Thursday, 31 March 2011

Consequences of Labour Folly

My good friend Peter Hough has beaten me to blogging about the letter in today's Liverpool Post from Joe Anderson the Labour Leader of Liverpool City Council. In it Joe is responding to the Militants who urged him not to set a budget and to take on the government he writes:

There is no such thing as not implementing the government cuts.
Government gives the city 80% of its funding through different types of
grant. They have chosen to give Liverpool a 22% or £91m reduction. They
simply have not given us the money.

If someone’s household income is reduced by 22%, then they can’t just
ignore this, or they’d go bankrupt. If the city ignored its cut from
the Government, then quite simply we would run out of money by November
of this year, with no money to run social services or pay wages. That
chaos will not happen under my leadership.

Well under the Leadership of Peter Dowd  in Sefton that is the chaos that we may well have faced as he -despite being in the Cabinet-rejected almost every cut.

Peter's blog spells out the detail

I make one prediction-that the Champion will not cover the story!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Pupil Premium impact and Rotton Row

I was at a School Governor's meeting last night and one of the issues that came up on the agenda was the Pupil Premium. The fine details are not important her but something in the order of 50 children in the school qualify as they receive free school meals. This is a really useful sum of money and the school has some imaginative plans to ensure that these children get the benefit.

One other matter of general interest that came up was a project that the year 5 pupils were involved with concerning Rotton Row. This is an 'iconic' bit of Southport as the old postcard one the right shows. It borders the park where the Southport Flower Show is held in August. Sadly in recent years the council has not been able to maintain the long herbaceous as it was in it's heyday. It is clear that in present economic climate that we will not be able to restore the site using traditional council commissioning. It occurred to several people that this we should be seeking to engage the services of the great gardening  volunteer army in the town.

I am delighted that one of the people that the idea occurred to was our old friend Ralph Gregson of the Birkdale Civic Society.. I chanced to meet Ralph and his wife Pat in town last week and he told me of the money that they have secured and the plans that he has to restore the site. Part of the scheme that will be undertaken this year is with the year 5 pupils from Farnborough Rd school.. so well done Ralph and Farnborough Rd.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Last week’s council meeting produced some interesting and revealing moments. There were three motions on the order paper and we shall return to the first two later but for now let us look at the one moved by my fellow Birkdale Councillor Simon Shaw. 
We trailed this motion earlier in the week. It charted Labour’s abdication of responsibility over the budget in Sefton. They have voted against almost all the proposal for reductions and championed every aggrieved lobby group without moving any coherent alternative. The question that is inevitably raised by such conduct in the context of Sefton’s all party cabinet is; how can they stay in the administration if they are not seriously engaged with the budget?

Every other Labour Leader on Merseyside has faced up to the tough decisions involved in prioritizing services. Not Sefton Labour Party who chose simply to oppose and not to explain how they would balance the books –instead they led group after group to believe that if they had been in power they would have not gone ahead with a reduction. We know this to be untrue.

Sir Ron Watson, (Independent Conservative) rose to the occaision. Now Sir Ron has never liked the all party cabinet. He prefers there to be adversarial debate preferably between Labour and Conservatives. (This is a tad ironic as he is not in the Conservative group having been suspended -awaiting appeal- by the hapless leadership team of Porter -Parry. And the situation gets even more difficult in Sefton where the Tories have declined to be the third party will only 11 seats-they use to have 41 I think. Nevertheless Sir Ro's vision of proper politics is the first past the post two party model despite the fact that his career has come at a time when that model has unravelled.)

He rose from his back bench seat far distant from the Leader of the Council. (In fact he sits where I sat in 1984 when there were only 7 Liberals and he as Leader of the council and  behaved as if we had no right to be there and often predicted that we would soon be swept away as  the electors would soon come to their senses .) The place went silent. Sir Ron is the council's best speaker . He put his case clearly. He had no objection to Labour opposing the budget but that if they did so they had no moral or political right to stay in the cabinet. He may as well have quoted Cromwell exasperated at the Long Parliament; “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” 

He was followed Cllr Terry Jones (Official Conservative-I should say that there are more un-official Conservatives in Southport than Official ones) Cllr Jones is not one of the council's best speakers , nor do his contribution carry the same weight as Sir Ron's. In fact on this occasion  it would have been better for his reputation if he'd kept his mouth shut. A councillor with better judgement would have done so in my estimation. He tried -above the chatter-to disagree with the elder statesman. He lost the argument- but because the Official Conservative voted with Labour (again) we lost. 

