they fade away

Firstly, I bet that most folks have never heard much, if anything, about Local Enterprise Partnerships let alone know the purpose they are meant to serve.

I recall when they were being set up as an alternative arrangement to the out of favour Regional Development Agencies (by the Coalition Government) and thought at the time that I was at best sceptical about LEP’s.

That’s not to say the Regional Development Agencies were the right model for encouraging economic development but they were regional and therefore at about the right scale to promote economic activity in my book. The old NWDA (North West Development Agency) was reasonably successful despite it being too arms length from democratic control. And thereby hangs the big issue of how to promote economic activity, particularly in areas of deprivation, whilst keeping a firm grip on the need for such activity to be in the control of local democratically elected leaders.

Here’s Jim Hancock’s view on what may well be the demise of LEP’s:-

jimhancock.co.uk/a-lep-in-the-dark/

The muddle at the heart of this matter has been the relentless pursual of elected mayors on a sub-regional/City Region basis. Readers of this blog site will know I’m no fan of elected mayors as concentrating power in the hands of one person is simply not right to me.

But having set up, or should I say imposed, elected mayors for many parts of England and then channelled economic development money through them hasn’t the government simply undermined their network of LEP’s? Well, it seems to me that’s exactly whats happened.

Devolution for England has been an utter mess for years and goes back at least to the probably well-intentioned tinkering by Blair and Prescot. The problem being that devolution has never been properly defined as you will find in most European countries and has ended up being bits and bobs handed down from Westminster with no coherent strategy.

We remain a centralised democracy with our two major parties being authoritarian of nature, trusting no one but themselves. Until we really grasp the need for regional governance and properly defined devolution we will continue to do things badly.

Will we miss the LEP’s if they wither away? No, not really.

Note: The author was the leader of Sefton Borough Council 2004 – 2011

Rolling back Beeching half a mile at a time

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

Some time ago government made a high profile bid for the railway enthusiast/environmental vote by saying they were putting up money to reinstate the railway cut-backs of the 1960’s Beeching era. It was all good stuff but when you have an idea how much a railway costs to reinstate then the amount of money on offer was to say the least rather insignificant whereas the expectations raised have been very significant. The amount on offer was (and I think still is) £500m and some experts think that’s only enough to reinstate around 25 miles of track in total!

Here’s a link to the original press coverage via the Independent’s website:-

www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/fleetwood-rail-cuts-beeching-grant-shapps-borders-railway-west-coast-a9304686.html

And here’s the list of projects bidding for the money!:-

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/969125/restoring-your-railway-all-bids.csv/preview

Clearly Pandora’s Box has been opened and unless vastly more money is put into this pot there’s going to be some angry and potentially feeling misled people about. Even if you say two thirds of the projects won’t make the cut the rest will cost many billions of £’s.

Locally, there are two projects on the long list of bidders – reconnecting the Burscough Curves (which used to connect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk Preston lines at Burscough) and the reopening of Midge Hall Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line. As a member of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn) I’m reasonably informed about both bids as they’ve been campaigned for over many, many years. The Burscough Curves project did not make the 1st round approval process to be progressed via this particular funding route. In effect a revised bid is required. The Midge Hall Station project may see the light of day via planning gain money associated with a large housing development close to it, although that’s been talked about for ages too.

So with expectations being so high and very significant efforts being made with regard to each bid how will the potentially many let-downs be handled?

My thanks to Jonathan Cadwallader for the lead to this posting

Regional/Local Accents/Dialects can tie you in knots

I recall some years back having need to phone a call centre based in Glasgow; I had no idea what the person talking to me on the other end of the line was on about as he was talking pure ‘Glasgow patter’.

My Grandad on my Dad’s side who lived in Kirkby-In-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire for most of his life would say to me as a teenager that I had the worst Scouse accent he’d ever heard and that I was speaking far too quickly anyway for him to be able to work out what I was on about. I had been born in the same mining community but had left it when 6 years old spending 4 years in Rochdale and then the rest of my life to date on Merseyside. My accent will be predominately of Merseyside but with bits of Lancashire and Notts thrown in too.

St Wilfrid’s Church – Kirkby-In-Ashfield*

The interesting thing is that when I go back to Kirkby, which I do every couple of years, I can just switch back on to the local dialect/accent and pick up on it after all these years (56) away from my original home town.

Kirkby Cross*

What brought all this to mind was a recent phone conversation with a chap (Keith Murray) who was at one time a Kirkby resident and who still lives in Nottinghamshire. Our chat was about railways but he put me onto a piece he’d written in what he calls ‘Kerkbiese’ – you’ll need to click on the scans below to try to read them:-

If you’ve got through all that and you’ve never previously encountered a Notts accent then well done. If you found it hard going then you probably feel like I did when I was speaking to that chap from Glasgow all those years ago. The other point goes back to what my Grandad (Bill Robertson) used to say i.e. the speed of talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that in Liverpool people talk much faster than they do down in Nottinghamshire so it’s no surprise that a combination of dialect, speed of delivery and accent can make understanding very hard going.

Note: This posting links back to my previous one regarding Steaming back to Kirkby Loco, accessible via the link below, as it’s how I got in contact with Keith Murray:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/01/30/steaming-back-to-kirkby-loco-book-review/

* The two photos of paintings by an A Baldwin (one dated 1969) were found in my Dad’s house when I was clearing it out after he had passed on. I wonder who A Baldwin was and how my Dad picked up these paintings?