Thursday, 29 January 2009

Environment Meeting

The Liverpool Community Environment Network is holding an open meeting next month. Its at the Quaker House on School Lane on 4 Feb, starting at 10.00. Speakers include Eric Bichard as well as reps from the City Council. Speakers will be focusing on issues like growing food, the built environment and parks and open spaces. It should finish around 3.00. A bread and soup lunch is being provided (although I don't know if you have to pay for that)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Site visit number two

On Friday Peter Millea and I are off for a site visit to look at traffic. It seems theres a problem at the junction of Horrocks Avenue, Woolton Road and Long Lane which means a bus lane is forcing drivers to make dangerous turns. This may be a problem with the markings but we need to have a proper look with an expert to make sure. I have certainly had some complaints about this junction and the fact that there has been more than one makes me feel there is a problem to be sorted. If you have views about this, or want to give me your comments ahead of Friday, please let me know. You can e mail me at my council address which is

Site visit - Garston Park

Last week Richard Oglethorpe and were on a site visit to a corner of Garston Park. There is a problem of anti social behaviour - including brick throwing - in a corner bounded by some buildings. We met council officers and reps from the police and City Safe to see what can be done. First stage will be to cut back some of the growth which is being used as a handy hiding place. We also need to get some loose bricks (aka missiles) shifted. Hopefully some of this will start to help the situation. If not we will have to look at what else may work.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Why are the women so silent?

Reading through the agenda for this week's full council meeting it is glaringly obvious that we still have quite a gender gap on the City Council. Admittedly we do have a reasonable number of female councillors (although more would be nice) but the motions tabled, and the questions submitted, are still overwhelmingly from male councillors.

I havent counted things the Exec Board members move in their role as exec members in the count (so obviously Flo Clucas' role in moving the budget isn't acknowledged) - but looking at motions there are two from women balanced against 15 from men. (Where there are several names on a motion I have taken the first one as this is usually the originator of the idea). Women are a little more active when it comes to asking questions , but not that much. There are 9 questions submitted by women (three of them by me ) and 23 by men.

Anyone looking at the agenda would assume there were virtually no active female councillors!

OK, not everyone likes full council meetings and some may consider it a drain on their time. But if you accept that you have to turn up then clearly you ought to accept that you should play a role.

This makes me wonder if in fact we need to do some more work to encourage some of the female councillors a bit more. Or perhaps we ought to tell some of the men to take a back seat every now and then.

I don't know what the answer is but I have to say this worries me.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Planning application for old BP garage site

We've had some comments from local residents about a planning application for a Sainsbury's outlet on the unused land on the corner of Greenhill Road and Booker Avenue (L18). This is where the garage used to be and is opposite the pub.

At the moment the application is not valid because there is something missing so no progress can be made in considering this or taking it forward to the planning committee.

I know that some local residents have wanted to send in objections, but I am told it is best to wait until it's clear that the application is valid and then send them in. The clock (for the deadline for comments) won't start ticking until planning officers are clear that it is a valid application. The reference number is 09F/0008.

As soon as there are any developments on this I will post the information on this site.

Liverpool Commission meeting

A good meeting of the Liverpool Commission last night. We had evidence from the schools parliament, the youth engagement team, reps from two of the Universities in Liverpool, operation black vote and others. The "others" included a 25 year old executive member from Brent ( I am sure I would have been very daunted by that responsibility when I was 25). We were looking at the sort of barriers that prevent people thinking of becoming councillors, but also at some of the perception issues and communication issues that exist. The Commission has three more meetings to go and each time we are looking at different aspects of "how we do things". The meetings are in public and the Council publishes the minutes and agendas on its website. Here is a link. (If the link fails go to and look for the meetings and agendas section) The Commission will be drawing up a series of recommendations which the City Council (where it is the relevant organisation) will decide whether to accept and how to take forward.

Important message - NO to ID Cards campaign

I am quickly posting this message below. Please act on it if you can

This is one of the most serious threats to our liberty and privacy we've yet seen. Please read our briefing and act now.

The government is trying to remove all limits on the use of our private information by officials. This means taking your information from anywhere and passing it anywhere they like - including medical records, financial records, communications data, ID information.

The Database State is now a direct threat, not a theory.

Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, due for its first debate in the Commons on Monday 26th January, would convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite. It would allow ministers to make 'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to allow information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme.

Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register.

But the powers would apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies - and even with foreign governments.


