Thursday, 30 April 2009

1886 -the last time Liberals defeated a government?

I'm not completely convinced about this (and I certainly wish I hadn't started this) but as one of my emailers says the Liberals certainly did bring down the Tory government in 1886. Gladstone ceased on an amendment moved by Jesse Collins over small holdings for rural agricultural workers, the 'three acres and a cow amendment'.
Personally I doubt if that was the last time.

Budget


I don't often read Mrs Parry's favourite paper the Daily Mail, but Vince Cable has been doing admirable missionary work amongst its readers. His Column this week looks at the budget. The paragraph I think is most important focuses on getting folk to face up to the scale of public sector spending implications of Labour's massive debt.




'We have escalating defence commitments – in Afghanistan and in future for
Trident missiles, aircraft carriers and much else; big cutbacks are
unavoidable following a defence review. We cannot afford to send one in two
young people to university, especially when graduate jobs are drying up'



And what he says about public sector pay and pensions needs looking at. In addition his commitment to a fair tax system ie not one that favours the mega rich, must make most Labour leaning folk blush....




'Beyond that, the taxpayer cannot continue paying for the present army of
over-paid and over-pensioned civil servants, quangocrats, NHS managers and
Government ‘consultants’. Big cuts in numbers and top pay will be required. We
cannot afford public-sector pension commitments which are escalating out of
control. Reform is urgently needed...................

Because there are some enormous loopholes – like capital gains tax at 18
per cent for those who can convert income into stock – the tax won’t be paid.
The very rich will wriggle round it. I am very disappointed more effort
isn’t being made to lift the income tax burden on low and average earners and
pensioners.........................

So what did our local Labour MPs do in the crucial Gurkha vote


Well as the Daily Post put is:


'George Howarth, the Maghull MP, had tabled an amendment condemning the new rules as “morally wrong and offensive”. But he, Eddie O'Hara, Peter Kilfoyle, Ben Chapman and Frank Field, backed down when ministers hinted a further review would allow many more Gurkhas to stay'


Joe Benton (Bootle) and Rosie Cooper (West Lancs) nether of whom -it is rumoured-expect to be in the next parliament vote with the government.....................why?

So who was the ONLY local MP to vote for the motion? -well the photo is a clue.

Tories vote for more immigration and more public expenditure


You begin to get a handle on big Nick Clegg's achievement was last night when you realise he inveigled the Tories into our lobby to vote for more immigration-and what is more for immigrants not from the old white commonwealth.

I remember when things were really dire, just after Paddy took over the leadership, the Greens had pushed us into 4th place in the Euro elections and there were real strains within the merged party. Paddy led a campaign to give people from Hong Kong the right to settle in the UK after the hand over to China. I frequently heard nasty racist taunts from our some of our Conservative opponents (I was a Councillor and PPC in Congleton at the time and it is fair to point out that the truly awful MP Ann Winterton subsequently got kicked of the from bench for telling racist jokes at the rugby club)


Anyway back to Paddy's campaign. It was a moment that gave many of us hope and the belief that we were in the right party and that no matter how difficult things were we should soldier on under his leadership


Clegg has gone one better and won the vote in the House of Commons. Last night I was speculating when the Liberals last defeated the government. The FT journalist reviewing the papers on the News channel suggested that it was in the 1920's. I thought it would be more like 1916-but as several of you have pointed out we were in government in 1916 which rather precludes that. So the question is when did the Liberal party last defeat a government on an opposition supply day and I guess the answer is somewhere around 1903/4 when Campbell Bannerman led the party

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Gurkahs victory

When was the last time the Liberals won a division in the House of Commons? The FT man on BBC News 24 who is reviewing the papers says the 1920's. I suspect that must have been Lloyd George coalition with the Tories which many Liberals (including those in Southport)had nothing to do with and even contested elections against. My money is on 1916. But someone will tell me very soon I've no doubt.

