An open letter to Michael Gove from Bob Robinson

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MICHAEL GOVE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MP

Dear Mr Gove,

“TRUCK QUEUES COULD BE 7,000 VEHICLES LONG WHEN TRANSITION ENDS” – MICHAEL GOVE – THE GUARDIAN.

Thank you for responding so quickly to my earlier open letters,(posted on the Facebook Lib Dem Chat Group) albeit not in person. You are to be congratulated for your candour – albeit somewhat late in the day. You do, I take it, clearly understand the implications of what you have said. As a retired bean counter, I spent my career eliminating the need for holding inventory by promoting the use of “just in time” manufacturing techniques – stock although an asset on the balance sheet is not as liquid as cash. Liquidity is going to be critical to our recovery. Turning inventory into finished goods adds value and turning finished good into sold goods is what generates business liquidity. Please do not feel that you can duck behind coronavirus as an excuse – the seeds for this were laid long ago when some balding chap with glasses appeared talking about reshaping British Industry – He was looking for the next generation of disruptive innovation. Perhaps at some point, you might like to tell me how that’s going? No Pain No Gain only works if the same people asked to bear the pain can be given cast iron guarantees that they, not rentiers, will enjoy the gain.

In the meantime, might I suggest, until you have a spiffing response, you might need to avoid the honourable members for Southport and South Ribble – (they are/were on your side of the House). Both constituencies sustain a substantial part of the United Kingdom’s horticultural sector – in particular, fresh salad vegetables to Supermarkets. In addition to top quality tomatoes and salads grown locally in the area – the growers put the Wonder into Golden Wonder crisps. In addition to growing, they have built specialist packing and preparation plants that employ many workers. Britain, however, has long passed accepting seasonality in fruit and vegetables and in the off season, imported produce is shipped from Spain and other warmer climes, minimising handling damages. These are brought in by truck and packed for major supermarkets. This ensures door to door delivery but it does have to run to a tight, just in time, timetable. I am sure that whilst, in your Botany class at school, somebody explained to you that once a lettuce is cut – it starts to die. Two days extra in transit will increase the amount of not fit for purpose lettuce, sitting either on shop shelves or customers fridges – imposing knock on costs to supermarkets and consumers alike. The shipping time is therefore critical. I am sure you will also appreciate that queues of lorries outside European ports will represent a tempting target for desperate people.

Katherine Fletcher, the newly minted MP for South Ribble and Damien Moore will no doubt be catching it hot and strong soon. Indeed, the local Tory Parties are traditionally supported by major growers. If your party’s cash flow takes a hit following recent revelations – you may need to look to your home-grown supporters for help. Damien Moore, by the way, was, in his former, life a Manager at Asda – he will understand just what this kind of (expletive deleted) could turn out to be for Supermarkets. He will also know the best way the sweep up Maltesers. Just ask yourself – if this what you want to happen to you?

Best regards Bob

www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/23/truck-queues-could-be-7000-long-when-brexit-transition-ends-ministers-warn

www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/04/uk–businesses-demand-urgent-talks-over-fears-brexit-border-chaos

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54260470

P.S. Archie Norman, the Chief Executive of ASDA, used to begin his welcome to new staff, including myself, by recalling his early experiences on the shop’s shop floor. Sometimes Maltesers would escape and represent a “slip” risk. The easiest way to sweep them up was not to chase them with a broom and shovel – but to tread on them. Nudge-nudge-wink-wink stamp-stamp Mr Gove – Know what I mean.

And then before publication but after writing the above this happened – The lorry and logistics crisis just got worse. The Guardian has just published the latest round of revelations including a twitter copy of the letter by Michael Gove to the RHA.

You could not make it up

Southport – Sainsburys’ Meols Cop development troubles

Cllr. John Pugh

Southport’s former MP is still on the campaign trail as a Sefton Borough Councillor for Dukes Ward; here he’s taking on the might of Sainsburys as the link below to a Liverpool Echo article details:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/controversial-sainsburys-store-ever-built-15632011

ASDA – Kicking out a blind lady because of her guide dog!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-34637837

The BBC has this ASDA Liverpool store article on its web site – see link above

Well this is in the utterly unbelievable category, how on earth could anyone not know that a guide dog can be allowed into a food shop. ‘The guard was not familiar with rules over guide dogs in shops’ said ASDA. Had ASDA not trained the guard?

ASDA should be ashamed of themselves, this was an appalling way to treat a person with a disability.

Maghull – Morrisons/Health Centre/Old Library/Former Youth Centre – What’s going on?

Ever since Morrisons took over their Maghull store from the former Somerfield there has been talk of the store needing to be enlarged. It is clearly far too small.

rsz_img_2881

At one point a complicated but positive plan was put together involving the NHS who own the adjoining Health Centre, London and Cambridge Properties who own the land on which Morrisons sits (together with the other shops on the southern side of Westway) and the associated car park. The plan also included land that Sefton Council owned and in fact still owns. The land in question being that of the former Maghull Library (which moved to Meadows Leisure Centre in 2010) and that of the former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre.

rsz_maghull_health_centre

The plan was to redevelop the Health Centre which the NHS had authorised at a high level I was told by senior NHS and Sefton Council officers. Sadly, the NHS then backed out, why has never really been explained and Maghull residents with longish memories will recall us Lib Dems pressing at every turn for the new Health Centre to have an NHS Walk-In facility within it. Our contention is that Sefton Primary Care Trust (now abolished under NHS reorganisation) had undertaken to do all it could to provide an NHS Walk-In facility in Maghull after the one at Litherland Town Hall had opened. Of course it has never happened but then again the building it was supposed to be in was never rebuilt. Maghull and district residents have every right to feel aggrieved about this as Litherland Town Hall NHS Walk-In Centre is simply not accessible from the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough by public transport.

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

So the NHS element of the plan went west so to speak, but what of the rest of it. Surely Morrisions still needed a bigger Maghull store? Surely cash-strapped Sefton still wanted to dispose of the land it owned to bring some money in? Well you would have thought so in both cases but nothing has happened and all this has been going on for years and years. Indeed, it costs Sefton Council money each year to keep its two old buildings secure and safe.

Does it all come down to London and Cambridge Properties and Morrisons? What is the problem? Maghull & District needs a better range of food retailers. Just think about it in terms of the major UK food retailers (I appreciate that there are a number of excellent local convenience stores) this is all that there are in the East Parishes:-

Lydiate – None at all!
Maghull – A small Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland, a small Co-op
Aintree Village – A Tesco Metro, an M&S Food and a huge ASDA
Melling – None at all!

I was told quite some time ago that Aldi were actively looking for a site in Maghull and my strong suspicion was that they were looking at the old library/youth club site, but so far that has seemingly come to nothing.

What strikes me is that if Morrisons does not make a decisive move and sort out their long-term future in Maghull they are likely to end up with a competitor right on their doorstep as surely Sefton Council will not sit on its land for ever.

By the way I have written to Morrison twice asking them where their planning is up to but answers comes there none so far.

But could there be an other option on the table – one that has been the subject of considerable rumour in recent times? Read my posting next Wednesday involving the ‘The Old Bill’.