Friday, 27 November 2009

Offensive jokes and how I've failed to respond

Offensive jokes are a lot less frequent than they used to be in my youth when open racist and homophobia stories were the norm. They still exits. I've written before how Ann and Nicholas Winterton, the disgraced Cheshire MP's, have behaved. You will recall that Michael Howard felt compelled to dismiss Mrs Winterton from the shadow cabinet for telling a very sick racist joke.

When I was PPC for Congelton in the 87/91 General elections I dealt with their offensive behavior at civic events by not joining in any laughter and not hiding my obvious discomfort. This usually brought forth a lot of 'tutting'. Their 'hangers on' clearly thought my reaction rude and for them rudeness was the greater crime. I still feel ashamed that I did not find an appropriate and effective way of challenging them

I was brought up short recently when I found myself feeling exceedingly uncomfortable in the presence of someone -who believed themselves to be a grand personage- starting to telling a story every bit as offensive as the Wintertons. This story poked fun at people with a mental health problem. It was presented as an example of 'scouse wit'. The teller clearly had no inkling that her crass tale could possibly cause offense. She either assumed we all shared her prejudice or felt that those suffering from mental ill health were fair game. I did not laugh nor hide my discomfort. Again I left feeling annoyed that I had not dealt with it better. I was lost in my own reflections on the matter when after the event one of the other people at the table came up to me and shared her discomfort. I was not alone. She was clearly as annoyed as I was. We had both held back from confronting the person.

I must find a better way of dealing with these events-no matter how important the person thinks they are...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Southport Library petition

The petition form can be found here . We have had an amazing response. It is important that we continue our efforts to get a really big total. It has been heart warming to see so many people wanting to sign up. Volunteers were out the main Library yesterday despite the cruel wind and got an excellent response. Full detail about the petition can be found by following the link above

Monday, 16 November 2009

Madness and the tram

Some politicians get so fixated on one particular project that they fail to see a bigger picture. For some it is a particular plan for retail development for others it is the tram. Tony Robertson speaks for most people when he calls the most recent rouse to revive the tram project as madness

Police investigate another explosion in Birkdale

I recieved the following message from the police on Friday which, I hope answers the queries that have been raised with me:


Dear Councillor
I write to keep you informed of an incident, which occurred on the evening of Friday 13th November 2009.
At 1826hrs a call was received reporting an explosion having occurred in Selworthy Rd, Birkdale.
Upon arrival the home address of John Ball has been subject of damage. It is unknown how the damage has been caused but early indications would suggest that this damage has been caused by an explosive device.
This incident is a targeted attack and forms part of a series of incidents at this location.
The matter is currently under investigation and the area currently remains sealed off whilst evidence is recovered.
An extensive disruption plan has been introduced and as such residents will note an increased presence of police officers both at the scene and in the immediate area.
I find it difficult to offer words of reassurance to the local community given the recent events. What I can state is that all previous incidents were also targeted attacks at one specific house in Selworthy Rd. No other damage to property has been caused and no persons have been injured as a result of this and previous incidents.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Comments from online petition

We have been amazed at the response to our petition to save the Southport Library. On this occasion we have run an online petition to compliment the paper one. This has given people the opportunity to add comments. I produce below a selection:

Many people come from overseas each year (mainly from USA & Canada) to do local and family history at the library. Only this week a man came from Bristol to do research in the library and photograph local documents for that reason. How will this reflect if people come here and records are unaccessible?Putting the documents into storage will cost how much? Much better to store them in plain sight in the Market Hall where they can be viewed.

