Sumner Road car park, Formby – Why no decision by Formby’s own councillors about the proposed parking charges?

Today I spoke to a Formby resident who was more than a little angry about parking charges being proposed by Sefton Council for this particular car park. It presently has ‘Limited waiting’ for 2 hours between the hours of 09.00 – 18.0, Monday – Saturday.

Her concern was that charges may well have a detrimental effect on local business and shops, the very thing that continues to worry me about a parallel situation Maghull’s main shopping centre where charges have already been brought in (all be it by a private developer) and which I have posted about previously on this site.

But her concern was in many ways far more fundamental than that; she wanted to know why Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors or indeed Formby Parish Council were not making the decision about whether to impose parking charges or not. As someone who is committed to decentralising decision making to the lowest grass roots level possible I obviously agree with her. So let’s have a look at this particular situation.

Sefton has a Cabinet style of governance. Until Labour gained a majority that Cabinet was all-party and as far as I can recall there was usually a councillor from Formby on it. Now Labour has control all of the Cabinet members come from the Bootle Constituency! Does that mean that Formby’s 6 councillors don’t have a say? Well, yes and no, you see 3 of Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors are from the Labour Group on the Council so they can protest within the Labour Group about these charges. But will they be listened to? Your guess is as good as mine but bearing in mind that the Bootle Labour faction has far more councillors than the Sefton Central Labour faction then my feeling is that their voices, should they choose to use them, will go unheard.

The problem with Sefton these days is that all power has been centralised in Bootle and the Labour councillors from the Sefton Central area are simply there to toe the Bootle Labour line.

Has Formby Parish Council found a solution to declining maintenance standards? Grass verges for example.


Readers will know that I am a keen supporter of Parish Councils because they are the very bed rock of grass roots democracy. Why every community in the land does not have one beats me.

Anyway, a recent chat with a member of Formby Parish Council got me thinking. There, a simple but potentially effective and sustainable solution to the problem of trying to halt the decline in street maintenance standards may well have been found. Frankly, it is so sensible and straight forward you wonder why it took so long to surface but maybe all good ideas come up like this.

The Formby solution? Well, they identify high profile parts of their community, such as entry roads into the Town, and then look at say the grass verges. Now Sefton Borough may only be able to afford to cut the verges say 6 times per year but for Formby’s leaders this is simply not enough to present their community well in prominent roads/areas. On that basis Formby Parish Council says to Sefton Council, we will pay your contractor the same rate you pay them but that will be for be X number of extra cuts. No need to tender as that has already been done by the Borough Council, no form filling other than the very basic required and hopefully no declining standards.

A good idea whose time has come I would suggest.