Media bias – You have to fight it or live with it as a Liberal

Media bias against Liberals has gone on for generations especially in the press; national certainly and locally too at times. The days of newspapers holding a Liberal line are long gone and it probably comes down to fact that journalists bringing their own political prejudices to the table as well as having to carry those of the paper’s owner. By the way I am not wishing to see a paper biased towards Liberal views as that would be replacing one prejudice with another; what I want to see is balanced reporting.

But then there’s the BBC, yes the BBC, because it seems to be at it too. On Friday 16th January Radio 4’s Any Questions is being broadcast from Greenbank High School in Southport and I have discovered that the programme has TWO well-known Tories and NO Lib Dem appearing.

My colleague and Southport Cllr. Tony Dawson says “This would be bad enough anywhere but in a town where 50 per cent voted Lib Dem at general election and 16 out of 21 councillors are Lib Dem it’s pathetic.”

For the record the advertised Tories are Anna Soubrey, Defence Minister and “Liverpool based textiles businessman Tony Caldeira.” who just happens to have been the Tory candidate in the Liverpool Mayor election.

You can bet that the BBC is getting complaints about this carry on!

Southport to London Trains – If only!


My good friend Cllr. Tony Dawson of Dukes ward in Southport sent me a copy of a railway timetable from 1966 which shows how well served Southport once was in terms of rail connections.

Cllr. Tony Dawson

Cllr. Tony Dawson

Of course it still has an excellent service to Liverpool but has sadly lost its line to Preston altogether. The line to the east from our local seaside resort goes to Manchester via Wigan and let’s face it it is a second rate service with second rate coaching stock.

John Pugh MP for Southport

Dr John Pugh, the MP for Southport, has been raising this matter very publicly and readers may recall his appearance on a TV programme in December 2012 about the poor quality of Pacer Trains used on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester line and indeed many other lines in the North West of England.

Pure Southport 60’s & 70’s Nostalgia

If you remember Southport in the 60’s and 70’s take a look at this video from You Tube.

The Old Pier Train, Cream and Red buses, the old fun fare, the outdoor lido, the big wooden dipper – pure Southport nostalgia with a clip of rival North West resort Blackbool popping up right at the end.

I am sure I saw Ronnie (Mr Southport) Fearn somewhere in the background!

Emporium now there’s an odd word but entrepreneur that’s a vital one.

The dictionary definition of emporium is:- A shop, usually a large one, that offers a wide selection of goods.

I raise this because of a Maghull Town Team project that I am presently involved in where ‘Emporium’ is to be the name of a temporary shop unit, in Maghull Square. It will be there for start-up businesses to have a go, by renting one of 8 bays in the shop unit, to see if their business may be viable on the High Street for real. It is a part of the ‘Pop Up Shop’ trend that is appearing in empty shop units in shopping centres across the UK.

It is funded by the Coalition Government’s ‘Portas’ funding stream (like Maghull Community Radio that a posted about few days ago) and may well move from one empty shop unit to another as they come off and go on lease in the ‘normal’ cycle of retail units.

I Googled ‘emporium’ to see what came up and below is what did:-

The Emporium Clitheroe – Welcome to the Emporium. A truly intoxicating lifestyle experience. half coffee shop, wine bar and brassiere; half interior design superstore.

Vinyl Emporium – Liverpool, Merseyside – Books, Mags, Music & Video › Vinyl Records?

The Tattoo Emporium, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Inn Beer Emporium Reviews, Liverpool, Merseyside – Attractions …Things to do in Liverpool

Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, Manchester – we want to mark a great season with a special menu.

My point? A really good project, but Emporium by name? Or is that just me? You see I am in a minority in holding a questioning view about the suitability of the name. But hey, let’s go with the flow, greater minds than mine think differently.

But this project links back to my long held view/concern for the future of those parts of the UK where dependency on public sector jobs is high and I say this despite being a creature of the public sector all my working life. What I have realised is that the well intentioned (and cost saving) move, by government after government, of public sector jobs out of the South East to the North West, North East, Scotland and Wales etc. in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s has had an unintended negative consequence. The negative is that it can lead to less entrepreneurs coming to the fore in such areas because a job in the public sector is often the obvious choice for a young person whose whole working family may well have been public sector workers.

But whether we like it or not we live in a capitalist economy, one which no matter what some politicians may say, can only be successful if in each generation there are sufficient young people with the determination to generate wealth.

The project that I am a part of has to address this vital issue. It is not just about creating jobs but about setting the scene for successful businesses to be started, to thrive and then for those businesses to employ others. It is this important cycle that has been to some degree broken in communities that have became too dependent on the public sector to provide jobs. Sefton, in my view, is in that category but with the notable exception of Southport which does have a significantly high proportion of small to medium sized business.

Whether we call it (the shop unit) an ’emporium’ or anything else the real test for it will be the flow of young people in particular who have wealth creating ideas that they want to road test within it. It’s going to be an interesting and I hope successful project.

The video below links to this project and it starts my old mate Les (Frank Hornby) French:-

RAIL NORTH – A long-term rail strategy for the North of England

I have recently been reading this 84 page document which you could say is the daft manifesto of this new rail organisation that is to gain devolved powers from Whitehall to deal with rail franchises in the North.

At this point you can see Whitehall Sir Humphrey’s meeting to say ‘thank God we are devolving power to that desperate place north of Birmingham so we won’t have to go there any more!’

Anyway what is the document all about? Well it’s all strategies and strategic thinking and frankly it is hardly good bedtime reading! Whether it will change the railway world in the North I am not at all sure and sadly it hardly majors on improvements to the lines north of Liverpool/south of Preston which I am interested in. Some interesting facts from it though are:-

• ‘Liverpool City Region has the most rail trips annually, in excess of 45m single trips’. It goes on to say ‘this reflects the high quality and frequent services provided by the Merseyrail network’.
• ‘Container terminal developments on the Mersey will result in greater future demand for rail freight’. An interesting point this as presently Seaforth Dock is hardly busy with rail traffic and if the new ‘river dock’ that will accommodate truly huge ships comes on line before the rail infrastructure is in place Bootle will be lost to lorry movements!
• Some interesting costs now – Merseyrail’s cost per passenger Km is £0.19, the average occupancy is 42%, and the average number of passengers per train is 89 with 26 in each carriage.

Under the odd heading of The North’s Interconnected Urban Matrix – there is a list of major cities and towns in the north of England – Sadly, someone seems to have forgotten that Southport is such a major town!

My point in making these remarks is that there simply does not seem to be any ambition to properly sort out the fact that some of the Merseyrail lines terminate in daft places that do not reflect the real travel to work areas of Liverpool. Where is the will to electrify the Bidston to Wrexham line? Where is the plan to extend the Liverpool Ormskirk line through to Preston? Why is there no big idea to take the Liverpool Kirkby line through to Wigan?


But what really gets my goat is the Southport issue that I have raised many times before. Do the great and good at RAIL NORTH even know they have a railway line from Wigan that ends in Southport, that it is in desperate need of new trains, better track and more frequent services? Do they know that at Burscough the two lines that cross each other (Ormskirk – Preston & Southport – Wigan) need to be reconnected so that once more Southport – Preston and Southport – Ormskirk trains are possible?

Come on RAIL NORTH let’s bring a little ambition to the Liverpool City Region railway network. It (the electrified part) may well be good as it stands but it in no way starts and finishes in the right places!