The groundwork for this victory has been laid over a long time. But today in parliament it was Prime Ministers questions which marked the beginning of the final phase. By all account Clegg played the issue brilliantly. Judge for yourself and look at this

Transparent Family Courts

As of 1st April 2010 there are big changes in the reporting of what happens in family courts. This greater degree of openness is welcome. Contrary to the fears of most social work professionals this I believe will improve the outcomes for children.
A similar debate is going on in relation to child care issues in local authorities. In the aftermath of baby P and the arguments about whether the full 'serious incident report' should be published many of us became aware for the first time that the synopsis of those reports were public documents. The only problem was that they were hidden away on undiscovered bits of cyber space.
Now I'm not suggested they should be delivered to every household with a FOCUS but if we are to learn lessons we need to know the issues.
Birmingham City Council have decided to publish in full the reports and Lynne Featherstone has campaigned to have the 'Baby P' report released in full. The Tory spokesman Michael Gove has also backed that call.
This is a decision that every Council is now going to have to look at. There are lots of vested interests here. There will be lots of pressure not to let these thing be talked about. You can hear the excuses; not good for our reputation, undermine staff morale......

Justice for Gurkhas

There is a vote today on this campaign in Parliament. Follow this link to our website for the full story

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Peregrine graces country fair




Carmel Preston-a Cambridge Ward Councillor- organised a Liberal Democrat presence at the Country Fair held at Stanley High School over the Easter weekend. This was a very successful and well attended fair. Many people visited the Liberal Democrat tent and details of resident's various problems were noted and dealt with by the councillors present.

A volunteer from the RSPB tent asked a question of Mike Booth, who is also the Press Officer for the Southport RSPB Group. She was worried that the dismantling of the gasometer in Norwood ward would disturb a nesting pair of rare peregrine falcons. The pair have been resident at the gasometer for several years. Mike-a Kew Ward Councillor and Norwood ward councillor Dave Sumner, both questioned the owners of the gasometer.

Mike has now received an email informing him that the birds are safe. They were provided with an alternative home on the top of Emmanuel Church tower. However, the birds were choosy and preferred a home of their own on another church tower

Mike Boooth

Obama

Just to conclude our series on leaders dogs Cllr Roy Connell was asking if I had found a picture of the new Obama Dog -which turned out to be a Portuguese Water Spaniel. Well I finally tracked one down.
I took our dog to have his coat trimmed this morning and there was a Water Spaniel in the queue. A long chat then took place as it was explained to me that the Americans trim their Water Spaniels differently to Europeans. The owners of the dog I met this morning were none to impressed with Obama's choice, as they now fear that instead of owning a fairly rare species Water Spaniel will cover the earth.

More cable

The whole debacle over the budget will unravel over a long period. For those who missed it Vince Cable has a bit in the Independent.

Bits of casework

I am often asked what sort of issue get brought to our attention by electors. Well there are all the personal ones where an individual receives a service from the council-or more often in today's world purchased by the council from a third party-and something has gone wrong. Then there are the public ones eg the state of Carr Lane Rec or the failure of the street sweeping rota and all the other issues around the maintenance of 'public space'.
This mornings post brought responses about such issues. As a result of a residents concerns new road markings are being installed at the junction of Longford Rd and Lyndhurst Rd and the street sweeping of the narrow cul-de-sacs off Shaftesbury Rd have been inspected and the necessary action taken.

Council group agm

Last night saw a well attended Annual meeting of our group held in Maghull Town Hall. We elect our group spokemanship/reps on outside bodies/cabinet members so there is always a slightly tense air-but we all get on well and democracy is the best option.
There were no great surprises this year and I will publish the list in full when our -re-elected- chief whip(Andrew Blackburn) send round the list.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Southport v Gateshead






The play offs for the Conference North have now been settled. Southport are to play Gateshead in the semi finals. The first leg is at Haig Ave on Wednesday and the second leg at Gateshead on Sunday.
The Haydn Preece from the club was asking for help in distributing posters advertising Wednesday's game so Cllr Hands and I did our bit around Birkdale.
The picture shows Rachel (who claims to be camera shy) Richard and I at the Lib Dem office in Shakespeare St.
Thanks to all those who took posters including:
Robert Tear (butcher)
Dave Whyte (cycle shop)
Birkdale Library
Four Season's Garden Centre
David Smallwood (Langberry's Hillside)
Barnet barbers
Woodwards Cafe Bar
The Curry House (opposite the Crown who do a very fine lamb sagwala)
Unforgettable (the card shop in the Village)
I left Richard at midday to work his way around the Village with posters so we hope there will be a good display

