Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Holocaust Day

Holocaust Day in Southport saw a packed Hall at a town centre Church. Michael Braham- the 'go to man' when you need a Master of Ceremonies in the town-presided.. Lessons were read, prayers were said and impressively intoned. The prophet Micha from the Hebrew Bible proclaimed his vision of a better world where the Lord:

..... shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

The theme of this years Holocaust day was 'building bridges' Michael listed the many groups picked on by the Nazi's; Jews, Romanies, gay people and those with disabilities, trade unionists and many more besides. He spoke of those communities that have faced genocide since for example in Rwanda and the Balkans and of the situation today in Syria. He too proclaimed a vision of a better society where 'none were enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. ' The event concluded with the token being planted by those present

Of the many contributions the ones from KGV students retelling their visit to Belson, Pauline Colliers learned  and enlightening talk along with the nonagenarian Rabbi Kaye offering stick in the mind-as does the speaker who applied the lessons to our own communities and the need to build bridges so that the hatred and scape-goating we have witnessed in the world does not take root here.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

poor communication and failed refuse collection in Hillside

The recycling collection-including food waste- has been missed a second time-  in parts of Hillside and communication with local residents has been unacceptably bad in my opinion.

The already rescheduled collection should have taken place on 18th January and it was missed because of poor weather. Nobody was sure whether to leave their recycling out or take it in. Relatively few households were impacted. I would have thought it would have been best to contact them directly by leaflet. The free papers and the postman was getting through the 2cm of snow. If they had rung the council they would have been told to put it out on Friday 25/01-which for food wast is beginning to be problematical given that this was already a late collection.

I was on to the Council after the first missed collection.  Well the 25th came and went and no collection. Again no communication. Although I did get an email with a long self justification at 13.56 on 25/01 saying the recycling  was to be collected.  

The council really must do better . They must look at things from the residents point of view and focus on them as a priority. Even if residents had found their way on to Sefton's website it is not the most user friendly site-and many residents do not use the internet. To have failed to communicate a second time must rank as poor performance.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Congratulations Ainsdale Sports & Social Club

The Ainsdale Sports & Social Club, 772a, Liverpool Road, Ainsdale near Southport has seceured Olympic legacy funding from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund.

The Inspired Facilities fund is part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme that is bringing the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across the country. Every sports facility that receives funding will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.

The Ainsdale Sports & Social Club will receive £50,000 of National Lottery funding to assist in upgrading the facilities to its changing rooms, which have helped thousands of local young people get into sport since they were first built in the early 1970’s. The improvements include a new roof, additional changing facilities, new showers, new electrical, plumbing and heating systems, redecoration throughout and the installation of disabled access facilities, thereby enabling all Ainsdale residents to participate in their chosen sport.

Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “This National Lottery investment will create a lasting sporting legacy for the Ainsdale area.

“This fund has really hit the mark with sports clubs in Merseyside. It shows we’re offering the legacy that people want for their local community. For hundreds of clubs and tens of thousands of people, 2012 will be the year their local sports facilities got better.”

The Ainsdale Club Chairman, Mr. Tony Nicholson, said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment, which means we can upgrade the quality of our changing rooms so as to provide the residents of Ainsdale with the sporting facilities they deserve. It is the cornerstone of our strategy to have an outstanding club for the 2012 Olympics’ legacy.”

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Hadyn Preece said: ‘Ainsdale Club members have been determined, dedicated and progressive in the sourcing of significant funds to enhance the facilities and encourage young people to participate in sport at a whole variety of skill levels. Everyone in Ainsdale should be very proud of the club's achievements."

Local MP, Dr John Pugh, commented: This is good news from a club that is really on the move and has a real standing in the community. Voluntary organisations like Ainsdale Sports Club have a key role in promoting a fitter and happier community and the organisers deserve a huge pat on the back. "

The Ainsdale Sports & Social Club is one of hundreds of projects across England benefitting from lottery investment through the second round of the Inspired Facilities fund. And Sport England today launched a further £10 million funding round to help local community sports groups to upgrade their facilities. You can find out more at Bids will be accepted from 23 July 2012.

Places People Play is being delivered by Sport England, working partnership with the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the British Paralympic Association (BPA) with the backing of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the London 2012 Inspire mark.

