Friday, 11 December 2009

Full Council 9th December

Wednesday this week was the last full council meeting of this calendar year.

The minutes will be published at shortly but here are a few bits of news from the evening

It felt a lot better tempered than usual which has to be a good thing. Nothing wrong with lively debate but name calling and general abuse is not a good thing. We are planning to experiment with webcasting Council meetings and actually some of Wednesday's debates would have been a good case study of how this might work.

Some controversial,or potentially controversial, stuff came up.

Firstly we had to make a decision on the PCT's request for Liverpool to give an 18 certificate to new films being shown in Liverpool cinemas which showed smoking (apart from those showing smoking in a negative light). The PCT had done quite a bit of lobbying on this. In the end the debate was heavily weighted against (more than I had expected actually). I spoke against as I have been worried about this proposal for some time now. It was defeated (although its fair to say there were supporters on both sides of the Chamber).

Then there was a debate about governance. The Government has said that Councils have to make a decision by the end of the year on whether to hold a referendum on an elected mayor or whether to adopt a revised Leader and Cabinet model. Virtually everyone who spoke was in favour of the Leader and Cabinet model. There was a bit of a debate about the number of Councillors and whether or not elections should be every four years or in thirds as they are now. The vast majority thought that four yearly elections would cause quite a few problems and that having elections more regularly gave people more of a chance to have their say.

Among the motions for debate was one from myself and Cllr Steve Radford about ID cards. I posted the text in an earlier blog. We wanted to make sure that Liverpool City Council did not co operate with the government in its latest attempt to roll out ID cards ( saying its voluntary and doing the soft marketing before actually making them compulsory). The motion was passed. Actually no one voted against which was a bit of a welcome surprise I have to say.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

ID Cards motion

Full Council tonight (9th December)

This, pasted below, is one of the motions being discussed. Its being proposed by me and Cllr Steve Radford

Council notes that the Government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce identification (ID) cards. It is doing this through pilot schemes in the North West, including the planned launch of a scheme in Liverpool in January 2010.

Council notes that the existing policy of the City Council is that it is opposed to the introduction of ID cards and the associated database.

Council further notes that: -

1. Despite arguments by Labour ministers to the contrary, ID cards and the database will not prevent crime, terrorism or illegal immigration.

2. The introduction of ID cards would fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the State.

3. The Prime Minister’s speech to his party conference sought to give the impression that ID cards would not be introduced, at the same time as his Government was clearly preparing for these pilot schemes.

Council therefore resolves to -

a) Reiterate its current opposition to the ID card scheme and any introduction of this in Liverpool.

b) Refuse to co-operate with any plans to promote the card scheme including refusal to allow any council premises to be used for promotional events or meetings and refusal to use any of the city council’s communications channels to provide information about the scheme unless required to do so by law.

c) Work with organisations Campaigning against the ID card scheme such as NO2ID to raise awareness among Liverpool Citizens of the dangers of the ID card and database scheme.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Garston waste plans - BAD NEWS UPDATE

Today I heard the awful news that Jack Allen Holdings (the people who wanted to put the waste plant at Garston Dock right next to the Cressington Heath development and other housing), are launching an appeal.

The City Council planning committee said no to their planning application earlier this year. The law however means that applicants can launch an appeal against a decision, and it looks like they are doing just that. Appeals are not heard by the Council but are considered by the Planning Inspectorate. In fact the City Council will now need to spend time and money defending its case (the case that this scheme does not belong where the developers want to put it)

Details are very sketchy at the moment and I will blog again when I have more.

Suffice it to say that this organisation (JA) clearly cares nothing about Garston or the views of local people.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Friends of Garston Park - next steps

Last night was a regular monthly meeting of Friends of Garston Park. Our next one is 18th December. We usually use meet at Long Lane Church although we're checking whether we can for this one. We have a website where I'll post meeting details when I have them.

Next steps for the group include the very boring but necessary and the very creative.

On the boring side we are sorting out our constitution and our bank account. This will put us on the sort of footing that means we can apply for grants.

On the more creative side plans for next year include a session drawing up a wish list, some fundraising, some more planting and a theatre production.

We're also going to look better from now on as one of the students at Edge Hill has kindly designed a logo and letterhead for us.

If you're interested in going on our mailing list please either post your details on this blog or drop me an e mail at my Council e mail address which is

Friday, 20 November 2009

Smoking in films decision nearer

I have blogged before about the PCT proposal that new films being shown in Liverpool Cinemas that show smoking should be given an 18 certificate.

Well the consultation on the proposal is over now and the Licensing Committee meets next week to discuss it. The Committee's recommendation has to go to Full Council, the next one of which is 9th December.

Here is the link to the committee paperwork (there is rather a lot of it)

It is of course possible that someone will come up with the argument to persuade me that this proposal is a good idea. But at the moment it still seems to me to be ill conceived, illiberal and not at all practical.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Brown resignation - David Bartlett's "prediction"

David Bartlett on his Dale Street Blues blog is hypothesising that Gordon Brown could use his health as a reason to resign.

He further argues that in news management terms, the best time would be between Christmas and New Year - 29th December to be exact.

Now that's my birthday!

I am not sure if a GB resignation would be a birthday treat or not!!!!

Burns Unit Campaign update

I am pasting below a letter one of my colleagues has received from a man whose daughter was helped by one of the Burns Units. It was sent a few days ago but I delayed posting it until now because I wanted to check that it could be published.

The context (although I suspect most people have at least seen some coverage by now) is that there was a threat to intensive care beds at two Burns Units - Whiston Hospital and Alder Hey. The suggestion was that these be moved to Manchester. A huge campaign started up including a petition drive, street stalls etc. The Lib Dems in Liverpool were very involved in collecting signatures (in fact I have never seen a petition collect names so quickly). Last week there was a ministerial announcement that the move was off the agenda, at least for now.
Anyway, here's the letter.


Dear Colin (Eldridge - one of my Lib Dem colleagues on the City Council and PPC for Liverpool Wavertree)

Thank you so much for letting me know the news about the Burns Service at Alder Hey. After corresponding via email for so many long months with Andy Burnham and Mike Farrar; it would have been nice to have been included in the circulation of the press release.

I feel real sense of victory and elation at the statement made, however this is tempered with caution because we have had these commitments before back in 2007 when they first tried to remove the service to Manchester. I hope with all my heart that this is not a stalling exercise to coincide with the General Election. I also know that without our efforts this inept process would have succeeded, only in June of this year was a press release issued by the Regional Burns review body announcing Manchester as the proffered option and not until we raised informed questions about the process did the SHA and latterly Andy Burnham appear to take a forced interest in the matter.

Many people outside the Health system have been involved in supporting our campaign but I firmly believe that without the involvement of yourself and the Leadership within Liverpool City Council we would not have had today’s announcement. We tried to engage politicians across the political spectrum but the first one to come out publicly in Liverpool; with a passion and energy to engage with the campaign was you.

I would like to thank you on behalf of my daughter Hollie and my family your support forced others to act and as a result we have a victory; I would ask that you please maintain your support and vigilance so that any future attempt can be rebutted in the same way. I also ask that the leadership of our city, seek assurance from the PCT that no other attempts are made to take our Health system up the motorway to finance Manchester’s.

With thanks and appreciation

Paul Fitzsimmons (Father of a Burns victim)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Station Traffic

A group of Councillors (not just from my ward but from neighbouring ones also) are to meet with Merseytravel and the Council's highways officers either at the end of this month or the very beginning of next month to look at the sticky problem of parking around Liverpool South Parkway Station. It's great that the station is successful, but despite the extra spaces created at the back, residents still report problems with blocked drives etc because of spill over commuter parking. I suspect this is not something that can be solved overnight but is rather a longer term issue that needs more than the odd extra space. I'll update once the meeting has taken place.

What surprises me about the Jane Kennedy announcement today.

Wavertree's Labour MP, Jane Kennedy, gave an exclusive to David Bartlett today. She announced she would not be standing again at the General Election.

I found out, as I imagine did quite a few others, from the front page of the Liverpool Echo.

I wouldn't say I am entirely surprised at her decision. But what does surprise me is the way it has come out.

Standing down is quite a big deal if you are a high profile former Minister and its not that long ago that colleagues were asking her to stand for a position within the PLP. Over the years she must have worked with quite a few Labour politicians and been involved in quite a few internal party things. So extricating herself was always going to be quite complicated.

The textbook way to announce in these circumstances would have been to brief key supporters in advance (albeit sworn to secrecy) and make sure letters would arrive on the day of the announcement for others. That way you don't upset people who have put themselves out for you - or you don't upset them as much. You also prepare the ground for useful comment when the news breaks. After all you probably want the party to be able to deal with the news rather than being hit by it.

I would have expected the Labour blogs and websites I look at to have been ready with a JK resignation re action ( they could have automatically embargoed it for goodness sake) to appear immediately after the exlusive. Instead there is silence from the sources I would normally expect to comment.

This makes me wonder if her announcement took her Labour colleagues in Liverpool by surprise also. If so that's not a great way to treat people. It's also politically rather misguided.

