Thursday, 29 September 2011

Speed signs for Southport Coastal Rd

John Pugh MP and Lynn Thompson have led concerns locally about the safety on the Coastal Rd. A number of accidents have happened. At last night's Area Committee.

Cllr David Pearson (Independent Conservative) was very supportive of the move and money was found from Ainsdale and Dukes Ward along with a contribution from the central Southport pot to implement the plan which appears in the papers as:

Locations for the four signs have been identified, and it is suggested that two pairs of signs should be located at a position approximately mid-point between Pinfold Lane and Shore Road and approximately mid-point between Weld Road and Shore Road

The full papers can be found here 

The signs that will be installed are solar powered and will be activated by on-coming traffic
Picture from the Southport Visiter

20 mile an hour speed limit in Birkdale

Southport Area Committee met last night and among the items of interest was the proposal for 20 mile an hour speed limits. The papers can be found here

In Item 13 you will find the plans for such a limit to be introduced in part of Birkdale. This is part of a wider campaign that Birkdale Lib Dems have been waging to improve safety around schools in the area.
The exact proposal -including a mention for Lib Dem transport Minister Norman Baker reads:

The first is the area bounded by, but not including Liverpool Road, Halsall Road 
and Guildford Road, up to Shaw’s Road. A plan of the area is shown as Annex B. 

This would require 8 double sided (20mph/30mph) signs on all of the entry/exit 
points, and 26 small, 20 mph repeater signs within the area. The cost of 
progressing a 20 mph speed limit within the area shown in Annex B would amount 
to £2460 for signs, and £800 to advertise and process the legal Traffic Regulation 
Order. On top of that would be costs incurred in carrying out the consultation 
exercise with all residents in the area, in terms of consultation documents and 
postal charges, as well as resource implications on Traffic Services staff. 
Consulting with the 750 properties in the area would need to be out-sourced to a 
distribution company, which is anticipated to add another £2000 to the cost, giving 
an overall total of approximately £5000 - £5500.  

Members may be aware that the Regional and Local Transport Minister, Norman 
Baker, has recently issued a press release, advising Local Authorities that 20 mph 
speed limits can be introduced very cheaply by the use of 20 mph carriageway roundels instead of repeater signs, however two roundels cost £212 to install, and 
then would require repainting on a regular basis. Two back to back repeater signs 
mounted on an existing lamp post costs £60 and require much less maintenance.

My colleague Richard Hands has been pushing this proposal and it was agreed last night. A map is included in the papers at Annex A

Southport Town Hall to fly the Lancashire flag

Southport Area Committee met last night-more of which later. One of the 20 odd questions from the public was put in by Geoff Carter. He asked whether the Lancashire flag could be flown from the Southport Town Hall to celebrate the victory of Lancashire County Cricket Club in the LV County Championship. This is the first time that Lancashire have won outright since 1934 

As Geoff pointed out all the Lancashire home games were played on the Lancs coast at Blackpool, Liverpool and Southport. The Southport match -held at S&B- was the best attended.

Dave Rimmer went on to describe just how good a cricketing year in these parts. S&B got promoted, Ainsdale in their centenary year topped their League and Fleetwood Hesketh topped theirs.

We were then read out a list of pettifogging rules about which flags could fly. It was unanimously agreed that we should ignore them and fly the flag ! Many thanks the Brian Birch who offered to pay for the flag,.

Dave Rimmer (Lib Dem) proposed the motion and Iain Brodie-Browne (Lib Dem) seconded it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Economic Liberals get massacred

A further word of caution for those deluded folk who want to creat a centre right, pro busisness, pro free market party like the FDP. The latest opinion poll illustrates the fate of such enterprises:

Latest Germany poll: CDU 31%, SPD 29%, Die GrĂ¼nen 19%, Die Linke 7%, Piraten 7%, FDP 2% (Forsa). The Pirates massacre FDP and damage Linke.

