Maghull Town Council – 3 more Labour Councillors resign bringing the total to 7 in just 2 years!

Bizarre is about the best description of what has been happening on Maghull Town Council in recent times but with 7 resignations in 2 years, all from the ruling Labour Group, what other comment could you make?

As an opposition member of the Town Council even my mouth was agape when I heard that another 3 had put their cards in on top of the 4 that had already thrown in the towel. What’s more one of the resigning number was the Council Leader until last week’s AGM (and had been Town Mayor just a year ago) and another had been co-opted onto the Council to replace the first of the 7 Labour Councillor to resign.

The really odd part about these resignations is they all signed up to be local councillors for a period of 4 years yet just half way through that term more than 50% of the 13 Labour members have given up and walked away. Of course, I appreciate that councillors resign because they move away, become ill or have to look after someone close to them who is ill but none of the resigning councillors has pointed to such difficulties.

The other interesting fact is that all 3 of the most recent batch to go are locals from Maghull & Lydiate. If it had been the 3 Bootle Sefton Borough Councillors chucking in the towel you could almost understand it as those poor beggars were just making up the numbers when oops they got elected!

But what could the cause of the resignations be? Could they be upset because Labour run Sefton Council is targeting the Green Belt around Maghull for development? Could it be a massive internal fall-out within the Labour Group? Could it be because the Labour Council has been trying to cut things like the yearly Town firework display? Could it be all these things and more? Oh to be a fly on the wall of a Maghull Town Council Labour Group meeting but you would have to duck the flying blood as it hit the walls!

Maghull Town Council – How many Leaders?!

Labour won the election to take over the running of Maghull Town Council in May 2011 by taking 13 of the 16 seats – we Lib Dems taking the other 3.

Labour’s problem was that it was pretty obvious from the start that they had not expected to take control of the Council and many of them did not want to be Maghull councillors. One came from Crosby, two from Aintree and 3 were and still are Bootle Labour Borough Councillors – all 6 were clearly making up the numbers on the Labour slate rather than being dedicated to the Maghull community.

Since then 4 Labour members (the one from Crosby, the 2 from Aintree and more surprisingly one from Maghull), a quarter of the Council, have resigned and been replaced by 4 new Labour councillors. The first one was via the dodgiest co-option, in my view, you are ever likely to come across and other 3 via by-elections forced upon the ruling party by the opposition.

Also since May 2011 the Town Council has had 4, yes 4, Leaders of the Council. First we had Maurice Byrne, then Caroline Esterson (wife of Sefton Central MP Bill), then Sandra Williams and just last week Patrick McKinley was elected as Leader. This is quite some turn-over and must point to difficulties within the ruling Party. Indeed, the 3rd Leader who only left office at the AGM is not now a chair or vice chair of any committee and she is not replying to my correspondence about FOI requests that seem to be being improperly politically interfered with.

The word on the streets is that the ruling Labour Group is still far from being a happy bunch of campers and that further resignations can’t be ruled out according to my sources.

I don’t think any of us will be surprised if there are more internal ‘difficulties’ within the ruling political group.

Above is how I finished the draft a few days ago but before I published the posting word reached me of another 3 Labour councillors resigning including the last Leader of the Council! More to follow on that I think.

Carla Lane Animals in Need, Melling – Issue of fundraising stall at Maghull Square

I was not able to attend the meeting of Maghull Town Council yesterday evening but as this highly popular local animal charity was proposing to lobby the Council at the meeting I put together the briefing note below for the rest of the Council.

*****

Dear Council members and Animals Need representatives,

As I will not be at the Maghull TC meeting tomorrow evening when the charity is attending to ask for the Town Council’s support in their fight to continue to hold their fund raising stall somewhere in Maghull’s shopping centre I have put this short note together because I have been trying to help the charity in their hour of need.

When I became aware that the owners (Maghull Group) of the northern side of Maghull’s shopping centre had in effect given the charity notice to quit I lobbied the company to see if I could get them to reconsider. They made it clear that their mind was made up and they would not be allowing the charity to pitch their stall on Maghull Group land in future.

I then spoke a number of times to Margaret Brady of the charity, Jerry McConkey (a Highways Officer at Sefton Council), Alex Scott (a Neighbourhoods Officer at Sefton Council) and passed on the contact details to Margaret Brady of the owners of the southern side of the shopping centre (London and Cambridge Properties).

My hope was that either Sefton would allow the charity to pitch their stall on Sefton Council owned land or that London and Cambridge Properties would.

Sefton were not unsympathetic but then it became clear that any application to pitch a stall on public land on the northern side of the shopping centre (i.e. northern side of Westway) would be objected to by Mason Owen the agents for the Maghull Group. On that basis Sefton via Jerry told me and the charity that if they applied for permission it would in all likelihood be refused due to the anticipated objections from Mason Owen.

After a lot of discussions it became clear to me that the only way forward would be for the charity to make the formal application and then try to appeal against the expected refusal. I think any appeal would need to go via the appropriate Sefton Cabinet member i.e. Cllr. John Fairclough and I have sent a note to John recently telling him to expect the charity to make contact with him. I have not heard back from him as yet.

The last I heard London and Cambridge Properties had not responded to the charity in terms of whether they would allow it to pitch a stall on their land but if there has been any movement here I am sure the charity will update the Council.

