Liverpool/Merseyside Combined Authority – ‘you couldn’t make this up!’

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-mayor-joe-anderson-consult-6905085

The Liverpool Echo has the story.

Even I did not think things could get as bad as this despite my previous postings on the matter. The sad implication is that despite the disputes of past between Labour Leaders across Merseyside lessons have not been learned about why a united front to promote and back Greater Liverpool, or whatever you wish to call this sub-regional area, is vital. It’s as though because Greater Manchester is successful by being ‘united’ Merseyside refuses to united because it will look like we are copying the Mancs!

The 6 Labour Leaders should hang their heads in shame; they have not represented us they have shunted us into a siding.

As Cllr. Nigel Ashton said to me, ‘you couldn’t make this up’.

Cardboard and plastic kerbside collections in Sefton

Cllr. Robbie Fenton pictured in March 2012 campaigning for plastic and cardboard recycling to be introduced in Sefton

Cllr. Robbie Fenton pictured in March 2012 campaigning for plastic and cardboard recycling to be introduced in Sefton

We Lib Dems have been pushing Sefton Council to bring this in for a long time and at last the Labour-run Council is taking action. My colleague Cllr. Nigel Ashton has been seeking out information about the roll out of this recycling initiative and the consequences of it. Here are a few pointers as to what is going to happen and where to find more information:-

Cllr. Nigel Ashton

Cllr. Nigel Ashton

* Information mailings should drop through Sefton resident’s letter boxes from 21st February until 11th April.

* Brown bins should be delivered to properties from 17th March through to the 27th April.

* The new collection service will start for some residents from 31st March and all should be on it by 28th April.

* Under the new collection arrangement the brown and grey wheelie-bins will be emptied on an alternating pattern (Tuesday to Friday) with green wheelie-bins being emptied on a fortnightly basis between February and November on Saturday or Monday, each household will receive a collection calendar which identifies the day/date and colour of bin scheduled for collection.

epd_wheelie_bins_group

* Something to bear in mind – There are around 14,000 properties within Sefton which have access/storage issues and therefore do not receive the current or future (Residual/Plastic&Cardboard) Alternate Weekly Collection (AWC) wheelie-bin service, the vast majority of these currently receive a weekly collection of residual and recyclable waste.

* At this stage the search facility on Sefton’s website provides current collection arrangement information only (grey/green w/bins) however this will be replaced by the new collection information (Grey/Brown & Green w/bin collections) just prior to each phase commencing.

* Sefton’s website does however contain information about the introduction of plastic/cardboard collections and the ability to look-up when the first brown-bin collection (for a specific property) is scheduled to be provided;

www.sefton.gov.uk/bins-recycling/changes-to-recycling-and-waste-services.aspx

Here’s hoping I have not got any of this information around my neck!

Save of Libraries – RIP Churchtown Library closed by Labour-run Sefton Council 15th November 2013

I am grateful to Cllr. Nigel Ashton for this update on how the community on the northern side of Southport is approaching the loss of their much loved library.

Cllr. Nigel Ashton - This photo was taken during the campaign to save the Library from closure

Cllr. Nigel Ashton – This photo was taken during the campaign to save the Library from closure

North Meols Library Association (NMLA) was formed at a public meeting on 10th October 2013 by the local community. It replaces the Friends of Churchtown Library which campaigned, unsuccessfully, to keep Churchtown Library open. The Library was closed by the local authority on 15th November 2013.

The aim of NMLA is to establish a community run library to support Churchtown and the surrounding areas, mainly Crossens, Marshside and High Park. We are in negotiations with Sefton Council regarding an unused council building but it is early days and will take some time.

In order to provide some continuation of library services in the community we have already set up an internet cafe with the support of Crossens Community Association to, in a small way, replace access to the internet following the closure of the library. We are also working to set up a Storytime / Rhymetime group, another library service no longer available to the community.

What have the Lib Dems ever done for us?

With thanks to Cllr. Nigel Ashton for this posting

Over the last three years Liberal Democrats in Government have:

•given a £700 tax cut to more than 20 million working people and lifted nearly three million of the poorest workers out of paying income tax altogether
•helped businesses create more than a million jobs
•created a record 1.2 million apprenticeships
•given extra money for the children who need it the most through the £2.5billion pupil premium
•given generous rises in the state pension through our ‘triple lock’ now worth an extra £650 since Labour
•given the poorest two-year-olds and all three-and-four year-olds 15 hours of free childcare per week
•introducing equal marriage for all couples
•announced that all Reception, Year One and Year Two pupils in England will receive free school meals

Liverpool City Region Governance Review – Consultation Response from the Liberal Democrat Group on Sefton Council

I posted about this on 17th August under the heading of Merseyside Joint Authority and now Cllr. Nigel Ashton as Chair of the opposition Lib Dem Group of councillors on Sefton Council has made this excellent formal submission on our behalf:-

Cllr. Nigel Ashton

Cllr. Nigel Ashton

Introduction

1.1 A review of the governance of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) is overdue. The LCR as presently constituted is neither effective nor transparent. It is certainly not accountable, either to its constituent authorities or to the wider public whose interests it exists to serve.