It was said for years that the FDP was locked into a 2.5 party system by the electoral system used in Germany. Well funnily enough that has not stopped the rise of the Greens who occupy territory which in the UK is Liberal (as the last set of UK Polling shows the Lib Dems are by a country mile the most trusted party on Green issues of the main players). And so cut off from expension in a more Radical direction by the Greens the FDP are heading for extinction in the National Assembly. Time to work it out again

Monday, 26 September 2011

Southport Beer Festival

Once again congratulations to Southport Camra for organising an excellent festival this year. Once again it was held in the Scarisbrick Hotel on Lord Street whilst we await the completion of the renovation to the old Arts Centre-previously known as the Cambridge Halls.
On Friday night we were royally entertained by Gallimufry this year they had an additional fiddler and drum

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Kennedy in the Golden dozen

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice I was more than a little gobsmacked-that's is if you can have degrees of gobsmackedness-to have featured in the Top of the Blogs Golden Dozen merely for posting Charles Kennedy's review of Nick Clegg's year. Whisper if gently but he does have sort of a point -namely that the cock-ups and miscalculations have come from the higher reaches of the party. Maybe listening a tad less dismissively  to the party faithfully would be a good plan B. Most of the big policy screw-ups, the Health Bill, Student fees and the inflexibility over Plan A -have been sanctioned by those who have sought to take the party off in a direction 'against the grain' of membership. That tiny minority who want a European style pro market, pro business centre party  do not understand that the political structures in Britain ( that is without PR) cannot support their ambitions. For most of us we still march to the same drum beat that we have for decades-to realign the left.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Southport Lib Dems at Conference

The Lib Dem delegation from Southport at this years Conference tried to arrange a photo call sadly one or two were missing. Nevertheless a group of us did assemble as arranged at the foot of the escalator just before the leader's speech as instructed by Cllr Shaw.

'I know Evan has dim views on the Deity, but he actually does a passable imitation of an omnipresent being.'

Forget the slap stick knock about of some of our leaders-and let us draw a veil over Ms Teather's  embarrassing efforts- we in this neck of the woods were taken with the gentle humour of Southport MP John Pugh in the health discussion at conference on Wednesday.

Nobody reviewing the struggle to improve the Health Bill could have ignored the contribution of Evan Harris and John paid tribute to Evan's high energy efforts before going on to remark:

'I know Evan has dim views on the Deity, but he actually does a passable imitation of an omnipresent being.'

To put the quip in context here is the rest of John's contribution. I should start with a disclaimer in so much as this make not be the precise wording John used in delivering his contribution but it is pretty close.

Delegates as the strange cumbersome , heath robinson affair that is the Health and Social Care Bill lumbers its way into the House of Lords we perhaps should look back and give credit where it is due

To those activists like Charles West who rang the alarm bells

To Nick and his team for their intervention

To Shirley

To Paul Burstow for his almost saintly calm and patience under fire - much of it what the Americans ominously call-friendly power

And to Evan for his powers of mobilising opinion.  Briefing media, circulating to delegates, helping 38 degrees set questions,crafting amendments, lobbying the party committees.

I know Evan has dim views on the Deity, but he actually does a passable imitation of an omnipresent being.

And finally Andrew Lansley

And why?

Because he awoken the country to the ultimate absurdity of a 20 year experiment with the NHS

He has endeavoured to take the Blairite model for the NHS to its logical conclusion

You take all the public service component- parts hospitals, clinics etc -turn them into free standing economic units - barely distinguishable in motivation and character from private firms

You oblige them to compete under regulation for business

And you stump up 100Bn in cash allow someone first GPs and quangos and then patients- sorry the consumers- to buy the healthcare they need OR want.

The state changes from a provider to shopper - sorry 'a commissioner'

And you have a market.

You will have all sorts of things in a market sharp elbows,innovation,the unpredictable rise and fall of enterprises.

