Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Southport, Lancs., thanks

I went to the Post Office on Liverpool Rd the other day to post a parcel for which I required proof of posting. I was gratified that when the postmaster handed me the receipt it showed that i had posted the parcel in Southport, Lancashire. One of the most economically damaging bits of legislation for our town came back in the early '70's when a county boundary was introduced divorcing us from our natural hinterland. Over the last 40 yrs the communications through the narrow corridor to the South have been maintained and enhanced whilst those to the North and the East have not. This is particularly true of the rail links. Not only has this meant we have ceased to be the tourist/shopping destination of choice for  many of our closest neighbours it has also separated us from our hospital facilities many of which are in Ormskirk.

On the council our group have been striving to repair the damage done by cultivating good relations with our Lancs neighbours. My colleague Tony Robinson met up with the leader of West Lancs today and his report is here. Of course all the emphasis on the city region which forces us into ever closer union with Merseyside and cements the divorce from Lancashire doesn't help, but if the government can resist the temptation to micro manage local authorities and free us up to co operate constructively with our closest neighbours then there is hope..........

an amusing suggestion...............

I am told that an amusing suggestion has been made that I will tutoring Cllr Mrs Brenda Porter on which way to vote during the cabinet meeting last week. This is a gratuitous insult to both of us. The likely outcome of me asking Mrs Porter to vote a particular way is that she would do the exact opposite! As we saw over the vote on closer links with Lancashire County Council the fact that I proposed it led the Tories to vote against it (they later sought to change their vote).

This suggestion is particularly nonsensical in relation to the budget votes last Friday. The party groups have had the list of proposals for weeks. We have all had extensive briefings on the issues. All three parties-in advance- published their position on each of the measures. For the record let it be known that after that careful deliberative procedure the Tories had marked the Botantic Nursery saving as GREEN. Therefore there can be no truth in the suggestion that Mrs Porter was 'led' by me, the Tories had declared their position in advance and voted in accordance with that declaration..

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Southport Ajex Speaker and Presentation evening

Last week saw the annual AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex Servicemen) hold their annual speaker and presentation meeting at Southport Town Hall. Michael Braham was Master of Ceremonies which ensured that a good time was had by all. The deputy Mayor, Paul Cummins, took the chair and having been well warned that he might be the victim of Michael wit had come well prepared. There is always a frisson of expectation when Michael speaks, a certain fear that his wit licences him to say things that others might only think. Do not get me wrong I didn't for a moment imagine that those who sent their apologies did so to escape the possibility that they may be singled out. I am sure they all have bone fida appointments elsewhere.
Michael gave the Deputy Mayor a flattering introduction and Paul replied in like manner drawing attention to Michael's success as an Author. It was kind of Paul to plug our online publication where Michael's book on the First Hundred Years of Southport Liberal can be found . It is always pleasing to meet our readers

AJEX presented cheques to various charities including the locals hospices, the British Legion, Help for Heros, the Mayors Charity and a Jewish Servicemen charity. We then moved on to the speaker Rabbi Arnold Saunders the only Jewish Military Chaplain in the UK armed forces a job he began in 2009. He is based locally at the Fulwood barracks in Preston and is clearly well know to the Southport congregation. He told us about his work and co operation with the other 'world faith' chaplains in the military
Afterwards there was tea and coffee in the Birkdale room where the photos above were take. The second one shows the Rabbi talking to Fred Weavers. History does nor record whether the spoke about cycling, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Labour leader hectors innocent journalist

A completely  unwarranted attack on a local journalist during the Sefton Cabinet meeting last week left many of us stunned. My colleague Tony Robertson who was chairing the meeting has already written about the incident. I hope that Cllr Dowd the Labour leader will, on reflection, see fit to apologise to the young lady  involved.

