Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Cabinet in Liverpool

Today's Daily Post carries a story about the Cabinet meeting in Liverpool early next month, plus a rather po faced comment from Downing Street saying that when they have something to announce they will. Err.. this publicity stunt has been well telegraphed for several weeks now. The local voluntary sector network has been e mailing its members asking for nominations for individuals to come and meet ministers after the meeting (hardly a big secret then). I fully appreciate the need to keep venues secret but for goodness sake I can't see any reason why Downing Street can't confirm what thousands of e mail recipients already know.

I wonder what the purpose of such an "out of London" meeting can be. If government ministers truly want to visit Cities outside London they can. There is no need to move a whole meeting - plus all the officials. After all the inside of one room looks pretty much like the inside of another. From a purely PR point of view also I would have thought the benefits to Labour of ministerial visits are better if they are spread out (thereby achieving repetition) rather than all on one go. And I would expect opposition politicians to keep a good eye on any spending that appears party political rather than ministerial.

Delivering in Kensington

Went out with PPC Colin Eldridge the other day to do some post Christmas deliveries in Kensington. A lovely bright day. A tad on the cold side but felt very virtuous at having worked off a bit of the Christmas food. Having helped in this part of Liverpool several times now I couldn't help but notice that the regeneration which has been going on for several years seems to have made some impact now. New homes for sale, some of which are occupied already, and some rennovation work on terraces.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Crisis Loans

What on earth was the government doing at the weekend? First we are told the people getting crisis loans are going to have to pay interest. Then we are told this is somehow protecting them from loan sharks. Then we are told it is just out to consultation and might not happen. Then we are told the government aren't going to do it anyway.

It's clear to me that there is/was a plan to get social fund crisis loans paid back with interest. Its also clear that there was such a revolt against this that some poor Junior Minister had to do the rounds talking the story down.

Lets be clear about this. Crisis loans are for the very poorest who have a crisis. Interest is completely out of the question.

And the way to avoid bad colds....

.. is not to persist in delivering Xmas cards in the rain!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Nice to be thanked

I was up early this morning to deliver a huge load of Xmas cards (we deliver the whole ward every year which sounds like a nice idea until its cold and dark and rainy). Trudging round feeling very sorry for myself I was stopped by a lady who had spotted me and come out of the house deliberately to say thank you for some case work I had done for her son a while ago. (Her son doesn't live in the ward). Its really nice when people bother to say thank you. It made me feel a little less grumpy about getting soaked while delivering!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Garston Waste plans meeting

Now that the applicants have withdrawn the application (temporarily) this meeting has been cancelled. This decision was taken at rather short notice. I have asked planning officers to write to those people who had letters from me about the meeting and I understand various e mails have also gone out. I don't 100 percent agree with the meeting being cancelled but I can see that it will be hard to provide proper answers when the application is off the table and the timescales are impossible to know. Given the short notice of cancellation, we have asked a rep from planning to go the venue to speak to anyone who doesn't hear about the cancellation and so who turns up anyway (as there is nothing worse than turning up to find no one there and no explanation).

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Garston waste application - update

I have just received a letter from agents acting on behalf of Jack Allen - the company making the application for the waste facility at Garston Dock. The application is being withdrawn.

This doesn't mean it has gone away however as I am told an application will be re submitted following some public consultation next year. There's no way of knowing at the moment whether this is a means of buying time in order to run a persuasion campaign or whether local views are genuinely being sought.

Obviously the public meeting scheduled for the 15th was organised before this news. If this news affects the speakers planned for the public meeting I will post an update.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Garston waste plans meeting

Date, venue, time confirmed. Scroll to earlier entry for details.

Neil Trafford Memorial Celebration

Congratulations to everyone who organised the very moving memorial celebration at Manchester Town Hall yesterday. The amount of care that had gone into this, and the range of people speaking or taking part in readings, showed just how loved Neil was and how much he will be missed. There were a large number of Lib Dems there - and not just from the North West either - which shows how many people wanted to come and pay tribute.

We all knew Neil in different ways for different reasons. I knew him as a regional campaigner and staff member who helped hugely in Liverpool. But what struck me was all the other parts of his life that were talked about too. I guess that just reinforces the fact that we all have different facets to our lives.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Overview and Scrutiny Committee

One of the select committees I attend in my exec member role is Overview and Scrutiny which took place this Tuesday just gone. To be fair its not the most "public friendly" of committees as a lot of what we talk about is process. Process is important though and a lot of my work revolves around that - not what we do as a council but how we do it if you like. We talked about Freedom of Information. A bit of a backlog on dealing with this has built up for various reasons, including someone being sick. I am glad to say I am on the case with this and it is being sorted. Ironically I have just had a rather overdue reply from the Waste Disposal Authority to one of my FOI requests. I actually understand why it took the time it did so didn't kick up a huge fuss. I suspect though that the average person won't understand delays on FOI requests and there is a lot of education to do about the system and how it works.

Liverpool Commission

Last week saw the second meeting of the Liverpool Commission. Its hard to explain in a nutshell what this is, but basically its an independent body which will take evidence and make recommendations re aspects of democracy in Liverpool. We are looking at things like the barriers to entry for those wanting to become a councillor (and hope for significant business sector involvement in that), support needs of councillors, motivations to stand of existing and former councillors, types of meetings etc. We are one of nine councils - exemplar councils they are called - rolling out this process although not everywhere is treating it the same way we are.
There are two elected councillors on this body and I am one of them. I am also sort of responsible in my cabinet role. Information about the commission's meetings, which do take place in public, is available on the council's website - (look for the section on councillors, meetings and agendas).

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Garston waste plans update - meeting confirmed

The public meeting I referred to in an earlier post is now confirmed and will take place on 15 December at 6 30 at the Bridge Chapel Centre on Heath Road. This will be a good chance to ask questions of planning officials - something not possible at previous meetings. The Waste Disposal Authority also plan to be there (although it must be made clear that this planning application is not theirs it is a private application by a commercial company). It is possible that the applicant will be there also - although I suspect no one's minds will be changed.

The deadline for objections has gone but planning officers assure me that if anyone wants to send in an objection or further material as a result of information from this meeting, they will be able to. There is no date yet for a planning committee meeting so it looks like we are looking at January.

I'd be really grateful if interested people could pass this information on. I have just put a load of letters in the post about this but it is impossible for me to write to everyone who may be interested in time to give them lots of notice.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Garston waste proposals - update

I mentioned previously that we, the Cressington Councillors, were pressing for a public meeting which would include planning officers. This was so that people could ask questions about the process and get other information. We now have a provisional date - 15th December. This just has to be confirmed but its worth people who are interested putting this in their diaries now. The start time should be around 6 30 as we have pointed out that anyone commuting back from work may struggle to make an earlier time. When all the details are confirmed I will post again.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Budget consultation info

THE public are being given a big say in deciding this year’s Council Tax.

For the first time ever, residents are being asked to let the council know what they think council cash should be spent on next year – and to also suggest ways money could be saved.

And their views will be presented to councillors when they meet in the new year to set the council tax, and help them decide how much is spent on key services such as schools, roads, looking after the elderly and keeping the city clean.

City council leader Warren Bradley said: “Liverpool, like many councils, is facing some tough choices this year. Because of the credit crunch, more people are in need of the vital services we provide, and we are getting less money from the government to pay for them.

“We have already saved more than £44 million in the past three years, but we still need to make more savings to keep the council tax rise to below five per next year.

“That is why the views of the city’s residents are so important. What does the public want its council tax spent on? What do they think are the most important services we provide? And we want to know where they think the council spends too much money - and suggestions where we can further cut back on waste.”

“These views will help us decide what services should be a priority next year and also help decide on the level of council tax.”

More than 22,000 survey forms – Your council, Your Money, Your Say – have been distributed to every library and one stop shop in the city.

Residents are asked to choose their top three priorities from a list of services ranging from libraries and parks to spending on children and older people.

And they can also submit ideas on improving council services and ways of saving money.

Councillor Flo Clucas, executive member for finance, said: “We have made great progress in making big efficiency savings and at the same time really improving services. But as councillors, it’s our job to listen carefully to local people so that the services we provide are the services they want. Money is very tight, so it’s more important than ever to take on board what the public say. It’s their money.

“And this isn’t just a paper exercise. Local opinion really does matter and will have a direct impact on setting our spending priorities for next year and the level of the council tax.”

Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a handy £100 worth of gift vouchers.

The consultation starts on Monday 24 November and completed survey forms must be returned by Friday 12 December

The survey form can also completed online at

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Such sad news

I was so sad to hear yesterday about Neil Trafford dying in a car crash. Aside from being a Manchester Councillor, Neil was one of our regional organisers. We knew him well in Liverpool but he also helped right across the North West - and was actually very good at chivvying us up to do things. Neil will be really missed.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Garston waste planning application update

My objection to the planning application went in. I'll post extract from it (rather a long letter) in another post. The objection/comment deadline was 17 November.
My Cressington Lib Dem Colleagues - Peter and Richard - have sent their objections in too.

The planners tell me that the issue is unlikely to go to the planning committee this side of the New Year. I know that there is an awful lot of material - much of it written objections covering a lot of arguments. When I get a date I'll publish the details.