1.2 We are severely disappointed that the opportunity for a more fundamental review has not been taken. The options outlined in the Governance Review merely formalise the existing arrangements, albeit with the inclusion of transport.

Geography

2.1 The biggest problem is the geographical area of the existing City Region. It is neither small enough to be local, nor large enough to be truly effective in the stated aim of creating jobs and driving economic growth at a sub-regional level. There is no recognition given to the strategic importance of co-operation with Lancashire County Council.

2.2 The current area of the LCR is dominated by Liverpool City itself, yet important parts of Liverpool’s economic hinterland and travel to work area are excluded from the LCR. The existing LCR does not even cover both banks of the river Mersey for its tidal stretch.

2.3 Important areas such as Ormskirk, Skelmersdale and Ellesmere Port are excluded. Edge Hill University in Ormskirk is a major contributor to the knowledge economy and a national resource for medical and teacher training. The petrochemical plants in Ellesmere Port are also of huge economic importance.

2.4 The opportunity must be taken to negotiate with West Lancashire District Council and Cheshire West & Chester Unitary Authority with a view to their participation in the proposed Combined Authority. This would add economic clout and go some way to mitigate the over-dominance of Liverpool City itself in the sub-region.

2.5 Most of the land boundary of Sefton is with Lancashire and people in the North of Sefton look as much to the east as to the south. It is important that the LCR establishes a formal partnership with Lancashire County Council.

Transport

3.1 We understand that the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority has already voted to wind itself up and place Merseytravel under the aegis of the proposed Combined Authority. The fact that Merseyrail reaches Chester and Ormskirk strengthens the case for extending the LCR to include these areas, given the strategic importance of transport to economic development and job creation.

3.2 A sizeable number of people commute eastwards from the Southport area, yet the Southport – Wigan – Manchester rail line has suffered from chronic under-investment for many years. No progress has been made towards the long awaited Ormskirk by-pass, despite improved transport links being a key requirement identified when hospital services were split between Southport and Ormskirk.

3.3 There is no direct rail link between Southport and either Preston or Ormskirk. The lack of a direct rail service from Preston and the north is a drag on the development of Southport’s visitor economy, which forms a key component of Sefton’s economic strategy.

3.4 Improving road and rail links east and north-east from Sefton should be a priority for the LCR’s transport strategy. This would be facilitated by extending the LCR to include West Lancashire and by the creation of a formal partnership with Lancashire County Council.

Governance and Scrutiny

4.1 We don’t feel that any of the options outlined in the Governance Review document will effectively meet the criteria of promoting economic regeneration, development and transport. It is not too late to persuade the Government that more time is needed to do the job properly.

4.2 We are particularly concerned about the inadequacy, and uncertainty, of the proposed scrutiny arrangements set out in paragraph 9 of Appendix One of the draft scheme.

4.3 There are no clear terms of reference or powers for the proposed Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Any establishment of sub-committees or co-options will be subject to the approval of the very body that the OSC is meant to scrutinise.

4.4 In the absence of any guarantee of proportionality on the OSC, it is entirely possible that all the members of the OSC will be members of the same political party as all the members of the LCR executive body. Not only would that be bad governance, it would lead to poor scrutiny and inflict reputational damage on the LCR.

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Chair, Liberal Democrat Group on Sefton Council
6 September 2013

Fighting to Protect the Green Belt – A guest posting from Cllr Nigel Ashton (Liberal Democrat, Meols Ward)

Green belt land is a precious resource and we must fight to protect it. The need for new housing can be met by building on brownfield sites and other non-protected areas. There are viable alternatives to building on green belt, but in producing their local plan Sefton has gone for the easy option. Once green belt land is built on it is lost forever.

Many local residents feel very strongly about protecting the environment. During a previous consultation in 2011, more people attended the drop-in session in Churchtown than anywhere else in the whole of Sefton. There was also a huge turn out at the Lydiate drop-in session – Editor.

There is a highly controversial proposal in my own ward (Meols) to build on green belt land off Bankfield Lane, near Three Pools. The original version of the local plan would have put over 300 houses on this site. My Lib Dem colleagues and I put forward a very strong case against this, particularly as the site is subject to flooding and is very good agricultural land. We have had a partial victory, as the Council has reduced the proposal to 120 houses, but we will carry on pushing to protect this land completely.

There is very strong public opposition to building on the land surrounding the Old Links Golf Course, which is also green belt. There was a huge meeting when this was first put forward and nothing has happened since to change people’s minds. I expect to see a great deal of public protest.”

I made my first speech in the council chamber on the subject of protecting the green belt and it is an issue that has remained of great importance to me. Together with my colleagues, I will continue to fight to get proposals to build on the green belt removed from Sefton Council’s local plan. I urge everyone to have their say during the public consultation which is taking place from July – September.”