Sefton Council – Chief Exec’ Carney to retire

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its web site – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/sefton-councils-chief-executive-margaret-15767682

Goodness me is it really 10 years since I sat on the recruitment panel which selected Margaret Carney as the new Chief Executive of Sefton Council to replace Graham Haywood? My recollection is that Margaret was head and shoulders above all the other applicants for the job and that it was a unanimous decision to appoint her.

If memory serves Margaret started out at Knowsley Council in an ordinary clerical role and through hard graft worked herself up to an Executive position at Rochdale Council from where she came to Sefton Council.

Straight forward, incredibly hard-working and a pleasure to work with is how I’d describe her from my former position as Leader of the Council and then Cabinet member perspective. I wish her well and hope she enjoys life after Sefton Council.

Sefton Borough – Do Labour really want to merge it with Knowsley and Liverpool Councils?

Sefton Council Logo

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-open-liverpool-merging-14756310

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

In times when it looked just about possible that the Borough of Sefton could be split up I recall that Bootle Labour Party were seemingly of the view that merging Bootle in with Liverpool City Council was akin to them all being captured by the enemy. They certainly seemed to view the prospect with more than a little spluttering into their coffee so to speak.

Now it seems that some Labour folk are saying Knowsley Borough may not be viable in the future (I seem to recall that was a phrase used to describe West Lancs Borough not that long ago) and Joe Anderson suggesting that merging Liverpool with either or both Knowsley/Sefton is worth considering.

The church of St. Helen in Sefton Village, This village gave the name to Sefton Borough.

Sefton certainly is a muddle of communities with few common interests and there can be little doubt that it was somehow cobbled together by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1974 to suit some purpose but no one is quite sure what that purpose was. Unloved would be a good way to describe Sefton Borough. I have blogged about this before and here’s a link to that previous posting dated March 2015:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/28/borough-of-sefton-what-a-mixture-of-diverse-communities-that-have-little-common-with-each-other/

Of course Labour-run Sefton has now got rid of its Area Committees (mentioned in the March 2015 posting) as they have acted to centralise power in Bootle Town Hall once again.

Sefton Borough artwork recognising the year the Borough was created.

So having rehearsed that history, how on earth would merging Sefton with either or both Knowsley Borough and/or Liverpool City help empower Sefton’s diverse communities – Answer it wouldn’t, indeed it would most probably place the decision making power base even further away in Liverpool.

The other question is why do some Labour folks in Knowsley and Liverpool want to merge their councils areas with Sefton Borough. Is it just a bigger is better approach to local government?

The talk of mergers is probably little more than that but of course we Liberals need to be on our guard as we are very much opposed to the big is beautiful approach to local government because we are decentralisers by nature and instinct. Creating a huge Merseyside Council taking in Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton would achieve what? A Liberal view is that it would be more remote, less in touch with the needs of individual communities and pretty much impossible for residents to hold to account. In reality we need smaller councils with far less highly paid officials running them.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Labour’s dilemma laid bare in Prescot

I went canvassing yesterday for a local council by-election and was struck by two things. Firstly, the revival of the Lib Dem vote was strong and of course, from my point of view, most welcome. But what really stood out was the the position of the Labour Party and it was not good news for them!

Yes of course I came across a few tribal Labour voters who have voted Labour all their lives and will continue to do so no matter what Labour stands for. I suppose you categorise them as Labour’s right wing. Most of them will not actually be Labour Party members but their loyalty to Labour is absolute.

Compare that with the actual membership of the Labour Party these days; predominately left wing, socialist and very much behind Jeremy Corbyn.

These two groups are all but incompatible and to add to the mix you have the vast majority of Labour’s MP’s being in neither camp! Yes of course some will be from Labour’s working class tribal right and some will be Corbynites but the vast majority of them are stuck somewhere in the middle. They will be seen as being social democrats in polite company and as Red Tories by their own Party membership.

So what about Prescot? Well Labour-run Knowsley Council is clearly about as popular as snow at harvest; even Labour supporters who expressed a view about their local council were hardly complimentary. But what I noticed, if you take away Labour’s tribal supporters, is that the rest are hardly enthused about Labour at all these days.

Obviously I don’t know how the Prescot by-election will turn out but what I could clearly see on the doorsteps of Prescot was that the national trend of Labour support slipping away whilst Lib Dem support rises is being replicated.

As I often say, hey I’m a Liberal, most Labour folk seem too right wing to me.

PS. BTW I personally did not come across anyone who said they were a Tory supporter.