An e-mail to strike at the very soul of the Labour councillors to whom it has been sent!

Below is the genuine text of an e-mail sent to Labour councillors by an angry Aintree Village resident about the closure of Aintree Library and Sefton’s refusal to allow a voluntary group to take the Library over. A powerful message indeed and one I have not seen the like of before:-

For the attention of the Labour Councillors

Everybody on the To (main list) of recipients above needs to hang their heads in shame, since you have deprived this community of one of the only leisure services provided by Sefton MBC. Clearly, this is the very worst council we have ever experienced since the change from West Lancs RDC in 1974. You gave this area great hope of the library facility being retained and have now dashed everybody’s vision that it would come to fruition. In my view you should all resign and,it won’t take long before the residents of our areas discover which of you voted for closure. Any attempts you might harbour to hide behind the Coalition cutbacks will, I fear, be categorically rejected. Aintree and Melling are, in my view, deprived areas within Sefton MBC, a fact you all need to wake up to.

Did you ever consider that a reduction in the number of Councillors might help to reach the savings you sought to achieve? If not, why not? Maybe we should explore this opportunity in the future in an attempt to bring some sense of responsibility to your thinking. You are, ALL, poor representatives of this community. Heaven forbid any one of you should ever be re-elected.

Why Liberals and Socialists are simply not on the same page

On Thursday last I witnessed something that I could not imagine a Lib Dem councillor doing, or indeed in this case, not doing.

The issue was important for two local communities (Blundellsands/Crosby & Aintree Village) who had both been told by Sefton Council that their respective libraries (College Road and Aintree) are closing. The communities were told this some months ago (along with 5 other communities in the Borough) and their libraries close this month.

College Road Carnegie Library in Crosby - A listed building

College Road Carnegie Library in Crosby – A listed building

The crunch last Thursday was all about the two communities playing what was likely to be their last significant card to set up viable community run libraries and them sadly getting knocked back by the Council’s all-powerful Labour controlled Cabinet.

The eye opener was not the debate (which I will return to in a future posting) about the rights and wrongs of the community bids, which I personally think the Council got very wrong in these two cases, but the fact that on the day these big issues were being decided the Labour ward councillors were not present to stand side by side with the community campaigners. I would add that the local Labour MP was not there either despite saying he supported the Aintree community bid. He should have been there, in my view, to back the campaigners. As it was they were left to fight their case with just the support of their Parish Council in terms of people elected to serve Aintree Village. Bundellsands/Crosby has no Parish Council to fight its corner.

Cllr. Andrew Blackburn outside Aintree Library

Cllr. Andrew Blackburn outside Aintree Library

Yes, I realise that the closing of the libraries is being pursued by a Labour run Council but I simply can’t get my head around why Labour ward councillors chose not to be there last Thursday. Indeed, in the case of the Borough councillors representing Aintree Village they were roundly condemned for their lack of involvement and support for the bid to turn Aintree Library into one run by the community. This condemnation came not from me but from representatives of Aintree Village Parish Council (during a BBC TV interview after the Cabinet meeting) who are independent of the main political parties.

I represented Aintree Village for 12 years until 2011 so I thought it important to be there to stand with the campaigners and the Parish Councillors whom I have worked with in the past. I now represent the next door ward but my fellow Lib Dem councillor Andrew, who has never represented Aintree Village, also wanted to be there to support the Aintree campaigners.

Liberals by instinct work with communities, not for party political gain, but because we try to put communities before party politics.

Andrew and I have (together with Bruce, another Maghull Lib Dem Borough councillor) stood side by side with the Aintree Village campaigners a number of times over the months of campaigning there have been to try to save Aintree Library. I can honestly say that even if Sefton Council had been Lib Dem run and it had been proposing library closures I and my fellow Lib Dem councillors would have standing with the campaigning community groups in the wards we represent.

Cllr. Bruce Hubbard

In my time as Leader of the Lib Dem Group on Sefton Council and indeed my 7 years as Council Leader I expected and always tried to embrace challenges to the Council from Lib Dem councillors, or indeed opposition councillors, who had issues of concern in their wards to fight for. To a Liberal fighting for the community you have been elected to represent has to be the number one priority, not your political party.