The incident occurred late on in the meeting. Cllr Dowd had not been getting his way, this causes him to become very annoyed and his judgement slips. The journalist, who I must admit I had not seen before, was sat in the public gallery-that is the chairs arranged in an outer circle around the cabinet table. She was sat next to Cllr Sue Maquire (Lib Dem, Cambridge Ward) and as is the way on this occasions  they had struck up a conversation. I later learned that Sue was identifying members of the cabinet to the journalist.

The Labour Leader, Cllr Dowd, suddenly took exception to this solte voce conversation. He started complaining loudly that journalist shouldn't be talking to people in the public gallery. He was talking and he clearly expected everyone else to listen. I was smiling to myself. Peter Dowd, who despite his best attempts to hide it sometimes, is a thoughtful and decent person, but he does suffer 'judgement by-passes' sometimes when things aren't going his way. I thought the episode would soon peter-out so I thought it would be a good time to nip out for a comfort break. Imagine my surprise when I returned to hear Peter was still in full cry against the journalist demanding that we pass a motion that the Editor of the newspaper should be written to upbraiding the journalist! I resumed my seat. The Tory Leader Mrs Parry joined in and supported Dowd. I was open mouthed with astonishment at this point. He pushed it to a vote and Labour and Tories voted together to send the letter.

This was too much for my colleague David Tattersall (Meols Ward Lib Dem, extremely sensible). David has spent a lifetime in the media including a spell as a local journalist. He was appalled. Like me he couldn't see that the young women had done anything wrong. (I can't say Sue was too pleased with the onslaught, but politicians have to put up with such things and Sue with admirable composure was doing just that.)

I don't think that there is any doubt that Cllr Dowd overstepped the line of what was appropriate. His hectoring of the journalist displayed very poor judgement. I guess some would call his tone bullying. I hope on reflection he apologises. As for Mrs Parry who frequently 'goes off on one' when she thinks people are behaving badly, it would be a pleasant surprise if she too,on reflection, concluded that her behaviour fell short of the standard she expects of others.

Southport Botanic Gardens 1

I was really impressed by the photos of the Botanic Gardens on this flickr site that I wanted to make sure I gave the proper credit .

Workers' buy out for Botanic Nursery

The employees at Botanic nursey should be offered the chance of taking over the operation themselves. Well that was the proposal I put to Sefton’s cabinet on Thursday. The council had agreed that they could no longer afford to run the nursery themselves. Southport is proud of the floral displays around the town but sadly the market price is significantly lower than we have achieved in- house.

For some time now we have been buying in bedding plants. There is a lot of competition out there and if the nurserymen want to make a go of the business themselves I think that would be an excellent move. Over the years they have produced excellent results and I am sure that they could turn the Botanic operation into a viable business.

I am very keen on giving staff the opportunity to take over and run those bits of the council where a viable business can be built. Lib Dems have always advocated worker owned businesses like the John Lewis partnership and I am confident that if the staff owned and controlled the operation they could make a go of it.’

The Council agreed to investigate the option

I should say that during the exchange on Botanic Garden's nursery we had a fascinating insight into our local Tory's economic 'thinking'. Essentially the proposal to close the nursery arose because it was clear that we were buying in bedding plots significantly cheaper than the in house nursery was charging-with no discernible difference in quality . In the present economic climate it would be clearly wrong to continue to spend all that extra money. At this point up pipes one of the Tory cabinet members and starts arguing that it is better to have the service in house .......Now we had all been briefed how vastly more expensive the in house bedding plants were. We were paying more for our plants than the market price. Please bear in mind this area is rich with nurseries and the market for bedding plants is well developed with many suppliers. Part of me wishes that a few Tory backbenchers had turned up to hear their spokesman once again embrace municipal socialism, endorsing the policy that the council owned operation should be the  monopoly supplier of a service even though the price in lot higher!

