2016 – A year to forget? Well yes, but there was the odd glimmer of hope

BAD NATIONAL & GLOBAL EVENTS

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* Given the biggest self-destruct button the UK electorate has probably ever been tempted by i.e the EU referendum – they pressed it!

* Sociopath Trump wins in America, seemingly with help from Putin in the Cremlin!

* We manage to get rid of a centrist (for a Conservative that is), if hardly competent, Tory Prime Minister (Cameron) for him to be replaced by someone who looks utterly lost, is in a job probably well above her pay grade and who is riding us off into a inglorious right wing sunset!

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* Our NHS and elderly social care system has been systematically neglected and left to wither on the vine by our clueless government whilst we chuck goodness knows how much money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme that will never be used. There are guilty people in all political parties over this.

AND GOOD NATIONAL & GLOBAL THINGS?

* Well Lib Dem anti-Brexit candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election comes to mind.

* The beating the right took in the Austrian Presidential election was a pleasant if somewhat surprising turn of events.

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* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shining a light for tolerant, inclusive and progressive politics from over the pond in Canada. Is there anyone else in power on the global stage who can match his progressive approach to running a country?

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* The low and high of Notts and England batsman James Taylor being struck down by an almost fatal undiagnosed heart condition and then him coming through it. Yes we have lost on brilliant batsman but so glad he is still alive. And yes I am an Notts supporter.

AND LOCAL LOWS AND HIGHS?

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

* LOW – We had the depressing news that Labour-run Maghull Town Council was finally killing-off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall which local youngsters had started 20+ years ago. And hey what a surprise (NOT) anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area of Maghull where it once operated!

St Catherine's otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

St Catherine’s otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

* HIGH – The ‘Friends of the Abbey’ in Lydiate gaining a Lottery grant to start the process of trying to conserve and preserve the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for future generations.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

* LOW – The running down of and then appalling vandalism to Maghull’s once award winning public toilets in Leighton Avenue.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

* HIGH – The continuing success of the Maghull in Bloom and Maghull Station Volunteers as they try to improve Maghull’s environment.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

* LOW – The rubber stamping of the Sefton Local Plan which will ruin Green Belt and kill off some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. A black cloud for for environmental campaigners indeed.

Canal Bicentenary

* HIGH – The Bicentenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

On a personal note the start of 2016 was grim as I attended 4 funerals of people I knew in the first 4 months – former Lib Dem Councillors Joan Blackburn, David Rimmer and Kath Jones together with Lib Dem activist Susan Ashton. It finished with a further death this time of a relative in December whose funeral I could not get to because of traffic jams on the M6. But of course there were personal highs as well –

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* Being invited to play Santa for a session to help Maghull & Aughton Rotary Club and Maghull in Bloom fund raise was great fun.

Me sat in my old choir stall  at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat - if memory serves at all of course - it was over 40 years ago!

Me sat in my old choir stall at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat – if memory serves at all of course – it was over 40 years ago!

* Being invited to rejoin the choir of St Helen’s Church in Sefton Village, where I had been a choirboy in 1970, despite being an atheist was lovely. Obviously I politely declined.

Carl Cashman for Mersey Metro Mayor Launch 08 16 - Credit Charlie Green

* Helping a great young man to be selected as Lib Dem candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election to be held in May 2017. Carl Cashman is that young man. I have known him for some years now and am delighted he will be on the ballot paper.

Iain Brodie Brown - Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

Iain Brodie Brown – Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

* My old chum Iain Brodie Browne becoming Mayor of Sefton. A Liberal down to his boots and one of the most radical, capable and compassionate politicians I have ever come across.

So sadly 2016 has been a year of some very significant lows indeed. Some of those lows we will be grappling with the consequences of for maybe 10 years or more. Fortunately the odd bit of good news did filter through but surely 2017 has to be better?

Maghull – Canalfest almost became a swimming fest!

The organisers did a great job in the build up to yesterday’s celebrations and all was nicely set up for a grand day. Trouble is you can’t order the great British weather to turn up shinning and it turned up bucketing!

From 3pm it was very heavy rain but even so everyone seemed to be making the best of it and having fun. We certainly got wet and Scrummies refreshment marquee was full to bursting.