SPEEDING MOTORISTS ON GUILDFORD ROAD

POLICE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SPEEDING MOTORISTS ON GUILDFORD ROAD

The first in a series of police speed traps in the Birkdale area was in place this Saturday morning, 25th April, on Guildford Road.
A concerned local resident discussed worries about speeding vehicles on Guildford Road and other roads, with Birkdale Ward Lib Dem councillor Simon Shaw and local Police Inspector McLoughlin at the recent Southport Area Committee meeting.
Inspector McLoughlin has agreed to operate regular speed traps so as to deter speeding in the area.
"I am very grateful that the police have been able to take effective action in
response to this request,"
commented Simon.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Southport v Gateshead
Blue Square North
Play Off Semi-Final
!st Leg Wednesday 29th April 2009
Kick off: 7:45pm

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Vince Cable budget response

video

a matter of character?

Given the bloody infighting in our own Tories ( and check out the Tory squabbles label below) I was interested to note this story that slipped out in a national paper. Of deeper significance -as it illuminates the character of the man who would be PM is Iain Sharpe's bit over on Eaten by Missionaries

Friday, 24 April 2009


The Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in Wavertree, Colin Eldridge,certainly seems to have got his act together over his response to the budget.

Chris Davis on Politics show


Chris will be featuring in a BBC TV piece about the work of MEPs, filmed in Strasbourg and Brussels recently and being screened this weekend. It will form part of The Politics Show on BBC One this Sunday at 3pm; just after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Burscough Curves


David Sumner has launched a petition to have the rail link from Southport to Preston/Ormskirk restored. Full details on the Birkdale website. Please sign up

Vince on the budget


Writing in the Daily Telegraph Vince Cable explains his take on the Budget he begins:

'Yesterday's Budget brought home with brutal clarity the central dilemma in economic policy: rapidly rising unemployment in a deep recession calls for government intervention and investment.
But the scale of the Government's budget deficit means that there are severe constraints on what can be done.
I had hoped that at the very least we should have some honest numbers....................................

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Nuclear tests

The fate of soldiers involved in observing nuclear arms tests was brought to my attention a few years ago by a veteran living in Birkdale. I was therefore interested in reading of Nick Harvey's campaign on behalf of their children

Housing action




News just in that Adactus Housing Association has taken over the stock of Servite Housing Association in Birkdale. Two derelict sites in particular are of concern; the one in Upper Aughton Rd and the one behind Tommy Moore's on Liverpool Rd




Richard Hand and I are already seeking a meeting with the new owners to see if we can get things moving

Time to drop Trident?


With the squeeze on public expenditure well and truly on, is it time to look at the Trident project? Obama's speech on nuclear disarmament has changed the context in which nuclear policy should be viewed. Clearly the need to look again at 'big ticket' arms expenditure requires us think carefully about the options. The decision to accept the present 'wait and see policy' was taken by a narrow margin after a good deal of leadership lobbying. If the party was given the opportunity to look again at its spending priorities in the new political context I wonder what the outcome would be?

budget


With the budget upon us I notice that Clegg and Cable (Anthony Hill would be jealous of the Cable tie) have been briefing the press on the Lib Dem approach along theses lines:



