Balls says Labour will make big spending cuts whilst locally Sefton Labour wants to spend, spend, spend

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25885606

The past week has probably served to highlight Labour’s fundamental and ultimate dilemma – the spenders/borrowers V the cutters of expenditure who want, so they say, to balance the UK books.

Labour has always been a high tax and big spend party and their governments have usually ended in economic failure i.e. borrowed too much, spent too much. But Ed Balls and his chum Ed Miliband, who increasing look like the spitting image caricatures of David Owen and David Steel, are now telling us all that they will stop their ingrained habit of spending and borrowing too much in favour of the UK balancing its books and even running a surplus! This could be a significant turning point for Labour unless it is just party political spin to try to win an election.

However, let’s give Mr Balls the benefit of the doubt for a moment despite the fact that the mess we are presently in was created on his party’s watch! The problem being though that on the ground Labour is still a fundamentally tax and spend party, we see it in the outpourings of Merseyside Labour MP’s and Council Leaders day after day. What Mr Balls now espouses is so far away from some of his MP’s and Council Leaders that they may as well be in different political parties!

Only this week at Sefton’s council meeting the comrades were championing more/higher spending and talking about going to the government for more money. It’s as though these unreconstructed municipal socialists still think that taking a begging bowl to Downing Street, under any government, will lead to it being filled up! And these are the very same people that have ranted and raved at all the terrible cuts in public expenditure that have had to be made since our economy collapsed. They still genuinely seem to think that so long as Labour gets elected to run the Country again that the money tap will be turned back on. But that is very far from what Mr Balls is saying, in fact it is a million miles away from it.

Merseyside is suffering from a failure of leadership from the great and good Labour Council leaders. A glance across to Greater Manchester to see how it is striding forwards under the quiet but highly effective leadership of Lord Peter Smith of Wigan is all the evidence you need. Investment in public transport in particular shows how effective Greater Manchester has been as they have extracted money from governments of all colours in recent times to build a massive tram network and upgrade their traditional heavy rail. Merseyside has failed to get a tram system off the ground and is looked upon by governments of all colours as being a political basket case which can’t put together coherent long-term plans.

So on virtually the same day that Ed Balls was preaching fiscal prudence his troops here in the Merseyside Borough of Sefton were still ranting about the cuts that have been made so far: goodness knows how they will cope with the cuts to come especially if they come from the hand of Mr Balls!

Tonight’s Sefton Council meeting was like a meeting in the Kremlin!

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Labour displayed the politics of Michael Foot and beyond tonight and frankly it was probably even more socialist than that. Come the revolution is putting it mildly as they ranted about just about everything. They refused to give ground on volunteers taking on closing libraries, gave the impression that they don’t care much for credit unions, would not acknowledge that they have treated Aintree Village Parish Council very poorly etc. etc.

Frankly, after tonight’s display one can only fear for the running of the Borough of Sefton. I will write up the goings on as I get the chance, but I would start learning the words of the Red Flag if you know what’s good for you!

Maghull Town Council Budget meeting 22nd January – We don’t need a Neighbourhood Plan but we do need Maghull in Bloom and youth facilities.

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With reserves of £400,000 this Labour-run Council had room to pledge a £5,000 support grant to Maghull’s ‘In Bloom’ volunteers and to back a small financial package to secure the Town’s unique Youth Coffee Bar but it stubbornly refused to do either.

We Lib Dems have always seen youth facilities as being vital that’s why we set up Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall when we ran the Council. Labour’s shutting of the facility for a number of weeks last December was appalling but they are simply not investing in our young people. Labour has stopped the yearly grant to Maghull & District Youth Council and chopped out the Town Council’s Youth Projects fund. To counter this we Lib Dem proposed that £5,000 was put aside to help run the Youth Coffee Bar when volunteers are unavailable to run it.

On the environmental front Maghull folk are delighted with the floral displays in the Town’s shopping centre, at Deyes Lane shops and at Treeview Court. But the volunteers, who put on the prize winning displays in partnership with the local business community and the Town Council, can’t produce the displays from nothing so Maghull Council has long been a significant financial supporter of the ‘In Bloom’ Volunteers. But, under Labour the Council’s support has been slipping with no guarantee to the volunteers over the certainty of the Council’s support in the future. The Lib Dem view is that this is simply not on so we proposed that the Council return to supporting Maghull in Bloom to the tune of £5,000 per year. Labour sadly voted the grant down.

However, Labour’s major objective is an odd thing – a Neighbourhood Plan that it is planning to spend £10,000 on in the coming year and probably a significant amount more in future as these plans can cost £70,000+! Why they want to do one no one knows because they will not say despite being asked to do so by the Lib Dems.

A Neighbourhood Plan is a smaller version of a Local Plan, of which Sefton Council is presently putting one together for the whole Borough. Of course, Sefton’s Local Plan is hugely controversial because Labour-run Sefton wants to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, especially around Maghull!