Beryl

Although I live in Scotland, my father still lives in Southport and uses the town library. He cannot get to the peripheral libraries as he is 88 years old and can't drive any more so is reliant on the bus service. I am a family historian and use the research facilities when I come to town. I believe that the decision to close the library for 3 years for refurbishment, without a temporary facility, is untenable.Thank youPauline

Keep the library in Southport. It is part of the town and heritage. There are people in the town who rely on the library
as they cannot travel to Ainsdale or Birkdale
Laura

There must be a Library in the town centre, if an alternative is not found the original must be kept open until one is.
Claire

I think that a town the size of southport to be without a town centre library for 3 yrs is deplorable.Apart from the residents who use it for books cd,s dvd,s etc,were are students or anyone for that matter supposed to go to get reference to any given subject they require.The back of the indoor market is the only logical place in my opinion.
David P

After signing the petition Doreen wrote:

The stallholders have been treated very badly, they deserve better treatment


I cannot believe that some petty stupid lab+con which put them together sums them up perfectly have veto d a fantastic idea for a temp library whilst giving the market a much needed boost they obviously dont care about the people who elected them and should be warned that sooner rather than later we will teach them a proper lesson
rant over
mari ann

Friday, 13 November 2009

a series of curious incidents

When I arrived at Cabinet yesterday for the important debate about Southport Library I encountered a number of unfortunate incidences.

  • Why were we meeting in Bootle?

There was only one real issue on the agenda-Southport Library and this was a special meeting called to decide on that matter. It was not a scheduled meeting. Why wasn't in held in Southport where local people could have attended. I venture to suggest that the decision may have been different

  • Why were the normal democratic safeguards waived?

Decisions made by cabinet can be 'recalled' by other councillors if they think cabinet has got it wrong or feel that not all the information was available. This process was waived on this item

  • The request to waive the 'recall' was presented in the name of the Leader of the Council

Politely but unequivocally the Leader, Cllr Robertson, made it clear that he knew nothing at all about this request and had not sanctioned it

  • Speed was the reason given for waiving the recall 'procedure'

This is not true. In the debate that followed my challenge to this manoeuvre the Labour Leader, Cllr Dowd, readily agreed with me that though there were matters of urgency concerning agreeing the Cultural Centre redevelopment(the money has to be spent against a tight timetable or we loose it) those considerations of urgency did not apply to the idea of a temporary Library

  • Why did the officers report say that there was not a consensus amongst the Southport Councillors?

Southport has 21 councillors. Two thirds of them have declared in favour of the temporary Library going to the market hall. As Mrs Parry (The Tory Leader) helpfully explained during the public session of yesterday's cabinet meeting (Councillor Tattersall no doubt has a verbatim note) there was an informal briefing to Southport councillors after that meeting the Chair asked if they wanted to vote to pass on their views to cabinet. Of those present 12 voted for the temporary Library and one against. The others dithered and did not vote.

How the officers turned that into 'Southport Councillors not having a consensus' is beyond my comprehension. But I think it is revealing. It's the sort of moment when if Freud had been present he would have sat back in his chair, pushed his spectacles up his nose and steepled his fingers together.....

  • Why was there no money set aside in the original plan for a temporary Library?

I now discover that the circa £200 000 or what ever the revenue costs are for the existing Cultural centre complex has been set aside to maintain the Arts programme at or venues ie Crosby Civic Hall. Not a lot of use to Southport, why was none of this earmarked for an adequate temporary facility?

SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE LIBRARY HERE

online petition launched to save library

PETITION TO RETAIN A TEMPORARY TOWN CENTRE LIBRARY AT SOUTHPORT MARKET HALL

Southport’s town centre Library will have to shut for nearly 3 years from early 2010 while much-needed refurbishment work is undertaken on the Arts Centre and Library complex (the £15 million “Southport Cultural Centre” project).

Sefton Council’s ruling Cabinet considered this matter at a meeting held in Bootle on Thursday 12th November. By a narrow 6 – 4 margin it turned down a proposal put forward by the Liberal Democrats to relocate Southport Library to the currently vacant space at the rear of Southport Market Hall during the 3 years of building work. 3 Labour councillors and 3 Conservative councillors voted against having a temporary Library, while the 4 Liberal Democrats voted in favour.

Accordingly, Southport will have no town centre Library for the next 3 years.

_______________________________________________________


We, the undersigned:

1. Believe that Southport cannot do without a town centre Library.

2. Call on Sefton Council to locate a temporary Library in the vacant space at the rear of the Southport Market Hall.

Believe that this would benefit library-users, and also market traders due to the extra 150,000 to 300,000 visits a year which there would be to “Southport’s Library within a Market”.

sign here

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Anger over Library decision-no Southport Library for up to 3 years

Sefton Council’s ruling Cabinet has thrown out throw a proposal to relocate Southport’s town centre library to the currently vacant space at the rear of Southport Market Hall during the 3 years of work on the Arts Centre and Library buildings.

