Bootle – That purchase of The Strand shopping centre which Labour keep trying to brush under the Town Hall carpet

£684,000 cost (and rising) of Bootle Strand “advice”

As opposition Lib Dem councillors continue to dig into this murky matter further issues of concern continue to emerge. Cllr. Iain Brodie Browne has the latest on his blog site – Birkdale Focus – accessible via the link below

birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/sefton-council-leader-should-come-clean.html

And the Liverpool Echo is running this story on its web site based on Iain’s investigations:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/sefton-council-paid-out-nearly-13940814

Despite The Times exposing what Sefton Council was up to just a few weeks back (see link below) it seems there are more carpets to be ripped up to get to all the facts about this odd and indeed worrying purchase of a shopping centre by cash strapped Sefton Council.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/11/09/sefton-council-so-was-it-avaioding-tax-or-not-when-buying-bootle-strand-shopping-centre/

Keep digging…………

Maghull – Youth Coffee Bar gone, CAB gone, retired bowlers given huge price hike, long established cricket club with nowhere to play? – Just what’s the Town Council up to?

Firstly a confession, I was a member of Maghull Town Council from 1985 to 2015 and I helped get Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar and CAB facility set up in the 1990’s so I may be a little biased here.

Since Labour took over Maghull Town Council in 2011 a lot has changed and much of it I have scratched my head about wondering what the motivation has been.

Do we really want a band stand on KGV Park? Certainly I have never heard an outcry for one yet the Council seem to see it as a priority issue.

Was it sensible to close down the Town’s only publicly funded youth facility that was set up by local youngsters? It made no sense to me what so ever.

Losing the CAB facility has clearly been a backwards step. A Town the size of Maghull clearly needs accessible local advice for it’s citizens.

The bowlers, many of them retired, have been handed huge increases in the cost of their green fees. This has meant some of them no longer play at KGV Park.

And what about the dispute between the Town Council and Maghull Cricket Club that has been filing the pages of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper in recent weeks? How on earth does a Council end up at such loggerheads with a long-established and important community organisation?

This weeks Champion newspaper made me want to shout out – ‘Just stop this nonsense NOW!’ because the Cricket Club issue was laid bare in three separte items in the paper.

Firstly on page 3 the Cricket Club is pleading for a change of heart from the Town Council who are wanting a ‘market value’ for the lease of the cricket ground. For goodness sake this is a community organisation not Donald Trump doing a business deal! What on earth is to be gained if the Cricket Club goes under?

Then on page 38 there’s an advert from Maghull TC wanting to sell on the lease of Council owned property by the Leeds Liverpool Canal, with car park, pavilion, changing rooms etc. Who will buy the lease? Another Cricket Club? Another organisation who would then sub-let back to Maghull Cricket Club? This can only end in tears.

Then on page 48 (the back page) there’s a report of a Maghull Cricket Club match against Liverpool under the heading ‘Downpour thwarts Maghull’ It’s certainly a massive soaking that Maghull Cricket Club is presently getting and that’s not because of rain!

I live in neighbouring Lydiate these days so have no connection with Maghull Council any more but I look over at some of the things happening in Maghull, in the name of Maghull people, and I really do wonder what on earth is going on in the Town Hall bunker.

Yes I know there have been huge cut backs in the public sector because of austerity but Maghull Town Council has never had an Government grants to loose. It has lost its Double Rating payments from Sefton Council though but that in itself is an appalling act meaning that Maghull Council Tax payers (along with Lydiate and Aintree Village) are now paying twice for their parks and gardens! So if Maghull TC is crying poverty for at least some of its motivation for chasing community organisations for more money then the root cause of their problem is Labour-run Sefton Council who made the decision to impose the unfair Council tax situation in the first place.

I can’t tell you how sad this appalling situation makes me feel having lived in Maghull for 43 years.

Bootle – Sefton Council buys back The Strand Shopping Centre for how much though?

Sefton Council have bought back The Strand Shopping Centre which it had previously sold off all its interest in over a number of years some time ago.

This display board was put up not so long ago when the last owners took over The Strand.

Word is also that the deal is worth anything from £30m to a cool £60m+ (not confirmed) and that the Council is borrowing money to make the purchase. It seems that they intend to finance the loan via the rents charged to the businesses that operate out of The Strand and they are saying that this will more than cover their loan repayments and leave money over for other spending.

The Army recruiting outside The Strand last year.

Mm, for the sake of Sefton’s Council tax payers this had better work out in the medium to long term otherwise it will be a poor deal for the Borough.

Interestingly the Council is making this purchase knowing that 3,000+ Civil Service jobs, which are presently based in Bootle, are to be be shipped into Liverpool within a couple of years and that is bound to have a negative impact on the footfall of The Strand.

There don’t seem to be many real detailed facts about this purchase in the public domain, but then again the purchase was seemingly agreed by the Council’s all-Labour Cabinet and opposition members of the Council have not seen the background papers I understand. Indeed, a Lib Dem opposition member who was sat observing the the very Cabinet meeting where the purchase was seemingly agreed was asked to leave whilst the item was discussed.