Nevertheless I recall that on a previous occaision in the House of Commons when a speaker-Leo Amery - called upon Chamberlain to go in very similar terms to Cromwell's address to the Long Parliament, he too lost the vote- but if was not long before the Prime Minister had to quit.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Cricket and Mental Health

I cannot always claim to agree with marjorie wallace of Sane but on this occaision I emphatically do. Report of the out burst by Boycott has caused disgust. Typical of reports is the one below:

Geoff Boycott has caused a storm by criticising England cricketer Michael Yardy over his depression, suggesting that the player was feeling down simply because he was not good enough at cricket.

The Sussex spinner pulled out of the World Cup after being diagnosed with clinical depression, but former England batsman Boycott had little sympathy for the 30-year-old during an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
"He must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him," Boycott told the programme.

"Obviously it was too much for him at this level. If any blame is attached it's partly to the selectors because I'm sorry, he's not good enough at this level... For me, he was always going to be a liability or a poor choice at international level out here.

"I'm no doctor and I don't understand about the depression and I can't comment on it. I've been, with respect, a better player, I've been able to hold my place in the team for Yorkshire and England, I always got picked and played pretty good. So I've not been in that position where my quality of play has been poor and got to me mind-wise."
Boycott later backtracked slightly on his original comments, but he had already provoked widespread anger with his apparent callousness, with several mental health charities coming out to criticise the Yorkshireman's comments. Some described his words as "ill-informed" while others leapt to the defence of Sussex skipper Yardy.
"It is wrong and old-fashioned to regard depression as a form of weakness, or a disguise for a lack of achievement," said Marjorie Wallace of Sane. "It takes courage to speak out as Michael has done."

I'm delighted that most cricketers have responded much more sensibly. As this report in the Independent shows this is not a new issue for cricket to deal with

Midsommer DC Planning Committee

Come with me if you will to the Council Offices in Badger's Drift where the planning committee is assembling:

'Right gentlemen can we come to order.
Have we any apologies? No'

'Let the minutes show that Major Smythe (Chairman), Mr Algernon Moncrief, Mr Ernest Bunbury,  Rev. Dr Canon Chasuable, Mr Jack Worthing JP, Mr John Rimmer, Mr Oscar Ball '

'Our first item is consider a petition from Mr True-May.  He urges us to maintain the unique character of our English village and to put the interests of those who have lived here for generations in front of incommers' .

'Thank you Mr True-May. I think the sentiments you express are ones with which we'd all like to be identified. We all know that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. It is the actions of men like you that will preserve our culture. You have our congratulations and thanks.'

'Gentlemen we have two planning applications before us tonight, one from a Mr Singh and one from our good friend John Brian Ball-Rimmer.'

'Can we turn to the first application. I don't thing Mr Singh has any connection to our village. He wishes to open a hot food take away specialising in food from the Indian sub continent.'

'I suggest we reject this application. I believe that such an establishment would alter the unique character of our village and would prejudice the interests of local people who might want to set up businesses. We in Midsommer have a vision of  the future for our Village. We are the last bastion of Englishness. It wouldn't be an  English village anymore if we said yes to this plan. It just wouldn't work. Suddenly we might be in Slough and you know what that means.....'

'Yes Mr Ball:'

'We must consider the foreign smells, Lady Bracknell would be most upset.'

'Thank you , yes odour pollution is a real issue. And by the way Oscar please accept our congratulations for winning the prize for the Best Pig is Show at Badger's Drift last week.'

'Gentlemen, I think we are all agreed. We will reject this application under the powers granted to us by the Secretary of State under the new Nimby Act which allows us to reject application which we believe would alter the unique character of our community.'

'Next item. Mr John Brian Ball-Rimmer wants to open 'Ye Olde Midsommer Fish and Chip shop'.

'I think this is much more straight forward. There have been Rimmers and Balls in Midsommer since the Doomsday Book. I heartily welcome this initiative by a local family. This business I know will be welcome by local people. I know them all and they will give three cheers. We were all sorry when Mr Ball-Rimmer's Cordwangler business had to close. It is a matter of regret that the Fish and Chip shop he opened in Malham Bridge had to shut when the Mumbai Star opened its doors.