The decision of the Labour and Conservative majority on the Cabinet has been condemned as “disastrous” by Liberal Democrats on the Council.

Despite being the largest party on Sefton Council the Liberal Democrats were outvoted by 6 (3 Tory/3 lab)to 4 at Thursday’s (12th November) held at Bootle Town Hall.

Work on the £15 million Southport Cultural Centre project means that Southport’s town centre library will close for 3 years while vital refurbishment work is carried out on the Arts Centre and Library complex.

Lib Dem Councillor Brodie Browne condemned the decision of the two other parties.

“This is bad news for the library users of Southport and bad news for the market traders,” he said

“Having looked at all the potential site in Southport’s town centre, it was clear to us that the only sensible option was to use vacant space towards the rear of Southport’s Market Hall.”

“As reported in the Visiter in recent weeks (e.g. Southport Visiter of Friday 30th October) there was widespread support for our preferred option. With the prospect of an extra *150,000 visits a year to ‘Southport’s library within a market’ it is hardly surprising that market traders have welcomed the idea wholeheartedly.”
“The decision of the Labour/Conservative majority on the Cabinet is disastrous for the people of Southport.”


Sign the online petition here

democracy-'it's only numbers'

I am indebted to my colleague Cllr Tatersall for the report below on a bit of this morning's cabinet meeting. David is a trained journalist-good (Pitman) shorthand and takes an excellent verbatim quote down accurately. I mention this only because we have a certain councillor who has been known to insist that minutes of meetings are changed because they didn't say xxxx. Tiresome when many of us were so gobsmacked at the time we are unlikely to forget.

Anyway for the avoidance of doubt we deployed David's skills -and one or two other tested means to hold the Tories to account. More, much more to come for now just a little comeo:

'Trying to muddy the waters about the clear votes of the majority of Southport councillors at the Southport Town Hall meeting some weeks ago for there to be a "Library in the Market", A Tory councillor-no prizes for guessing who- told the cabinet meeting on 12Nov that "it must be said" that it was "political" and added that "you can't just go on numbers."

When a Lib-Dem member of the cabinet (Iain B B) stressed that the majority of Southport councillors wanted to have a temporary library in the Market, the Councillor interupted claiming it was just "some of the Southport members" - a statement that was simply incorrect. She clearly doesn't do numbers - or agree that in a democracy a majority vote is the basis for a decision by those present.

The Lib-Dem Southport councillors were not coerced in anyway. They were not urged to vote any particular way. They made up their own minds and on a show of hands, after reading the detailed reports and listening to the discussion at the briefing meeting, they all agreed that the Market idea was a good one.'

a veiw from the market hall

The Southport Visiter sent their reporter to the market recently to see what the traders thought of the idea about moving the Library to the market hall whilst major capital works are being done. Here is his report:

Southport Market Traders have welcomed plans to temporally house the Atkinson Library in the Market Hall

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Chris Davis on Afghanistan

I got this email this evening

CHRIS DAVIES'S LIB DEM NOTES ON AFGHANISTAN

The fraudulent elections held in Afghanistan, and the further death andmaiming of British soldiers serving in the country, have forced me to think hard about the situation. I have written to Nick Clegg to give him my views and I want also to share them with readers of these occasional LIB DEM NOTES.

