Community ‘Fair Deal Campaign’ pits Maghull Labour v Sefton Labour

Having been involved in politics here on Merseyside since 1980, one of the many things I’ve learned is that whilst the Labour Party fight like ferrets in a sack internally they always, always try to put forward a united front in public.

But hey, things may be changing as Maghull Labour are rightly trying to turn the screw on big brother Sefton Labour. You’d expect it to end in tears for Maghull Labour but let’s give them credit for standing up to Sefton Labour. I have a feeling that the Maghull Town Council/Sefton Borough Council relationship may be getting a little fractious.

So what’s the conflict all about? Well, a community ‘Fair Deal campaign’, with Labour-run Maghull Town Council taking the lead, has been launched because, well to put it bluntly, Sefton Council (also Labour controlled) has in my view been diddling the communities of Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village* for a few years now

And by the way, for the benefit of any doubt, I’m very much supportive of the campaign. My recent blog posting regarding ‘Double Rating’ makes the point and here’s a link to it:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2022/02/14/double-rating-maghull-lydiate-aintree-a-history-of-ups-and-downs/

I also had a letter published in the North Liverpool Champion newspaper on 16th March on the same subject.

Here are some scans of the campaign leaflet that’s presently being delivered around Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village (you’ll need to click on each scan to enlarge for reading):-

As I pointed out in both my blog posting (linked above) and in my letter to the Champion Newspaper, whilst austerity was the reason given for the ‘Double Rating’ being withdrawn in reality the formula for it simply needed adjusting to take into account Sefton Borough Council’s reduced expenditure on its own parks and gardens. The total withdrawal of DR was simply wrong and I opposed Labour’s move to do that when I was a Sefton Councillor because it meant Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree Village council taxpayers were being disadvantaged. Here’s the relevant part of the submission made by Lydiate Parish Council explaining that very fact:-

a) To continue to make the payments but at a lower level commensurate with the reduced standards of grounds maintenance that the Borough has already budgeted for and may well budget for in the future. This option would mean that all of Sefton’s communities would be treated the same by the Borough Council no matter whether the parks and gardens are run by Borough or Parish Council.

Looking at the party politics is interesting because the area of Sefton Borough covered by this campaign is known as the East Parishes and it has 3 Borough Council wards – Park, Sudell and Molyneux. Until recently these 3 wards had 3 Labour members in each (total of 9) but 2 of the councillors (1 in Park, 1 in Molyneux) have parted company with Labour, sitting now as Independents. I suppose the question is what will the 7 East Parishes wards Labour members of Sefton Council do if the issue comes to a vote on the Borough Council? This question assumes, of course, that Labour-run Sefton Council doesn’t capitulate and pay up, which I hope they will.

Anyway, back to the campaign. You’ll have noticed the reference to the ‘New Homes Bonus’, ‘Section 106’ and the 1700 new homes to be built in Maghull from the scanned leaflet. The issue for me here is that as a former Maghull Town Councillor myself, I ran the successful campaign to stop the very same ‘Land East of Maghull’ being developed back in 1998**. I didn’t see Labour-run Maghull Town Council opposing/campaigning against Sefton Council’s most recent and successful bid to build on the land, which they (Sefton) won, almost without a shot being fired! In other words, there’s a certain amount of shutting stable doors after the horse has bolted going on here.

So there you have it, the party political tectonic plates are shifting in Labour-run Sefton and in ways that would have seemed inconceivable not so long ago. My feeling is that all may not be well with Keir Starmer’s seeming bid to take the Labour Party to a centre-right position in UK politics and this may be causing some of the local Labour Party unrest. If all this unrest resolves a great injustice for the East Parishes council taxpayers of Sefton Borough then some good will have come from it.

* I note Melling Parish Council is seemingly not involved in this campaign and wonder why. I say this as at one time Melling PC did get some Double Rating money for the wild-flower meadow they maintained on Melling Rock. Maybe they no longer have responsibility for it?

** That was during the development of what was then called the Sefton’s Unitary Development Plan. The new plan, which this time has approved the building on this vast piece of high-grade agricultural land, is called the Sefton Local Plan. I opposed the Local Plan as a Sefton Councillor (and after I’d been invited to leave the council by the electorate) as this piece of land is high-grade agricultural land that grows the food we eat.

2016 – A year to forget? Well yes, but there was the odd glimmer of hope

BAD NATIONAL & GLOBAL EVENTS

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* Given the biggest self-destruct button the UK electorate has probably ever been tempted by i.e the EU referendum – they pressed it!

* Sociopath Trump wins in America, seemingly with help from Putin in the Cremlin!

* We manage to get rid of a centrist (for a Conservative that is), if hardly competent, Tory Prime Minister (Cameron) for him to be replaced by someone who looks utterly lost, is in a job probably well above her pay grade and who is riding us off into a inglorious right wing sunset!