I understand that one of the reasons for the higher price is the scale of the operation. It the employees took over the business they could concentrate on those niche markets where that is not such a significant disadvantage. Anyway that is up to them.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

David Laws and Sir John Simon

In David Laws book he notes that he was the first Liberal minister at the Treasury since Sir John Simon. Some may consider that a not altogether happy precedent. Simon was after all one of the 'guilty men' over the appeasement of  Hitler and he stayed in the National Government long after Archibald Sinclair led the Liberal party out. Simon's role as leader of the National Liberal which ended in his wish to join the Tories (which Churchill did not approve) was a key cause of the decline of the Liberal Party. As David Dutton his biographer write on the Liberal History Website:

Simon was one of the most intellectually distinguished politicians of the twentieth century. But he lacked warmth and the common touch. The Liberal Party split of 1931, in which he played a leading part, put paid to any last hopes that the party would recover from the internal divisions which had plagued it since the First World War. 

Friday, 26 November 2010

Old labour economics and Tory confusion at Sefton cabinet

I'm not sure what an independent observer would have made of our cabinet meeting this week. I know what Council Leader Tony Robertson made of it as he has blogged his observations.

I thought there were a few very revealing little episodes. Tony has written about Labour's bizarre tactics and their failed filibuster. I thought that was just rather desperate and sad.  We had a couple of incidents which made folks shake their heads.

Firstly was the economics lecture we got from Cllr John Fairclough (Bootle, tribal, old Labour).He explained that the national debt was not very high and there was no need for all the deficit reduction nonsense. It has been suggested to me that because he works for Santender he fancies himself as an economist. .  

I've just been reading David Laws's account of the negotiations with Labour after the election. In the appendix  he usefully publishes the papers tabled by the Labour negotiating team on the economy. To my surprise it is a lot more hawkish on deficit reduction than you would guess from Labour's stance yesterday. Not only did that paper acknowledge the need for what was essentially a post election budget signalling a tougher stance than Darling's previous proposal, but also that steps had to be taken quickly to re-assure the markets.

The second incident was a repeat performance by Tory Brenda Porter of her confusion over voting. We had been carefully working our way through the various proposals for expenditure reductions. These have been with the party groups for a good while and we have all had individual briefings about the options.This allowed us to express  our Party group's response to the proposal, some  had a green light or an amber light or a red light. We were faced with a series of schedules-all published on the council website-which gave us the proposal we had all agreed to i.e. three greens, those with two greens and those with a combination. Despite flagging up 'green' for many of these items Labour failed to vote in favour of any of them and usually abstained.

The Tory Leader, Cllr Parry, had decide that they were ready to vote green on all the major proposals and to take the biggest saving available where there was an option. She was commendably straight forward  and we were making progress. We got near to the end of one schedule and with just a few items left it was clearly marked that we had registered either amber or red for these items. Mrs Parry thrust up her arm with renewed enthusiasm and declared; 'I'm not afraid to take tough decisions'. I assumed this was a public show of macho behavior meant to embarrass us as we were not going to vote for the item. We wanted to defer the matter as we were not satisfied that the implications had been fully worked through-it referred to the cleansing of public open spaces like the town gardens on Lord St. Brenda, of course, followed Mrs Parry's lead but got a tad flustered when she saw us Lib Dems vote the other way. Her agitation grew when Labour began taunting us for doing this for Southport! She then told the clerk she was voting against the item which rather undermined Mrs Parry's macho stand and further confirmed her reputation for getting in a muddle over such matters.

A third episode took place which certainly does not show the Labour party in a good light and which my colleague David Tattersall is going to write up. More to follow

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Former Tory Leader who joined Labour annoys residents

The Crosby Herald front page records the sad failure of Les Byrom formerley of this parish (Dukes Ward Con) to gain  election as a Labour candidate in the long time Liberal ward of Victoria in Crosby miles from his home  in Southport. As the headlies says he was 'blasted' by local residents

A POLITICIAN bidding for re-election in Crosby has been blasted by campaigners after claiming credit for much-needed improvements to Victoria Park.