I believe that our troops should be pulled off the front line inAfghanistan. The justifications for their continuing presence seem tovary with the day of the week and the desperation of the advocate. I am not convinced by any of them, and I don't know how we would evenrecognise a 'victory' if it were to be claimed.Our people are part of a NATO contingent involving troops from manynations (though our numbers are second only to the Americans) that hasthe support of the United Nations. But we are easily portrayed as anoccupying force in a foreign land, fighting for one side in a civilwar as crusading imperialists seeking to impose our cultural andreligious beliefs on others. Radical Muslim men rally to the cause of our opponents in consequence.As we seek to avoid casualties we fall back on the use of technologythat allows us to attack and bomb from afar; all too often killing innocent Afghans. Support we may briefly have enjoyed from local people turns to hatred. None of this helps to make Britain a safer place.I bow to no-one in my detestation of the Taliban and the perversion ofIslam they use to justify their suppression of women's rights. I would love to see the country transformed into a benevolent liberal democracy,free from corruption and a champion of liberty. But the recentelections demonstrated how removed that vision is from reality. If weare fighting for Karzai's government are we sure it is a cause worth the effort?

We cannot use the treatment of Afghan women by Afghan men as anexcuse for military intervention any more than we would use it tojustify an attack on a country where genital mutilation is still performed on female children.In any case, genuine defeat of the Taliban may prove impossible whateverresources and lives are thrown against them. Its various localcommanders can withdraw in the face of overwhelming odds, only to returnwhen troop numbers have been reduced. Individual fighters can cut theirbeards, bury their weapons, and pose as hard working farmers – whichindeed is what they may be. The weapons can be dug up again at any time.We can continue to train Afghan soldiers, but the Taliban have a role toplay in the country's future and we should talk with them. Can that be so much worse than dealing with our current allies, the cruel andcorrupt warlords who care not a jot for human rights? Our money atleast buys us some influence with the warlords; perhaps its provisionfor development purposes can also be used to persuade the Taliban tokeep Al Qaida at a distance and curb the worst excesses of theirtreatment of women.To make Britain a safer place we have to win hearts and minds in theMuslim world. We have to address the causes of grievance used by ouropponents to bring people to their side. Our attack on Iraq did usgreat damage. Our involvement in Afghanistan risks doing the same.

The failure of Europe as a whole to address the injustice experienced byPalestinians is a source of anger amongst Muslims that we consistentlyunderestimate. We should learn our lessons.Yes, we must be prepared to use force to defend our values whennecessary, but military action can only be taken when the objective isclear. That is very far from the case in Afghanistan. We shouldnot allow more soldiers to be killed and maimed because politicians hereare too unwilling to lose face, too embarrassed to admit that lives havebeen lost in vain, or too weak to challenge orthodoxy within NATO.Afghanistan has defeated Britain in the past. It has defeated theRussians. The present campaign is not going to result in a triumph forAmerica or its British and other allies. If our troops are to remainthere it should be only to provide support and training for Afghans.They should not be on the frontline.

I would welcome your views.CHRIS DAVIES MEP
11 November 2011

DECISION DAY ON POTENTIAL LIBRARY RELOCATION TO SOUTHPORT MARKET

DECISION DAY ON POTENTIAL LIBRARY RELOCATION TO SOUTHPORT MARKET

The largest group of councillors in Southport – the Liberal Democrats, with two thirds of the council seats – have voiced their unanimous support for the idea of temporarily relocating the town’s library into the currently empty space at the rear of Southport Market Hall during the 3 years of work on the Arts Centre and Library buildings.

Sefton Council’s ruling Cabinet is due to make key decisions about the £15 million Southport Cultural Centre project at this Thursday’s Cabinet meeting (12th November), and one of the most controversial is whether an alternative town centre library should be provided while the major project is carried out.

The 10-strong Cabinet has 4 Liberal Democrats, 3 Labour and 3 Conservative members, so the votes of at least two of the parties will be needed for the relocation plan to be carried.

Councillor Maureen Fearn, Chair of the Southport Lib Dem councillors said: “Liberal Democrat councillors in Southport are firmly of the view that, for the three years during which work is being done to the existing buildings, Southport cannot do without a town centre library.”

“We have looked at every potential site in the town centre and it is clear to us that the only seriously viable option is to use vacant space within Southport’s Market Hall,” continued Councillor Fearn.

“There was a report in the Southport Visiter of Friday 30 October which reported on the support for this proposal. This confirmed our view that using the rear of the Market would be good news for library-users and good news for existing market traders. With the prospect of an extra 150,000 visits a year to ‘Southport’s library within a market’ it is little wonder that market traders have welcomed the idea wholeheartedly – as the Visiter reported.”