LOCOG Chair, Seb Coe, said: “This is a fantastic funding project that will deliver a real legacy from the London 2012 Games. It will provide a whole range of sporting opportunities for young people through improved facilities and will I hope inspire them to take up sport.” Reply With Quote Report this post

Sefton Schools that shut in the snow

There has been a lot of discussion about schools closing in the snow. Across at Liberal England they have been reminiscing about their school days in the snow. I remember 1963-but that is another story.

After several enquiries I decided to ask about which Sefton School have shut. This is the response:

As you are aware schools make their own decisions, according to local circumstances, and are not required to seek the views of the Local Authority prior to their decision making.

Friday 18 January

Crossens Nursery 12.30 pm
Greenacre Nursery Closed
Hillside High (did not inform us directly)
Holy Family High 12 noon
Hudson Primary 1 pm
Litherland Moss Primary children could be picked up from 1pm if parents wished (school remained open)
Merefield 1 pm
Oakfield/Jigsaw 10 am
Redgate Primary 1pm
Rimrose Hope CE Primary 1.15 pm
Rowan Park 1 pm
St Ambrose Barlow 11.30 am
St John’s CE Crossens Primary children could be picked up from 11 am if parents wished (school remained open)
St John Bosco 1 pm
St Michaels High 11.30 am
St Philip’s CE (Litherland) 1 pm
St Robert Bellarmine Primary children could be picked up from 1 pm if parents wished (school remained open)
St William of York 12.30 pm
Sand Dunes Nursery closed
Shoreside Primary children could be picked up anytime at parents discretion (school remained open)
Springwell Park Primary 1 pm

Academies / Colleges
Note academy schools or colleges do not have to inform the LA, those listed either did as a matter or courtesy or which we generally heard about.

Deyes High
Formby High closed at 10.30 am
Range High
Hugh Baird College Closed

Monday 21 January
Forefield Infants closed (heating not working)
Hillside High closed
Lydiate Primary closed
Rowan Park closed
Springwell Park closed

Academies – see above note

Deyes High - closed

To my certain knowledge this list is not complete. It is interesting that some schools have not declared their plans in the normal way

People with no home are facing another night out in the cold.

As I write it is snowing. It has been bitterly cold for days. I was therefore not surprised to receive a number of letters from concerned local people about the plight of Rough Sleepers. They all follow a similar template:

 Dear Councillor


I am unsure how big a problem this is in Southport, however I do regularly see beggars along Lord Street and my presumption is they are homeless.

is the council actively getting the message out to rough sleepers that shelter will be provided in the worst weather?

Is there a local policy for coordination with police, faith and community groups, town centre managers, neighbourhood and park wardens?

What are the existing accommodation resources and of these being fully utilised during this cold snap?

I am aware there is a best practice guide from Homeless Link:

Please let me know what you're doing to help make sure no one has to sleep on a freezing street again tonight.

I had the opportunity to raise the issue with the police on Wednesday evening. They informed me that they had not noticed an increase in numbers and they spoke about the arrangements they had with the local authority. So next stop was to ask Sefton what their plans are, I receieved the following reply:

  Description of Services for Rough Sleepers in Sefton

January 2013

Cold Weather Provision

Sefton MBC has a well established Cold Weather Provision in partnership with Liverpool CC; this provision should mean that anyone rough sleeping has the opportunity to access overnight shelter and additional support.

This provision is available based on government set criteria i.e. when the temperature is estimated to be zero degrees Celsius or below for a period of 3 days or longer. Service and groups throughout the area are made aware of when the shelter is open.

The service is based in the Liverpool City Centre area and is hosted by a local church (St. Stephen’s with St. Catherine’s Church, Crown Street, Liverpool, L8) who allows the use of their church hall. The shelter is staffed by volunteers from homelessness groups and charities.

The service allows rough sleepers to shelter but does not provide beds. Any person accessing the shelter is given the opportunity of additional support the next morning via various homelessness groups and charities. Obviously the person has the opportunity to decline this assistance and in practice many do.

No Second Night Out

“No Second Night Out” (NSNO) is a scheme that originated in London and the government wants to see replicated nation-wide. Sefton is part of the Liverpool City Region “NSNO” protocol (the first outside London) that aims to get first time rough sleepers off the streets as soon as possible.