Since Sefton Council has been Labour controlled my observations lead me to the conclusion that sadly socialists do not see things as we do.

Thornton – Switch Island Link Road – Now Labour use it as an excuse to build more houses!

We have got used to Labour’s gung-ho approach to building houses; they seemingly will build any number anywhere in Sefton. Don’t worry about the Green Belt we can build houses on it. Don’t worry about high grade agricultural land we can grow houses on it!

Now they are even claiming the Thornton – Switch Island Link Road as an excuse to build houses as their Leader Cllr. Peter Dowd says of it, “Combined with new housing and employment opportunities in years to come, the road will encourage investment and improve the economic viability of the Borough for future generations.”

Sadly, those future generations will need the high grade agricultural land, that Labour seems so keen to concrete over, to feed themselves. Are there no environmental voices with Sefton Labour any more? They seem more like a branch of the House Builders Federation!

Labour fail the Libraries crunch day – only one to be saved out of 7 to date

The list below is the sad and depressing outcome of Labour’s closure programme to date in Sefton Borough:-

Library Closure dates

Orrell Library – Closed on 4th October 2013
Litherland Library – Closed on 1st November 2013
Churchtown Library – Closed on 15th November 2013
Ainsdale Library – Closed on 29th November 2013 – To be reopened
College Road Library – To close 6th December 2013
Birkdale Library – To close 13th December 2013
Aintree Library – To Close 20th December 2013

Today at the Council’s all-Labour Cabinet meeting 3 libraries were up for being saved i.e. Aintree, Crosby Carnegie and Ainsdale. Labour only backed Ainsdale to be reopened as a community/charity run venture. Aintree and Crosby Carnegie (College Road) plans were dismissed as unacceptable to Labour.

I sat through the Cabinet meeting and the feeling was all about socialist central control not about real communities and the volunteers who had put hours into trying to save their local library. Yes, the volunteers were thanked as they were shown the door but has any Labour member of Sefton Council really fought against their Party to save their local library?

What struck me today was that the Labour Borough councillors representing Molyneux ward (which covers Aintree Village) were not present and neither was the Labour member for Blundellsands Ward that covers College Road Library. If the Labour ward councillors can’t be there to back campaigners trying to save libraries in their own ward what hope is there? The absence of the Labour Molyneux ward members drew a stinging rebuke from Aintree Parish Council representatives who were present at the Cabinet meeting.

A sad day indeed. the only remaining hope is that Birkdale can be reopened following its planned 13th December closure via another community bid that has yet to be put before Sefton’s Cabinet.

Sefton Libraries the crunch time is here – Will Labour save them or close them?

On 9th November I posted about my fears that Sefton Council could well be about to walk away from a potentially good deal to save Aintree Library. And walk away from the deal they are certainly trying to do!

A report going to Sefton Council’s all powerful, all Labour, Cabinet meeting on Thursday 5th December is seeking permission for Sefton to block the saving of the Library.

60 volunteers have been signed up to help run the Library and Aintree Village Parish Council is offering to fund the venture to the tune of £20,000 per year. However, the report to Cabinet says all but ‘let it die’ as it does for proposals save Crosby’s Carnegie Library on College Road. Only Ainsdale Library looks likely to be saved according to current Sefton Council sources.

The big test for Labour now is very simple. Via their local MP the cry is to save Aintree Library, but via Labour councillors sitting on Sefton Council the votes have been to close it. And of course the same applies to College Road Carnegie Library. What will Labour councillors do now? Will they do a U-turn and back the closing libraries or will they keep on closing them one by one?

Labour’s twin-track approach of the MP saying one thing and his fellow Labour councillors doing just the opposite is a farce that we have all seen through. Sadly Labour’s stance on Libraries is replicated with regard to building on the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land where the MP says save it whilst the councillors vote to consult on building on it! Labour’s ‘save it – close it’ or ‘save it – build on it’ is an example, in my view, of politicians taking the community for a ride.