“Liberal Democrat councillors in Southport are unanimous in asking the Cabinet to back the option of using space in the Market Hall as the town’s temporary library.”

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

of interst to our friends in Sefton central

from Lib Dem Voice about Ashcroft. It sounds fishy to me.........................

should the chief executive blog?

Well just to remove any suspense I think the answer is a resounding NO. Nevertheless that was the intriguing suggestion that Tory blogger, (TV pundit, columnist for the Telegraph, Eastern Daily Press and GQ magazine-not to mention Total politic publisher etc etc) Iain Dale made to a local government conference last week.

I was in London for work and found time to attend some of the session at the LGiU conference which was looking at local councils and social media'. John Ball-formerly of this parish and now a Lib Dem councillor in Ealing-was one of the speakers.

Anyway back to Dale who traced the staggering growth of this type of media to the point where all Westminster journalist blog and have twitter and where since 2007 more Christmas greetings were sent via facebook than email.

Some Local authorities have been early and enthusiastic adopters which other lag stubbornly behind hoping the new world can be ignored. Bracknell Council apparently does press releases via twitter, advertises jobs, as well as publishing every expenditure over £500 online thus enlisting and army of citizen scrutinisers.

Even at the basic level of running a website most council's fail. Dale quoted Lib Dem Mark Packs article in Total Politics, sadly he could not resist a 'put down' as he did so. Packs article does lay out the basics and it will be interesting to see how many of the points he makes are covered when we are presented with a new media strategy for Sefton. I am not holding my breath. It will be interesting to see if they pick up on this posting.

One reason frequently given for not adopting these newer forms of social media is that there are some 'nutters' out there. Indeed there are. Stephen Fry's public pondering of giving up twitter because of one of them has been much in the news. dale told the conference that he got scores of phone calls from one critic and low and behold the said 'nutter' put an appearance on the twitter feed projected behind him! It must be said that such folk regularly put in appearances at public meetings and they are to be found on the door steps of the nation as we canvass.

The concern was raised that the new social media tends toward polarisation. Right wing blogs link to other right wing blogs and people can spend their whole time without having to interact with those who take a different view. Apparently this is very prevalent in the US. In the UK things are a little better. Dale felt that there was a 'blogging' community which meant that when the Daily Mail launched a 'homophobic' attack on him people across the political spectrum rallied to his support. I suspect that is true. It is a bit like the community of interest amongst those active in politics. People like Labour's Kevin Cluskey or the Tory Sir Ron Watson and I could easily have a chat about the US presidential election which would be of little interest to most of our elector.

One thing is clear that the impact of this style of social media is nor going away. There is nowhere where a hand held device cannot now be taken. Youtube, photos and podcasts will make much more accountable and the next generation seem more relaxed about the intrusion

There are some upsides. I would love to have had a tape recorder in Sefton's cabinet when the Tories had a collective attention deficit five minutes and demanded to have their anti vote recorded on a motion that had they paid attention they would have voted differently. There are lots of occasions when accountability would be enhanced by transparency that comes with the new social media.

John Balls contribution was to tell of an amazing campaign he organised via twitter. This brought out lots of volunteers most of whom had no previous involvement in campaigning.

So back to Dale's throw away suggestion that the Chief Exec should blog. It was based on the view that the social media age demand personalisation. This is undoubtedly one of the lessons of the Obama campaign where we saw lots of 'personal stories' from voters explaining why they were going to support Obama.

Dale told us that since the Tories had personalised their website so that visitors now have a named individual to ask questions of-a new member of staff called Sam. Since Sam has appeared on the website and people can directly ask him question the number of enquiries have rocketed.

It follows that in this new personalised social media Chief Execs will be tempted to join in. For myself I think it is something that politicians should do. We are accountable at the ballot box. we need to use this media to communicate with our voters AND to listen what they have to tell us. In that context it is sad to note that according to Iain Dale the Total Politics survey could only find 109 councillors to blog-and most of them suffer a fair amount of criticism from their non blogging colleagues.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Monday, 9 November 2009

.....especially the men of Birkdale.