Cllr Les Byrom, who is standing in Victoria Ward in May, sent Labour Action Team pamphlets to hundreds of homes outlining how he had “led the campaign to get much-needed investment” into the community park.

But he and Bootle MP Joe Benton, who was also named in the leaflets, were told last night by voluntary group Friends Of Victoria Park: “None of the improvements are anything to do with you.”

Stan Hesketh, chair of the non-party political group, said: “I don't see any reason why these people should be claiming any recognition or success for improvements in Victoria Park.

“I don't even know these people and I have never met them at any meeting about Victoria Park or anything else.

“Cllr Byrom has certainly not led any campaign I am aware of.”

My colleague Mike Booth has more on the story

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Pioneering artist paints allotments..........

Ok it was over a century ago but the artist collectively know as the Glasgow Boys started out painting realistic images of the things round about them and did so in a very 'natural' way.  I first came across their work by chance when walking in Galloway as a student 40 years ago. I was staying in the 'Artist Town' of Kirkcudbright and came across a small exhibition of one of the Glasgow Boys, E.A. Hornel, whose work was preserved in his old studio by a local trust. Anyone who had read Dorothy L Sayers book 'Five Red Herrings' was aware of the artist colony but it was hardly seen to be of great significance. Although the studio 'Broughton House' had a sleepy backwater charm of a well kept secret some of the painting there were amazingly avant garde even in the 1970's. This was particularly true of the latter 'symbolist' ones that Hornel and his friend Henry painted.

I went back to Galloway on a frequent basis and saw the amazing growth of the Artist's town, The National Trust for Scotland took over Broughton House and major exhibitions were held . Twenty odd years ago the Glasgow Boys really got on the map when Roger Billercliffe  published his book on the movement.

Why is this relevant today? Last week I was a way working in London (and sadly missing the Southport Area Committee) when I came across a major exhibition of the Glasgow Boys at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. Their video tells you more about it:

 Royal Academy of Arts on Vimeo.

Moving on from the early open air, naturalist painting Hornel and some of the others developed a style that put them at the forefront of European Art. Possibly the most famous painting being a joint collaboration between Hornel and Henry: The Druids bringing the Mistletoe. It is along way from painting the town allotments!

Friday, 19 November 2010


The uneven road surface at Aughton Road level crossing has long been of concern to Birkdale residents.  Massive potholes just besides the railway lines have been a danger to cyclists as well as to car shock absorbers.

Following complaints from residents, Birkdale’s Councillor Simon Shaw took the matter up with Sefton Council.

“Because the problem is right by the railway, responsibility for repairs lies with Railtrack, not Sefton.  I know that council officers have been in repeated contact trying to get Railtrack to fulfil their responsibilities,” explains Simon.

“In September, Railtrack finally filled in the potholes, but they might as well not have bothered!  Within days the holes were back, and I contacted the council yet again.”

Simon now reports that, at long last, a proper repair job was done at the beginning of November.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


My Birkdale Ward fellow councillor Simon Shaw, Chartered Accountant that he is, has been doing some financial ferreting.

You may well have thought that Sefton Council was cash-strapped.  But not, so Simon has highlighted, too cash-strapped to propose spending over £26,000 on 3 granite seats!

This mad-cap plan comes to you courtesy of the Conservative and Labour councillors on Sefton Council.

This week’s meeting of the Southport Area Committee is being asked to consider a package of “Public Art” proposals as part of the Southport Market redevelopment.

Regular readers of the Birkdale Blog will be aware of the enormous concerns Southport and Sefton Lib Dems have had about spending £3 million at the present time on the Southport Market redevelopment project.

Within the total spend there there is a £110,000 budget for new Gateway Features.  The Council is proposing to spend £41,700 on 2 “Bronze Gateway Markers”, £12,100 on “Inlayed Granite & Ceramic Motifs” and £26,400 on 3 “Granite Seats”.  A further £31,500 is due to be spent on Design, Delivery, Installation and “Community Engagement”.

