Aintree & Melling – Pen portraits of a community’s fallen heroes – 1914 – 1917

No sooner had I blogged about Lydiate’s fallen in World War 1 than Bill Honeyman got in touch to tell me about a similar project covering Aintree and Melling undertaken by two friends of mine Bill Borland and Peter Gill, what’s more Bill supplied me with a copy of their excellent booklet. Here’s a link to the Lydiate booklet blog:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/07/lydiate-and-its-great-war-1914-1918-a-lovely-remembrance-booklet/

The deaths of 81 servicemen from Aintree & Melling are attributed to the Great War

Many of the deaths are commemorated on memorials at St. Giles Church Aintree and St Thomas’ Church Melling including Henry Mattocks who died aged 21 on 13th October 1915. He worked at Melling Potteries and was a member of the Melling Brass Band. His name together with those of Michael May & Thomas Clark caught my attention because they all worked at in the now long gone Melling Pottery business. Some years ago when I was the leader of Sefton Council I was given a pamphlet-type book written by Irene Birch about her mother Bertha (Mattocks) Birch called A Melling Lassie “Pottery Days” Melling’s Scottish Heritage. In it on page 13 is an undated photo of Melling Pottery Band and I can’t help but wonder if Henry Mattocks is in that photo.

The vast majority of what we now know as Aintree Village was agricultural land back around the time of the Great War but I spotted a Richard Kirby who died aged just 19 on 14th November 1916. He was the son of Myles and Ellen Kirkby (nee Quick) of Aintree Lane. He died at the Somme and is buried at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, Montauban, France.

This booklet is another great addition to the local history of the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough. My congratulations to the authors and thanks to Bill Honeyman for providing me with a copy.

We will remember them

Lib Dems defend our Green Belt, fight for our libraries and oppose Labour’s £46 Green Bin Tax

For anyone who cares about our environment, the amount of local taxation we pay and closure of libraries supporting the Labour Party would be simply out of the question this year in Sefton.

Since Bootle Labour grabbed control of the Council they have:-

* Voted to build on the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land
* Tried to bring in an additional £46 Green Bin Tax on every household in the Borough
* Closed 7 local libraries and stopped volunteers from running two of them.

We Lib Dems have fought Labour all the way over all these policies and so have two prominent local independent candidates – Peter Gill in Molyneux Ward (Aintree Village, Melling and southern Maghull) and Maria Bennett in Ravenmeols Ward (Formby). We have been happy to work with these two community activists.

What have the Tories done? Does anyone know? In the Sefton Central Constituency wards the options, in my view, are very clear :-

* back the Lib Dems to fight for our Green Belt
* support the Lib Dems to say ‘NO’ to Labour’s £46 Green Bin Tax and
* and stand with the Lib Dems to send Labour a very clear message that we will not put up with library volunteers being treated so disgracefully

However, in Molyneux and Ravenmeols wards, where the Lib Dems have stood aside, I suggest you Support the independent candidates (Peter Gill – Molyneux and Maria Bennett – Ravenmeols) because they are fighting the same local battles that we Lib Dems are fighting.

Volunteers running libraries – If they can do it in Lincolnshire why not in Sefton?

Lincolnshire County Council is pressing ahead with plans to put volunteers in charge of libraries. The council said community groups have come forward to take over 30 libraries.

This story came via the BBC.

I am in danger of another rant here because for the life of me I still can’t understand why Labour-run Sefton stopped volunteers from running two of the libraries that Labour decided to shut. It made no sense when they made the decision and frankly looks even more ludicrous with the benefit of having thought about it since.

People like Peter Gill and his fellow campaigners for Aintree Library and indeed their counterparts for College Road Library deserve medals for their efforts whilst stubborn municipal socialists should continue to hang their heads in shame!

We simply do not want volunteers to run Council services, what other conclusion can you come to?

I have posted quite a few times about the roller coaster of a ride that Aintree Village Parish Council has had with Sefton Borough as it has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to take over the running of Aintree’s local Library.

To recap the plan was to take over Aintree library, one of 7 that Labour-run Sefton Borough had decided to close, and run it with volunteers and Parish Council finance. All was going well and the bid was seemingly being welcomed but then the Borough (i.e. Labour) started to put all kinds of obstacles in the way.

