Maghull – Why has the Town Council not been cutting its hedges and a littering of other sins

The lack of hedge cutting around Maghull’s parks has of course been raised before on this blog site. My previous post refers at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/23/maghull-hedges-has-anyone-at-the-council-noticed-how-desperately-they-need-cutting/

But look at this, an advert for hiring out the Town Council’s Grounds Maintenance staff, seen on the Town Hall internal notice board on 22nd October:-

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Click on the photo to enlarge it.

When Labour took control of the Town Council in 2011 they said they were reducing what they called the ‘Rolls Royce’ standard of maintenance that the Lib Dems had promoted for Maghull’s parks, gardens and playing fields. Little did we know that they were seemingly moving towards a ‘Trabant’ standard as the alternative!

There have been complaints of hedges not being cut this year at Whinney Brook Field and Glenn Park along both sides of Eastway and at KGV Park along the A59/Northway. Also, concerns about litter piling up at Dodds and KGV Parks has come to our attention this summer and autumn via Facebook and the latest edition (28th October) of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper. The lack of hedge cutting refers back to my previous posting about the blind chap walking into and getting a face full of Hawthorne from the uncut hedges on Eastway.

Would it be too much of a leap to wonder if the lack of maintenance of the parks and gardens in Maghull is due, at least in part, to the Grounds Maintenance staff seemingly being out for hire on private contracts?

It was also interesting to note that the Champion article whilst being critical of the Council, via the comments of a local resident, carried a response from a ‘Council spokesperson’. It seems Maghull’s Labour rulers were not too keen on being seen to be a part of an article like this. Surprising really as they would normally be all smiles for the media’s camera at the opening of a packet of crisps but not it seems at the litter caused by discarded packets of crisps etc.

Of course the Council is as much the victim of the litters and rubbish dumpers as the wider community. However, experience tells us that if litter and rubbish is not cleared away quickly it, by default, gives the impression that the community/Council do not care for the area and more littering and dumping takes place.

Will Maghull Town Council address these maintenance issues or not?

Maghull Town Council – Accounting (or not) for its commercial activities

I have been asking questions about his at Maghull Council meetings recently as indeed has Labour Councillor Steve Kermode, to give him his due.

Separately we seem to have come to a similar point of view i.e. the Council’s commercial activities (using parks & gardens staff to bid for work outside of the Council) are not at all well documented in the reports/accounts made available to members of the Council.

Over the past couple of years Maghull TC has been engaging in commercial activities via its Parks and Gardens Maintenance staff, by using them to bid for commercial contracts to bring in another source of income for the Council. This is perfectly in order in that the Council has the right to do this as a consequence of the Coalition Government’s Localism Act. However, the problem is the commercial activities are hardly well documented.

This means for example that councillors can’t hold the Council to account because we don’t have the information to know if the commercial activities are working as we would wish them to. For example here are a few questions that come to mind:-

* Who does the Council have contracts with?
* How many contracts has the Council bid for?
* What resources is the Council putting into the contracts it holds and to bidding for other contracts?
* What are the consequences of the Council’s staff being engaged in outside contracts? By this I mean what are the staff not doing in the parks and gardens because their attentions are elsewhere?
* What profit/loss has the Council made on its commercial activities?
* Why is the Council not accounting for and reporting on its commercial activities to Council members?
* Were the watering problems encountered by the Maghull in Bloom volunteers last Summer in Maghull Square impacted on by Council staff being engaged on commercial contracts?
* Do the Council’s trading activities damage other competing local enterprises/businesses?

A briefing paper, prepared for Parish and Town Council on this matter, that I have read says ‘If a council wishes to trade it must set up a company or co-operative society and abide by company law’, I have not seen this taking place.

This same briefing paper also advises that ‘The council must resolve at a meeting that it meets the criteria for eligibility relating to the electoral mandate and relevant training of the clerk. The resolution can be passed at any meeting of the council but a further resolution must be passed at every subsequent “relevant annual meeting” for the council to be able to continue to exercise the power’

I have asked the Council twice now to account for its commercial activities in the way prescribed by national advice and in a way that is clear for members of the Council. I hope the message has hit home with our Labour rulers.

I particularly like the idea of the Council setting up a mutual/co-operative society to run its commercial activities.