Great day for Maghull in Bloom

Well today was judging day and it looks like the judges were really impressed with local efforts. It also looks like Maghull Station Volunteers will be going into the national Britain in Bloom competition.

The Mayor of Maghull hosted a lovely reception at the Town Hall and all in all things could not have gone better on the day. My thanks to the excellent group of volunteers and everyone who helped this year. As chair of the Steering Group I feel privileged to have been able to help.

I will return to this in more detail.

Aintree Youth Centre

Traditional youth clubs may well be old hat and as I mentioned a few days ago if Maghull’s innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall is anything to go by this more modern approach to youth facilities could well be the future or at least part of it.

In Aintree Village there is a traditional youth club and in recent years it has hardly been buzzing with activities for young people day in day out. Having said that some excellent sessions have been run there in recent times (indeed they still are) and a session particularly for a disability group is highly thought of.

However, when I was a ward councillor for Aintree Village (up until May of this year when I moved to neighbouring Park Ward) I quickly came to the conclusion that if this youth club was going to survive it needed to reinvent itself. A dynamic new Chairperson was then found and things are really moving now.

The way things are going I can see the youth club building being taken over and run by the community and for it to provide a wide range of facilities. Some exciting plans are being work on and I really do hope they prove to be successful. I am sure that a community run trust type organisation will be far more innovative and involved with the community than the building continuing to be in the hands of the local authority and it being used only part of the week.

I wish the group of resdidents who are putting the bid together to breath new life into Aintree Youth Centre every success.

Green Belt – sorry for going on and on about it but….

I don’t think I have ever been lobbied or spoken to so much about any issue in all my time as a local councillor as I am being at present regarding our precious Green Belt.

As readers will know I have been preaching for months about the value of Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land (that makes up virtually all of the Green Belt land in Sefton’s East Parishes) until I am blue in the face but now my comments are being repeated to me which is nice to hear.

But talking of blue, there is a Tory MP on message too. She is Laura Sandys who represents South Thant and she is trying to bring a Bill to Parliament in October ‘to prohibit local authorities granting planning permission involving the development of Grade 1 agricultural land other than in exceptional circumstances’.

I mentioned this at the packed meeting last Thursday but the lady MP’s name escaped me at the time. The surprising thing here for me is finding a Tory opposing land development and what’s more for ‘green’ reasons.

Mark Dowd – Are Labour after him again?

I have posted before about how the Labour Party across Merseyside have been doing their utmost to unseat the Labour Chairman of Merseytravel – Cllr. Mark Dowd. This has a long history to it but it certainly goes back as far as the appalling £70m Merseytram debacle if not further. The Labour Party’s problem has always been been that Mark Dowd is the biggest beast in their Merseyside jungle and all their attempts to remove him have failed to date.

However, sources tell me that Liverpool City Council’s Labour Group may well be on Mark’s case and that they may have caused Dowd’s embarrassing and expensive (£1.5m) U turn over local rail integration. If you recall the RMT union were being ‘blamed’ for Dowd’s U turn and I am sure they were at least a part of the pressure on him but it seems that the issue may well have been latched onto by Labour Councillors as as a way to try to destabilise Cllr. Dowd.

It should be remembered that Peter Dowd (Mark’s brother) is Labour Leader on Sefton Council where Mark is also a councillor and a few weeks ago there was stunt pulled to gain an extra Labour seat on Merseytravel for Labour at the expense of the Lib Dems. We knew at the time that Dowd (senior) was under pressure and needed another supporting vote on the Transport Authority and it now seems that the reason for that could well have been Liverpool City Council Labour turning up the heat on Mark.

I supect this story will run for a while.

Packed out Green Belt meeting at MCA

I have just returned from a meeting organised by a Maghull resident that was held in Maghull Community Association’s Green Lane premises. There must have been 150 people present and they were to a woman and man determined to defend their local Green Belt.

Colin who organised the meeting is a consultant on regenerating land so he really knew his subject. Local Labour MP Bill Esterson, Maghull’s Deputy Mayor and myself formed a panel to answer questions from the residents and a really enjoyable campaign meeting it was too.

One of the contributors to the meeting had been a teacher of English at Maghull High School when I was there in the 1970’s and we managed to have a short chat about times past. To be honest we did not recall each other and I am happy about that as it probably confirms that I was not a trouble maker at school!

Returning to the Green Belt there is an obvious and very strong momentum that seems to grow every day here in the East Parishes part of the Borough against any development in the Green Belt and the way folks are talking if councillors vote for such development they will be strung up.

As a defender of Sefton’s Green Belt all of my adult years I am thankfully on the right side of that debate.