Thursday, 27 December 2007

Southport v Burscough


Boxing Day found me at Haig Ave for the local derby against Burscough. The cup match earlier in the year was good entertainment with Southport winning with a last minute wonder goal. The most recent league encounter was another good match played in front of 1700+ people. Again Southport won and this time they were clearly the better side with periods of real superiority. It looks hopeful for the rest of the year.
The crowd were in festive mood. A yopung women in front of us was handing out christmas goodies-cake, flapjacks, chocolate etc-much of which was hme made. Excellent.

Southport 1-0 Burscough (FULL TIME)

Old Shrimper


Southport brewery has a fine range of local beers. This Christmas I purchased a pin (9 pints) of Old Shrimper 5.5%. All who tasted it on Christmas eve were delighted. It is a dark porter/stout with a distinct roast chocolate after taste-well that was the agreed description after the pin was drunk. Clearly this is not a 'session ale', but one to be savoured. Congratulations to the brewery. The Lancashire Hero off licence on Shakespeare Street is the stockist.

Christmas Lights
















As a local councillor you get to go to some really excellent community events at Christmas. This year St John's exceeded all expectations with it's Christmas Tree Festival. In a darkened church the Mayor was invited to switch on the lights and one by one the 30+ tress were illuminated. Each tree was sponsored by a local business or person and decorated by a charity. A great success!









Thursday, 20 December 2007

Tory sentence commuted

Southport Champion report the outcome of David Pearson's appeal (below headline) . What a climb down, how humiliating for the leader. Her writ clearly does not run in Dukes ward. No amount of spin can alter the essential fact ; they tried to stop david standing in May and they failed. That surly will embolden the other two. What is more entertaining and far more damaging is the publication of the charge sheet. How petty and trivial it is. Further evidence -if any is needed-that the Porter Parry leaderhip is serially cock up prone. As the recieved political wisdom states: accident prone leadres are not accident prone by accident!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ex-mayor cleared to stand in elections

A FORMER Mayor of Sefton will be allowed to stand in next May’s local council elections.Councillor David Pearson was suspended in November for six months from the local authority’s Conservative Group for ‘not being a team player’. His suspension would have ended after the elections on May 1, making him ineligible to represent the Tories.A representative of the Dukes (town centre) ward, Cllr Pearson appealed against his suspension. The Conservative area appeals committee has now considered his appeal and The Champion understands the suspension has been upheld. However, the committee has suggested the suspension be reduced from six months to two, meaning he will be able to stand. That recommendation will go before a meeting of the Tory Group in early January and The Champion understands it will be approved.Neither Cllr Pearson nor Tory leader Cllr Paula Parry would comment.The charges against Cllr Pearson included not being popular with other Tory councillors, being too outspoken, having too loud a voice, being too friendly with the Liberal Democrats and not being a team player. He denied the accusations and said at the time the comments were “typical of the innuendos that have been formed against me.”Popular in Southport with a wide range of people and groups, his own ward committee selected him to be their candidate while he was suspended.Yesterday (Tuesday) a Tory insider told The Champion: “Our group is united, apart from the Dukes ward councillors. We felt David had overstepped the mark and we wanted to fire a shot across his boughs. “His suspension has been upheld, but we won’t push for a full six moths ban. We have made our point but we don’t want to rip our party apart.”One of Cllr Pearson’s Dukes colleagues is Cllr Les Byrom, who was overthrown as group leader by Cllr Parry.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Dail post

This is the daily post take on Thursday's cabinet meeting and a fair reflection of events. Despite promises we have yet to have a coherent explanation from The Tories as to why the want to keep in post folk who have been declared surplus. We will wait.

Sefton Council chief to stay but eight top jobs axed in £600,000 savings cuts

Dec 14 2007 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Daily Post

SEFTON Council’s chief executive will keep his job – but eight other management posts face the axe, a cabinet meeting decided yesterday.
The council had made an offer to chief executive Graham Haywood of redundancy or early retirement in November but it has been withdrawn after a QC ruled it had acted unconstitutionally.
One man whose position is being deleted is deputy chief executive, Alan Moore, who was suspended last month over allegations of misconduct.
It is likely the council’s decision will go to a scrutiny review to finalise the decision.
The news follows an acrimon-ious dispute between Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conser-vatives about the way a major services review was handled.
Lib-Dem council leader Tony Robertson had asked for an independent QC’s report into senior posts, including the decision to offer redundancy to Mr Haywood. In November, the QC reported to the council it acted unconstitutionally in the way it handled a number of dec- isions to “cull” senior officers.
Last night Cllr Robertson said: “The decision is one I support. The reality is that the decision will probably be called in and taken to a Scrutiny Review Committee but I welcome this. The reason problems occurred was because of the lack of scrutiny.”
At a meeting in October a motion was passed following the combined votes of Labour and Conservative councillors agreeing to save £300,000 in 2008/9 by deleting five top posts.
But last night a rival Lib-Dem motion was passed to save £600,000 by deleting eight posts.
The dispute has coincided with the suspension of Mr Moore and an investigation by the Standards Board into the actions of Cllr Debi Jones.
The subject of the investiga-tion is a meeting between the pair which may have broken the council’s code of conduct.
Cllr Jones arranged a meet-ting with Mr Moore which she says was to “inquire about how a company goes about the tendering process.” It is alleged she had “pressed” for a com-pany she was doing freelance work for, PR firm Ampersand, to be considered for contracts, but Cllr Jones denies any wrongdoing. There is no suggestion the company has done anything wrong.
lizawilliams

Friday, 7 December 2007

Tories in handbrake u-turn

After months of scare mongering and campaigning for an end to the wheelie bin collection regime the Tories quietly signalled their retreat at the Environment meeting this week. It was Cllr Barber who when confronted with the facts accepted that the option that the Tories were pedalling was not on. The full report on the £7million the Tories wanted to waste! is here.



Of all the embarassing cock-ups the Tories have suffered this is the most humiliating. Within weeks of approving the new system they were out campaigning against it. Leaflets were produced that in the same campaign supported and oppossed the system. We will produce all these leaflets. Those published during the Manor Ward by election are particularly damaging.

There seems to be a theory amongst some Tories that is ok to vote for a proposition and then pretend to all and sundry that you are going represent pockets of opposition to the very policies you have agreeed.They are unreliable partners. Imagine this was not politics but personal relationships.What would you think of someone who told you the agreed with you and agreed with what you are going to do. These things may be difficult for both of you. Then you find the very people who agreed those decisions with walk out the door and start slagging the proposition they have just agreed with. Talk about flipping and flopping-

The best bit was Les Byrom who has led the charge against wheelie bins was up on his feet trying to distract everyone from the uncomfortable fact that his party has signed up for the second year running to the alternative weekly collection in the budget process. Every red herring he could think of was thrown into the debate. But the simple truth remained that the Tories have performed a hand break wheelie U turn.