Friends of Garston Park update

Our next Friends of Garston Park meeting is on Friday 20th November at 6 30 at the Long Lane Church. Do come along if you are interested.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cycling in Speke

Here's some information that's come through about a series of chances to get involved in cycling if you live in or near Speke

The 1st Sunday of every month will be a Cycling Sunday in Speke! You can
have some fun, meet other people who enjoy cycling, get some exercise and
see parts of Speke and Liverpool you haven't seen before. The rides will
leave Lifestyles Austin Rawlinson at Parklands, Speke at 2pm, and will
last 2-4 hours.

Upcoming Cycling Sundays:

1st November 2009 6th December 2009

3rd January 2010 7th February 2010

November 1 National Wildflower Centre. Come along on the first Cycling
Sunday in Speke for a ride to the National Wildflower Centre. The ride
leaves Lifestyles Austin Rawlinson at Parklands at 2pm. At a leisurely
pace it heads to the National Wildflower Centre. Following an old railway
line, we cycle along the Liverpool Loop Line. It's then back to Austin
Rawlinson Lifestyles where the ride finishes. All abilities welcome and
the ride is led by qualified cycle instructors. There is no need to book.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Garston waste site update

A few people have asked me if Jack Allen holdings are entitled to appeal against the planning decision last month. The answer is yes, and they have to do so by 15th March. Clearly if they take account of both the strength of feeling and the fact that the City Council has flagged up alternative sites, they will not. However predicting reactions from a distant company like this is not an easy task.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Black History Month awards night

I had a great time last night at the Black History Month Groups achievement awards at the Crowne Plaza. This was the fifth year of the awards which were organised to recognise all sorts of achievements by people in, or working with, Black communities.

Liverpool City Council was one of the two main sponsors of the event so I joined staff from the equal opps team and other Councillors last night.

It was wonderful to see so many people and organisations recognised, and the presentation did the job in that it told you something... but left you wanting to find out more.

It was particularly good to see the Greenhouse project winning an award and to see Debbie and others up on stage.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Garston Park Planting

The planting session at Garston Park went well this morning. We (that is the Friends of Garston Park plus some extra local residents) planted the rest of the crocus bulbs. Yesterday a group of children from Garston C of E School helped with the first session. Our next meeting of the Friends Group is 20th November at 6 30 at Long Lane Church. Details of all our activities will also be on

Friday, 23 October 2009

Exhibition at the Bluecoat

I've just been to a preview ( very much a preview given that things were still being put in place) of a great exhibition and series of events at the Bluecoat from today until 29th. It's on themes of health and wellbeing and looking at the programme there are loads of opportunities for people to join in and have their say. You can get the programme e mailed to you if you e mail

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Veterans accuse the BNP

A good story on David Bartlett's Dale Street Blues Blog about what those who have fought for the country think about the BNP.

Not sure the link is working. Here is the address

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Liverpool airport noise

Liverpool John Lennon airport is running a consultation about its noise action plan. The deadline is tomorrow (21st October). Here is the link to the consultation page on the airport's website.

I have e mailed in my points which relate to sections in the document we are being asked about. I have posted my e mail below.


Thank you for asking for my response to your noise action plan consultation.

As a resident of Garston Under the Bridge and a Councillor for the nearby ward of Cressington, this is of great interest to me.

The points I would like to make are these:

* I am aware, through membership of the noise monitoring sub committee, that complaints are collected and responded to and that a log of these is kept. I am however not at all sure that everyone is aware of how to complain. As a Councillor I have received non specific complaints after the event and have asked the resident whether or not he or she has complained. Often the reply is that they are not sure how to or who to speak to. I would like to suggest a marketing campaign, possibly through existing community media, to make people more aware of how to complain and of what happens to complaints when received. It will be better I believe for the airport if there is confidence that all complaints are being received rather than some of them becoming bad feeling that the airport does not hear about.

* I am not sure that the membership of the noise monitoring sub committee is the right group of people. There is an argument for expanding it to include a few more representatives from various communities. I wonder also if the roles of the members ought to be publicised more widely so that they can act as a conduit for complaints if necessary.

* The existing time restrictions on engine testing are I believe too lax. 7 am is very early for potentially noisy work like this and 11 pm is too late. A better envelope for this work would be 8am to 8pm (similar in fact to restrictions often placed on building work when planning approval is given). On a weekend, and particularly on a Sunday, 7 am seems very unreasonable.

* I am pleased at the improvement to the Sound Insultation Grants Scheme (SIGS) and recognise the work that has gone into this. This is a benefit to residents in Speke and you may remember I lobbied for this some time ago. I do believe however that the area exposed to the noise criteria ought to be reviewed annually rather than every two years. Two years is a long time to put up with an increase in noise, particularly given that such an increase will be accompanied by an uncertainty about whether your property will qualify for a grant under the review. I would also argue for an exceptions policy. There might be cases for which the measurable noise is below the decibel level for qualification, yet the householder has certain medical or mental health conditions which would argue for an exception being made.

Once again, thank you for seeking my views and those of other residents and representatives

Cllr Paula Keaveney
Lib Dem - Cressington ward

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Planting session at Garston Park - 24 Oct

If you live near, or work near, or use Garston Park do come and join the Friends of Garston Park this coming Saturday (24th). We are having a planting session to plant some crocus bulbs. We are meeting at 11 am in the foyer of the Leisure Centre (but if you are a little late you will spot us as we are planning to put up a gazebo near the planting so we can offer some refreshments)

If you have gardening tools it would be great if you could bring them along as our supplies are a little limited. If you want more information please either post here or drop me an e mail at

The Friends also have a website at

The crocus bulbs for this event are paid for by Liverpool City Council.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Last night's Full Council

As a member of the Liverpool Commission I was very keen on the idea of webcasting Council meetings, after all the public should be able to see and hear the debate. After last night's meeting I am not so sure!

I don't have full verbatim notes so my commentary below is based on only certain parts of the meeting.

On the plus side

the "Statement of Values" was passed unanimously. This is a short document we have been working on for more than a year now and it designed to outline expectations about behaviour and respect. I suggested the Lord Mayor move this rather then me or someone else which I hope gave it the authority it deserved.

I had two questions tabled - one on funding to cover policing of the Labour cabinets meeting (PR stunt) in Liverpool and the other on the need for more carriages on rush hour trains in South Liverpool. I got answers to both and asked a supplementary (extra question) on one of them.

We debated the Multi Area agreement and there were some good points that came out, particularly about the need for scutiny in future.

We heard from the Children in Care Council and signed the "politicians pledge". The pledge is about how we relate to children in care for whom we are all corporate parents.

We heard from two reps from the student union about student finances and tuition fees. They were worried about the cap on fees being raised. They are right to be worried - if it happens it will price some students out altogether. They didn't particularly oppose fees per se though, which surprised me.

We had a debate on duplication of governance - lots of layers of bureacracy and the need to streamline. It was a Lib Dem motion and Labour didn't agree, but to be fair it was a good debate I thought with points on either side. The Lib Dems won the vote and Warren is right to push this - in times of hardship people need to feel assured that the various decision making layers are not an extra burden. They also need to feel that those layers are at least democratic.

On the minus side

A really bad tempered debate in which a lot of personal insults were either thrown or implied. It really is not on, whatever people's political opinions, to bully a staff member by proxy - which is what I felt happened last night.

Then after all the temper - a set of motions, which individuals had taken the trouble to write and sumit, going through without debate. Now it may be that everyone agreed with them but I can't be the only person who is concerned that some members seem happy to spend time on a political row but not on issues that would make a difference to citizens. Don't get me wrong - I realise that some people need the outlet of the row..its just that it would be good if it were followed by the substance.

Also on the minus side - it really is quite difficult to hear (or is that a plus in some cases)

The minutes and agendas for full council are published on the Council's website on

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Smoking and Films consultation

This consultation ... which I've blogged about earlier... finished on Monday this week. I dont' know the results yet and I suspect the Licensing Committee will get them first.
I still feel that it would be wrong for Liverpool to attempt to put 18 certificates on films that show smoking (without some negative message about smoking) and I hope the consultation has shown that people agree with that view. I have done a Freedom of Information Question to the PCT about the cost of the marketing during this consultation. I was pretty appalled to see a full page ad in the Metro and both I and my students have spotted outdoor advertising too. I haven't had an answer yet. Under the law the reply is due by 28th October. I'll post the information here when I get it.

Booker Avenue site

I've had, and my colleagues have had, enquiries from people in the ward about the vacant bit of land opposite the Greenhill pub and by the junction of Booker Avenue and Greenhill Road. We've been pursuing this and have written back to people to update them. I'm aware though that there will be people wondering or worrying but not necessarily getting in touch. So I'll use the blog to update as well.
The current situation is that the Council is pursuing the owners of the land (we know who they are) to get them to clear up and get it fenced off properly. Hopefully legal action won't be needed but the Council has the power to use it if the owners are reluctant for any reason. There is also a Vacant Sites initiative run by the Council and this particular plot is being included in that work. People living near there may know that there was a planning application for a Sainsbury's local some time ago on that spot, but that application failed (and there was quite a bit of local opposition). There aren't any other people applying at the moment - but we'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

New series of Curb .. can't wait

The new series of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has just started its run in the US, features a reunion of the four main characters from Seinfeld.