Remembrance Sunday found me not at the big ceremony in Lord St but at the small War Memorial at St John's Church Birkdale. There was a full congregation. The act of remembrance at which those who have died in the two world wars and conflicts since has the usual two minutes silence-preceded and ended by a trumpet played by one of the choir boys. There followed a recital of the eighty odds names on the War Memorial read by four young people from the church as we remember 'especially the men of Birkdale'. The youngsters stood in the four corners of the church and in the silence all spoke clearly and well. As you hear the list of local names: Rimmers, Wrights, Balls, Whitesides, Heaps and Littlers, it brings home how devastating the loss of life must have been in our community.

When I was a young lad I remember attending similar services in Lillington where we all stood outside around the War memorial. In those days there were many men who wore their medals from the First World War and one or two who served in the Boer War. I particularly remember Fred Warren an elderly man, who sang in the choir, telling me all about going to South Africa as a young man.

Yesterday there were still men who had served during the Second World War who were wearing their medals. Looking around the church there were younger men and women who have served since.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

time for action

If anyone wanted an argument for the "Southport Cultural Centre" major refurbishment project it came to me last week. One local resident tells me that they visited the Southport town centre library on Thursday (a rather rainy day as it happened) and was concerned to see that quite a few of the ceiling lights were switched off and anglepoise lamps in place on top of the racking to provide some illumination.They asked the library manager the reason, and were told that the roof leaks to the extent that some of the electrical circuits become unsafe in the event of moderate or heavy rain!

Thanks for all the background on the arrested Tories

Thanks to those of you who have contacted me with information about the arrested Tories and the shenanigans in the local party. I am now clear who to watch and also clear about the role of the foreign 'sugar daddy'. As always; follow the money.....

The curious case of the planning application

Some things just stick in your mind and months later you find yourself pondering why they happened. A year or so ago there was a planning application in for a development by the entrance to Southport's pier. (We have the 2nd longest pier in the country) The application upset many local folk. The officer's report firmly advised rejection.

The minutes say:

Minutes:
The Committee considered the report of the Planning and Economic Regeneration Director recommending that the above application for the erection of a single storey extension to the north east side and rear of the premises and external refurbishment be refused for the reasons stated or referred to in the report.

Prior to consideration of the application, the Committee received a petition from Mr.Brown on behalf of the applicant in support of the application. Councillor Porter was permitted, by the Committee, to speak in support of the application.




So why did two Ainsdale Tories hot foot it up to the planning committee-one (who had a poor attendance record) to act as a substitute and the other to speak in favour of the application which wasn't even in her ward? Very curious. If any of you have an explanation I'd be pleased to hear it. Neither of them declared an interest so I'm sure there is nothing fishy.

More shame for Winterton

Confirmation, not that more is required, that the nasty rightwing moraliser who loves to go on about decent standards is not such an upright toff as he would have folk believe. Todays Independent carries the story:

Natural slap
*Years ago, when the Tory MP Eleanor Laing was speaking in the Commons in favour of lowering the age of consent for gays, she was interrupted by that grand old cauldron of moral indignation, Sir Nicholas Winterton, who demanded that she explain how anyone could justify the "unnatural" things gay men do "in terms of Christian morality".


Sir Nicholas, now 71, and due to retire after a flood of revelations about his expenses, has been outed as the Tory knight of the shire who slapped a woman MP on the bottom in a crowded Commons tea room. Kerry McCarthy, who revealed the incident, has Twittered to say the woman took "a hearty slap".

The woman says that she does not want to make any more of it, dismissing Sir Nicholas as "a silly old man". Sir Nicholas has told the Daily Mirror that he could not "categorically deny" administering the slap but he would have remembered if she had taken offence.

Nothing unnatural there, then, that requires justifying "in terms of Christian morality".

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Kew cubs

My colleagues Mike Booth and Fred Weavers went to see their local cub pack tonight-whilst I was stuck on a late dirty,late-running Virgin train out of Euston. They clearly had a good time.