Thursday, 6 December 2007















Now this is a crunch game for Southport. Harrogate are top of the league in automatic promotion spot. They have a game in hand. Southport are 3rd. A win will put Southport top.


cautionary tale

A sad tale which illustrates that people should think before they leap into print with ill-considered idea. This is particularly embarrassing case for the accident prone Mrs Porter as it demonstrates that not only did she not pause to think but that she did not have a strong enough grasp of basic 'green principles' Zac Goldsmith would weep.
The context is important. Having received 15 report/presentations on the introduction of wheelie bins and the bi weekly collections and failed to raise any significant issues Mrs Porter then proceeded several times to vote in favour of the proposal. Scarcely had she finished registering her vote in favour of the detailed proposal than Tory leaflets appeared attacking it. She was not embarrassed by weighed in raising concerns and aligning herself with the 'anti wheelie ' brigade. As an alternative to the proposal she had previously backed-incidentally consenting to the acquisition of expensive equipment -she and her colleagues came up with three expensive/irrelevant and anti green alternatives . Today we are concerned with one that is all Mrs Porters own. After the idea has been properly researched the full folly of the proposal can now be revealed. I await a full report from the meeting which received the report to find out if the Tory who attended sought to support Mrs Porter. More will follow as the other suggestions the Tories proposed have also been rubbished


PORTER PROPOSAL :

“WOULD INEVITABLY CAUSE AN INCREASE IN THE RAT POPULATION

A proposal from Ainsdale’s Councillor Brenda Porter that Sefton Council should look at subsidising under-sink waste disposal units for local residents has been given the “thumbs down” in a Council report to be considered Wednesday 5 December.

Birkdale Liberal Democrat Councillor Simon Shaw successfully persuaded the Council to carry out a review into three suggestions put forward by Sefton Conservatives as alternatives to the new waste collection system. These were that Sefton should build its own waste incinerator, subsidise under-sink waste disposal units and/or reintroduce weekly refuse collection.

“The suggestion about disposal units was put forward in June by Councillor Porter who is Deputy Leader of Sefton Conservatives. However it is clear that she did not properly research this bizarre idea,” said Councillor Shaw.

“The report from officers makes it clear that as well as costing a fortune the widespread use of these disposal units is not recommended by the Water Board. Specifically it warns that food put into the sewers through waste disposal units is food for rats.”

“I am appalled that Councillor Porter should be advocating an idea which will mean more rats,” said Councillor Shaw.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The second word is 'off'

memo from Dukes ward Tories to Cllrs Porter & parry (censored by the editor but the second word was 'off')
The key thing is that Les is clearly confident that David will win his appeal. The Parry Porter leadership will face a humiliating reverse and we'll all get a lame duck Tory leader.
Why can't they just say sorry? If Parry hadn't stopped Barber apologising the standards board debacle would have been avoided by the Tories, if Porter Parry had bluntly told Cllr Jones to behave himself there would have been no Tory cock up over the Birkdale lights. If Porter Parry hadn't been so silly over David Pearson. ..Ah well I'm not complaining altho there are plenty of Tories who are!

Vister today:


FORMER Mayor of Sefton Cllr David Pearson has been unanimously backed by Dukes Ward committee members to stand for the Conservatives in May’s local elections.
Cllr David Pearson was given the mandate at a meeting on Monday night, after Sefton Conservatives effectively sacked him from their group last month when they withdrew the party whip from him.
Dukes ward chairman Cllr Les Byrom said: “David is pursuing an appeal against his suspension and we expect him to stand in the May elections for Dukes Ward.”

Cllr Jones displays true colours


I know it's Chritmas but I really can't cope with the Tories' generosity. The Mayor has not been invited to The Birkdale lights switch on and Cllr Jones has said that if he turns up he will not shake his hand! The Mayor almost always attend-Tommy Mann came , John Walker came but no invite to the Birkdale councillor. Apparently Alan Hansen is doing it. No problem with that. can't see a problemwith Hansen turning on the lights-in fact it sounds like a good idea-but is there something in Hansen's contract that stops him appearing with the Mayor. It need not be either or, it can be both!
I can't imagine anyone being so rude to Tommy Mann or Wendy Jones or Peter Papworth or David Pearson. Ripping up the rule book is a very silly thing to do. These conventions have worked well. But if the Tory -the smallest party on the council- want to start again........

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

zoe mathews and vaughan williams


I was blogging earlier about the Southport orchestra concert here in Birkdale at St John's. Zoe Mathews was returning to be the soloist in a VW piece for viola and small orechestra. It was a real triumph. This was amazingly complex and she brought it off brilliantly. It was a triumph. Full marks to the orchestra for having the nerve to take on such a difficult bit.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Hats off to Sir Ron

It would be churlish not to acknowledge that Sir Ron has come out publicly and unequivocally to back David Pearson as I have previously predicted he would. I am pleased that he lived up to my high expectations. The odds of Councillor Pearson winning his appeal are edging up.

More news reaches us from the Tory group via a source that is usually reliable to confirm the view that David will survive. Sadly they also suggest that the vendetta against the other Dukes Ward councillors will continue.

Well I know it's Christmas but the Tories have already been so generous this year already! At the Southport Area committee we had a brilliant performance from David as a top notch local councillor. Les was also on fine form with all his knowledge conspicuously on display. The sullen acolytes that support Brenda hardly spoke. ( Except Brenda did speak to say she wasn't going to speak because there was a council meeting the next day and she would explain the reasoning behind the policy on the £650 000. Came the day there was silence from Brenda. To be fair it would have been inappropriate at that meeting which begs the question why she didn't say anything on the first occasion when there were 30 + people in the public gallery and a good turn out of press?) Anyway without Les and David their contribution would have been dramatically diminished both in quality and quantity.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Grandees square up for battle

Before Brenda's Star Chamber



Arraigned soon before the Star Chamber we think may be three Councillors. Below we assess their loyalty and the chances of survival. It is hard to discern exactly what Dukes ward Councillor David Pearson did wrong recently but one thing is sure: under no other Conservative leader in history would he have been so brutally kicked out.

All our defendants are former leaders of the Tory group and all have demonstrated conspicuously more nous than the present leadership. That, of course, is part of their problem. They know what is going wrong and, to a greater or lesser extent, they have made public their concerns. That is far more than David Pearson has done.

It is unfortunate that some have argued that Paula and Brenda did not have the ‘bottle’ to take on the two Tory Grandees who, along with David Pearson, represent Dukes Ward. Instead, they have picked on their less-well-connected colleague. This has led to the attack on David being widely-perceived as a proxy for the ‘sins’ of the other two.


Star Chamber Candidate number one is Councillor Les Byrom, former Leader of the Sefton Conservative group and Parliamentary candidate in the Wirral by election.











Councillor Byrom is clever - maybe too-clever-by-half for some of the Tories. He was a victim of a ‘putsch’ which brought Cllr Parry the leadership. He is a big wheel in the Tory group on the Local Government Association and particularly a leading light amongst those concerned with Fire Authorities which gained him a recent CBE. Les is a long-term councillor and, as such, he has seen the Tories decline from overall control to be the smallest – and still shrinking – Party on Sefton Council.

Every time Councillor Byrom speaks he makes sure you all know how much experience he has and how well informed he is. To be fair, he does do his homework and I believe that he would not have made the elementary mistakes that Councillor Parry has made –what's more, so do his colleagues! Is it the case that each carefully-crafted phrase is like a stiletto accurately aimed to illustrate his competence and so expose the present leaders’ inadequacies?