'Are we agreed?'

'That is unanimous.'

'Sorry Mr Bunbury, you wish to say something?'

'Chair, as you know I'm new to this area, but surely if Mr Singh wants to open a business on a site which is eminently suitable we should not stand in his way?'

'As you say you are new to the area-personally I think that there ought to be a residency qualification for councillors that require them to have lived here for a minimum of twenty years before they can be nominated. Let us move on'

'Finally we have the police here. You recall we have been having complaints about the increase in traffic on the road to Malham Bridge and we asked the police to undertake a traffic survey. Inspector Bhanuka Rajapaksa I'm sorry to have put you to so much trouble. Have you come far? '

'No Sir, I was born in Slough.'

My officers have undertaken a traffic survey on the Malham Bridge Rd on the times complained about, namely Friday evening between 6pm and 9pm. We stopped 300 cars in a two month period and interviewed 666 people. They were almost all travelling the relatively short distance to Malham Bridge. 60% were going to visit the Mumbia Star, 20% the Flying Wok, 8% El Macho's Mexican Dinner, 5% on family visits 4.5% the Salsa Dancing Club, 2% to buy croissants from Tescos in Malham Bridge because the local baker says there is no demand in Badger's Drift and 0.5% visiting the Seinter in Slough.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

mega allowance for Labour Councillor........................................................

The Crosby Herald carries the story of Mark Dowd the high paid Labour Councillor taking home 7 times the basic allowance for Sefton Councillors.

 SEFTON’S highest earning councillor last night defended his £63,000 a year allowances and said he had not had a pay rise since 2009.
Councillor Mark Dowd earned £54,000 for chairing a board called the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority last year.
The Labour politician who serves St Oswald ward in Bootle – one of the most deprived areas in Sefton – took home an additional £9,000 in councillor’s allowances totalling £63,044 last year.

I have always been fascinated by the way Merseyside Transport always seems to get their information out about councillors allowances after everyone els. It has meant that there has been little publicity or scrutiny about their allowances. I must check out whether they still pay 1st class travel.

Princes and aristocrats

The noble Lord Bonkers continues the aristocratic interest in Anarchism with an erudite Guest Post from Ruth Kinna an academic and author. The post is about her recent publication; 'The beginners Guide to Anarchism' she explains:

The book explores a number of ideas of anarchy. Amongst these is the practical utopianism of Colin Ward and Paul Goodman, two inventive, creative subversives whose reflections on education, squatting, urban design, gardening and a whole host of other issues continues to inspire community-action groups. Ward, in particular, took his lead from Kropotkin, whose critique of the state (in The State its Historic Role and Mutual Aid) pointed to the possibilities of co-operation, local initiative and the development of non-hierarchical organisations. Not quite the big society. Practical anarchy not only by-passes government, it also develops its own moral rules and it challenges market-capitalism.

I did fear Kropotkin was going to loose his 'cutting edge ' when Tory 'thinker' David Willets appeared on Andrew Marr's Radio 4 programme to extol Kropotkin's insights back in 2008. No doubt Lord Bonkers who was around when Prince Peter Kropokin lived in Bromley and has some interesting reminiscences to share......

Ex Southport Tory MEP ordered to pay back £345,000

The BBC carries a news story about Ex Southport man and former MEP Den Diover (He is seen in our photograph with Ainsdale resident and former Birkdale Tory Candidate who is to fight Kew Ward for the Tories in May- Cath Regan)

The European Parliament launched a probe in 2008 after it emerged Mr Dover had paid nearly £1m to a company, MP Holdings, which included his wife and daughters among its directors.

The money came from allowances MEPs receive to pay staff salaries and costs.

The parliament ruled that only £421,156 could be justified in salaries, National Insurance and legitimate staff travel expenses - and the remainder was "without justification".

It demanded £538,290 back but Mr Dover, who represented the North West of England in Brussels and is a former MP for Chorley in Lancashire, appealed to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Chris Davis deserves much credit for bringing Mr Dover to book. Dover protestations of innocence were an embarrassment to everyone associated with him.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A little more Liberal input into the budget please..........