Mike was asked to present badges to some of the cubs. Fred also presented badges to newly invested cubs. Mike told the pack about his role as a councillor, which will be included in future badge work on communities.

The picture shows Mike and Fred with the Kew cubs and their leaders.

I want to vote on the Treaty that took us into Nato

I was watching a Tory MP on the news. He was all puffed up and self important. He was saying how outrageous it is than nobody under 50 had voted on membership of the European community. I got to thinking of all the treaties that we have -which in the perverse logic of the Euro sceptics- contain a loss of sovereignty.

Nobody has asked me if I want to belong to Nato which significantly shares our sovereignty. And nobody North or South of the border has voted to endorse the Union of the parliaments of 1707. How frequently should we have the right to 'recall a treaty'?

The truth is that these sovereignty sharing arrangements significantly enhance our influence. Lots of countries our size have 'independent' foreign policies but they have no influence. The Tory's central foreign policy stance is that they wish to be the US's best friend. For more than half a century the US Democrat and Republican has made it clear that they believe that the UK should be fully part of Europe. This presents a central contradiction for Cameron; he doesn't want to be the sort of friend that the US want for their best friend

One citizen, one vote and all votes equal

Throughout all the campaigns for full citizenship in the southern states of the US, in South Africa and the then Rhodesia the slogan 'one man one vote!' was used. The chartists in the 19th Century were so outraged by the rotten boroughs that allowed some votes to be worth more than others that one of their six demands was that there should be 'equal electoral districts'.

I raise this because talking to a Bootle councillor yesterday he,without a quiver of self doubt, asserted that votes in Bootle should be worth more. His argument was that because of the social deprivation they needed smaller wards.

'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.....'

There are many groups in society who are disadvantaged and the thought of 'weighting' their votes would have ridiculous consequences. Do travellers and gypsies get bigger votes, what about new immigrants or higher tax payer (how often have I heard from folk living in mansions that they should get more from the council because of the amount of council tax they pay)? No one citizen, one vote but if they are all to be equal we will need to reform the voting system

Fred does his bit


Fred has not made a lot of noise about this: but he spent several hours recently on a unicycle raising money for the armed forces, along with Billy and David Pullin and Julie manning the buckets. If you would like to donate please visit
I've been in London the last couple of days and I have been struck by how many young service men are out selling poppies. Fred is raising funds for those coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. What ever we think of those conflicts it should not deter us from sending a donation. The service men did not ask to be sent. I know that many soldiers have real concerns about our role in these conflicts. After the news from Afghanistan over the last week it is right that we should debate these issues . Do not use an concerns you may have from sending some money to Help the heroes from the link above.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

portland street cycle way

I've not yet seen the feedback from the consultation around the Portland Street proposal. I have had some very interesting suggested put to me by residents from all sides of the debate. I was heartened to read John Siddle's report in the Visiter which suggests that as a result of the response new proposals are beginning worked on. With goodwill I'm sure that a scheme can be worked up which will benefit the town

Monday, 2 November 2009

Councillor's expences

Birkdale's Councillor Simon Shaw is among the councillors claiming the highest in travel expenses from Sefton Council. This is because Simon is one of very few Sefton councillors who is a member of one of the Local Government Association's Boards or Panels, which meet in London. Simon has been a member of the LGA's Human Resources Panel and associated bodies since 2005 (including substitute member mid-2007 to mid-2009).

The key LGA bodies of which Simon is a member include:
LGA's HR Panel
Local Government Pensions Committee
National Joint Council for Local Government Services
Joint National Council for Chief Executives (also for Chief Officers)It was Simon who, in May 2009, first called for details of Sefton councillors Allowances and Expenses to be published on Sefton Council's website - this was agreed to by the Council's Chief Executive, Margaret Carney.

Details for 2008/09 are available here: http://www.sefton.gov.uk/Default.aspx?page=9702

In the interests of openness, full details of Simon's expenses claims for travel to LGA meetings (by year) are available on the Birkdale Liberal Democrats website, follow the link to Councillors expences. This includes details for the first 6 months of 2009/10. (NB THERE ARE 5 SPREADHEETS TO REFER TO).