Simon thinks that Conservative and Labour councillors on Sefton Council are now displaying “a complete lack of any grasp of economic reality.”

“If you take into account a share of the cost of Design, Installation and Delivery costs, you are talking about something over £30,000 for 3 granite seats.  It’s simply barmy!” comments Simon.

“Even in times of economic plenty, I would have serious doubts about spending such money.  But we are not in such times.  Sefton Council is talking about the possibility of up to 1000 employees losing their jobs as well as cutting services on a large scale.”

“It is therefore both unjustifiable and grossly insensitive for some local politicians to still be supporting a scheme that involves massive amounts of public money being spent on ‘fripperies’ such as granite seats.” 

“Liberal Democrats have warned repeatedly that this whole project is unaffordable, but Conservatives and Labour members of the Council have ploughed on regardless.  They are displaying a complete lack of any grasp of economic reality on this matter.”

Monday, 15 November 2010

Farnborough Road Schools – new Guardrails at Guildford Road

Pupils attending Farnborough Road Junior School should be safer on their way to school – thanks to new guardrails put up near the Guildford Road entrance.


My fellow councillor Simon Shaw serves with me on the Governing Body of Farnborough Road Junior School (he also serves on the separate Farnborough Road Infant School Governing Body).

Simon and I happened to be outside the Guildford Road entrance earlier this year and we were both horrified to see one motorist drive up onto the pavement right outside the School – just as pupils were coming out. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a few minutes later the driver decided to reverse along the pavement, just inches away from children.

Simon has been following up with measures to try an prevent this serious road safety hazard. His most recent success was to persuade the Council to fund the installation of extra guardrails on the school side of Guildford Road.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Several hundred turn up to celebrate Liberal by election victory

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

After the courts overturned the General Election result several hundred people congregated outside the Liberal Club in Chapel St to celebrate the subsequent by election victory.

The report in the Southport Guardian dated July 12th 1911 reads :

The scene was indeed animated. The result came through at 11.15pm that the former candidate for Southport had been successful and a great cheer went up when Mr E Rhodes announced the fact to the crowd. 

Iain Sharpe over on the Eaten by Missionaries Blog caught my attention last week when he reported that the last Liberal unseated by an electoral court was Charles Masterman. As Iain points out there are significant differences between this case and that of Mr Philip Woolas (who judging by his recent website launch has learned little). Can you for a moment imagine the judge in the Woolas case causing reports to be written that asserted
'Remarkably, the counsel for the petitioners (i.e. the Conservative candidate) was at pains to stress that 'no imputation was made on the honour, integrity, or conduct of Mr. Masterman in relation to such matters', a proposition endorsed by the judges.' 

For some Masterman has always been a hero. His parliamentary career was a success and he was held in near universal high regard- another marked difference with the Woolas case. 

Those who are regular readers of this blog will know that Baron de Forest contested the 1910 General Election in Southport where he endured one of the nastiest Tory campaigns ever seen in the town. The Woolas case with the brazen attempt to whip up racial tension has echo of the Tory campaign here a century ago. There were sections of the Tory campaign that pursued a straight forwardly anti Semitic line against the Liberal Candidate. There is some poetry in the outcome of the 1911 by election in the North West Ham division, that de Forest should rise above the racist abuse and triumph.

The Southport Guardian goes on the report some of the Tory excuses. I am particularly grateful to the Birkdale blog's History correspondent, Michael Braham, for drawing to my attention to this gem, I quote:
Tory chagrin
Mr Wild (the conservative candidate)made no secret of his chagrin at the result....and bitterly complained that he had been badly let down in the way of outside help.'I know for a fact' he said  'that between 300 and 400 motor cars were unavailable to me because of the Eton and Harrow cricket match...'

