Bootle in the Blitz

Sheila and I attended another packed out talk at Crosby Library last Wednesday, this time all about the Second World War Blitz of Bootle and its docks.

It was a compelling talk with a lot of information to take in despite the talk leader saying it was only a broad brush overview of the bombing of Bootle.

There were people in the audience who had lived through the Blitz and/or had lost relatives in it.

One matter covered was the bombing of Bedford Road School and the fact that the clock in the school stopped at the time the bombs landed on it. That clock is on display in the foyer of Bootle Town Hall and I recall seeing it there many times during my time as a Sefton Councillor – A sobering clock to stand and look at when you understand its history. Surprisingly, when the talk leader asked if anyone had seen the clock in the Town Hall I got the impression that I may have been only one of very few present who had. Here’s a link to one of my previous postings that covers the clock:-

I have blogged previously about the effect of the Blitz on Bootle and here’s a link back to another posting and the memorial on Ash Street:-

Thank you and well done to the staff of Crosby Library for this well put together talk about the dark days of the Second World War in Bootle.

Note:- During the talk a chap got up and if I understood him correctly he was saying that ‘it was all lies’ or words to that effect. With that he walked out and I wondered, probably together with the rest of the audience, what that was all about?

Bootle – The things folks will do to find out what’s going on in Sefton Council’s bunker

Bootle Town Hall

What an odd story (see link to the Liverpool Echo’s web site above), with clearly more to come.

Bootle Town Hall is a really nice building although sadly having been bombed during WWII it not as grand as it once was because of a 1960’s refurbishment.

A previous posting of mine from 2014 about this significant building can be accessed via the link below:-

Bootle Town Hall – Is it a Northern Poorhouse?

Bootle Town Hall

Bootle Town Hall

We have all heard of the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse but the reality across Town Halls in the north of England is more akin to Poorhouse than Powerhouse.

With Council budgets being cut, way, way beyond what anyone thought they could be/should be the reality is community services being reduced to an absolute minimum.

Bootle Town Hall

Don’t get me wrong, of course local government had to play its part as the UK tried to re-balance its books after the financial crash which happened during the last Labour government’s watch. However, to reduce local government across northern England to the point where it is virtually unable to deliver anything but very basic services of poor quality is what is actually happening.

Yes, no one has much sympathy for those who run our Town Halls as many think, and possibly with good reason, that too much money goes on paying the wages of officers and councillors.

So the cuts have gone too deep but are our councils too stuck in the past to reform themselves? Sadly if you look at Sefton Council the answer has to be yes they are stuck in the past and it’s a past that costs us money.

Just look at the opportunity to reduce the number of councillors from 3 per ward down to 2. Should it happen? Yes of course it should as Councils are delivering far fewer services and managing much small budgets than in the past. But what does Sefton Council under its Labour leadership do? It votes not to reduce the number of councillors and keeps on paying 66 when it could be paying 44. Makes no sense and neither has Labour explained why it voted to keep 66.

Then again look at the amount Sefton Council’s Cabinet members are paid. It is still higher than many other councils. Clearly there are savings to be made here but to date Labour have fought to keep their high wage earning Cabinet members on those high wages.

Local government in Sefton is being done no favours when sensible reforms are resisted. Time to wake up Labour – cut the number of councillors and the wages paid to Cabinet members in Sefton.

VE Day Memorial – Bootle Town Hall

VE Day memorial at Bootle Town Hall

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

VE Day Memorial in Bootle Town Hall. The clock stopped at the time a bomb struck Bedford Road School during the Second World War. 2nd to 4th May 1941 concentrated bombing rendered 20,000 people homeless; killed or injured 1,000 and destroyed or damaged 74% of Bootle’s houses. Bootle, Merseyside, UK.

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Oriel Road & Balliol Road, Bootle – A look at some sadly rather run down and disused listed buildings

The area around Bootle Town Hall has always interested me particularly because of the grand buildings that are close to the Town Hall.