What cannot be guaranteed in a market is equity, people getting what they are entitled to, the wisest and most efficient use of public resources, service above profit, properly integrated health services

And so we ban price competition, we struggle  to prevent cherry picking , we create a multi million pound organisation (MONITOR)  to control the market and keep changing its remit,
We massively increase transaction costs and bureaucracy by having one half of the NHS bill the other half and haggle over tariffs.

It is both comical and sad to see the NHS deny itself huge saving on procurement, bureaucracy, estate and running costs because all its branches have to behave like separate businesses- to compete

It is comical and sad to see integrated pathways of care and collaboration, the sharing of experience, know how snarled up by competition regulation

It is absurd and unhelpful to set the NHS and private providers at loggerheads by making the private sector no longer a partner but a rival.

We are like the motorist who has taken a wrong turn on the motorway and are doomed to travel on for a while forlornly waiting for the next direction sign.

We have ended up with a bill which aspired to finally separate commissioning from providing by  making the NHS biggest provider the GPs do the purchasing with all that conflicts of interest involved

We have a bill that aspires to pass power down,  but centralises more commissioning in the hands of an unaccountable commissioning quango

But perhaps we have learnt that the answer to getting good ,efficient public services is not a matter of constructing bizarre, wasteful state managed markets that have none of the virtues of real markets  and most of their vices- but the Liberal solution..

Genuine,Working ,Two Way,Accountability-Local and national- bridging the yawning gap between those who provide and serve and fund  and those who recieve and  benefit.

A system driven by ethics not by the bottom line.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Charles Kennedy

Liverpool Road St Thomas More Bellway

As Ainsdale Ward councillor I have to question the whole Bellway consultation process concerning the St Thomas More site. I was the only Ainsdale councillor to attend all the available meetings and site visits. It was very apparent residents were tolerant of the 96 dwellings Bellway proposed but we had repeatedly a vociferous reaction about the proposed entrance/exit onto Liverpool Road. However, despite requests from residents to review the plans and put in a two entry/exit site, the original plans remained.

 Consultation in my view was a sop on this site as the original plans were not adjusted. So I question the whole consultation process as it exists. I was horrified to be informed that Bellway had conducted a traffic survey which reached the legal statutory requirement but was very short, bafflingly conducted over just one day.

Residents repeatedly flagged up the dangers of the bend and the fact that 96 new houses would result in potentially 140 plus domestic and service vehicles trying to get onto Liverpool Road at peak hours, especially in the morning on the school routes. Therefore at the original planning meeting a provision was put in to install traffic lights that would only be triggered by vehicles exiting the new residential site. This will slow down traffic, enabling residents on Liverpool Road to get out of their drives as they do now when the lights are on green and with courteous drivers more safely than at present when the lights are on red. It will also prevent the prospect of cars being side swiped after being forced to gamble getting out of a junction which has a bend on it and, even with a traffic camera, tends to have vehicles driving at 30mph plus. If we have prevented one serious accident in the future then we have contributed to better road safety in Southport and certainly a safer entry/exit for existing and new residents in the Liverpool Road vicinity.  


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Central Ave

F.A.O Iain Brodie Browne – Street Lighting - Central Avenue, Birkdale


Thank you for your recent email regarding the street light in the passageway that runs from Central Avenue to Liverpool Road, Birkdale. I wish to inform you that this street light has now been repaired and is working correctly.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lib Dem Golden Dozen

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice Birkdale Blog is once again in the Lib Dem 'Golden Dozen' this time for the with a report of Chris Davis's speech in the European Parliament about Mark Dowd and Merseystravel.

I must admit that the high ranking of this post is all down to art of sub editing. Many other bloggers carried broadly the same report but with boring headlines!

Why should lobbyist speak unto other lobbyists in our time

We provincial folk have always shown less deference towards the metropolitan persons who rush around being important. and grand Now this is a sweeping generalisation and regrettably some people who want nothing more than is sit in presence of someone they believe is important.