To his credit Councillor Byrom stood up unequivocally for David Pearson in the Visiter last week. In the debate – held inappropriately in private – at the last Council meeting, he clearly outlined his reservations about Cllr Parry's course of action. But like any ‘putsched’ leader he demonstrated his loyalty in public by voting for his successor in the chamber.

Survival rating:

loyalty to Tory Party *****

loyalty to Cameron ***

ability as politican ****

loyalty to Sefton Tory leadership **

Star Chamber Candidate 2 is Cllr Sir Ronald Watson, Chairman of the Southport & Ormskirk NHS Hospital Trust, Former Audit Commission member, Former bidwig in the Local Government Association. Former Chairman of the Sefton Health Authority.


Cllr Sir Ron Watson, we suspect, heads the 'hate' list for many in Brenda's New Model Army. When they talk of 'dead wood' or 'things not being properly run in the past' or people who may 'once of been useful but are no longer' do they think of Ron? He has had the audacity to write to the newspapers and, in the eyes of Brenda’s devoted followers, his letter was a criticism of Councillor Porter. For anyone else that would be a capital offence, but Cllr Watson clearly is confident that his knighthood and loyal service to the party will protect him. We suspect he is well connected and respected in the higher reaches of the Tories.

Not only does he endure this disapprobation of Brenda but her devoted colleague Councillor Paula Parry would appear to consider him with less than sisterly affection. The saga of Sir Ron's expenses to the LGA drags on seemingly without end. It would be interesting to know how much energy and effort Cllr Parry has spent resisting his expenses claims and compare that with the amount of time she spent on her budget proposal before the last Council meeting. I guess it would be rather like that other time- consuming saga she has concerned herself with; namely the fate of the fish in foyer of Southport Town Hall. These are clearly the type of economic issues she can grasp. No doubt she has been told if she looks after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. Sadly, in Mrs Parry's case they have both got out of control. What is £650 000 amongst friends anyway? Not an attitude I fancy Cllr Sir Ron Watson would take.

Sir Ron is a wily old bird. He has nous, coherent political convictions and is one of the best speakers on the council. We doubt he concerns himself with the shenanigans of Cllr Parry/Porter half as much as they worry about him. He has been poorly recently and it will be interesting to see how he reacts on his return. Will he have the courage and decency that Cllr Byrom has shown is standing publicly by David Pearson? We suspect he might and, certainly think he will not be happy with their (lack of) budget planning.


Survival rating

loyalty to Tory party *****

loyalty to Cameron ***

ability as politician ****

loyalty to Sefton Tory Leadership *





The final defendant is Councillor Tom Glover. Like the other two he is a former leader but from a far distant past. He is genuinely well liked although even his friends agree that he has been rocked by the defeat of his two former colleagues in Cambridge Ward. This has had the effect of making him act a tad unpredictably.

It is an open secret that at the 'secret' Council meeting he ask some perfectly sensible and pertinent questions and was the only Tory who failed to vote for the Parry/Dowd motion. While we have not heard all his reasoning, he was clearly sure that the Council members did not have enough information to make such a momentous decision. Which is precisely the opposite to what Councillor Parry thought unless, of course, they wanted the Councillors to make the decision without the necessary information. We are equally sure that it would have been his instinct to save £600,000 rather than to Spend, Spend, Spend!! in the Porter Parry fashion.

Tom has sought to redeem himself by writing to the press to have a go at Lib Dem Councillor Iain Brodie Browne on matters of football . Whether this desperate gesture is enough to assuage the Star Chamber, only time will tell. We fancy that the electorate will be allowed to make the decision about his future in May when he stands a fair chance of following the fate of his two erstwhile ward colleagues.

In common with the other defendants we can, with certainty, say that if he had been leader this is a fine mess the Tories would have avoided.



Survival rating:

Loyalty to Tory Party*****

Loyalty to Cameron(not applicable)

Ability as politician (taken over his whole time on the council) ****

loyalty to Seton leadership**





































Monday, 26 November 2007

Southport FC cup draw


I sincerely hope that talking about football with me hasn't got David Pearson in trouble. Anyway having defeated Barrow in the FA Trophy we have drawn them at home in the Setanta Cup

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

More Tory agony

The fate of that nice Cllr Barber will be decided tonight. Here is the Vister's take:

Tory councillor Martyn Barber may face suspension
Nov 21 2007
by John Siddle, Midweek Visiter

ANOTHER Tory councillor could be on the brink of suspension, after a hearing at Southport Town Hall tomorrow night.
The standards sub-committee will examine an independent report by Public Service Investigations that finds Cllr Martyn Barber guilty of two breaches of the ministerial Code of Conduct. A heated council meeting last March over the proposed retention of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Iron Men’ statues on Crosby beach, led to the Manor ward councillor intimidating Liberal Democrat, Cllr Peter Hough.
He is alleged to have become aggressive, jabbed a finger at Cllr Hough, and threatened: “You think you’ve got away with it but I’m going to get you for this. You wait and see – you’re going to pay for this.”
Sefton’s standards committee will now decide what action to take against Cllr Barber, potential sanctions range from censuring to a possible suspension.
Cllr Hough was said to be so shaken by the incident that he remained in Bootle Town Hall for a further 20 minutes, as to avoid any further confrontation.
Cllr Barber was found by the PSI report to have breached paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Sefton MBC Code, that members must treat others with respect, and that members must not conduct themselves in a manner which could bring his office or authority into disrepute.
I have been very impressed with Vince Cable over Northern Rock. Many commentators have acknowledge how well he has done. Steve Wright on Radio 5 this afternoon was generous in his praise. His article in the Guardian (link below ) was excellent. I particularly interested in the suggestion that the Rock should be re-mutualised . Anyway here is the story in full:



Northern Rock:
Gordon Brown should come clean
20 November 2007

Vince Cable MP has launched a petition calling on the Government to come clean about how much money has been lent to Northern Rock.Launching the petition, Vince Cable said:"I don't know whether this Chancellor has been singing in the bath but he has much in common with the Conservative ex-Chancellor, Norman Lamont, who also presided over a financial disaster on Black Monday."As we stand at present, every taxpayer in Britain has something approaching £900 of their money at stake in this small mortgage bank following the £24 billion loan (which excludes the less controversial £18 billion in deposit guarantees)."When Tony Blair was Prime Minister he was widely and rightly criticised for squandering £800 million on the Millennium Dome. This Prime Minister and this Chancellor have invested the equivalent of 30 Millennium Domes in this bank and we don't even have a few pop concerts to show for it."There are some key questions for the Government to answer: "Will the Government's loan will be paid back in full, with interest, in this Parliament?"Is it true that Mr. Adam Applegarth, who led the bank into its current disaster, can expect a £2 million pension pot and generous bonuses, all underwritten by the taxpayer? How did the Government get into a position of entrusting vast sums of taxpayers' money to a man who showed his own faith in the company by selling his own shares to invest in a country mansion and a Ferrari?"What is the true total figure? We know about £24 billion from media reports, but the Government has not come clean: it has refused to give a figure, refused to confirm the media reports and refused to say whether there are even more loans than those the media discovered."There are even more fundamental conflicts of interest. The Government entrusted its money and, now, the sale process to managers and directors (or those that are left) whose first responsibility is to the company not the taxpayer. Without the Government loan the shares would be worthless. Yet Government money has been used to prop up the company and encourage spivs and sharks to profit from the company's misfortune."Where do we go from here? It would be ideal if a private investor would now take over the bank as a going concern, keeping the jobs and the Northern Rock Foundation intact and servicing the government loan in full. But, this week's announcement of the bids made it clear that this is simply the stuff of fantasy."The truth is that there are only two practical solutions. One is administration: to close Northern Rock down. This would be devastating for the North East and, in present conditions, the Government would probably lose billions."The other is for the Government temporarily to take control: the least worst option. This would eliminate the conflict of interest in the company and give time to stabilise it. The Chancellor has already had a Clause 4 moment at Railtrack so he knows that this is not straightforward. But can he confirm that the Treasury is at least evaluating this option, which has of course been used elsewhere, with the National Mortgage Bank under the Tories and Continental Illinois in the US."The Chancellor has taken to calling my comments "unwise". I wonder what words posterity will use to describe a Chancellor and a Prime Minister who entrusted billions in taxpayers' money that was only partly secured and was managed by discredited executives, feathering their own nest."
Sign the petition
Read and comment on Vince Cable's article in The Guardian

Strange tale of the Tory who wouldn't say hello.

A strange story to tell. At a surgery in Birkdale library a face appeared in the window. He wandered around outside. I thought he was lost. So I went outside to greet him believing he was a resident who couldn't find the entrance-we only have keys to the side door. He scurried away to his van and sat inside. I realised that it was Tory Cllr Jones. Now a Tory of the old school, in fact any acquaintance would have stopped to say hello and pass the time of day. It would only have been civil and polite. I seriously cannot think of any other councillor in 23 years on local authorities of any other party who would not have said hello. Not councillor Jones, he steadfastly avoided eye contact. How bizarre. I went to get Richard, all 6 foot 7 inches of him and very recognizable. Still no reaction from Cllr Jones. To commemorate this bizarre episode I took a photo with the camera on my phone-just to prove to myself that it actually happened.
I have said nothing more about this strange behavior and would not have done so now but Cllr Jones has scurried off to the press to complain!

Things have come to a sad pass when councillors of different parties cannot exchange the time of day with one another in a civil fashion. After all we are all meant to be working together for the good of the town
But now all has become clear. On the charge sheet against David Pearson he was accused of being too sociable with Lib Dems -see David's quotes below. Cllr Jones was just preparing his defense. He didn't want to be seen being civil to Richard and me in Case he got hauled before the Star Chamber to justify his acts. In the circumstances I forgive him.

Sir Ron fears for his party which is in 'crisis'

Sir Ron and Les have a much better grasp of most things than Brenda and Paula especially procedural issues. This story in the Visiter runs along side the one below and to my mind is far more significant. I would guess that if they set their wills to save David they will be more than a match for Brenda and Paula who as they have amply demonstrated are out of their depth. I do not believe that this Conservative crisis would have happen under any previous leader. My hunch is that all of them would have taken the £650 000 saving and none of them would have suspended or deselected David Pearson. Anyone this is what the Visiter had to say:

THE decision to ‘sack’ Councillor David Pearson, has “plunged Sefton Conservative Group into crisis”, according to one of their most senior councillors.
Sir Ron Watson, who serves with Cllr Pearson in Dukes Ward, has lent full support to his colleague’s decision to appeal suspension.
He said: “There has never been an occasion over the past 40 years when such a situation has been allowed to develop.
“I have served under five different Conservative Group leaders during my period as a councillor with no difficulty and consequence. During this period no Conservative councillor has ever been ‘suspended’. It seems that I have to expect to return next week to a council in chaos and to a Conservative Group I barely recognise.”
Due to an illness, Cllr Watson was not present at the ballot that determined Cllr Pearson’s fate, but understands that the issues raised were both trivial and easily resolvable.
Sir Ron also blasted the statement issued by Group Leader, Cllr Paula Parry, to the ‘Visiter’ that Cllr Pearson would not be standing in next year’s local elections.
He said: “The decision as to who is the Conservative candidate in Dukes Ward in the May 2008 election is a matter for the Ward and Southport Conservative

Dukes Ward Tories fight back against their Leader

The Visiter have done their digging well. It seems that being civil to people in other Parties is now a capital offence in Southport Tories. Silly really I thought we were all meant to be working together for the good of the town.
If David wins his appeal- and the fact that Les and Sir Ron have come out publically to support him suggest they are confident- what an untenable position Brenda and Paula will be in......
Angry desellected Southport Conservative councillor David Pearson pledges to fight against party plotters
Nov 21 2007
by John Siddle, Midweek Visiter

THE former Mayor of Sefton, who was controversially axed by Sefton Conservative Group, has accused his party of plotting a dirty tricks campaign, and told them ‘watch this space!’
Councillor David Pearson was ousted by the Tories in a private ballot last week, and was then stunned to read group leader, Cllr Paula Parry, wish him a ‘long and healthy retirement’ in a statement carried by the Visiter.
The Dukes Ward councillor, who feels “humbled” by support from residents, has now lodged a formal appeal, and has spoken of his intention to fight until his suspension is quashed.
The Hillside resident - councillor for over 16 years - said he had no intention of quitting local politics, and will continue to represent his Birkdale constituents.
He said: “My principal role as a councillor is to look after my concerns and queries of the electorate of Dukes Ward - this has always been my first call, and I have always carried out these duties to the best of my abilities.
“I read with interest the article that stated I would not be standing in the May elections and that I was wished a long and healthy retirement!
“I did not resign or retire, nor say that I would before May, thus making this a complete fabrication of what occurred - typical of the innuendos that have been formed against me.”
Conservatives said that Cllr Pearson’s reluctance to toe the party line and maintain party discipline left him ‘a loose cannon’. His camaraderie with Lib Dem councillors is also believed to have concerned his Tory peers.
But Cllr Pearson said: “I cannot recall ever voting against any Conservative proposal and have always followed the majority viewpoint.
“I am also accused of being too friendly with the Lib Dems in Southport. As some of them go, as I do, to support the local football team, I do speak with them regarding the games!”
The move to isolate Cllr Pearson has divided the Conservatives. An unnamed source told the Visiter that Cllr Pearson was a victim of circumstance, and that Cllrs Sir Ron Watson and Les Byrom, close allies of Cllr Pearson, may also have been ‘gunned down’ had their posts been up for re-election in 2008.
Southport MP, John Pugh said: “I have no illusions about Cllr Pearson's politics. I know from many sources that he is a committed, popular, hard working Tory, determined to get me out at the next election.
“But, when as Council Leader some years ago I needed David's vote on a knife-edge decision to get Ocean Plaza going, he, as a born-and-bred Sandgrounder, crucially voted for progress rather than party.
“I am sure lots of ordinary Southport Tories must be saddened by what is happening.”
Both Cllr Parry, and deputy leader, Cllr Brenda Porter, declined to comment while the appeals process was underway.

