Sefton Borough – Do Labour really want to merge it with Knowsley and Liverpool Councils?

Sefton Council Logo

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-open-liverpool-merging-14756310

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

In times when it looked just about possible that the Borough of Sefton could be split up I recall that Bootle Labour Party were seemingly of the view that merging Bootle in with Liverpool City Council was akin to them all being captured by the enemy. They certainly seemed to view the prospect with more than a little spluttering into their coffee so to speak.

Now it seems that some Labour folk are saying Knowsley Borough may not be viable in the future (I seem to recall that was a phrase used to describe West Lancs Borough not that long ago) and Joe Anderson suggesting that merging Liverpool with either or both Knowsley/Sefton is worth considering.

The church of St. Helen in Sefton Village, This village gave the name to Sefton Borough.

Sefton certainly is a muddle of communities with few common interests and there can be little doubt that it was somehow cobbled together by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1974 to suit some purpose but no one is quite sure what that purpose was. Unloved would be a good way to describe Sefton Borough. I have blogged about this before and here’s a link to that previous posting dated March 2015:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/28/borough-of-sefton-what-a-mixture-of-diverse-communities-that-have-little-common-with-each-other/

Of course Labour-run Sefton has now got rid of its Area Committees (mentioned in the March 2015 posting) as they have acted to centralise power in Bootle Town Hall once again.

Sefton Borough artwork recognising the year the Borough was created.

So having rehearsed that history, how on earth would merging Sefton with either or both Knowsley Borough and/or Liverpool City help empower Sefton’s diverse communities – Answer it wouldn’t, indeed it would most probably place the decision making power base even further away in Liverpool.

The other question is why do some Labour folks in Knowsley and Liverpool want to merge their councils areas with Sefton Borough. Is it just a bigger is better approach to local government?

The talk of mergers is probably little more than that but of course we Liberals need to be on our guard as we are very much opposed to the big is beautiful approach to local government because we are decentralisers by nature and instinct. Creating a huge Merseyside Council taking in Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton would achieve what? A Liberal view is that it would be more remote, less in touch with the needs of individual communities and pretty much impossible for residents to hold to account. In reality we need smaller councils with far less highly paid officials running them.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Sefton Central Area Committee – Get rid of it, it serves no useful purpose

News that Sefton Council is reviewing its Area Committee’s, their usefulness and purpose is welcome news. Indeed, on a fleeting visit to the Bootle One Stop Shop last week I was personally surveyed by a young lady about my views on the matter.

This photo was taken at a meeting of the Sefton Central Area Committee in June 2013. It only shows two thirds of the participants!

This photo was taken at a meeting of the Sefton Central Area Committee in June 2013. It only shows about two thirds of the participants!

Click on the photo to see a larger size photo

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I have moaned about the present Sefton Central Area Committee which when it meets is like a small conference which is of no use to Joe and Jane Public what so ever. For example if you have a highways problem in Formby and the next meeting of the Area Committee is in Maghull you have to travel all the way over to Maghull to address Formby’s councillors in public. But two thirds of the councillors at the meeting will represent other communities yet they have to be addressed as well! What a nonsense.

Only a few years ago we had 3 Area Committees in the central part of the Borough – Crosby, Formby and the East Parishes. They worked pretty well and had been designed to bring together communities with reasonably common interests. But, as soon as Labour took control of the Borough they abolished these 3 Area Committees, supposedly on the grounds of saving money, and set up a totally useless single area committee to replace them.

On a number of occasions we Lib Dems tried to push Labour into admitting it had been a mistake to fiddle with the original Area Committees and to go back to them. Each time they refused.

Lydiate Labour tells Sefton Labour to reverse policy

But here we have an opportunity to put things to rights at last and what’s more Labour-run Lydiate Parish Council is backing a reversal of Sefton Labour’s daft amalgamation into one huge mega committee. Of course we Lib Dems backed the Lydiate call to revert back to 3 Area Committees.

We can only but hope that common sense will prevail.