Friday, 16 December 2011

Tories think about Council Tax rise

I learn  that Cumbria Tories and thinking about turning down Pickles grant and going for a rate rise.

Cumbria Council, a joint Conservative/Labour administration is proposing to increase the Council Tax by 2.5%.

Cllr Eddie Martin, the Council's Conservative leader said he “was inclined to go with the 2.5% increase next year” but had not yet got the agreement of his group.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A better economic model-the missing Liberal ingredient

Is there a chance that out of all the economic chaos a Liberal opportunity might arise. There is little appetite for bureaucratic socialism and the failure of neo con market solutions that led to our present mess has meant folk are looking around for a different model.

Thanks to all the people who sent me a link to this 'think piece' in the New York Times:

Worker-Owners of America, Unite! -

THE Occupy Wall Street protests have come and mostly gone, and whether they continue to have an impact or not, they have brought an astounding fact to the public’s attention: a mere 1 percent of Americans own just under half of the country’s financial assets and other investments. America, it would seem, is less equitable than ever, thanks to our no-holds-barred capitalist system.
But at another level, something different has been quietly brewing in recent decades: more and more Americans are involved in co-ops, worker-owned companies and other alternatives to the traditional capitalist model. We may, in fact, be moving toward a hybrid system, something different from both traditional capitalism and socialism, without anyone even noticing.
Moreover, this year some 14 states began to consider legislation to create public banks similar to the longstanding Bank of North Dakota; 15 more began to consider some form of single-payer or public-option health care plan............................................

Some of these developments, like rural co-ops and credit unions, have their origins in the New Deal era; some go back even further, to the Grange movement of the 1880s. The most widespread form of worker ownership stems from 1970s legislation that provided tax benefits to owners of small businesses who sold to their employees when they retired. Reagan-era domestic-spending cuts spurred nonprofits to form social enterprises that used profits to help finance their missions.

Recently, growing economic pain has provided a further catalyst. The Cleveland cooperatives are an answer to urban decay that traditional job training, small-business and other development strategies simply do not touch. They also build on a 30-year history of Ohio employee-ownership experiments traceable to the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s and ’80s.

Further policy changes are likely. In Indiana, the Republican state treasurer, Richard Mourdock, is using state deposits to lower interest costs to employee-owned companies, a precedent others states could easily follow. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, is developing legislation to support worker-owned strategies like that of Cleveland in other cities. And several policy analysts have proposed expanding existing government “set aside” procurement programs for small businesses to include co-ops and other democratized enterprises.

If such cooperative efforts continue to increase in number, scale and sophistication, they may suggest the outlines, however tentative, of something very different from both traditional, corporate-dominated capitalism and traditional socialism.

It’s easy to overestimate the possibilities of a new system. These efforts are minor compared with the power of Wall Street banks and the other giants of the American economy. On the other hand, it is precisely these institutions that have created enormous economic problems and fueled public anger.

During the populist and progressive eras, a decades-long buildup of public anger led to major policy shifts, many of which simply took existing ideas from local and state efforts to the national stage. Furthermore, we have already seen how, in moments of crisis, the nationalization of auto giants like General Motors and Chrysler can suddenly become a reality. When the next financial breakdown occurs, huge injections of public money may well lead to de facto takeovers of major banks.

A long era of economic stagnation could well lead to a profound national debate about an America that is dominated neither by giant corporations nor by socialist bureaucrats. It would be a fitting next direction for a troubled nation that has long styled itself as of, by and for the people.

Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Is a transaction tax unacceptable?

Many Liberals and others on the progressive wing of politics have been interested in a transaction tax for financial services. Earlier this week I posted a link to a third world campaign Stamp Out Poverty advocating the tax and a variation of the proposal has been in the Lib Dem manifesto. Today a letter has appeared in Guardian from the Social Liberal Forum and Compass
.................Everyone who cares about Britain's future at the heart of Europe needs to do two things. First, we must be committed to be part of the European debate, no matter how difficult that currently feels. We have to be part of the process to push for a more social, democratic and interventionist Europe. We cannot opt out of Europe – we are Europe.

Second, while we recognise the important role of the City in the British economy, we must not go on behaving as if the 2008 crash never happened. The City needs to be effectively regulated not just for the rest of the economy and society but to save it from itself. In September, Ed Miliband committed Labour to supporting a financial transaction tax introduced at a European level if there was no global agreement at first – matching the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to it. This was the right thing to do economically and politically. Europe must take the lead in ensuring that damaging speculation is curtailed and therefore a better balance struck between the manufacturing sector across Britain and the interests of a few in the City of London.

All who share the vision of a more equal, democratic, dynamic and sustainable Europe should work together to ensure Britain plays its full part with its neighbours in creating that vision and does not retreat to the sceptical margins.