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* Our NHS and elderly social care system has been systematically neglected and left to wither on the vine by our clueless government whilst we chuck goodness knows how much money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme that will never be used. There are guilty people in all political parties over this.

AND GOOD NATIONAL & GLOBAL THINGS?

* Well Lib Dem anti-Brexit candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election comes to mind.

* The beating the right took in the Austrian Presidential election was a pleasant if somewhat surprising turn of events.

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* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shining a light for tolerant, inclusive and progressive politics from over the pond in Canada. Is there anyone else in power on the global stage who can match his progressive approach to running a country?

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* The low and high of Notts and England batsman James Taylor being struck down by an almost fatal undiagnosed heart condition and then him coming through it. Yes we have lost on brilliant batsman but so glad he is still alive. And yes I am an Notts supporter.

AND LOCAL LOWS AND HIGHS?

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

* LOW – We had the depressing news that Labour-run Maghull Town Council was finally killing-off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall which local youngsters had started 20+ years ago. And hey what a surprise (NOT) anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area of Maghull where it once operated!

St Catherine's otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

St Catherine’s otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

* HIGH – The ‘Friends of the Abbey’ in Lydiate gaining a Lottery grant to start the process of trying to conserve and preserve the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for future generations.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

* LOW – The running down of and then appalling vandalism to Maghull’s once award winning public toilets in Leighton Avenue.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

* HIGH – The continuing success of the Maghull in Bloom and Maghull Station Volunteers as they try to improve Maghull’s environment.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

* LOW – The rubber stamping of the Sefton Local Plan which will ruin Green Belt and kill off some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. A black cloud for for environmental campaigners indeed.

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* HIGH – The Bicentenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

On a personal note the start of 2016 was grim as I attended 4 funerals of people I knew in the first 4 months – former Lib Dem Councillors Joan Blackburn, David Rimmer and Kath Jones together with Lib Dem activist Susan Ashton. It finished with a further death this time of a relative in December whose funeral I could not get to because of traffic jams on the M6. But of course there were personal highs as well –

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* Being invited to play Santa for a session to help Maghull & Aughton Rotary Club and Maghull in Bloom fund raise was great fun.

Me sat in my old choir stall  at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat - if memory serves at all of course - it was over 40 years ago!

Me sat in my old choir stall at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat – if memory serves at all of course – it was over 40 years ago!

* Being invited to rejoin the choir of St Helen’s Church in Sefton Village, where I had been a choirboy in 1970, despite being an atheist was lovely. Obviously I politely declined.

Carl Cashman for Mersey Metro Mayor Launch 08 16 - Credit Charlie Green

* Helping a great young man to be selected as Lib Dem candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election to be held in May 2017. Carl Cashman is that young man. I have known him for some years now and am delighted he will be on the ballot paper.

Iain Brodie Brown - Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

Iain Brodie Brown – Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

* My old chum Iain Brodie Browne becoming Mayor of Sefton. A Liberal down to his boots and one of the most radical, capable and compassionate politicians I have ever come across.

So sadly 2016 has been a year of some very significant lows indeed. Some of those lows we will be grappling with the consequences of for maybe 10 years or more. Fortunately the odd bit of good news did filter through but surely 2017 has to be better?

Labour – giving their council candidates that little bit of extra help?

Now call me a cynic but should I have been surprised to see an article featuring a Labour council candidate in a Maghull community newspaper only weeks before an election? You see the article, all about active birth classes for mums to be, featured Labour’s Sudell Ward candidate for the Sefton Council elections on May 5th.

Of course the article made no mention of the person’s candidature but a little bit of extra exposure can’t have done the candidate any harm now can it? If they had not been a candidate in the forthcoming elections would the article have appeared? And what about the other candidates in Sudell ward will they be given similar exposure to balance things up? Oh, but hang on this is a three monthly/quarterly publication so how can things be balanced up?

The publication, Maghull Press, comes out via Maghull Town Council which strangely is Labour-run, surely there is no connection though?

And to add to the pot I went to a Lydiate Parish Council meeting last Tuesday and had to put a stop to a Lydiate Parish Council publication, which like Maghull Press will be going to each household in Lydiate.

That publication (all about Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plan) was only in draft but oddly it featured on the front page a picture of the Labour candidate for Park Ward in the forthcoming elections. Clearly this was an inadvertent error in the drafting process – don’t ask who drafted it.

Obviously Lydiate Parish Council, also Labour run, would not want to be giving the Labour candidate in Park ward an extra leg up so I helped them out by objecting to the photo on the grounds that it could get them into difficulties if they went ahead and published it as in the draft form.

But who is is looking after the editorial issues at Maghull Press? Do they know they may have put themselves in a position where they could be accused of party political bias? How will they try to redress any perception of bias in favour of one candidate in May’s elections. They can consider this posting to be their invitation to re-balance things but will they?