Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bankfield House site

I've been doing some work to find out what's going on at the former Bankfield House site on Banks Road.

Since the building was demolished it's become a bit of a tip and the fencing has been damaged several times.

I've spoken to several residents who were worried that it was giving a bad impression of the neighbourhood. People have obviously felt free to lob cans and other rubbish over the fence! Others have felt it OK to paint offensive slogans on the fencing.

So I've been in touch with the agents for the land owners to see what can be done.

Anyway, the upshot is that I hope to have some good news soon on this. So watch this space!

Brodie Avenue phone mast update

The planning application for the new mast plus extra cabinets on Brodie Avenue has been turned down. Some local people may be aware of this but in case not here are some of the details. Firstly it would look bad. The extra cabinets and the height of the mast would all have "a significant adverse effect in terms of visual amenity"
What's more, the mast wouldn't have achieved the improved coverage supposedly required.

The three Cressington Councillors opposed this application when it came in. One of my main concerns was the plan to add more cabinets in the central reservation when we have actually just allocated money to plant trees by the existing mast!

Off license application - deadline looms

I've just sent off my comments on the application to sell alcohol at the Grassendale Service Station on Aigburth Road.

This is the garage that applied before, back in 2008. At the time they were turned down after a day long committee meeting.

I can't see that much has changed quite frankly so I am opposing this again. The only difference is that a law change means that Councillors now can object (the previous rules meant that we could only really read out comments from other people which was frustrating to say the least)

We (the three Lib Dem Councillors in Cressington) wrote to people living in the neighbouring streets a while ago to let them know about the application and the system for sending in comments. The deadline for sending anything in is 2 April and given that that means Good Friday it's important to get comments in by Thursday.

Information is available at www.liverpool.gov.uk (look for the licensing section)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Power Pledge

Yesterday I joined campaigners from Power 2010 in the City Centre. We were collecting signatures in support of the Power Pledge five reforms and giving out leaflets about the campaign.

Power 2010 has drawn up a list of five reforms that would help clean up politics, make the UK more democratic and protect civil liberties.

The pledges come from a longer list and were chosen after a vote which people (including me) took part in on line.

The campaign is hoping to organise events in different constituencies nearer the General Election. They seem keen to come back and do more in Liverpool.

You can get information about the Power Pledges here

The pledges in brief are

* introduce a proportional voting system
* scrap ID cards and roll back the database state
* replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber
* allow only English MPs to vote on English laws
* draw up a written constitution

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Campaigning in Halewood

Spent part of the weekend campaigning with Lib Dem Councillors in Halewood. They've had quite a few campaigning successes although frustration with the Labour run Knowsley Council runs quite deep and there certainly seems to have been quite a bit of "foot dragging".

People who use buses a lot will recognise the name Ravencourt as one of the main bus stops or the end of the route. What you see if you get off the bus there though is a derelict shopping centre with one poor shop open.

It actually reminds me of some of the derelict centres in Liverpool in previous years. Lib Dem Councillors tell me that there has been huge amounts of delay on this and you do wonder why the Labour Council hasn't got its act together by now.
(In fact even my Labour opponent has criticised her own side for this - and she is right to)

Anyway, here is a picture of me canvassing in another part of Halewood, a rather interesting mobile home park.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Bus change campaign!

Just back from the Merseytravel Advisory Panel which is a committee which brings together community reps, people from Merseytravel, people from the bus companies and Councillors. I represent Liverpool City Council on the committee.

I took the opportunity to raise the issue of bus drivers not having a float and so not giving change. When people try to pay and the driver has no change one of two things are likely to happen (and I have seen this). The first is that the driver makes you pay too much for your ticket. The second is that you get thrown off. (In fact another Councillor said this had happened to his 18 year old daughter)

Anyway it turns out that while the Stagecoach bus company gives drivers a set float as a matter of policy, it is Arriva's policy not to do this.

I challenged this as I find it amazing that an operation which is basically a form of retail would find it acceptable to not have a starting float. I got some support from the meeting so hopefully we'll be able to get this changed if we keep pushing.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Celebrating Success in South Liverpool

Off to Speke last night for a great event to celebrate the success of children and young people across South Liverpool. A series of awards ranging from young entrepreneurs to awards for school attendance. The young people from the Valley Community Theatre performed a short piece about diversity and there were two great singers called Attitude.

I'm getting some pictures so I'll post those when I can.

