Savings, savings, savings

Having been informed about the level of savings that are required to be made by local government you can’t but realise how shot full of holes our national economy is. What was normal is now very much the opposite and local government like so many public services will never be the same again.

When you look back the bankers greed did for our economy and now public services are being cut back as a consequence. Add to that the former Labour Government that just kept on borrowing and spending to its last gasp instead of turning off the money tap much earlier and you know where the blame sits. Bankers and socialists, what an odd partnership leading us to this sorry state.

A weekend away – Parish meetings, expenses and merging Parishes

For only the second time this year our family has had a short break. We have been up in North Yorkshire at our usual pre-Christmas haunt of Littondale a remote part of the Dales some 15 miles north of Skipton. Our hosts Bryan and Lyn of the B&B ‘Park Bottom’ serve up excellent breakfasts and over one of these we got talking about how their small village runs. Small being the word as there are so few inhabitants that they don’t have a Parish Council but a Parish Meeting. This means that the whole community comes together around twice per year to decide local matters with the Chair and Vice Chair doing the day to day business on their behalf. Having been a Parish Councillor for some 26 years it was interesting to see how democracy works at a very local level in an isolated rural community like Litton.

Staying on the theme of Parish Councils I notice that the Aintree & Maghull Champion published a letter this week advocating the merger of Maghull Town Council with Lydiate Parish Council and Melling Parish Council with Aintree Village Parish Council on the grounds that it would save on councillors expenses. I have never been paid an allowance as a Parish Councillor and know for a fact that neither Lydiate or Maghull Councils have ever paid one. I am 99% sure that Melling and and Aintree Village Parish Councils don’t pay allowances to councillors either. I recall that the last Labour Government gave Parish and Town Councils the right to pay allowances but I have yet to come across a Council that has taken this up. Maybe the correspondent had heard about the right to pay and was assuming that all Parishes had taken it up? Whatever the case I find it rather encouraging that folks are still willing to give up their time to help run their community, by being a Parish Councillor, without the wish to be paid for it.

And finally, in that same letter to the Champion a suggestion that the new excellent Lydiate Village Centre and Maghull Town Hall could be used for a youth facilities. Well, Maghull Town Hall already is doing that via the highly successful Youth Coffee Bar. It is run by Maghull & District Youth Council with financial support from the Town Council and Youth Workers from Sefton Council. A youth facility is also being set up at the Lydiate Village Centre and at the last Parish Council meeting the President and Chair of Maghull & District Youth Council met with Parish Councillors to discuss how to take the initiative forward. The moral of this last story seems to be that these two youth facilities are not well know about by adults, then again the facilities are not aimed at them. 

Maghull’s Civic Awards Night

As usual this pleasant community event saw two well deserving people from the area gain recognition for their local voluntary work on Wednesday evening. Indeed, this year the two winners were both young people under the age of 18.

The two awards, that are presented every year, are The Maghull Civic Award presented by Maghull Town Council and the Youth Award presented by Maghull & District Youth Council.

All in all a great evening but I find it rather sad to be told that the local Labour Party were seemingly trying to use the event to recruit helpers! What an inappropriate forum for such an activity.

Southport Cultural Centre Developments

Cllr. Mike Booth (Sefton Cabinet Member for Leisure) and I were today treated to a behind the scenes look at the work going on behind the hoardings. Turning the Art Gallery, Museum and Library into a modern Cultural Centre is a huge undertaking especially as parts of the buildings are ‘Listed’.

The work so far is impressive and some old, long forgotten parts of the buildings have been uncovered as the work has progressed but the state of the roof, which we walked on today, makes you realise how desperately needed this massive project is.

There is a long way to go before the buildings are open to the public again but I hope that when we get there we will have a Centre of regional significance. My thanks to all involved, in what has become a hugely complex project for all their hard work to date, as Cabinet Member responsible for the development

Corporate Parenting Board

I have been at this tonight hearing what we try to do for the looked after children in our Borough. It is a sobering thought that these days around 380 children are being looked after by the Council at any one time. With Christmas just around the corner you feel for those children without a family.

Tuition Fees – Credit to Dr John Pugh MP

News that Sefton’s Lib Dem MP (John Pugh – Southport) has come out against the rise in tuition fees pleases me. John is a deep thinker and is not one to do knee jerk reactions when the pressure is on so if he is stating his case so clearly that is good enough for me and it is to John’s credit that he is doing so.

My view is that a pledge is a pledge so the answer to the question, ‘should we put up tuition fees?’ has clearly got to be NO.