More trouble within Sefton Central Labour Party?

Well it would seem so as one faction is certainly briefing against another and this follows previous blood lettings that led to 7 Labour councillors resigning from Maghull Town Council in recent times.

The two issues now, I am told, surround efforts to deselect a Labour Sefton Councillor (in Molyneux ward?) and for the record is that not the same ward which allegedly passed a motion of no confidence or some such resolution in the Sefton Central Labour Party a while back? The second issue is whether yet another Labour councillor is going to resign. One faction says yes it is going to happen whilst another seems to be of the view that it will not happen.

Whether any of these positions is true or not I can’t tell you but they all emanate from within what seems to be a deeply troubled Sefton Central Labour Party.

Green Bin Tax – The ‘deferred’ Sefton charge will be £46!

Green charges a ‘stealth tax’

The Sunday Express examines the growing trend of councils charging for collecting grass and hedge cuttings from homes, a move condemned by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and public spending watchdogs. A £35 charge on garden waste collections in Birmingham has resulted in an increase in fly-tipping.

Cllr. Bruce Hubbard with his petition against Labour's £46 Green Bin Tax on Sefton households.

Cllr. Bruce Hubbard with his petition against Labour’s £46 Green Bin Tax on Sefton households.

Today’s Sunday Express, Page: 5

The proposed charge for Sefton from its Labour rulers was £46 but then in the face of two by-election losses to the Lib Dems in Maghull last summer they backed off. It was only some detailed investigations by the Lib Dems that revealed that the charge had merely been ‘deferred’ rather than scrapped so it could well return any day!

With thanks to the LGiU for this story.

Labour – There’s a lot to protest about in Sefton!

There have been a quite a number of public protests in recent years across the Borough of Sefton against things like:-

The Post Office closure programme pursued under the last Labour Government which saw Maghull and Lydiate having 4 Post Offices axed:- Below are Lib Dem protestors fighting for the former Coronation Road Post Road Post Office in Lydiate.

rsz_protesting_about_labours_post_office_closures_in_lydiate

Labour-run Sefton Council’s plan to close public toilets across the Borough. This fight was won by campaigners like those pictured below:-

rsz_toilet_campaign_02_13_lab

Labour’s £46 Green Bin tax for Sefton. This was fought off in the Summer of 2013 but the comrades are expected to try to bring it back once again having only deferred it:- Cllr. Bruce Hubbard is pictured below with his massive petition against the green bin tax which caused Labour to lose 2 council by-elections to the Lib Dems in Maghull.

rsz_bruce_green_bin_petition_pile

Building on Sefton’s Green Belt. Labour have got into big trouble over this by saying they would defend it whilst voting to build on it! Talk about being found out! Below are environment protestors lobbying a Sefton Council meeting at Maghull Town Hall. They were ignored!

rsz_green_belt_protestors_outside_maghull_th_06_06_13

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

Then there’s the hugely unpopular library closure programme pursued by Sefton Labour Party on the Council. 7 Libraries have been closed and Labour have even refused to let volunteer community groups run two of the closed libraries!

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

rsz_protesting_about_library_closures_-_southport

The photo above was taken outside Southport Town hall as protestors tried to save 3 libraries in the Town from closure. Sadly, like the Green Belt protestors, they were ignored.

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour's library axe

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour’s library axe

Yes, there is a lot to protest about in the Bootle-dominated, Labour-run socialist republic of Sefton.

Why are Sefton’s Labour councillors not campaigning for the communities that elected them?

In the south of the Sefton Borough Aintree, College Road, Litherland & Orrell Libraries have all been shut down by Labour-run Sefton Council as part of its savings drive. All these closures have been in wards with at least one Labour member yet Labour councillors have, as far as I know, been at best distant from the community campaign groups trying to find a sustainable way forward for the libraries. 3 more libraries have also been closed by Labour in Southport wards where there are no Labour councillors.

We all knew the Council needed to save money but to close libraries was Labour’s choice. However, when community bids came in to run Aintree and College Road Libraries, using volunteer help, what on earth made Labour councillors rejected those bids?

Lib Dems fighting for Aintree Library

Lib Dem campaigners fighting for the Libraries that Labour shut. Labour even stopped volunteers from reopening two libraries!

Then there’s the Green Belt. In Maghull, Lydiate, Formby, Thornton & Southport (which, as noted above, does not have any socialist councillors) community campaigns are trying to stop the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from being concreted over. Sadly, it is Labour-run Sefton Council that is proposing to allow the building.

A petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to a threatened Green Belt development site.

A petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to a threatened Green Belt development site.

And what about the Green Bin tax that Labour wanted to impose on Sefton residents. That needed a huge community reaction (and the loss of two Labour council seats in Maghull) to make Labour back off but they have only deferred the imposition of this local tax and we await them trying again to impose it.

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labour's Green Bill tax for Sefton.

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labour’s Green Bin tax for Sefton.

Libraries, Green Belt and the Green Bin tax are massive community issues yet Labour councillors are not standing with the residents who elected them, indeed they seem firmly stood against residents.

With 3 Cabinet members who are also Parish Councillors why are relations between Sefton and its 10 Parish Councils so poor these days?

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s the Parishes had a poor relationship with Sefton but when I became Borough Council Leader in 2003 I set out to put that right. A Parish Charter was created laying out the relationship between the Borough and its 10 Parishes and an annual event was created on the lines of a mini conference. Borough Council officers were also expected to treat the Parishes with respect, to help them and to jointly solve community issues with them.