The ones that have been annoying me this week are the lobbyists who turn up to fringe meeting and dominate the question time to the exclusion of party members- who often have knowledge and perspectives we consequently miss out on. We listen whilst one vested interest  debates with another vested interest. Personally I would welcome it if chairs announced that members would have first bite at speaking in Q&A sessions.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Total Politics Top lib Dem Blogs

I'm a big late with this but Total Politics top 100 Lib Dem Blogs was announced last week and Birkdale Focus was in at No 16 up from 23 last year

Congrats to everyone on the list in particular to the blogs we feature Liberal England up to No 3, Jonathan Fryer up to 29, The Disgruntled Radical (unplaced last year) in at 45 and 56 Meols Lib Dems

Big Social Liberal advance in Danish election

Congratulations to our friends in Radical Venstre who have made big gains in the Danish General Election. To read the British press you would conclude that the success of the Left Alliance was down to Kinnock's daughter in law Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the Labour Party's partners in Denmark. The truth is somewhat different. The full result is here and you can see that the Helle Thorning-Schmidt's part actually lost ground and that one of the big gainers were Radical Venstre

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ainsdale flooding

Ainsdale councillor Haydn Preece has hit out after Ainsdale's Station Road was flooded on Friday night and Saturday morning. " This has been a persistent problem and last weekend was the worst Ainsdale residents, shopkeepers and shoppers have had to endure. Moreover the flooded areas created a road hazard as cars veered to the centre of the road to avoid mini lakes over eight inches high. This is not a one off, it is happening all too often and I have requested our highways and technical services to take a serious look at this unsatisfactory and dangerous situation. Shoppers parking at the Liverpool Road end of Station Road had nowhere to park. We want people coming into Ainsdale village to shop at our excellent range of local businesses, this repeated flooding has to be addressed urgently."

ED: Guildford Rd Birkdale is also experiencing problems and Richard Hands is talking with residents as I type

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Sefton Tory Wars-Councillors publishes diary

I must admit to finding former senior policewomen Gill Cuthbertson a decent, intelligent and constructive councillor. I do not always agree with her but I can always follow the logic of her statements and respect the sincerity of her actions.

She is one of a long, long list of elected Tories who has been purged/fallen out with the Tory leadership in the borough. The smaller the group has become the more fractious and divided its members.

In this week's Formby Times it is revealed that Formby Councillor Gill Cuthbertson kept a log of her dealings with the leadership:

On February 14 Cllr Cuthbertson was asked to sign a letter pledging her loyalty to the party.
Two days later she was called to a meeting with the leadership, but before it was held she attended a council committee where two Liberal Democrat members sat either side of her.
Cllr Cuthbertson said when she held the meeting with Cllr Parry on February 21 they told her she was too friendly with the Lib Dems.
Cllr Cuthbertson told the Formby Times: “It makes me laugh. What is the national government?”

In the next section of the report Cllr Cuthbertson refers to Catie Page the successful Labour candidate in Formby and Annee Ibbs who was the Tory whip on the Council who was purged before the last election causing the Tories to loose yet another seat.  The Paula referred too is the hapless Mrs Parry the most unsuccessful Tory leader. The report continues:

On April 11 all Conservative councillors were summoned to Bootle Town Hall and asked to vote in a secret ballot on the three Southport Councillors who had been suspended.
Of the nine members seven voted against them and two, including Cllr Cuthbertson for.
On May 16 the group had its first caucus meeting since the local elections of May 5 and were asked to vote again on the three Southport Councillors. Only Cllr Cuthbertson supported them.
On May 24 Cllr Cuthbertson was called in by the party leadership under the “guise” of an annual appraisal.
She said: “Paula started off by saying, ‘I believe you spoke to Catie Page for several minutes at the count and you wished her good luck.’
Catie Page was the Labour candidate who won a seat on Formby’s Ravenmeols ward.
Cllr Cuthbertson said she took a pen and paper out and started making notes.
She told the Formby Times: “Cllr Parry said, ‘You don’t seem happy with the group.’ I said, ‘I don’t like what happened to Anne Ibbs.’
“Paula said, ‘There seems to be occasions when you are not happy such as when you voted against us’ (over the Southport councillors).
“I said, ‘Nobody has ever told me what the Southport councillors have done.”
Cllr Parry told the Formby Times the meeting had only lasted ten minutes because of Cllr Cuthbertson’s attitude.
The Southport Councillors referenced are the three expelled Tories. They had the whip withdrawn but won their appeal to the national party. They are in the strange position of being members of the party nationally but not taking the whip on the councilWhat is most interesting is lack of natural justice in the operation of the Conservative Group. Ms Cuthbertson asserts ( and I have every reason to accept her integrity) that she did not know what the 'Southport three' had done wrong and yet she was required to vote on their exclusion.
You may conclude that this was a straight forward loyalty test . Don't get me wrong seeing the Tories tear themselves apart in such spectacular fashion does not upset me, but I genuinely think that all part struggle to recruit volunteers to stand in elections and this sort of shenanigans does no one any credit.