Liberal Dem councillor death useful says Tory

We thought our Tories were accident prone, they are not in the same class as Winchester:

This is one story about another party that I wish weren’t true. From The Mirror:
George Hollingbery, a Tory councillor in Winchester [and Parliamentary Candidate for Meon Valley], Hants, has sparked fury by calling the death of Lib Dem colleague Sue Fitzgerald “very useful”.
Sue died suddently at the weekend, aged just 52. To his credit, the Conservative Leader of Winchester Council, George Beckett, gave a rather more appropriate reaction:
Both councillors and staff of Winchester City Council have been sad to hear of the sudden death of Cllr Sue Fitzgerald. After living in her ward of Wickham for over 20 years she took a keen interest in local issues, particularly those related to the environment. She had only recently been elected to the Council and I’m sure all councillors were looking forward to working more closely with her during her term in office. We would like to pass our sympathies and condolences on to the family.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

25 MILLION PEOPLE HIT BY DATA DISASTER

Every family with a child under 16 is involved in this disaster. Surly this is the end of the ID card scheme. The governement cannot be trusted with personal data. Serious breaches of data security are becoming common place. The value to criminals of such data is enormous. The implication are frightening for personal freedom. If the ID scheme had been in place and a similar disaster had hit the security implications would have been incalcuable. The BBC carry the full story.
Locally it puts a question mark against the judgement of those who failed to support the motion oppossing ID cards that Cllr Shaw and I moved in council last year. Those who oppossed our motion need to review their position.
Nationally the Tory party has come round to our point of view. Locally the authoritarian wing of the conservatives voted against our motion. I wonder which way Cllr Porter voted?
Follow the link on the left hand side of the blog to find out more about the say NO to ID cards campaign.

Overseas aid cut

Lynne Featherstone MP's blog details a scandal that will not hit the front page but really should do. It is the story of Gordon Brown's Labour governement axing £I billion from the overseas aid budget and of the cover-up.

i have been impressed with our MP's recently. Vince Cable is more that holding his own on the Northern Rock crisis and the above story gives you confidence that the pool of talent in the parliamentary party is spreading.

Not the behavior a reasonable man would expect



The standards committee have a hearing this week to receive the report of the independent investigator into the conduct of Cllr Barber. It can summarised as guilty. Like so many of these things the matter could have been resolve quickly if Cllr Barber had been willing to apologise. His unwillingness to do so has landed him in hot water the full report is on the Sefton website and can be downloaded. The document is quite large but is well worth the wait.

Cllr Barber is a fully signed up supporter of the current Tory leadership. Clearly he could do with taking some lesson from the despised old guard.

I have always had a difficulty with this new labour quango which seems to me to cost a lot of money and to poke its nose into things that simply should not be the concern of central government. An afternoon listening to Prime Minister's questions would make you wonder how the have the cheek to try and regulate anyone elses behavior.

Some of the worst insanities of the system have been removed since Ken Livingstone took them to the High Court. Personally I've always preferred the justice of the ballot box and I think that when Cllr Barber faces the electorate in manor ward next time they may well exact a greater penalty than anything this weeks hearing will come up with.

Newsnight hustings

Jeremy Paxman is hosting a hustings on Newsnight for Clegg and Huhne. Full details and links to the appropriate websites are listed over at Liberal England by Lord Bonker's diarist. In addition it is also worth having a look at Liberal Voice this week. I will refrain from comment.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Ist December concert at St John's Birkdale

Our blog has so many new readers I thought it was a good place to advertise the concert to be given in Birkdale by Southport Orchestra with Zoe Mathews as the soloist in a William Walton composition.

Zoe grew up in Birkdale, went to Farnborough Rd School, and on to Greenbank High School. She is now studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Zoe was a Brownie and a Guide at St John's along with my daughter Mollie. Zoe went on to be Junior leader. She played her violin in from a very early age toured with the international Guide Orchestra among others at an early age. It is great to see her come back to St John's on Decemebr 1st. Tickets on the door on the night


Zoë Matthews transferred from the violin to the viola at the age of 17 at the Junior RNCM, where she studied with Louise Lansdown and David Vernon. She soon became a member of Pro Corda (National School for Young Chamber Musicians) and in 2005 was awarded an entrance scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music.
Zoë is currently in her third year studying with Martin Outram and has also participated in master classes with Mark Knight, Vladimir Bukac and Roger Benedict.
In January 2007 she performed Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Viola with the Oxford and Cambridge Music Club.
This summer Zoë was accepted into the European Union Youth Orchestra on their tour, which included playing in the BBC Proms under Sir Colin Davis. Recently Zoë has also played in the Britten Pears Orchestra.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Before Brenda's Star Chamber















Arraigned before the Star chamber we think may be three Councillors. Here we assess their loyalty and the chances of survival. It is hard to discern exactly what David Pearson did wrong but one thing is sure that under no other leader would he have been so brutally kicked out. All our defendants are former leaders of the Tory group and all have demonstrated conspicuously more nouse than the present leadership. That, of course, is part of their problem. They know what is going wrong and to a greater and lesser extent they have made public their concerns. That is far more than David Pearson has done.













I regret that some have argued that Paula and Brenda did not have the bottle to take on the two Grandees who along with David represent Dukes ward. Instead they have picked on their less well connected colleague. This has led to the attack on David as a proxy for the other two.













Cllr Les Byrom former Leader of the Conservative group and Parliamentary candidate in the Wirral by election. He is clever -maybe too clever by half for some of the Tories. He was a victim of a putch which brought Cllr Parry the leadership. He is a big wheel in the Tory group on the LGA and particularly a leading light amongst those concerned with Fire Authorities. He is a long term councillor and as such he has seen the Tories decline from overall control to be the smallest -and still shrinking-party-on Sefton.













Every time Cllr Byrom speaks he makes sure you know how much experience he has and how well informed he is. To be fair he does do his home work and I am convinced that he would not have made the elementary mistakes that Councillor Parry has made and what's more so does his colleagues. Each carefully craft phrase is like a stiletto accurately aimed to illustrate his competence and so expose the present leaders inadequacy.













To his credit he stood up unequivocally for David Pearson in the Visiter today. In the debate-held inappropriately in private-at the last council meeting he clearly outlined his reservations about Cllr Parry's course of action. But like any putched leader he demonstrated his loyalty in public by voting for his successor in the chamber.













Survival rating:


loyalty to Tory Party *****


loyalty to Cameron ***


ability as politican ****


loyalty to Sefton Tory leadership **



































Cllr Sir Ron Watson heads the 'hate' list for many in Brenda's New Model Army. When they talk of 'dead wood' or 'things not being properly run in the past' or people who may 'once of been useful but are no longer' they think of him. He has had the audacity to write to the newspapers and in the eyes of her devoted followers his letter was a criticism of Cllr Porter. For anyone else that would be a capital offence, but Cllr Watson clearly is confident that his knighthood and loyal service to the party will protect him. I suspect he is well connected and respected in the higher reaches of the Tories.