It took a while but year by year the relationship changed to one that was far more positive. Indeed, the 10 Parish Councils worked hard at things from their perspective as well and credit must go to Cllr. Mike Coles of Formby Town Council for his efforts as chair of the 10 Parishes umbrella organisation. At last we had some joint working rather than joint hostility!

My time as Borough Leader came to an end in 2011 but there was hope that all would continue to be OK under the new Labour Leadership not least because the new Leader had also got himself elected as a Parish Councillor in Maghull. Not only that but two of his Labour Cabinet colleagues had also been successful in becoming Parish Councillors in Maghull. Sefton’s 7 person Cabinet now had 3 Parish Councillors on it whereas during my time as Borough Leader there was just me amongst a 10 person Cabinet who was also a Parish Councillor.

But the wheels came off very quickly under Labour when logically the opposite should have happened. Why?

• The 3 Parish Councillors on the Cabinet were and still are all Borough Councillors for Bootle wards where there are no Parish Councils. This may explain why they have seemingly been reluctant to champion the cause of the Parishes despite them wishing to be and succeeding in being Parish Councillors for Maghull Council.
• The Borough has had to make some harsh savings, which started in my last year as Leader, due to the Country’s dire financial situation. One of the savings the now Labour-run Borough has decided to make is to stop making yearly refunds of Council tax to the Parish Councils who maintained their own parks. This payment is fair and reasonable and I had made sure it was brought up to date with a sensible formula to calculate the payments. The effect of the decision to stop the payments is that from April 2014 Council tax payers in the 4 Parishes, where their Parish Council maintains the parks, is that they will end up paying twice! Once to the Parish Council which does the work and once to Sefton who don’t! You can imagine how this has gone down.
• Library closures came next as the Labour Council decided to shut a Library in Aintree Parish – one of 7 Labour wished to close across the Borough, but this was the only one where there was a Parish Council representing the community. A huge campaign led by Aintree Village Parish Council against their library closure sprang up but as it built it became clear that the recently elected Labour councillors in the Parished part of the Borough were hardly leading the community campaigns to save the libraries from from the front. But then Aintree Parish Council put together a bid with a group of community volunteers to take over Aintree Library and the Borough’s Labour Cabinet gave the plan the thumbs up. All seemed well until the Borough changed its mind and backed out. In December 2013 this led to an Aintree Parish Councillor ripping up a copy of the Parish Charter in front of the Borough’s Cabinet with its 3 members, who are also Parish Councillors, sat there watching.
• Another cost cutting idea of Labour was to disband the 3 Borough Council Area Committees in the middle of Sefton i.e. Formby, Crosby & the East Parishes for them to be replaced by one massive Area Committee. This has proved to be a complete disaster with the 10 Parish Councils, who had a strong voice, under the old system, being all but ignored.
• Resentment also simmers because Maghull Town Council, the largest of the 10 Parishes is reluctant to fight with the other 9 Parishes and sits back refusing to say anything about Labour’s cut in Council tax refunds even though it is the greatest loser of all the Parish Councils. But with 3 Borough Council Cabinet members sitting on Maghull Council (one of whom being the Borough Leader) and 2 additional back bench Labour members the Town Council does not know which way to turn so sits on the fence trying to say nothing.
• But two other seemingly unrelated matters are also impacting on the Parish/Borough relationship in a negative way. Firstly, the Borough is proposing to build houses on large areas of Green Belt within the part of Sefton that is Parished. Also, Labour proposed a green bin tax which would have impacted most negatively on the Parished part of the Borough where many of the largest gardens are. Fortunately, the loss of two seats to the Lib Dems in the Parished part of Sefton not so long ago has seemingly sobered the Labour-led Council up and they seem to be edging away from this most unpopular of taxes.

Is there any wonder, having taken all these factors into account, that relations between Sefton and its Parishes are poor? You can’t impose things from unparished Bootle on the rest of the Borough. You can’t get yourself elected as Parish Councillors and then back proposals that are against the interests of the Parish that has just elected you to represent their interests.

Why does Eric Pickles go on about bins all the time?

You may be wondering what on earth a Government Minister is doing issuing edicts and ‘Bin Bibles’ to Councils about waste collections. The link below refers to the most recent (inadvertent?) attack by Big Brother Pickles.

Lib Dem Cllr. Simon Shaw who exposed Labour-run Sefton Council's Green Bin tax plan

Lib Dem Cllr. Simon Shaw who exposed Labour-run Sefton Council’s Green Bin tax plan

www.lgcplus.com/news/pickles-bin-bible-withdrawn/5066707.article?blocktitle=Latest-Local-Government-News&contentID=2249

Surely how, when and what method is used by any council to collect the bins in its area is a matter between that council and the residents it serves subject to the council following environmental regulations etc.

Government does not need to micro-manage bin collections!

But here in the over-centralised UK we seem to have created a Bins Minister who just loves telling us all what we should do with our waste and how often we should do it.

In Sefton the collection of waste has always been pretty well managed and apart from Labour’s recent mad idea to charge us to have our bins emptied I have no reason to think I need Eric Pickles to worry himself to death about my waste bins. It would help though if he could put his mind to raising recycling rates in those council areas where the ‘green’ agenda seems to have stalled.