Meanwhile we (the Cressington Councillors) are attempting to organise a public meeting to give people a chance to talk to planners about the process. This will certainly help anyone wanting to lobby or speak at the planning committee.

When I get a date and time for this I'll post the details here. So lots of information to come.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Meetings - and thinking about meetings

Two very different meetings this week. On Tuesday I, and other councillors, went to a meeting for Regulation 33 visitors. This is basically a regulation involving montly unannounced visits to children's homes. They are done by elected members who then write a report. It's part of making sure we provide a good service to our looked after children. I used to do this a few years ago and stopped for a while, but am re starting now and will be visiting Prescot Drive (which provides short breaks for disabled children) again. A good meeting I felt - lots of useful information but not too much. We heard from some councillors who had done a recent visit and from staff at the various establishments.

Then yesterday I had Corporate Services Select Committee (I am one of the three exec members reporting to this one). If we are ever to achieve a meeting of a reasonable length we all, and I include myself, need to be a lot more disciplined about our contributions. I had to leave early but even then we had been going for more than two hours. I suspect the problem is there is too much on the agenda. There is not a lot the chair can do about this as councillors have the right to put things on in addition to the items of business that have to come there. And to be fair Andrew makes a good job of making sure people feel they are included and they can speak. I do feel however that long meetings without a break are simply not effective when you get towards the end. We are just starting a review of the Scrutiny Processes and I expect some of the councillor feedback to be around this point.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Refugees and asylum seekers

A little while ago Refugee Action, a charity which helps refugees and asylum seekers, held a briefing for councillors and others interested in issues of asylum and refugees in Liverpool. It clashed with one of the Executive Member meetings so I couldn't go. I am very interested in this topic though so was really pleased that one of the staff of Refugee Action was prepared to come along and talk to me separately about the work they did. We met on Friday and it was good to get an update on the situation as it relates to Liverpool.

I ought to say that I have some knowledge about this as one of my earlier jobs was as press officer for the Refugee Council - a national charity representig Refugees and Asylum seekers and providing a range of services. Being the press officer was not easy. In fact at times it felt like being under siege. There is nothing certain newspapers love more than having a go at asylum seekers.

And that's why I was so angry when I opened the Guardian today to read the interview with Labour minister Phil Woolas. His negative attitude to asylum seekers frankly took my breath away. I realise it is not an easy subject to talk about - but in my experience people fleeing their homeland don't do this on a whim. They do it out of desperation and to portray this as some sort of "con" does no one any justice.

My fear is that this is part of what is now called "dog whistle" politics.. saying something that sends a signal to a certain group without being too explicit about what is meant.

Labour politicians used to stand up for the oppressed and for minorities. This guy has clearly decided that is not the way to go. Shame on him!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Garston waste proposal update

This is not a particularly new update for some people, but as not everyone will know I will post it here anyway. The council's planning department has "invalidated" the application for the site at Garston Dock. That doesn't mean it's all over and the applicants will go away. It does mean however that one of the City Council departments found a flaw in the paperwork ( an evaluation which hadn't been done) which means it can't go any further in the process without that flaw being put right. What that in turn means is that if the applicants persist and carry on, there is little chance of things being decided this side of Christmas. The planning officers tell me that they will carry on processing all the various objections, and carry on providing answers and having meetings. But we are not able to get a date for a planning committee meeting yet. Will post again when there is more news.

Rememberance day ceremony

Yesterday I went along to the rememberance day ceremony at St Georges Hall. As ever it was very moving and there were an impressive number of organisations laying wreaths. I stood on the steps, with some of the other councillors, to watch the various processions. It was good I thought to have prayers from a number of different faiths towards the end.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Help needed at the CAB.

A message from Garston CAB posted below.

Do you know anyone who could give up a day or two each week to become an
advice volunteer at Garston CAB? No previous experience is needed and
there are no academic qualifications required. Full training is given.
Applicants must be good listeners, able to assimilate information and to
communicate in a wide range of circumstances. Contact Colette at Garston
CAB, 427 5317 for information.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sports Personality of the Year tickets on sale now

I got this press release yesterday - am posting below as I bet there will be loads of people interested in these tickets


BBC Sports Personality of the Year is coming to the Echo Arena on Sunday 14 December and it has been announced today that tickets will be going on sale at 9am on Wednesday 29 October.

For only the third time in its 55 year history, the awards will take place from outside of London and this is the first time the event will be held at the Echo Arena, Liverpool (the European City of Culture), with the show being live on air from 7-9pm on BBC One and Radio 5 Live . The show will be presented by Sue Barker and Gary Lineker. Once the ten nominees are announced, the public will then be asked to vote for who they think should be Sports Personality on the night (14 December). People will be able to phone in to vote. Voting details will be announced soon.

This year's show will be the biggest ever with around 8,000 people in attendance. Tickets will be £30 each (plus a booking fee).

The awards, which honour the biggest names from across the world of sport, will also be attended by professional sportsmen and women. 2008 has been an extraordinary sporting year: golds galore at the Olympic and Paralympic Games; Lewis Hamilton once again competing for the F1 Drivers' World Championship; another Welsh Grand Slam in the Six Nations; a fantastic European Championships despite the lack of a home nations team; a break through year for Andy Murray; and Manchester United completed the prestigious Premiership and Champions League double . The event will be attended by almost all of this year's Olympic and Paralympic heroes, former winners of the main award and many of biggest names from the world of sport.

Tim Banfield, Echo Arena General Manager commented "We are thrilled to be welcoming the BBC to Liverpool for Sports Personality of the Year. Liverpool has an amazing sporting history and it seems fitting to be hosting the awards here. We have had a fantastic Capital of Culture Year and to have what is undoubtedly one of the highest profile events in the sporting calendar in the city is just the icing on the cake. There is no doubt that this is going to be a hot ticket!"

Roger Mosey, Director, BBC Sport said: "This is the first time Sports Personality Of The Year has been held in the north of England and we're hoping that people from all over the north and beyond will take the chance to attend the show live. It's a tremendous cast list and a great experience for the audience in the venue, and we hope this year will be a classic."

Tickets for BBC Sports Personality of the Year go on sale on Wednesday 29 October at 9am.

To book tickets log on to www.accliverpool or call the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 561 7672


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Garston waste site information

I am not sure that everyone is aware of this so this post is really to remind people that the deadline for sending in comments/objections re this planning application is 17th November.

I will keep on posting on this subject. Previous posts will either be further down this page or in the earlier pages on this site. The three Lib Dem Councillors for Cressington ward are all actively opposing the application.

And a reminder that the website set up by a local resident to help people campaign against the plans can be found here.

Local Democracy Week event

Last night I went along to help with an event organised by and for young people as part of Local Democracy Week. Using rooms in the Town Hall, there were "table debates " on subjects ranging from bullying through to fundraising. I was one of the councillors (along with Labour's Richard McLinden) on the table debating disability awareness and disability issues.

It was a good opportunity to get a lot of views from the young people, some of whom were wheelchair users or who had other disabilities.

We talked about hidden disabilities and the reasons why disabled people appeared behind other groups in terms of realising their rights.

The young people also had some issues. Chief among these were transport problems, and in particular taxis and taxi drivers. It seems some taxi drivers either don't deal properly with wheelchair users or are just plain rude. I have to say this bears out my experience during the few months I was using a wheelchair - but I would have hoped things had moved on a bit since then.

In the case of one incident I asked the people involved to e mail me with the details so that I could pass them on to the Council's licensing staff.

Not sure what that noise is....

.. I joined a choir at work yesterday. I haven't read music properly for years but luckily I hadn't entirely forgotten what all those dots and lines stand for. Someone told me that singing is a particularly good way of avoiding stress. I don't know about that but it was certainly good fun.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Garston Hospital

Over the Summer the Liverpool PCT ran a consultation about changes to the health service in Garston. There were two main strands to this. One was about the organisation of GP surgeries with a move towards grouping them so that there would be fewer locations but more on offer at the locations that remained or were created. The second strand was about Garston hospital becoming more of a centre with more services on offer.

You can see straight away that everyone would be in favour of more health services in Garston village all in the same place at the hospital which is near the station and bus routes and shops.

The problem here is that what is now at risk is a local landmark.

Colleagues and I had a briefing with a representative from the PCT very recently and the feedback from the consultation was that there was virtually no opposition shown to the potential loss of the building. Given the way the questions were worded, I am not surprised. They were, for the most part, about services rather than buildings. But I am pretty sure there will be major resistance to the loss of a landmark like this - particularly because it is on a hill. The PCT is saying that using the existing building will not work and there will need to be a new "landmark building" created. But I wonder if in fact it would be possible to keep some of the exterior despite making internal changes and extending.

The next step, and it is the step which will actually demonstrate if there is opposition, will be for the health service to put together a planning application which would go to the Council planning committee. This may be some way off in the future.

As someone who walks past the building on the way to work I must admit I am rather fond of it and wouldn't want to see the exterior go (although anyone who has been inside like I have will know that major changes are needed to bring it up to date).