Can't wait.

Ward Walkabout

Peter Millea, Richard Oglethorpe and I were on a ward walkabout yesterday. Well I say walkabout but it was more of a drive about as the rain seemed intent on interfering every now and then (luckily we avoided the real downpour later in the day though) Obviously we are out and about most days but in this case we wanted to show the new neighbourhood manager for South Liverpool some of the issues raised with us. I'll be reported back on various of these as they are looked into and (hopefully) sorted.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Home educated children legislation

I'm working on my response to the government's consultation on electively home educated children. This follows a review report earlier in the year. I didn't know an awful lot about this subject before have been finding out more after a very interesting meeting with a constituent. The deadline for consultation responses is later this month. Here is the link to the DCSF page.

There are quite a few things to be worried about here. One is the typical new duty for local authorities without a clear sense of new resources. But the other is the harm these proposals may do to home education, which while a minority activity is often chosen for very good reasons.

Anyway I am in the process of writing and last minute research so if anyone has any views do please post them or e mail me at

Thursday, 1 October 2009

ID cards - Gordon Brown attempting a con

So, Gordon Brown makes a speech saying no compulsory ID cards which various Labour activists use in campaigning to imply its all been knocked on the head and shouldn't we all be jolly grateful.

That's on Tuesday this week.

Today the City Council gets a call from the implementation team wanting to discuss the plans the government has to roll out the cards in the north west.

You really couldn't make it up.

The fact is that Gordon's announcement means nothing. The Government has intended, for some time now, to work on soft targets to market the cards as some sort of voluntary benefit. Of course once enough people are conned we will find they want to make the scheme "cover everybody".

I've been aware of the pilot in Manchester and the Home Office marketing spend. We now find they are trying the same in Liverpool.

I am glad to report that in Liverpool the City Council leader has come out firmly against this. We Lib Dems oppose ID cards and are particularly annoyed at these under the counter ways of getting them adopted.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Is this a waste of public money?

I was rather concerned today to find a full page ad in the Metro about the debate over Smoking and Films. I realise there is a consultation going on but on the face of it quite a bit of public money is being spent on advertisements, billboard ads, lobbying documents and so on. By the looks of it this is being spent by the PCT (the Council is merely the body running the consultation).

The problem is not just that the money is being spent, but that it is being spent to promote one particular point of view. Are those with reservations about this suggestion being given money to run info campaigns? No.

And in these times when money is short all round, I am not sure it should be used in a way which either is, or looks, profligate.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information question to the PCT to see what the spend is.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Andrew Marr and Gordon Brown's health

My first reaction to the Andrew Marr/Gordon Brown health question debate was "well I am sure a journalist like that wouldn't post a question unless he had pretty much confirmed the source of his information".

Now it seems the source was an internet rumour - not smart journalism at all.

But putting the journalistic issues aside, what depths are we sinking to if we think it's OK for this sort of questioning to go on.

I have no idea whether Gordon Brown does or doesn't use prescription painkillers or anti depressants.

But if he does, so what?

Huge numbers of people have conditions (either temporary or permanent) that they manage with medication. Diabetics spring to mind.

Are we saying that any of these people are not fit to hold particular jobs?

Or are we saying , which I suspect is what some of those who have liked this form of questioning want, that certain illnesses are OK and others are not. Certain illnesses are morally acceptable and others are suspect.

Don't get me wrong, I think Gordon Brown is a rubbish prime minister but that is nothing to do with whether or not he takes tablets.

And I think Andrew Marr finds himself on the wrong side of the line on this one.

Bulky Bobs in Garston

Bulky Bobs are the people who collect bulky waste items (like furniture). They recycle or reuse it when they can. They sell what they have made at prices lower income people can afford. And they provide work and training. All in all a very good thing.

Even better ... they are coming to the Village Hall on Banks Road in Garston this Saturday (3rd) to display and sell some of their furniture and things like fridges.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Latest Government ID card con

The government is about to spend sizeable amounts of money trying to persuade people in Greater Manchester to take up the "offer" of an ID card.

Having failed to persuade people that this is a good idea, there are plans to sweeten the pill with lots of push polling and general suggestions that having a card will make life so much easier.

This needs to be resisted as it is clear "thin end of the wedge" marketing.

Here is the link to the No 2 ID Campaign group website.

Interestingly we tried to get this piloting in the North West issue discussed on a Liverpool City Council select committee and were blocked by Labour councillors claiming there was no such plan!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Licensing Committee update

Bizarre turn of events at the Licensing Committee. This was set up to discuss the application for the off license at the SPAR on Garston Old Road. It turned out that the people applying already had a license (the old one) so they didn't need to apply at all. For some reason they had thought they did - hence all the process. Needless to say this didn't go down well with the residents who had turned up to the meeting as it felt a bit of a waste of time. However I did manage to suggest that given there was anxiety about the site and given that everyone had put the time aside anyway, we should have a bit of a discussion about residents' issues. Richard Oglethorpe agreed to chair that and we did make some progress in identifying issues.

It's worth saying that the old license only covers sales from 8 am in the morning (the new application wanted a 6 am start).

There were more than 90 objections sent in so clearly people in the area do have worries about alcohol sales here. Residents have said they will keep an eye on things.

Licensing Committee - SPAR Garston Old Road

Peter Millea and I are off this afternoon to a Licensing Committee meeting. We're representing a group of constituents concerned about an application for an off license at the former SPAR. There's been an off license there before and residents tell us it caused no end of problems. The hours being asked for are 6 in the morning till late at night, which again could cause problems.

Licensing laws however are very strange. Elected Councillors, unless they happen to live very near the premises in question, can't just turn up to committee and speak. Instead we have to get explicit written instructions from named individuals. We have put some time and effort into getting these letters but for everyone who has written there are probably many more who feel strongly but who didn't get round to doing the letter. And the first reaction of constituents when you ask for the letter is to look at you strangely and say why can't you just go and speak anyway?

There is pretty much unanimous agreement among local politicians that these laws need to be changed. We can't change them though. It's up to the government.

I'll report back on what happens later today when I get a chance.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Friends of Garston Park

Last night was the 4th meeting of the Friends of Garston Park. I had a hand in setting this up by writing initially to local residents and organising a small meeting. Since then we have gradually picked up more interest and are busy contacting the organisations (sports for example) that actually use the park.

Its great to see enthusiasm about the park. Last night we discussed plans for a "planting event" and perhaps some litter picking. We discussed working with local schools. We had a lively discussion about the merits of daffodils and bluebells!

And, importantly, we elected a chair and secretary so we can take steps to becoming a little more formal. That will mean a chance of applying for funds for the future which is always a good thing.

There is a website for the Friends - where we will post more dtails about meetings etc. Meanwhile if you have queries, please do e mail me

Friday, 18 September 2009

Looks fun if you want to cycle!

This looks like it could be a fun event.

Cycle Speke! Speke Garston Coastal Reserve Tuesday 22 September
Discover Speke on this new guided bike ride! Come along for a bike ride
to the Speke Garston Coastal Reserve. The ride leaves Austin Rawlinson
Lifestyles at Parklands at 4pm. At a leisurely pace it heads to the
Speke Garston Coastal Reserve. Cycling past the old northern airfield
with its grade 2 listed buildings it's then back to Austin Rawlinson
Lifestyles where the ride finishes after about 1.5 hours. All abilities
welcome and the ride is led by qualified cycle instructors. There is no
need to book.

Get on your bike and explore Speke with us!

Kind regards,


Claudia Stuerck

Cycle Speke Project Officer

Strike to end

Just heard that the strike by the refuse collectors ( the purple, blue and green wheelie bins and the bags) has been ended by a vote at a meeting this morning.

The street cleansing teams are due to meet and vote at lunchtime today.

Link to consultation

The Government has said that Councils have to decide, by the end of this year, on a change to the way they run things. They either have to have a slightly different leader and cabinet arrangement or decide to have an elected Mayor. There is a chance for people in Liverpool to have their say at this web page.

If the link doesn't work, go to and look for the story which will be one of those on the front page

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Garston waste site update - GOOD NEWS!

Liverpool's planning committee today voted unanimously to reject the plan by Jack Allen Holdings for the waste site at Garston Dock (the one next to Cressington Heath).

I went to the planning meeting with colleagues Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe. We all spoke against the scheme.

Big thanks to everyone who organised petitions, wrote letters, put up posters etc so that thousands of objections came in.

We very much hope that Jack Allen won't now try any legal appeal business over this and will realise that with other much better sites available on Merseyside they should turn their attention elsewhere.

The minutes from today's meeting aren't ready yet, but when they are I will post a link to them from this site.

Monday, 14 September 2009

It's me!

I've been selected to be the Lib Dem PPC for Garston and Halewood.

I have stood in the General Election in the constituency before, although this will be the first time it has included Halewood (it used to be Liverpool Garston).

