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.