But Maghull Town Council is Labour run too so why can’t they simply add whatever the matters are that are buzzing around in their bonnets straight into the Sefton Local Plan? They could do that for free instead of spending goodness knows how much Council tax payers money doing a separate Neighbourhood Plan for Maghull.

Our concern is that Labour may have an agenda to build even more houses in Maghull because a Neighbourhood Plan is not allowed to include anything that disagrees with the Borough’s Local Plan; so they could build more houses via a Neighbourhood Plan but they could not build less. I think it is about time Labour came clean on their secret Neighbourhood Plan objectives for Maghull because Labour Maghull Town Councillor and Sefton Leader Cllr. Peter Dowd has already signed up publicly to Ed Miliband’s doubling of the present house building targets.

Trying to turn around Sefton Council to welcome community/volunteer ventures

I have submitted the following motion to the next meeting of Sefton Council to be held on 23rd January more in sadness than in anger. Readers will know how profoundly unhappy I have been over the community/volunteer bids to run College Road, Crosby and Aintree Libraries being turned down by Sefton Council. I genuinely feel that the bids need to be given a chance to succeed rather than Sefton turning them down without giving the bidders the chance to try to prove whether they can make a go of their bids.

This Council wishes to be seen to be fully signed up to the localism agenda that all 3 major political parties support both in broad terms and in many areas of detail.

To this end we welcome and support in principle proposals from Parish Councils, community groups and local charities who wish to assist in running services that the Borough Council can’t find the resources to sustain such as libraries, youth facilities, community halls etc.

Cllr. Tony Robertson

I submitted the motion on the 6th of January and realise that things may have changed before the motion is debated on 23rd January. I say this as we are yet to hear the outcome of the ‘appeal’ against the refusal to approve the two bids to one of Sefton’s Scrutiny Committees, which was heard before Christmas and was subsequently deferred to a second meeting to be held at some point in January.

Stop press: the Scrutiny meeting will not now reconvene until 11th February so I am told.

It would be nice to think that before I come to move the motion that the principle at the heart of it is something that all 3 of the political parties on the Borough Council will sign up to and that the present rather ugly spat between community campaigners and the Borough Council can be put to one side.

All I want is for community campaigners and volunteers to be welcomed with open arms and their ideas be given the chance to flourish.

Save our Green Belt and save us from flooding – two big messages from latest community consultation

As a long standing defender of Sefton’s Green Belt and environmental campaigner who speaks for Sefton Lib Dems on Planning matters I have to say that there are some powerful messages from the latest round of consultation undertaken by the Labour-run Sefton Council about its Local Plan proposals.

On the Green Belt, people from communities across the Borough are rallying to try to stop the Green Belt being concreted over.

On the other hand, big business, land owners and property developers are falling over themselves in their desperate attempts to get the Council to back building on the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land that they have an interest in.

It’s clearly going to be an uphill struggle to defend our precious Green Belt because Labour, who run the Council, have already committed to building on it. Ed Miliband has said he wants even more houses and Labour’s Council Leader has publicly backed him.

If they get their way, there will soon be no land locally to grow food on for future generations.

The other big issue that came out of the consultation is flooding. Sefton, being a low-lying Borough is particularly prone to flooding problems.

I can easily point to flooding problems in Seaforth, Formby, Lydiate, Melling and Maghull in recent years which have increased worries of properties being inundated with water.

Page after page in the Council report that went to the Planning Committee raised flooding fears. Even the Environment Agency is urging caution in respect of developing land that could flood. If Labour presses ahead with their building plans on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land then they will have a lot of work to do to convince local residents that this building won’t increase flooding risks.

The evidence is mounting that building vast amounts of extra houses in the Borough will damage our fragile environment and increase flooding risks. I do hope that the powers that be are taking notice but I fear they are not.

More on the results of this Sefton Council Local Plan consultation on this site very soon, including the additional sites where land owners and developers want to concrete over the Borough’s high grade agricultural land.

Library volunteers – growing nationally but rejected in Labour Sefton!”

www.thirdsector.co.uk/go/news/article/1226079/number-library-volunteers-surges-year-march-figures-show/

Those of us who have been close to the campaign to save 7 of Sefton’s libraries from closure and also trying to assist volunteer groups to take over our libraries have been hitting against a brick Labour wall and this blog site has chronicled the appalling carry on in the Borough.

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly, in Sefton this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

But the rest of the UK is not as prejudiced against volunteers indeed it welcomes them as the link above confirms.

By the way the 2nd half of the Sefton Scrutiny meeting that was hearing appeals from 2 volunteer groups bidding to take over their closing libraries (College Road, Crosby and Aintree), which Labour-run Sefton had given the two fingered salute to, is to be on 11th February.