Looking back across the decades since WW1 one dominant feature of Liberal Party Budget proposals seems to have disappeared today. Throughout those long years from Asquith to Ashdown one common feature of Liberal plans was always to enhance Employee Ownership. Manifestos and Inquiries throughout the whole period contain studies of co-ownership firms like Scott Bader. Even the great Liberal manifesto of 1929  contains a whole chapter on 'The Diffusion of Ownership'. The one real policy triumph of the Lib Lab pact was Richard Wainwright's success of getting employee profit sharing in legislation.

This idea has never been more relevant. As Will Hutton observed:

........................ with the rise of the neoconservative right, there has just been the unquestioning assumption that the best form of ownership is private; in Britain, that necessarily means our idiosyncratic variant of the public limited company. This represents the oddest and most regressive constitution for private ownership anywhere in western capitalism. British company law makes no requirement on shareholders and directors to have any obligation to be good stewards of their assets, their employees or their customers. Shareholders' rights to do what they want with their shares to maximise their immediate value is more stark than anywhere else and directors' responsibilities are only to serve the interests of these madly unconstrained shareholders.

It is scarcely necessary to remark that the concern of many is that some Liberal Democrats have been co-opted in to the economic approach of the neo-conservatives that was in significant part the cause of the crash. The single objective of increasing shareholder value led to some 'barking' actions. Short term profit was pursued instead on long term sustainability. In every corner of public policy we call for greater transparency and democracy. We are vigorously championing a minor (if desirable) reform of the voting system but Industrial Democracy which could directly impact on millions of our fellow citizens is off  the agenda. We have talk of bits of mutualism at the margins but not the decisive action that is needed to be taken within the mainstream economy is not even whispered about.  Part of rebalancing the economy must be to reform the 'idiosyncratic variant of the public limited company'. For generations Liberals advocated that companies with over 50 employees should compulsorily be required to include employees as stakeholders with rights like shareholders. Although Clegg raged against the Kraft take over of Cadbury's  he failed to propose the one reform that would have constrained the rampant neo liberals in their tracks-namely entrenching the rights of employees.

As the Manifesto of the Employee Ownership Association asserts:

As an instrument of government policy, employee ownership is economically 
effective, politically attractive and socially just. 
Without any net cost to the public purse, employee ownership could make a 
major contribution to re-balancing the economy, distributing wealth more widely, 
re-invigorating civic society, re-building trust and re-connecting people with

more satisfying, more productive and happier work

I trust the time will soon come when Liberal Democrats take up this message again. Re-mutualising some of the High St banks would be a start (better that the mad cap idea of returning ownership to the business model of share ownership that was part of the cause of the crisis in the first place) Leglisatioon on the line of the old Liberal Party proposal for firms with over 50 employees would be another and the Employee Ownership Association has been pushing a tax reform measure that would also help that would block ' tax reliefs subsidising regressive ownership outcomes, such as unlimited tax relief on corporate debt in private equity buyouts, this should be changed to encourage wider ownership and become conditional on the business having an all-employee trust of a minimum size'.

If you don't want the media and the public to concentrate on deficit reduction then show them a vision of something better where wealth and power is shared more equally.

The implications of Labour Budget folly in Sefton

On Thursday we have a full council meeting (papers here) and my ward colleague has submitted a motion:

Notice of Motion by Councillor Shaw 

 To consider the following motion submitted by Councillor
“This Council notes:
1. That the Labour Party is the second largest party on
Sefton Council and holds 40% of the places in the
Cabinet, including the crucially important portfolio of
Children’s Services, where much of the public concern
over potential spending cuts has been centred;

2. That over the last 6 months the Labour Party has
voted against (and is recorded in the Council Minutes
as voting against) over 80% of the proposed painful,
but necessary, reductions in Council spending, but
without suggesting a single alternative;

3. That the shortfall amounted to £36.8 million out of the
required savings of £44.2 million, and that this shortfall
would have required the Labour Party to increase
Council Tax by 29%, taking the Band D Council Tax
(including precepts) from £1477.68 to £1904.78, an
additional £427.10 per year;

4. That such an increase would inevitably ultimately
involve the Council in being subject to “capping”, but
that in the meantime council tax payers would be
legally required to pay the increased monthly
instalments of (for example) an extra £42.71 per
month for Band D householders; and

5. That “capping” would have resulted in significant extra
re-billing costs and that even more severe mid-year
cuts would need to have been made in order to
achieve a balanced budget.

