Education, education, education

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35633304

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Sir Michael Wilshaw is a blunt and undiplomatic chap to me whose ideas I often question but he has a point here because our education system in deprived urban areas has been letting children down for years and years and it is simply not good enough.

Take Knowsley for an example. It has been rooted to the bottom of the education attainment leagues for generations despite its high schools being reorganised and rebuilt every 10 years or so.

Maghull High School (in neighbouring Sefton Borough) is good example of how Knowsley’s education system is failing because it has been educating Knowsley’s children for many, many years as Knowsley parents have given up all hope of some Knowsley schools coming up to scratch.

Northern Poorhouse (sorry Powerhouse) – Another perspective

www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35602484

The BBC has the story in its news magazine – see link above

Just a couple of comments.

The M62/M60! – Oh just how long is it going to take to make the long section west of Rochdale smart? The 50mph speed restriction has been in force for as long as I can remember. What’s more I tend to use it in the evenings and at night when there is nothing going on at all yet the speed limit is still in place. Don’t get me started.

Pennine Road Tunnel – Yes it’s probably needed because the main roads from Manchester to Sheffield are a joke with queues at all times of day and night.

Northern Powerhouse or Northern Poorhouse, this project is more about keeping us troublesome moaning northerners from rebelling than it is about re-balancing the huge economic imbalance between us and the south east/London in my view.

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus January 2016 – Posting 1 – The SuperPort implications

There’s some interesting, encouraging and indeed worrying information (or the lack of it) in this 47 page prospectus. I will cover the various aspects in 3 separate postings because they are all worth a mention in their own right.

The words Norther Powerhouse litter the document as they seem to every public sector paper from t’north these days. I assume this is to either keep or get George Osborne on side rather than the authors being enthusiastic about it?

The first thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Skelmersdale on page 12 not least because of the connection with the Liverpool SuperPort project. The relevant text says this:-

Skelmersdale in West Lancashire is closely linked to the Merseyside economy and is able to offer major sites for logistics and distribution companies keen to take advantage of the opportunities being generated by the opening of Liverpool SuperPort. This is supported by research commissioned by Peel Ports and the Liverpool City Region has highlighted the need to increase large market-attractive sites to take advantage of Atlantic Gateway opportunities.

rsz_1aintree__melling_sites

This is interesting not because it is new news but because it shows how far the tentacles of the SuperPort project spread. Readers will probably know that a huge piece of Green Belt/high grade agricultural land in Melling, next to the M57, is firmly on Peel Ports agenda for similar purposes and that Sefton Council has, for now, kicked the issue into the long grass.

rsz_photo0839

The problem will of course be how all the freight that lands in either or both of Melling and Skem actually gets to Seaforth Docks. Of course this will all have to happen in reverse too. The A5036 is the only road from the ends of the M57 and M58 motorways. Fools some years ago took up the rail connection and Highways England are now promoting a new road straight down the middle of Sefton’s Rimrose Valley Country Park as their preferred option to addresses the ‘need’ for a new freight route!

Never has so much Green Belt and green space been under more threat in Sefton, than via these proposals and of course Sefton Council’s own appalling Local Plan.

Bootle Town Hall – Is it a Northern Poorhouse?

Bootle Town Hall

Bootle Town Hall

We have all heard of the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse but the reality across Town Halls in the north of England is more akin to Poorhouse than Powerhouse.

With Council budgets being cut, way, way beyond what anyone thought they could be/should be the reality is community services being reduced to an absolute minimum.

Bootle Town Hall

Don’t get me wrong, of course local government had to play its part as the UK tried to re-balance its books after the financial crash which happened during the last Labour government’s watch. However, to reduce local government across northern England to the point where it is virtually unable to deliver anything but very basic services of poor quality is what is actually happening.

Yes, no one has much sympathy for those who run our Town Halls as many think, and possibly with good reason, that too much money goes on paying the wages of officers and councillors.

So the cuts have gone too deep but are our councils too stuck in the past to reform themselves? Sadly if you look at Sefton Council the answer has to be yes they are stuck in the past and it’s a past that costs us money.

Just look at the opportunity to reduce the number of councillors from 3 per ward down to 2. Should it happen? Yes of course it should as Councils are delivering far fewer services and managing much small budgets than in the past. But what does Sefton Council under its Labour leadership do? It votes not to reduce the number of councillors and keeps on paying 66 when it could be paying 44. Makes no sense and neither has Labour explained why it voted to keep 66.

Then again look at the amount Sefton Council’s Cabinet members are paid. It is still higher than many other councils. Clearly there are savings to be made here but to date Labour have fought to keep their high wage earning Cabinet members on those high wages.

Local government in Sefton is being done no favours when sensible reforms are resisted. Time to wake up Labour – cut the number of councillors and the wages paid to Cabinet members in Sefton.

Liverpool City Region – Was that submission for devolved powers from government deliberately poor?

The fact that it was poor now seems to be a fact not just my opinion – see my previous posting at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/07/liverpool-city-region-underwhelmed-by-lackluster-submission-for-delegated-powers-2/

But the more I have thought about it the more I have come to the conclusion that the 6 Council Leaders must surely have known what a poor effort it was. That then leads you to consider why it was poor?

* Simply done too late and therefore rushed and ill-considered?

* Bearing in mind the now legendary bickering that has gone on between our esteemed Council Leaders on Merseyside could they not agree a more radical/credible submission?

* Was it an attempt to kick this uncomfortable matter into the long grass by seemingly making a submission (playing the game so to speak) but one that they hoped would be unlikely to be agreed by George Osborne?

* Were the majority of other 5 Council leaders trying to stop Joe Anderson becoming a City Region Mayor by attempting to slow down the devolution process via a poor submission?

* Or was it simply that our 6 Council leaders did not realise how poor the submission was?

How will this be outed I wonder?

NORTHERN POORHOUSE

And to finish this posting which is of course related to George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse strategy (whatever that may be in reality), which in itself seems to be built on John Prescott’s Northern Way (remember that?), a comment from a Labour Party friend of mine seems to be appropriate. For Northern Powerhouse read Northern Poorhouse! Seems to sum up our position in the north under the Tories quite well.