Yesterday was the end of the consultation period on the ‘addition sites’ for Sefton’s now notorious Local Plan. The ‘additional sites’, put forward by land owners and developers who want to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, have been known about for some time now, in fact ample time for Maghull Town Council to make representations.
The Labour-run Council has said nothing and the matter has not appeared on a Council agenda, yet yesterday at 11.06am an e-mail was sent around some of the opposition councillors asking them to agree a draft response put together by someone or other.
No chance to debate it, amend it, or to vote on it as such an important matter deserves and requires. Is this what democracy in Maghull has degenerated to? Last minute and pointless consultation with councillors who did not even know the Council was troubling itself to make a submission. I despair, I really do.
Even though I and my 4 Lib Dem colleagues are members of the Council it feels like we are members of a club that desperately wants to ‘black ball’ us but the law of land will not allow Labour to do that because we were elected just like the Bootle dominated Labour comrades.
Now to put this in context we Lib Dems made our own submission a few days ago because the Council was doing nothing. Now you can imagine what could have happened next:-
Bootle Labour Big Whig calls up Maghull Labour and says ‘Listen you lot get a submission in on the Local Plan additional sites and do it now! You have sat there doing nothing and the Lib Dems have already made a submission. Yes I know you were awaiting orders from Bootle……yes I know Bootle Labour has previously said do anything off your own bat and we will batter you…… yes I know you think that we in Bootle think that Maghull Labour are daft as brush…… just cobble together a submission NOW and try to make it look like you know what you are talking about! And remember you are still required to support building on the Green Belt no matter what you say or think…… Get it?‘
More news on the difficulties of Sefton Central Labour Party
Labour sources are saying that Maghull’s Labour leaders were recently summoned to explain themselves and seemingly to be given a dressing down, by higher echelons of the Labour Party, following yet another Labour councillor resigning. My posting of 31st May refers:-
I was musing on the ‘visit to the headmaster’s office’ being held at say Bootle Town Hall from where all Sefton Central Labour’s marching orders emanate. If so this can’t but have made relations between the dominant Bootle Labour Party and its subservient Sefton Central Party even more strained than they are already.
Labour sources have also indicated that their most recent resignation (the 8th in Maghull) was related to the position of Mayor of Maghull and who held ambitions to hold that post.
Local elections about local issues…………
SOUTHPORT & FORMBY PUNISHES LABOUR FOR ITS LIBRARY & ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
We Lib Dems held all our seats that were up for election in the Southport part of Sefton but we lost 3 seats in the Sefton Central part of the Borough. All the losses were to Labour and I have been struck by how voters went out to support a Party who are openly going to trash our Green Belt and potentially charge for the emptying of Green Bins in the Borough. And of course Labour has also closed many of the Borough’s Libraries.
CROSBY, BOOTLE, MAGHULL, LYDIATE, MELLING & AINTREE EMBRACE LABOUR
As an environmental campaigner who has worked to defend the Green Belt against Labour’s attacks on it I must say that I am surprised that the electorate in places like Maghull, Aintree Village, Melling and Lydiate has now backed the party of Green Belt destruction. But, there was a single glimmer of hope for the Green Belt as the voters of Formby elected Maria Bennett who, like we Lib Dems, stood on a platform of stopping Green Belt building.
* Is the cause of Green Belt protection in Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree Village and Melling now dead following Labour winning all 3 Sefton wards in this area?
* Why did the electors of Southport & Formby vote for Green Belt campaigners but elsewhere they elected a Party (Labour) that wants to build on the Green Belt?
* Why did electors give Sefton Labour a green light (except in Southport and Formby) to bring in their threatened £46 Green Bin Tax?
* How has Labour got away with closing Libraries in Crosby, Aintree Village and Bootle whilst they were firmly rejected in Southport where they also closed libraries?
* Why did the electors of Maghull vote in Lib Dem Cllrs. Bruce Hubbard and Jen Robertson last July, because of their opposition to Labour’s Green Bin tax and their fighting for the Green Belt, but reject them both today for continuing to campaign on these issues?