Friday, 10 October 2008

Operation Black Vote event

Today the mentees from the Operation Black Vote Scheme were together, with organisers, for a day which was a sort of mix of training and sharing experiences.
In the morning I was there to speak a little about the council structure (to be honest I left a lot of that to the officer there) and the nuts and bolts of actually being a councillor. In the afternoon I was back on a panel to explain about how political parties carry out their selections.

What was actually most interesting though, was hearing about the experiences the mentees have had so far, and what conclusions they have drawn as well as their changing thoughts and impressions. Well done to Operation Black Vote for coming up with the scheme.

I am working on plans for another, broader, mentoring scheme for other groups who may be under represented or disenfranchised for one reason or another - and I am going to use the learning from this scheme to help shape that.

My first board recommendation

The City Council's Executive Board ( cabinet in shorthand) meets formally once a fortnight to make key decisions. These are usually based on recommendations which come from one or more of the Executive Members. Today I had my first recommendation - creation of and participation in the "Liverpool Commission". The Commission is being set up as an independent panel to hold an enquiry into various aspects of governance and involvement (like youth engagement, barriers to entry for potential councillors etc). It will spend around six or seven months working on this and then issue a report and recommendations. The recommendations are likely to be in two categories - things the council can do without the need for any legislation, and things the council can lobby for at national level. The Commission is being chaired by Professor Michael Brown. There are three independent members, two members with "parliamentary experience" and two local councillors. I am one of the local councillors - after being elected as the Lib Dem rep by the Council Group.
Over time I am hoping the Commission will be able to involve as many local people and groups as possible - perhaps by turning up to speak or perhaps by sending material in.

Partnership Working Group

Earlier this week I chaired the South Liverpool Partnership Working Group which focuses on crime and environment issues - Safer Stronger Communities is the actual title. Thiw brings together partners from across our district of six local authority wards, plus councillors from those wards. Quite a heavy agenda this time but we are making some good progress. The figures on crime incidents for most of our area are below the Liverpool average although there are still some types of crime (like stealing cars) which are more common in Speke Garston than the Liverpool average. A lot of this is to do with the airport. Because people going away for a short while often decide not to pay car park charges so they leave their cars in the neighbouring residential streets. The vehicles are then sitting ducks for anyone who wants to steal them, or steal from them or, in some cases, torch them. It turns out that a lot of those stolen or damaged have overseas number plates - Polish in particular. We discussed getting signs in polish to attempt to deter people from leaving their cars at risk.

We also looked at some environmental problems and some plans for use of green space The City Council is to put some more exercise equipment into parks across the City with the aim of targeting people highly unlikely to go into a gym but who might try one or two things out while on a walk in a park. We already have exercise equipment in Garston Park, although when I tried it I found many of the exercises beyond me.

Beechwood Week of Action

Here's some information about the Week of Action in Beechwood starting this Monday.

Next week (beginning 13 October) sees a Week of Action in the Beechwood Estate area in Liverpool 19.

The Week has been organised by Liverpool City Council and partners to deal with environmental problems as well as issues like anti social behaviour.

The idea is to provide a focus for work by lots of organisations to help tenants and residents improve their area. The Week was organised following pressure from Lib Dem Councillors for Cressington ward and residents from properties in Beechwood.

Leaflets are being distributed locally to provide more information for local people about the range of activities. Key elements include:

community skips available in Beechwood Gardens on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to help residents get rid of rubbish and have a general clear out.

free home fire safety checks provided by the Merseyside Fire Service

Job Cafe and advice event at Beech Tree Court on Thursday from 1 to 4pm. Advice and information on offer from organisations like the housing associations, the health service and the library service

Jobs, Education and Training Advice event on Friday at Beech Tree Court from 10 to 1pm.

There'll also be ongoing work to deal with flytipping, passageway dumping, street cleanliness and dog fouling.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Advertisement from Liverpool PCT

This is an advertisement recently published by Liverpool PCT. They are keen that as many people as possible are aware of it


£20,587 for 3 - 3.5 days per week

Liverpool PCT is seeking a Chair of their Liverpool Provider Services
Board. Provider Services has a budget of over £84 million p.a. and
employs over 2000 staff. They are looking for a professional who has
experince of leading a large, complex organisation. You need commitment
to the NHS, to live in Liverpool and to be able to demonstrate board room
skills such as leadership, governance and a proven record of achievement
in a challenging, competitive and market driven environmenrt and
establishing strong working relationships with stakeholders.

If you feel you fit this bill, visit,
or call 0870 240 3802. Ref no NW8615. Completed applications must be
received back by 24th October.

New Campaign Website against the Garston waste plan

A constituent has created a handy website for people wanting to campaign against the plans for the waste plant at Stalbridge Dock in Garston.

Here is the link to the front page.

Lots of people have written objection letters already, but hopefully this will help those who haven't time to do lots of their own research, or who feel not quite so confident about creating an objection letter, to produce something.

Jonny, the gentleman who created the site, is keen for as many people as possible to know about it so please do pass on the details to anyone you think would be interested.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Corporate Services Committee

Earlier this week I was at the City Council's Corporate Services Select Committee. I am one of the Exec Members reporting to this committee - but its probably fair to say that most of the work relates more to the other two - Flo Clucas and Steve Hurst.

A long agenda including at least one rather lengthy report. A few things however stood out for me

Firstly - the council is not only meeting its target for recycling, it is exceeding it. Given the number of times I hear people say the target is not being met, this actual statistical fact needs to be highlighted.

Secondly - we discussed a motion on the recent CAB report on bailiffs and the way they appear to be misusing their powers when acting on council tax accounts. If the information in the report is true, and there is enough of it to indicate that some of it must be, then these firms either need to have the riot act read to them or the council needs to stop using them. There is a small group working on this in the City Council. It may be that the firms who have now received this public criticism will actually clean up their acts anyway, but we probably can't rely on that happening without a certain amount of pressure.

Finally - the Merseyside Pension Scheme. Some time ago the City Council called on the scheme to organise a ballot of members so that the actual members could have a say on the issue of ethical investment. We were joined by other Merseyside Councils in the request. I asked for a report back to the select committee and when it came it completely failed to mention any action relating to this. So I have asked again and hope the information we get next time will be better than this.

Liverpool One

I went along to Liverpool One on Friday.Managed to miss the ceremony for the opening of the second phase earlier in the week. After a day of rather too many meetings, it was good to go along to the new Odeon to see a film. The building was so very new it had tha new carpet smell and even workmen's footprints still outside some of the doors. It'll be a great venue though, and the fact that there is a choice of eating places both immediately outside and round the corner means this should be quite a lively part of town. The way Liverpool One has been designed means there are quite a few vantage places,and it does look quite impressive. I am not one for shopping - in fact I can't think of anything worse than spending time meandering round shops - but I am sure I'll be back to the Odeon again.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Debate on Liverpool's future

This event (details posted below) sounds interesting.

Beyond Capital of Culture - what next for the city of Liverpool?
> I am very pleased to invite you to attend a special event, hosted by The
> Chartered Institute of Management - in association with the University
> of Liverpool, on Thursday 16th October 2008, 5.30 - 7.30 p.m.
> Entitled Beyond Capital of Culture - what next for the city of
> Liverpool, the event will be chaired by Roger Phillips, BBC Radio
> Merseyside; four speakers will offer their opinions on the city's
> future, including the challenges and opportunities it faces in order to
> provoke debate from the audience.
> Cllr. Flo Clucas, Deputy Leader, Liverpool City Council;
> Rod Holmes, Chair, The Mersey Partnership;
> Jack Stopforth, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce;
> Professor Mike Stubbs, Chief Executive, FACT
> Drinks and Canap├ęs will be served on arrival
> The discussion will be staged in the Jack Leggate Theatre, in the
> beautifully restored and recently opened Victoria Gallery and Museum
> housing the University's rich and varied fine art, ceramics, and
> heritage collections. You will have the opportunity to look around
> afterwards.
> Tickets to this event are £10.
> Please respond by Thursday 9 October
> To either Elaine Highton, E:

Bennett Street message

Rather than lose a lot of replies towards the end of a comment thread, I am posting this reply here.

Someone posted concerned that Bennett Street in Garston may have had one side of the road missed off when planning consultation letters were recently sent out.

I have looked into this and the mailout will be checked and if parts of the road have been omitted they will get letters.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Future of Liverpool - consultations

Liverpool First is organising consultation sessions this weekend on three strategies for the City - Sustainable Communities, Culture and Climate Change. They'll be hosting public sessions at Wall Street in the Liverpool One area and in St John's Shopping Centre. These take place on 3, 4 and 5 October from 11 am to 4 30. They are called Your City Your Future.

The documents, and a chance to comment, are also available on line here. There's a deadline of 31 October.

Liverpool First, which is the City's Strategic Partnership which includes the City Council and a wide range of partners, is encouraging local people to take part.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Here's the story

We were a bit concerned that, despite the letters sent out about the Garston docks planning application, people were saying they were unaware. So my colleague spoke to the press yesterday. Here's a link to a story in the Liverpool Echo.

