Belle Vue – An unforgettable trip to the dogs

Having never been to a dog racing meeting I decided what the hell let’s give it a go when an amateur photographer mate of mine asked me to tag along with him.

He is an excellent photographer; indeed we have some of his work up in our house. He is always looking for new photographic opportunities. So he was not going to the dog racing to lose his shirt more to get some good photos of the racing.

We went on Friday 13th! Anyway, we got in OK and went outside for the first 3 races so he could take his photos. What struck me was the speed those greyhounds run at; it is incredible. The dogs really seem to enjoy the running but a race is over in a couple of minutes. No sooner has it started than it has finished.

After, I think it was the first race, a dog was carried back towards the exit gate and we wondered what was wrong with it. So I asked the young woman carrying it. It had cramp she said and will be fine soon. And so it was only a minute later.

Soon after the 3rd race I went to find a gents and left my chum on his own. When I came back he had an odd story to tell me. He had been spoken to by Belle Vue Security about what he was taking photos of. He responded by saying he was simply an amateur photographer who had come to take photo’s of the racing. Security were not happy and asked him not to; they even asked him to delete a photo he had of the dog with cramp being carried! A protest along the lines of ‘I checked your web site specifically to ensure that I was aware of any photographic policy and there was nothing there to say photography was unwelcome’ got him nowhere and he was politely asked to stop it. It also seemed that if he had been using a simple instant camera that we all can carry in our pockets they would not have been particularly bothered but because his was a ‘proper’ camera they did not like it. What’s more they asked him how he got in without being searched! The reply was along the lines of ‘like everyone else as no one was being searched’!

We pondered on this strange turn of events and our conclusions were:-

• They thought we were animal rights activists looking to photo injured dogs for publicity purposes or
• They thought we were trying to identify dogs that could subsequently be stolen.

Whatever their motives were it was an odd experience where a perfectly innocent pastime was seemingly being interpreted as a threat by Belle Vue Security. Just goes to show what can happen when you are picked up on a CCTV camera!


Out campaigning last Wednesday I ran across a Sefton UKIP candidate delivering his election leaflets. Well I say election leaflets as in reality they were just the usual anti-Europe screed that we see from UKIP and what has that got to do with whom you pick to be your local councillor whatever your views on Europe may be?

Anyway, the chap in question has been known to be for a while now but known to me as a significantly left wing person whom I think I first came across when Blair was trying to privatise NHS GP services in Sefton. At that time he was fighting Labour’s NHS privatisation agenda from the left. So how come this chap is standing for what most of us perceive as a right wing party somewhere between the Tories and the BNP in the political spectrum? I asked him this very question.

His response, if I understood him correctly, was interesting as he said he did have left wing credentials but went on to say that the UKIP members he knew held similar views to him or words to that effect. By the way he is the second local person from the left that I have known to slip over to what I would call the’ nearly far right’ in recent times.

Is it the case that those who vote UKIP are mainly right wing but that UKIP activists are becoming more left wing? I suppose that UKIP is a home for not only anti-Europeans but also the generally dissatisfied, disgruntled and those who don’t fit anywhere else in British politics, left, right of centre. On that basis maybe I should not really be surprised to find UKIP members with all sorts of conflicting political views and with only one thing uniting them – the anti-European agenda.

Labour backs Millionaires (again)

We all thought that Labour, under Red Ed, had dropped this policy when Blair and Brown moved on but last night at a Sefton Council meeting Labour was still promoting the interests of Millionaires!

This time they were upset because Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg had suggested that Millionaire pensioners should maybe not get free bus passes! I suppose that having made the rich richer and the poor poorer during the Labour Government years (not my stats but those of independent annalists) the habit of backing the wealthy against the rest of us is a hard one to break.

Maghull Square – Parking Charges!

Lib Dems condemn hike in parking charges for Maghull Square

Maghull’s Lib Dem councillors were to say least shocked by the announcement from the Maghull Group, who own the Town’s Square Shopping Centre, that significant parking charges are to imposed by the private company after they have revamped the car park.

I could not believe it when I read in the Aintree & Maghull Champion that such high charges are going to be levied. My very clear understanding, prior to this, was that charges were only going to be imposed for vehicles which are left there for over 2 hours, which is the long-standing time limit for this car park.

I am concerned that we are being told that the future management of the car park, which is being transferred back to its private owner from Sefton Council, has been agreed with Sefton Council yet as a Maghull Councillor I have not been consulted about the charges and neither have my fellow Lib Dem Maghull Councillors. So, who has agreed these parking charges that effectively turn what is presently 2 hours of free parking into only 30 minutes of free parking?

What’s more with Maghull’s retail businesses now making a bid for a slice of the Mary Portas Challenge money and Mary saying that parking at local shopping centres should be free, these parking charges clearly fly in the face of that.

I want Labour led Sefton Council to tell us the facts behind this ‘out of the blue’ announcement as it is just not good enough to read that agreements have been reached that in this case mean that shoppers are going to be stung for an additional local tax.

Sound bite ignorance

We live in a world where most of the time, unless we go looking for background information and facts, all we hear about or read is a simple statement from the media.

In reality we are treated like idiots who only have short attention spans so what we are told is rarely put in context or properly explained. But a little knowledge is dangerous as it can easily fuel our personal prejudices or simply misinform us.

Of course it suits some politicians and the media to let out just a few facts as the wider ones may be just what they don’t want us to know.

I always try to look at a piece of information that comes my way from the perspective of why am I being told this, what is the agenda of person/organisation that is telling me it? Unless you know why it has suited someone to tell you something and have spent some time checking out the ‘facts’ that have been presented to you it is always difficult to assess how you should react.

Many times we are fed things that are deliberately slanted to pick up on the prejudices of those who are expected to read or listen to the story. So, a right wing newspaper (that’s most of them) will play a story not because of the real facts but how they think their readers will best react to it. I wonder how often when we buy a newspaper we are doing so, and indeed choosing that newspaper, because it feeds our set prejudices. Maybe we feel comfortable being told things that we will agree with even if they are not true or so exaggerated to be a long way from the real facts.

And yet we now live in a world where because of the internet we can verify most things, if we can be bothered to. The reality is though that those who feed us news know that we will rarely check out what we are told because we don’t have the time in our busy lives or simply because we feel comfortable that what we have been told fits with our view of the world. Why would we bother to check something out if we have been told something we want to agree with? Maybe we get the politicians and media we deserve when we let them manipulate us?

And what prompted these thoughts? A lecture by Peter Kelner that I inadvertently picked up on whilst flicking through television channels yesterday. OK, it was on the Parliament Channel which readers may think, being a politician, I would look at all the time. In fact I don’t and I avoid political programmes on the TV such as Question Time etc. Neither do I buy national newspapers any more; I have not done so for many years. You see I don’t want my prejudices pandered to (yes, even us free thinking Liberals have them as well) and Kelner’s lecture made me think even harder about how our lives are manipulated by those who have the knowledge but who only tell us what suits them!

Friends of 502 Group

Those interested in a bit of local railway history and not too long a memory will recall the old 502 electrical multiple units that once ran on the Merseyrail network until the late 1970’s/early 1980’s.

Check out this web site for information about how Merseyside Transport Trust intends to refurbish the last 502 set.