I see that my old politics Professor Stephen Hasler has signed the letter

Neil Scales goes

Readers will be interested to learn that the head of Merseytravel is leaving. Sadly he is not taking the Chair of the organisation with him. As the Tory Leader on the authority asked? Why did he start looking for a new job? Was it that a wedge had been driven between him and Cllr Dowd over the issue of vertical intergration? (that is running the rail and the trains. The authority spent mega sums promoting this cause only to perform a handbrake U turn at the last minute without tabling any written advice to members )

Freedom of Information requests will doubtless soon flush out the whole story.......,..and the issues of the personal use of the Authorities credit card by Cllr Dowd

Friday, 9 December 2011


Birkdale's Councillor Simon Shaw, who is Cabinet Member Environmental on Sefton Council, has good news for local residents who missed their green garden waste wheelie bin collection last week. They will now have an additional collection just before Christmas.

Following the national strike on Wednesday, November 30, green wheelie bin collections were cancelled on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. This was done to enable grey bin collections, also missed on November 30, to be made on Thursday and Friday of that week.

Unfortunately this meant that some residents did not have their green bins emptied on their last scheduled collection before Christmas, and would not have them emptied until the green bin service resumes in mid January.

To help manage this, crews will now collect green wheelie bins on Wednesday, December 21, Thursday, December 22 and Friday, December 23, from properties who missed their green bin collection due to the disruption caused by the strike.

This means that only these properties will have both their grey and green wheelie-bins emptied on these particular days, if they place them out for collection.

Cllr Simon Shaw, said: "I am very pleased that it has been possible to arrange a final green wheelie bin collection before Christmas for those households who lost out because of the national strike."

"Crews did a good job in catching up on the grey bin collections in the aftermath of the strike. Unfortunately, this could only be done at the expense of those residents who were due a green collection on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week."
"I apologise for this inconvenience, and I know that many residents have contacted their councillors or our call centre about this problem. It has been especially awkward as that would have been their last green collection before mid-January."

"One thing I would particularly like to emphasise is that this extra green wheelie bin collection in the last week before Christmas is only for those areas which missed out because of the strike."

Cameron's Delta minus negotiating strategy harms UK

Cameron-having burnt his boats with the mainstream centre right parties in Europe-turned up to the Euro summit with no allies. In order to stop a Tobin/Robin Hood tax ( read the report from Stamp out poverty here)he has damaged Britain's long term interests.*

My Lib Dem MEP has issued the following statement:

David Cameron was this morning accused of relegating Britain to the second division of Europe.
Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies claimed that by wrecking agreement between EU countries in Brussels the Prime Minister had ensured that a two speed Europe would develop.
He said: “Far from keeping Britain strong, Cameron has ensured that we will lose our influence at the top table.
“By seeking to protect bankers from regulation, he has betrayed Britain’s real interests and done nothing in practice to help the City of London.
“The fear now must be that we will increasingly lose the opportunity to affect decisions being taken that are bound to affect us.
“The consequence of the xenophobic attitudes towards our European neighbours that have been allowed to develop has been to leave Britain weak.  We have shot ourselves in the foot.”

*Thanks to Lord B for the Tobin link
As an after though. I do wonder whether that most canny of politicians, Alex Salmond may -when the time is right- adopt membership of the high speed Europe as part of his Independence campaign..... 

Monday, 5 December 2011

A Christmas stocking filler

Now that the second advent candle has been lit I am prepare to talk about Christmas stocking fillers.

The one book that has caught my eye this year is Beyond the Corporation-Humanity Working by David Erdal

As Amazon reviewers say:

This is by far the best book to explain democratic employee ownership to business people and to the owners of family firms who might be consider a sale to the employees. David Erdal has "walked the walk" by arranging for the successful sale of his large family business to the employees so he speaks with a convincing authority on the matter. He masterfully spells out the arguments on economic, managerial, political, and social psychological grounds for democratic worker ownership. This combination of real world experience and interdisciplinary understanding of the issues makes this the book on democratic employee ownership.
--David Ellerman

or again

'BEYOND THE CORPORATION gives a breathtaking overview of employee ownership over the years and across the continents and provides a passionate argument of the case for employee ownership. It should be compulsory reading, not just for those of us on the inside, but for any student of economics, sociology, business or politics.'
--Carole Leslie, Policy Director, Employee Ownership Association
Beyond the Corporation: Humanity Working

one we prepared earlier-a Liberal economic idea

Want to spread wealth and power more fairly, tackle the obscenity of mega pay, improve productivity, get business to concentrate on the 'long-term' making it more resilient during a period of retrenchment?

Well the Liberal Party had this quaint idea. They identified the issue of ownership as matter that had to be reformed. Today we would say that the market collapse that led to the banking crisis was in significant part caused by a model of ownership that meant the Directors of a company had one over-riding duty-namely to increase share holder value. This led to some of the short sighted and risky transaction that may have been in the short term interest of the shareholders but were not in the long term interests of the UK economy.

