Emergency Services – Austerity causes innovative and welcome/unwelcome thinking

We are all sick and tired of austerity which has in effect been inflicted upon us as a consequence ‘casino banking’ and the subsequent financial crash. And yes it has caused great harm to the public services we all rely on.

But one, maybe the only positive consequence is that public services which for years have operated in glorious isolation from each other have had to look at innovative solutions to service delivery. Basing ambulances in fire stations or other similar solutions that bring together sometimes all 3 emergency services under one roof is an example.

Having said that the principle is good I was personally not supportive of the local solution which put ambulances, once based in Lydiate, in a fire station in Netherton. I wanted the Lydiate Ambulance Station and Maghull Police station merged onto the Maghull Police Station site but sadly no one was listening and the joined up thinking was not joined up as the Police were separately (and seemingly in glorious isolation) planning to shut down Maghull Police Station and sell off the land…….

But another innovative solution to service delivery is just up the road from my Lydiate home in neighbouring Aughton where the local Police Station is actually on Town Green Railway Station’s Liverpool bound platform. See photo below:-

As for Maghull the Police Station, we are told, it is going to occupy space within Maghull Town Hall. This may well have been a welcome and innovative solution if it had not meant the loss of the Town’s only surviving publicly funded youth facility. Plus that facility also doubled up to house the Town’s CAB but that has also now gone and a joint community the size of Maghull/Lydiate now sadly has no CAB.

So readers will understand why I am not at all happy with Maghull/Lydiate’s rather unwelcome public service delivery ‘solutions’. When the move of the Police Station to Maghull Town Hall will actually happen we don’t presently know as all has gone quiet on the matter.

Sefton Borough – Are our local Police Stations being considered for closure?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Here I am at Maghull Police Station but for how long will I be able to stand outside of it?

Having dragged out of Labour run Sefton Council’s undergrowth information, which they had sat on, about proposals to close Lydiate’s Ambulance Station recently (see previous postings), rumours from seemingly credible sources reached me about the potential closure of Police Stations in the Borough.

A worrying question indeed and when the rumours about such closures seem to be emanating from Merseyside Police it really makes you wonder what on earth is going on.

The Police Station which there seems to be most speculation about is the one in Maghull and despite having been in touch with the Police locally about the rumours I was still not clear about what’s going on beyond being told that an estates review is taking place. In the case of Maghull the very clear community speculation has been around the site being sold to Morrisons who are desperate to enlarge their adjacent store, which is far too small.

Separately, readers of this blog will also recall that when I dragged the Lydiate Ambulance Station closure into the open I openly said that co-location with Maghull Police Station could be a runner because that is where many police cars are maintained and the two sites are within a mile of each other. The response of North West Ambulance Service was that they had never even thought of this and had plumped for a site miles away at Netherton Fire Station instead to place their ‘local’ ambulance.

Anyway back to the Police Stations. It was time to write to Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Labour’s Jane Kennedy, for a clear answer as to what is happening. My first letter to her is below:-

Dear Commissioner,

Re. Future of Maghull Police Station

I write due to continual rumours across the East Parishes part of Sefton that the site of Maghull Police Station is to be sold; indeed such rumours seem to be emanating from Police sources.

I have taken the matter up with our local Police Inspector who in turn has raised the matter for me with his command team.

What I am being told is that whilst there is a current Force Estates Review on going no proposals have been made, let alone decisions being imminent and that any decision such as the future of Maghull Police Station will not be taken without full widespread prior public consultation.

Can you please outline for me what is happening from your perspective as Merseyside Police Commissioner? Obviously, I would appreciate an assurance that Maghull Police Station is not under threat of closure.

Yours Sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson

Back comes a reply saying ‘Maghull Police Station is an operational police station and will remain so for the foreseeable future.’ However, she goes on to say that all aspects of Merseyside’s Police budget are under review including ‘maintenance of the current estate’.

Still not too clear to me what this means so I send Jane another polite letter trying to gain a little more information, such as what is her minimum length of time definition of ‘foreseeable’.

A second reply comes back and talk about curt and short! She says ‘foreseeable means as far as she can see at this time’, so no clear answer there then. In response to my request for where I can find further details of any decisions made to date on this matter her answer is ‘Under MPA’, which I assume means Merseyside Police Authority? And finally a clear(ish) answer to my request for a guarantee of public consultation if she does decided to close any Merseyside police stations – She says ‘There will be public consultation regarding estate provision’.

Frankly, I am disappointed in Jane’s answers to my second letter as she seems to be trying to give me, as a fellow elected public representative, as little information as she can, at least that’s how it looks to me. And please bear in mind that during Maghull’s ‘Mad March’ of gun crime, earlier this year, I posted on this very site that she had handled a difficult public meeting on the matter in Lydiate quite well.