I wonder how this very significant expenditure of public money is to be srutinised and by whom? This matter needs to be out in the open together with all the facts.

Southport – Council’s Big Boss Visits

I came across a Labour Party leaflet the other day that had been delivered in an area of Southport and it did make me chuckle.

Sefton Logo

An article in it featuring the Labour Leader of Sefton Council starts off by saying ‘I recently visited Southport’. Well, if those few words don’t confirm what Southport folk have always thought i.e. that they are in the far flung rarely visited part of the Borough (a Borough they have never wanted to be a part of, I might add) I don’t know what does. And when I say rarely visited I mean by the Council’s Bootle Labour rulers in any meaningful way other than to attend meetings.

Or you could look at it another way; imagine if you could hear such a conversation as this. Not that you ever would mind.

Senior Council Officer to Bootle Labour Leadership – I’m afraid its time to visit Southport once again your eminences. I know you have done missionary work there before but we have to try harder to get those damn Sandgrounders on side and loving Sefton Council.

Labour Leadership (in Unison – no not the trade union) – You go, no you go, who’s not been to engage with the Southport lot yet? Come on speak up. Where have you all gone?

Senior Council Officer to Leader – Sorry your eminence the rest of them have run for the hills so you will have to go! Oh, and I hope you don’t mind me suggesting that you stop using that photo of your eminence that well, to put it bluntly, makes you look er a bit like an old fashioned municipal socialist boss. Such photos don’t go down well in our northern seaside annex.

Labour Leadership to anyone who will listen, we have a vacancy for a Senior Council Officer.

Right to Buy – An utterly wrong Tory policy

Cameron warned over right-to-buy

David Cameron has been warned by the Institute of Fiscal Studies that his proposed extension to the right-to-buy scheme risks worsening the housing crisis and damaging Britain’s public finances.

The IFS also warned that the measure risked further dividing communities into rich and poor areas. It added that previous pledges to replace every home bought under the existing right to buy scheme had not been followed through.

The Times newspaper ran this story

What Britain needs now is more social housing not less. Giving people a cheap deal to buy their social housing property simply takes out another much needed house from this sector of the housing market thereby reducing the supply of the very type of property we are most in need of!

Places like Maghull, Lydiate and Southport are hardly in need of more private housing stock which bizarrely our Labour-led Council is forcing upon us. It’s social housing that is required and it needs to be built on brownfield sites not on acre after acre of high grade agricultural land which we presently grow our food on.

Both to the left and right housing policy has gone utterly mad.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Maghull/Lydiate – Green Belt Campaigners Public Meeting

As someone who has fought Labour every inch of the way as they have been voting to build on our precious Green Belt and high grade agricultural land in Sefton Borough I thought I would pop along to the public meeting organised by the Maghull & Lydiate Action Group last Thursday evening.

A packed public meeting in Maghull Methodist Church on 26th February.

A packed public meeting in Maghull Methodist Church on 26th February.

The meeting was held in Maghull Methodist Church Hall and was packed with locals who all clearly felt as I and indeed the Action Group feel about Labour’s mad building plans.

It was nice to here that Lydiate Parish Council’s fight to save the Green Belt was appreciated but at the same time sad to hear Labour-run Maghull Town Council coming in for a lot of stick for it’s lack of fight. Sad because in 1998 Maghull Town Council, then Lib Dem-run, led the campaign to fight off Sefton Council’s attempt to build on the very same Green Belt that Labour are intending to build on now. No one can understand why Labour has just let it all roll over them this time.

I kept quiet for most of the meeting as I did not feel it was appropriate for me to spout off as a Lib Dem politician and councillor at a meeting called by people independent of all political parties. So I sat and listened to many contributions from Green Belt campaigners from Maghull, Lydiate and Formby. It was only after the meeting was all but over that I contributed.

Firstly, I apologised for being there quite openly as a Lib Dem politician even though I am one on the same agenda as the Action Group. As my contribution seemed to be welcome I outlined some issues that I have been involved with and answered a couple of points that had come up during the meeting. Fortunately, my comments were well received despite them hardly being politically impartial.

Labour councillors came in for a lot of stick for voting to build on the Green Belt after saying they were going to save it and also for not turning out to speak to the Green Belt campaigners when asked to. A photo was put up on the projector screen of Labour folk holding up posters saying ‘Save the Green Belt’ in Maghull Square before their Sefton Councillors U turned and voted to build on the Green Belt.

At the end of the meeting we were all treated to what may have been the first public showing, in Maghull anyway, of a funny video. It’s on You Tube and is a spoof Hitler video adapted to local circumstances associated with the Labour Party and the Green Belt. It had us all laughing, despite the fact that I had previously seen it on You Tube. I understand that Green Belt campaigners in Bradford have now adapted the same video for their similar local circumstances.

A useful meeting which I was happy to attend but probably one that a Maghull Labour councillor would have found very uncomfortable. Talk about your sins finding you out!