The Liberal Part argued for decades that those who worked in enterprises have AT LEAST as much right as those who contributed the capital. The Liberal policy of co-ownership or out right Employee Ownership was a signature policy and apart from PR one of the few things that the British people knew about the party.Shareholders have shown repeatedly that they are interested only in a fast buck. The electronic dealing in shares have meant they are bought and sold in a twinkling of an eye.It is time to start arguing the Liberal case again.

If employees were properly represented on Boards of Directors you wouldn't need legislation to control top pay. Numerous examples across Europe and North America show that employee ownership effectively deals with this issue. Employee owned firms are not only happier places to work but also more productive.

This policy also gives hope of building a fairer Britain. Firms like John Lewis, Scott Bader and Baxi have all shown that this is a hard headed idea and as talk of class war raises its ugly head once more it is a policy that should become identified with our part

So why the picture of Asquith? Well Clegg must be the first Liberal leader since Squiffy not to make employee ownership a central element in the party's policy

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Birkdale bins and the strike

With many wheelie bins in Birkdale due to be collected tomorrow I have received the following press release from the council:

Due to national public sector strike action planned for Wednesday, November 30, 2011, waste collection services across Sefton will be affected.

 The weekly green box and food waste recycling collection services will continue to operate in all areas as normal on Wednesday, November 30 and for the rest of the week.

 All households that are due to have their grey or green wheelie bin emptied on Wednesday, November 30, will not receive a collection on that day.

 Residents scheduled for a grey wheelie bin collection on November 30 are being asked to place their bin out for collection by 6.30am the following day (Thursday, December 1) and leave it out until collected - this maybe on Friday, December 2. These details also apply to residents on the clear refuse sack collection.

 For residents who have a grey wheelie bin collection on Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2, these will operate as normal.

 Due to the strike action, no green wheelie bin collections for garden waste will take place between November 30 and December 2. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

 The wheelie bin collection service will operate as normal from Tuesday, December 6 onwards, and residents are asked to refer to their collection calendar for details.

 For more information about this service and to check the pattern of collections during the Christmas/New Year holiday period please visit or call 0845 140 0845.



Birkdale’s Lib Dem councillors have been working hard to try and minimise massive disruption expected in Birkdale Village from next week.

A £1 million scheme to rebuild the pedestrian subway under the railway line at Birkdale Station is due to start on Monday 5th December – just days before Christmas.

The project will mean that the present Liverpool Road entrance to the 90 space Birkdale station car park will be closed for 2 months to allow a site compound to be located next to the subway. 

Birkdale Lib Dem councillor Richard Hands has voiced his concern at the early December start date for the scheme in the heart of Birkdale Village.

“I am appalled that Network Rail have decided to start this project just before Christmas.  There was certainly no consultation with local councillors about this.  It is going to cause a lot of upset to residents and commuters.”

“What concerns me is that, after the town centre, Birkdale village is one of Southport’s premier shopping locations.  In these difficult times, it is vital that organisations like Network Rail don’t cause more disruption than they have to.”

In a letter to residents, Network Rail point out that “the entrance to the station car park will be closed for the duration of the works and access to the station car park will be locally diverted to the South entrance off Welbeck Road.”

Following representations from local residents Councillor Simon Shaw has been active in pressing the Council to introduce temporary double yellow lines in part of Welbeck Road.  Residents have been worried that commuters trying to access the temporary entrance to the station car park could cause gridlock.

“Richard and I recognise that residents in the area face a difficult two months or so.  That’s why I met with Network Rail and their contractors on site recently to discuss a number of concerns raised by people who live nearby,” said Cllr Shaw. 

“I asked the rail authorities whether there was any other option to the temporary closing of the present entrance to the car park.  However there really does seem to be no alternative.”

“There were also concerns about the safety of pedestrians using the footpath from Dover Road to the station who will now find cars entering or leaving the car park crossing their path.  Network Rail have agreed to erect safety barriers on the footpath.”

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lancs flag

At the raising of the Lancs flag to celebrate the victory of Lancs County Cricket Club at Southport Town Hall today

The photo shows Warren Hegg Lancs cricketer, The Mayor, IBB, Hadn Preece etc

Flying The Lancashire Flag at Southport Town Hall

A press release from Sefton MBC

This follows on from the motion I proposed last month at the Southport Area Committee which arose from a question from Geoff Carter. The flag at Southport was donated by Brian Birch of Birkdale

A special flag is flying at Southport Town Halls to celebrate Lancashire County Cricket Club winning the County Championship.

 It was the first time in 77 years since the county won the championship outright and the Lancashire Flag will be seen flapping above both civic buildings in recognition of the cricket club's achievements.

 The flags will be seen for a week commencing Monday, November 2 - this coincides with Lancashire Day which falls on Sunday, November 27.

 It was agreed at Full Council on October 27 to fly the flags following a motion submitted by Lib Dem Cllr Tony Robertson.