Eventually Sefton decreed that Aintree Library could not be taken over by volunteers, funded by Aintree Village PC, because there was no guarantee in place for funds to be available for 5 years. No if’s, no but’s, put 5 years funding on the table or sling your hook was seemingly the Borough’s attitude.

Things went from bad to worse in the relationship between the Borough and Parish and the local Parish Charter, which had been ignored anyway, was ripped up in front of the Borough’s Cabinet by an Aintree Parish Councillor.

But underneath all this something very odd was going on as another library was down to be taken over by volunteers and they also got told to shut the door after they left. This one was not in a Parished part of the Borough (it was College Road Library in Crosby). The common denominator was volunteers and them being seen to be unreliable, so much so that they were not given a chance to have a go at running their respective libraries despite both groups having significant business and professional input from the two reasonably affluent communities.

A Sefton Full Council meeting debated volunteers taking over Council facilities, at my instigation, but it became quite clear to me that the Council’s ruling Labour Party held the view that they were not having any of their services, even ones they say they can no longer afford to run, being taken over by volunteers.

The matter concluded, for now at least, with a Sefton Scrutiny Committee going through the motions of examining the matter and then the majority Labour members of it voting to back the Cabinet decision without any really meaningful in depth and independent reviewing of the situation what so ever. Or put it another of the 70 odd questions submitted raising concerns about the process of reviewing the 2 volunteer bids, how many do think came from Labour Councillors? Less than say one………..

So in Sefton which, not so long ago, was developing a good relationship with its 10 Parish Councils and its diverse communities an about face has been done with Parishes and indeed volunteers being shown the door. So much for parish charters, localism and volunteering in the Borough.

This article was originally written for and published on a differing web site.

Aintree Library – Putting the Labour Cabinet Member with responsibilities for Parish Councils in Sefton on the spot

Below is the question that I asked to Labour Cabinet member Trish Hardy at the meeting of Sefton Council meeting last night.

Clause 4 of Sefton’s Parish Charter states that ‘In their role as democratically accountable bodies, parish and town councils offer a means of reshaping the decisions that affect their communities. They offer a means of decentralising the provision of services and of revitalising local communities.’

Is the Cabinet Member satisfied that this clause of the Parish Charter has been complied with, having regard to the way the Borough Council has treated Aintree Village Parish Council in relation to the recent application to operate a community/volunteer run library service in Aintree?

Incredibly her answer was:-

“I am not aware that Aintree Parish Council have applied to operate a library Service”

To which I replied – “Is the Cabinet Member seriously saying that she was unaware that Aintree Village Parish Council was the major funding partner of the community bid to take over Aintree Library and that the bid had been rejected by the Cabinet because it saw Aintree Village Parish Council as being an unreliable source of funding for this bid to be approved?”

I have no idea what she was trying to say in response to my follow up question!

Trying to turn around Sefton Council to welcome community/volunteer ventures

I have submitted the following motion to the next meeting of Sefton Council to be held on 23rd January more in sadness than in anger. Readers will know how profoundly unhappy I have been over the community/volunteer bids to run College Road, Crosby and Aintree Libraries being turned down by Sefton Council. I genuinely feel that the bids need to be given a chance to succeed rather than Sefton turning them down without giving the bidders the chance to try to prove whether they can make a go of their bids.

This Council wishes to be seen to be fully signed up to the localism agenda that all 3 major political parties support both in broad terms and in many areas of detail.

To this end we welcome and support in principle proposals from Parish Councils, community groups and local charities who wish to assist in running services that the Borough Council can’t find the resources to sustain such as libraries, youth facilities, community halls etc.

Cllr. Tony Robertson

I submitted the motion on the 6th of January and realise that things may have changed before the motion is debated on 23rd January. I say this as we are yet to hear the outcome of the ‘appeal’ against the refusal to approve the two bids to one of Sefton’s Scrutiny Committees, which was heard before Christmas and was subsequently deferred to a second meeting to be held at some point in January.

Stop press: the Scrutiny meeting will not now reconvene until 11th February so I am told.

It would be nice to think that before I come to move the motion that the principle at the heart of it is something that all 3 of the political parties on the Borough Council will sign up to and that the present rather ugly spat between community campaigners and the Borough Council can be put to one side.

All I want is for community campaigners and volunteers to be welcomed with open arms and their ideas be given the chance to flourish.