Merseytravel – Interesting papers sent to me!

Yesterday a large envelope dropped through my door. Nothing odd about that as being a councillor means you get many of these. BUT this one was not one I was expecting at all.

The envelope contained copies of documents relating to the most recent Merseytravel crisis and in particular a copy of the report complied by disgruntled Labour members of this Labour run Authority. Interesting reading it was too and it certainly filled in some information gaps following my reading the Post and Echo’s stories about this matter of recent days.

As to who sent the papers to me I have no idea or indeed their motivation for sending them to me. However, it shows that there is considerable determination to finally overthrow the Leadership of Merseytravel after numerous abortive attempts in recent years.

As I have blogged before, in my time as Leader of Sefton, I came across senior councillors and officers from Merseyside Authorities who were looking for opportunities to achieve what it looks like members of Merseytravel are now doing.

The only impression that you can reasonably gain from reading what the Labour members have said in their report is that they feel the Integrated Transport Authority for Merseyside has become an embarrassment to Labour.

I wonder how this will all pan out?

Sefton Council – Our new Lib Dem Leader

I am delighted that the Lib Dem Group on Sefton Council has elected Iain Brodie-Browne as our new Leader.

Iain has ‘Liberal’ written right through him and he will be quite a match for Labour’s Bootle Council Leader Peter Dowd.

I have known Iain for many years; indeed he was my Deputy Leader for a couple of years when I was Lib Dem Leader. He has a strong grasp of issues and I have always valued his help and advice.

The challenges that Iain faces are very different to those that I dealt with as Leader of a politically balanced Council where the parties had to work together. Now our Bootle Labour dominated Council (propped up by powerless Labour members from the Central Sefton Constituency) is very different indeed.

Whilst I am from the diplomatic/consensus school of politics Iain has a wider set of skills which I am sure he will deploy with great success.

All the very best Iain

Sefton Council – Bootle Labour take-over confirmed

Prior to the recent elections the membership of Sefton’s all-party Cabinet was:-

4 from Southport – 3 Lib Dems and 1 Conservative
2 from Sefton Central – 1 Lib Dem and 1 Conservative
4 from Bootle – All Labour

The new Cabinet of 7 is all Labour (not surprising as they now have a majority of seats) BUT every single Cabinet seat is filled by a Bootle Constituency Councillor!

Leader of the Council Cllr. P. Dowd (St Oswald Ward)
Cabinet Member -Children, Schools and Families and Leisure Cllr. Moncur (Ford Ward)
Cabinet Member –Communities and Environment Cllr Hardy (Litherland Ward)
Cabinet Member -Corporate Services and Performance Cllr. Tweed (Litherland Ward)
Cabinet Member –Older People and Health Cllr. Cummins (Church Ward)
Cabinet Member -Regeneration and Tourism Cllr. Maher (Netherton & Orrell Ward)
Cabinet Member –Transportation Cllr. Fairclough (Linacre Ward)


But why was the Labour Leadership not prepared to put Labour councillors from outside of Bootle on the Cabinet? Was it simply ‘Old Labour’, as they like to call themselves, looking after long serving Bootle members? Yes, I am sure it was but that’s no way to run a diverse Borough like Sefton. It is bad governance that will be bad for Sefton (well everywhere outside of Bootle that is) and it shows that Bill Esterson’s Sefton Central councillors have no clout when up against the Bootle Comrades.

Frankly, in the Leader’s shoes I would have promoted Patrick McKinley (Maghull), Tony Carr (Melling and Aintree) and Catie Page (Formby) to the Cabinet if I had wanted it an all-Labour Cabinet that was as diverse as possible. Even then, with no Labour members in Southport the balance would only have been better rather than appropriate. Then again when I was Council Leader I wanted a Cabinet that really represented our diverse communities so I would probably in this situation have considered asking an opposition member from Southport to join the Cabinet. Clearly, however, our new Labour rulers don’t see beyond the boundaries of the Bootle Constituency.


As one informed commentator said to me only today “we are all Bootle Bucks now”. Whilst that is an easy throw away remark it could be that there is more to this than meets the eye. Could Labour be looking to break up Sefton by setting up a very good reason for those outside of Bootle to campaign for this? We will see………….

It’s time for a new Leader for Sefton’s Lib Dem Group

Having been Sefton’s Liberal Democrat Group Leader for the past 10 years, I have decided not to seek re-election as Party Leader on the Council.

My decision was taken in the light of Lib Dems becoming the official opposition to the now Labour run Council.

Now is a good time to change the Leadership of the Lib Dem Group in my view as we face a very different set of challenges in holding Labour to account. In my years as Lib Dem Leader, 7 of those as Council Leader, I used my consensus approach to try to bring together different political views across the 3 political parties. Enjoyable as that was the future under a Bootle dominated Labour administration will be a different challenge. It is time for the Lib Dems to adopt a new approach to address these new circumstances.

I enjoyed the vast majority of my time as Group and Council Leader and am grateful for the support I received both from within my own Party and across the political spectrum on the Council.

I intend to remain active in local politics both on and off the Council but maybe I will have a little more time to spend with my long suffering wife and family. Can I thank everyone who gave me an opportunity to lead the Council and for all the support I had in doing it. I step down with many happy memories.


I have often posted on this subject as this troubled Integrated Transport Authority has been in the news for all the wrong reasons too many times. The two links below to articles in the press seem to indicate that Merseytravel’s troubles are once again surfacing and that at least some of their powers may be sucked into the new elected Mayor of Liverpool’s grasp. Whether this latter point will be to the detriment of Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral Council areas we will have to wait and see!

Maghull Town Council – the arrogance of our Labour rulers is astounding

Last night Maghull’s Amenities Committee met and on the agenda was an item about providing a skateboarding facility for local youngsters or more to the point not providing one.

The eyebrow raising moments were threefold. Firstly, the report to the meeting said ‘the Council have decided not to progress this project due to the costs involved’. Secondly, what a huge letdown for local youngsters who have long campaigned for such a facility. Thirdly, what’s all this about no money?


Now let’s look at this carefully; the costs first. I don’t know how many times Cllr. Blackburn and I have pointed out to the comrades who run the Council that a decent skateboard facility would cost in the region of £30,000 to £50,000. Had they taken this advice on board they would not be suffering from feigned ‘shock’ now they have found out that such a facility will cost around such figures! BUT, what’s this about the implication that it will cost so much that the Council can’t afford it? The Council, as I have said before, is awash with money – £250,000 in spare cash and counting back in January when the 2012/13 budget was set! So it’s not shortage of money that is blocking the project no matter what Labour says.


Then we move onto the promises made to local youngsters, promises that are clearly being chucked in the bin. Maghull’s young people will have every right to be angry with Labour stringing them along only to ditch them when their parents have just trotted out to vote Labour only last week. The report, by the way, was posted out to councillors and arrived on Election Day – talk about trying to bury bad news!


But what about that quote (above) from the Clerk’s Report to the Amenities Committee? You see it clearly points to a decision being already made. But who made it, when did they make it and behind which closed doors was it made? Shades of the recent secret co-option to the Town Council of a new Labour member with no one knowing what was going on. At the meeting, I am told, that Labour said the report was wrong only for a Council officer to tell the Committee that what had been printed had been dictated to them – by a Labour member!!!!

The problem behind all this is that Labour feel they are untouchable at present and politicians who feel the electorate will back them no matter what they do are dangerous people indeed. Their arrogance will eventually trip them up but how many more bad decisions will have been made behind Labour’s closed doors by then?