This Council believes that all parties on Sefton Council,
particularly those holding places in the Cabinet, have a
responsibility to behave responsibly in current circumstances,
particularly in relation to budgetary matters.”

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Classic Focus photos-and a little competition .....

Well they are this years but they have the essential characteristic of a classic Focus photo. I was particularly please that this picture of pothole in Dover Rd came out so clearly demonstrating the extent the road had deteriorated . It was mended the same week 

And second the perennial problem of dog dirt. Simon is seen here pointing to a stencilled marking of the Sefton 'Bag it and Bin it' campaign. Therese stencil markings are applied-I am informed- by people on the Community Pay back scheme run by the probation service. they last for about six weeks. 

Now apply your creative imagination. If you were to paint two dogs how could you arrange them to cause offence ?

An interesting Health Alliance?

Full article here and interesting comments on Political Betting here An interesting alliance?

Only 5% think Local Councils are to blame for the cuts

I've been a bit slow in catching up on the Political Betting website . Who is to blame for the level of cuts opinion polls have been asking:

War in North Africa is not our aim!

It is easy to be smug and contrast the British involvement in Libya with the disastrous deployment in Iraq. It is certainly better that we are not breaking international law and that we have a coalition that is broadly based. Nevertheless many of the questions that were raised over Afghanistan are also pertinent in relation to Libya. Adrian Sanders the Lib Dem MP for Torbay raises some of them in his posting ; 'Are we moving towards another war in the Middle East'.

There are a number of unresolved questions and constituents are raising a number of very real concerns over where we are going.  After all, many of the problems we had in Afghanistan and Iraq came from poor planning, poor strategy, no clear objective and hidden ulterior motives.
The Government needs to make sure it answers all of the questions we raise as it is public money being spent and more importantly our servicemen and women’s lives being put on the line. 
I for one want to know how we intend to to end our involvement, is there a plan for rebuilding Libya and what sort of budget have we set aside for that process?
I've no doubt that the right wing of the Tory Party will already be gearing up to sabotage the defence review  and urging increased expenditure. For us it allows us to draw attention to the really important choice between maintaining a futile nuclear weapon which does not deter  and can only be used at the behest of the USA and having an armed service designed to meet the demand of 21st Century.. It is encouraging that some Tories have understood this and we must not allow the others to frame the debate in such a fashion that they can fulfil their dreams of Britain being once again a grand, swaggering power. 
It was interesting to hear the FT Political editor on the radio this morning remarking that Paddy Ashdown had been in favour of every military deployment over the last 50yrs and now that his proteges were in the leadership of the party they would be on-board with the military approach. I doubt that is true.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

John Hemmings on 'hyper-injunctions'

Over on Liberal England one of Lord Bonker's Six of the Best  is a  post  he declares everyone should readAnna Raccoon writes; "Mr John Hemming, (Lib Dem) MP for Yardley in Birmingham, rose to his feet and used parliamentary privilege to list some of the secret prisoners, the people who have lost their liberty in the UK behind closed doors; the court orders which detail the secret injunctions – not for the benefit of footballers or bankers ... but the injunctions, not mere ‘super-injunctions’ that the media could not mention, but ‘hyper-injunctions’ which even prevented the aggrieved citizen from appealing to their MP for help."
There has been little or no reporting of the points raised by John Hemmings but the 'Debate on Articles 9 and 13 of the Bill of Rights and the role of Parliament in dealing with all grievances and the importance of freedom of communication between constituents and Members' can be found in Hansard and on Parliamentary TV. It is not a quick Youtube style clip but an extended debate. If you listen to the end I hope you will recognise the importance of the issue

Birkdale student writes about the AV referendum

Local Birkdake student and Liberal Youth activist Sarah Handing has a posting over on Lib Dem Voice this morning

Sarah Harding writes… Fairer Votes: young people are leading from the front

On the 5th of May, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to effect a change 100 years in the making.
This is our chance to finally fix the broken system that has failed the people of Britain. And Liberal Youth will not waste it.
Young people are leading from the front in the fight for fairer votes. University and college campuses across the country are coming alive with a new wave of political participation. Young people from all political parties and none are uniting to fix our political system, and to give us a electoral system fit for the 21st century.

