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.