New Year

The start of the teaching year for me started yesterday. Great to see the students back in force. Our numbers are up on the course this year which is good news for everyone. I love the newness of the start of term don't you?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Cleaning up in Beechwood

Last week saw our first planning meeting for a "Week of Action" in the Beechwood estate area of my ward. This is a small bit of Cressington that could, in fact, be really nice but which suffers from dumping, anti social behaviour etc and which means the lives of the people there are effectively blighted. My colleagues - Peter Millea, Richard Oglethorpe - and I have been agitating for some action in that area. And on Thursday, Richard and I joined representatives from agencies and the council to draw up some plans. All being well there will be a "Week of Action" next month. Once the plans are finalised I'll post more details here. Meanwhile, if you live in that area and have a suggestion, please let me know by e mailing me on my council e mail - or by getting in touch by mail or phone. The other details are at in the Councillors section

Delivering in the sun

So, after a miserable summer we have a great sunny day.. and I am off delivering. Today we were in part of Kensington delivering some new leaflets about action taken by our PPC Colin Eldridge. I thought I was going to have a dog free day until the final doorstep. But this time I got my fingers free in time!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Waste planning application - Garston Docks

Jack Allen holdings have put in a planning applicaton to build a resource recovery park to deal with waste - including storage tanks, a gas holder, a processing building and other buildings on land next to Stalbridge Dock in Garston.

The Council has sent letters out to a wide area about this, but there will always be residents who live just beyond this area. And its important that everyone who wants to know about this, does.

The plans can be seen at the planning office in Millennium House on Victoria Street. They'll also be available on line shortly at The reference number is 08F/2279.

Anyone who wants to comment - whether to support the proposal or object to it - can write in to the planning department. Letters need to be in by 17 November and need to include the reference number.

Residents can also contact their Councillors to give their views. Given where this is, the plan is relevant to people in two different wards - Cressington and Speke Garston. If you want to pass your views on to me, please use my council e mail which is

We don't know yet when this is likely to be discussed by the planning committee. I'll update the blog when I get the date(s). Members of the public are entitled to attend the planning committee. There's also more information about the whole plannign process on line at - in a leaflet called "Further Information about the planning application process".

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Thousands to lose out - if they don't act quickly

The government is making a little noticed change to the rules on benefits which will mean that, as of 6 October, the backdating period for certain benefits will be cut to three months from 12. That means some people, particularly pensioners, will get considerably less of what they are entitled to. I was talking to colleagues the other day about Liverpool City Council's Benefit Maximisation Team. They work with people who either don't know they are entitled to certain benefits - like pensions credit - or who are reluctant to claim even though they could be better off. The team have helped people claim collectively huge amounts and are keen to help even more. But actually any claims going in from 6 October will automatically qualify for less because of the change. What this means is that anyone who is thinking of making a claim, or who has a relative who they want to encourage to make a claim, should so do now rather than later. This is a link to a story about the changes in yesterdays national press. One of the Lib Dem MPs, Lynne Featherstone, has asked some questions about this and it seems the government is going to make quite some savings! And at a time when the cost of living is hitting people particularly hard too.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Back from conference

Well that all seems over very quickly.

The highs for me - Bournemouth (where everyone seems to have got their head around what's needed for a conference to work), the Observer fringe meeting interview with Vince Cable, the panel discussion on social mobility, the Leader's Speech, the weather!

The lows (or niggles) - the tendency for fringe meetings to be in rooms which are FAR TOO SMALL, the balance between debates and presentations ( there are now too many Q and A and presentation sessions in my view... the opportunities to make a debate speech are fewer)

Still, a good few days. Now we just need to knock on those million doors.

Funds going begging?

It looks like there could be some funding going begging! Posted below is a message from LCVS about the Big Lottery Fund not getting as many applications as it wanted.

The Big Lottery Fund are keen to promote two of their programmes. They have received fewer applications than expected, so far.

You can find further details at then click Apply, then Current Programmes.

Remember that if you are considering working on any lottery application, it is worthwhile asking the LCVS Funding Advisors, Ged or Ian, for some help or advice. We can increase your chances of receiving a grant!

Young People's Fund 2

So far there have been just a few applications. The deadline for sending in an Outline Proposal Form is 16th October.

Changing Spaces

This is a pot of money that is available to local groups through different partners. Altogether, up to £200m funding is available, but there has been little interest yet so opportunities are there for the sector to get thinking and applying. The funds available are -

Local Food programme (run by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts) – It funds a range of organisations who want to deliver a variety of food related projects to make locally grown food more accessible and affordable to local communities. For more information visit

Community Spaces programme (run by Groundwork UK) – It funds community groups who want to improve local green spaces such as play areas, community gardens, parks, wildlife areas and village greens. For more information visit

Community Sustainable Energy programme (run by Building Research Establishment) – It will pay for community-based organisations to install renewable energy technologies (such as wind turbines and solar panels) and energy saving measures (such as roof and cavity wall insulation). For more information visit

Access to Nature programme (run by Natural England) – It funds a range of organisations who want to encourage people from all backgrounds to learn more about and enjoy the natural environment. For more information visit

Ecominds programme (run by Mind) – this programme opened to applications on the 18 September 2008. It funds a range of groups who want to encourage people with experience of mental distress to get involved in environmental projects, such as improving open spaces and wildlife habitats, designing public art and recycling. For more information visit


Friday, 12 September 2008

Great opportunity for young writer.

Youth Communications Network - an organisation I am involved in - is looking for young people who want to write an article for a one-off publication. The deadlines are quite tight but its a great chance if you have something to say and want to be published. I am pasting the details - including contact details - below.

YCN is looking for young people with different experiences/opinions of housing and housing-related issues to submit an article for a special Youth Live edition called “Yoof Roof”. The article can talk about being in care, or leaving care, homelessness, runaways, domestic violence, community regeneration, facilities and services for young people, support available, education, jobs. This will be in partnership with Shelter and the NSPCC and will be a one-off national publication. We will welcome enquiries about sponsorship and/or advertising from interested organisations.

Anyone interested should email Please include “Yoof Roof” in the subject line. We will be looking to receive the first lot of copy in by October 10th. An event may be organised before then for writers to meet and share ideas.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Health Consultation in South Liverpool - just a few days to go.

Monday (15th September) is the deadline for comments as part of the consultation on "Out of Hospital" health services in South Liverpool. This is a link to the full document produced by the Primary Care Trust. You can also find an on line survey form on the website at (look for the story on the South Liverpool Consultation)

Regulation 33 training

A few years ago I used to be one of Liverpool City Council's Regulation 33 visitors. It's something Councillors can choose to do and involves monthly unannounced visits to children's homes. All elected members are "Corporate Parents" so it's part of that role.

I had to stop doing the visits for a while, but had been thinking about taking part again.

Well, yesterday was a training session for new, or existing, Reg 33 visitors so I went along.

The enthusiasm and dedication of the staff just shone through. We were also joined by a young man who had lived at one of the children's homes and now was a youth worker. It was good too to hear about the standards in the service. The City Council's homes have extremely high standards and everyone seems to pull together to keep it so.

We talked a bit about changes in the law too. It looks like the government is about to change the law so that children in foster placements can in fact stay there (funded) for a few extra years rather than leave before they are ready. This sounds like an excellent idea so let's hope the cash is there to make it possible.

Getting ready for conference

Now I know that there is always a lot to do before conference starts - reading, sorting out hotels, sorting out travel, packing and so on. But to my relief I have managed to deal with the most pressing task. I refer of course to arranging for someone to feed the cats! Kaboodle, being a bit on the porky side, could do with losing some weight. But Kit is whippet thin and after her last incident at the vets she is probably FNG (feline non grata) there. Anyway - feeding and watering schedule having been sorted out I can depart with few worries.

Professor Bradshaw Obituary

There is a lovely obituary for the late Professor Tony Bradshaw in today's Guardian.

Tony got the first Liverpool Citizen of Honour award shortly before he died. He was a lovely man who was very committed to a range of environmental causes - including the Merseyside Environment Trust.

Here is the link to the Obituary.

Monday, 8 September 2008

MTV at the Arena - ticket ballot opens today

This, below, is a press release about the ticket ballot for the MTV awards at the Arena later this year.

Music fans in North West England to have greatest opportunity to buy tickets for Europe’s most prestigious live music event

MTV Networks International today announced that tickets for the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards will be distributed via a global ballot.

The 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Echo Arena Liverpool, Liverpool – European Capital of Culture - on Thursday 6th November and are sponsored by edc by Esprit, Sony Ericsson and Dell.

The ballot for tickets will go live at 1600hrs GMT on Monday 8th September and people will be able to register for free for a chance to buy tickets by visiting the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards website,

With just over two months until the Awards ceremony itself, the majority of tickets will be available to people living in the UK, with a clear priority being given to people who live in the North West of England.

“With the MTV Europe Music Awards being one of the main music highlights of Liverpool’s City of Culture calendar we are very keen that people from the North West of England have the greatest chance to enjoy the show live,” commented Richard Godfrey Senior Vice President, Music and Production & Executive Producer, MTV Europe Music Awards. “We plan to put on a show that they will talk about for many years to come.”

