What to make of the local election results & a big thank you from Cllr. Edie Pope and myself

Firstly, it was great to see Southport Lib Dems regain a strong footing in their Town, winning 4 of the 7 seats up for election this year. Well done to all involved.

And a big swing from Labour to Lib Dem in Crosby’s Victoria ward for Hannah Gee as well. The way that determined young lady is going she’s going to win that ward back from the Red Tories soon.

Nationally it was a very good night for the Lib Dems and a bad one for the two main Brexit Parties (The Red Tories and the Blue Tories). As I make this posting the running totals of gains and losses of council seats in England was stood at:-

Lib Dem + 597
Labour – 101
Tories – 1136
Greens + 165
UKIP – 109

Brexit Parties Losses (Con, Lab, UKIP) so far – 1346
Remain Parties Gains (Lib Dem & Green) so far -762

With these local elections being fought to the loud background noise of Brexit it was always going to be a test of whether the electorate would continue to back Brexit or would signal a move away from it by backing Remain parties such as the Lib Dem’s and Greens. Yes I know local elections are supposed to be about very local issues but many electors these days use them to give their verdict on national political matters.

Labour were in a dilemma because they could not announce they had done a Brexit deal with the Tories before local elections as they would have been hammered, but let’s face it none of us will be surprised if the Red Tories back the Blue Tories in a job loss, NHS funding cut deal as the Labour leadership has wanted for a long time now.

Oh and just a footnote – I held my seat on Lydiate Parish Council – 34 years and counting as a Parish, Town and/or Borough Councillor in Sefton Borough’s East Parishes. It’s been a blast and the electorate keeps backing this old radical Liberal leftie for some odd reason. My Lib Dem colleague Cllr. Edie Pope also retained her seat on Lydiate Parish Council so congratulations to her too.

Southport – John Pugh takes 55% of votes cast to win Dukes ward by-election

Lib Dem (John Pugh) 1680 55.96%
Conservative 790 26.32%
Labour 417 13.89%
UKIP 69 2.30%
Green 45 1.50%

Lib Dem gain from Conservative

Wow this was some result indeed last night, especially because of the collapse of the Conservative vote and Labour’s really poor showing.

This old political warhorse went to assist John and what was really noticeable was the number of young people involved in the campaign to get John elected. So often middle aged and old folk are involved in politics so it was great to see a new generation of Lib Dem campaigners pounding the streets.

As for John, I have known him for many years as a Sefton Councillor (for of course he has previously been one in the time before he became an MP), as a really effective MP for Southport, and now back on the council again.

My guess is that Labour-run Sefton Council will have wanted John back like a hole in the head. He’s already exposed Labour to some publicity they would rather not have had with regard to the them buying Bootle Strand Shopping Centre and there’s probably more to come on that front before he gets his teeth into other things Sefton’s Labour leaders would rather he did not.

Well done John, happy to have done my small bit to help you get back on Sefton Council.

John and his supporters celebrate after the count

Sefton’s 7 northern wards (Southport) racked up big Lib Dem victories in the recent local elections

birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-brilliant-results-from-southport-in.html

I thought readers may like to see the detail of the local election results for Sefton’s most northerly 7 wards (all in the Southport constituency) that were won by the Lib Dems. The link above is to the web site of my old friend Cllr. Iain Brodie Brown where the detail is located.

Whilst 4 of these wards have traditionally elected Liberal Democrat representatives the other 3 (Dukes, Cambridge and Ainsdale) have always been a much harder nut to crack. This year however none of the wards had a close result.

Lib Dems take Southport by Storm and some other election reflections

Last night was a bad night for Labour on Sefton Council they lost 1 seat to the Tories and 3 to Independent Green Belt campaigners. But the Tories also lost a seat to the Lib Dems in Southport where all 7 Council seats that were up for grabs in the Southport Parliamentary Constituency were won by Lib Dem candidates. The last time Liberals won all 7 seat in Southport was 1856!

Lib Dems take all 7 Council seats up for election in Southport

Southport's victorious Lib Dem Team - Photo credit Jamie Lopez

Southport’s victorious Lib Dem Team – Photo credit Jamie Lopez

Congratulations to Lynne Thompson the Lib Dem candidate and now councillor in Ainsdale ward, whom I delivered leaflets for on a number of occasions, who took a seat from the Tories. Lynne had stood on a number of occasions previously in this ward each time just losing out but this time she stormed to victory. Both my wife and I used to work with Lynne when she was a civil servant so we are delighted for her.

Labour’s loss in Ravenmeols ward also had a personal connection with me as the losing Labour councillor, Tim Hale, was the very same chap I defeated in Molyneux ward when I first won a seat on Sefton Council in 1999. Indeed, Tim is an old friend of mine from our days as trade union officers in the civil service so as with my victory over him in 1999 I felt a little uncomfortable on a personal level to see Tim lose again. Of course on a political level I am delighted that Labour lost the seat as the independent Green Belt campaigner Bob McCann who took it is likely to be a real thorn in Labour’s side.