The General Election isn't that far away now. Can't wait.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Genie in the Gutter event

Yesterday I popped in to a really interesting arts event at the "bombed out church" in Liverpool. Organised by local charity Genie in the Gutter it was a mix of performance, film, exhibition and actual creation. The Church is kept open by arts organisation Urban Strawberry Lunch. I hadn't actually been in there before and it is well worth a look. The Genie in the Gutter organisation is also well worth finding out about. It's basically film, drama etc involving people with substance and alcohol abuse problems.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Gladstone Year

Right at the end of this year (29th December to be exact) we celebrate teh 200th aniversary of the birth in Liverpool of William Ewart Gladstone.

Quite a few events will be taking place.

I've just heard about one of the earliest which sounds well like attending.

It's one of the Roscoe Lectures on 27th October at 5pm.

Lord Alton will be deliverign a lecture called

Gladstone - Son of Liverpool: Scourge of Tyrants.

The Roscoe lectures are great. And they are free. If you are interested the contact person is Barbara Mace at The Liverpool John Moores University Roscoe Foundation for Cititzenship.

She is at

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

River clean up

Posted below is a note about a clean up of the shoreline organised by the Liverpool Sailing Club. I don't have any further details but there is an e mail contact below.

Riverside clean up

Liverpool Sailing Club is organising a big shoreline clean up from the
sailing clubin Speke up to Hale. It is to celebrate the cleaning up of
the river Mersey and the imminent end of the Mersey Basin Campaign which
has facilitated that clean up, to celebrate Liverpool's Year of the
Environment and also taking part in Mersey Basin Week. The date is
Friday 2nd October. Get time and details from tom Workman from the
sailing club at

Monday, 7 September 2009

DNA database question

I asked a Freedom of Information Question about children and young people on Merseyside and the DNA database a while ago. I had meant to post about it then. This is a link to the news story as a result of my question.

Garston waste plan update - details

I posted earlier with the good news that the City Council is recommending the planning committee refuse the application from Jack Allen for the waste site right next to the houses on Cressington Heath. I promised to add a link to the actual committee report. Here is is. You will find you need to click on the title of the agenda item (Stallbridge Dock)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Garston Waste plans update - good news

The Planning Committee which will decide on the application by Jack Allen Holdings to put a waste site at Garston Docks (right by some houses and a busy road) is on 15 September.

The recommendation, which is put together by staff at the City Council after going through all the relevant information including what Jack Allen says, what various organisations like the Fire Service say and what members of the public say, is for the committee to say no to the application.

There have been thousands of objections to this scheme and these have helped make the crucial arguments against.

I and my colleages (that's Richard and Peter in Cressington) sent in our own objections and have been campaigning against. So we are pleased by this development.

The decision hasn't actually been taken yet. That happens later this month. But this is good news.

The full report, which the councillors on the planning committee will be reading, is due to be published on line on Monday. When its available I'll put a link on this blog.

Members of the public are entitled to come to the planning committee meeting. Because the committee will be doing a site visit first, the meeting will start a little later than usual. It'll take place at the Town Hall on Dale Street with a start time of not earlier than 11 15. If you want to attend its best to be a little early. The nearest station to the Town Hall is Moorfields.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Merseyside police - new website

Merseyside police have a new website which should make it easier for people to find local information.

Here is the link.

Garston Waste site update

The planning committee meeting about this application is definitely 15th September. It's at the Town Hall. The report the councillors will be discussing will be available on line on Monday and as soon as I can I will add a link from this site to the report.

More updates to follow later.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Mathew Street update

Europe's biggest FREE annual music festival is set to be the best yet - thanks to a new sponsorship deal with some of the world's biggest companies associated with The Beatles.

And as a result of the deal, supporters of this weekend's Mathew Street Musical Festival (August 30-31) will have a chance to win some amazing fab prizes when they answer questions posted on the official festival website which also gives full listings for the main festival and the fringe venues.

They prizes are:

A VIP trip for two to see The Beatles "Love" in Las Vegas.

A guided tour of Abbey Road Studios.

A chance to be the first in the UK to perform a Beatles: Rock Band track to thousands of people.

This fabulous celebration of the music of The Beatles, in advance of the upcoming release on 09.09.09 of The Beatles Remasters and The Beatles: Rock Band, is the result of a major sponsorship deal announced between festival organisers, Liverpool City Council, and Harmonix/MTV Games/EA, EMI Music and Cirque du Soleil.

The unique package was facilitated by Bill Heckle, a Director of Mathew Street Festival Ltd and co-founder of the annual festival which is now in its 17th year attracting up to 250,000 people to the city.

The prizes in detail are:

A VIP trip for two to see The Beatles LOVE at The Mirage in Las Vegas, including:

Flights for two to Las Vegas (capped at £1,700)
Four night hotel stay at The Mirage
Dinner for two at The Mirage
Spa treatment for two at The Mirage
Two VIP tickets to The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil
A VIP Gift from LOVE

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil is excited to be a part of this year's festivities, in the city where all the music that inspired the magical Las Vegas production first began. "Love" has been thrilling audiences since it opened in June 2006 at The Mirage hotel, with its exuberant young cast and glorious musical soundscape, created from The Beatles' original masters by Sir George and Giles Martin.

Five pairs of tickets to a special guided tour of Abbey Road Studios

EMI Music is delighted to be supporting the Mathew Street Music Festival and celebrating the release of The Beatles Remasters in the band's home town.

"We know the fans have been waiting a long time," said EMI's Guy Hayden, "but it's been worth the wait. The music sounds better than ever and the Mini Documentaries on each album are like eavesdropping on the band in the studio. The new packaging has a wealth of marvellous rare photographs and the newly written liner notes will be fascinating for new fans and aficionados alike.''

Winners of both competitions will be announced on the Tunnel Stage, Monday 31st August, and on the festival website. Closing date for entries: Midnight on Sunday 30th August.

EMI Music have also arranged for fans attending the Beatles Week Convention at the Adelphi Hotel to get an exclusive preview of The Beatles Remasters, with playback sessions running from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. on Sunday 30th August.
Play The Beatles: Rock Band on stage at the Mathew Street Music Festival

Harmonix/MTV Games, EA and The Beatles: Rock Band are happy to be a part of this year's festival, and look forward to taking Liverpool by storm with the most innovative Rock Band game yet. Festival goers will be the first in the UK to have a chance to play the game, with a demo version available only at HMV in the Liverpool One shopping centre on Sunday and Monday, ten days ahead of the game's release on 09.09.09. Wanna-be Beatles can try their hand at playing Paul McCartney's bass, Ringo's drums and John and George's signature guitars, not to mention the three part vocal harmonies - a first for Rock Band and an integral part of The Beatles' much-loved sound.

Visitors to HMV will also have a chance to catch a glimpse of the stunning game animation, with its faithfully recreated locations and colourful, psychedelic dreamscapes. "For the first time fans can experience the Beatles' music from the inside - as part of the band," said MTV Games Music Division SVP Paul De Gooyer. "You can experience their legendary story in an entirely new way".

The best performing band on Sunday and Monday at HMV (which can be one person to six people) will have the opportunity to reprise their winning Rock Band song live on the Derby Square stage that day, after 4pm.

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "We are constantly looking at ways to add to the festival's appeal, and it's fantastic to have the support of such illustrious partners as EMI Music, Cirque du Soleil and Harmonix/MTV Games/EA. Their involvement cements my belief that this is our best festival yet."

To enter the competition you need to go the the Mathew Street festival website which is

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Off license deadline

And while I am talking about dates.. a reminder that the deadline for anyone wanting to comment about the application for the off license on Garston Old Road is this Friday (28th). I can pass things on if you e mail me at but please make sure your name and address are on the message.

Garston waste plant update

That provisional date of 15th September for the committee is looking a lot more solid. I should know for sure next week and so will post again to confirm.

Read this book!

I love reading and so it's great when I discover a new author (well new to me) and realise he or she has written a few already.

Browsing among the crime novels, I have just discovered Stephen Booth - whose two main protagonists are police officers in the Peak District. Read the first one, loved it, and so am now on another - Blind to the Bones.

If you like crime novels I can really recommend this author.

I'll be giving him a big mention when I do the Radio Merseyside book review this weekend.

Monday, 24 August 2009

CRB problems

Jenny Willot has been drawing attention to the increasing delays in getting, and costs of getting, CRB checks. It seems that not only is the system proving rather expensive for organisations and/or job applicants, the delays are actually causing people to lose job offers.

Obviously we all know we need some form of checking. But I do wonder whether the CRB system as it stands needs an overhaul. Because of the work I do, and the other things I am involved in, I have had to fill in quite a few forms for checks. At one time three organisations were involved. As my check had come back from the first form I assumed it would be OK to just show that form to the other organisations. But no. Each check had to be done separately. Now as it happened this cost me nothing as the organisations were paying. But given that these included voluntary organisations who were not that heavy on the cash, it seems bizarre that a certificate (particularly if it for the enhanced CRB) just can't be used over and over again in the time frame it covers. Now I realise that it is of course possible that I could have, since getting the first check, gone off on a mad crime spree. But how likely is that?