The Southport Guardian does not seem at all persuaded by Mr Wild's excuses but rather reports in full the contribution that Mr & Mrs Masterman made to the campaign. They appeared always to be at de Forest's side, the crowds frequently calling out 'Good old Charley' accompanied by cheering and toy trumpets(!)

In an interview after his victory Baron de Forest said that head had not fought as a 'weak kneed Liberal but as a Radical of the advanced sort and that the result was: 'the final nail in the coffin of the House of Lords'. Well we're still banging away at that nail. But it is true that his victory did help push through the Parliament Bill which was before the parliament. Finally the Guardian reports that 'having signed the roll Baron de Forest took his seat below the gangway in the centre of the benches occupied by the 'young Scots group', the advanced Radicals.'

Charles Masterman returned to Parliament and went on to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury until the out break of War when he became head of war propaganda. He lost his seat in 1918 but returned to Parliament in 1923. He died four years later. What became of his wife who accompanied him during the 1911 by election? Michael Braham tells me she attended the 1977 celebrations in Birmingham marking the centenary of the founding of the Nation Liberal Federation. This was a grand affair as I recall and Michael also attended. He had seen an advanced list of guest and had taken the opportunity between courses of presenting Mrs Masterman, who was a guest of honour and sat next to Jeremy Thorpe, with a dinner menu from 1906 when Charles Masterman had spoken at a Southport Liberal Association function. I was in Birmingham in 1977 but have no memory of Mrs Masterman.

The last time the courts disqualified an MP may well have been 1911, but Masterman's case was not the only one that year. In the Irish seat of Louth the candidate ran foul of Gladstone's corrupt and illegal practices Act as the report to parliament shows but maybe Mr Woolas can find some solace in fate of that candidate.

But for now let us hope that the Oldham Chronicle is soon reporting that hundreds of Liberal are celebrating an election victory after the result of the General Election was overturned

Many thanks to Michael Braham for providing me with the Southport Guardian report of de Forest's victory and for his recollection of the dinner in Birmingham in 1977 and to Iain Sharpe and Jonathan Calder for the posts last week 

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice This item has appeared two week running in the Lib Dem Voice Golden Dozen

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Gorecki death announced

Lynton Drive/Waterloo Rd crossing

Whilst out canvassing the other day a number of residents pointed out to me that the condition of the road at the junction of Lynton Rd and Waterloo Rd was particularly poor and drew my attention to the state of the zebra crossing

When I got home I duly wrote off to the engineers asking them to inspect the site. This is the reply I received:

An inspection of the carriageway has been carried out by the area
technician however he failed to identify any defects within our criteria
for repair, however the situation will continue to be monitored during
the cyclic inspection system which is currently 4 times per year

I was not wholly content with that so I responded asking them to confirm that they had inspected the road surface where the zebra crossing was:

I then got the following reply:

I am going to inspect the site myself tomorrow and will let you know 

I waited patiently and then this email arrived:

A further inspection has been carried out at the above locations

Lynton Drive

An instruction has been issued for the carriageway to be repaired within the next 7 days

Waterloo Road

The Potholes at the crossing have been repaired and the condition of the carriageway will be monitored during our cyclic inspections which is currently 4 times per year

I trust the information provided is of assistance

The moral of the story? If the first inspection had been thorough we'd have all saved time. Anyway thanks to to Senior Engineer who took it upon himself to go and look. I will do the same this afternoon.

Ainsdale Pontins site awaits administrator

Last night whilst eating fish and chips at the Dukes Ward social news came through that Pontins Holiday firm had gone into administration. Pontins made a major investment in Southport-for which Cllr Simms Mitchell always claimed credit. Last year they announced major £100m  investment plans for their Ainsdale site . A significant number of part time and casual jobs are offered there some of which have been filled in recent years by EU workers.