Birkdale Beer and Bangers

As we start the campaign for the local elections and the AV referendum it is traditional that we have a party or two. It is rather like pancake day at the beginning of Lent. First up there Quiz next Friday organised by Kew Ward which is followed on the Saturday by  a coffee morning  in Ainsdale . Also on that day is the Crocus Walk through Hestketh Park organised by our friends in Cambridge Ward.

Here in Birkdale we have our Beer and Bangers event with CAMRA award winning ale from the Southport Brewery and sausages from Robert Tear the Birkdale Butcher. There will of course be wine and soft drinks as well as vegetarian alternatives.
1st April  starting at 8pm please contact me for further details:

Now there is another Brewery in Sefton down in Bootle called the Liverpool Organic Brewery. I came across one of their bottled beers recently.
The local hero depicted on this bottle is Kitty Williamson-she also appears on a stained glass window on the entrance to the Lady Chapel in Liverpool Cathedral. Lib Dem Councillor Flo Clucas is one of those who has campaigned for a statue of Kitty to be erected in the City  She opened the first public wash house in the country on Upper Frederick Street in 1842 and cleaned thousands of clothes during the cholera epidemic. Ms Wilkinson arrived destitute in Liverpool in 1794. She had set sail with her family from Derry in Ireland.

As they reached the shores of the city, their tiny boat floundered in the waves and her father and sister were swept away.
 Kitty Wilkinson's story is one of unbelievable determination, courage and selflessness 
Councillor Flo Clucas
Despite the tragedy, the Saint of the Slums went on to save hundreds, particularly through the cholera epidemic.
She pioneered the public wash house movement which gave poor people somewhere to clean their clothes.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Crosby Village loose out on investment?

It cannot give my colleague Peter Hough any pleasure to know that he was right to welcome  Sainsbury' development plans for Crosby. This weeks Champion reveals that there is now a very real danger that Crosby will missed out on the crucial investment altogether

Sainsbury's have admitted they are looking into selling their properties in Crosby Village.

The Champion can exclusively reveal that handing over their retail outlets is one of the options being discussed by senior management.

The retail giant announced this week that they would not be appealing the decision to refuse a planning application for a £50million new store on Moor Lane.

Sainsbury's officials confirmed to The Champion they are in lengthy discussions over whether to leave the current store as it is, submit new plans for the area or the option many residents fear, which is sell up and move out.

Senior management also added that there is “no timetable” for a further announcement.

Peter Hough, who is Sefton Council's regeneration spokesperson, labelled the news as “devastating.”

The Victoria ward Liberal Democrat councillor was contacted by Sainsbury's management this week who said they would not be appealing the decision to refuse last year's store plans.

But he mentioned that while in a discussion with the multi-million pound company, he received the impression that they were no longer interested.

Cllr Hough said: “I got the strong impression Crosby has been shoved onto the back-burner and that they now have other fish to fry.

"Since their offer was turned down, they have been looking at several hundred other sites in the North West with a view to investing their money.

“Never say never, but this is devastating news for our town centre.

”I said at the time when I and my colleagues supported the investment, that I didn't want to gamble away Crosby's future. Others may have done just that.“

"We should have grabbed their offer - and embraced this once in a generation opportunity.

“It was the only game in town. There are, and never were, any other investors waiting to step in.”

Kevin Macmillan, Sainsbury's development executive, added: “We have always said that we would keep people informed and although we have still not decided what do to regarding Crosby, we have decided not to appeal the refused planning application.

"All options are still being considered and these range from selling the properties, doing nothing to drawing up new plans. There is no timetable for any further announcement."

Conservative Blundellsands councillor Peter Papworth said that it was expected they would not appeal and is still ”hopeful“ the company would come back with a new offer.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Bellway Homes Plans for 'Tommy Moore' site

Despite the plans for the new Bellway housing estate on Liverpool Road being submitted last Monday March 7th, many residents have complained they have not had access to them states Councillor Haydn Preece. 