Working in partnership with Seetickets and the Echo Arena Liverpool, the tickets will retail for £60.00 each (plus £3.00 booking fee). An additional charge of £4.95 will be added for Special Delivery of the tickets, to minimise the risk of fraud and to reduce the ability for ticket touts to purchase large numbers of tickets to sell-on. We feel that £60 per ticket is not only commensurate with the calibre of the event itself but also matches the price of other concerts at the Echo Arena Liverpool,” added Godfrey. “The MTV Europe Music Awards has always showcased some of the most famous, established and up-and-coming artists on the stage today and therefore we want to do everything possible to ensure that the tickets are distributed as fairly as possible.”

Tim Banfield, Echo Arena Liverpool General Manager, added: “I have no doubt the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards will be one of the highlights of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year. These will be the hottest tickets in town and I would urge all fans to register for the ballot in order to be in with a chance of witnessing one of the most spectacular stage shows in the world.”

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ''The MTV Europe Music Awards is a fantastic showpiece for our Capital of Culture celebrations and is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the city for a generation. I’m delighted that the public all have an equal opportunity to be there through a free ballot. With the MTV Liverpool Music Week running up to the awards the city will be the stage for some of the best music on the planet.''

People who are interested in buying tickets for the Awards will have to enter the ballot by registering for free their details at between 1600hrs, Monday 8th September and 1800hrs, Saturday 4th October. Only one entry will be permitted per household.

Each entry will be able to apply for a maximum allocation of 4 tickets, with the minimum age being 16 years old. The draw will take place on Monday 6th October and successful applicants will be contacted by the Echo Arena Liverpool after that date. Tickets will then be sent out a few weeks before the MTV Europe Music Awards by Special Delivery.

In 2007 the MTV Europe Music Awards - broadcast on 19 channels across Europe as well as across the US and Asia - reached a total television audience of over 30 million people. Additionally, dedicated MTV Europe Music Awards websites saw a 35% increase year on year to three million unique visitors with total visits on show day (November 1st 2007), increasing by 75% compared to 2006.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Garston Embassy event this weekend.

The Garston Embassy is hosting a Garden Party on Sunday (31st) - 1 till 5 pm. There's a barbecue, children's activities, entertainment and music. The Embassy is the building on Wellington Street. It's part of the Cultural Village initiative. You can't miss it - think Argentinian flags!! More information on 427 9995.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

GM debate - Liverpool - 7 September

I've been sent some details about an event in Liverpool about Genetically Modified Foods. Very current issue and it sounds like it could be an interesting evening. I have posted all the details I have below.


The British Association for the Advancement of Science are holding a GM debate in Liverpool on Sunday 7 September, 6:30pm. Becky Price from Genewatch and Clare Oxborrow from Friends of the Earth are speaking, along with the CEO of the Food Standards Agency, and the director of the Science Development Network. A summary of the event is below.

It’s £3, open to all, you can book on the website:

Date of Event: 07/09/2008
Start time: 18:30 - End time: 20:00

Event Summary: Nearly 10 years ago a British public concerned about the health and environmental impacts of this new technology said 'no' to GM and the country's leading food manufacturers removed GM ingredients from their food products. A decade later broadcaster Sue Nelson chairs a panel of GM experts to discuss whether GM has a new future in the UK in a climate of rocketing food prices and famine. Speakers include David Dickson, Director of the Science Development Network, Clare Oxborrow, Friends of the Earth's Food campaigner, Becky Price who heads up agricultural genetics at GeneWatch UK and Tim Smith, CEO of the Food Standards Agency.
Audience level: 2. People with a general interest in topic
Event Category: Food and drink
Keyword: GM
Event fee: £3.00
Booking information: Book through the BA Festival of Science online booking system
Venue: LT 1, Sherrington, University of Liverpool

Electoral Commission - changing the process

The news is today covering a report from the Electoral Commission about the way we run elections in this country. One of the recommendations is for people to register individually on the electoral roll.This makes a huge amount of sense. At the moment one person fills the form in for everyone in the household. Mistakes can and do creep in - people get left off or wrongly included. (Household pets also get included as a joke sometimes). I do think also that there needs to be a little more identifying information - a NI number or similar. I am told that some time ago there were more dead people voting in a particular Liverpool local election than the margin of votes in the ward concerned. And while "personation" is very rare, it can and does happen.

There seem to be lots of consultation going on about elections and election processes at the moment. The government is currently asking for feedback on whether to hold elections on a weekend. We'll be sending a response in from the City Council once we've gathered in opinions from Councillors, but I wonder what other people think. If you've a view, do post it in the comments. My immediate feeling is that weekend voting is a good idea - although it does throw up quite a few organisational problems.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Street Cleansing follow up

Last week I organised a site visit to look specifically a street cleansing problem. I felt this wasn't necessarily about people not doing their job but was more about timing and management. Today I saw the results. An extra visit had been made to deal with an area that had become a particular problem.

Now you can't stop people dropping litter it seems. No matter what anyone says there is a significant minority (and I am afraid it looks to be more adults than children) who do it. So there will never be a street that is 100 per cent clear all the time. That doesn't mean though that we shouldn't be doing what we can to improve things, particularly when its a question of schedules or managing things better.

I am hooked

I started off by thinking I would just dip in and out of the Olumpics coverage - but I am hooked! It is great to see a focus on sport that is not all football (with the odd nod towards rugby and cricket). For some "minority" sports this must be their highlight in terms of TV and other coverage. Hopefully they'll be able to recruit off the back of it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Matthew Street festival programme

Copies of the Matthew Street festival programme, with timings, venues and details, are now available. I picked mine up from the station the other day.

Here though is a link to an on line version of the part about the outdoor stages.

St Mary's Road is changing

St Mary's Road in Garston has been gradually, and I mean gradually, improving for a while now. Since the time I've lived in Garston there's been at least one new cafe, the Garston cultural village gallery (both of them) and a new nail bar. There's also been rennovation work on one building and the new flats by the junction. There's been investment in road surfaces and some pavement too (although this means little if the sustainable businesses are not there also).

Now there are more real signs of confidence - signs that the work put in (almost entirely behind the scenes) is beginning to pay off. A license application for a wine bar has been approved. And there is a planning application in for another restaurant/"Gastro Pub" at the junction with Church Road. Setting up anything in catering is a huge risk, and the individuals behind these two initatives wouldn't be attempting them if they didn't feel the prospects for success were there. Speaking personally I have felt for a while that there is a gap in the market in the Garston village area. There are pubs, and there are cafes, but there is no where to go and have a meal and a drink in the evening. if you want to do that you have to go along to Aigburth Road, or over to the retail park and Marriott Hotel.

Now it may be that both restaurants do not appear. But the fact that the initatives are being taken speaks volumes to me about an area which at last is being seen as having the prospects for success.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Melbreck Road planning issue

We now have the date for the planning meeting at which the Melbreck Road takeaway application will be considered. It is on Tuesday August 26th at Liverpool Town Hall. The committee is going on a site visit first, so the actual decision making meeting won't start until 11 am at the earliest. The planning committee was due to decide on this earlier this month, but the objections and disagreements meant they decided to have a look at the site (down near the roundabout and shop) for themselves. Any member of the public is entitled to attend planning committee. You can find the agenda at (look for the Councillors and Decision making section and then the meetings and agendas section). If you are a constituent living in the area and want to speak to one of your councillors about this, we would welcome that. Our contact details are at or My direct e mail is

Corporate Services Select Committee

Went to my second Corporate Services Select Committee earlier this week. I am one of the three Executive Members reporting to this (although it would be fair to say that the areas covered by the other two - Flo Clucas and Steve Hurst - take up more than two thirds of the items). A few things relevant to me though - the work on relationships between members and officers and other parts of the "ethical governance" work.

At one point we were talking about the ethical side of financial investments. I have asked for a report in future about this in relation to the Merseyside Pension Fund. My colleague Richard Oglethorpe, with all party support, proposed a motion to the last Full Council meeting about this. The Chair, Andrew Makinson, said we would have a report back on how these efforts are getting on at a future meeting.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Operation Black Vote

Liverpool City Council is currently running an Operation Black Vote scheme. This involves a group of councillors who have each agreed to be shadowed by someone who is potentially interested in politics/being a councillor and who comes from a Black or Racial Minority Background.

Because most of the sorting out was done last year, when I wasn't on the Council, I don't have a shadow. But because one of my colleagues wanted to make sure there were things to do when she was away, I actually have a shared shadow now!

We met for the first time yesterday. So Kevin spent time with me on a site visit looking at street cleansing (so he saw part of the work of a ward councillor, and then joined me at two internal meetings to do with reports on issues in my portfolio.

I am hoping he can join me at a meeting of the planning committee (I am not on the committee but have objected to a particular proposal on behalf of residents ) and other meetings later in the month.

It is actually good having a shadow asking questions because it forces you to explain what you are doing and why, and that forces you to think about it in more detail rather than just assuming you should be doing it that way!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Youth Crime policy launched

This (pasted below) is the press release about the Lib Dem new policy paper on youth crime.

There's a full paper also which you can get to via

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne, today (7 August) accused both Labour and the Conservatives of ‘falling over each other to be tough on crime’ as he promoted his party’s new plans for stopping young people from committing crimes.