NSNO allows incidents of rough sleeping to be reported to a central co-ordinating point. The report can be made by statutory bodies, VCF groups, partner agencies or by members of the public.

NB the report made must be regarding a specific case of rough sleeping rather than a place to discuss general issues or concerns around rough sleeping in the Borough.

Once the referral is received staff from the Whitechapel Centre (the group contracted to undertake this work on behalf of the City region LA’s) will go out to the area where the rough sleeping is reported to occur and try to contact the person individually. If contact can be made they will offer him/her the range of options available to them on an individual basis. Again the person has the opportunity to decline this assistance and in practice many do because we must accept that many people sleep rough as a matter of choice. However the very nature of rough sleeping means that it is often difficult to make and maintain contact with a person who is rough sleeping.

Contact points are:

Telephone: 0300 1232041

Web site:

Sit-up Service

Sefton MBC in conjunction with Liverpool CC also provides a “sit up” service outside the times when the Cold Weather Service is not in operation. This service provides overnight shelter for people who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping where shelter is required for a short period (up to 3 days) whilst a longer term solution is secured. By definition the “sit up” service provides a shelter but no beds.

This service is provided by a range of homeless groups in the Liverpool City Centre area and the exact location of the service moves on a rota basis. The main groups are the Basement, Whitechapel Centre, and YMCA Liverpool.

Referrals to the Sit-up Service must be made via a recognised “homeless” agency.

Contact is via the Whitechapel Centre on 0151 207 8605.

All these schemes seek to end rough sleeping and provide support and assistance to the individuals with a view to moving into more permanent accommodation should they wish to.

I am not happy with that response. Southport is a seaside town and therefore has always attracted a population of homeless people. To offer accommodation miles away in Liverpool is not acceptable. I am grateful for the prompting of local resident, we must now push for better facilities based in Southport. 

Time to make the case for Europe

I was struck by Shirley Williams 's comments on Andrew Neil's late night show about the case for Europe seldom being put in the UK.( A programme also noteable for Portillo declaring that Trident was a waste of money-I paraphrase) Our foreign owned UK press don't like Europe. You cannot see Murdoch backing a multi-national body that would be able to to properly regulate his multi national operations-taxes and all. Crime and businesses like the lawless space that exists between nations

I can recall a number of occasions on Question Time when Shirley, Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell and Paddy have made the case for Europe and won the audience round.

Interesting we have heard alot about the democratic deficiency of the EU but little about the fact it is the Euro sceptics that bloc moves to greater democratic accountability. They fear greater legitimacy.

Imagine a football club joining a league and then insisting that when they play they want a different offside rule and to introduce a new rule that applies only to them and stops other players tackling their striker. That club wouldn't be very popular. Nor is Britain.

Fiona Hall a UK MEP published an article the other day looking at Cameron's speech, in began:

In his speech on Europe yesterday, David Cameron spoke not as Prime Minister but as a Tory party leader backed into a corner by his outspoken tea-party backbenchers. It was never going to be possible to appease his own right-wing and at the same time reassure his European partners. By promising an in-out referendum following an anticipated but far from certain renegotiated EU treaty by 2017, he has chosen to prioritise party political interests.

As a result, the UK will lose further influence in Europe as other Member States anticipate a “Brexit” and discount the UK’s views altogether. Even worse, he has put the national interest at risk by creating a climate of uncertainty for potential investors, who no longer know for sure whether the terms of access to the EU single market of 500 million people and the UK’s participation in EU’s Free Trade Agreements will change in the near future.

Instead of focusing all efforts on getting the British economy back on track, the Conservative party will now be tied up in its own internal renegotiation discussions that have very little to do with the reality of treaty change among 27 member states.

The vision for renegotiation spelt out by David Cameron today was notable for its vagueness and inconsistencies. At the same time as insisting that nations must ‘work together against terrorism and organised crime’, he also demands a return of EU police and security cooperation measures. Asking for a common set of rules for the Single Market along with measures to enforce them, he goes on to say that it is wrong to hanker after a level playing field.