It is clear that this recession demands a radical overhaul of the British tax system. It remains scandalous that the richest in our country pay a lower share of their wealth in tax than the poorest. We are demanding that both sides of this distorted equation be changed.
We are renewing our call to close the loopholes exploit by big business and the powerful and wealthy. And today, after working with our colleagues in Parliament and across the Party, we are announcing that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next general election with a pledge to cut income tax bills by £700 for people on low and middle incomes.
We will promise to raise the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 by closing tax loopholes exploited by big businesses and the wealthy. This will mean 4 million of the lowest paid people not paying tax at all, including many earning just the minimum wage.
It is a radical and progressive package that will form a key part of the pre-manifesto document that will come to our party conference in Autumn. This policy marks us out as the only party in British politics dedicated to changing our tax system to make it fairer.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

gone boating


The Disgruntled Radical and the Birkdale blog (plus some of their offspring) and Toby the dog are away on a canal boat gently making our way along the Oxford Canal to Banbury so I doubt either of us will be posting this week

Friday, 10 April 2009

Euro fundraiser


A pleasingly large gathering at an Italian restaurant turned up for Southport Lib Dems fundraising meal to help fund the Euro election.

Jennifer Barton a long serving member who started out with the SDP received her award from the Regional Party. Southport MP John Pugh was on hand to do the honours.

Conversation turned to whether Den Dover (now disgraced) from Southport and elected as a Conservative MEP has paid back the £500 000 he owes to the EU after his expenses debacle.

Monday, 6 April 2009

The Birkdale Liberal Ladies October 10th 1900

The Liberal History group have just published the latest edition of their journal focussing on Women in the Liberal party. One pioneer they missed was Birkdale's own Kate Riley

Whilst sat in the Southport Reference Library on Saturday morning hastily trying to get a better copy of the cartoons that appear below my eye was caught by the following article. It appeared in the Southport Guardian on October 10th 1900(It seems that the Southport Guardian was no better at spelling than its namesake in Manchester according to them the 1oth was a 'Wednesdaay'.



The Birkdale Liberal Ladies

----------

Support Sir George Pilkington


On Monday a crowded meeting was held principally attended by
Liberal Ladies of the Birkdale district. Miss
Kate Riley presided
.

Miss Riley in opening the proceedings said that they were very
sorry that they were not all electors there that night; but that this was a women's meeting, and although women had not the power to vote for any candidate whatever they nethertheless could exercise great influence. They were called together at that meeting and it was hoped that they would give all
the help they could to return their old friend Sir George Pilkington to Parliament.
The women had to remember that while Sir George had been in Parliament he had been one of those in favour of increasing the abilities and freedoms of women.
He had been all they could desire, and so they hoped to send him again to St Stephen's....

(There now follows a lengthy bit about temperance on the
slippery nature of Balfour.... she then turns to the War)


It has been one of the most iniquitous wars and would cause an
increase of 4d on income tax and had caused an increase on duty upon almost every commodity since the war began; and that was nothing to the blood that had been lost. There was one man who had gained by the War and that was Mr Joseph
Chamberlain. It was a disgraceful thing that he had been concerned in Admiralty contracts(applause) and his son Mr Austen Chamberlain had benefited largely by the South African War that has been imposed upon the country and Mrs Joseph
Chamberlain had shares in the firms that supplied the lyddite and cordite and other ammunitions used in the war; and these reasons had made Mr Chamberlain anxious to carry on
the war. She thought that people of England should think before they entrusted the government of the country to a shopkeeper of this sort.

They had been called together in order that the women of the neighbourhood should propose and second a resolution that Sir George was a fit and proper person to represent Southport.
And so it goes on in robust fashion. Kate Riley's attack on Chamberlain was similar to those made by Lloyd George and other radicals and was someway more vigorous than the parliamentary leadership.

The Boer War has much in common with Vietnam, Suez and Iraq in so much as it was pursued in the teeth of widespread unease/hostility at home. After his victory was announced at the Election Lloyd George rounded on the Tories saying that 'they were drunk with blood'. Now I wonder how that would play out with the Tories today?


Original Historical research by Michael Braham


I ought to acknowlege that the research for the postings below was done by Michael who sent a brown paper envelope through the post to me with photocopies of the cartoon. Michael is now a senior partner in Brighouses solicitors in Southport-and yes that is the same Brighouse who is lampooned in the cartoon. The Cockshott name is also preserved in as another local frm of solicitors. As far as I know neither firms are known today for their support of temperance although we still have two temperance halls-one in the town centre and one at Marshside. Mr Connard the Lord Street jeweller is chair of the Temperance Association.

