Maghull’s Execellent Youth Coffee Bar

Within Maghull Town Hall there is one of the best youth facilities for miles around. It is run as a three-way  joint project by Maghull Town Council, Maghull and District Youth Council and Sefton Council’s Youth Service.

For quite some time now it has regularly been attracting more youngsters than many of Sefton Council’s more traditional youth clubs have been able to do.

It was set up following campaigning by local youngsters who asked the Town Council to set up such a facility. The then Lib Dem run Council listened and acted upon the expressed wishes of local young people. Ever since the doors have opened each Monday and Thursday evening to a facility that is far more relaxed and certainly less rigid then formal youth clubs run by Councils usually are.

Nickie Smith is President of Maghull & District Youth Council and was one of the original campaigners for the Youth Coffee Bar who subsequently became a Maghull Town Councillor

Sadly, a problem has popped up in the last couple of weeks that local youngsters seem to be getting the blame for. The problem is the scaffolding around the Town Hall that is there for major roof repairs and the installation of solar panels that I have posted about before. It seems the scaffolding is accessible to adventurous young people who have been climbing up it in the evenings. But rather than make it secure the response seems to have been to close the Youth Coffee Bar. Well if that move was seen as restricting access to young Hunt’s, Scott’s, Hillary’s and Tensing’s it has not worked as they have been up there on evenings other then Monday’s and Thursday’s!

My message to Maghull Town Council is don’t shut the best youth facility in the area because of the scaffolding problem, fix the scaffolding problem. Maghull’s young people fought hard for their unique space to meet. Give youth a break I say; with positive things to do young people will in the main respond positively in my experience.

Saturday meeting for Sefton’s Cabinet

Sefton’s Cabinet members, senior officers and party political leaders met yesterday for an informal 4 hour session, at Formby Teacher’s Centre, to make preparations for the Council’s 2012/13 budget.

The Council is starting earlier this year to tackle another difficult budgetary round and the aim of yesterday’s meeting was to raise awareness about the financial targets that will have to be met and the timescales to meet them.

This year’s budget will be a Labour led one as they are now the largest party on the Council. I don’t envy them their task as it will be tough indeed. Having sat, in effect, outside the budgetary process last year letting others take the tough decisions Labour find themselves firmly responsible for the Council’s financial situation now.

We Lib Dems intend to scrutinise what Labour bring forward in terms of proposals to balance the budget whilst we will be looking to try to protect vital services for the Borough’s residents.

Merseytravel – Let’s get to the bottom of what they were up to when they chucked out ‘Vertical Integration’ of the Merseyrail Network

Last night my good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie-Browne tried to get Standing Orders suspended at Sefton’s Full Council meeting to facilitate an urgent debate on the increasingly strange activities of our highly paid (very highly paid) local Transport Authority, Merseytravel.

Readers may recall Merseytravel took a lot of flak recently for withdrawing (out of the blue I would add) from a process to integrate the local rail network and to save Merseyside Council tax payers some money in the process.

The move was a genuine shock to just about everyone but possibly the RMT union who it seems may well have been the reason for the policy U turn. The talk is that they may have pushed the Labour run Authority into the change of policy but so far Labour have not been keen to explain what went on and why. Clearly, some in depth scrutiny of Merseytravel is required as we are told they had spent £1.5m promoting the integration! Who will pay that bill now? And the answer better not be the Council Tax payers of Merseyside.

Returning to last night you will not be surprised to hear that the Labour Group on Sefton Council blocked having the debate by refusing to support Cllr. Brodie-Browne’s motion which fell needing just 5 more votes to have been passed.

This is what we wanted to debate:-

(1) This Council notes with disappointment the decision made by the controlling Labour Group on the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority to end immediately, without further reports, or the results of any business case study the opportunity to take local control of the Merseyrail Electrics network from Network Rail.

(2) Council notes that this process has been ongoing for many years, and that in 2005/06 a business case for Full Local Decision Making (FLDM) was prepared and submitted showing clear benefits for Merseyside.  This was endorsed by the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority and was a Key Policy in Local Transport Plan Two (LTP2).

(3) Council further notes that FLDM was relaunched as Localism for Merseyrail (LFM) in 2010 and that the imperative for greater local control over the network infrastructure remains and the commitment to developing the case for this was reiterated in Local Transport Plan Three (LTP3).

(4) Council also notes that LFM has the support of the Department for Transport (DfT), Network Rail, Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) and the Rail Freight Industry.

(5) Council believes that a fully integrated Merseyrail network would be in the best interests of Merseyside’s commuters and would enable local people and rail customers to have greater say in the decisions taken affecting the rail network in Merseyside.

(6) Council notes that £1.5m was spent promoting this scheme.

Council therefore requests:

(1) That the Chief Executive write to the Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, Neil Scales, and to the Chairman of the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (MITA), expressing our Council’s disappointment at the decision made at the Authority’s meeting on 27th June, 2011.

(2) That MITA reverse the decision made at its meeting of the 27thJune and ask that Merseytravel Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE) commission a Business Case Study to determine benefits and risks of LFM.  The results of that study are considered by a future MITA Authority meeting before a final decision is made on whether to move this matter forward to the next stage. 

Well Sefton Labour ran for the hills and stopped the debate, but short term gagging of those who want to get at the facts will only make us more determined to find out what on earth is going on within Merseytravel.

Data Protection – Councillors having to register individually; it’s bonkers!

I would suggest that the law of unintended consequences has jumped up and bitten all local councillors in the behind recently as we are being told that we each have to register ourselves under the Data Protection Act.

I must admit this one came out of the blue to me but the more I thought about it the more bonkers the edict is. Councillors are being told that writing just one letter to a local resident would mean that we have to register and what’s more the Council can’t register us as a collective act covering all members, it has to be done individually. And I am not just talking about principle councillors here as it seems that even a Parish Councillor who writes just a single letter will be breaching the Act if they don’t register! Yes, the whole thing is stark raving bonkers.

What I am waiting for now is to be told that I have to register 3 times because I am a member of Sefton Council and two Parish Councils within its boundaries.

I understand that even Local Government Minister Eric Pickles thinks it is bonkers too and I am sure that Labour did not mean this to be a consequence when they brought in the Act.

Save us from pen pushers with bright ideas!!!!

Ashworth Hospital’s proposals to build houses on their land

An apology from me as I have got some facts around my neck, although I would plead that what I reported was in good faith following an announcement made at a recent Maghull Town Council meeting.

My error was advertising a consultation event about the housing proposals being put on by Merseycare Trust, who run Ashworth Hospital, on 13th July. I said in my posting of 23rd June “an information event will be taking place at Northway Primary School in Dodds Lane Maghull on 13th July at 6.00pm.”

I am now informed that this meeting has not been organised by Merseycare and they have not been invited to attend. I am happy to post this correction and apologise to anyone I misled by my original comments. My understanding is that the meeting is a party political meeting and sadly this was not made clear when it was announced.