 The motion also congratulated Southport and Birkdale Cricket Club who hosted a championship match at their Trafalgar Road base which drew record crowds.

 To celebrate the occasion, former Lancashire County Cricket Club captain and wicketkeeper, Warren Hegg, joined the Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Paul Cummins, at Southport Town Hall to unfurl one of the flags.

 Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Paul Cummins, said: "A big congratulation must go to Lancashire County Cricket Club for their achievement on winning the County Championship last season.

 "To wait 77 years for the honour shows just how hard it is to win such a coveted title.

 "The fact one of their games was also held in the borough, which I attended, was a real coup and it gives me great pleasure to see the Lancashire flag flying at both Bootle and Southport Town Halls in recognition of their fantastic exploits at the crease."

 Warren Hegg from LCCC added: "We are delighted that the Lancashire flag will be flown at Bootle and Southport Town Halls in recognition of the team’s achievement.

 "We were well supported during our match at Southport last season and I know the lads were very grateful for the backing they received.”


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Liberal Party business model at 60+

The Liberal Party has promoted various forms of co-ownership for nigh on a century. The chief example used by Liberals in the time of Grimond/Thorpe /Steel was the Northamptonshire employee owned firm of Scott Bader.

It is sad the Liberals do nor speak with such conviction about the advantages of employee ownership and if it is mentioned at all it seems to be in relation to public service reform or a marginal measure of mutualism

The model developed by Scott Bader and other forms of employee ownership are more relevant today than ever before. In the aftermath of the collapse of neo-con economic dogma a different model of capitalism is required. Many of the issues that the crude market economics failed to address- excessive executive pay, poor productivity, the shortermism of Directors focused solely on shareholder value, the failure to build sustainable job, the maldistribution of wealth etc find answers in employee ownership

Vince Cable's search for a way to control excessive pay would end if employees owned the company. The most impressive entrepreneur support system has been developed amongst employee owned companies.They have created and expanded businesses with an eye on the long term.

Who can forget the Kraft takeover of Cadbury's.

Anyway Scott Bader is now over sixty and has produced a little video which is well worth watching:

A little light amongst the gloom

UNEMPLOYMENT in the North West has dropped by 2.3% in the three months to September, official figures have revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that a total of 293,000 people were unemployed in the region between July and September, 7,000 less than in the previous quarter.
The region’s unemployment rate was 8.5%.

Read More

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The men of Birkdale who gave their lives...

Tomorrow morning I will go to St John's Birkdale . On Remembrance Sunday young people read out the names on the War Memorial of men who died in two World Wars.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Will Southport be to shale gas what Aberdeen is to North Sea Oil

John Pugh has made a speech on fracking. This is a very important issue around here. John's speech can be found here. It concludes:

The ball is in the Government’s court. If they and the agencies that want to exploit shale gas can show to all and sundry that they will hold the various companies concerned to the fire, until they agree to what is appropriate, safe and satisfactory and what passes all reasonable scientific tests, there may be an answer in shale gas for British energy supplies.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

What about a bout of Co-operative Quantitative Easing?

I'm not one of those who react with tribal anger to COMPASS's Plan B for the economy. I was actually quite pleased that at least some sections around the Labour Party were seriously engaging in the issue of how to get growth going, I also have a sneaking suspicion that if we had not taken on the burden of sharing government with the Tories(chiefly because the Labour Party had lost the public's confidence and hence their votes) we would be floating plans not too distant from Compass Plan B but with some distinct differences.

Like many Liberals I have been impressed with the arguments that David Boyle and others have put forward for 'Green  Quantitative Easing'. :

  • Put it directly into the new institution, buying small business bonds.
  • Buy bonds in the new Green Investment Bank, so that the money goes directly into loans that build the green economy (green quantitative easing).
In addition part of fixing the banking mess is to create regional (mutual) banks. I have long envied the regional banking structure in Germany and as I have mentioned before part of what most impressed Jo Grimond on his visit to the Mondragon Workers' Co-ops was their hybrid mutual bank which was the engine behind what has been called 'the most successful entrepreneurial support programme ever seen anywhere' .(The bank mentored and funded well over 100 businesses virtually without failure, all of them employee owned, independent and democratic....)David Erdal in Beyond the Corporation 

I have long believed (and so had our party) that we need to transform the ownership of businesses. We have the most regressive form of company ownership in Western Europe. The Director's only responsibility is to share holders who take short term decisions for a quick buck. We need to change the basis of ownership not to the hydra headed multi stakeholder model beloved by some new Labour folk, but straight forwardly to acknowledge the role of workers in wealth creation by giving them at least the same rights as share-holders and promoting outright employee ownership as our preferred model. Was I was young it was simple, Labour believed in Sate Ownership, Tories believed in Capital ownership and we believed in Employee Ownership. In some measure the others tacked towards the position we appear to have abandoned!

