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."