My review of 2020 – No Brexit, no COVID

I’ve been looking back at my blog postings throughout each month of 2020 and I’ve picked out the 12 most interesting from my perspective:-

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

January – Access to the Port of Liverpool & Sefton Council’s far, far too late Judicial Review application –

Cottages in Sefton Lane, Maghull (September 2012) – Sadly flooding here has a long history

February – Will building Maghull’s vast new urban extension lead to more flooding? –

Sunny Southport Cricket

March – Watching County Championship cricket at Birkdale – so sad it’s seemingly a thing of the past –

Liverpool Exchange Station in 1977

April – Looking back at a once great station – Liverpool Exchange –

Jim Sharpe RIP

May – The sad passing of an old style community journalist of note –

June – Policing has long been a political interest of mine and a big frustration when it fails to deliver –


July – Reading the history of Liverpool’s famous Meccano Factory –

August – Vehicles on pavements the curse of the selfish motorists –

Merseyside Maritime Museum

SeptemberLife on Board a new exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum –

The present Sandy Lane Changing Rooms building – Lydiate

October – Banging the drum for football changing facilities in Lydiate –


November – Lydiate’s volunteer litter pickers –


December – A remarkable Meccano canal bridge –

So that was 2020 trying hard not to mention Brexit or Covid. The items posted here are just a small selection of my many (far too many I hear you say) blogs about all kinds of things which have caught my attention during a very odd year indeed. Here’s hoping for a better 2021…..

‘The police have better things to do than’………

This is probably a phrase that many of us have used when we’ve heard about an incident which is either of no consequence to us or is one we regularly participate in but which is actually against some law or regulation.

So when we say it are we in reality saying ‘well I would break that law too’ or ‘that law should be abolished because I regularly break it’; is it actually simply an expression of our frustration or even selfishness? Let’s see what you think the Police ‘have better things to do than’ – here are 5 examples:-

Enforcing speed limits?
Stopping pavement parking by drivers?
Tackling cyclists who ride on pavements?
Prosecuting motorists with no Road Tax or insurance?
Fining people who break ‘lockdown’ rules?

I could go on, but I think you’ll have got my drift by now i.e. if we park on pavements we won’t want the police/local council to enforce the regulations on it will we? However, if we are a pedestrian/blind/disabled/or pushing a pram we probably will want them to. The same applies to the other ‘crimes’ I’ve listed and indeed potentially many that I’ve not.

In short we’ll often be affronted by the anti-social/criminal behaviours of others whilst conveniently ignoring our own less than community minded activities. Indeed, can we sit on both sides of the fence by for example grumbling about the vehicle on the pavement when we’ve had to step into the road to get around it whilst dumping our own car on any pavement available when we want to park close to the chippy, hairdressers, chemist etc. etc.? The answer, of course, is yes we can!

Oh and one final thing, why are many of the things we can react to in this way associated with travel and how we go about it?

Better Days Ahead – Well there has to be surely

Above is a link to a most wonderful tune by jazz guitarist Norman Brown.

Hey things are more than a bit grim at present. The NHS is falling apart at the seams, the police are so under funded they struggle to protect us from crime, our schools are at breaking point with budget cuts, Northern would rather run buses than trains, Government is all at sea and their Official Opposition doesn’t seem to know how to oppose them. Trump keeps going bonkers, global warming is going to create a living hell for future generations and Brexit is going to see job losses, an economic downturn (yes we can keep going down!), less environmental protections…………. But you get my drift, as a progressive times have never been so tough – Thatcherism and Reaganomics were grim but we are are potentially on the road to far far worse.

So what do you do in the face of all this misery? You realise that there will be better days ahead as the electorate are sure to slam the brakes on whose they put in power and U-turn the political juggernaut away from the march towards fascism back to a progressive way forward. Well we’ve got to hope so because staying on the course the UK is presently on means a very poor outcome for us all but for the poor it does not bear thinking about!

But until May is put out of her misery and until Corbyn learns to oppose try listening to this tune by Norman Brown entitled Better Days Ahead, it will lift your weary soul…..

Policing – Those joining the Police need to be widely respected

Throughout my presently 32 years in public life I have had numerous encounters with police officers. The vast majority of those encounters have been really positive and I grew to respect many police women and men as a consequence.

But I have also encountered police officers who have struck me as being simply the wrong type of person to put on that uniform. I refer to personality traits such as controlling, self-important or remote from the communities they are meant to be serving.

Yes police officers have to be tough and unwavering as they try to keep us safe but they all also require good diplomatic and interpersonal skills despite the challenges of their job.

I don’t know about you but I sighed when I read the Liverpool Echo article above. It’s all well and good apologising but the bottom line is the remark should never have been made in the first place by a police officer. OK the officer has been given ‘management advice’ but surely the officer’s managers must be thinking that this seeming lack of judgement is far more serious than an apology can put right.

Policing – More cash but there’s a catch – Your Council tax is going up

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

It’s probably a major indication of how the modern Conservative Party has lost its way as it turned the screw on Police funding in recent times. Long gone is the ‘party of law and order’ tag which it once so prized.

But as crime has continued to rise and the police have become more and more stretched it was only a matter of time before the Government’s arm was going to be twisted to find more money for policing. Seeing the Police being cut back so much must have been hurting the Tory rank and file and I guess they have said enough is enough – the funding tap needs to be turned on again.

But in reality what the Government is doing is telling Police an Crime Commissioners to put up your Council tax to pay for the extra funding. It looks like an average of £12 per year per household to me but frankly I am more than happy to cough up.

Me outside the old Maghull Police Station – It’s now within Maghull Town Hall.

I have fought for policing funding throughout my time in politics and recall a big push to get policing numbers back up during the early years of the Blair Government when the outgoing Tories had pushed numbers down and Labour were slow to react when taking power.

I found this graphic recently*. It shows how policing numbers have gone up and down from 1977 to 2016 – It’s from the Home Office so should be reliable information:-

The interesting dates to look at are where General Elections and economic recessions fall and what follows them in terms of ups and downs in policing numbers.

1975 Lab Gov – numbers going down then up
UK Economic Recession – mid 1970’s
1979 Con Gov – numbers going up
UK Economic Recession – early 1980’s
1983 Con Gov – numbers going slightly down then up
1987 Con Gov – numbers going up
UK Economic Recession – early 1990’s
1992 Con Gov – numbers steady
1997 Lab Gov – numbers going down but then started to go up
2001 Lab Gov – numbers going up
2005 Lab Gov – numbers going up
Great Recession hits in 2008
2010 Coalition Gov – numbers going down
2015 Con Gov – numbers going down

Despite all the ups and downs there were clearly more full time equivalent policeman and women in 2016 (@121,000) than there were in 1977 (@104,000) when the graph starts. The peak seems to have been @141,000 in 2010.

Of course the other interesting piece of news is that a Tory Government is again increasing taxes. They can’t bring themselves to increase national taxation so like with extra funding for social care last year (and indeed this year) it is being put on local taxation/Council tax.

*Note:- The graph above is about overall national policing figures, there will be differences between individual police force numbers that this graph does not accommodate.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Click on the graphic to enlarge it.


The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Maybe its because I come from Nottinghamshire mining stock, maybe its because I am a life-long trade unionist or maybe its because as a Liberal I smell injustice. It’s probably all 3 so is it not time this scar on the industrial relations landscape of England was independently looked at in some detail?