Gill is pictured here during her time as Sefton's Mayoress

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Clegg's growth speech at the LSE and the case for investment in Sefton!

 Let me be clear although I do not think that Clegg' speech this morning is the last word on how to get the economy to grow it does contain some very important passages on infrastructure investment not only in road and rail but in IT and the 'green' industries. I also wholeheartedly welcome his dishing of the 'euro sceptic' nonsense which would significantly damage our prospects in the near and long term.
His clear and unequivocal support for the Switch Island project in Sefton explaining the direct economic investment makes you wonder how Labour could have spun out 13yrs without making a decision! Anyway here is the passage:
...........................You have to be ruthless, focusing on the investments that transform growth potential: transport, energy, digital communications. Roads and rail so manufacturers can transfer goods. Better broadband so small, high-tech companies can flourish. Renewable energy so low-carbon industry can too.
If you modernise this kind of infrastructure you stimulate activity in the shorter term and you build systems high growth industries can use for years to come. Transport schemes announced in the Spending Review, for example, will deliver major boosts to growth. Like the Switch Island link road in Merseyside, where £20m of Government investment will generate 35 times that in economic benefits...............

Carter Piece Birkdale

I was posting about the problems that residents in Hartey Rd/Blundell Drive were having around the bit of land they called Hartley Green,. I knew that it had another name and asked readers to let me know Michael Braham has responded:

The land was, I believe, bequeathed by  Alderman Paul Carter to be used as an open space and was referred to as Carter Piece . I have a cutting from the Southport Visiter circa 1961 which relates to some case work which Edgar Bradley did about the area. Incidentally Paul Carter was the proprietor of Whiteleys Laundry which used to call round to houses to collect the laundry in the pre launderette days and I have vivid memories of their horse drawn van delivering the laundry to our house in the late 1950s.

Edgar was a Liberal Councillor for Birkdale South. He was popularly known as 'Fireworks' Bradley as his company dealt in Fireworks. I seem to recall that his factory burnt down. I met him and his wife in the early 1980's when he gave great support to my General Election campaign. I think his most successful product was as the first import of 'party poppers' from China.

As to Whiteleys laundry-I'm guessing and await correction- that was on the land now occupied by Dickenson Court

View Larger Map

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lib Dems Welcome Labour Proposals to reduce Committees on Meresytravel

Whoopie!!! It is hard to believe but finally, finally...........

Cllr John Dodd, the Sefton Liberal Democrat representative on Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (Merseytravel), welcomes Labour's proposals to reduce the committee structure at Merseytravel from the current 34 (including sub committees) down to 8.

Cllr Dodd went on to say "this is something the Lib Dems have been requesting for a long time. I am glad they (Labour)have taken on board what the Lib Dems have being saying. This new committee structure brings Merseytravel in to line with other local authorities and will better serve the public of Southport and Sefton as a whole".


FOAL-Friends of Ainsdale Library are holding a Love Your Library Day this Saturday between 10am and 1pm. FOAL was formed by local Ainsdale residents aiming to promote and support the wide ranging work
of Ainsdale Library.