Tory Touts Temperance before 'U' turn


Stay with me on this a while. It all relates to the 1900 'Khaki' election and a series of cartoons that appeared in the Liberal supporting Southport Guardian.
The Boer War was raging and so was jingoist sentiment. Lord Salisbury wrapped himself in the flag and ran for the polls whilst the fighting was still going on. There was none of this 'we can't talk about it until the war is over and our boys have come home' nonsense we get from the present government.


The Liberal Party was a tad divided. There were clearly some who quite favoured the enterprise, Campbell Bannerman gave reluctant and passive support as long as the war went on and then there was Lloyd George. In truth anti war sentiment was widespread in the National Liberal Federation and particularly so in the large provincial cities. For his anti war views Lloyd George got himself set upon by an angry mob in the Llyn peninsular and famously had to escape another angry mob at the Birmingham Town Hall by disguising himself as a policeman. (I make no comment on the behavior of theTory supporting mob)


Back in Southport Dr Pilkington the Liberal MP was angrily critical of the government and particularly the War Office remarking on their 'blunders' and demanding thorough reform. The local Liberal Association was more open in it's anti war sentiment and 'protested' against the governments handling of the situation asserting that the war was unnecessary and could and should be settled by peaceful means.


Winston Churchill gets a walk on part in this saga. Whilst still serving in South Africa Southport Conservatives tried to persuade him to stand as their candidate. It didn't take long for Churchill to snub them. The Southport Liberals were (and still are) formidable election fighters and had seen off Balfour in the 1899 by election caused by the death of the Liberal MP who had defeated Lord (later Earl) Skelmesdale in the 1898 General election.

The next three postings relate to the cartoons published by the Southport Guardian-not all are headlines .


This being Southport other issues dominated the election. Churchill having turned them down the local Tories looked to Edward Marshall Hall the famous QC. All this happened at starling speed -no one had expected Salisbury to cut and run in the middle of a war -and Marshall Hall appears to have set foot in the town for the first time two weeks before the election when he was adopted. Mr (later Sir Sam) Brighouse chair of the Southport Conservative Association orchestrated proceedings.

The cartoon shows Marshal Hall as little Jack Horner with his fingers in two pies; the Brighouse Pie and the Cockshott Pie. J.J. Cockshott was a solicitor and Tory temperance campaigner. Brighouse another solicitor and county coroner, represented a lot of licenced victuals.

In the Election Marshall Hall indicated that he was in favour of temperance reform. There were lots of Chapel folk in Southport and temperance was a big issue. In 1910 the local Women's Liberal Federation refused to support the parliamentary candidate because he wasn't radical enough on temperance reform!

Broadly speaking Liberals were sceptical about Marshall Hall's convictions on temperance guessing it was an opinion newly and cynical adopted. Time proved them correct. In his maiden speech was on a Private Member's Bill designed to prevent small children being sent to fetch drinks from pubs. His credibility was shot through with the temperance lobby when as alternative he advocated that beer should be delivered to the door on carts like milk. The House rocked with laughter and his speech was a complete failure. History doesn't record whether went home and cried but it does show that he was never regarded as a serious politician and local Liberals noted that he voted in less that a quarter of the votes in his first year. It was a humiliation and a cautionary tale. Marshall Hall did not do humiliation well.

continued.....



This cartoon is a Southport classic. Sadly I recognise that the impact will be diminished as due to the poor reproduction I shall have to explain it. The cartoon was published on the 3rd October and shows Brighouse in the centre. The bag at his feet says: 'Mr Hall temporary resident at the Prince of Wales Hotel'. The door on the left has Marshall Hall skulking behind it and above it the notice 'Business transferred to Southport till Oct 11'(polling day). To the right is a confident Dr Pilkington whose door proclaims 'established for 30 years' See below for a different (and superior reading of the cartoon)


