Wednesday, 27 April 2011

About time there was a bigger Lib Dem input ........

Employee ownership has always been a cornerstone of Liberal policy and in every manifesto from Asquith to Ashdown. Our leaders seldom talk of it now other than to advocate a meagre bit mutualism on the margins. This is a far cry from the policy which the party championed for most of the last century.

Jo Grimond was enthused by the example of the Spanish worker owned businesses in Mondragon to which Robert Oakshott introduced him. These examples of worker owned industries and mutual banks are in a long line of models of ownership which Liberals have highlighted. The great Liberal Yellow Book of 1928 has a whole chapter on the Diffusion of Ownership with examples from the UK and America.. Successful British Companies like Baxi , Scott Bader and John Lewis are owned by their employees.

The spectacular collapse of the economy from which we are slowly recovering was in part brought on by the failure of the model of governance and ownership which dominates in Britain today. The only obligation of Directors is to shareholders who want to see the value of the shares increase. This leads to short term policy making with no regard for the other legitmate stakeholder-the employees. Liberals have always argued (until Clegg took over) that this is a bad model of ownership and governance. The interests of capital should not be dominant. Our plan was always to use state power to ensure that as a minimum companies with over 50 employees should have  co-owneship -industrial democracy and profit sharing. Jo Grimond and Robert Oakshott helped found what is today known as the Employee Ownership Association. Over on the Equality Trust website Robert Oakshott writes:

"In an employee owned business, the majority of the shares are held by individual employees, or held on their behalf by a trust, or a mixture of both. Ideally there will be safeguards in place to prevent shares being sold to private shareholders. When this is combined with participative management, where employees have a significant input into decision making, there are both substantial economic benefits for the business1 and growing evidence of health and social benefits for individual employees.2

Democratic employee ownership and control also has many advantages as a way of creating a more egalitarian society. It puts earning differentials under democratic control, redistributes wealth quite substantially, prevents external shareholders taking unearned income, improves productivity, develops a sense of community and begins to free people from the divisions wrought by hierarchy and status competition. Furthermore, because employee ownership can and does exist side-by-side with conventional business, it makes successful transformation achievable, with the new society developing within the old."

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Market disaster

Almost all Southport Councillors are opposed to the plans for Southport market. Why? Well most of us feel that the business plan is not robust. We have said time and again the level of rents that will be needed to be charged will force out the people we want to see in the market. There will be no viable place for start ups or those wanting to sell local produce. Locally folk have begun describing it as 'Harrods style food hall'

The Visiter carries a story this week that confirms our often expressed fears:

TRADERS at Southport Indoor Market say they are being forced out of the rebuilt £3m shopping hall through “excessive” rent hikes.
Butcher Roger Hughes, whose self-named stall has been a fixture in the historic King Street hall for 24 years, is set to quit after being faced with increases of more than 300%.
Independent consultants Quarterbridge, who are overseeing the management of the new market, told stunned Roger that his yearly £6,000 rent will rise to £20,000.
The butcher says he will leave within the next four months and work part-time for another firm.

Of the 21 Councillors in Southport 19 have expressed their opposition. Only 2 favour this grandiose extravagance. The Official Conservatives have got together to vote through an multi million pound development in Bootle and the Market. As one Labour Councillor said that was 'the deal'. The majority of those elected as Conservatives oppose it. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Can M&S read?

Sussex Golden Ale is a decent bottle conditioned brew from M&S. It says clearly on the label ' serve cool not cold'. So what do M&S do- stick it in the fridge with the continental lagers
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Monday, 11 April 2011

Norman Lamb-the big question not why he would resign, but why he wasn't a Health Minister in the first place?

Norman Lamb is clearly Secretary of State material, he shadowed the Health portfolio in the last parliament and yet when it came to handing out the Health jobs he didn't get one. Why?

Had he been there might we have avoided this mess?  Did his expertise and knowledge of the Lansley thinking exclude him?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Local MEP Chris Davies has written an excellent piece on the economic situation we find ourselves in:

As a taxi driver said to me recently: “If someone’s sick in the back of my cab I don’t blame the person who has to get out the mop and bucket.”

Most people know that the country is in a very bad situation. But I don’t think many of them realise just how bad things are, or how much worse they could get if the Government gets the strategy

The whole article is woth reading and that to the Disgruntled Radical for  drawing my attention to it..

Age Concern UDI

yesterday saw me at the Vincent Hotel on Lord St to witness rge declaration of UDI by Age Concern in Sefton.

In brief the background is that Help the Aged and Age Concern England have merged. These leaves all the seperately registered charities that are the local Age Concern groups with the choice of joining up to the new merged meg organisation -Age UK-or paddling their own canoe.

The local Age Concern-Liverpool and Sefton- has chosen the route of independence. The whole Age Concern movement began in this neck of the woods growing out of an initiative from the Merseyside based charity PSS where the Old people's Welfare Committee was established under the chair of Eleanor Rathbone. This grew into the National Old People's Welfare Committee and finally into Age Concern.

The packed meeting in Southport backed the move and a very professional launch convinced even the sceptics that this was the right move

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Cameron wants to take the credit for blocking NHS 'reforms'?

It is all still to play for in the tug of war over the NHS Bill. Last night Radio4 six o'clock News led with Lansley's friends asserting that things had gone too far to turn back whilst reporting Cameron is keeping his options open.

From the Tory point of view part of the de-toxification process was to hug the NHS close. The Spectator Coffee House Blog has a bit today which clearly suggests- on the back of an article by Andrew Grice-that the Tories are alive to the public perception that we are the good guys in the coalition:

Everyone except for Andrew Lansley seems to appreciate that his reforms are politically unworkable, and there is talk of substantial amendments and intense House of Lords scrutiny. But a u-turn carries danger for Cameron, who has staked a packet of political capital on the NHS as part of his ‘detoxification process’. Giving Clegg the credit for blocking the ‘privitisation of the NHS’ is unconscionable. One Cameron ally tells Grice that the “we can’t let the Lib Dems be the coalition’s conscience”.

Traffic worries over St Tomas Moore site

Councillor Haydn Preece has been consulting residents on Liverpool Road and Heathfield Road, Ainsdale about the proposed new Bellway housing estate. He has been dealing with road safety issues primarily on Liverpool Road and the concerns of Heathfield Road residents about a couple of plots being very close to existing buildings.
What has also come to light is the mystery behind the imposing white statue, inset into the exterior of the St Thomas More front building. Residents have requested Councillor Preece to consult with the planners to preserve the statue on site.  Councillor Preece is very hopeful this can be achieved along with a number of established trees, some of whom are over seventy years old.
A number of residents have talked about documentation that stated the magnificent statute should always remain on the site but at present no one can find any existing papers. Councillor Preece would like to hear from anyone who can shed light on the statue, it's origins, the name of the sculpture, and any historical documentation that may strengthen the argument to retain the statue on the site. He can be contacted on 07768000818 

Friday, 1 April 2011

care not custody

It is with growing respect that I have been following the WI's Care not Custody Campaign

As they say:

More than two-thirds of all prison inmates have two or more mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Many have a history of attempted suicide and self-harm, while significant numbers have severe and ongoing problems such as schizophrenia or personality disorders.