Sefton Central Area Committee – It’s still a poor excuse for localism.

A 3-monthly Sefton Central Area Committee came around again last Thursday. This time the mini-conference (for that is what it is) was held in Maghull Town Hall yet all of the items of substance for residents were with regard to Formby and Crosby!

I was only able to stay for half the meeting as I needed to go to see an elderly chap whom I help to look after. I have the feeling that I was the lucky one though as others sat through more than I.

Participants in last Thursday's Sefton Central Area Committee

Participants in last Thursday’s Sefton Central Area Committee

So what did I see and hear?

I raised a correction with regard to the minutes of the previous meeting as ‘Maghull’ had been quoted instead of ‘Lydiate’ when identifying a location in them. Some Labour members at the meeting seemed to find this correction amusing – I know not why.

Parish Councillor David Warren of Hightown complained it took a 6 month wait to get a reply from Sefton Council over a matter he had raised!

I raised a question during the Police Report about a recent raid on a property in Church Lane Lydiate.

Bellway Homes took some stick over their activities in Formby. Complaints about the behaviour of their workforce were made by residents and Independent Cllr. Maria Bennett.

Cllr. Steve Kermode and I also raised continuing concerns about motorbikes on the Cheshire Line Path and the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool Canal with the Neighbourhood Police. We both know that the Police have a tough job to catch the nutters who make the canal tow path and Cheshire Lines path so dangerous with their motorbikes and appreciated the response of Inspector Phil Hatton. Steve and I may be in very different political parties but we often seem to on the same hymn sheet about local matters.

Aintree Village Parish Councillor Peter Gill reported on the voluntary library that is now operating out of Aintree Youth and Community Centre following Labour’s disgraceful closure of Aintree Library and their utter refusal to allow volunteers to take that building over. So despite the Sefton Council the community in Aintree and Melling have set up their own voluntary library that Sefton can’t close or disapprove of. But did I notice Labour councillors approving of the new voluntary library even though their Party stopped one from from being formed, I think I did!

Another item on the agenda was the new Parish Charter which allegedly forms the basis of an agreement between Sefton Council and the 10 Parish Councils in the Borough about how they will interact with each other. Good luck with that then is the best I can say as the previous publication of this Charter, which I had a hand in writing, was unceremoniously (and rightly) ripped up in front of Sefton’s Labour-run Cabinet not so long ago following them treating Aintree Village Parish Council like something you may find on the sole of a shoe! Labour don’t do partnerships with any organisation that does not carry a Labour Party membership card in my experience and their removal of grants to some of Sefton’s Parish Councils now means that the residents of those Parishes are paying for some local services twice.

But to return to the meeting where Formby residents had been forced to travel Maghull to raise their very local concerns……if that’s localism then I am a Dutchman as the saying goes.

Anderson’s Metro Mayor ambitions dealt a blow

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/anderson-anger-merseyside-metro-mayor-8367926

Cllr_Joe_Anderson,_Leader,_Liverpool_City_Council.jpeg

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

You can look at this both ways i.e. it yet again highlights the dysfunctional nature of Labour Party politics on Merseyside (fighting like ferrets in a sack), which is clearly the case, or that on this occasion the inability of our local leaders to get along with each other has this time worked to the advantage of the rest of us. Both perspective are probably correct.

Of course as a Liberal I want as much power exercised as close to the people as possible but no way do I see having a Metro Mayor Lording it over us from Liverpool Town Hall as an acceptable way of supposedly getting that devolution of power. What do we gain by taking power from Westminster and handing it to one person on Merseyside – none at all. Manchester’s Council leaders may think it is a great idea, despite Manchester residents seemingly being very much of the opposite view but here on Merseyside the answer to governments of any colour has to be, devolution of powers yes, but in a way that the diverse communities of the Liverpool City Region are happy with. Don’t impose, that is not localism, it is big brother telling us what is good for us and we have had enough of that from our Labour-led Councils.

Localism

I was taken with this quote from the latest edition of Private Eye:-

‘Localism, of course, doesn’t always suit the government, which most of the time is anxious to remove as much power as possible from local authorities’ – You can read into that any government since the Second World War in my view!

This comment sums up my views on the matter very well. Yes all the political parties talk the talk about localism but they rarely walk the walk! We still live in one of the most centralised democracies in Europe and when government throws out a rope with localism and devolution written on the end of it you can bet they will soon ‘sober up’ and realise they need to start hauling that same rope back in again.

Calls for more powers for English regions – Liberals have been saying that for generations!

This piece is from prior to the Scottish referendum result, although let’s face it that result was never in doubt despite the tedious incessant media hype of recent weeks.

Graham Allen MP, chairman of the House of Commons political and constitutional reform committee, has said that English regions should get the power to spend the tax collected from local residents in the wake of further Scottish devolution. He said that devolution should not just be for Scotland if it is to be credible. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Devolution isn’t just for Scotland. This week I’d like to see Miliband, Clegg and Cameron issue a statement saying very clearly that we are in favour of both union and devolution, and perhaps to be credible, it can’t apply only to Scotland, it must also find a way to apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

The Guardian ran this piece

Some people take a long time to catch on, don’t they. For what it is worth Mr Allen Liberals have been championing this cause for generations, it’s Tories and Socialists who have been keen to hold tight to the reigns of power in Westminster!

Tory in call for mandatory weekly collections – Locallism my hat!

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has said that weekly bin collections could be made compulsory by law as part of the Conservative manifesto. “This move towards near–monthly bin collections is a sign of the blinkered view of municipal bin bureaucrats who don’t see rubbish collections are a vital service for families. Reducing bin collections harms the environment by fuelling fly–tipping and rips off taxpayers by cutting the services they pay for in council tax,” said Mr Lewis. The announcement follows Bury Council’s decision last month to make collections every three weeks, an idea which has been seized upon by Somerset Waste Partnership, which manages services for the county’s six councils.

If this does not prove once and for all that the Tories have only been pretending to like localism I don’t know what does. This subject is usually the pet rant of Eric Pickles but as he as been told to keep his head down another Tory is shouting this out for the sake of Daily Mail readers.

But my point is this, you can’t on the one hand say you believe in localism, where decisions are taken locally, and then on the other say you want to specify from Westminster what level of service should be provided in local areas. Frankly it is none of the Government’s business to tell local authorities what to do; it is a matter between a local authority and the residents who live in it to decide the level of service of bin collections or anything else. That’s what local accountability is all about.

But hang on a minute, if local democracy worked properly folks would vote in local election on local issues. If they did not like the frequency of bin collections in a particular council they would boot its political rulers out. Instead, we seem to use local elections as a referendum on the government of the day without a care in the world about the standard of service offered by our local council.

Tories, just like socialists, just want to tel us what is good for us. Big Brother is alive and well!

Pickles a petty dictator?

In his environmental blog, Damien Carrington suggests Eric Pickles’ embrace of localism only stretches as far local opinions that he shares. Mr Carrington says that repeated interventions by Mr Pickles, overruling local decision making, mark him out “as no more than a petty dictator.” Several examples are given before Mr Carrington warns that people hoping local decisions on fracking will be upheld will not to find an ally in Pickles. “For him, localism is meaningless unless it happens to back his personal prejudices.”

On the The Guardian Web

I can’t help but think that this opinion may well be right because sadly when Eric appears he seems to me to be peddling prejudices rather than coherent policy.