I also know of people who have come perilously close to not taking up jobs they had wanted, interviewed for and been offered, because of the delays in the system. Not everyone is in the happy position of being able to wait for an income to start.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Garston waste plant update

The closing date for objections (the original date was extended because of the second letter with new information) is tomorrow (13th August). However the planning department will consider objections arriving late as long as they arrive before the material is sent to the planning committee. I have been doing some checking about when the planning committee may consider this. The likely date at the moment is 15th September. This is very provisional at the moment though so my advice to anyone wanting to come to the committee is to mark this date (morning) in their diaries for now and as soon as we have hard and fast information I will post it here.

All three of the Cressington Councillors have sent in objections to the scheme and we are working with residents and residents groups to oppose the plan.

Friends of Garston Park meeting

A quick note to say that the next meeting is on Friday 18th September at 6 30pm at Long Lane Church. I will post again nearer the time with any other details. Meanwhile there is a website for the Friends which is

Garston Old Road Licensing Application update

The deadline for people commenting on this off license application has been extended. The law says that the details have to be displayed on a pale blue sheet for a given time. Because the sign went missing, the deadline has been extended to late August to give people a proper chance. I've blogged about this previously so please scroll down to see the information.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

IT restricted!

I am not going to be able to blog or check the blog for a short while. Apologies.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Licensing issue - Garston Old Road

I am currently following up on an issue about a licensing application on Garston Old Road. This is for an "alcohol off sales only" license from 6 am to 11pm 7 days a week at number 81, which is the old Spar shop - currently closed. I have been speaking to some residents and there is some concern about potential problems here. Some objections have already been sent in but Licensing Laws are a bit barmy so in order for the elected councillors to make comments/objections on any application we need to be specifically appointed by a resident (apart from those instances where we live very near the premises and very means very in these cases). Anyway, there is a useful page on the City Council website about how to comment on applications ( - then look for the section on Licensing Act 2003) which spells out the four licensing objectives and gives an explanation of the process. The deadline for comments on this one is in early August. I don't know when the licensing committee will meet but I will post any news on this on the blog.

Friends of Garston Park

Big thanks to everyone who helped with the Friends of Garston Park stall last Friday. We got some new names of interested people and so we are still making progress. Sadly on the way back from the park Peter Millea and I walked past some rather obvious vandalism to the trees, which we have reported. Still now that a group is getting together I think we can do more to improve and promote this bit of Garston.

Putting Cressington First event

Friday evening saw a different type of "meeting" being tried out. For the last year or so the City Council has been paying for ward based events for residents, councillors, agency reps etc. (LCVS would do the organisation and publicity) I had felt that our ones in Cressington weren't quite hitting the mark - you never really got in depth discussion of an issue but people who wanted to make a quick contact on a single issue were forced to sit through a lot of other stuff. So we tried a different format which was a series of stalls - Councillors, PCT, police etc - with a general invitation for residents to come and talk to whoever they wanted to. We invited along organisations like Bulky Bobs, Rotters etc as well. We were reasonably lucky with the weather and set up outside Garston Leisure Centre (the idea being that this was a time and place with a lot of people around). It felt a lot fresher and easier and I did manage to speak to some people who had not been at the previous meetings. And obviously where a more in depth follow up is needed it will happen.

We will probably try some other formats and venues over the next year.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Smoking and films consultation starts

The PCT is asking Liverpool Licensing Authority to exercise power to give 18 certificates to films that show smoking (apart from those showing it in a bad light).

There is a consultation which has just started. Here is the link. The closing date is in October.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Motion on Whiston Burns Unit

At the Council meeting last week I proposed a motion about the threatened closure of the serious burns unit at Whiston Hospital. The motion was passed. It was actually proposed not just by me but by colleagues including Flo Clucas, Barbara Mace, Colin Eldridge and Paul Twigger (although the printed minutes only show my name for some reason)

I am pasting the extract from the minutes below.

The material from the Council meeting also includes the report of the Liverpool Commission.

This will all now be available at

Motion by Councillor Paula Keaveney:

Council notes with alarm the proposal to close the Burns Unit at Whiston Hospital.

Council notes that there is a proposal that in future this service should be provided elsewhere as a result of a review of service provision across the North West. The suggestion is that patients needing to be treated by a specialist unit will have to go to Manchester.

Council notes that currently the unit exists to serve around 4 million people in Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and the Isle of Man. Should there be no service at Whiston, patients would have to be transported some distance for vital treatment. Rapid treatment is important in the case of serious burns and Council is alarmed that this might hinder patients’ prospects of recovery.

Council notes that a community campaign has already started to resist these proposals.

Council calls on the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Health and the North West Strategic Health Authority giving Council’s views on this and calling for a rethink on the decision not to shortlist Whiston as a future major burns unit.

Amendment by Councillor Ian Jobling,

seconded by Councillor Flo Clucas OBE;

That the Motion be agreed subject to the wording “and Alder Hey Burns Unit” being inserted each time after the words “Whiston”

Monday, 13 July 2009

Question to Council - cabinet meeting

My other (see previous post) question at Full Council was on the cost of the Labour Cabinet meeting in Liverpool. I have been pressing for some time saying the government ought to pay the policing costs of this. The police authority wrote to ask for the money. Sadly they have been turned down by the government (thus turning their PR into definitely negative I would have said)

In my supplementary I asked whether the authority would be pushing government to reconsider. The answer to that was yes.

Amazingly I didn't get heckled this time. On the previous occasions I have asked this question about the money Labour councillors decided to heckle. They now obviously realise the money should be paid.

Anyway, here is the written answer. The supplementary was verbal so I don't have that in print.

Question to the Representative of the Police Authority

By Councillor Paula Keaveney


Has the police authority yet received any money to pay for the policing of the Cabinet Meeting in Liverpool?


The Authority and the Force received a response from the Home Office in respect of the matter yesterday, 30th June 2009.

After considering the request for reimbursement against the special grant guidance, the Home Office has concluded that after removing the opportunity costs element which the Force would have had to meet anyway, the remaining additional cost is of a level that a Force of Merseyside's capability should be able to absorb.

Although not awarding a grant on this occasion, the Minister of State commended officers for the successful manner in which the operation was performed and asked that his thanks be passed on.

Question at Council

I asked a couple of questions at Full Council last week. (As an executive member I am not allowed to ask questions of other exec members but I can ask questions of the councillors representing the police authority, the transport authority and so on)

I asked about the facilities for cyclists at Liverpool South Parkway station. We are losing more than 60 spaces which will, when work has been completed, be replaced by about half that number.

Now I know that many of the bike stands were actually not used. But my argument is that to encourage people to use bikes more they have to repeatedly see that there will be enough space for them. I am not at all sure that the eventual replacements will serve that psychological function. (Annoyingly between submitting the question and the date of the council meeting my own bike was stolen from the temporary stands outside the station !)

Anyway, in my supplementary question I asked the rep to go back to the transport authority - MITA - and see if the planned number of places could be expanded. I think the comparison with Southport is flawed here.

The written answer is below (pasted on). You can only see the written answer as my follow up supplementary was verbal - but it's watch this space as far as cycles and the station go.


Prior to alteration work starting at Liverpool South Parkway Station, the station had inside parking spaces for 63 bicycles. There was a level of security because the bike area was constantly in sight of station staff.

How many spaces will there be as a result of the alterations?

How much shelters will there be for bikes as a result of the alterations?

What will be the level of security?


LSP was designed with space for 63 cycles. However, patronage has been low since the station opened with the maximum number of cycles using the facility only 9.

One of reasons for this is that Merseyrail permit cycles onto trains free of charge.

Cycle storage will consist of 2 shelters as per Southport station, with capacity for 20 cycles under cover, and 12 cycle lockers.

The new location is covered by existing CCTV. Merseyrail are installing lighting within the shelter, 2 no lighting bollards either side of the shelter and a secondary lighting pole to illuminate the lockers.

The new location is freely visible from within the station concourse; this was in contrast to the old location that was dark and slightly obscured.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Airport noise

Liverpool John Lennon airport is organising a consultation on its noise action plan. It is asking people to comment by 21st October. You can find the material on the website here. You can also e mail them asking for a hard copy (

On a linked point, I have been appointed by the City Council to be one of two councillors to serve on the Noise Monitoring Sub Committee, which brings together people from the airport and people from a number of organisations. I am happy to raise any noise related points. I am not sure yet when the next meeting is but in anticipation of a meeting you are welcome to pass things on to me. If you don't want to paste on the blog, please do e mail me at

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Garston waste plans - update

They've done it again!! Because there was information missing in the Jack Allen planning application the Council is having to write to residents again to give them an extra chance to comment. Part of this missing information is to do with the height of a building

If you have sent in an objection its important to know that your original objection still stands as this change isn't enough for the whole process to start again. You can of course add to your objection.

This may well have a knock on effect in terms of the timing of the planning committee meeting. I had expected this in early August. It now looks as if early September is the likely slot. I will update when I can. Meanwhile the three Lib Dem Councillors in Cressington remain opposed to this mad scheme.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Are you a tenant of LMH?