We need you to do three things:

1) Please write straight away IN YOUR OWN WORDS to your MP via Do it this weekend, if not before. The Bill is being rushed through Parliament, even as we write.

Ask your MP to read Part 8 (clauses 151 - 154) of the Coroners and Justice Bill, and to oppose the massive enabling powers in the "Information sharing" clause. The Bill contains a number of controversial provisions, but to the casual reader it appears mainly to be about reforming inquests and sentencing. It is due its Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009.

Request your MP demand that the clauses be given proper Parliamentary scrutiny. This is something that will affect every single one of their constituents, unlike the rest of the Bill. There is a grave danger that the government will set a timetable that will cut off debate before these proposals - which are at the end of the Bill - are discussed.

2) Write letters to your local papers. Point out that this will affect every single person in the country. Highlight the fact that the information sharing powers in this Bill are overwhelmingly unpopular.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January (details here: ) shows that the public opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 *against* - 65% of people asked said they would give government "too much power", only 19% thought not.

3) Tell as many people as you can. And find out more yourself. We have created a new page on the NO2ID website dedicated to 'data sharing' which contains links to the key documents and a brief explanation of each.

Please read it, and pass on this link:

Let your friends, family, colleagues and anyone who might share our concerns know that the battle for their privacy is happening NOW. The more people we reach, the more we hope will act.

We really can't afford not to win. Good luck!

Phil Booth
NO2ID National Coordinator

Thursday, 22 January 2009

They don't like it up them!

Liverpool's Labour Councillors seem to have taken offense that I dare to be critical of their glorious leader (aka G Brown) and his cabinet's visit (or should I say publicity stunt) to Liverpool the other week. Lets be clear. Where he or other ministers go is their own business. What is my business is when residents in Liverpool are expected to foot the bill for all the extra policing for a visit they did not request. I have a question tabled for Full Council next Wednesday. I want to know how much was spent and where the money is coming from. Will I get an answer? Watch this space.

Site visits

I am half way through sorting out three separate site visits in my ward to look at three separate issues. The God of diaries is clearly against me this week as good sense would have these all on the same day when in fact I am having to spread them out over a fortnight. So tomorrow a group of us are looking at an asb issue which we feel is affected by the conditions at the location, the following week a group of us are looking at a traffic issue where a bus lane is confusing people who want to turn right into Long Lane in Garston, and a few days later we are looking at trees.
I suppose at least I will get some exercise in!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Views on primary schools in Speke and Garston

The Council is doing a consultation about primary schools in Speke and part of Garston.

This is the link to the page, which explains what is being looked at. The main suggestions are about changing the number of children entering the schools.

The deadline for replying is in March

Was it you on the phone?

A gentleman phoned me yesterday and left a message asking me to call back about an issue to do with the 86a bus. Unfortunately he didn't leave a number, or it wasnt recorded. And because of a caller immediately afterwards, I can't dial 141 to find out.

I am posting this here in the hope that this gentleman will see the post and contact me again. Obviously he has my home number already but I can also be e mailed at

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Meeting overload

This week looks to one of my busiest in terms of meetings I go to in my exec member role. Tonight I have Overview and Scutiny. Tomorrow I have the special meeting of Corporate Services. Thursday I have the Liverpool Commission. Friday I have exec board. Balancing these with the first week back at University for the students, with all the timetable issues that causes, is not easy. Still I did volunteer for the job!!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Reg 33 visit

I spent part of this morning doing a Reg 33 visit. These are visits that councillors make to children's homes (in this case a respite care facility) every month. Its part of our Corporate Parenting role. The visits are unannounced and I am one of a team of four councillors who visit our facility in Fairfield. It is good to have a chance to do this as either you are impressed or, if there is anything going wrong, you have the chance to change things to help the children and young people in our care. I came away today full of admiration for the staff that do work like this. It must be very difficult to look after a group of young people with various disabilities and behavioural issues. I know I wouldn't be able to do it myself.

Friday, 16 January 2009

City Council budget details

Here's a press releast about the budget in Liverpool

•Liverpool City Council unveils budget for 2009/10
•£4.8 million in additional spending to improve life for residents •Extra cash for culture, schools and tackling crime •New Environmental Enforcement team to tackle litter, dumping and graffiti and dereliction.

LIVERPOOL has unveiled its budget for the next financial year.

The proposals – which will see council tax bills increase by 4.45 percent or 71 pence per week for most residents (1) - includes an extra £4.8 million of additional investment to improve key services and create safer neighbourhoods.

The extra funds include:

•An additional £2.5 million on culture (over and above what was spent before the city won Capital of Culture) to build on the achievements of 2008

•£1 million in resources to successfully deliver Building Schools for the Future, which will see every secondary school in the city replaced over the next few years

•£318,000 to improve housing and neighbourhood services

•£70,000 to create a round the clock dog warden service and the creation of a new integrated enforcement team to tackle litter, dumping and graffiti

•£100,000 to force property owners to clean up derelict sites and bring properties back into use

City Council leader Warren Bradley said: “We have worked hard this year to produce a budget which addresses the needs of the city and is at a level which is affordable for our residents.

“We consulted widely on this year’s budget and have made sure that our spending is linked to people’s priorities.

“This budget will allow us to continue improving life for people in Liverpool – we are making improvements in educational attainment, tackling crime and disorder, and increasing the number of residents cared for by social services.

“We have just had a terrific year in the spotlight as Capital of Culture, so are committing significant extra investment to make sure we continue to build on our achievements.

“Never before has Liverpool set its budget so early, and that is down to extremely good financial management and planning.”

Community safety was identified as the number one priority of local people during the consultation, so the council has reflected that in its proposals.

Around £1 million is to be spent over the next three years strengthening the anti social behaviour unit and tackling problem families - including those who are members of gangs – through a Family Intervention Plus programme.

And a new integrated enforcement team will be created tackling issues such as litter, dumping and graffiti and dereliction.

There will also be additional activities on a Friday and Saturday night for young people, and £1.4 million will be spent developing youth and alternative education facilities in Anfield and Old Swan.

The city is creating business champions in all key council services to strengthen the relationship with local firms.

There will also be a pilot programme through Liverpool Vision to help businesses understand the challenges they are likely to face through the credit crunch.

And the city will continue to offer free access to its Lifestyles fitness centres for under 17s and over 60s.

Deputy leader and executive member for Finance, Councillor Flo Clucas, said: “We have overhauled our systems this year to make sure that every single penny counts and is accounted for.

“Across the council, we have examined every line of the budget and tracked it back to make sure it fits in with our priorities and aims.

“And we have taken into account the views of local people - whose money we are charged with spending – when putting together this year’s proposals.

“The result is a spending plan which accurately reflects the needs and wishes of the community.”

The budget includes £13.7 million in efficiency savings which will not impact on front line services, as well as £4.4 million of service reductions.

The level of council tax does not include the precepts and levies which are set by the fire, police and transport authorities, as they have not yet been decided.

The budget for 2009/10 will be considered at a full meeting of the council on January 28.


(1) This will be the increase for Band A properties, which make up 62 percent of homes in the city

Garston hospital meeting

Had a quick briefing earlier this week with reps from the PCT about the plans, specifically building plans, for Garston Hospital (really Sir Alfred Jones Memorial Hospital). It's a tricky issue as there are a lot of people, myself included, attached to the building given its history and prominent position. Work is going on to incorporate as much history as possible into the building, but I still have reservations. The hospital is actually not in my ward but its part of the wider Garston area and there is a lot of affection in the wider community so I am very interested about getting the best possible deal for everybody.

Why counterfeit tobacco matters

I went to a briefing yesterday for councillors about the work of the City Council's Alcohol and Tobacco Unit (which is part of Trading Standards). I must admit my first reaction when hearing about counterfeit tobacco was to think "so what"? What do I care after all if Benson and Hedges lose a bit of profit. But the sale of this stuff in Liverpool (and apparently lots is brought in) is doing all sorts of real and potential harm. Firstly when the government put up the legal age for buying cigarettes there was an unintended consequence which is that those between 16 and 18 who already smoked had to move to buying the counterfeit stuff in some cases. There is also evidence that in areas that rely on one small corner shop the growth in sales of counterfeit stuff (usually from someones house) can mean the difference between the shop surviving or not. But what really shocked me was all the rubbish that is found in the cigarettes and how harmful that is. Apart from arsenic and other chemicals that are not that great for you, officers have found fibreglass being used regularly to bulk the stuff out. And it can't be good to be sucking that stuff down. In Liverpool the Alcohol and Tobacco Unit is, I am told, unique in the region and is already making a difference in dealing with these potential health hazards.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Food Bank meeting

The Bridge Chapel Centre on Heath Road is holding a meeting next week for anyone interested in the Food Bank concept. There is a suggestion that we might want to set one up in South Liverpool and the organisers are getting someone from a group that already runs one elsewhere to come along.

The Food Bank concept is about providing emergency help to people who find themselves in a crisis when the provision of some free supplies might make a difference. Obviously people would get more help and support than the free supplies of food, but that is the centre of the scheme. I know that in the past I have come across people who, because of paperwork reasons or timing, have literally no food for the weekend and no way of getting money for a couple of days. A scheme like this

Schemes like this work if lots of organisations co operate - like voluntary organistions, community groups etc - so the people at the Bridge Chapel are keen to see who might be interested.

The meeting is at 2pm on the 20th Jan (Tuesday). The e mail address of one of the organisers is

Monday, 12 January 2009

A step too far?

A story in the weekend Liverpool Echo talks about a move by "health chiefs" (the PCT in other words) to use specific local powers to tackle films that feature people smoking. The idea is that going to the cinema and seeing a character in a film smoke makes people more likely to take up the habit, or less likely to give it up. The campaigners argue that actually there are local powers and councils could impose higher certificates (18) on films to be shown locally and showing people puffing away. We are told this is going to be considered at the licensing and gambling committee.

Now I was all in favour of the smoking ban - spoke in favour of it at Council, wrote articles, helped with publicity etc. That's because Liberalism is limited by harm to others. If you are smoking and I am breathing in your smoke, and it has been shown to be dangerous, then there should be a limit on your right to smoke. JS Mill would have approved I hope.

But surely the same does not apply to cinema films. Those proposing this suggest the exemptions would be historical characters who were known to have been smokers (Harold Wilson and his pipe would be a recent example) or characters whose smoking is portrayed in a way that makes us all realise it is "bad". Well apart from the huge judgement call in that, how on earth would we realistically portray certain decades in the 1900s? When I started work in the 80s, smoking at work was normal and you would expect to see it. Any film showing journalists, or office workers, of that time would simply look wrong without the cigarettes and ashtrays.

And who is to say that seeing someone smoke in a film actually makes you more likely to smoke? I recently went to see Che (the first part of the biopic about Che Guevara). That didn't make me suddenly want to go to Cuba and take part in a guerilla movement!

And these arguments come before you even get onto the one about artistic freedom and censorship.

I do applaud the Liverpool health campaigners for wanting to cut down on the amount of smoking in our City. But we have to accept that people have free choice and this is simply a step too far in my opinion.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Capital of Culture - handover celebrations

The whole city centre becomes a stage on January 10 2009.

The newly regenerated public space at the Pier Head will come alive with light and sound for this people's celebration. At 6.15pm, a live MC will introduce a sound, light and visual reviewof Liverpool's history from 7,000,000,000BC to the present day. It will incorporate a history associated with its world heritage waterfront that has been reinvigorated like the rest of the city, and will be shown in full colour across several huge screens on the waterfront followed by a magnificent pyrotechnic finale from ships in the river at 7pm.

This 'Transition' will mark Liverpool's 08 Year of Culture to its 09 Year of the Environment, and will mark the official handover to the European Capitals of Culture 09, the Austrian city of Linz and Vilnius in Lithuania. The exciting prospect is that Linz has agreed to 'twin' with Liverpool and stage a complementing light event in Austria on the same night.

Plus Liverpool Light Night

7 - 10pm

Various venues around the city

From 7pm, many of Liverpool's extensive shops, Town Hall and 14 of its world renowned cultural facilities - including the Bluecoat, Open Eye Gallery, FACT, Tate Liverpool and the Maritime & International Slave Museums - will open late and there will be street theatre, music and dance performances in the city's public spaces, pedestrian and shopping zones. Locals and visitors alike can venture into the city centre enjoy Liverpool's Light Night, an evening of street performance, art and exclusive shopping.

Liverpool Light Night is part of a national programme of events covering the whole of the UK supported by the Association of Town Centre Managers

Throughout the night, Liverpool's many restaurants, bars and clubs will be ready to welcome visitors with the best in local food and hospitality.

Access is free for Transition and most of Light Night venues.

Venues participating in Liverpool Light Night:

Tate Liverpool

The Fifth Floor: Ideas taking space

open all day through to 10pm

0151 702 7400

Tate Liverpool will be celebrating with The Fifth Floor: Ideas taking space; a celebration of the imagination and ideas of the people of Liverpool. We will host a special "indoor festival" where local musicians, performers and DJs will collaborate to create a new sound for Liverpool Tate (19.30 - 22.00).Café will also be open so you can drop in for a bite to eat.


Merseyside Maritime Museum

Open all day through to 10pm

5.00 - 9.00pm Captain Crusoe and Maritime Panto Characters

7.30 & 8.30pm The Fourmost

T: 0151 478 4499


Magical Music Tour

From the Titanic to the merchant navy, enjoy the many aspects of Liverpool's seafaring legacy. Join The Fourmost (A Little Loving) on a Magical Music Tour through fifty years of Merseybeat in the café - where you can also enjoy the tantalising new menu brimming with gastronomic delights! Captain Crusoe will also demonstrate his wood carving skills and meet our maritime panto characters.


International Slavery Museum

open all day through to 10pm

T: 0151 478 4499


The International Slavery Museum opened in Liverpool is the only national museum in the world dedicated to the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacy. Housed within Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock; the exhibits deal with issues such as freedom, identity, human rights, discrimination and cultural change.


The Beatles Story

2 for 1 offer and late night opening

last admission 8.30pm, open until 10pm

0151 709 1963

The Beatles Story celebrated "08" by undergoing a massive and exciting expansion. Now three times the size - come and see for yourselves the amazing changes. For this special night we are offering a '2 for 1' ticket on the evening of January 10th and will stay open late until 10pm (last admission 8.30pm)

COST £12.25 / Concs £8.30/ Child £6.35

Open Eye Gallery

David Goldblatt; Intersections Intersected

Open all day through to 10pm

0151 709 9460

Open Eye Gallery is proud to present the UK debut of a major new exhibition project by celebrated South African photographer David Goldblatt. Since the early 1970s Goldblatt has photographed the physical and ideological landscape of his native country. This exhibition looks at South Africa before and after the collapse of apartheid in 1990.


the Bluecoat

Light Night at the Bluecoat

Galleries open until at 10pm, the Building until 10.30.

0151 709 5297

Drop in, make art, have fun! Exhibition, Next Up: Liverpool Art Now, featuring Liverpool's most vital artists. Live music from The Suns and other Merseyside bands, plus DJ Mixmaster Grandmaster Tache. Food and drink, in the stunning, re-opened Upstairs restaurant and bar. Film of Sun Ra's legendary 1990 Bluecoat gig: wild cosmic jazz freak out


Bluecoat Display Centre

'50 @ the BDC'

open all day through to 10pm

0151 709 4014

'50 @ the BDC' will feature 50 selected makers exhibiting one piece of ceramic, textile/fibre art, jewellery, wood or glass, each of which will retail for £50. This will celebrate the start of our 50th anniversary year and a specially curated programme of exhibitions that will run through 2009.


DING>>D0NG: Galleries open until 9pm

CODA: 9pm in the Box

Building open until 11pm

0870 758 3217

DING>>D0NG expands and reboots the music where hacking and rewiring equals listening and performing. Featuring artists The Fragmented Orchestra, The Owl Project, Andy McClusky, Peter Saville, Hambi Haralambous, Steve Symons, and Tetsuaki Babi.


CODA; A blurry post-new year reflection on 08. Philip Jeck and Vergil Sharky play Woolworth's boomboxes, 60s and 70s record players, antique dulcimers, keyboards, retro guitars, found video and photographs in a hubris-free New Year confection.

£10.00/£7.00 (Members & concs)

Wolstenholme Projects

After the Curtain Falls

7pm to 10pm

no phone

After the Curtain Falls is an exhibition that considers the passing of a spectacular event as a point of departure, it features ex-students from The Slade School of Fine Art whose exploration of quiet statements in varying media favour personal observation and responsibility over aggressive methods or shock tactics.


3345 Parr Street

Terry Cryer Exhibition

Open until 2am

0151 708 6345

Timeless intuitive and alluring, Terry Cryer's images of the great jazz & blues musicians tell stories that words could never define. Plus DJ set from Anni Hogan, Marc Almond's musical director.


The Picket

FUSED - tomorrows people!

7 - 10.30pm

0151 708 6789

Always looking to invest in the future, the renowned Picket will present some of the best new young bands from Liverpool, building tomorrow out of the now, a fitting end to 2008 and a new start for 2009. Featuring My Auntie Sam. Off Target. Freq. The Metropolitans. A 14+ Dry Bar gig.


Leaf Tea Shop & Bar

Leaf Unplugged

7.30pm until late

0151 707 7747

A selection of Liverpool's leading signed and unsigned artists come together to celebrate the success of Capital of Culture 2008. The unplugged night to end all unplugged nights.


Contemporary Urban Centre

Fun Day

11am - 11pm

0151 708 3510

11am until 6pm, with dance, drama, poetry reading, gallery viewings and entertainment. Bring your families and tour this fantastic new community resource. Then join us after the fireworks for music and drinks in our pub till 11pm, or grab a bite to eat in our Jamaica Rooms restaurant.


Liverpool Biennial 2008

Public artworks

Open all evening

Ai Weiwei's Web of Light: Exchange Flags.

Rabbit: St James Church, Upper Parliament Street. (In collaboration with St Vincent de Paul Primary School)

Richard Wilson's Turning the place over, Moorfields.

Diller Scofidio & Renfro Joyful Trees, Great George St.

Rockscape - the open-air theatre designed by Japanese architects Atelier Bow-Wow hosts an evening of live jazz and Balkan gypsy music. Stage, lights and sound by

7 - 7.45pm The Gypsy Brothers. Kensington-Czech-Slovak-Roma band

8 - 9pm Anthony Pierce Quartet


Please use public transport - there will be enhanced bus and train services, including extended city centre shuttle services; the C2, C3 and C4, until 10.00 pm to allow people to access the various attractions.

Travel information from Traveline: 0871 200 22 33

Friday, 9 January 2009

Garston hospital meeting

Hopefully this meeting has already had loads of publicity, but in case you don't know - there is a public meeting on 20th January at the Garston reading room on Wellington Street. Its about the plans for Garston Hospital (Sir Alfred Jones Memorial) and more specifically about the plans for the building rather than what might go on inside it. Quite a few of us are worried that the PCT wants to demolish the whole thing and build again. It's one of those Garston landmarks that just about everyone recognises and it would be a shame to see it go. To be fair to the PCT they are talking about finding a way of recognising some of the history in the new build, but many of us are still uneasy about this. The meeting is at 6pm. Annoyingly for me this clashes with a meeting in town which I have to go to (as the only exec member that reports to this particular committee) but even if I can't make it back to Garston in time, my colleague Peter Millea will be going along.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Who pays?

The Cabinet (and by that I mean the one from Westminster) is meeting in Liverpool today. And what a circus it is.

Obviously government ministers are free to go where they want. Ministerial visits are in the job description and we have had our fair share of visits up here.

But moving the whole circus for a meeting is just barmy.

I have been doing some work looking at the policing costs of the whole exercise. The cabinet did a similar day trip to Leeds a while ago and there local taxpayers have had to foot a bill which could climb to 200,000 pounds. They are trying to geet the government to pay for it all. Will they? Who knows.

What I know though is that people in Liverpool shouldn't have their taxes used to police a PR stunt by the government and the Labour party. And I am afraid it is a stunt. Politicians can do visits and listen to people without all this fuss. And to pretend this is somehow an ordinary government activity rather than a political expedition by Labour (funded in part by the rest of us) is just misleading.

The stupidist justification I heard was from Hazel Blears on the Today programme this morning. She wanted to say this meant that the politicians would be "out of westminster". Well given that most government ministers represent areas outside of London anyway, isn't what they are paid to do on a normal working week?

I don't know how much will be spent on the policing in Liverpool. I have tabled a question for the next Full Council meeting and my colleague Ian is going to raise it on the Police Authority. We should be told how much it has cost, who has paid and what the knock on effects have been for our neighbourhood policing. Will we? I hope so.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Garston waste plans campaign

Towards the end of 2008 Jack Allen Holdings (the company that put in the planning application for the huge waste facility on Garston Docks) withdrew the plans. The company said it would be resubmitting them. We are all now waiting for the next move. I can't see the new plans differing hugely from the old ones, but there may well be some differences. We (the councillors in Cressington) were concerned that people might have to spend a lot of time looking for these differences, but we have asked planning officers to get Jack Allen to make any changes obvious. Personally I would just like them to decide not to try again, but that is probably wishful thinking at this stage. Nevertheless we are keeping an eye out and I will post again on this when there is any news. The bad news is that given that this will be a "new" application we may all need to re send our objections. The slightly better news is that given that any changes are likely to be minor and highlighted, in many cases this won't be too onerous a task. If anything I would expect the volume of objections to be greater as some people felt rather rushed last time and so missed deadlines.