Not only does he endure the disapprobation of Brenda's devoted Cllr Parry would appear to consider him with less than sisterly affection. The saga of Sir Ron's expenses to the LGA drags on seemingly without end. It would be interesting to know how much energy and effort she has spent resisting his expenses claims and compare that with the amount of time she spent on her budget proposal before the last council. I guess it would be rather like that other time consuming saga she has concerned herself with; namely the fate of the fish in foyer of Southport Town Hall. These are clearly the type of economic issues she can grasp. No doubt she has been told if she looks after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. Sadly in Mrs Parry's case they have both got out of control. What is £650 000 amongst friends anyway. Not an attitude I fancy Cllr Sir Ron Watson would take.












Sir Ron is a wily old bird. He has nouse, coherent political convictions and is one of the best speakers on the council. I doubt he concerns himself with the shenanigans of Cllr Parry/Porter half as much as they worry about him. He has been poorly recently and it will be interesting to see how he reacts on his return. Will he have the courage and decency that Cllr Byrom has shown is standing publicly by David Pearson? I suspect he might. I certainly think he will not be happy with their budget planning.

























Survival rating





loyalty to Tory party *****





loyalty to Cameron ***



ability as politician ****







loyalty to Sefton Tory Leadership *


























































The final defendant is Cllr Tom Glover. Like the other two he is a former leader but from a far distant past. He is genuinely well liked although even his friends agree that he has been rocked by the defeat of his two former colleagues in Cambridge Ward. This has had the effect of making him act a tad unpredictably.





It is an open secret that at the 'secret' council meeting he ask some perfectly sensible and pertinent question and was the only Tory who failed to vote for the Parry/Dowd motion. I have not heard his reasoning he was clearly unsure that we did not have enough information to make such a momentous decision. I am equally sure that it would have been his instinct to save £600,000 rather than to spend , spend spend.





He has sought to redeem himself by writing to the press have a go at me . Whether that is enough to assuage the Star Chamber time will tell. I fancy that the electorate will make the decision about his future in May when I expect his to follow the fate of his two erstwhile colleagues.





In common with the other defendants we can with certainty say that if he had been leader this is a fine mess the Tories would have avoided.











Survival rating:











Loyalty to Tory Party*****











Loyalty to Cameron(not applicable)











Ability as politician (taken over his whole time on the council) ****











loyalty to Seton leadership**



























































































The Visiter carries the story of David Pearson today. I must say that I must acknowledge Cllr Les Byrom has done the proper thing. I would not wish to praise him too highly as he may get into bother himself. But it would be churlish not to acknowledge that if he had still been leading the Tory party, David would still be a councilllor and they would not have squandered £650 000....


Shock as Southport Tory ex-mayor is frozen out by party
Nov 16 2007
by John Siddle, Southport Visiter

SEFTON Conservatives have controversially alienated one of their most esteemed councillors.
Former Mayor of Sefton, David Pearson, was effectively isolated from the Conservative Party following a private meeting on Monday night.
The long-standing councillor - who has served Birkdale and town centre residents within Dukes Ward for more than 16 years - has had the party whip withdrawn.
Some critics have accused the Tories of operating a bullying campaign to sideline Cllr Pearson from the party ahead of next year’s local elections.
One Conservative, who declined to be named, branded Cllr Pearson ‘a loose cannon’.
Cllr Paula Parry, the leader of the Conservatives, refused to comment as to why the highly-respected councillor has been outcast, though the Visiter understands an increasingly fraught relationship between Cllr Pearson, with Cllr Parry and deputy Cllr Brenda Porter, may have acted as a tipping point.
Lack of accessibility and a tendency not to toe the party line are also amongst a shadowy list of reasons said by some colleagues to have contributed to Cllr Pearson’s downfall.
A statement released to the Visiter yesterday lunchtime by Cllr Parry read: “After a secret ballot of Conservative councillors, work has been removed from Cllr David Pearson.
“It is important that all members have their performances reviewed and monitored to ensure the Conservative group is a successful force in the borough.”
Councillors cross-party have rallied in support of the Hillside resident, who served as Mayor of Sefton, with wife Barbara as Mayoress, during 2003/2004.
Many Tory councillors refused to make formal comments, though fellow Dukes Ward councillor, Les Byrom, said: “Cllr Pearson has, and can be assured of, my full support.”
Birkdale Ward Lib Dem councillor Iain Brodie-Brown, said: “I am gobsmacked. I would say a large quantity of what has happened can be put down to poor leadership.”
Long-serving Norwood Ward Liberal Democrat councillor, Brian Rimmer, added: “It came as an extreme surprise to me. I consider him to be the best, most hard-working councillor they have got. It’s difficult to figure it out. Then again, it is difficult to find logic in some of the Conservatives’ shenanigans.”
Cllr Pearson, who was first elected in May 1991, will continue to represent his constituents.
He will however lose his place on Sefton Council committees and will not carry a vote on party matters.
BREAKING NEWS:
AS the Southport Visiter went to press late yesterday, Sefton Conservative Group leader, Cllr Paula Parry released a second statement.
She said: “Cllr David Pearson was suspended by the Conservative Group at a meeting on Monday, November 12.
“This was a group decision taken by private ballot and he will therefore not be seeking re-election in next year’s May elections.
“The Conservative Group wish David a long and healthy retirement and thank him for his many years of service to the residents of Southport.”

As if the local Tories falling apart wasn't helpful enough the Labour party are still at each others throats. The quotes from Cllr Neil Douglas toward the end of this article are most revealing
Sefton Labour Party denies crisis claims after disgraced ex-mayor’s trial
Nov 7 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

THE Labour party in Sefton was in turmoil last night after it emerged a key witness against a former mayor accused of benefit fraud has been de-selected by the party.
Labour Councillor John Rice, (pictured), who represents the Derby ward, said he believed he had failed to make the candidate panel for next year’s local elections because he had given evidence against former Labour mayor John Walker.
Last night former Labour councillor Neil Douglas, who surrendered his Manor seat in June when he moved to China, said if he had not moved abroad he would have resigned over the way the party had dealt with concerns about Walker.
Deputy Labour leader Peter Dowd denied Labour was in “meltdown” in the borough and also rejected Cllr Rice’s claims about his deselection.
Walker, 57, and his wife Catie, 48,of Farmers Place, Bootle, were found guilty of conspiracy to dishonestly obtain £32,871 in Disability Living Allowance last week.
Walker had represented the Manor ward of Sefton before he stood down before the May 2006 elections.
The Conservatives snatched Walker’s former seat and last month they also won the by-election called after Mr Douglas stood down.
All three seats in the ward, once a Labour stronghold, are now occupied by Tories.
Last night Cllr Rice said: “Personally, I believe the reason I did not get on the panel was because I was willing to give evidence against John Walker.
“The problem with the Labour party in Sefton is that it is a Bootle-centred party and does not have any councillors in Southport.”
Mr Douglas, an accountancy lecturer who is working in China for the University of Central Lancashire, said the party was an “incestuous group of mediocrity”.
“When I came to China I decided to resign because it was the ethical thing to do. But if I had not moved I would have resigned anyway.”
He said this was because the Labour leadership in the borough had failed to listen to his concerns.
Cllr Dowd said: “John Rice has a right to appeal against any decision.
“If there’s any suggestion that his current position is linked to the recent trial of John Walker that is completely untrue.
“I don’t believe that Labour is in meltdown at all. We are the second largest party in Sefton.”
davidbartlett@dailypost.co.uk

Brenda's Star Chamber-the first victim?

