Railways – Let’s plan for the future

Anyone who knows me realises that I think railways are a great form of transportation and they are greener too. However, we seem to be rather lost with railways in England these days compared to Wales and Scotland who have clearly been getting it right with numerous new stations, line re-openings etc. in recent years.My focus is on northern Sefton and West Lancashire where we have the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk – Preston lines crossing each other at Burscough but which have not been connected since Beeching days. A small (in transport terms) targeted investment could reinstate Southport – Preston trains and Ormskirk – Southport as well but the campaign which OPSTA (Ormskirk Preston & Southport Travellers Association) keeps on the boil is not moving forward despite their great efforts (I am an OPSTA member by the way). So what can we do to bring back the ‘age of the train’ locally? Clearly, a combination of Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Borough Council, Sefton Borough Council, Merseytravel – working with OPSTA – needs to be able to fight a common and well run campaign instead of the well meaning but unsuccessful individual ones that have been the case for as long as I can remember. I hope to play my part in such a campaign and will return to this subject again…….

Has the Tory Axe fallen again on a loyal councillor?

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.

Democracy – The local Tory view is weird

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.

Child Benefit – Right to signal taking it from the well off

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?

Casework in Melling & Aintree

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.

Parishes – Going Green

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.