The ideas outlined in the document A Life Away From Crime also highlight how to stop children who have been found guilty of minor offences from committing more serious crimes.

The main proposals include:

Making young people pay back the damage caused to communities without involving the criminal justice system
The formation of a Youth Volunteer Force to engage young people in activities that benefit local people
Running nationwide restorative justice programmes, with a particular emphasis on early intervention in schools and care homes
Creating a dedicated PCSO youth officer in every area to work with teenagers most at risk of offending
Targeting guns and knives through intelligence-led stop and search, hot-spot policing and action in schools
Chris Huhne said:

"If we want to tackle the problem of youth crime, we need to take action early to stop kids from embarking on a life of crime before it’s too late.

"The old parties are falling over each other trying to be tough on crime, but nothing is being done do stop young people getting sucked in to a cycle of crime.

"Ministers know that programmes to divert kids away from crime work, and are even happy to promote such projects. However, they have failed to fund them properly in favour of punitive policies that grab headlines but achieve little.

"It is time for a new approach to youth justice which both prevents crime and confronts young people with their actions if they do break the law."

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Edge Hill Graduation picture

Here's a picture from the Edge Hill Graduation. This is our four new PR graduates plus me and my colleague Dr Ruxandra Trandafiou (she's the one with the fancy hat)

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Matthew Street festival

Details for this year's festival have just been published so I am pasting them below. The programmes should be available from the middle of next month


Liverpool will be the UK capital of live music this August Bank Holiday, with a radical new programme for the Mathew Street Music Festival.

For the first time in its 16-year history, the annual event – Europe’s biggest - will feature:

Six outdoor stages across two days in Liverpool city centre
A new main stage near to the Queensway Tunnel
A new Mathew St Fringe Festival - featuring original bands indoors
New themes for all six stages – including Soul, Diva, Brit Pop and New Bands
Huge LED screens on three stages

Over 80 hours of live outdoor music has been programmed for Sunday-Monday, August 24-25 with 95 bands performing from as far as USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Finland, Poland, Turkey and Scotland.

More than 30 indoor venues have also signed up to host live bands over the weekend from as far as Australia, Chile, Russia and Indonesia.

The outdoor stages will operate from 11am to 6pm on both days, with indoor venues offering live music from 12 noon until the early hours.

Highlights of the weekend will include a 42-piece orchestra from the Czech Republic and a 32-piece military band from Brazil accompanying two Beatles tribute acts.

Cult heroes 'Chas and Dave' will be appearing on the main stage on Sunday, with 90s chart topping band Right Said Fred and award-winning blues legend Connie Lush on the Diva Stage on Monday.

Joining them on the Diva stage, which will be hosted by Liverpool super-club Garlands, will be stars from BBC TV’s Saturday primetime show - The One and Only, including the winner Katy Setterfied as Dusty Springfield.

The ‘08 festival will also be promoting the best of Liverpool’s current music scene from hiphop to indie to psychedelic folk rock at Williamson Square, on both days, and crowd favourites on the Pub Rock and Merseybeat stages on Monday.

And the new Mathew St Fringe Festival will feature nine venues programming original bands from Liverpool.

There will also be a new European dimension thanks to a Streetwaves competition for unsigned bands organised by the Liverpool Culture Company via the Cities on the Edge programme with Marseilles, Bremen, Gdansk, Istanbul and Naples.

Liverpool City Council, working together with the directors of Mathew Street Festival Ltd, have co-programmed the new-look festival for the city’s year as European Capital of Culture.

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool city council and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ‘’Every festival needs to develop and stay fresh and this year’s Mathew Street Music Festival is no exception.

‘’The plans we have laid out, such as the new fringe festival and new bands stage, gives it an exciting, new direction and the platform to grow over the years to come. In terms of variety and quality this year’s festival has more to offer than ever before. Like our culture year, there’ll something for everyone to enjoy. ’’

Bill Heckle, one of the directors of Mathew Street Festival Ltd, said: ‘’We’ve listened to the public, the bands and the venues to programme this year and I believe we’ve got the perfect balance for a fantastic music festival that celebrates Liverpool and music in all forms.

‘’One of the main reasons for Mathew Street Music Festival was to showcase new Merseyside talent and I’m delighted we’ve been able to go back to those roots in our European Capital of Culture year.’’

The outdoor stages on Sunday for the 2008 Mathew Street Music Festival are:

Main Stage – located on Byrom Street - by Queensway Tunnel entrance
Beatles Stage – located on Derby Square
Streetwaves Stage – located on Williamson Square
Pub Rock Stage – located on Tithebarn Street (at Avril Robarts JMU building)
Merseybeat Stage – located on Exchange Street
Guitar Hero Stage – located on Water Street – (at Drury Lane)

On Monday, the Pub Rock will become the Blues/Soul Stage; Merseybeat will become Brit Pop; Guitar Hero will be Diva; and Streetwaves will be themed as New Bands.

The official programme for the Mathew Street Music Festival 2008 is due out by the second week of August.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Labour do something right!

Ok, so they might be messing up on most things at the moment, but Labour's Policy Forum vote in favour of votes at the age of 16 is quite right. It has always been a nonsense that at the age of 16 you can go out to work and pay taxes, but that you had to wait another couple of years to vote for the people responsible for those taxes. Votes at 16 has been Lib Dem policy for longer than I can remember - so welcome to those Labour members who have been converted!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Comments off for a while

I've had to knock comments off for a while. I've had a huge volume of Spam comments which take an age to go through. Hopefully I will figure out how to block them and then can put comments back on properly. If you need to contact me personally about an issue please e mail me directly at

Silence is not always golden.

I sometimes wonder why people bother getting elected as a councillor. There are several individuals who I have never heard speak at a single meeting. I was in a very small meeting with one of these today - no press, no public just a small meeting discussing personnel issues. And yet despite being asked for an opinion, this individual decided to say nothing. Now we are not all the most chatty of creatures, but I do wonder about the value of people who seem to think all they need to do is sit with their party and put their hands up when nudged. I have a lot more respect for those who argue their corner whether I happen to agree with them or not.

Slavery play in Netherley

The Valley Community Theatre - on Childwall Valley Road in Netherley - has a production on next week at which admission is free. Details below.

AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER? - Weaves stories and testimony from BME communities of North Staffordshire with historical and contemporary slave stories in this powerful and dynamic piece.

Why did the trans-Atlantic slave trade take so long to destroy?

What happened to the families forced from their homelands?

What are the modern forms of slavery?

Monday 28th July

Tuesday 29th July

Doors: 7pm

Show Starts: 7.30pm

Box Office: 0151 488 0364, Mobile: 07746 697 263

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Health Service Consultation

I mentioned previously I'd post more information about the local health service consultation for South Liverpool. This is all about services like GPs and clinics. There is a separate consultation going on about the Royal Hospital.

Anyway, the consultation period kicked off this week. There'll be leaflets etc in all sorts of locations. And the health service is organising a trailer which will be parked up at different places so people can pop in, find out more and have their say.

I now have the first few trailer locations and they are

today (24th) Garston Hospital (Sir Alfred Jones Memorial)
26th July - Retail Park (opposite Marriott Hotel in Speke)
29th July - Somerfield Car Park, Garston
31 July - Garston Village Hall, Banks Road
1 August - Asda at Hunts Cross
5 August - Austin Rawlinson sports centre, Speke

There are quite a few others waiting for confirmation also.

A new market for Speke

Sometimes things take a long time! Some years ago I went to speak at the City Council's planning committee about the plans for the new Speke District Centre - including the new Morrison's store. Most of what I had to say was very positive, but I do remember pointing out the lack of any obvious place for Speke market. At the time we had fought very hard to stop the market being closed down entirely, but it was clear that it would have to move as part of all the changes in the area. The committee agreed that there wasn't a place for the market on the plans but there needed to be one. The developers then committed to creating a space. In fact at later meetings I saw the plans with the space marked out.

Well the shops opened. The old shops closed. And still there seemed no sight of the new place for the market.

I was beginning to think that I was going to have to dig out all my old correspondence and start pushing it all over again.

But good news. It may have taken a while but it is here. Here is the story from today's Echo.

Vote for St Georges!!!

St Georges Hall is through to the last round of a contest for more lottery cash. The Hall will get the money if it wins its category - which is for heritage projects. It's all based on public votes - either by phone or on line. The link to the website page is here. There isn't long to vote though - deadline is 8 August

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Oxfam shop needs your stuff.

The Oxfam shop in Garston, which was closed because of a fire,is appealing for more donations so that it can be re stocked. The shop is on Speke Road, just along from the Post Office. The shop volunteers are asking people to dig out any unwanted clothes or other saleable items and bring them along so that the shop can continue to raise money for work in developing countries.

I've had a bit of a clear out myself and am taking some stuff down there, but if you are about to throw things away and they are saleable, please do take them along to Oxfam.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Safer Stronger Communities

Just back from the Safer Stronger Communities Partnership Working Group. There are five of these across the City. I chair the one for South Liverpool. The group pulls together a range of partners (like Housing Associations and the Fire Brigade), council officers and councillors. It looks at, and then takes forward, initiatives on crime and safety as well as environmental issues. Today we had a discussion on priorities which, as well as flagging up some broader thoughts, also brought a focus on some quite narrow, but troubling issues. The broader issues will come as no surprise - fear of crime, anti social behaviour, environmental issues. But what really matters are the actions that we now take to deal with some of the problems. We'll be reporting back to the South Liverpool District Committee later in the year.