With a few other Councillors, I have a meeting on Friday with the Chief Executive of Liverpool Mutual Homes. This is the organisation that took over the remaining City Council properties in the stock transfer and so is responsible for maintenance etc of these homes.

If you live in Cressington or near to Cressington, and have an issue you want me to raise, please let me know. If you issue is very private to you its probably better to e mail me personally at If its a general one about site maintenance etc, do post on the blog( although please be specific enough about location for it to be followed up) I'll need to hear from you by Thursday lunchtime.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Thousands object

The closing date has now gone for people wanting to send in objections to and comments about the planning application from Jack Allen Holdings to build a waste site at Garston Docks.

There are a good two boxes full of objections.

The planning department say that anything coming in late will be added to the total up until the report goes to the planning committee, so if you are sitting on an unsent objection it is still worth putting it in the post.

The planning committee date isn't known yet but it is more likely to be next month than this. The minute we know I will make sure the details are posted here.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Footpaths by the station

Friday afternoon (shortly before the downpour thankfully)was a site visit to the troublesome footpaths near Cressington Station. Network Rail is actually reponsible for much of these (and we even found some old signs to prove it) so as a result of wht we (councillors and neighbourhood officers) saw we are going to follow up with NR and others to see what can be done to make the paths cleaner and more pleasant to use.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Should councillors be full time?

Every now and then this subject comes up. David Bartlett on his Dale Street Blues blog raised this the other day (albeit focusing more on what Councillors are paid).

Admittedly when I am doing the 5 30 am casework e mails so I stand a fighting chance of getting to work on time the thought of being a full time Councillor appeals.

But if no elected members were in other employment we would lose a lot.

I'll give you an example. Last night I was at a Select Committee where among other things we discussed HR, health and safety, debt and benefits and students and Council Tax. Our discussions were helped hugely by the fact that among the Councillors were people whose professional employment gave them experience and expertise of parts of these areas. They were able to bring a perspective to the debate that informed common sense may not have.

Now you could argue that it is possible to make yourself an expert by research. And certainly many councillors develop a specialist area and research it. But the real world experience is so very very useful.

Being in employment elsewhere also means you keep a real world connection. Now I know that we all do a lot of talking to residents, joining in things, sharing ideas etc and that is all great. For the most part we live in or near the wards we represent and we are with constituents every day. But it is so very easy, if you do nothing but politics, to lose some of the real world perspective. If nothing else those Councillors with jobs are better at ensuring that meetings are accessible to working people than those without!

That's not to say that everyone has other employment. Some Councillors are retired. Others have huge voluntary work commitments which are just as important as paid work. But a situation in which everyone regarded themselves as solely a politician would, at local level, be a great loss I think.

Rushing around

Yesterday was one of those days that could have done with a few extra hours!

Up early to deal with some case work by e mail then off to the station to work. I was teaching on the FastTrack programme, which is a scheme for people who don't have the usual qualifications to get into University. Its an intensive series of sessions to get them ready for potential entry onto a degree in September. Focused on how news is created and then on crisis communications (sadly a growing area of PR!).

Then a spell sorting things out for the External Examiner (who looks at our students' work and the way we have marked things) before rushing back to Liverpool.

First meeting - electoral committee. A waste of time as six of us were effectively being asked to make a decision on behalf of the Council with no consultation of colleagues. Agreed to put the decision off to at least test the waters with others.

Second meeting - Corporate Services Select Committee. I am there in my Exec Member Capacity. Lasted just over two hours but some good discussions on important (and interesting) topics. I made some points about students and Council Tax.

Then off to the Phil for the Malcolm Gradwell talk. He's the author of Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers. Really enjoyed it but felt it could have done with a Question and Answer session at the end. He used some events in the American Civil was as an analogy when talking about the current financial crisis. Its the overconfidence and mistakes of expertise you have to worry about, not the mistakes of the incompetents!

Finally home , and a few more e mails. In between all of this I actually managed to make a few phone calls and a few appointments.

and today - more of same!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Jack Allen plans - deadline tomorrow for objections

The deadline for objections to the Jack Allen waste plan is tomorrow (24th June). If you have a letter and realise now its too late to catch the post, put it through my door today and I'll take it to the Council offices when I go in tomorrow. I live at 75 Canterbury Street, Garston (which is in the part referred to as Under the Bridge).

Monday, 22 June 2009

Africa Oye

I went to Africa Oye at Sefton Park this weekend. Its a great festival. What I hadn't realised it it is apparently the largest festival of African music in the UK.

Apart from the great music I also managed to do a bit of shopping from the stalls. If you haven't been to this before, do make a date for next year as its fantasic (even when the weather isn't that great)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Friends of Garston Park meeting

Our next meeting is this coming Tuesday evening (23rd) at 7pm. People who've already been in touch have had letters or e mails, but if you are interested and we havent spoken yet, please do e mail me at

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Well done Nick on Trident.

Now I know this news is a day or so old now but I am so pleased at what Nick Clegg has said about Trident. We absolutely shouldn't be renewing this and its good for a national party leader to say so. I can't quite figure out why Labour want to cling on to this idea, May be its a machismo thing.

Garston waste plans update

Including today (Thursday) there are now just seven days to get in any letters of objection to the Jack Allen plans for a waste plant on Garston Dock (and right next to houses). If you live near me in Garston and don't want to risk the post you can pop your letter through my door at 75 Canterbury Street (Under the Bridge) by Tuesday 23rd and I will take it in to the Council offices for the deadline day.

Garston hospital work - planning update

The proposed new Garston hospital is being discussed at the planning committee again next week (Tuesday 23rd). This is to do with the appearance of the building as when the planning permission was given the committee said they wanted more details of the materials that would be used. Here is a link to the report for next week's meeting.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Smoking and films - censorship?

There's going to be a consultation in Liverpool about smoking and films.

The PCT (health service) wants the Council to use its licensing powers to make sure that films that show smoking (with some exceptions) get high age certificates. The argument is that children are influenced into taking up smoking because of what they see on the screen.

I say - rubbish!

I was 100 percent behind the smoking ban in public places for good Liberal reasons (second hand smoke does clear harm to other people). I am 100 percent against this other move for good Liberal reasons too.

Let's say a film maker makes a new film about the "Wild West". There is a battle. Then a truce. The two sides want to smoke the pipe of peace. Well under what the PCT wants if this is to be viewable by children the sides either have to eat the biscuit of peace instead or a warrior leans into shot to deliver a health message. So much for artistic integrity! So much for avoiding censorship.

The PCT will argue that this is a step worth taking because of children smoking. But surely what influences children is less an hour at the pictures and more what their parents, friends or role models do.

Hopefully most people will realise this is a step too far!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Garston waste plans update

Here's part of the objection I have sent in to the plans by Jack Allen Holdings to build a waste plant at Garston Dock (and right by people's houses). I may well send in a supplementary too. If you are writing in and don't want to use a template letter, please make sure you say that you want to be informed of the date, time and venue of any relevant Planning Committee meeting

Objection from Cllr Paula Keaveney to planning application 09F/1012 (from Jack Allen Holdings)

Dear Ms Robinson

I should like to formally object to the application to build a waste facility at Garston Dock. I am doing this both as a ward councillor (Cressington Ward) and as a resident of Garston.

My reasons are as follows:

• Should this application be granted it will be contrary to established City Council policy. On 8th May the Executive Board took a decision on potential waste sites. This site was not one of those approved. This decision followed a lengthy process to identify suitable sites in Liverpool and the wider Merseyside area. It is worth noting that during this process this site was assessed and given a minus numbers score as regards its suitability.
• Should this application be granted it will cause major problems for other aspects of established City Council policy. The identification of Dingle Bank as housing land was made some time ago. A waste plant on this site will threaten the viability of this project and therefore contradict positions already taken.
• The site for this facility is simply not suitable. It is extremely close to existing housing and housing still being built. These residents, including those on the Cressington Heath development, will suffer noise and pollution from increased traffic movements. They will also have a loss of visual amenity as it is impossible to build such a facility without affecting the view. Furthermore odours from the process are highly likely to be present for much of the time. Given that this is by the river and therefore can be windy, these odours will spread widely.
• The road system leading to this proposed facility is simply not suitable. Already the road(s) along which delivery lorries would need to travel are congested and dangerous at times. The planning department recently approved plans for a large nursery and after school facility on one of these approach roads. There is a clear road safety issue here with lorries competing for space with parents dropping off young children. Furthermore Liverpool John Lennon airport has made it clear that it wishes to expand, again generating extra traffic. This extra traffic from the waste site is a potential recipe for disaster.
• The City Council has, with partners, been working for some time on the regeneration of Garston. There has been some progress, but it is acknowledged that this process takes time and persistence. This development has the potential to stop regeneration in its tracks. House builders will not want to build in the area. The small businesses that rely on increased residential properties will not be able to sustain themselves. (I base this on conversations with developers)
• The proposed development would have a major impact on a significant wildlife area (RAMSAR)
• Finally given that other sites in Liverpool and Merseyside have been identified as suitable for waste development, the applicants seem unreasonable in persisting with this one in the teeth of the evidence.

