Sefton Central Area Committee – round 3 of the muddle in the middle!

I will try not to have another rant about this ridiculously large Area Committee which covers around a third or more of the population of Sefton Borough but it still does not hang together despite this being the best of the first 3 meetings of the Committee.

Last night's Sefton Central Area Committee meeting in Formby

Last night’s Sefton Central Area Committee meeting in Formby

It was dominated, at least as far as the public was concerned, with Formby traffic matters but at least the meeting was in Formby this time! But this led to an odd situation when it came to a vote on a particular traffic matter in Proctor Road Formby. I will not rehearse the rights and wrongs of the report before the Area Committee as frankly I know nothing of this very local matter because I represent a community miles away from it. However, the 3 Formby councillors from Harrington Ward clearly have been living the matter for months because there have been 3 rounds of consultation with the residents about a parking matter.

The interesting point though was the vote because the Chair effectively called for it to be of just those 3 members when previously this massive Area Committee has all voted on everything. Now don’t get me wrong I am all for localism but I wonder if what happened was constitutional? And I was not the only one sat there wondering that!

Flooding and coastal erosion were big issues in Formby and Hightown following much damage as a consequence of the winter storms of the past few weeks. Council reports on this worrying problem are bound to follow but it was Formby and Hightown Parish Councils leading the charge for action.

On an amusing aside I inadvertently referred to Inspector Phil Hatton of Merseyside Police as Cllr. Hatton! Shades of Militant there with my slip of the tongue but I hastily corrected myself amongst much humour around the Committee.

It was nice to see the 10 Parish Councils, which are all within the Central part of the Borough, making their presence felt because frankly they have been shunted into a siding in recent times by Sefton Council and its leading councillors in my view. A re-write of the Borough’s Parish Charter is now on the cards formally and despite being given credit for the original Charter last night I am happy to see it updated so long as the Borough does not try to water it down of course.

Can this Area Committee work? Well no it can’t; all that can happen is that it is able to work as best it can. It is and always will be a dog’s breakfast of a muddle that the Labour-run Council just needs to admit it is not fit for purpose.

Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthert, Dibble or Grubb?

Sefton Council – Sefton Central Area (Farce) Committee – Parishes despair of it too!

I attended a meeting of what we call the 10 Parishes last night. It’s an umbrella grouping made up of representatives of all of the 10 Parish Councils within Sefton Borough and interestingly they all within the geographic area of the Sefton Central Area (Farce) Committee.

My previous postings of 7/6/13, 6/9/13 & 15/9/13.

We were informed that representatives of the 10 Parishes had met with a couple of Labour Cabinet members in an attempt to try to persuade them of the useless nature of the now huge Area Committee where the voice of the Parishes is lost or drowned out by the 27 Borough Councillors that are present. It seems that the first words from Labour were ‘we are not changing it!’ So no negotiation there then.

My own views on the Central Sefton (Farce) Committee are hardly repeatable in polite company but in the interests of trying to help this ridiculous Labour-created mess become a little more useful I suggested that:-

• The Sefton Council Officer who looks after the Committee should, as each item comes forward for inclusion on the next Area Committee agenda contact the relevant Parish Council to let them know.
• That the Officer should ask the Parish Council if it was a matter they wanted to make representations about either in writing prior to the meeting or in person via a representative of the Parish Council at the meeting.
• This would lead to the Chair of the Area Committee ensuring that when particular matters came up they ensured that everyone knew of either the written Parish Council submission or called on the Parish representative to make their verbal contribution.

It will be interesting to see if Labour will allow such a system to operate.

One very strange part of 10 Parishes discussion was that no one at the meeting seemed at all sure which of six Labour Cabinet members (this excludes the Leader) holds responsibility for Parish Council matters in the Borough. So is it Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble or Grubb?