In the quest to get the banks to lend we want that to happen to sustainable businesses which create jobs and products for the long term. We are not interested in fattening up companies to be sold off and dismantled where the most significant beneficiaries are the investment bankers and the senior managers. Local Banks like Mondragon's Caja Laboral Popular should be our model and if the next round of quantitative easing can fund such new institutions well that is surely better than pouring money into the existing banking structure.

David Boyle interviewed in the Ecologist magazine made a similar point -but without the essential ingredient, Employee Ownership.

 DB: We are not going to sort out banking in this country until we split them up into a smaller scales. I don't just mean splitting up the investment banks from the ordinary retail banks. I think they've got to create a new small banking sector. Some of that is going to come out of the existing banks.
We are incredibly impoverished in this country, in our banks, compared to all the nations we compete with - France, Germany the US - where there is a huge diversity of banking and local banking.
I think we need a Community Reinvestment Act like they have in the States, which has in effect capitalised the new community banking sector.
I spent the first two months of this year is a town in western Massachusetts where there are 11 banks. Sure, there are arguments about whether or not they are vulnerable. But the fact is, they are flexible, they've got local knowledge, they can understand their local market and can lend on things other than property bubbles, which is currently all that our banks are lending on.
The Liberal Plan C should be based on reforming the company. That is the case we have argued for nigh on a century. For it to work we need financial institutions that will fund it as the present banks are failing. If we want businesses that are here for the long term spreading wealth through co-ownership and creating jobs that last we already know some of the key measures that need to be taken

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Empty Homes -an issue for Southport.

Well over 2000 homes are empty in Southport. Some have been left vacant for years. Whilst out canvassing on Sunday resident drew our attention to two such homes and several others are known to me. This issue impacts in several ways:

  • neighbours get very upset when they are striving to keep the property in good order when there is a neglected house in the street
  • there is a health risk from neglected properties from vermin, decaying structures etc
  • worst of all someone else is deprived of a home -especially when we have such a severe shortage
  • new homes are being proposed in the Green Belt before empty ones are brought back into use
Councillors are looking at ways to deal with this problem and there is a meeting tonight which will address the issue Our MP, John Pugh, has also been taking this issue up in parliament:

 John Pugh MP (Southport, Liberal Democrat)

What are the Government doing about empty homes and, in particular, homes above shops as a way of easing pressure on the green belt?

Andrew Stunell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Hazel Grove, Liberal Democrat)

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. We now have some 700,000 empty homes, of which over 300,000 have been empty for more than six months, and it remains a key priority of this Government to bring them back into use so that some of the 1.7 million families on council house waiting lists and the many more who would like to purchase their homes can do so.

Personally I welcome the move by the Government to tax empty properties at the full level of Council Tax. We have far too many properties left vacant above shops that could be brought into use and others where absent owners are just waiting for the property price to rise.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Prima facie case is not enough to convict

Latin, On the first appearance.] A fact presumed to be true unless it is disproved.

In common parlance the term prima facie is used to describe the apparent nature of something upon initial observation. In legal practice the term generally is used to describe two things: the presentation of sufficient evidence by a civil claimant to support the legal claim (a prima facie case), or a piece of evidence itself (prima facie evidence)

The Labour leader made a rather bizarre speech on Thursday evening. Essentially he was arguing that because his brother (Chair of the Mersey transport Exec) had asserted that suddenly ditching a long standing policy of Merseytravel -without the benefit of any published officer advice was in his view sensible the rest of us should shut up and accept his decision. Tony Robertson rehearses some of issues here

The trouble is many folk think the decision is potty and will cost us money and pass up the chance of having a better local railway. As Jim Hancocks the doyen of NW political correspondents wrote in the Liverpool Post:

The decision by councillors to turn their backs on a bid by Merseytravel to own their rail network is truly shocking
Since 2006, the two men have worked together to gain control of the rail tracks to complement the authority’s responsibility for the train services. One-and-a-half million pounds has been spent on plans for “vertical integration.”

It’s a technical term meaning that Merseyside passengers would have one company running train and track.........

Cllr Dowd railed (no pun intended) at Network Rail’s refusal to let go.
“I just do not see why Network Rail cannot understand the logic of our argument,” he is quoted as saying as the campaign continued in 2008.
I understand that the decision to shelve the bid to run the track was taken without a full report being prepared for members of the Transport Authority. If true, it beggars belief. Why were councillors asked to reverse a policy which they had faithfully backed for years without a reasoned argument being put before them?
Now in Peter Dowd's speech this highly questionable act became a prima facie case for abandoning the policy. He said it 14 times as if using a latin tag some how invested this truly shocking action with a defence that no sensible person could dare question. Well there may or may not be a prima facie case-I cannot tell nobody has published the advice not even (I understand) to members of the authority. But even if there was a pria facie case we do not take thing at face value-they should be tested- scrutinised aad reviewed. Well not in Merseytravel.
Of course this has nothing at all to do with the rumoured enthusiasm of some Labour people on Merseyside to abolish Merseytravel and put it under a City Region or elected Mayor- any such suggestion would be outrageous

Read More

A few political predictions few will believe...........