The poster behind Brighouse titled the Political Pill outlines some of the things the electorate have had to swallow:
Bad Land Laws, Intemperance, crushing taxation, broken pledges, old age poverty, war office blunders, toy guns, bad rations, no tents, hospital scandals, shabby treatment of colonials-more killed by disease than bullets....
The invalid soldiers below hear the grave announcement that Mr Hall will address a meeting of invalids this afternoon in the Albany Gardens
'Dr' Hall: Here gentlemen you have the most wonderful medicine in the world, made by a firm of political doctors who have spent five years on its manufacture. It is warranted to cure every disease known to the British constitution. Don't ask me what it is made of, but trust me and swallow it quickly. I've lots of cases.
Invalids (in chorus): No thanks. We're quite satisfied with the old doctor. We've known him for 30 years. You can take your pills back to London.
This represents a recurring theme in Southport elections where the Tories display the weakness for a flash lawyer from out of town, most memorably the Liberal victory of 1987 when Ronnie Fearn trounced a Welsh barrister Nigel Thomas. He foolishly pretented to have taken up residence in the town when it truth he was occupying a holiday let. It was not difficult to obtain details and photographs of his temporay home. He duly lost and has to the best of my knowlege not been seen in the town since.
stop press:
Michael Braham has very gently pointed out to me that there is another interpretation of this cartoon:
I think you may have slightly misinterpreted Number 2. The man with the wig and bag marked Prince of Wales Hotel is Marshall Hall who was an outstanding orator. Sam Brighouses` County Coroners Office was based in Ormskirk hence the note above the door that business was transferred to Southport until October 11th. He was seen as the shadowy figure behind Marshall Hall having introduced him to the Consituency and promoted him. Brighouse was quite a character. I have a full page obituary from the Visiter displayed in the Office.What it doesn`t say is that he was in fact the last person to be elected Coroner in January1884. There were no laws about election expenses. I believe any freeholder could vote but you had to go to Ormskirk to cast your vote. I have been told on good authority that he offered any one wishing to vote 2/6d. to cover the cost of travel from Southport and the cost of a meal! Needless to say he easily defeated his opponent Mr Linden Ryley, a Solicitor from St. Helens.

continued.................

and finally

On polling day we find Mr Brighouse being lampooned again-the Southport Guardian clearly didn't like him. This time he is depicted as an Auctioneer. Behind him on his left are the 'scalps' of the last two Tory parliamentary candidates that the Liberals had defeated-Balfour and Lord Skelmsesdale . In front of him is the head of the bewigged Mr Marshall Hall.

The caption reads:
Mr Bighouse. What! No bid gentlemen?
Well, if it aint wanted, back it goes to Town.

And so the Guardian anticipated that the Tory candidate would behave as Tories have before and since. I am struck by the robustness of the campaign. Reading the stories that surround the cartoon -to which I shall return- one can only imagine the response of today's Tories if they subjected to such an onslaught!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Sefton’s top-performing recycling rate has saved council taxpayers £1 million




Sefton’s top-performing recycling rate has saved council taxpayers £1 million.

The soaring cost of getting rid of rubbish is shared between the five Merseyside councils according to the amount of garbage they produce.

Because Southort people are recycling more, instead of putting out so much rubbish, Sefton’s percentage share of the cost of waste disposal has dropped to the lowest in the region at just 4.3 per cent compared to as much as 18 per cent paid by others.

This was reported to councillors at Southport’s Area Committee on Wednesday 1 April.

Afterwards Councillor David Tattersall, Environmental cabinet member, said: “The reason that we consistently top the recycling table is because so many local people do their bit for the benefit of all council tax payers. Recycling is about saving hard cash as well as being green and re-using materials that would otherwise be wasted

“The wheelie bin system has led to a doubling of the recycling rate from around 20 per cent to 40 per cent and that’s cutting the cost of getting rid of rubbish. The landfill tax is now £40 for every tonne of rubbish that dumped in the ground and it’s going up by £8 every year.”