"We have had concerns from residents on Liverpool Road about the danger of access to and from the new estate but residents have not been able to see the plans without travelling to Bootle which is wrong. After receiving a number of phone calls I have ensured the plans are on line now on the Sefton website and a hard copy is now in Ainsdale Library. Residents can organise a viewing at Southport Town Hall with the developments Case Officer Steve Faulkner who can be contacted on 0151 943081.

 However I have had to ask for my ward residents rather than this being a Southport development and therefore obviously the plan should have been available automatically at Southport Town Hall for our residents as soon as the plans were submitted. I do feel strongly that residents should have easy access to plans especially when they have attended consultation meetings and made a valuable in put."

The plans can now be viewed on line at:

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

So what would a more Lib Dem influenced coalition look like?

I am always a bit wary when folk who aren't our friends start giving us advice. Jackie Ashley was at it in yesterday's Guardian.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

The Lib Dems are not a centre party. Their centre of gravity is a bit to the left. They are less statist, less pro-union and more civil libertarian than Labour, but their instincts fall on the same side of the divide. They want to change the world; and you can't do that by sitting in the centre. 

Like all Liberals of my generation I have always considered our party to be of the Left. Many of us were inspired by Jo Grimond's vision of realigning the Left and developing a radical party committed to social justice and freedom without signing up to an authoritarian and overbearing state to achieve it. And so it is that Liberals through out generation have looked at ways of redistributing wealth and power without first handing it to the government. 

We have noted before that 'advanced' Liberals in the Edwardian era were influenced by Kropotkin and the like-an influence that was rekindled in the 1960/70's. His communitarian  /decentralised / green vision of society interested many of us. Now we have emerged from a decade under New Labour with its authoritarian actions fresh in our minds it is nor surprising that we feel the need to stress our libertarian credentials. 

It is of course true that many Lib Dems feel the the talk of left and right is unhelpful. Donald Wade in his pamphlet 'Our Aim and Purpose' back in the late sixties was railing against this simplistic labelling. We find it difficult to describe John Reid or David Blunkett or Jack Straw with all their authoritarian instincts as 'left' as it is a term we associate with human rights and the expansion of popular sovereignty. Today folk like those over at Political Compass try to come up with more meaningful alternatives. Anyway back to yesterday's Guardian.

At one point in her article Ms Ashley presumed to be able to: ..... imagine what a coalition government with a stronger Lib Dem influence would look like. Now I share Roberts Burn's desire that :' O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us' so I read on with renewed interest. 

It would not have charged so hard towards free schools and against local councils; it would not have embarked on the NHS changes; it would have scrapped Trident; it would have been more pro-European. It would have castigated Labour, no doubt, over spending decisions, but it would have begun to reduce the deficit more through taxation than spending cuts. It would, we know, have been tougher on bankers' bonuses and more decisive in splitting the functions of the big banks

Well it could have been a lot wider of the mark and I am pleased that she feels that Trident would have been scrapped-let us hope Labour catches up with us on that issue. Nevertheless if her observations of what a more Liberal government would look like ring true for the population at large we clearly have some work to do!

Totally absent from her vision is the decentralised/ communitarian/green agenda so close to many Lib Dem hearts. Even Nick Clegg's excellent speech on multiculturalism which contrasted so markedly from Cameron's populist panderings does not seem to have registered.  Absent too is our disgust at the 'gross and shocking' maldistribution of wealth in our society and there is nothing of our alternative vision for businesses that are not  driven solely by the rampant free market desire to improve shareholder value. One of the most encouraging aspects of the recent gathering in Sheffield was the re-emergence of Industrial Democracy and employee ownership as a core part of the Lib Dem approach. 

Video of Tim Farron at Social Liberal Forum

Tim Farron was omnipresent at the Spring Conference. His speech at the rally has been well reported so we thought that we would bring you a snippet of his contribution to the Social Liberal Forum. Tim tells us that he has checked the DNA of Tories and they are human.
The Social Liberal Forum has quickly filled a gap filled in the past by the likes of  Radical Bulletin, the Radical Reform Group and the Liberal Movement.
Interestingly one of the questions that came up at the meeting was the scope for extremist parties to grow if Liberal Democrats were not active and successful. Back in the 1950's Desmond Banks addressed the same point:

 'If there were no Liberal Party' he declared in a speech at Ruan Minor in Cornwall in March 1956, 'we might well be witnessing today the growth of some dangerous movement akin to that of M.Poujade in France'