These were local elections about local issues…………
I was stopped yesterday my a resident who showed me a Molyneux Ward (Aintree Village, Melling and South Maghull) Labour Party election leaflet and who asked me to read a particular part of it and tell them what I thought it said.
An odd request in some ways but have a look yourself. The convoluted English does not help but the message folks are in danger of picking up is that Labour is in favour of this list of things! And yes, I did the same double take as the resident who had stopped me had done because I also thought it was confession time for Labour!
What the eye actually picks up is:-
And then when you think about it
* Tuition fees were Labour’s idea
* Labour Councils have been closing Children’s Centres
* Privatisation of some NHS services was very much a Labour policy when in Government.
I could go on but you get my drift. But watch how you word political leaflets is the important message here!
Unless I am deliberately being fed duff information from more then one source, which does not seem likely, it looks like strains within the Labour Party locally are growing.
I am being told of a rift between the Sefton Central MP and some of his councillors and, if my sources are correct, this may be particularly the case with the relationship between the MP and his Molyneux ward councillors.
Of course it seems to be an open secret that Sefton Council Leader Peter Dowd and MP Bill Esterson don’t get on as I have been told this by more Labour Party sources than I could shake a stick at!
But this Molyneux ward rift is interesting as it could well be associated with the closing of Aintree Library as much as any other matter because of the differing stances being taken by folk representing opposing interests within Labour.
Labour councillors were openly in dispute with community campaigners in early December last year, during what I am told were some ugly scenes at the end of the adjourned Sefton Council Scrutiny meeting. That meeting was hearing the campaigner’s appeals against them being turned down to run Aintree and College Road (Crosby) Libraries using volunteers. That meeting reconvenes on 11th February.
So are Labour in a rugby scrum with their Sefton Councillors on one side and an MP’s Office and activists on the other and are they suffering some low self-inflicted blows? Everything points to this being more than possible………………..
Free schools are a very Liberal idea; no one should have a monopoly in providing education, including the state and local authorities, but it should always be of a high standard.
We Lib Dems welcomed the opening of Hawthorne’s Free (High) School in Bootle because it offers a real opportunity to turn around the increasing numbers of families who are sending their youngsters out of Bootle each day to high schools in Maghull and Crosby. We wish the School well, whilst realising they have taken on a monumental task which by and large Labour has ignored and certainly hope will go away as soon as possible.
But what about the fuss over the free school in Derby which has hit the buffers due to Ofsted saying it is failing in every way? Of course that is unacceptable, of course it has to shape up or be closed down. Yet Tories oppose seemingly any form of regulation of Free Schools, I assume this is on the basis that market forces will decide whether it sinks or swims. This is falsehood though because whilst a school fails its children are being let down and they don’t have another childhood to make up for one that an education system has failed.
It is because of such concerns that Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg has called for changes and some necessary regulation. For my part I can’t see how a school can work effectively without qualified teachers and whilst I am not sold on the rigid (tractor factory) National Curriculum there does have to be a clear standard for education wherever it is delivered.
Personally, I would not have the Government fund Free Schools that are set up for religious purposes. But then again I don’t think it is the job of the state to teach religion at all. Surely, taking on board a religion should be a decision of the individual not something predetermined by a decision of your family?
But back to Free Schools, they are a good thing and can be a force for change and excellence in education but they can’t just take money from the Government and pretty much do with as they wish! The Derby experience should not be a call to close all Free Schools as some in the Labour Party seem to think it. Then again where do Labour stand on Free Schools? Utterly opposed? Well they used to be. Supporting them? Well that was their surprising recent announcement pre-Derby. Moving back to opposing them? Well their utterances post-Derby would lead you to think they are doing another U turn!
The objective is quality education and Free Schools can deliver that but regulation of them must be brought in so to stop a minority of them damaging the education of our young people. I wonder what Labour’s policy on them will be next week?