Mm, maybe time to reassess her if, as I perceive, she is not being open enough about an issue, such as Police Station closures, which will have massive public concern around it, should it happen.

Labour and the 3 Maghull Town Council by-elections – How desperate can they be?

Very desperate seems to be the answer as yesterday I was handed a personalised letter that had been sent to a Maghull North Ward resident from the Labour MP for Sefton Central and a real old rant it is too. Why it was even ranting enough to have been penned by an angry Unite official!

Obviously, similar letters are doing the rounds across Maghull and each one will have outlandish statements in them.

How about the desperate claim of Labour that we Lib Dems are privately happy to build on the Green Belt? Where on earth did they get this from when it is Labour who is voting to build on the Green Belt not us Lib Dems! We Lib Dems fought to protect the Green Belt back in 1998 during the last attack on it by Sefton Council so we have form and it is very much as Green Belt supporters. Labour only had a couple of councillors in Maghull back then and one of them who subsequently became their Leader on the Town Council some years later (and dramatically resigned a few weeks ago) abstained in a vote to fight to protect the Green Belt. What’s more Labour led Maghull Council failed to make a submission to Sefton Council in defence of the Green Belt during the last round of public consultation. Looks like Labour are trying to blame everyone but themselves because only they voted to consult on building on the Green Belt in Sefton.

We Lib Dems fought for the Poverty Lane site in Maghull in 1998 as this press cutting shows

We Lib Dems fought for the Poverty Lane site in Maghull in 1998 as this press cutting shows

Labour also says we want to close Lydiate Ambulance Station! Not true and it was Lib Dems who exposed the closure plan to the public, with the help of the Aintree and Maghull Champion newspaper, when Labour run Sefton Council had been sat on the information for weeks doing nothing with it. Labour have tried to cover their tracks over this by scurrying around with a petition to save the Ambulance Station but have failed to say why they sat on the information and why we, as opposition councillors, had to make the matter public.

Lydiate Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton campaigning for Lydiate Ambulance Station. Strangely, the North West Ambulance Service call it Maghull Ambulance Station even though it is in Lydiate.

Lydiate Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton campaigning for Lydiate Ambulance Station. Strangely, the North West Ambulance Service call it Maghull Ambulance Station even though it is in Lydiate.

What desperate claim will Labour make next?

Closure of Lydiate Ambulance Station – Why did Labour sit on the information and say nothing until Lib Dems made it public?

The proposed closure of Maghull Ambulance Station, with the ambulance based there being moved to Buckley Hill Fire Station, is a concern to us all and that is why Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and I made the issue public via the Champion newspaper (24th April) and this blog site.

rsz_photo0213

But hang on a minute, Labour run Sefton Council knew about this closure at least as long ago as the 12th March (some 6 weeks previously) when they were written to by the North West Ambulance Trust.

On that basis why did it have to take us opposition Lib Dem councillors to ferret out the information and make it public? Why did Labour sit on the information? Why indeed. What’s more it seems that the comrades are now scuttling around raising a petition against the closure that they did nothing about at all until we, with the Champion’s help, put it in the public domain.

That’s not community leadership dear comrades it’s band wagon jumping.

Lib Dems raise concerns about closure of Lydiate Ambulance Station

Plans by the North West Ambulance Service to close their ambulance station in Lydiate’s Kenyons Lane and relocate the ambulance housed there to Netherton’s Buckley Hill Fire Station have met with big concerns from local Lib Dem Sefton councillors.

The worrying news came in a letter to Sefton Council dated 12th March from the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust signed by Bob Williams the Trust’s Acting Chief Executive.

Says Cllr. Andrew Blackburn “My worry is that not having an ambulance based in the Maghull and Lydiate community will mean that the level of response to emergencies could well be less.

We have had a local ambulance station for as long as most people can remember and taking into account the size of the Maghull and Lydiate population, which has grown significantly since the ambulance station was built, it must surely be the case that an ambulance should continue to be stationed here.”

The Lib Dem councillors view is that the Trust needs to consult local people about this proposal and explain things to local people. The plans need testing against local opinion and residents need to have a say before the Trust takes any binding decisions.

I fear that this has been under discussion for quite some time but no consultation with residents has taken place. This is a big decision and I want it taken with the views of local people before the Trust Board. But for that to happen information needs to be put before residents clearly stating where all the ambulances that serve Maghull and Lydiate will be based and the estimated response times following any relocations.

I am particularly concerned about the large rural area of Lydiate to the north of the Parish which the present ambulance station can serve very well. The proposal to relocate to Netherton could mean that rural Lydiate becomes not so well served.