Despite the way David Pearson has been treated by the Tory leadership-altho all the indications are that what is let of the Tory rank and file are very unhappy-he remains steadfastly silent about his plight. In this he is displaying the decency & the correctness I think he regards as proper behavior. He will rise further in public respect and esteem because of the dignified way he has behaved.
Nevertheless the Tories can't keep their mouth shut and already the full story is emeging. There is much talk of a fall out with Cllr Porter with allegations of disloyalty and being a loose canon.
From across the chamber I can't say we have ever observed such behavior. He certainly isn't one of those indescreet Tories who is always telling what a shambles their party is or how much they disapprove of Cameron or what a lousy leader Cllr Parry is. I suspect that it is David's nature to be loyal and he would regard that as an obligation.
Anyway he was dragged before Brenda's Star Chamber and clearly didn't give the right answers and so has had the whip withdrawn pending-so we are told deselecrting. It will be interesting to see if any of them have the courage and the integrity to challenge this outcome.
Electorally it all adds to the impression that in Sefton the Tories are imploding and that much of the damage is self inflicted by their leadership team-Parry and Porter. (I absolve Cllr Platt who I genuinely doubt has been part of the decision making process.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

more from the Dail Post

Independent investigator to be brought in to probe claims of council officer’s ‘misconduct’
Nov 15 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
AN INDEPENDENT investigator is to be brought into a Merseyside council to probe claims of misconduct against one of the area’s top council officials.
It comes after Alan Moore, deputy chief executive of Sefton Council, was suspended earlier this week.
Last night, the Audit Commission confirmed a decision to suspend Mr Moore was made in consultation with the district auditor.
Sefton’s chief executive Graham Haywood met him to discuss his concerns prior to Mr Moore’s suspension, it emerged last night.
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Paula Parry last night said she hoped to meet Mr Haywood today to find out why Cllr Debi Jones had been reported to the Standards Board for England, a matter apparently connected to the investigation into Mr Moore.
Cllr Jones, a TV presenter, who represents the Manor ward and is also Tory Parliamentary candidate for Sefton Central, strenuously denies any wrong-doing.
The investigation into Mr Moore is the latest episode in a series of events that has rocked the upper tiers of Sefton Council.
This week, it was revealed how an offer of retirement or redundancy to Mr Haywood will have to be withdrawn because correct procedures had not been followed. It was part of a fraught review of management posts that saw Liberal Democrats clash with Labour and Conservatives over how far the “cull” of roles should go.
A Lib-Dem proposal to save £600,000 by deleting eight posts, including Mr Moore’s, failed after the two other parties teamed up. Their vote forced through the deletion of five jobs to save £300,000, but Mr Moore’s post was not included in the cuts.
Cllr Parry said: “This all seems too much of a coincidence to hap-pen at the same time. I have no worries about Debi at all, she’s a very honest and good councillor.”
Cllr Robertson said: “I think it is unfortunate these two issues have blown up at the same time. There is the separate issue of the senior management review, but that has nothing to do with this.
“My focus is on trying to keep the ship going along while acknowledg- ing that some serious issues have popped up – time will resolve them.”
In respect of the way Mr Hay-wood had handled Mr Moore’s suspension, he added: “The chief executive was sensitive enough that he knew he needed to run it by someone independent.
“The district auditor was the obvious person to approach. The chief executive has not been giving out details [of the suspension] because he doesn’t want to prejudice people who may have to sit in judgment. We need to appoint an independent investigator to look at these allegations [against Mr Moore].”
An Audit Commission spokes-man said Sefton Council’s chief executive had requested a meeting with the district auditor. “But this is not something we will be directly involved with,” he added.

davidbartlett

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Cllr David Pearson deselected


Have the Tories taken leave of their collective senses-if that is not an oxymoron. David Pearson is a straight sort of man. On a personal level I have always found him very conciderate. Even his best friends wouldn't call him a Liberal but he is the type that the Tories used to attract. In common parlance he is a 'gent'. We get a fair amount of casework from his ward and some punters have decided views on his two colleagues but folks speak well of him.
He topped the poll in the all up election so why deselect him????
Sadly I think we can guess. Meltdown approaches the Tories..

Daily Post

This is the dail post take which sadly doesn't pick up that The CEO consulted the District Auditor before acting:

Council suspends deputy chief over misconduct allegations
Nov 14 2007
EXCLUSIVE by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

ONE of Merseyside’s most senior town hall officials has been suspended, it emerged last night.
Alan Moore, deputy chief executive of Sefton Council, has been told to stay away from work after an allegation of misconduct was made against him.
Last night it also emerged that lead-ing councillor and TV presenter Debi Jones had also been reported to the Standards Board for England as part of the investigation into Mr Moore.
Cllr Jones, who represents the Manor ward, and is Tory Parliamentary candidate for Sefton Central, last night said she did not know why she had been reported, but strenuously denied any wrong-doing.
It is the latest episode in a series of events that has rocked the upper tiers of Sefton Council.
Earlier this week, the Daily Post revealed how an offer of retirement or redundancy to chief executive Graham Haywood will have to be withdrawn because correct procedures had not been followed.
It formed part of a fraught review of management posts that saw the Liberal Democrats clash with Labour and the Conservatives over how far the “cull” of roles should go.
A Lib-Dem proposal to save £600,000 by deleting eight posts, including Mr Moore’s, failed after the two other parties teamed up.
Their combined vote forced through the deletion of five jobs to save £300,000, but Mr Moore’s post was not included in the cuts.
Last night, council leader Tony Robertson said that, as far as he was aware, the suspension was related to the power struggle currently going on at the council.
As well as his role as deputy chief executive, Mr Moore holds the role of strategic director of regeneration which oversees major redevelopment projects in the borough which stretches from Southport to Bootle.
Last night, Cllr Robertson said: “I don’t really know the details behind this, but those that I am aware of are confidential.
“I understand there is no connection with the major services review, as far as I am aware there is no connection whatsoever.
“In these sort of situations, where issues are uncovered or allegations are made, we have to suspend somebody as a precautionary measure so that an investigation can be carried out.
“Nothing should be read into the fact that the chap has been suspended.”
He said he thought the investigation would take a matter of weeks before it was concluded.
It is understood that Mr Haywood reported Cllr Jones to the Standards Board for England.
Cllr Jones said: “There’s all sorts of political shenanigans going on at the moment.
“I strenuously deny any wrong-doing, I have done absolutely nothing wrong.”
“I will stand with my head held high, I am truthful, I have integrity and I am honest.”
She said she would be demanding to know exactly why she had been reported.
“I am furious that my name has been dragged into this.”
A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “An allegation of misconduct is being considered and, in accordance with the agreed Sefton procedures, the member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The suspension is a normal precautionary procedure in this situation and there is a presumption of innocence until the matter has been investigated and considered by the council.
“We will not be commenting further during the investigation.”