The aim of the day is to raise awareness of all the activities our local libraries offer-especially at Ainsdale. The day also demonstrates that the Big Society is alive in Ainsdale with local residents rallying to form FOAL and ensure Ainsdale Libraries membership and footfall are high with national government cuts a long term threat to the possible future of the library service. Ainsdale Ward Councillor Haydn Preece said "FOAL is an excellent example of a local group rallying to preserve and enhance an excellent local service that from our recent research shows many do not know is available. Everyone is welcome to meet our tremendous Ainsdale Librarians and FOAL members."

The Love Your Library Day is for all-with a children's quiz, games, a cake stall, chess, puzzles plus a display illustrating the services on offer including dvd availability, reading groups, free internet access, games nights and computer courses. "USE IT OR LOSE IT" is the rallying call from the FOAL membership.

For further information contact Barry Williams on 01704 578415 or email Also visit the FOAL blog

Kemp asks Pickles -things must be bad

Richard Kemp has written to his old pal Eric Pickles asking him to turn his attention to Mark Dowd and the one party state that is Merseytravel. The Daily Post has the story:

You may find it surprising that I am writing to you asking you to intervene in the running of a quasi-local authority,” Cllr Kemp wrote to Mr Pickles.
“However, I have always believed that the Secretary of State needs to be the final back stop in case of problem authorities.
“I believe that The Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority is one such authority.”
Cllr Dowd used the credit card to fund his attendance at Labour Party conferences, theatre tickets and tickets to the famous Alcatraz prison while on a trip to the USA

Read More

More to follow -more revelations expected shortly

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Mad, bad and dangerous for Southport

In light of recent comments I thought I would republish two postings from last year on the idea of a Merseyside Mayor. My colleague on leader of the Lib Dems on Sefton Council issued a statement at the time which I will repost shortly

The Daily Post has carries a story about suggestion that there should be an elected Mayor for Merseyside- a sort of Scouse Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson. The journalist whose by line appears with the story is David Bartlett who has proved himself to be a serious political writer and therefore the piece cannot be dismissed as merely a 'silly season story' despite the rather flimsy evidence quoted.

Let us be clear the suggestion that Liverpool should have a Mayor is nothing to do with me. It is properly a matter for the electors of the City. For what it is worth I think my colleague Richard Kemp has got it about right in this article in which he argues that the idea is just 'plain wrong'..

Where I do have an interest is if the silly notion floated by Lord Andrew Adonis that there should be a Liverpool Regional Mayor is taken seriously.

I am not comfortable with vesting so much power in one persons hands-mentioning no names but we have ample evidence that Lord Acton's assertion that ' All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Acton was writing in the time of Gladstone. We do not have people of the same moral stature seeking to head up Merseyside institution today

My second objection is that it is thoroughly bad for Southport-and I fancy for large chunks of the Wirral, St Helens, Newton le Willows.... For a generation or two-well since the early 1970's -we have been dragooned into a government structure which has militated against our best interests. 

A glance at the map clearly shows why this is not in Southport's best interests. 90% of our land boundary is NOT with Merseyside. Ever since the last (disastrous) local government reorganisation back in the early 70's we have been cut off from most of our natural hinterland. The communications through the narrow corridor to the south -both road and rail-have been maintained and upgraded, but to the north and east they are simply not fit for purpose. The towns and villages that surround us are in a different county and even though people in Ormskirk, Tarleton, Banks, Burcough and the like use Southport for commercial and public services there has been significant underinvestment in the infrastructure. We are like a person unable to use an arm and a leg. Because of this bureaucratic boundary our economic development  has been lopsided. Our famous shops, restaurants, seaside facilities and our commercial and professional enterprises are not easily accessed by the large population on our doorstep. It is not that those folk don't want visit us, it is just made very difficult for them because of the paucity of the road and rail system. A significant part of our health services are situated in Lancashire. The City of Preston is as close geographically to many Sandgrounders as Liverpool.  The last thing we need is to entrench this disadvantage by having a City Region run from Liverpool .

