Friday, 6 March 2015

Sefton's Budget 'kick in the teeth' for Southport

Last night's Sefton budget was real kick in the teeth for Southport. Despite demonstrating how the money could be found to maintain the visitor infrastructure in Southport the Bootle dominated Labour cabinet blocked our reasonable amendments.  Relatively small sums were needed to safeguard the Botanic Gardens and to maintain the excellent partnership between the volunteers and the essential professional gardeners. But Labour would have none of it they would rather line the own pockets and maintain their mega allowances. We identified that the proposed 'cull of senior officers' (which has been a long time coming) had yielded enough to plug this gap and wasn't be spent on anything else. It was a disgrace and confirm that the Labour Party neither understand or care about the plight of the Southport economy.

I would like to put on record my thanks to our budget team for all their preparation. The persuasive skill of Cllr Daniel Lewis need to deployed more fully.
He holds the record for having got a budget amendment through. Congratulations. Dan's amendment was to take forward a previous Lib Dem initiative for rough sleepers. Reader may recall that residents alerted us to the fact that the emergency cold weather provision for rough sleepers was only available in Liverpool. This is not a fat lot of use to those needing the service in our town especially as there was no assistance in getting to the provision which is situated in a church hall outside the City Centre. Our initiative led to the establishment of a provision in Southport run by a local charity. We have now found extra funding to expand the operation of that service.

I think we can claim two victories because we flushed out a second concession over the pot of money created by the underspend. There was a significant underspend in last years budget and we wanted to be clear that that money would be available as a capital grants for those struggling to set up Community Libraries. This is another example when instead of working in partnership  with volunteer local groups the Labour Party would rather shut down the service.

There was a mighty contrast between our team effort and the Labour party who gagged all their councillors only allowing the Leader to speak. Welcome though those victories were the truth is that on the main item -preserving the infrastructure of our town’s visitor economy-we were blocked by an intransient Labour party who could not care less about the economic success of our town. So petty and vindictive was their approach that even where we clearly identified funding to bridge the gap for the Botanic and The Atkinson they refused to budge.

We really have to consider whether Sefton is an acceptable vehicle for local government in our town. Back when the Boundary Commission last looked at the plight of Southport they issued what in effect was a ‘yellow card’ warning to Sefton. Since then, especially under Bootle domination, things have become intolerable. I think 'video evidence' will confirm that last night Sefton deserves another Yellow Card . We need to go back to the Boundary commission. Sefton is not fit for purpose.

On a brighter note did any of you, apart from our resident train buff, notice an announcement that was slipped out last night about the electrification of the Southport line to Manchester? Tony R is in search more details. This is real triumph. At last, it appears, that the economic case for upgrading that wretched line has been accepted. As soon as we get more details I shall circulate them.

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