The rest of Fiona Hall's article can be found here

Here in the NW we welcome inward investment. it is difficult to understand why any government with the nations best interests at heart would jeopardise that investment. No major manufacturing company is going to locate its European plant in the UK if we are outside of the EU. It is bizarre to think that we should become semi detached from the bodies that will decide the terms of trade within the single market. Not to be fully represented in the forums that take those decisions is to opt for the illusion of sovereign over the fact of real influence.

St Dwynwen's Day

Gladstone's Library tweeted this morning that it was St Dwynwen's Day. Who is she?

Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and legend has it that she was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog's 24 daughters. Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God's service for the rest of her life.

More here

Birkdale Library Campaigners present petition

Last night the Birkdale Library Action Group (BLAG) handed in their 4000 signature petition at the full Council meeting in Southport Town Hall. Birkdale has been identified by the Labour Council -along with all the other branch Libraries in Southport -for closure.

Terry Durrance put the case well for the campaign in his presentation to the Council drawing particular attention to the facilities for people who are elderly and disabled. He draw attention to the 8 schools in the catchment area and to the exceptionally high figures for books issued at our Library

I was very pleased to speak in support of BLAG and was joined by Simon Shaw and Tony Dawson. It was good also to have the support of Pat Ball from Dukes ward. Sir Ron spoke but he was more equivocal seemed to suggest that given the facilities at The Atkinson such closures could not be ruled out. The Leader of the Council replied and blamed the Government. Apart from that contribution no Labour Councillor spoke.

There were also petitions from Aintree Library and Ainsdale Library. Amazing even when those areas were represented by Labour their Councillors were silent. It did not go unnoticed by the campaigners

Regrettably one solution being proposed in the media is that Library spending should be ring fenced. This also struck me as a 'motor mouth' response to a crisis unaccompanied by thought. What it essentially says is that the Council cannot be trusted to make these decision so the should be made in Whitehall. If the council funding is 'top sliced' to fund Libraries why do Children Centres, or pot hole repairs or rough sleepers or recycling. Come to that let us abolish the council and just hire local officials to spend the money as Whitehall dictates

The point of local councils is that they can make the decisions about local spending locally. local councillors are aware of local circumstances and are accountable to local citizens for the choices they make. Imagine having to Whitehall to lobby for a neighbourhood service. Essentially this approach is a vote of no confidence in local democracy and in favour of centralised big brother solutions. Those who make it proclaim they do not trust the Labour administration to make these tough choices and want them taken out of their hands. So now we know what Bill Esterson thinks of his councillors.
"I am not persuaded that the government has made out a good enough case for the 1% cap on benefits up until 2016

A number of issues worry me. For example there are some people in Southport who this will impact on in a particular way. We are a town that has a lot of seasonal employment chiefly allied to tourism but also in the retail sector. In addition many people who work for nursing homes and in care have flexible contracts –in some cases with no hours are guaranteed (sero hours contracts). These people will be impacted upon by the 1% cap. Moving in and out of benefits –with all the requirements for re-applying for benefit –is difficult enough. It is not my experience that these people are trying to avoid work. Most of them would happily opt into full time employment if the economy was more buoyant. By fixing the cap up until 2016 the government has locked itself into an inflexible policy. What happens if there is a spike in energy prices, or because of the volatile weather food prices peak, or if private sector rent continues to rise at greater than 1%?  If the policy objective is to make work always pay, then it is missing the target in the case of these people.

I do not doubt for a moment that we are in a difficult economic place and that the government’s debts need to be paid down. Nor do I think that the welfare budget-which is 30% of the governments spending -should be exclueded from savings.  For every £3 the last government raised in tax it spent £4. That was irresponsible and unsustainable. If the government did not have a credible deficit reduction plans than interest rates would rise rapidly and all those families with a mortgage would face a significant increase in their monthly payments. But I am not persuaded that those on the margins of the economy –moving in and out of work- should hit in this way. We know that they spend almost all they earn –unlike higher earners-and what is more they spend it locally adding demand into our Southport economy."