The last time the Boundary Commission looked at this matters something around 20 000 people from the town contacted them urging them to return the town to self government. Since that time Unitary authorities have been set up whose population are very similar in size to Southport. Imagine the situation if Liverpool voted for a Regional Mayor but 70%-80% of Southport voted against. 

Let's hope that nobody take Adonis seriously. It would be unacceptable if our views were ignored. Before devolution Scotland was ruled from London irrespective of the wishes of their electorate. We do not want to be in that position. If Adonis wants to visit I'd happily show him round. Let us be clear there are some 'little Southporters' who are fuelled by nostalgia and a mis-remembered past. I have absolutely no objection to the people of Liverpool but I recognise that the economic sustainability and prosperity of our town is best served by reconnecting it with its natural economic hinterland not by straight jacketing  us into arrangements which undermines that process. Just take a train out east from Southport-well don't if you are in  hurry. Try to drive the few miles to Ormskirk. We need an arrangement that fosters these economic ties. A generation ago they were frequent visitors to our town. That is less true year by year and they have not been replaced by visitors from Bidston 

A cold shiver will run down Sandgrounder's backs when the hear Bootle Labour Leader Cllr Peter Dowd say he was not opposed to the principle of a mayor for Merseyside or the wider Liverpool region, but that it had to come with additional powers and responsibilities. He said: “This has to be about decentralisation of power, responsibility and funds and unless it is done properly it is a waste of time.”

Friday, 9 September 2011

Southport Flower Show and St Deniol's

I've been a bit slow in getting my Southport Flower Show photos uploaded this year (-not least because I have used up all my storage allocation on Picasso) I shall get that sorted . |In the meantime here are a few to be going on with.

I have also done a couple of posting on Gladstone's Library and these two come together in the person of Martin Edwards. He is an excellent crime novelist whose latest book was launched at Gladstone's library and indeed feature a residential library based on St Deniol's. He was also at the book festival which was part of this years Flower Show. He has written about both on his blog:

I might say that his pictures are better than mine. His Lakeland series of novels are some of the best in the genre around today.

St Deniol's

 Gladstone seriously considered becoming an Anglican priest and the Library that now bears his name has a major collection of theological books. There is also a large representation of Victorian work including literature. When the Library first opened it was dedicate to St Deniol-who also has a shopping centre in Bangor named after him..

Originally-the guide book tells me - Gladstone wanted to call the Library Monad-which it helpfully explains is a Greek word meaning the One, oneness or one truth. Now in the hands of some of the less generous adherence to Christianity that could have become a declaration that there was only one way-their way. Not so Gladstone who genuinely believed that there was truth to be found in the Classics, mathematics etc as well as the Gospels. 'Any one working solidly and seriously for the benefit of mankind would contribute to the one truth.' In this spirit the Library has recently opened the 'House of Wisdom' a new reading Room with a special focus on Muslim faith and culture. The Library warden has written about the project here

The photo show the Library Chapel and the art installation 'sails' that is presently displayed there. The icon is of St Deniol although I don't know where the got the likeness from

Gladstone's Library

I said I would return to my posting on Gladstone's Library which I have been visiting as part of a conference for work.

I should begin by saying it is a marvellous mock gothic building designed by Chester architect John Douglas. It replaced the 'tin tabernacle' where Gladstone deposited his 22 000 books. The present building was opened in 1902 as the National Memorial to Gladstone and now has a collection of over 250 000 printed items.
I must say that since I first attended a conference here over 20 years ago the facility has significantly improved. It is now a comfortable and relaxed place to come and the opening up of the 'Food for Thought' cafe was a great idea. It is billed as the UK's only 'residential library'-apart that is from the fictional St Herbert's

As you enter by the main door the is an exhibition about the GOM and some memorabilia-including items donated by Eric Flounders

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Justified fury of Guildford Rd residents

I woke one day last week to a phone call from a very 'p**** off' resident. It was followed by an email from one of her neighbours. Similar complaint were received from other near by residents. My colleague Richard Hands hot footed it to Guildford Rd to investigate. All the folk were saying pretty much the same thing-namely that the night time road repairs had gone on well in excess of the times agreed and that the contractors had been excessively inconsiderate. This is unacceptable.  
A letter of apology has been sent from the council (see below) and I shall be raising the matter in all the appropriate forums


The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I have discussed your concerns with Councilor Hands regarding the above issue.