The conventional political wisdom is that some ideas are dead and unlikely to to see the light of day for a generation. So just for the record and so I can claim mystical powers when my predictions come true:

British Membership of the Euro
Electoral Reform
Federalism within England/UK (and Europe for that matter


At the at Conference in September I suggested to Jon Ball -late of this Parish and now resident in Ealing- that the Euro would be back on the political agenda. He did not agree! Now is not the time to go into great detail  in support of my view but basically I have always thought that the Eurozone countries would always land up doing what ever it takes to sort the crisis and that post crisis economic growth would return to those countries. The single market and the high proportion of UK trade with zone will mean that we will inevitably be tagging on behind with no authority and no choice-much like the Irish Pound used to do with Sterling. I know it is unfashionable view decades of euro sceptic propoganda from Murdoch etc have poisoned the debate -but as Will Hutton notes in his Observer column this morning:

................ England will dissociate from the EU and try to build an economy as an offshore financial and tax-avoidance centre. Scotland, horrified by the options offered by England, will vote for independence and join the eurozone, leaving England as the country of Little Englanders.

But there is another future – holding Britain together as a federation, building a high innovation economy and aiming eventually to be in the same political club, with its currency, as the best in Europe. I know my preferred option and I suspect, if ever spelled out in these terms, it would be shared by most of Britons. But the chances of that are negligible. To get there, we may have first to drink deeply from the eurosceptic cup of failure.

Electoral Reform
The Labour Party will belatedly wake up to political reality. Boundary reform will lead to fewer MP's in Wales and the same in  Scotland and more of what is left from SNP.   (that's if they don't win the Independence Referendum) means that there will a permanent Tory majority  in Westminster. 

Regionalism UK federalism
The distaste for elected Big City Mayors clearly evident in this part of the world and echoed in Birmingham means that England is the most grossly over centralised nation in Europe. We need the benefits of devolution clearly evident in Scotland and Wales-and even London. Just because Pescott screwed up English regionalism by incompetence doesn't mean that the status quo is acceptable.  

FA Cup draw,,10431~2499595,00.html#continue
Barnet FC report their FA Cup draw against Southport. They don't sound too confident! I am also left wondering what Southport Chairman Charlie Clapham has done to leave such an impression on Barnet................

I was going to write up this story but Tony Robertson has done it for me!

At last Thursday’s Sefton Council I again tried to push Merseytravel to publish the background papers and and evidence they used when they made their highly surprising policy ‘U” turn earlier this year on vertical integration of our local Merseyrail network.
Whilst this can be perceived as a complex issue it is all rather straight forward. For years rail experts have been saying that splitting the operator and infrastructure parts of the railways up has led to greater costs and therefore higher ticket prices. They also say that we could run our railways better if the two were joined back up. Most folks who have looked at this, probably with the exception of die hard Conservative privatisers, have agreed that the two parts need joining back up. So a campaign started during the last Labour Government to push them into doing this. By the time the wheels of Whitehall had final got around to it the Government had changed but fortunately the Coalition Government was in agreement. A couple of pilot areas were agreed, one being Merseyside’s Merseyrail network, to see if it could be made to work, what the savings would be etc. All well and good, as Merseytravel had long wanted to be such a case study. However, Labour run Merseytravel then backed out, as I have posted before, for reasons they are far from keen to talk about.

Follow the link above for the full article

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A nice letter from lancashire CCC:

20 October 2011
Mr P Fraser
Senior Committee Administrator
Sefton Council
Governance & Civic Services
Corporate Commissioning Department
Town Hall
Lord Street

Dear Mr Fraser

Many thanks for your letter of 30 September congratulating the Club on winning
the County Championship after such a long wait!
It has indeed been a great achievement particularly when you consider the small
squad that the coaching staff had to manage with this year.
I have indeed passed on your best wishes of the Area Committee to the team and
everyone else connected with the Club and let us hope that this is the start of
many more to come!

Kindest regards

Yours sincerely

Jim Cumbes

Chief Executive/Secretary


This is the statement issued by Tony Robertson last this notion was flavour of the day.