I think we all know how well supported this animal charity is and how devastated their supporters are by the recent turn of events. My hope is that the Council will back the charity and try to put pressure on the Maghull Group, Sefton Council and London and Cambridge Properties in an attempt to try to find them a suitable fund raising pitch for their stall.

Best wishes
Cllr. Tony Robertson – 28th May 2013

That Maghull boundary sign yet again!!!

Now this can challenge your will to live as readers of my previous postings on the subject will realise.

I really did think I had found the obvious solution after months of wrangling and procrastination i.e. to add the Maghull boundary sign on the two posts that already exist in the photo below. Then the Maghull in Bloom volunteers could reinstate one of their flower troughs which they place on all the Town’s boundary signs.

rsz_photo0214

BUT………….. then I am told that Maghull Town Council has told the Maghull in Bloom volunteers that Sefton Borough Council has objected to the plan on the basis that folks will walk into the sign and possibly injure themselves!!!!! The fact that the poles are within a shrubbery area where pedestrians don’t walk would seem to have passed someone by.

So, I am back on the case yet again seeking explanations and trying to get this ridiculous farce sorted out. If anyone is going to bang their head on something it is probably me in utter frustration following months of being mucked about by Councils who should have resolved this problem without all this carry on!

Pugh likens Labour run Sefton to North Korea!

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport and former Leader of Sefton Council is not known for irrational outbursts; indeed he is a thoughtful man who does not crave media attention as do some politicians. On that basis when someone like John waves a flag of concern we should all take notice.

John waved his flag on the BBC North West Politics TV Programme last Sunday and you can see what he said by popping over to my colleague Iain Brodie-Browne’s Birkdale Focus Blog Site to watch a short video from the show.

Sadly, John has a point as Labour run Sefton is becoming very much like a communist regime. It does not like answering questions put to it at Council meetings and does its utmost not to do so. It will not engage in debate about the policies it is pursuing and it fears being scrutinised by its backbench and opposition councillors.

Take the Full Council meeting held last Tuesday. There were two debates initiated by the oppositions Lib Dems. The first was an attempt to open up the Council’s scrutiny process by having some of the scrutiny committees chaired by opposition councillors. The comrades opposed this but failed to give a single reason why they opposed it. Yes their Leader ranted on, for the benefit of his all too quiet troops who are rarely allowed to engage in debate, about this that and the other but he failed to address the point of the debate. Labour then voted to keep their closed shop very much closed.

We then moved on to a second debate where we again pressed for a 10% reduction in the wages paid to the 7 Cabinet members of the Council to assist with the Council’s need to make savings. Unsurprisingly, the comrades were having none of that even though the money we were trying to save was targeted at bringing back some decent democratic representation in the centre of the Borough where Labour have merged 3 Area Committees used by residents to raise concerns about very local matters. The merger was sold as a cost cutting measure but makes no sense at all – what on earth have communities like Formby, Maghull and Crosby got in common apart from all being within the vast middle of the Borough? So Labour again opposed the proposals but without giving a single reason why they thought that keeping more money in the Cabinet’s pockets is more desirable than improving engagement will local communities. No Labour member representing Crosby, Formby or Maghull rose to back their communities but they all voted to keep money in their Cabinet bosses pockets.

And it’s not just on Sefton Council where Labour closes down information channels. Take little Maghull Town Council where a matter was referred to the Police by the Labour run Town Council a few months ago but we opposition members have been unable to obtain the background documents (despite an FoI request) or the detailed reasons for that referral. Yes, the Police decided to take no action but who was under investigation – staff, people who worked for or with the Council? And what about Maghull Cricket Club? We think Labour are trying to use it as a cash cow to gain higher rents from but even another FoI request has yet to reveal what the Town Council’s objectives are in trying to change a legal agreement with the Club.

On a wider Merseyside platform you can also look at what went on with Labour run Merseytravel in the very recent past and where it seems another big financial scandal is about to be dragged from the undergrowth any day now.

So John Pugh MP has a significant point to make even though at face value it may seem like he is a politician simply throwing a little mud at his opposition. Unless Labour start to open up the local councils they run they will end up being accused of more North Korean type approaches to local democracy.

Maghull Town Council’s Labour rulers go for slash and burn despite a mountain of cash in the bank.

The cash reserves of Maghull Town Council, as set at its budget and precept meeting on 20th March, are truly enormous – £420,153 and this figure has been rising for quite some time now. Ironically, when the Lib Dem’s ran the Council I clearly recall an auditor raising concerns that a reserve of £50,000 was too high! However, I hear chatter from within the Labour run Council that indicates a desire to get the cash reserves even higher. It is this cash awash background in which I make the following comments.

Why take away from local youth groups across Maghull a small fund of £1,500 made available each year to help with youth projects?

Why take away funds of £4,000 which were aimed at kick starting the establishment of the skateboard facility in Maghull and also refusing to allocate the required capital money to make this long-promised facility for the Town’s young people a reality?

Why refuse to support a £20,000 proposal to work in partnership with Sefton Council to refurbish Maghull Town Centre’s down at heel public toilets?

Why refuse to put £20,000 to one side in case it is needed to keep the Town’s highly successful Youth Coffee Bar going?

Why take away the money to run the Town’s annual fireworks display when it helps keep families who want to celebrate 5th November safe and without the need for far more dangerous private displays?

Why refuse to reduce the Town Council’s tax demand on Maghull’s Council tax payers by 10%?

Why indeed……………………………..

All the above could easilly have been done if Labour had supported the Lib Dem budget proposals on the Town Council.