Money for local group

If you are involved in a small voluntary group in Liverpool, you might be interested in this press release pasted below.

LCVS are pleased to announce a new grants programme for small, grass-roots community and voluntary groups in Liverpool.

Grassroots Grants of up to £5,000 over three years* can be used for anything that increases or develops the capacity of small voluntary and community groups, enabling them to continue or expand their work including advocacy, community voice and service provision for local people. Projects should aim to meet local priorities, in particular those that have been agreed on a ward basis by local residents at ‘Your Community Matters’ events.

Examples of what can be funded are:

· The purchase of equipment

· The costs of putting on a local event or workshop

· Staff costs to enable the employment of sessional workers

· Training for volunteers

· Activities that meet an identified need in the local community

· Contribution to rent costs related to activities/service delivery

This grants programme is aimed at sustaining and developing small, grass-roots organisations. In order to be eligible for a Grassroots Grant, groups must be a not-for-profit voluntary or community group, active in their local community for not less than 12 months prior to 31 December 2007, and have an evidenced income of less than £20,000 per annum. For further details about eligibility please refer to the full guidelines that accompany the application form.

Application forms will shortly be available from our website – follow the link for ‘Grants and Funding’ – in the meantime please contact the Grants Team (call 0151 236 7728 or email for more information and to request an application pack via post or email.

*please note that, while groups may apply to the Grassroots Grants scheme more than once (and through more than one Local Funder – e.g. those administering the scheme in Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral etc) a group cannot receive more than £5,000 in total from the Grassroots Grants programme. If you are applying for a Grassroots Grant from another Local Funder you must declare this on your application form.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Tall Ships

I went into the City Centre yesterday to have a look at the Tall Ships. It was fantastic. Huge crowds of people and lots going on. Pretty windy though so I did feel a bit sorry for the stilt walkers!

Garston embassy summer events

Summer activities for children (and some of us who are a bit older) will be on offer at (or from) the Garston embassy starting this coming week. There's also a meeting to get some ideas together. The embassy is on Wellington Street in Garston village - you can't miss it!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Graduation day is coming!

Tomorrow the first of our PR degree students will be graduating. I will be off to Lancaster to join the procession, wearing my academic gown (I don't have one in the wardrobe - it gets hired in). I am sitting here looking out at the rain hoping for MUCH better weather for them tomorrow. But in advance congratulations to Kirsty Bagnall, Charlotte Maitland, Victoria Metcalf and Laura Sanderson - our first ever BA(Hons) graduates from Edge Hill in Public Relations.

Tall Ships Information- important


Visitors heading to Liverpool for The Tall Ships' Races 2008 are being urged to leave their car at home.

An estimated 800,000 people are expected to flock to the UK's European Capital of Culture, from Friday, July 18 to Monday, July 21, to witness one of the largest Tall Ships' fleets ever seen in British waters.

A total of 60 Tall Ships - including some of the world's biggest - will be on show in the host port from 12 noon on Friday in the Albert and Canning Docks systems and two miles north in the Wellington Dock and Sandon Docks system - where people can actually board the vessels. The Royal Navy's RFA Lyme Bay will also be open to the public at Liverpool Cruise Terminal.

To handle the visitors travel operators Merseytravel have deployed every carriage in their train service across the Merseyrail network - as the region also prepares for the Open Golf Championships which tees off today at nearby Royal Birkdale.

If people do use the car, the Liverpool Culture Company has also co-ordinated the biggest park and ride service ever staged in the region.

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council, said: ''Being Host Port for the start of the Tall Ships' Races is a huge honour for Liverpool and underlines why the Mersey is such a huge asset to the city and our European Capital of Culture celebrations. The scale of the event be it transport, police or dock operations is unprecedented for any UK city this year. If people follow the advice that's being given then we should be set fair for an unforgettable weekend.''

The Tall Ships Park and Ride service will provide up to 6,000 spaces every day at: Aintree Racecourse; Speke Hall Avenue - near to John Lennon Airport and Hooton Old Airfield on the Wirral. All are AA signposted and parking is £8 a day. There is no coach parking on these days. The first buses from each site to Paradise Street inter-change, which is opposite the Albert Dock, will leave at 9.15am. The last Tall Ships Park and Ride bus from Paradise St interchange is at 9.15pm. This service will operate at 10 buses per hour on all four days. The fleet of 10 buses are supplied by Arriva North West and Merseytravel as part of their Official 08 Sponsorship packages.

Liverpool will also be operating a bus shuttle service to Wellington Dock, from Friday to Sunday, every 10-15 minutes from St Nicholas' Place (between the Liver Buildings and Crowne Plaza Hotel) from 10am-10pm. A total of 15 shuttle buses will be in operation here. This service is £1 each-way but this will be free to Park and Ride ticket holders that day. It will also be free to anyone holding a Merseytravel ferry, bus or rail ticket valid on the day - and also for Saveway and Trio holders. OAP's go free if they show their pensioners travel pass.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, said: "The planning that has gone into this week has been immense and we fully expect it to be one of the busiest few days we have ever seen on the public transport network. The collaboration we have had across the board, including our operating partners, has been fantastic, now our attention will turn to delivering the best public transport network we possibly can. We hope people heed our advice and leave plenty of time to travel, use public transport and try to avoid peak times wherever they can."

Public viewing runs from 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday. Wellington Docks, which has been transformed with 26 miles of cabling, hundreds of public toilets, new bridges and road surfacing, will close on Monday as vessels will be leaving from 5am for the Parade of Sail which begins at 2pm on the Mersey.

As part of Liverpool's celebrations as Host Port the city will also be staging the Shanties 08 Music Festival, various street entertainment and on Monday special aerobatic displays. HRH Princes Anne will also be visiting the Albert Dock on Friday and will be boarding two vessels.


Travel by rail:
For Wellington Dock - Use the Southport train on the Northern Line. Get off at Sandhills, take a left out the station and walk straight to Wellington Dock.
For the Albert Dock - James Street Station is closest. Take a right out of the station on to The Strand and then left to The Albert Dock.
Wellington Dock will be closed to the public on Monday 21 July as the ships will be moving from their berths from 5am to gather on the river for the Parade of Sail, which starts at 2pm.

Travel to the Park & Ride sites:
From the north
Leave the M6 at junction 26. Take the M58 to junction 1 then take the A59 to Aintree Racecourse. Follow the AA Signs for the Park & Ride site.
From the east
Leave the M62 at junction 6 then take the A5300 South Knowsley's Express Way– take the exit for the A562 west Speke Boulevard then go onto the A561 and follow the AA Signs for John Lennon Airport.
From the south
Take junction 20 off the M6 and travel west on the M56. Take junction 15 off the M56 and go north on the M53. Take junction 5 on the M53 and follow the AA Signs or the Park & Ride site.
From the west
On the A550, A41, A494 or A5117 please follow the AA Signs for the Park & Ride site.

If people wish to bring your car into Liverpool city centre, there is limited on street parking and play and display sites within the city. The nearest car parking facilities to The Albert Dock are the Kings Dock multi-storey car park and the Q-Parks for Liverpool One. We advise you to use the Park & Ride sites or city centre car parks. Log onto

Parking for disabled visitors:
There are some blue badge parking at Princess Dock car park and at William Jessop Way car park, two minutes from the shuttle bus service at St Nicholas Place. The Lord Nelson Tall Ship in Wellington Dock is fully compliant for wheelchair users. All city centre car parks have blue badge parking bays. Log onto
Mersey Ferries:
Mersey Ferries run a regular service between Wirral and Liverpool city centre. The service runs from Woodside in Birkenhead and Seacombe in Wallasey.
For more information log onto:
Coach Travel:
For coach travel into Liverpool please contact The National Express coach station is a 5 minute walk from the city centre and a 15 minute walk to the Albert Dock. The S1 bus service will take you from the coach station in Norton Street to the Albert Dock.

The best viewing areas to see the Parade of Sail on Monday, July 21 (from 2pm-4.30pm)
Liverpool - from Otterspool Promenade to Princes Parade. The Pier Head is closed to the public due to canal works.
Sefton - from Crosby Beach to Formby Point. Use the Northern Line on Merseyrail to access these points.
Wirral - From Seacombe Ferry to Fort Perch Rock. A shuttle bus will operate from Hamilton Square Station on the Wirral Line to Seacombe.
Note: There are numerous road closures in place in Wirral for the Parade of Sail. For details log on to

Host Port official site:
European Capital of Culture official site:
Traveline Tel: 0871 200 22 33
Liverpool Tourism
Merseyside Police Tel: 0151 709 6010
Wirral Council
British Transport Police Tel: 0800 40 50 40
Radio Merseyside - 95.8fm
Transport Direct

For all public transport Information log onto or phone Traveline on 0871 200 22 33.

