To be a volunteer litter picker or not?

The other day I was in effect challenged to reconsider my actions by a local resident. My action? To have ‘adopted’ the public footpath which runs from Southport Road to Coppull Road and litter pick it/cut back over-hanging foliage now and again. Indeed, I’ve blogged about this previously – here’s a link back to a posting from October 2018:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/05/lydiate-coppull-road-southport-road-footpath/

I think I’ve tidied the path up 3 times now over the past year or so but the challenge is in effect to ask me not to do it as I’m giving Sefton Council the opportunity to get out of doing it. In other words we pay Sefton Council via our council tax so make them keep it clean and tidy. And from a slightly differing perspective but on the same kind of subject a Maghull resident, by coincidence, brought my attention to this recent article* in the Metro newspaper:-

Now I’m a trade unionist by instinct and I spent many years as a trade union officer in the civil service during my working years, so the last thing I would want to do is to compromise the jobs of council employees via my well intentioned volunteer litter picking activities. I hope such an approach would go for all the volunteer litter pickers across Lydiate and many other communities.

Of course we volunteers have started to litter pick because councils have not been doing the work as they once did and yes quite clearly austerity has been the underlying cause of reduced litter picking.

So there we have it. Do volunteer litter pickers stop what they are doing because a) the council is being paid via our council tax so should be forced to get on with the job or b) volunteers may be putting council workers jobs at risk? You could say that both these points could apply of course.

Like many things in life there’s no easy answer and for what it’s worth here’s my view. Sefton Council will not be able to keep this path in the condition that local residents would want to see it because it simply does not have the resources to do so. So on that basis it will only react to issues with footpaths like this when people complain and when the condition of the paths is well past acceptable to locals. It may not be how we want things to be but its how they are though.

Do I think I am putting council jobs art risk? No I don’t unless I see some evidence of this. Do I think the council will now step back in and make the work of litter picking volunteers unnecessary? No I don’t because they are struggling to pay for much bigger issues such as care for the elderly.

Click on the newspaper article to enlarge it

Note: There is a volunteer Lydiate litter picking group who travel across the Parish litter picking – I’m not a part of that group and my litter picking has been as an individual. I do support their work though.

* the article is about Leamington Spar volunteer litter pickers

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for his input into the posting

Lib Dem Leadership Hustings – Manchester event – Swinson shaded it for me

I attended the Lib Dem Leadership hustings event held in Manchester yesterday evening to help me decide whether to back Jo Swinson or Ed Davey. I came away more impressed with Davey than I expected to be but Swinson shaded it for me because of her engaging and down to earth way of connecting with her audience.

Those who know me well will realise that I had wanted Layla Moran to stand for Lib Dem Leader but probably for all the right reasons she decided not to. I’m guessing that she wants to get more experience under her belt before taking such a step.

I thought Davey was very good on the issues of climate change and the economics of switching from fossil fuels to renewable ones but Swinson was better for me across the whole range of questioning she came under at the event. And that range of questioning covered saving the NHS, stopping Brexit, investing in rail transportation in the north, equalities, education, climate change and other issues too.

I do however subscribe to Jonathan Calder’s view that this contest is between two Steel’s with no Pardoe. And for those not well up on Liberal history, when David Steel became Liberal leader his opponent was John Pardoe who was seen as being a more radical alternative for leader. It’s that more radical approach that I want to see from both the present Lib Dem leadership candidates. I don’t do Centrist moderation, it’s too comfortable – be more Pardoe please and challenge us all, whether we be Lib Dem members and supporters or not, to back a more radical and socially progressive Liberal movement.

Oh and by the way whilst backing Swinson, I will be content with either winning the contest so long as they embark on a radical agenda of course…….

Switch Island – Highways England seem to have stopped celebrating it

Most folk do not walk or cycle around the now infamous Switch Island where the M57 & M58 Motorways join with the A59, A5036 and the new(ish) Brooms Cross Road but it’s quite possible and even safe to do so. Indeed it’s probably safer than driving around it based on the almost daily road traffic accidents that happen there. However, if you do walk or cycle it you will come across this large boulder with 2 metal plaques set into it:-

The plaques record the 1st and 2nd phases of the reconstruction of the junction in 1998 and 2006. But what about the other phases? I think there have been 2 additional ones – one when Brooms Cross Road was joined to it and then very recently when major re-signage and safety changes were made. Now it could be that austerity means there’s no money for additional plaques, or the boulder’s not big enough for additional ones, or despite all the phases and changes the damn thing (the island not the boulder) is a bit of an embarrassment to Highways England so they are trying to keep a low profile? All 3 are, I’m willing to believe, potentially the case of course.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Sefton Council – Food Waste Collections Cease

3 users of the service, which is no more, have spoken to me in the past couple of days querying why it has stopped. Well apart from a few social media postings from Sefton Councillors, which I’ve have read, I had no more detail.

Clearly folks are both disappointed and more than a bit baffled by the turn of events. I was told by one resident that he had read the article in the Aintree & Maghull Champion a few weeks back saying the service was likely to stop but he was adamant that that same article was promising that folks would be informed when final decisions had been made. He was clearly more than a bit put out to have placed his waste bin outside his house this week only to be told (by a friend who had phoned Sefton Council when their bin was not emptied) that the service had indeed been ceased without the promised publicity.

We are told that the reason for the cessation is manly due to the falling number of residents using the service, but when and how have Sefton Council promoted it especially to new residents moving into the Borough? I’m told that folks have seen furniture vans being loaded with the food waste caddies when some people have moved; probably taking them to their new home within the Borough. But whilst not knowing the scale this has been happening on it will clearly mean that the new residents will not have a bin and may have little or no knowledge of the service. Changes in people paying Council Tax, caused by house moves, would be one obvious opportunity to have advertised and promoted the food waste service to new residents surely.

Clearly this is a step backwards in terms of recycling/environmental progress in the Borough as much as it seems to have been a publicity vacuum too. But my A&M Champion has just dropped through my letter box and the cessation gets a mention in it, although clearly it points towards the lack of notice as being an issue that has upset folk.

And to think that Government is thinking of/consulting on making food waste collections compulsory for all Councils.

Not a good week for Sefton Council……

Lydiate – That Flooding is back on Lambshear Lane AGAIN!

Well this has been quite a saga and it’s still yet to be resolved. I first blogged about this flooding after heavy rain back in December 2015, here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/20/lydiate-flooding-in-lambshear-lane/

Subsequently I’ve blogged and chased up Sefton Council about it a number of times and my Parish Councillor colleague Edie Pope has also been on the case. Back in June of 2018 we reported (on this blog site) the latest position to be like this:-

Cllr. Edie Pope and I have recently heard from Sefton Council’s drainage engineers to the effect that United Utilities have seemingly taken/accepted responsibility for fixing the problem and they are commissioning some works to try to resolve the flooding.

Fingers crossed……….

Well whatever has happened since June of last year it hasn’t fixed the problem which adversely affects road users, pedestrians, householders and Lydiate’s Lambshear Ln/Village Center site. On that basis the flooding has been photoed again and sent off to Sefton Council asking them or indeed United Utilities to try to get the matter fixed; it’s been getting on for 4 years now!

Northern is going to the wall according to TSSA trade union

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/northern-rail-crisis-likely-go-16414510

Northern Rail Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

Well the indications keep on coming that Northern Assist is at best struggling and let’s be honest none of us will be surprised or indeed disappointed if the company has to pull out of the Northern Franchise.