First let’s have a look at Bootle’s Listed Buildings via Wikipedia:-

Next to Bootle Town Hall and along Oriel Road & Balliol Road where there are some splendid buildings that have sadly not been well maintained and some have fallen into disuse. You will have noticed from the link above how many of them are in this small part of Bootle. The former Bootle Swimming Pool, Police Station, Library & Museum, Post Office and School Board Office.

I recall that only a few years ago there was a determined and successful campaign to save the School Board Office from demolition. Sefton Council had proposed its demise as part of a Housing Renewal project it was pursuing. Indeed, you can see that the old building is now surrounded by new residential properties (see bottom photo). Of course saving it was one good thing, finding a use for it is quite another and if no use can be found it will deteriorate further and eventually fall down. Such are the dilemmas facing building conservationists.

The photo below is of the former swimming baths that were taken out of use when Bootle Leisure Centre was built in North Park some years ago. I recall using the old Victorian swimming pool in the 1970’s.

Balliol Road buildings, Bootle r

And across Balliol Road is the former School Board Office looking rather sad amongst some very new property.

IMG_4434 r

Click on both the photos to enlarge them

I notice that Sefton Council’s draft Local Plan, which I have often criticised on this blog site for its grabbing of high grade agricultural land to build on, has ambitions to the ‘refurbishment and reuse of listed and historic buildings in and around Bootle Town Hall.’ It says this is a regeneration priority amongst some other worthy projects but I wonder if there is a real plan behind these fine words?

The photos are amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Sefton Council – So this is the Bootle Bunker

Last Thursday Cllr. Fred Weavers and I went to observe a meeting of Sefton Council’s Cabinet at Bootle Town Hall, known to some as the ‘Bootle Bunker’.

The meeting lasted all of 27 minutes by my watch but some important issues were on the table before the 7 person Cabinet (all Labour, all representing Bootle Constituency), which for the record is made up of 6 middle aged men and one young woman. I mention gender balance as I understand that Labour has previously had a pop at Aintree Village Parish Council for a perceived gender imbalance. Those who live in greenhouses should not chuck stones comes to mind……..

Sefton's Bootle Bunker

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

A Sefton Cabinet meeting is never likely to be entertaining but they are all open to the public to attend. So what happened at this one? Here are a few highlights:-

Item 4 (Public Health Annual Report 2014) – Page 15 of this document (Page 35 of the Cabinet meeting papers) annoyed me as it tried to say that the Sefton Local Plan ‘promotes accessible open green space so children and families can enjoy the outdoors’ – That is of course if you ignore the acres of green fields that are to be built upon under our Labour ruler’s plan!

Item 5 (Adult Substance Misuse Contract Extension) – Some ‘underperformance’ by the present contractor was in the Key findings but the Cabinet did not ask for details, which I thought odd.

Item 7 – (Child Sexual Exploitation) Quite a bit of discussion over this report and it is also going to the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny (Children’s Services) Committee on 31st March. A Council officer spoke at length about it and answered the Cabinet’s queries but what stood out for me was the use of Merseyside-centric speak.

It was as though it had not occurred to the Council that places like Southport and Lydiate have huge boundaries with Lancashire and that child exploitation does not recognise council boundaries. From what was said you could only conclude that there is little or no liaison with Lancashire (shades of the Local Plan)! I fear the Sefton Council Bootle bunker has its face turned only to look at things from a Merseyside perspective when, as I have said many times before, Lancashire needs to be just as important a partner for Sefton Borough.

The only mention of Lancashire was that they, as a neighbouring authority, do not need to tell Sefton if they are placing children in homes within Sefton. There is clearly a concern about the number of private children’s homes within the Borough as the young residents of them are seemingly potentially more vulnerable to child exploitation than other sections of child population. As far as I could understand Sefton has only a very small number of children who are subject to child sexual exploitation plans. Clearly this report was very much written on the back of those horrible events in Rotherham. Frankly, I thought the Cabinet dealt with this most serious of matters well but oh if they could only open their eyes to encompass all the local authorities surrounding Sefton!

There were no confidential items on the agenda so we sat through all the meeting.