Sefton Central Labour – More on those internal disputes

I now hear that a vote of no confidence was recently put down within Sefton Central Labour and that some ward councillors are trying to disentangle/distance themselves from MP Bill Esterson’s office.

Also, returning to the odd carry on with Labour run Maghull Town Council where 7 Labour councillors have resigned in recent times it seems that the influence of Labour forces outside of the Labour councillor’s group has been a factor in the last 3 resignations. It has always looked like the Town Council Labour group were being told what to do by others and Labour sources are now pointing the finger at the MP’s Maghull Parliamentary Office as a source of friction.

With newspaper headlines like these, no wonder Labour is rocking!

Aintree & Maghull Champion 12th June 2013

Aintree & Maghull Champion 12th June 2013

Aintree & Maghull Champion 19th June 2013

Aintree & Maghull Champion 19th June 2013

Lydiate Parish Council – Please don’t make our residents pay twice!

Double Rating in Sefton – Lydiate Parish Council’s response to Sefton MBC’s proposal to stop repaying the affected Parish Councils

Dear Sefton Council,

In Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village (and to a lesser extent in Melling Parish – see note below) all of the parks are looked after by the Town or Parish Councils and these Councils charge residents for the cost of doing this, via the Council Tax – the separate ‘parish precept’.

Sefton Council also charges for looking after parks in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village even though it does not deliver any such service in those three communities. This means residents potentially paying twice for having their parks looked after. This is clearly not fair or right so, some years ago, an agreement was reached for Sefton Council to pay these Parish & Town Councils the same per acre that Sefton spends on its own parks, elsewhere in the borough. This stopped residents paying double, so the agreement was called “Double Rating”. In other words Sefton has been returning to these Parishes what it has been taking from them but not spending on their parks.

However, Sefton Council is now planning to scrap the “Double Rating” agreement and the payments it makes to the Parish Councils which maintain their own parks and gardens. This will mean residents paying twice for having their parks looked after. First they will pay their Parish/Town Council for actually maintaining the parks and second they will pay Sefton Council to do nothing to them. Sefton will just take the money it raises in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village and spend it on parks elsewhere in the Borough.

Lydiate Parish Council’s view is that Sefton Council’s proposal to stop paying back Double Rating money to the affected Parish Councils is clearly unfair and the Borough Council needs to reconsider. If the proposal is carried forward the result will be that Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council tax payers will be paying twice.

The good news, however, is that Sefton Council does have two quite viable alternative options to resolve this matter without putting the Council tax payers of Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village at disadvantage. These options are:-
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.
b) For Sefton Council to charge a differing level (lower) of Council tax in the Parishes which maintain their own parks and gardens than in the rest of the Borough. This option would stop Sefton Council collecting money in the Parished communities that look after their own parks and gardens and then having to refund the money via the Parish Councils. Doing this would also mean that Council tax payers in the affected Parishes would not be put at a disadvantage.

Simply stopping the repayments to the Parish Councils is unfair and will lead the Borough Council open to the charge that it is raising money in one part of the Borough simply to spend it elsewhere. We contend that this is not a position that the Borough Council should wish to find itself in.

Finally, we would add that we fully appreciate the level of savings the Borough Council has to make; all we ask is that in this case of Double Rating the savings are made fairly.

Yours sincerely

Lydiate Parish Council

*****

Note 1:- Melling Parish is also affected but in Melling there is recreational land provide by both Sefton Council and Melling Parish Council so the situation there is more complex.
Note 2:- The other 6 Parish Councils in the Borough do not own or lease land that is used as parks or for public recreational purposes so ‘Double Rating’ is not an issue for them.

A few random events – Maghull Council meeting cancelled, thoughts for Library staff & what’s going on with Southport Pier?

I got a call this morning to tell me that the Maghull Town Council meeting due to be held tonight was to be cancelled due to the Acting Town Clerk being unavailable due to illness. I can’t recall a meeting being cancelled before because of officer illness in all my years as a Maghull Town Councillor but let’s hope that our Acting Town Clerk is well soon.

Tomorrow is the day, I am told, when Sefton’s Library staff will find out the employment consequences of the Labour run Council’s Library closure programme. I came across many helpful friendly library staff when I was visiting the libraries under threat of closure a few months ago and I covered my visits at length on this blog site. I think we will all feel for them.

And what about the surprise news regarding Southport Pier and the cracks in it? The pier tram has stopped running and engineers are giving the whole structure a detailed examination. Let’s hope for some better news here as Southport pier is to repeat a phrase I used recently on this site, in respect of Bootle’s Litherland Road canal bridge, an engineering gem.

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?

Parish Councils and Public Toilets

Toilets are a necessity for us all especially when we are out and about and often Parish Councils provide them in the community.

Maghull once had award winning public toilets run by Sefton Borough Council in its shopping centre. Sadly, now they are down at heel because of spending cuts and frankly a lack of enthusiasm to provide the best from the Borough Council.

Only months ago there was a proposal from the Borough Council to close all the public toilets in Sefton but they were given an eleventh hour reprieve following public protests. But what have we got above just saving them? Not a lot, not much quality and I suspect the closure proposal will be revisited in due course.

Maghull toilet campaigners fighting Labour's axe

Maghull toilet campaigners fighting Sefton Council’s axe

I had hoped that Maghull Town Council would at least go into partnership with Sefton Borough to refurbish and brighten up Maghull’s toilets and once again make them public toilets to be proud of. Sadly, the Town Council refused to even consider my proposal despite it being sat on a mountain of cash.

And then a few weeks ago I went for walk in that lovely area of Silverdale and Arnside with my old mate Keith. Two things struck us, one was the notice board for Silverdale Parish Council and the reference to a toilet leak. Secondly, we came across a really nice toilet block run by Arnside Parish Council on their estuary frontage.

From Silverdale Parish Council notice board - Item 18. To decide how to proceed with the toilet leak

From Silverdale Parish Council notice board – Item 18. To decide how to proceed with the toilet leak

Arnside Parish Council's Public toilets

Arnside Parish Council’s Public toilets

Maghull Town Council may not have any interest in the public toilets in its Town but clearly some other Parish Councils are a little more enlightened.

I wonder if Silverdale have managed to fix their leak yet?

Labour in Sefton Central – They really are having an internal war

As a follow up to my recent posting about troubles within the Labour Party in the Sefton Central Constituency of MP Bill Esterson I am now hearing that internal Labour sources are opening talking about internal warfare within the Party.

I suspected there was more to come and it really does look like a massive Labour meltdown is ongoing in Sefton Central.