I have recently posted about Sefton Council’s plans to ‘make-over’ Bootle (to the tune of £100m) and Southport (to an unspecified amount other than a £2.77m investment in the pier) but let’s not forget about the middle of Sefton Borough.
Sefton Council Logo
How is Sefton Council planning to ‘make-over’ say the town centres of Maghull, Crosby, Formby for example? And where’s cash strapped Sefton going to get the funds from, public and/or indeed private, to splash say £300m on the Borough’s communities? I say £300m as it would surely not be unreasonable to invest £100m on the communities in middle of the Borough (and indeed Southport) to match the £100m promised for Bootle, would it not?
All we ask for is parity of investment across Sefton’s diverse communities. No one would want the Borough to invest in one community whilst ignoring others now would they. And while we are at it let’s not forget that communities like Lydiate, Aintree Village & Maghull are already at a disadvantage under our Sefton Labour rulers because the Council Tax payers in those communities pay twice for their parks and gardens to be maintained!
So come on Sefton Labour let’s see the extra £97m to be invested in Southport and a round £100m to be invested in the Sefton Central communities.
This is a follow up to my recent postings about hedge cutting (or the lack of it) in Maghull by its Town Council.
Half cut hedge at Whinney Brook Field, Maghull.
You see Maghull Council tax payers actually pay to have the hedges in and around their parks cut twice and I don’t mean twice per year, I mean they pay Maghull Town Council (who have been doing the cutting) and Sefton Council who have never done the cutting). Yes, you do not misunderstand me the bill is paid twice but the hedges around the parks, at least on recent evidence, are only half cut and that’s infrequently.
Sefton Council charges Maghull Council tax payers the same as they do say Bootle or Crosby or Southport Council tax payers but in those communities Sefton cuts the hedges around the parks. In Maghull Sefton Council does not cut any hedges at all around the Town’s parks (unless there are any hedges in Old Hall Park as that is the only park in the Town run by Sefton) because Maghull Town Council owns the hedges and raises its own Council tax (technically its called a Precept) to do the work.
Until Labour took control of Sefton Council it used to refund to Maghull Town Council what Sefton would have spent on cutting the hedges if it maintained them. The refunds were called Double Rating payments but Labour scrapped them meaning Maghull residents really do pay twice to have their parks hedges cut.
Trouble is that Maghull Town Council is clearly having trouble cutting the hedges these days, so despite paying twice residents of Maghull are seeing their hedges left uncut!
By the way Aintree Village and Lydiate residents suffer the same pay twice for hedge maintenance problem. Not only that residents of Maghull, Aintree Village and Lydiate also pay twice to have the grass cut in their parks and gardens as Sefton Council does not provide any parks in those communities (except Old Hall Park in Maghull) despite charging the residents the same Council tax as they do in Bootle, Crosby, Formby and Southport etc.
Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village residents have every right to feel aggrieved at this point……
Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village are positively being victimised by Sefton Council under Labour these days.
You see the former payments the Borough Council made to their respective Parish Councils to compensate for the fact that Sefton raises the same Council tax in those communities but provides little or nothing in the way of parks and gardens (the Parish Councils provide them) have been stopped.
The effect of this is that those communities are being ripped off because the money they pay to Sefton for park and gardens is being spent elsewhere in the Borough!
Talk about rowing in the opposite direction to the one the Boundary Commission requested!
This second question, which I also asked at the Sefton Council meeting last night, is related to Labour’s appalling plan to stop paying a ‘refund’ grant to Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree Village Parish Councils that will mean Council Tax payers in these communities will be paying Sefton Council for a service that it does not provide in those communities and it will be spending the Council Tax money raised in those communities elsewhere in the Borough! This problem arises because in these Parishes parks, gardens and play areas are provided and funded by a Parish Council. However, Sefton Council still collects the same amount of Council Tax in those communities that it collects elsewhere in the Borough where it provides this service.
The sums of money involved are very significant as these two examples illustrate – In Maghull this compensating payment in 2013/14 is £131,000, in Lydiate £46,207. In 2014/15 both figures will be NIL as it will be in Aintree Village and Melling*.
Question – The Parish Charter, available on Sefton Council’s web site, clearly states that the Borough Council aims for ‘Fairness between council tax bills in parished and non-parished areas’
Can the Cabinet member confirm that this fairness principle is still a strong guiding principle for the Borough Council?
This was her response:-
“This Council is committed to treating all the people of Sefton fairly” followed by some party political point scoring.
To which I responded:-
“Will you confirm that removing Double Rating payments from Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Parish Councils means that this Borough will be taking money from the residents of these Parishes and then spending it elsewhere in Sefton thereby treating the Council Tax payers unfairly and with contempt?”
At this point she told me that I should be asking my question to a different Labour Cabinet Member despite the fact that I had been advised by Council Officers that questions about Parish Council matters were within her portfolio! If I suggest that not wishing to engage with the matter in hand was my thought I think you get my drift.
* Note: I should add that this issue also affects the Council Tax payers and their Parish Council in Melling to some extent, although it is slightly more complex in that Parish due to both the Parish Council and Borough Council providing outdoor recreational facilities.
I am so pleased that the Champion has decided to highlight this problem which will end up with Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council tax payers paying twice for a service delivered just the once!
My previous posting of 26th September and others before that refer.
By the way the article says the Labour Leader is inviting me to propose that the Council considers taking forward a judicial review when that is exactly what I did ask them to do at the Council meeting on 18th September.
Lydiate Parish Council, as I posted recently and as many folks also read about in a recent edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion, has challenged Sefton Council’s plan to stop making ‘Double Rating’ payments to the 4 Parish Councils in the Borough that maintain their own parks and gardens.
Residents should not be paying twice
The challenge is of course right because if Sefton Council goes ahead with its plan Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village residents (and to a lesser extent Melling) will find that they are paying Sefton Council to do a job in their community (maintain parks and gardens) only for that money to be spent by the Borough Council elsewhere in Sefton! This will happen because the 4 Parish Councils covering these communities legitimately raise Council tax money to maintain their park and gardens.
Lib Dem Lydiate leads the fight for fairness
Lydiate is leading the charge for fairness but what will Maghull Town Council do? Will they fight for the money that should be fairly paid to their community or will they follow Bootle Labour Party orders and keep their heads down saying nothing?
Will Labour Maghull put its community first or keep taking orders from Bootle?
It’s a big challenge for Maghull Labour who are used to being told what to do by either Bootle Labour or MP Bill Esterson’s office.