Take away plan - Melbreck Avenue

I have today written to the Council's planning department with my objection to the application for a takeaway at 140 Melbreck Road (this is currently a garage/storage). My letter talks about a number of problems. This is right by a junction with a roundabout and there are already a lot of safety issues there which are worsened when anyone stops a car (which obviously they will do if there is a takeaway there). It's also already a hot spot in terms of litter and has become a corner the police are now worried about too. Because as Councillors we were concerned to make sure local people knew about the application, we recently wrote to people living in much of Melbreck Avenue and in the flats just down the road. As a result of this letter - which was pretty neutral I have to say as we wanted to genuinely get views and not pre empt what people might feel - we have been inundated with comments from people wanting to object too. The deadline for comments hasn't gone yet - but I'll blog again when we have a date for the planning committee.

Your Community Matters Meeting - Cressington Ward

I went to the Your Community Matters meeting for Cressington Ward last night. The YCM meetings are ward based and are intended to give people a chance to come along and discuss issues - but also to help identify priorities for their area. An example - last night we had a report back on a priority which had been identified previously. This was about carrying out a survey of young people as it was felt that we don't always fully understand their needs/thoughts etc. The report back showed that funding had been found and plans drawn up and that there is actually a timescale for the survey to take place - in two secondary schools and a couple of primaries. As I didn't represent this ward when the last meeting took place, I took the opportunity to listen to as many views as possible. Apart from an issue around planning, which we are already working on, and one around community safety in a very particular place, again which I have already done a site visit for, there were some other topics which came up and which will need work doing. Watch this space!!!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Health Service in South Liverpool

Liverpool Primary Care Trust is later this month going to be consulting people in South Liverpool about its plans for health care. This is about "out of hospital" care so is really about GP surgeries, clinics and the like. The consultation kicks off around the 21st. There'll be trailers parked at various strategic sites - supermarket car parks and so on as well as leaflets and other communications. The consultation ends on 15th September. It's important that as many people as possible have a say so please look out for the publicity.

We discussed the consultation programme a little earlier today at a Scrutiny Panel Meeting. Scrutiny Panels are basically part of the City Council's process. They are small meetings of councillors and officers to look at very specific aspects of work. I wouldn't normally be at this one, but as it was discussing South Liverpool I went along. We asked a lot of questions and made several suggestions about how to make the consultation even more effective - although I have to say the plan was pretty comprehensive and clearly someone has done a lot of work on it.

I'll blog again when the consultation has kicked off properly, and will pass on any details of websites etc.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Police meeting

Yesterday the three Cressington Councillors - that's me, Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe met at Allerton police station for a discussion about policing and related issues in the Garston area. We have had a few incidents recently that may have caused alarm, including a shooting which, while it was nothing to do with people in the area, happened to take place here. A lot of what we discussed was confidential (for now at any rate) so I can't go into details. But suffice it to say quite a bit of progress is going to be apparent over the summer.

Anita graduates!!!

Congratulations to Anita Fazakerly, one of our two media department administrators here at Edge Hill. It's results day today and Anita has gained her BA degree in English and what's more she has been awarded a first! Anita has studied for the degree part time while holding down a job and bringing up her son. She really deserved her champagne celebration!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Phone masts and planning

One of the perennial problems we face as elected councillors is the issue of mobile phone masts. Most people do not want these near their homes, or shops or schools. I have been involved in several campaigns to prevent masts - some of which have been successful campaigns, others not. But what's not often understood is that phone mast applications don't have to go through the same strict planning processes as others. And its true to say that the law is very much on the side of the phone company when it comes to these applications.

Residents are often amazed that the normal planning rules don't apply for masts. And it's clear to me that they should.

There's a planning bill going through Parliament at the moment. Most of the coverage has been about provisions around large projects - airports, roads etc. But there was a chance to change the law on masts. Andrew Stunnell, one of the Lib Dem MPs in the North West, wrote an amendment to get phone masts brought within normal planning laws. You would think that everyone would support that. Well the Conservatives abstained, and Labour opposed him. So next time a Tory or Labour politician attempts to oppose a phone mast, I suggest we ask them why, when they had the chance, they didn't do something to be on the side of residents.

Worthy of the Award.

Liverpool City Council has started a Citizen of Honour award and nominations have started to come in. I'm delighted to report that the first award has been given to Professor Tony Bradshaw for all his environmental work and commitment over the years. Tony is rather frail now and is in a nursing home, but I remember seeing him at meetings, and visiting him in his Cressington Park House, and his commitment to the environment and the City just shone through. He is very worthy of the award and exactly the right recipient for the first one.

Monday, 7 July 2008

First synagogue in the City

This morning I was at a ceremony to recognise the location of the first ever Jewish synagogue in the City. The building isn't there now so the plaque is as near as possible to the actual original site (if you want to see the plaque its in the Metquarter on the wall by Cafe Rouge) That the plaque was put up at all is almost entirely down to my colleague Cllr Peter Millea. He made a lovely speech this morning talking about how tracking down the location had become "something of an obsession". Anyway, many of the guests were clearly pleased at the effort that had gone in.. and its nice to acknowledge the history.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Citizenship Ceremonies

One of the sections covered by my new Exec Member Portfolio on the City Council is the registrars. They do all the things you'd expect but they also carry out citizenship ceremonies on behalf of the Home Office. I had thought there would be a few of these a year, but actually there are about three a month with about 20 new citizens (and their families) at each.

I am going on the list of "speakers" for the ceremonies, but wanted to sit through one first, so I popped along today.

It is a short, but dignified, ceremony with everyone repeating an oath and then coming up for a certificate. There are two oaths - one involves swearing "by almighty God" and the other involves affirming.

It was a very "smiley" event with everyone dressed up. Unfortunately as we all left the heavens opened so the new citizens got an extra dose of typical British weather.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Clipper returns

What a great day out at the Albert Dock today. We went along to see the return of the Clippers after their 10 month race around the world. The Liverpool boat didn't win, but by the sounds of it the crew had a great experience. We know one of the crew - Tony Loftus. He lives not far from us and has a shop on the Albert Dock. Shop staff had hung a banner saying "start working hard - the boss is back". By the sounds of it, the various Clippers have made a lot of people's dreams come true in different ways.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this event - but I was surprised at the number of people there to watch. They must all have gone away feeling that they were at a celebration.

The next Clipper race will start and finish in Hull but we're all keen to see it back in Liverpool again in the future.

Hooray - they've won.

The residents in Netherley campaigning against the plans for a dump (HWRC) on Holt Lane have won their fight!

It's been one of those long sagas with a lot of twists and turns.

Basically, the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority drew up a plan to use lane at Holt Lane for the dump. Holt Lane is quite narrow and has an industrial estate on one part. The industrial estate tenants weren't best pleased. But the people living in the houses nearby were particularly outraged. For all sorts of reasons, the site seemed a very bad choice.

The City Councils exec board came out against the whole scheme. Then planning permission was turned down.

You would think that would be an end to the matter. But MWDA decided to attempt to get its own way and appealed against the decision. The persistence of MWDA was very marked. Members refused to listen properly to protestors, or even to let them speak on occasions. Lib Dem Councillors on the authority resigned in protest. But the Labour majority pressed on with the scheme.

Residents in Netherley fought back, helped by Lib Dem Campaigner Tom Marshall and others.

And now they have won.

Well strictly speaking there is one more appeal avenue open to the MWDA but the quote in today's Liverpool Echo implies that they will look for another site rather than persist in the face of such opposition.

Two things stand out here. Firstly if the Labour members of MWDA had been more willing to listen to the real facts as explained by residents, the time wasting of the appeal need not have happened.
Secondly, a public authority which maintains rules preventing people asking questions or raising issues surely needs to change its rules pronto!

I have a feeling however that there will be other chapters in this saga - so expect to post again about it

Oscars for staff

Last night was the City Council's Be Proud Awards at the Convention Centre. I hadn't been to one of these before, but I am pleased I was able to go this year. It's an evening designed to pay tribute to some of the fantastic work done by staff right across the authority. It was lovely to have the chance to talk to loads of people about the work they do and the level of dedication shown was very impressive. I made a note to find out more about the work of a couple of the teams mentioned.

Friday, 4 July 2008

MPs expenses - Garston Labour in another world

You would have thought someone who makes much of representing some of the more deprived parts of the City would understand that voting to keep an unjustifiable and unscrutinised expense bung is not the best signal to sent. Clearly not in our MPs case.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Cutting crime and cleaning up

Just back from a really worthwhile workshop/away day on issues of crime and environment in South Liverpool. It was a mix of partners (police, fire, housing associations etc), Council officers and Councillors. I am taking over as Chair of our district working group on this issue and the morning certainly threw up lots of food for thought - as well as a maassive "to do" list of things to follow up. Hopefully we will be able to have some really productive meetings based on the thoughts and ideas we have had so far.

Art volunteers needed in Garston

I've pasted below a short request from the Garston Cultural Village people - who are looking for people to help run or help with workshops this summer.

Volunteer Artists/Creatives
July - August Community Art and
Craft Workshops
In The Garston Embassy
Calling all Graduates/Students/Artists/Crafts Persons
Garston Cultural Village would love to work with you
Contact Mavis or Alex On 0151 427 9995