Since the announcement of large scale investment Ainsdale ward money has been spent to compliment the proposed redevelopment. We wait to see if the administrator can find a buyer.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Sefton Irregulars report for duty in Sadddleworth

The forecast was for high winds and driving rain in the north last night. That was the night that the biggest detachment of by election volunteers in living memory left Sefton to help Elwyn Watkins. Southport MP John Pugh, Council Leader Tony Robertson, two cabinet members, four councillors a handful of activists arrived as darkness fell. We were met at the mill that was serving as the HQ by Elwyn, he was in an optimistic mood having spent time in Oldham town centre where he had clearly received a very positive response.

We were dispatched out into the Saddleworth villages to canvass and deliver. Memo to campaign team: please source better maps, when you are driving around the moors looking for Lovers Lane or Park Cottages it is helpful to know where they are in relation to the HQ. Anyway, by luck, we quickly found our way to Lovers Lane. By now the weather had really got up and it was wuthering out there with much mizzle on the moors.

I've always thought of Saddleworth as Wainwright country-Richard not Alfred. The solid rows of stone mill cottages clinging to the hillsides have an air of straight forward decency about them.

These moorland villages are not lit like urban areas thank goodness the resourceful Anthony Hill had brought a torch. We soon got into a routine. First you carefully navigated to stairs that lead the front door, these were usually constructed out of stone slabs and the rain had made them very slippery. You carefully climbed them until you reached the front door when a security light suddenly shone brightly into your eyes illuminating-too late- the route you had just gingerly trodden. The welcome was friendly and and the canvass showed some movement towards us. Having done our canvassing and delivered our allotted newspapers we retreated to the pub.

Those with a local knowledge- (my Morris dancing colleague councillor Mike Booth who has flourished his handkerchief and shaken many a stick in these part and Tony Dawson who fought Woolas in the last General Election)-recommended the Church Inn at Upper Mill, which is situated next to the magnificent neo gothic St Chads church.  When you go to Saddleworth you should visit , the pub has beer brewed specially for it and offers decent bar food., but take my advice don't order the jumbo Haddock, James did, only to discover that when they said it was ideal to share with a friend they were not exaggerating. Frankly it could have fed the
whole parish.
The time may be short for this by election so don't delay your visit, head for the big roundabout in Oldham town centre and follow the Lees Rd until you come to Greenfield Station. The Tanners Business park with Elwyn's HQ is then close by. As we arrived in the pub I got an email from a Ms Stephenson telling me she was on a train to Oldham and encouraging me to head there myself. I was not put off. I think that this may be an important by election not just for the good folk of Oldham and Saddleworth but for the country. So don't be put off by talk of wind and rain this contest is there to be won if we can get the boots on the ground. Forget about the 'air war' this battle will be won on the doorsteps not the television studios. It is our sort of campaign.

We got back to Southport about 10.30pm to find the place had taken a real battering from the high winds, trees had fallen, fences were down and I lost a ridge tile from my roof.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Councillor's surgery-this Friday

Ainsdale Councillor Haydn Preece will be holding a surgery this Friday 12 November  at Ainsdale Library. Doors open at 5.30pm and Haydn will be available until 7.30pm. No appointment is necessary

Labour Leadership a disgrace over Woolas

Apparently Labour MP's are furious with Harriet for hanging out Woolas to dry. Oh dear.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has faced anger from Labour MPs after her decision to disown expelled MP Phil Woolas.
It has provoked what Labour MPs and ex-ministers call a "mutiny" against the Labour leadership at Westminster

Southport Market builder goes into administration

The builder who won the controversial contract to refurbish Southport Market looks likely to go into administration. The Visiter has the story here. It seems that the Kew Meadow School extension is also caught up in the business failure.It is clear to me that because of the expanding population up at Kew the school does need to go ahead. But as to the market at a time when we are seeing cutbacks across the public sector which will impact on important services it has always seemed wrong to us to press ahead with this project. Southport is not short of retail units and the one planned for the Market have been dubbed as a 'Harrod's Food Hall.' The rent seems likely to be set at a level that will exclude start up units . Most telling of all NO private sector operation has been willing to invest one penny, confirming the view that this project carries 'significant financial risk'. Sadly Southport Tory Members on the Cabinet voted to push this and the building of  a new leisure centre through. I don't know how they feel those decisioned are financial sensible in the present climate. I know there is back bench unrest on this issue and some Tories are saying openly 'I declare this leisure centre closed' and they are not talking about the one we are about to build.