A report was published last week co-authored by Tory heavyweight Lord Heseltine (former Deputy Prime Minister) and Sir Terry Leahy (former chief executive of Tesco).
Michael Heseltine was dubbed "Minister for Merseyside" in the 1980s, following his efforts in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots, and Liverpool-born Sir Terry Leahy was Chief Executive of Tesco from 1997 to 2011.
The independent report "Rebalancing Britain: Policy or Slogan? Liverpool City Region - Building on its Strengths" was commissioned by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
Liberal Democrats in Southport and Sefton have welcomed aspects of the Report but are strongly opposed to one of its key elements: an elected Mayor for Merseyside.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Tony Robertson who is Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "I and my fellow Lib Dem councillors am strongly opposed to the idea of an elected Mayor for Merseyside. I think it is bad news for Sefton and its diverse communities."
"The vast majority of our Borough, and I am thinking here of Southport, Formby and Maghull, has a boundary with Lancashire. So the idea of a "Metro Mayor" would only put yet another artificial barrier between our Borough and those neighbouring Lancashire areas with which we naturally sit."
Lib Dem Councillor Simon Shaw is Cabinet Member Environmental, and said: "There are certainly aspects of the report that I warmly welcome, for example its support for the Mersey Barrage project, for establishing a proposed Green Investment Bank in central Liverpool and relocating civil service jobs to the region."
"However the idea of an elected Mayor for what they term the 'Greater Liverpool' area is a complete non-starter for me. I know that Sir Terry has said that he thinks our area needs a 'Boris'. I'm much more worried it might be a Derek Hatton instead."
"I suppose if the people of Liverpool and Knowsley and Bootle want an elected Mayor, then that is up to them. Just leave us out of it."
Lib Dem Councillor Mike Booth, the Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure on Sefton Council, welcomed what the report had to say on opportunities for boosting tourism throughout the area.

Cllr Booth said: "For example the report highlights the issue of trying to resolve the issue of whether cruise liners are allowed to start and end their journeys at Liverpool. To have that would not only benefit Liverpool, but Sefton and Southport as well, with our wide range of attractions to tourists."

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Coalition does not fulfil the promise made in its agreement

I regret that there is more truth in this statement than we should be comfortable with:

Leaders of the mutuals sector have today said that the government must do more to promote mutual forms of business.
Speaking ahead of the 2011 Mutuals Forum, Peter Hunt, Mutuo Chief Executive said:
“The Coalition Agreement promised to ‘foster diversity and promote mutuals.’  So far, there is little evidence of a coherent Government plan to do this.  At the same time, the Mutual sector is the strongest it has been in many years. It employs over a million people and turns over more than £110 billion annually. It’s clear to us that the government needs to work much harder in this area if it is to honour its commitment.”
In the financial services sector, Government has already missed opportunities to move the sector forward by:
·       ending Child Trust Funds, more than 60% of which were successfully provided by mutuals
·       rejecting plans to re-mutualise Northern Rock, even before HM Treasury has received a report on the feasibility of this
·       Treasury failing to support mutual insurers as they argue that their capital structures should be treated different from plcs by Regulators
In the public services, the Cabinet Office has stated an ambition of 1 million public sector workers owning their own firms by 2015.  So far, it has achieved less than 5% of this number.  Unless it immediately makes plans to provide comprehensive support to public sector managers, it is already clear that this target will not be met.
Peter Hunt added:
“When confidence in other types of institutions has collapsed, mutuals have grown, strengthened and showed the way for responsible business in our country. Were the government to seize the opportunity to engage more fully with the sector we would be in a position to genuinely secure and grow more customer focused businesses and radically transform methods of public service delivery.”

Coalition does not have a credible plan to promote mutual business

Southport's amazing comeback

For those of us listening to the BBC Radio Newcastle commentary on the game between Gateshead and Southport on Tuesday night it seemed that the fairy tale of Southport's extended run of away victories was over by half time when they were two nil down. But no! The second half brought victory. Watch especially Shaun Whalley's second goal.

Gateshead v SFC highlights from leaguenetwork on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Shirley Williams gets health bill concession

We always follow with interest Baroness Williams of Crosby and today Political Home are reporting her doings:

Liberal Democrats may win a key concession on the controversial Health and Social Bill before the legislation is passed, PoliticsHome has learned.

Sources have indicated that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, including key rebel Baroness Williams, have struck a deal which would allow Lib Dem peers currently opposed to the legislation to secure changes to the role of the Health Secretary. They are currently concerned that the Bill will mean the Secretary of State is not responsible for ensuring that patients across the country receive the same services and standards of care.

PoliticsHome understands that the responsibility of the Health Secretary to ensure the provision of health services could be re-written so that it allays fears that he could "wash his hands" of the NHS.

Full story here

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

I support Southport,Lancs. Thanks

Sign our petition here

The Boundary Commission for England have issued draft proposals to make all Parliamentary constituencies roughly equal in size.  This requires Southport constituency to be expanded, which could be done in one of two ways.

One way would require adding on half of Formby, splitting Formby in two for the first time in its history.  Not surprisingly, the people of Formby seem generally to be unhappy with this idea.

The other idea would be to rejoin Southport with its historic Lancashire hinterland - the villages to the north and east of our town whose people mainly work and shop here and who have already been taken out of the West Lancashire constituency.  Southport newspapers circulate in this area and, not surprisingly, some residents of this area already initially contact the Southport MP, rather than the South Ribble MP.

