Bootle – Its present day troubles & a vision for the future

Bootle Townscape

Bootle Townscape

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The Liverpool Echo has both the stories on its web site – see links above

It is somewhat ironic that on the same day I found a very negative and a potentially very positive story on the Echo web site about the town I have worked in all my adult life.

Stanley Road Bootle

There can be no doubt that Bootle is presently going through some tough times indeed not least because of the recent withdrawal of retail giant M&S and the impending removal of all the 2500+ HMRC staff working in Bootle and Netherton to central Liverpool.

Well surely there has to be a positive vision otherwise the only alternative is further decline. We can only hope that investment private & public follows the vision.

Southport – Planning for a positive future

Above is a link to the blog site of my good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie Brown, please take a moment to click the link and read his posting. It is pure community politics to my mind.

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Click on the photo to enlarge it

There can be little doubt that the towns/boroughs surrounding Liverpool have not benefited from being a part of the Liverpool City Region. Indeed, my own view is that centralising power in Liverpool as both Tories and Labour are planning for, with a Metro Mayor, could well be the road to ruin for places like Southport St. Helens, Birkenhead, Maghull, Formby, Prescot etc.

Whilst Iain’s posting is all about what needs to be done to give Southport a bright future his fundamental concerns could well be about any of Liverpool’s satellite communities that sit outside of the Liverpool City Council boundary.

Centralising power and influence in Liverpool will just not work, except for Liverpool itself. Unlike the Greater Manchester communities, which mostly seem look towards Manchester, the same can’t be said of Merseyside. Southport has always seen its connections with Preston and Lancashire as being of great importance but it was wrenched away from such historical links by local government reorganisation in 1974. Much of Wirral Borough has historic connections with Chester and Cheshire but it too was forced into Merseyside.

Merseyside because of its odd geographic shape was never likely to be a runner as a viable unit of local government and the years that have passed since 1974 have only proved that theory correct. Sefton, itself a strange collection of diverse communities, realised this some years ago and it began a process of decentralisation. Bizarrely though Labour then slammed this process into reverse when its Bootle based party took control of the Council. What was their motivation to say ‘the Borough will work well as a one size fits all because we say it will’ not least because this approach had failed miserably when first tried?

Presently we are seeing the start of a process to take 1000’s of civil service jobs out of Netherton, St Helens and Bootle for them all to be centralised in Liverpool. Liverpool’s gain will be big losses for Sefton and St Helens Boroughs.

Make no mistake the Tories are wedded to cities being made more powerful at the expense of their surrounding towns and boroughs. What’s more Labour are pretty much behind this process, why else did the 6 Labour Council Leaders on Merseyside sign up to a 3rd rate devolution deal?

Towns surrounding big cities need investment, public and private, not dependency on the nearest City because that is the road to ruin except for the big cities of course.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Tories stir up union trouble in Civil Service

Liberal Democrats have described a move by Conservative ministers to stop Whitehall departments deducting trade union subscriptions from civil servants’ pay packets as a “vindictive attack.” Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has written to departments urging them to end the “check-off” system of deducting union subs through Whitehall’s payroll system, but his request is set to be ignored in ministries headed by Lib Dems. A leading advocate of ending “check-off” is Eric Pickles, who last year lost a court case when he tried to scrap the system in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Today’s Press:- i, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 15 Daily Mirror, Page: 11

As someone who spent many years working for the trade union movement in the Civil Service I understand what this ‘check-off’ system is about. For generations Civil Servants have paid their union subscriptions via direct deductions from their monthly salaries/wages by the Government Dep’t they work for. The money is then paid over to the appropriate trade union they belong to.

Also for generations, despite the odd Thatcher type blip, Governments have encouraged Civil Servants to join trade unions. This, in general, has enabled the Civil Service to have fairly reasonable industrial relations.

Why on earth the Tories want to cause industrial strife in the Civil Service via this petty idea of stopping the collection of union subs baffles me. It can only be driven by that infamous ‘them and us’ approach to industrial relations that has bedeviled the UK for so many years. A good employer embraces good industrial relations; the success of the German economy since the Second World War proves that.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.