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

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Klimt exhibition

Went along to the Gustav Klimt exhibition at Tate Liverpool yesterday. What a fascinating collection! The ground floor section is really just the Beethoven frieze - but upstairs there is room after room of material. I actually felt I didn't have time to do it all justice. My recommendation for anyone who hasn't been yet - and it's open till the end of August - would be to do a bit of research on Klimt, work out some things you particularly wanted to see, and then home in on those. The good news is that in August the gallery is staying open till 9pm on most weekdays and every Saturday.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Pension fund and arms investment - next chapter

My Lib Dem colleague, Councillor Richard Oglethorpe, is determined to keep hammering away at the issue of the pension fund and investment in arms.

The Merseyside Pension Fund is responsible for pensions for local authority staff all over Merseyside.

But many people have been concerned for some time that not all the investments made could be described as "ethical". Liverpool City Council has made a number of attempts to change this, which so far have not succeeded.

Richard's latest motion is calling for a ballot of the Pension Fund Members. The motion, which is going to the City Council meeting, has been accepted by the other political parties. This means it will definitely be passed and we can move on to the next stage.

Interestingly the Pension Fund clearly does make decisions based on ethical criteria as only the other day we discovered it had been invovled in a recent campaign to persuade Tesco to raise the welfare standards of the chickens it sells. Now if it can take action on chickens.... it should be able to take action on the arms trade too!

Minority groups and councillors.

At next week's Overview and Scrutiny meeting there is a motion on Operation Black Vote and the possibility of more mentoring schemes. The issue for us is that it would be easy, particularly if you are in a minority group, to feel that being a councillor or getting involved in politics "isn't for people like me". And taking the first steps can be very difficult, particularly if you are disadvantaged by, for example, people's views of your disability.

Anyway I have spoken to the person responsible for the motion and said I am happy to take developing this idea further into my executive member work programme. Looking at the motion I want to do something a bit broader than is hinted at and I want to use the feedback from the OBV work so far to help shape whatever we do.

This is hopefully something other Councillors will want to be involved in - although the individual political parties bear some responsibility for the encouragement, or lack of it, given to people to get invovled.

Overview and Scrutiny meets for the first time next week. This (below) is the motion I am talking about.

"This council welcomes the thorough preparation of the Operation Black Vote
mentoring scheme, however we believe that it should be the duty of the city
council to encourage all its young people considering careers in politics and
media by offering an all embracing mentoring scheme irrespective of any
persons race, religious background, sex or sexuality "

The rest of the Committee agenda material, and material from other meetings, is at