Coupled with our SouthportLancs MP proposal is an idea to allow the whole of Formby to be re-united with the Ormskirk constituency in which it was placed for most of the past hundred years. Please note that having a shared MP would IN NO WAY affect the pattern of local government provision in the area.

Residents of Southport, Banks, Hesketh Bank, Tarleton etc, have until 5th December to make their views known. You can help us send a clear message to the Boundary Commission by signing our "SouthportLancs MP" petition either online or by downloading a printable copy.

The campaign to have a new Southport constituency including parts of Lancashire has been supported not only by the Liberal Democats and John Pugh MP, but also by the Southport Area Committee and the Southport Party. Parish Councils throughout the neighbouring areas are also being asked to consider supporting the proposals.
Link for online petition

John Pugh in Hillsborough debate

Newspapers today are listing the contributions from Merseyside MPs to the debate on Hillsborough. They have missed John's contribution. Maybe it is just prescience on their part and they already regard Southport as a Lancashire seat! Anyway here is what John had to say: 

John Pugh (Southport, Liberal Democrat)
I begin by congratulating, on behalf of, I think, all of us here today, Steve Rotheram. None of us can hope to match his eloquence, passion, persistence and, frankly, the raw emotion he has displayed today. I first knew him as a very effective mayor of Liverpool city council, and he has today proved to be a very effective champion of his area and of Merseyside as a whole. I want to thank him for associating me with his efforts in making the all-party applications; this has been an all-party endeavour. I also want to mention the hon. Gentleman’s predecessor, Peter Kilfoyle. Even though he was a lifelong Evertonian, he did a lot of work for this cause in the House.
I should declare an interest. I am a Liverpool FC supporter. My entire family came from Liverpool, and I grew up there, although I had the misfortune originally, as a child in a city that was oozing football success, to be taken every Saturday toKnotty Ash to watch our one and only rugby league team get beaten repeatedly week after week—thereby amply preparing me for life as a Liberal.
I think I understand the Liverpool character as well as most. A history that has often been quite brutal has endowed that character with two marked traits. The first is a profound emphasis on social solidarity. People have learned to depend on each other—on family and neighbourhood. That was beautifully summed up by Bill Shankly in the following quote, of which I have a copy in my office:
“the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day.”
The second major trait has also been forged by a hard history. It is a lack of reverence—a suspicion and questioning of authority and all the pomposity and cant that often underpins it. That is the reason why Liverpool produces so many comedians. It is a feeling that the world is not necessarily on our side—and, indeed, often it is not, especially for those who spend their time questioning authority, and the pomposity and the cant underpinning it.
Hillsborough was a terrible tragedy for Liverpool. At the time I was a councillor in Sefton, and we outside the immediate Liverpool area lost many people. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to show that things could be different, but what happened? As expected, there was a massive, deeply impressive show of solidarity, and it continues, confirming that this is the city where the way forward is not “walking alone” and where social solidarity is important. The people were, however, let down by the powers that be: the national media, including The Sun, about which much has been said today; those in the legal system, about which we have not said as much as we ought to have done; and the police—we have mentioned Duckenfield—who tried to shift blame. Some—but not all—of them perpetuated, relied on or were diverted by prejudices, not just about football supporters but specifically about Liverpool football supporters. That was the case both knowingly and, sometimes, unknowingly, and explicitly and implicitly. Unsurprisingly therefore, there has been no closure. The narrative not only of what happened but of how different people told—or tried to tell in order to fix—that narrative has never been fully before us.
I genuinely believe that we get better inquiries and inquests if the people running them are prepared to look at their limitations and flaws. We get better reporting if the media at least acknowledge their failings. We also get better policing if the police openly account for their wrongdoing and the error in their own ranks. Truthfulness at all levels is the path to improvement.

"I am aware from books written on this topic that certain people in the offices of The Sun questioned Kelvin MacKenzie about his decision on that day.
Liverpool people are not stupid; they know there are good and, sometimes, not so good men in all uniforms. They know that judges are likely to spend more time at Twickenham than on the football terraces so do not necessarily have adequate knowledge of the latter. They know that lawyers can be, and have been, both cynical and noble in addressing this issue. They know that football supporters also come in all shapes and sizes, and that everyone has their prejudices. The antidote to all that, however, is not reports and procedures; rather, it is a single-minded pursuit of the truth. The antidote is not a narrative that suits one or another group or institution, or even one that allows all interests to make peace.
Liverpudlian John Lennon’s song “Gimme some Truth” puts this point most simply. One verse—I am unsure whether it applies to any Member who is present—states:
“I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth”.
The full truth will not necessarily make everything right again. The horror that was Hillsborough will recede in time, even though for some it is, of course, relived every day. However, we owe it to them and the victims to ensure that what passes into history is not a myth or a convenient narrative, but is, so far as is humanly possible, the true and full account of the events."