Please inform me of the date of the relevant planning committee (should the application get that far). I would like to attend and speak.

Cllr Paula Keaveney
Cressington Ward

Sunday, 14 June 2009

ID cards to be stopped?

Today's Sunday Times is reporting that new Home Secretary Alan Johnson wants to have another look at the plans to introduce ID cards. If he cancels them it'll be in the nick of time as we already know that the government has already identified certain groups to act as the first card holders (including the airport staff at Manchester which led to a protest by BALPA). We all know that ID cards won't achieve what the government says they will, will change the relationship between citizen and the state and will cost money that could be spent better elsewhere. Fingers crossed then that Mr Johnson does decide against and he can persuade his colleagues who have spent so long arguing in favour.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Busy day on the campaign trail

Into town early this morning to do my usual book review. I overslept a bit today so it was a huge rush to make sure I was there on time (that's the problem with live radio). Then a stint in the office dealing with casework letters before the train to Garston to do a street surgery in part of the ward. Back on the bus to deliver in Knotty Ash. Am tired now? Definitely.

Garston Academy consultation

Am posting the info below in case anyone in the wider Garston area hasn't seen it and wants to go along.

There are two consultation events taking place around plans for the Garston Academy.

The first is on 15th June at 7pm at New Heys School.
The second is on 25th June at 7pm at St Benedicts.

The idea is for people to be able to hear about the plans, ask questions and made comments.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Garston waste plans update

Don't forget, deadline for objections is June 24th. I sent mine in yesterday and will post copy on this blog shortly

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Garston Waste Plans update

The deadline for objections to this plan is 24th June.

You can object by letter, but there is also an on line facility for this at

Information about the plans is available through Planning Explorer which you can find at (look for the Find It section and select Planning Explorer)

Not eating meat

Towards the end of last year I decided to stop eating meat and fish. I had tried being a vegetarian before and found it difficult. This time though it is actually pretty easy and the veggie food is (on the whole) a lot nicer. My motivation wasnt about being nice to animals. It was all around environmental concerns and global warming. Meat production simply causes more damage and its surely more sensible to eat whats grown than to feed it to animals and then eat that. Interestingly one of my councillor colleagues is suggesting that schools in Liverpool have one meat free day a week for similar reasons.

Monday, 8 June 2009

European Elections

When I went to sleep last night, after getting home from the Liverpool count, it looked like the BNP hadn't quite managed to get an MEP elected here.

When I woke up this morning the first thing I heard was a radio interview with the odious Nick Griffin celebrating his election.

I realise the BNP is a legal party and is entitled to stand etc etc .. but that doesn't stop me feeling really sick.

Hopefully Griffin and his colleague from Yorkshire will fail to make an impact or will be exposed more widely for what they are. I truly believe many of those voting for them didn't realise exactly what they stand for.

Sadly, and I suppose I am doing this too, his election rather overshadowed the other results. Chris Davies MEP, the Lib Dem who exposed the expenses scandal in the European Parliament, was deservedly re elected. We didn't manage to get a second North West seat, although I am tempted to say that Chris' work rate equals that of several other MEPs combined.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Br Proud Awards

Last night I was at the Be Proud Awards at St Georges Hall. These are the "staff oscars" for people who work at Liverpool City Council. It was great to see people being recognised for the work they do, and to see some of the awards going to teams that are normally not particularly visible. The event is organised by the Internal Communications team at the Council so well done to them too!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Police raid on Lib Dem HQ!

Up early this morning to deliver Good Morning Leaflets for Chris Davies and our team in the Euro Elections. As I arrived at our Liverpool HQ still sleepy as it was only 5 45 I was greeted by the sight of an open door and two police cars plus officers outside.

First thought - we had been burgled overnight.
Second thought - if we have been done over I hope the burglars will at least deliver some of the leaflets.

Turned out though that the passing bobbies spotted the open door of the building, and a shadowy figure inside, and thought they had seen a robbery going on. Admittedly most people were still in their beds at that time in the morning. So suspicious, they rushed up the stairs to find.... our organiser Tom working away.

Now I am not saying Tom looks like a criminal. But I can see how the sight of a young man wearing a hoodie in an office with the door open at that time of morning made the constabulary suspicious. Now they just think we are very, very enthusiastic!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Friends of Garston Park

Last month a small group of us met to talk about setting up a Friends of Garston Park group. We have some ideas, including an event in the summer or early Autumn. we've got another meeting later this month and I'd really like to hear from other people interested in joining in (coming to a meeting doesn't commit you to things!)
If you want to get involved, or just find out more, please drop me an e mail at or drop me a line at 75 Canterbury Street, Garston, Liverpool, L19 8LQ.

Garston waste plans update

Earlier this evening I was at the public meeting organised by the South Liverpool Residents group as part of the campaign against plans for the waste plant at Garston Dock. There is still anger (as you'd expect) about what Jack Allen is trying to do. Local residents who were there took away letters to ask people to sign and volunteered for other tasks too. I have a couple of suggested letters that I can let you have if you want some suggestions to build on. I can e mail these or put them in the post. If you want these please contact me at my council e mail address which is Obviously if you want a hard copy I will need a postal address!

Garston waste site update

Here are some key dates for people planning objection letters.

The planning officers say the statutory consultation period will end on 24th June. (Letters received after then will still be taken into account but for maximum impact people should make sure they meet the 24th June deadline).

If the plans then go to the planning committee it is possible that this will be 14th July but much more likely that it will be 4th August or later. Committee members are likely to want to visit the site, which could mean a visit followed by a meeting that day, or a visit followed by a meeting a week or so later.

Members of the public are entitled to attend the planning committee. I'll post details of dates when they are confirmed. However if you want the council to write back to you to tell you the date and time of the meeting you need to put that request in your letter of objection.

The three Lib Dem Councillors in Cressington are sending in objection letters. I will post mine on this blog before the deadline.

For all sorts of reasons, the comments bit of this blog is switched off at the moment. If you need or want to get in touch with me about this however please e mail me at my council e mail which is

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Garston waste plans update

There's a meeting organised by the South Liverpool Residents Group (the group among others campaigning against the Jack Allen Plans) tomorrow (Wednesday) night. Its at 7pm at the Garston Village Hall (Banks Road). Quite a few people have already been signing petitions or writing letters but some research has gone into producing some suggested material, which I was up earlier than usual this morning to get copied I'll be the one at the meeting with the huge box! The residents group has a website - which is a source of information about the campaign. Alternatively please feel free to e mail me at my council e mail which is

Monday, 1 June 2009

Regulation 33

On Friday I was off to do a Reg 33 visit to a children's home (in this case somewhere providing short stays for disabled children and young people). We (that is the councillors who volunteer for these) visit unannounced to check that all is OK. Sometimes there are children and young people around and sometimes it is just the staff. On Friday apart from one young lady it was just the staff as they were waiting for a new group to arrive. It meant I had a chance to look round the building and rooms in a bit more detail (which is important because the decorations and furniture matter greatly but can also take a bit of a bashing) The visits take place once a month. It's one of the "non political" but important things that electetd members do. All of Liverpool's councillors are corporate parents and so have some responsibility for the services we are visiting.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Garston waste plant plans update

The application from Jack Allen Holdings for planning permission to build a waste plant at Garston Docks is now valid (all the paperwork is in). That means the plan will have to be discussed at the City Council planning committee later this year. First there is a chance for people to send in objections. The three Lib Dem Councilors for Cressington will, as before, be fighting this application. We believe that this site is completely wrong for this idea. What's more when there was a neutral investigation of a whole load of potential sites across Merseyside, this one scored below zero for its suitability for waste.

Official consultation letters are going out at the moment to people living near the site. Because of the volume of letters, these won't all arrive on the same day.

The Cressington Lib Dem Councillors are also writing to residents. Pasted below is a copy of the letter we have sent.


Dear Resident

We are writing, as your elected councillors, to let you know that sadly
Jack Allen Holdings have resubmitted their application to build a waste
disposal facility at Garston Dock.

As you may be aware, a previous application was withdrawn following a
huge number of objections. As your councillors we objected and
campaigned against the scheme. Thousands of you also objected and the
company were forced to think again.

Now they have resubmitted an amended plan.

As your Councillors we still believe this is wrong. Liverpool does need
waste facilities but these should not be next to people's houses and off
already busy roads. Garston is regenerating and we believe this plan
may halt some of that well needed regeneration.

Once again we are asking you to send in objections to the plans. Formal
letters will be going out but even if you do not receive a letter, you
are entitled to object. The reference number for the plan is 09F/1012
which you need to quote in any letter. The address to write to is
Planning Department, Millennium House, Liverpool City Council, Victoria Street, Liverpool,

The City Council is obliged by law to operate a system to consider this
application. As part of that preliminary information is available on
the Council's website ( in the Planning Explorer
Section. Type the reference number into the search boxes.

Please feel free to contact us on this, or any other issue.

We can be contacted by letter, e mail or phone.