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Top posts

I have unashamedly pinched this idea from others. I was looking at the statistics supplied by StarCounter about who visits the Birkdale blog and what are the popular pages etc over the last quarter



No 5 in the list is Vince Cable has a book coming out from back in January. Numbers viewing this post have been added to recently as the book is now out and reviewed including on Newsnight Review

No 4 in the list is Birkdale Benches from early in March. No surprises there as the tale of Tory infighting continues

No 3 in the list is remember Sarah Tisdall from November 2008! This is a surprise. When the Tories were getting all self righteous over the police arresting their front bench spokesman during an enquiry into leaks on immigration the Birkdale Blog was amongst the first to recall the fate of a junior foreign office clerk under the Tories. I think we'll put that down to the age of the author.

No 2 in the list is I love Southport because.. from March 2009. I'm pleased about this as this was an initiative enthusiastically backed by Lib Dems in Southport and which has proved remarkably successful. There is a full report at the area committee last night and an update here.

No 1 in the list is 1979 the night the government fell

Southport 50 years in front of the times


Well it is not often you can have a headline claiming Southport is half a century in advance of most of the nation. Last night at Southport Area Committee we were reviewing the success of our pilot Homewarmers scheme in Birkdale. There is a full report here. This is an initiative by my colleague Councillor Shaw. He has always been a campaigner for energy efficiency and against fuel poverty. As an example he always keeps his house several degrees cooler than everyone else even in the most severe winter and was an early adopter of low energy efficient light bulbs. It therefore can as no surprise when he came up with this idea.


Sefton has been running a scheme else in the borough targeting household at risk of fuel poverty by face to face contact to encourage them to take up fuel efficient/energy conservation measures. The scheme has been evaluated and is recognised as a success. We wanted the scheme rolled out in Birkdale and used some of the small pot of money reserved for our ward to promote the scheme in a number of areas which we identified as appropriate. The area around Birkdale Primary School was leafleted and canvassed and a stall was set up in the school during their Christmas fair. The take up far exceeded expectations as the response was double that found in other areas. So well done Simon. The project has made a material difference to people's lives.


Why does this put Southport 50years in front surely insulation schemes have been around for a while now? Indeed they have (and 30 odd years ago working for Age Concern I ran a scheme funded by the old Manpower Services Commission which insulated thousands of pensioner's lofts in St Helens). Well it is a matter of cavity wall insulation. Apparent around the 1930's the cavity walls become the norm with a 2inch cavity as standard.


In Southport we were in the vanguard and introduced cavity walls as standard during the building boom of 1880s. Today when insulation firms turn up they dismiss the possibility of cavity walls in the Victorian terrace and semi detached houses in the town. Indeed our cavities are not the standard 2 inches which further confuses contractors from out of town. As part of this scheme we have sources a local contractor to carry out the work.


There is something peculiarly satisfying introducing a successful initiatives especially when you are confront with a cynical and obstructive opposition. In Southport the Lib Dem wards of Kew, Norwood and Cambridge swiftly followed Birkdale's lead. Now there are others chorusing 'Me Too'. Better late than never. It is too much to hope that they would have the grace to acknowledge their change of heart.

Liverpool Rd pavement repairs

News of the number of folk tripping on the flags on Liverpool Rd outside the Video shop and Robert Tears butcher was brought to me by several people. I have no complaint about the speed of the council's response. I emailed and got a confirmation the same morning. Sadly something was lost in translation and the inspector was dispatched to the junction of St John's Rd Waterloo! Anyway despite that the proper site was inspected the same afternoon and this morning the workmen were on site. Last week similar swift service was provided for the 'sinking' bit of Dover Rd at the junction with Crescent Rd.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Shop locally

My daughter went to an Abba evening on Saturday-let's not go there (I didn't) Anyway she thoroughly enjoyed herself all dressed up in clothes of the period. In the process of finding her a 'costume' I came across a new business in the town, the Costume Shop which is well worth a visit if you ever need a fancy dress

they're still the same

To read the Tabloid press you would be excused for thinking that the second home allowance scandal was a only a Labour problem. Watch this video to see Eric Pickles put the record straight!

Mind you I still think the most blatant and shameless example is the Tory MPs Wnterton who seem to have no shame