It feels very cold today indeed, -8 according to my car. Will this weather ever come to an end? I continue to put pressure on Council Officers to do all they can to address the state of Sefton’s roads. Some buses are now running, I saw a 311 myself and am told that the 236 has started up again. Many of our Arriva services come from depots in Southport and Skelmersdale, so our local bus expert Jim Sharpe tells me and conditions there are as bad or worse than here in the East Parishes part of Sefton.
Earlier I asked the Council to provide a contact number to all councillors so that if we are informed of an elderly or vulnerable person whom neighbours are concerned about during this terrible weather the information can be got to the right people as soon as possible.
Anyone with such concerns please contact any Sefton Councillor and we will all do what we can.
Sefton residents particularly those living in Maghull/Lydiate and Southport are suffering badly with the poor conditions. I have dealt with numerous e-mails and contacts about the conditions as have councillor colleagues who I have spoken with. The combination of one very heavy snow fall and Arctic temperatures ever since has brought some communities locally to their knees. There is no doubt that folks think the Council could and should do more and that message has been firmly left with senior managers who are planning things on a day by day basis.
Today the Council was hiring in diggers to try to get some major routes fully open. The problem is that the snow has been compacted into ice by vehicles and JCB type machinery is required to move it. Goodness knows what the condition of our roads will be like when this cold snap ends but a big bill to repair them is surely on the way.
I am informed that bin men (can I use such a phrase these days?) and street cleaners are being used to clear some areas but the problems are so widespread that their efforts will take time to be noticed. The days of the Council having an army of workers are long gone; they went in the 1980’s when much of the manual work within the Council went to contractors.
The Council has enacted Emergency Planning processes as there seems no end to the problems caused by bad weather.
So Saint Vince (together with a number of other Lib Dem Ministers) is in a bit of bother having been the subject of a sting operation by the Daily Telegraph, but did he say anything that is really shocking about the power of Murdoch’s media empire? I think not. My guess is that Vince just said what many people think but in his position, as a Minister, we are collectively shocked.
Clearly, he was not going to give Murdoch a free ride (and he was right) but will we be able to say the same for the Tory Minister who will now deal with the Murdoch BSkyB matter?
My Dad used to get the Telegraph when he was alive and I guarantee he would be upset with their stunt. In his last years he was always complaining that the paper had lost its way and its standards.
But more than anything it is good to see that Lib Dem Ministers in the Coalition Government are still being radical Liberals. It’s being free thinkers that sets us Lib Dems apart from Tory and Labour politicians. Yes, of course we Lib Dems disagree with Tories over many things but why do the media think that is so surprising just because we are in Government with them?
I have spent much of today in bed with the flu bug but slipped and slithered my way to Bootle first thing to go to work; its not getting any better out there!
I have been contacted directly by half a dozen Sefton residents with concerns about the ability of the Council to deal with the severe weather. In turn I have be on to senior Council officers trying to ensure that Sefton is doing what it can. My Cabinet colleague Cllr. John Fairclough (Labour) on our balanced Council, where no one party has overall control, has responsibility for highways so I am sure he must be up the wall with complaints and concerns from residents.
Clearly, Sefton will need to have a long hard look at how it responds to severe weather so that lessons can be learned from this cold snap. It could mean ploughing (no pun intended) more money into Sefton’s bad weather response in the future by reducing expenditure in other areas of the Council’s activities.
Today I have had quite an adventure; what with the snow melting the slipping and sliding about in the car has been quite an experience. 3 times today I have been helped to get the car going again by perfect strangers who found me stuck at the side of the road with wheels a spinning! Each time they volunteered to help me and that restores your faith in human nature. Thanks to every one of them.
And that makes me think of silly politicians who promise that they will solve the weather problems. A Scottish Transport Minister has already been asked to resign because he said all was OK when it was not. Now Philip Hammond, whom I have posted about before, is coming under attack for being to cocky about how we will cope with the snow. Why even Tony Blair who was nearer to his God than any recent Prime Minister could not control the weather so what on earth makes Ministers make predictions that all will be OK when the weather always wins and no one can safely predict it or deal with it in its extremes.