These concerns, amongst others, have been raise in Parliament by Lib Dems

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Southport Atkinson get a Mummy

I should say that is a Mummy to go with our Sarcophagus
Most of the Borough's extensive Egyptian collection was given by Mrs Goodison
(yes, her husband was involved with Everton FC) to the former Bootle County Borough. 
It is proper to acknowledge that Bootle had some extremely fine art works.
Most famous of all the portrait of Lilith more information  here

Lilith is at present on display in Copenhagen 
as part of an exhibition about women and snakes. 
Don't ask, I didn't  

Anyway all these treasures and many more besides
will be restored to the magnificently restored and 
enhanced Atkinson which is due to open in May 
after its major refurbishment

There has been much gossip and anxiety about the 
Atkinson-named after a Liberal benefactor who 
built the town's free Library. The original funding for the Art 
Gallery came from another leading Liberal Councillor Samuel Lawson Booth
 a Mayor of the Southport Borough 1897/8 and a recognised watercolourist.

There has been media speculation about the project. Because of this
 I requested a visit to the site to see for myself and I can report that although 
it is not finished to the layman's eye it is on target for the open in May with the Jazz festival-complete with a
bar run by Southport branch of CAMRA.
The entrance space complete with restored fire place and modern 
chandelier looks great. Unlike the old entrance the whole area is imbued
 with natural light .
The stained glass windows look marvelous newly mounted  and 
back lit like the example of the Southport coat of arms 
-Salus Populi

The Library refit is up to the same standard and residents will notice many features from the old building

There are undoubtedly questions to be asked about the costings and management of the project but Southport is going to get a first rate Arts Centre capable of receiving the very best exhibitions

As to the two theatre spaces the most transformed is the second auditorium. It is now fully upgraded and I'm sure it will be a popular venue for performers and audience alike. 

The main theatre and its facilities are also restore to a high spec with much improved facilities for performers and visitors -including for people with disabilities

I have always believed that the arts can play a major part in the town's economy and we now have the facilities to realise that potential. 

Councillors-leading by example

Local Councils are setting their budgets. Everyone knows the belt is being tightened. One of the most usual refrains is that Councillors are protecting their own financial interests whilst inflicting pain on others. I speak at  a Leaders of the Opposition with one of the lowest allowance claims in any metropolitan authority. I regularly meet residents with want to see a reduction in Councillors' allowances and a reduction in the number of Councillors.

It would be folly to suggest that such adjustments would solve the budget issues with which we are  faced . It would be equal folly to suggest that even relatively small sums of money would not make a difference when it comes to , say, saving a Library-and our Labour Council are consulting on shutting every branch Library in Southport.

I have made it clear in public several times that I would not accept an increase in my allowances even if offered and that I believe that our relatively well paid Cabinet members should take a significant cut. It is equally clear to me that we should explore reducing the number of Councillors.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Missing from John Leach's Top Ten

John Leach MP for Manchester has come up with his top ten achievements from the mid term report. I noticed another I thought worth a top ten finish. The Employee Ownership Association reported :

Government Progress on EO highlighted in Coalition Audit (4th para on page)

On Monday the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister published its Mid Term Review - a 46 page document listing the Government’s achievements since the last election across policy areas. It includes points such as reducing the budget deficit, reforming public services, improving school standards, freezing council tax and increasing income tax allowances and says that Government will make “further improvements to labour markets by: extending the right to request flexible working to all employees and creating a system of shared parental leave; introducing a new employment status of ‘employee shareholder’; and taking forward many of the recommendations of Graeme Nuttall’s independent review of employee ownership in 2013”. A subsequently leaked audit of achievements to date reveals that Government plan to ensure an injection of private capital into Royal Mail, including opportunities for employee ownership, as flagged in the Postal Services Act 2011, which reserved at least a 10 per cent stake for employees. It also reinforced plans for the new employment status of Employee Shareholder. You can read more here.

We ought to couple with that Jo Swinson statement that the government are not going to tarnish the brand bu calling their silly Osborne inspired idea to swap workers rights for share 'Employee Ownership'

John's top ten were

Top 10 Liberal Democrat Achievements
1.       Reducing the deficit by a quarter, fixing the mess left by Labour and keeping interest rates down
2.       Creating 1 million jobs and 1 million apprenticeships. 84% more apprenticeships in Manchester.
3.       £600 tax cut for 24 million working people by ensuring nobody pays any income tax on the first £9,440 they earn. 74,000 of the lowest paid Greater Manchester residents have been removed from the tax system all together.
4.       Delivering an extra £2.5 billion into schools targeted at the least well-off pupils, raising standards for everyone. £20m extra for Manchester schools
5.       Created a Green Investment Bank to unlock billions of pounds of private investment in renewable energy and create thousands more green jobs in Manchester through companies like Siemens.
6.       Youth unemployment is lower than when we took office, thanks to our £1 billion Youth Contract, which gets young people off the dole and into work through apprenticeships, work placement or training.
7.       Secured the biggest ever cash rise in the full state pension, worth an extra £650 every year.
8.       Cutting crime by 10%
9.       Better, faster treatment in the NHS, with waiting times down and 25,000 people accessing cancer drugs they weren’t allowed under Labour
10.     Scrapped ID cards and removed innocent people’s DNA from the police database