Labour vote in Sefton fell by 44%!

In my own part of the Borough (Lydiate and Maghull) the independent candidates won both wards (Park & Sudell). I know Pat O’Hanlon well as she lives just up Southport Road in Lydiate from me and we have shared information about our joint environmental campaigning against Labour. I wish Pat well and it should be remembered that she left Labour because they said they would defend the Green Belt but then voted to build on it. I look forward to getting to know Matt Gannon and hope they both do Maghull & Lydiate proud as they fight for the environment that Labour has abandoned.

Labour also came unstuck in Sudell ward because they ‘imported’ a candidate from Formby to stand there. In fact they lost the ward she had been a councillor for (Harrington – to the Tories) as well as Sudell ward.

The connection between the Independent and Lib Dem winners is that they all fought Labour’s Green Belt building plans so I am delighted that the Independents won as well as my own Lib Dems.

So an interesting night in Sefton whilst much of the rest of England did not see many changes. But, on a Liverpool note what on earth possessed the electorate in Liverpool to re-elect Mayor Joe Anderson? In my view he has been a drag on Liverpool moving forward. But on a wonderful Knowsley note my young mate Carl Cashman, together with older mates Mike Wynn and Ian Smith took 3 seats off Labour for the Lib Dems – well done Carl, Mike, Ian and Prescot Lib Dems.

Tribute to Ronnie and Maureen Fearn on their retirement from Sefton Council

Lord Ronnie Fearn, who has been a councillor in Southport since before Sefton Council was even created back in 1974, and his sister-in law Maureen Fearn are both to retire as Sefton councillors this May. Both have been tireless workers for their community and indeed for Southport and the Borough of Sefton generally.

I have known them both for many years and it was Ronnie, together with Anthony Hill, who pushed me into standing for Sefton Council.

Ronnie was once the Leader of the Lib Dem Group on Sefton and he was also a member of the short lived Merseyside County Council. Before both of these he was a member of the old Southport County Borough Council. Of course he was elected as MP for Southport twice as well and then entered the House of Lords where he still sits.

Lord Ronnie Fearn with, Baroness Shirley Williams, John Pugh MP & Annette Pugh

Lord Ronnie Fearn with, Baroness Shirley Williams, John Pugh MP & Annette Pugh

Not long after I was elected to Sefton Council a combination of unusual circumstances found me as the Lib Dem Group Leader and then Leader of the Council. They must have been desperate! But of course this meant I was now Ronnie’s Leader and I always thought it was a bizarre situation. The man whom I looked up to looked to me, a lad from Maghull, for leadership! To be honest Ronnie did not interfere but when asked for his opinion he would give it in a kindly and helpful way but he always seemed to be my boss in my head.

And what about Maureen – 3 times the Mayor of Sefton. A tough but kind lady who is not taken in by anyone but is always a delight to talk to about anything. She reminds me of my dear old Mum offering advice and encouragement but firm with people who cross her.

Maureen would chair Lib Dem Sefton Council Group meetings during my time as Leader in a fair and even handed way until someone had, in her view, overstepped the mark. Then she would say ‘right I have heard enough we are moving on’ and the culprit usually backed off. If they seemed to challenge her she would turn into a Victorian School Marm and you got a real ticking off.

Those who were on the end of Maureen losing her sense of humour know who they are – Tony D, Simon and Fred, mentioning no names of course.

Ronnie has a political radar for trouble that I have rarely seen elsewhere, indeed only Andrew Blackburn, whom I nick-named Radar (MASH watchers will get this), has the same sixth sense for ‘elephant traps’ as Ronnie called them.

Maureen was President of the North West of England Lib Dems a while back and she sprung quite a surprise on my dear old friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker when she called him up to the podium at a conference and presented him with an award for all his efforts for Lib Dems. Charles, now a young 94, only showed me his award certificate a couple of weeks ago; he is very proud of it and Maureen who presented it to him.

Charles Walker being present with his award by Maureen Fearn.

Charles Walker being present with his award by Maureen Fearn.

Maureen is loved across the political spectrum and indeed Ronnie is too.

They both deserve a long and happy retirement from politics because they have devoted their lives to helping others. Happy retirement Ronnie and Maureen.

Southport – Says NO! to Mersey Mayor Madness

This blog site has carried articles before about the astonishingly poor 3rd rate devolution of power deal that Merseyside’s Labour council leaders negotiated with Tory Chancellor George Osborne. It was such a poor deal that it came nowhere near to that which Greater Manchester council leaders negotiated for their communities. The Merseyside deal is shockingly poor by comparison. Here’s how Southport’s leading councillors and it’s MP see the deal:-

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