Packed into Scrummies refreshment tent

Packed into Scrummies refreshment tent

It was great to see all the barges, narrow boats and canal cruisers lined up along the edge of Maghull Cricket and Football field.

Neatly lined up

The Mayor of Sefton was in attendance (Iain Brodie Brown) and I wondered whether we could hastily organise a charity fund raising stall offering a prize for the person who could wring the most water out of the Mayor’s best suit!

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Why not visit Iain’s own Mayoral blog site for his thoughts on the day – see link below:-

themayoralblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/congratulations-to-maghull-canal-fest.html

Our Maghull in Bloom colleagues tell me that they had a highly successful day raising over £1,000 to put towards improving the Maghull environment.

The Maghull in Bloom stall during setting up.

The Maghull in Bloom stall during setting up.

All in all a great day. We Brits know how to enjoy the rain whilst celebrating the 200th anniversary of the complete opening of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Iain Brodie Brown is new Mayor of Sefton Borough

I was delighted to see that Sefton Council had elected Iain as its new Mayor this week, not least because Iain is a friend of mine. I wanted to write up a personal tribute so here it is at the start of his mayoral year.

Iain with one of his daughters and grandchildren. Photo credit OTS news

Iain with one of his daughters and grandchildren. Photo credit OTS news

You meet all kinds of folks in politics as you do in life generally but Iain is one of those people who sticks out as being firm in terms of his guiding principles.

A Liberal through to his very core he is also well read in political and social history as readers of his occasional blog site – Birkdale FOCUS – will know .

During my time as Leader of the Lib Dem Group on Sefton Council and my 7 years as Leader of the Council (2004 – 2011) Iain was always there backing me along with David Tattersall, David Rimmer, Sue McGuire, Andrew Blackburn, Roy Connell and many others. I valued them all but Iain’s incisive political brain and his knowledge of political history both locally and nationally was always important to me.

When I stepped down as Group Leader Iain took up that role and I tried my best to support him until I came off the Council. Of course this was in very changed circumstances as Lib Dem fortunes were on a downward trend except in Lib Dem strongholds such as Southport. Reneging on Tuition Fees for example had hit the Party hard so Iain had a much more difficult political climate to operate in. But he did it with this usual confidence often being the most well informed councillor in council chamber debates.

Iain is also a long time campaigner for improvements for those facing mental health difficulties setting up his own company to provide care in this often neglected area of health provision. It is no surprise therefore that Iain will be promoting mental care issues during his mayoral year.

A fundamentally decent man whom I am sure will be a credit to the Borough of Sefton, I hope he and his lovely family have a great year.

Sefton Labour – Steve Kermode to stand down in Park Ward – Labour sources

Leaks from within the Labour’s Party reveal that Cllr. Steve Kermode the Labour member for Sefton Council’s Park Ward (western Maghull & all Lydiate) is not standing again when his seat comes up for re-election in May of this year.

Steve is presently the Mayor of Sefton and was originally elected to Sefton Council in 2012.

I hope it is fair to say that Steve may not have found working within the local Labour Group a bed of roses. That could be because he is foremost a chap who seems to put the people who elected him first and within the Labour loyalty to the Party is always the first consideration.

Word also from within Labour is that Lydiate Parish Councillor Andy Wilson is taking Steve’s place and so it was no surprise when a letter from him, seemingly launching his campaign to win Park Ward, popped through my door a couple of days ago.

I think Park Ward will miss Steve Kermode whom I was able to work with during my last years as a Sefton Councillor. I wish him well.

New Mayor of Sefton – Cllr. Steve Kermode

www.southportvisiter.co.uk/news/southport-west-lancs/new-mayor-sefton-cllr-stephen-9303565

The Southport Vister newspaper has the story – see link above.

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Labour Councillor Steve Kermode is the new Mayor of Sefton and I wish him well. I have known Steve for 3 or 4 years now and he comes over as a decent and genuinely community minded chap. I would add that he also seems to break the mould of many in the Labour party who are wedded to tribal politics. Steve rises above such negative politics and I hope that he and his wife Gwen have a good year as ambassadors for the Borough of Sefton.