Knowsley parks sell-off – Cashman and Howarth on the case

The BBC has the sad story on its web site – see link above

My good friend and leader of the Opposition on Knowsley Council, Cllr. Carl Cashman, has been one of the loud voices saying ‘NO’ to Knowsley Council’s Labour leaders as they plough on with their parks sell-off plans. But things are looking grim in that the all-Labour Cabinet of Knowsley Council is pressing on with the sale of many parks and gardens.

Merseyside Labour Councils just don’t get environmental issues

Urban green spaces are crucial in any community; once they are gone they are effectively gone for good – that means the listed parks/sites to be sold off for development will not be there for future generations. However desperate the finances of Knowsley Council are this is environmentally just the wrong thing to do but how many times have I had to question the environmental credentials of the Labour Party on Merseyside! Too many times sadly.

It’s interesting that George Howarth MP has waded into this issue. I got to know George reasonably well when he was MP for Sefton East and have some respect for him. Let’s hope his intervention will help find a more environmentally sustainable solution for Knowsley Council’s struggling Labour leaders.

What MP’s cost us – It needs to be brought under control

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

With all due respect to the Trinity Mirror Group I think they have the wrong target here with regard to the issue of MP’s expenses. The fact that MP’s wish to travel first class to enable them to work is actually fine by me, I would only gripe about such travel if MP’s were using it for luxury entitlement rather than working.

The real issue for me is the truly huge amount of money that MP’s are given to run their local offices and employ staff to work for them. This is surely the area for significant savings.

My view is that the premises used in their constituencies by MP’s should be procured by civil servants and the people working for MP’s should also be civil servants on secondment. This way costs could be reduced/controlled by reducing the number of employees and any hint of MP’s staff working for party political purposes removed.

MP’s are in general too detached from real life as many are the product of a party political process that means a lot of them have never worked in the real world. They effectively go straight into politics from university working their way up the slippy party political pole, often starting as MP’s assistants/staff paid for by the public purse.

Our unrepresentative electoral system fuels this process as political parties can place their up and coming people into parliamentary seats that are a virtual certainty to be won by one of the major parties. The party is thereby selecting the MP not the electorate.

My view is that we the public need to retake control of MP’s so that they are actually accountable to their constituents rather than to their political party. Changing the way that MP’s can rent/buy premises and hire & fire staff at a local level is one of the solutions, but can’t you just hear the cries of no, no, no, from those who make their livings from the public purse!

Lib Dems put pressure on MP Bill Esterson to reduce his cost to the tax payer.

Lib Dem campaigners in Bill Esterson’s Sefton Central Constituency have issued a challenge to the Labour MP to become the lowest cost MP on Merseyside in 2014.

The Lib Dem challenge follows publication of the amounts spent by MP’s in running their constituency offices across the UK. The data shows that Bill Esterson is the most expensive MP on Merseyside and that he claims more than Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg or David Cameron.

The Merseyside MP with the lowest claim on the public purse is George Howarth the Labour member for Knowsley who, until the last election, also represented the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough (Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree Village and Melling).

Our challenge to Bill Esterson is simple; be the lowest cost MP on Merseyside when the 2014 figures are published.

My understanding is that the MP says that his costs are high due to the amount of work that his office does yet George Howarth represents a constituency with very much higher levels of deprivation but he clearly keeps his cost to the tax payer in check despite this.

Below is the comparison between George Howarth MP and Bill Esterson MP, it amounts to a difference of £61,097.25 to run their respective constituency offices.

Bill Esterson – Sefton Central Constituency £190,705.75
George Howarth – Knowsley Constituency £129,608.50