In 1883 Gladstone introduced the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act (which clearly does not apply to internal party procedures) in order to put a stop to the widespread practice of 'treating' electors as an inducement to gain their vote. Almost every candidate knows that they cannot provide breakfast to electors and many a mean-fisted candidate has sought to suggest that they cannot even buy a round during an election for fear of falling foul of the Gladstonian Act. (Mind you it is really serious if they extend the prohibition on round buying after they have won)

As the local newspapers have reported there is great discontent amongst some Formby Tories about the selection meeting that led to the well respected Anne Ibbs being deselected in favour of the failed parliamentary candidate Ms Jones. I now hear persistent rumours that there may be grounds for a re-run? More information is welcome.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Woolas looses first part of legal appeal

The Guardian has just posted this story:

The politician, who was also barred from standing for election for three years, was found to have deliberately lied about his Liberal Democrat rival in campaign literature.

He was quickly suspended by the Labour party, which said it would not support any subsequent legal battle to have the decision overturned.

Shamash said: "It is correct [that the judicial review request has been lost] but we are renewing it immediately. It was not about the substance, it was about the jurisdiction."

The judge decided that judicial review was not the appropriate course, he said.

"We say it is and we think he has got it wrong."

More details soon ...


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Southport score the best two goals in FA Cup tie

Southport lost out in the FA cup this afternoon. The match was televised and Sheffield Wednesday won 5:2. For most of the match Southport were in contention and scored the best two goals of the afternoon. I think this photo show the ball travelling onto the net for Southport's second goal.

It was a great afternoon and the club did the town proud. Congratulations all round.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

sefton post of the week

I'm rather spoilt for choice this week. With the Westminster Village all in the froth over the 'ginger rodent' jibe against young Mr Alexander ( personally I think he has got off lightly) we have news from Tony Robertson of the bad mouthing that our local Tories indulge in. Fancy likening  Tony to that muderous thug Robert Magabe! the story is here. I was also taken with the report in the Cambridge Ward blog about the recent fundraising event. Such postings are the meet and drink of a local blog-well in this case the Fish and Chips. (If we were running a competition for best designed Sefton blog then Cambridge would be the clear winner)
But this week the winner is Meols Ward with it's story about the volume of regulation

Nuclear deal -does it lock us into weapons for 50 years?

My old friend Edis Bevan (Warwick and Leamington YL's circa 1970)  raises some important questions about the anglo french military alliance or 'entente frugal' as one wag had it this morning. He asks:

Does the proposed UK-France ‘defence’ deal breach the nuclear non-proliferation treaty? That is a question we need answered as soon as possible.
The deal also locks us into a 50 year nuclear commitment, on the face of it wrecking the window of opportunity for a nuclear rethink won by the deferment of the Trident renewal.
As I see it, it is not possible under the treaty for a country to buy warheads from a nuclear armed power even if is itself a nuclear armed state. All Nuclear states have to build their own warheads. Joint development procedures need to be very carefully 
corralled to prevent treaty breaches. We need explanations from the Government as to how this initiative is consistent with our treaty obligations.

Lloyd George was right about raising death duties........

I was confirmed in my view that death taxes are not working properly after my trip to Derbyshire. Sotherby's were mounting an exhibition of sculpture at Chatworth. There are more photos if you click on the picture.

Surely a first stage of reform would be to tax the recipient not the giver. New Labour have lulled us all into accepting such an appalling maldistribution of wealth. I wonder what Vince's mansion tax would have raised on this property?