What any realistic labour activist knows..............

ALDC has brought to my attention an article in the Economist. It says out loud what any realistic activist must know. The time of reckoning is fast approaching....

Labour leads in polls of voting intention but persistently lags behind the Conservatives on economic competence, often a better indication of a party’s electoral prospects. Neil Kinnock, the leader under whom Labour lost the 1987 and 1992 elections, learned that lesson the hard way. Given the choice between “mean but smart” and “nice but dim”, voters tend to pick the former, says Peter Kellner of YouGov, a pollster.
The impression that Labour instinctively sides with welfare claimants, employed or otherwise, does little to help, particularly when the party remains so vague about where it would make savings. Where it opposes government cuts it rarely proposes alternative sources of cash. On welfare, as on schools, health and policing, tumbleweed blows through the places where serious policies should be. Given Labour’s tempestuous history, Mr Miliband is understandably reluctant to restart old fights by proposing controversial new ideas.
That partly explains why the party is so united and harmonious. Difficult choices cause internal splits; avoiding them keeps the ship steady. But to govern, as the old refrain puts it, is to choose. Until they see the Labour Party making difficult choices, voters will struggle to imagine it in power.

Southport wonder goal and the failure of BBC local radio

SFC v Lincoln match highlights from PartOwn on Vimeo.

Take a look at the Southport 3rd goal. I predict that you will not see it's like again this season at Haig Ave.I was a a Birkdale Library Action Group (Blag) meeting so couldn't get to the match so I appreciate these video highlights.  I really liked the idea of using the BBC local radio commentary from Lincoln as the sound track. It is a subtle demonstration that Southport is poorly served by BBC local radio. As you scan through the commentaries provided by BBC local radio you will struggle to find a home game commentary provided on our local stations. We deserve better. Maybe BBC Radio Lancashire should take up the slack?

The delayed Merseyrail train that finally took me on the first leg of my journey (after a previous cancellation) set me wondering- is their a Jimmy Saville train somewhere withdrawn from service?


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Potholes in Arundel Rd

A classic Focus shot here. The potholes in Arundel Rd have been reported for repair. Thanks to all those who got in touch. I was amazed how deep the craters were.

Bernie Blaney Lib Dem activist and much more besides RIP

Bernie Blaney was a good friend to many. I knew him as a Liberal activist but he was also a folk singer, 'master quizzer,' fell walker, barber shop singer, teacher, charity worker and family man.

Bernie was one of the activists who along with Lorna Smith, David Vasmer and other breathed new life into Birkdale Liberals in the early 1980's.

Bernie had to retire from teaching after became ill and needed a kidney transplant. Bernie worked with the Southport Kidney Fund whose chair at the time was Joan Coleman.

The Southport Visiter reported on the tribute to Bernie that the Bothy Folk Club put on which was a great success.

A spokesman for the Bothy Folk Club, where Bernie was a long-standing member, said: “Bernie had undergone a kidney transplant himself some time ago, and he had been an enthusiastic fundraiser for Southport Kidney Fund.
“We wanted to have an event in his memory, and we decided that it would be fitting to make it a fundraiser, as a tribute to Bernie and as a boost to the Fund.
“In the audience were members of Bernie’s family, including his daughter, Judith, who made an emotional speech thanking everyone for attending and for their generosity.
“Also present were Southport MP, John Pugh, and five Liberal Democrat councillors, plus friends from the various different aspects of Bernie’s life.
“The final total raised was £618, which has been presented to Mrs Sue Blaney to pass on to the fund.”

 The evening was concluded by the Bothy singers and friends singing a rousing chorus of “Strike The Bell”, a song for which Bernie had previously become well known.