Strong rumours seem to indicate that well liked and well respected Formby Conservative Borough Councillor Anne Ibbs (Ravenmeols Ward) has been chucked out to give a former Crosby Councillor, who stood down from Manor Ward of the Council only last May, a way back onto the Council. Anne is a very hard working councillor who commands respect across the political spectrum and maybe that is the problem as we have seen a number of Tory Councillors in Sefton made to stand in the corner because they have been willing to work with non-Tory members of the Council. Strange really as Sefton is a balanced council with no party in power and it has an all-party Cabinet where parties working with each other is the norm rather than the exception. I do hope the rumours are not true, Anne does not deserve to be treated in a shabby way.
I have been taken with a view recently put about by local Conservatives that goes something like ‘we did not put up many candidates and those we did put up lost so that is not democratic’! I kid you not, that is in effect what they have been saying. You see at the last round of Parish Council elections in 2007 the Conservatives only put up one candidate for Maghull Town Council and that candidate lost. Now they say that what happened is not democratic but I venture to say that such silly remarks say far more about them than than they do about the democratic process. Of course they could do something useful by supporting the referendum on a fairer voting system next May as I will be doing. The Alternative Vote or AV as it is called will be a big step forward towards fairer voting but it will still need the Tories to put up candidates and for folks to want to vote for them.
The principle of removing child benefit from the better off is OK with me as it is with the 85% of folk who were asked about it in a recent opinion poll. Yes, I know there are difficulties to sort out which the media have obsessed about all week but to see Labour and others on the left of British politics in effect saying that the well off should keep the payments even in our difficult financial circumstances is at best bizarre! Labour still feel that they have to oppose everything the Coalition Government does and this despite whichever Miliband won their recent leadership election almost repeating the words of Charles Kennedy when he made reference to something like ‘constructive opposition’. British politics is negative to the point of making some of the participants look ridiculous. Labour batting for the well off, what next, the Tories worrying about the poor?
Been out in Melling & Aintree today with 3 chums delivering FOCUS and picked up quite a bit of casework. People often stop me in the street to tell me their troubles but delivering FOCUS leaflets means that you get to walk your patch and pick up on things before a resident has to get in touch. 5 items came from today’s session.
Being a champion of Parish Councils I am delighted to see that both Maghull Town Council and Lydiate Parish Council are leading the local agenda when it comes to seeking out greener ways to manage their respective buildings i.e. Maghull Town Hall and the excellent brand new Lydiate Village Centre. Both are working up schemes to install photo voltaic cells on the buildings to generate electricity. Well done to this often ignored level of grass roots democracy for taking up the green challenge. By the way I know that Formby Parish Council is also into green issues.
Fighting and campaigning for a second railway station for Maghull is a big issue to me so recent bizarre events need to be put on record. My former councillor colleague Roy Connell ensured that the Prison Service (now called NOMS) put £480,000 in the pot to help build our new station which will go next to their prison. By the way for the benefit of those who don’t recall the prison was foisted upon the community via a combined Labour/Tory vote with us Lib Dems opposing the prison but fighting for a commerce park instead on the Ashworth South Site. We lost that battle but gained the money to help build the station.
Construction of the prison has started but out of the blue in July the Labour Party suddenly announced at a Sefton Council meeting that the station would not be built as there was now no money. We thought that was odd and odd it turned out to be! The rest of the money was due to come from a combination of Network Rail and Merseytravel but Merseytravel had not even put the project in their list of capital works despite the fact that they had issued a round-robin to councillors not so long ago saying that if all went well the station could open in December 2010.
Moving on we then get to a meeting of the Sefton East Parishes Area Committee in September where out of the blue Labour say that as the Prison Service need no longer pay over the £480,000 (because the station is not going to be built) they have been in negotiations with the Prison Service to see if they will agree to put some of the money into a local firework display! Mouths agape all round as you might expect.
The next move is that Labour launch a campaign to get Maghull its second new railway station in the local press. Talk about being all over the place; Labour start off by saying it will not be built, to lets spend some of the money on fireworks, to let’s build a new station and all in the space of 3 months.
So where exactly are we? Well, we do have £480,000 in the bank and no it will not be spent on fireworks! The next step is to get Merseytravel to drive the project forward as we always thought they were doing, until July 2010 that is. With Labour being in such a tangle it looks like only we Lib Dems have a clear view of what needs to be done i.e. do all that is possible to get Maghull’s second station built to take the pressure off the presently over-loaded station and its surrounding streets. More news as things develop.