Cllr Richard Oglethorpe -
Cllr Peter Millea -
Cllr Paula Keaveney -

Office phone numbers - 0151 225 2354 or 0151 225 2353 (messages can be left if we are not there)

You may also like to know that our regular surgeries are now on a
Saturday morning at 10 am at Garston Library and One Stop Shop on Bowden
Road. These are on the 1st, 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month (except


Richard Oglethorpe Peter Millea Paula Keaveney

Lib Dem Councillors - Cressington Ward

Friday, 22 May 2009

Question on police money

After the AGM bit of the Council meeting on Tuesday we were into the usual meeting which includes Question Time - either questions to exec members (which I am banned from because I am one) or questions to the councillors representing organisations like the Police Authority or Merseytravel. For the third time I asked about the money spent on policing the Labour Cabinets meeting in Liverpool. I simply don't believe Merseyside taxpayers and the Merseyside Police Authority should be picking up the bill for this rather obvious PR stunt. The answer to my question this week was to the effect that the Government has been asked twice to pay up and hasn't replied to the letters. I suspect it'll be ages before we get a decent reply. A couple of years ago it turned out that there were some Liverpool MPs who had let a good 15 months go by without replying to letters that were directly about their area of responsibility.

A bit of a week of it!

This must have been one of the most hectic weeks I've had. We're in that period at work when all the student work has to be marked, double marked and the marks recorded (looming deadline on Wednesday). I've had everything from projects on the Masters Degrees, to undergraduate dissertations to essays and logbooks. But this has also been a week of loads of politics and meetings. I've had a group meeting, the Council AGM, I've been on the vetting panel for would be Lib Dem candidates (with more of that to come) and I've got the Liverpool Commission tonight. Oh and we had an end of term celebration with the students with a mock awards ceremony on Wednesday that I had to organise. May be next year I can try to arrange so that I don't have high pressure politics and work events in the same few days.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Garston Park reminder

A quick reminder that there's an initial meeting to talk about starting a Friends of Garston Park group this coming Tuesday (26th) at 7pm at the Garston Leisure Centre. If you want to know more please drop me an e mail at my council e mail address -

New Lord Mayor

Cllr Mike Storey was sworn in (if that's the word) as the new Lord Mayor of Liverpool last night. He decided to have the installation (maybe that's the word) dinner on Saturday so we will be able to celebrate properly then.

Cllr Hazel Williams is the new Deputy Lord Mayor. Great to see another woman in the role!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Garston waste plans update

Not a lot extra to say. Jack Allen did put their plans in to the planning offices. The application was invalid (I understand there was a key piece of paper missing). Nothing will happen now until they make sure the application is at least valid. I cant help thinking that an organisation that can't provide the right paperwork is probably not the best to run something as technical as a waste plant.

Liverpool Commission

It's the last meeting of the Liverpool Commission this Friday. It'll be a different sort of meeting as, instead of hearing evidence and asking questions, we will be looking at some of the evidence that's come in and discussing the writing of the report. We hope the report, with its recommendations, will be out around late June and certainly in time for the Full Council meeting in July. Friday's meeting is in private unlike the others - but I can still raise any issues then that relate to the topics we've been covering. The comments function is still off on this blog at the moment (see earlier post) but you can e mail me at my council e mail which is Information about the Commission is on the City Council's website - - in the section about councillors, meetings and agendas.

Drenched - again

I've been out delivering every day for the last four days. And each time I have got to the destination and started - only for the heavens to open. Clearly I am jinxed.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Garfourth Close alleygate agreed

The Traffic and Highways Representation Committee agreed yesterday that alleygates could be put on the alley that runs from Garfourth Close to Woolton Road. That will end a long running saga of problems there. I remember residents talking about this as far back as 2005. (comments still off - see earlier post)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Grants for Young People in Liverpool

This is a message from LCVS about grants for young people in Liverpool. The deadline is quite soon.


The David Lewis Association has a small amount of funding available to help disadvantaged, individual young people aged 14 – 25 in Liverpool to have a life changing experience.

Grants from £500 to £5,000 (perhaps more in exceptional circumstances) are available for disadvantaged young people, nominated by a local voluntary or community organisation (VCO), who must

Show exceptional potential or be embarking on a personal challenge
Live in Liverpool
Demonstrate the need for financial assistance
Grants may also be given to help with medical bills or adaptations where

The treatment undertaken will enable the young person to take a more active role in the life of the community or enable them to take up a personal challenge
The adaptation will enable the young person to fulfil their potential
How to apply

The David Lewis Association is looking for nominations from local voluntary and community sector groups, youth organisations etc. The initial nomination form is available from the LCVS Grants Team who can be contacted on 227 5177, via email - or via the LCVS web site – .

The closing date for nominations is Friday, 29th May. The Governors of the David Lewis Association will shortlist a number of applicants who will be asked to complete a Stage 2 application form. The Grants Team at LCVS will then assess these Stage 2 applications and a decision will be made in June at a meeting of the David Lewis Association trustees.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Garfourth Close alleygate

Tomorrow's Traffic and Highways Committee will be taking a decision about the plans for an alleygate on the alley that runs from Garfourth Close to Woolton Road. There have been calls for this for some time now and it took a while to get the evidence. It is not universally wanted however and there has been an objection. That's why the committee is meeting. My colleague Peter Millea usually chairs this meeting but he has asked someone else to take the chair so that he can represent our Cressington constituents. I have student assessments that morning so I can't be there. Will blog again when we have the decision. (comments still off - see earlier post)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Waste plan development

Last time I blogged about this we were waiting to hear whether Jack Allen (the company wanting to put a waste disposal facility at the docks in Garston) were going to re submit their plans or not. Well the bad news is they are. The PR company representing JA have sent out a press release so there may be some initial coverage in tomorrow's Daily Post or Echo.

Obviously until the plans are in and registered and we have had a chance to see them we won't know what, if anything, has changed since the exhibitions. But its hard to think of any change that would make this proposal welcome on this site. Put quite simply its right next to a load of houses and just off a road which is already busy.

The Lib Dem Councillors for Cressington will be continuing to oppose this scheme. It's also worth local people knowing that there is a residents' group website (called South Liverpool Residents) which you can register with to get involved in the local campaign.

Comments are temporarily off on this blog (see post below for why) but if you need to contact me re this please e mail me on my council e mail which is

Abusive Comments

I have suddenly had a stream of abusive comments posted on the blog. Obviously I moderate comments so they haven't appeared, but I have to say it is really unpleasant to have to read through them (and you do have to do sort out what each one is saying). Some were actually threats against me (stupidly I deleted them straight away). I suspect this is a one off, and may be even something automated because they all came in a short period of time by the looks of things. But I am going to knock off the comment feature for a few days. If you need to get in touch with me in the meanwhile please use my council e mail address which is

Friends of Garston Park meeting

Some time ago I blogged about the possibility of setting up a Friends Group for Garston Park. I did some letter writing and e mailing and now have a list of people who are interested.

I'm coming back to the subject now because we've got a first meeting fixed and I want to make sure as many potentially interested people as possible know about it.

The date is 26th May (a Tuesday) at 7pm at the Garston Leisure Centre. It would help if I knew how many people are coming so if you haven't already been in touch but do want to come, please drop me an e mail to my council address which is If you can't come to this meeting, but would be interested in getting involved, please also drop me an e mail.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Valley Community Theatre event

Last week (and I can't believe it is actually that long ago) the PR students at Edge Hill University organised an event at the Valley Community Theatre. For the uninitiated this is an organisation in Netherley. It works with young people "at risk", it is home to a thriving youth theatre and it plays host to touring companies which means that people in that part of Liverpool can see theatre without having to journey into town. The students had two PR briefs - one to raise the profile of the youth theatre and one to look at getting more organisations interested in venue hire. Actually its not all finished yet but last week's event was part of the youth theatre brief. The students managed to get a celebrity compere and a senior councillor (I don't mean me) plus speeches from young people. There was a showcase of work and a chance to network. I am mentioning this now as some of the photographs have arrived in my in box and this is an excuse to publish one and to say how proud I am of the students.

Monday, 27 April 2009


Having been badgered by several people about using Twitter, I have signed up. This might be a fun way of staying in touch, or it might be another thing I simply forget to do. Time will tell I guess.

Citizenship Ceremony

Yesterday I was the speaker at another of the Liverpool Citizenship Ceremonies. These ceremonies are run by the Registrars bit of the City Council. They are done on behalf of the Home Office but have their own flavour and have been developed really well by the registrars team. Each ceremony has a "dignitary" which yesterday was me. The role is to do a short speech and hand out the certificates and gifts (in our case a Liverpool medal). It's a great thing to do but brings its frustrations too. Yesterday there were people who had been born in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan and I had to restrain myself from launching into a long discussion about each. Having worked for the Refugee Council and for Save the Children in the past, I still turn to the foreign pages and check the news on countries I have written about years ago. Of course to start off on those subjects has the potential to turn a happy occasion into a rather depressing one. But it did occur to me that it would have been great to hear more from some of the new citizens about their particular journey so far (not just in geographical terms).