Please accept my sincere apologies for any inconvenience and disruption that you experienced as a result of late working. I can confirm that the works at the Roundabout with Lyndhurst Road did run over the expected time of midnight due to a shortage of material. The scheme was delayed which led to the sweeper cleansing the area later than expected to enable the roundabout to be safe when opened to daytime traffic. I understand that plant and machinery were delivered/removed from site at approximately 5am one morning. This is unacceptable and will be addressed with the contractor to ensure that this type of disruption is not repeated on future schemes.

I trust that the above is to your satisfaction and hope that the inconvenience you were caused was not too stressful. I have recently tried to contact you by telephone but would ask you to contact me on one of the above numbers if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Good for a laugh

Ok everyone will be carrying this clip from PMQ's today but it is always good to hear how frustrated the right of the Tory Party is...

Hartley Rd Green

Firstly I should say that the Green bounded by Hartley Rd and Blundell Drive here in Birkdale has another name that has fallen out of use. Somewhere in the back of my mind I think it was called Harrison's Green after the man who donated the land. I await correction.

My colleague Richard Hand attended a meeting of the local Crime Watch group along with the police to discuss the local residents concerns about th euse of the Green. I regret that late night gatherings and damage are a genuine issue.  I know the police and local resident have resolved to work together on this matter.

Luxury goods -demand surges

It is never a surprise to me that the wealthy are not short of advocates arguing to keep their taxes down. Their pleaders are out in force this morning telling us why the 50p tax band is holding us back. But it was another item of news that caught my attention. It appears that there is surge of demand in the luxury products market. The financial commentator remarked that with the return of stability in the upper reaches of the property market confidence has returned to this sector. It is, he said, another world out there. All of which leads me to conclude that it is world in need of a land tax. As Jo Grimond used to say we should be 'spreading the ownership around'

Monday, 5 September 2011

Gladstone's tin taberncle

At another time I will explain how I've landed up at Gladstone's residential library in Harwarden . Suffice to say that I'm here with work for a couple of days

After Gladstone conceived the idea of building a library to house his collection  32 000 books -his diary suggests that he read 22 000 in some detail-the question arose what of building would house them. Well the initial answer was to build a 'tin tabernacle'. It was to this corrugated iron building that Gladstone wheeled his vast collection of books. He also rented the former village school to become  hostel for readers.

It was not until after his death that the amazing mock gothic masterpiece which replaced the tin tabernacle was built as a National memorial to the GOM. As Gladstone planned it provides 'inexpensive lodging' and 'congenial society'.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Pugh in warning over Southport cockle picking rush...

The Daily post has a story that concerns many Southport residents:

HUNDREDS of cockle-pickers who converged on Southport beach were last night warned of the dangers posed by the Ribble Estuary.
The town’s MP ( John Pugh Lib Dem) voiced fears at the number of fishermen descending on the resort after the cockle harvest opened yesterday for the first time since the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy.
Rumours of rapid riches to be made have prompted fears of unlicensed gangmasters exploiting migrants to work under the cover of darkness in the Pinfold Channel.

Read More

Merseytravel-the farce continues........

My colleague Tony Robertson has a posting about new revelation on the continuing farce that is Merseytravel. He confirm leading NW political journalist/Daily Post columnist's concerns that big decisions were taken at short notice and against/without(?) proper officer advice :

Last night at Sefton ‘s Full Council meeting we may have started to unravel what on earth went on within Merseyside’s Integrated Transport Authority when it dropped, out of the blue I would add, any involvement in bringing Merseyrail’s infrastructure under its own control.

The full posting is well worth a read: