Thursday, 28 January 2010

Telling off the Council!

Last night was the Full Council meeting which included our budget setting.

I'll blog more about some of that later when I have a moment.

However, I did speak at last nights meeting. I was opposing some of the suggestions made by the Green party.

But before I got on to that I felt the need to tell everybody off!

There is always a bit of background noise in the Council Chamber. And people do have to go in and out. But last night there was both an extremely noisy exodus of people plus a load of ongoing coversations which meant it was virtually impossible to hear what the Liberal and then the Green speakers were saying. Now it may well be that we were all about to vote against them anyway, but it's really not on to behave quite so rudely. It doesn't matter whether you are from a party of 100 or a party of 1, if you are an elected councillor you should be entitled to be heard. And quite frankly last night several councillors were behaving extremely rudely (among them some who have moaned about member behaviour in the past). So I started my speech by calling attention to this rudeness and generally telling people off. Actually some did seem to take notice and there was a bit more listening as a result.

I may not agree with what the opposition say, but I hope I at least make the effort to listen.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Taxi rank??? Comments please

A consultation is about to start over whether to put a taxi rank back in front of the shops by the Cenotaph in Garston (Woolton Road).

I am told there used to be one before. To be honest I don't remember it but whether or not I remember isn't really relevant.

The taxi licensing people have asked whether the rank can be re instated and so nearby residents and businesses will be consulted (consultation should start on Friday).

I have to say my initial reaction is that I am not sure there is room here. When I go past this spot, most of the parking spaces do seem to be taken (albeit for short periods of time) and I am not sure where the visiting shopppers will move to if three of the spaces are given over to Hackney cabs.

On the other hand perhaps people would welcome knowing they can pick up a taxi there?

We are being consulted on this as Councillors also and I would like to hear views before coming to my own decision. Please feel free to post them here or e mail me at my council address which is

Politics Show - in the rain

Did a live interview on the BBC's Politics Show yesterday. It was just after 12 30 from the Pier Head and I was debating with spokespeople from the Labour and Conservative parties. I made the point that in Liverpool the contest is between Labour (who do hold all the Parliamentary seats at the moment) and the Lib Dems who are in clear second places in most and who are very close in some. We actually all had a rather civilised drink (tea in my case) afterwards which shows politicans aren't always snarling at each other. The problem with live interviews outside if if it is cold you get cold and if it rains you get wet - and we did both!

Did the newspaper review on City Talk this morning - nice warm studio.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

ID cards again

I did an interview for BBC TV in the north west today about ID cards. They wanted to hear more about the Liverpool City Council opposition to the scheme and refusal to co operate with any Government requests for promotion, use of rooms etc. I understand the Government is trying to push the card scheme in the North West hard. I also understand however that there has been a delay in them getting their act together in terms of setting up an office. Interestingly everyone I have spoken to, including those with no interest in politics, is against these cards for one reason or another. In fact the camerman I met today would have made an even stronger interviewee against.

MPs getting lazier

Labour MPs, including Garston's Maria Eagle have voted for a longer break in February. Half-term is usually a week. Most people in employment carry on working as normal through it - they have to. MPs however have just voted to have not just half term as a break from the Commons but an extra two days and part of another day added on. I say MPs but actually it was only Labour MPs who voted in favour. Lib Dems and Conservatives voted against.

The record of the vote is on the Hansard website.
(Hat tip to Iain Dale)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Innocent people on DNA database.

I've just had some really worrying figures through about the number of people with their details stored on the national DNA database - both nationally and on Merseyside.

Back in Decemer 2008 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was illegal to keep innocent people's details on teh databse. Yet it seems that more than 100,000 people who are have not been found guilty of anything, have had their details added to the database since then.

The figures have come out through research by the Lib Dems in Parliament. The figures for Merseyside are:

150,820 profiles held. Of these 31, 371 are of innocent people. Since the December 08 rulng 6,560 profiles of innocent people have been added. 4 people meanwhile have managed to get their profiles removed. That mens that for every "innocent profile" removed since the ruling more than 1,600 have been added.

Despite the Government’s promises to abide by the European Court’s ruling, they are still doing everything they can to avoid it.

Labour do have a proposal which involves innocent people's information being kept for six years before being removed - a sort of "half guilty" category I guess.

But frankly if you are not guilty of anything there should be no question of your DNA being stored.

Well done to Jenny Willott for digging out these figures.

Waste collection

I've had a few queries from people about the waste collection as there was a backlog because of last week's weather. Collections got going again on Monday this week but there will also be extra collections on Saturday to help deal with bins that haven't been emptied during the week. So if your bin isn't collected today it may be on the Saturday route.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Friends of Garston Park

Do you like this logo? It's been created by an advertising student at Edge Hill University (where I work) for the Friends of Garston Park group. We'll be using it from now on if we get anything printed.

Our next meeting is on Friday 15th January at 6 30 pm at Long Lane Church. Do come if you can. We have also set up a website for the group at

Grants for groups in Cressington

There are a couple of pots of money for grants to be given to groups based in the Cressington ward. It's going to be done in a new way which involves public voting.
There'll be a Participatory Budgeting meeting to vote on the applications for the grants on 22 February at the Bridge Chapel Centre. (I'll blog more details nearer the time)

However the key thing now is for groups to get the bids in. Each pot has 5,000 pounds. One is for environmental type work and the other for things connected with health and wellbeing. Information is available from the LCVS website - where you can also find forms. The deadline is 25th January so there is not a lot of time left.

We've had problems in the past getting local organisations in Cressington to bid in for funds like this so I'm hopeful that this time more will apply.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Citizenship Ceremony

Yesterday it was my turn as speaker at the Citizenship Ceremony. A real pleasure again. It's great to see so many cheerful faces pleased to take the final step to getting citizenship.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Waste collections update

Here are extracts from press releases from Liverpool City Council and Knowsley MBC about refuse collections and the effects of the snow. In both cases the collections are suspended but start again on Monday 11th


Liverpool City Council would like to apologise to all residents for any inconvenience the disruption to the bin service may have caused.

Severe weather conditions have made side roads dangerous, making it impossible for refuse vehicles to safely collect your rubbish.

Liverpool’s bin collections have been postponed until next week.

If the weather improves and the roads are clear enough to allow safe access, usual collections will resume week beginning Monday 11 January.

Please put your purple bin out on your usual collection day.

Collections of blue bins will also resume. Please put out on the right collection day.

Not sure when your blue bin should be collected? Go to and enter your postcode in the ‘My Neighbourhood’ section on the homepage. This will inform you whether your multi material blue bin is collected on Week 1 or Week 2. (Week 2 collections start w/c 11 January, Week 1 collections w/c 18 January.)

Green bin (garden waste) collections have been suspended until further notice.

Please disregard the stickers which were placed on your bin advising of collection dates post Christmas.

For more information contact Liverpool Direct on 0151 233 3001.



Knowsley Council has also decided to suspend all of it’s waste and recycling collection operations until Monday 11th January. This is a decision that has not been taken lightly and reflects the current severe weather.

The Council will return to normal collection schedules with effect from Monday.

Residents will be asked to present their waste and recycling on their normal day of collection and will be able to put bagged side waste alongside the wheeled bins, preferably indicating if any of this waste is for recycling.

Next week, the waste and recycling teams will be working until all the scheduled collections due on each day are completed.

Away from the roads, people are also asked to check on the welfare of friends, family and neighbours who may be more vulnerable during the cold weather, especially the elderly.

MPs Expenses - Have Your Say

I have just come across this consultation about MPs expenses. Anyone can comment and responses have to be in by 11th February. Given the various scandals on this, including some affecting local MPs, its important that people have their say so we get a system that's transparent and fair.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Struggled in to work this morning - a walk, two trains, a bus and a walk. As the snow got heavier was rather congratulating myself on my work - ethic persistence.

Sat down, read e mails - urgent message from bosses saying bad weather means Edge Hill campus being closed.

Admittedly the snow is rather heavy now at much of West Lancs is affected but annoying anyway.

Oh well.. off to get snowed on again.

Monday, 4 January 2010

ID cards again

The government's roll out of the "voluntary" ID card started in Liverpool, and other bits of the region, today. As a Lib Dem I have consistently opposed these cards. Its not just the card, its the whole database that goes with it.

The whole scheme will fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the state. And promoting this as a voluntary thing that will help people is merely a form of soft marketing before trying something more compulsory.

I did an interview for Juice FM about this earlier today.

Hopefully Liverpool people will see through the charade and won't sign up.