Visiter

This is the Visiter take. No mention of Dbbie Jones, but an interesting quote from Les Byrom


More chaos at Sefton Council as deputy chief executive is suspended
Nov 14 2007
by Jamie McLoughlin and Robert Alcock, Midweek Visiter

SEFTON Council’s deputy chief executive has been suspended.
The step to order Alan Moore’s leave of office – to allow an investigation into an allegation of misconduct to take place – was taken by the authority’s chief executive, Graham Haywood, and was confirmed to the three party leaders on the hung council in a confidential note on Monday.
The shock news follows the revelation that the decision by Labour and Tory Sefton councillors last month to offer Mr Haywood “early retirement and redundancy” was “unconstitutional”, according to a senior lawyer’s report.
It also comes less than a fortnight after claims by Southport’s MP, John Pugh – reported exclusively by the Visiter and not officially responded to by Sefton Council – that the relationship between the chief executive and his deputy had become “fraught”.
Yesterday, Councillor Tony Robertson, the Liberal Democrat leader of Sefton Council, confirmed the suspension of Mr Moore, who holds the position of director of regeneration and environmental services, as well as being deputy chief executive.
Cllr Robertson said the note from Mr Haywood “did not go into details about what the issues are” .
But he added: “It does involve AN Other (a third party) and clearly the chief executive feels that he needs to ensure that this situation is fully investigated.”
The council leader continued: “Where this is going to take us I really do not know. But I understand that because of the sensitivity of it, the chief executive did consult the district auditor (of the Government’s watchdog, the Audit Commission) before he took the course of action that he did.”
Mr Moore’s post was one that escaped ‘deletion’ in a stormy council meeting last month over cuts to the town hall top brass.
The Liberal Democrats went to an independent QC – whose report has now been issued – such was their discontent over that and the decision to offer Mr Haywood a package to leave his post by March 31 next year.
Cllr Paula Parry, Conservative group leader, said she did not wish to comment on Mr Moore’s suspension, other than to remind that “nobody is guilty until proven”.
Her predecessor as leader of Sefton’s Tories, Dukes Ward councillor Les Byrom, said: “I will be waiting and watching, as will the rest of the council, to see what on earth is happening.”
No-one from the leadership of Sefton’s Labour group was available for comment as the Midweek Visiter went to press.
A council spokesman said: “An allegation of misconduct is being considered and, in accordance with the agreed procedures, the member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. The suspension is a normal precautionary procedure in this situation and there is a presumption of innocence until the matter has been investigated and considered by the council. We will not be commenting further.”

Tory councillor implicated in Moore story

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More and more interesting. Martin Hovden didn't take long to sniff out who the other person was invoved in the issues around Alan Moore suspension. Here is his take in the Champion today:

Debi Jones denies wrong-doing in standards probe

WELL-KNOWN Sefton Councillor and prospective MP Debi Jones will be investigated as part of the inquiry into the allegation against Alan Moore.
No details of the alleged misconduct by Sefton’s deputy chief executive Mr Moore have been released but it is understood Cllr Jones is to be reported to the Standards Board.
However, Conservative Cllr Jones strenuously denies any misconduct in her role as a councillor: “I am being used as pawn in a political game not of my making.
“I have acted with honesty and integrity throughout my political career and I deny any charges.”
Cllr Jones is the Tory parliamentary candidate for Sefton Central.

Champion carries new report

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The sadness is that the press don't appear to share our view that this story is about the £600,000+ that the Tories and Labour squandered or the inadequate leadership that led to this decision. This appeared in today's Champion:
Shock suspension of council deputy

ALAN Moore, deputy chief executive of Sefton Council, has been suspended following an allegation of misconduct, The Champion can reveal.
The shock announcement was made today (Tuesday) by the local authority, although no name was mentioned. However, The Champion can confirm it is Mr Moore.
Popular Tory politician Debi Jones is understood to face a probe by the standards board as part of the investigation. She denies any wrong-doing.
The council statement said: "An allegation of misconduct is being considered and, in accordance with the agreed Sefton procedures, the member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
The suspension is a normal precautionary procedure in this situation and there is a presumption of innocence until the matter has been investigated and considered by the council. We will not be commenting further during the investigation."
Southport Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh said: "I am not aware of the nature of the allegation, but it has clearly put the cat amongst the pigeons."
Mr Pugh was referring to the current power struggle on the council between Mr Moore and chief executive Graham Haywood.
Mr Moore’s post – along with five other senior positions – was originally scheduled to be made redundant as part of a cost-cutting review of services to avoid an £8 million overspend next year.
The proposal was put forward by Mr Haywood, but was rejected by a coalition of Tory and Labour councillors. As a result, Mr Haywood offered to take early retirement.
But the decision to allow Mr Moore and other officers to stay will now have to be rescinded following legal advice.

Friday, 9 November 2007

£650k squandered

We thought it was time to write to the papers to put on the public record our concerns that the Tories and Labour had squandered £650k of public money in a private meeting of the council. For the life of me I don't see why they kicked the press and public out. There can hardly be a member of the public who if consulted on spending tax payers money would suggest keeping staff who our Chief Officer believes to be surplus and getting rid of one we do need and replace him with a higher paid officer. They will also be gobsmacked that they did it without any proper papers or understanding of the financial information. Indeed I suspect that the scrappy bits of financial information they did have failed to specify anything like the full cost.


Sefton Council Group of Liberal Democrat Councillors

c/o Southport Town Hall, Lord Street, Southport. Tel 0151 934 2252





5 November 2007




Dear Editor


We write to express our great concern about recent decisions taken by the Labour and Conservative members on Sefton Council that will lead to the wasting of approximately £650,000 of Council Tax-payers’ money.


At the Council meeting held on 25 October, Liberal Democrats, although the largest party on Sefton Council, were repeatedly outvoted by the other two parties in our efforts to save money by further slimming down the Council’s senior management bureaucracy.


We believe that those decisions were profoundly wrong.


The leaderships of the Conservative and Labour Groups need to explain why they consider it correct to waste a combined total of well over £1/2 million in two related decisions:


Making the post of Chief Executive “redundant”, at considerable cost, and then immediately refilling the supposedly redundant post at significant additional expense.

Not deleting three posts within the Council’s senior bureaucracy, proposed as no longer needed in a report to the Cabinet meeting held on 4 October.




The financial consequences for Council Tax-payers in our area of these hasty and ill thought out decisions are enormous. We believe that residents should be as concerned as are Liberal Democrat councillors.


Y
ours sincerely,

Councillor Tony Robertson



Councillor Tony Robertson (Leader)

Councillor David Tattersall (Deputy Leader)

Councillor Andrew Blackburn

Councillor Mike Booth

Councillor Iain Brodie Browne

Councillor Jack Colbert

Councillor Roy Connell

Councillor Maureen Fearn

Councillor Robbie Fenton

Councillor Anthony Hill

Councillor Peter Hough

Councillor Geoff Howe

Councillor Sue McGuire

Councillor Carmel Preston

Councillor Brian Rimmer

Councillor David Rimmer

Councillor Simon Shaw

Councillor David Sumner

Councillor Andrew Tonkiss

Councillor Fred Weavers