I was there as a Councillor for Cressington ward, but also as a representative from Edge Hill University. Edge Hill sponsored three of the awards.

I made a resolution to see if we can get some entries from Gilmour Infants next year (I am one of the school governors)

Among the schools with pupils winning awards were Gateacre Comprehensive, Garston C of E and New Heys.

Well done to everyone.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Garston waste site -update

Tomorrow is the deadline for any extra comments for the Jack Allen appeal. Mine are in. If its too late for you to put anything in the post you can go to the planning portal (see link on earlier post) and do a comment on line.

It's really important that as many of us as possible make our views VERY clear about this.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Is everyone else as bored?

We keep being told the General Election Leaders' TV debates will bring a bit of excitement to the contest and could make or break the parties.

I must be in a minority here. I find the prospect of these programmes boring in the extreme. In fact I am stiffling a yawn now.

(Actually Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times today seems to feel the same - not someone I usually agree with but still)

There are two main reasons I think these debates are a mistake. Firstly the huge number of agreed rules means this is not a debate but a series of statements linked by a presenter. I have seen some of the US Presidential "debates" and on the whole they are just soundbites with stuff in between.

OK someone can do badly because they look a bit odd or they make a small mistake. But do we really want our voting intentions to be affected by someone with the wrong sort of make up or someone who makes a small gaffe (and given the nature of these programmes any mistake will be small).

My main problem however is not the rules but the existence of the debates themselves. Politics is already becoming too Presidential in my view. When we vote we vote for a local candidate. OK it helps to know something about the potential Prime Minister but when I vote in Garston I am not voting for Nick Clegg, or Gordon Brown or David Cameron. It's my name on the ballot paper. By focusing more and more on a few personalities we are moving to a point at which no one actually looks at the policies and ideals.

I'll be out when these programmes are on - on a doorstep somewhere. But I won't be recording them, that's for sure.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Full Council last night

Last night was the last Full Council before the May elections. The minutes will be published at www.liverpool.gov.uk in the councillors, meetings and agendas section.

Here's my take on it though

The last one before an election is always a bit fraught, and last night was no exception. There were however some really nice moments as well as the shouting!

The Lord Mayor made a point of name checking the Councillors who are standing down. Three of them made short speeches and I was really struck in particular by what Paul Clark (County ward) said about his time on the Council, the value of public service and the sacrifices that everyone (whatever party and whatever position) makes when elected.

A very eloquent young lady addressed Council (we have a system where members of the public can make a short speech at the beginning about an issue) about public transport to Hope University. I am on the Merseytravel Advisory Panel so I will certainly raise this at the next meeting (at the same time as pursuing the issue of bus drivers and lack of change!)

We then had question time which was, well more like a load of men shouting at each other. The microphones weren't working properly but that didn't appear to make any difference to the volume. I actually like question time but no one had put any questions in for me so I wasn't able to answer any.

We had some constitutional stuff to discuss, including the Liverpool Commission. Cllr Radford had some problems with this as he thought the Commission should have discussed things like proportional representation. I made the point that the Commission discussed things we actually have the power to change in Liverpool. If we're able to act on all the recommendations I believe we will be a lot more democratic and open - maybe not next month but certainly in years to come. Among the things we'll be doing are - more mentoring schemes to give people a chance to see what being a councillor is like, work with employers to persuade them to welcome their employees' desire to take part in public service, webcasting of council meetings to make things more open and plan english in council documents.

Every Council meeting has motions. A lot are sent in and so we have to choose which to discuss. Last night's included motions on crime and antisocial behaviour, Council Tax and Gardening Fees. The Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Opposition have reserved slots for motions, but they can delegate these. Last night I got the Leaders motion, which was a bit scary.

Full Council is quite tiring, even more so if you go out for drinks afterwards. I am shattered today!

New website

For anyone interested in politics - local and national - the Daily Post and Echo have launched a new website.

It's called Liverpool Party Central.

The idea is that politicans from different parties post comments or articles and anyone reading the site can make their own comments too.

It's not written by the Post and Echo journalists. It's written by members of the different political parties (including me).

It hasn't been widely publicised yet but I expect it will be shortly and so there'll be a lot more views.

If you want to have a look you can find the site at


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

ID Cards Freedom of Information question

An e mail alerted me to the possible arrival of an answer from the Home Office.

Sadly so far all they've sent is an acknowledgement but they say they'll answer by 10th March.

I asked a Freedom of Information question about ID cards marketing. Let's face it you can't go anywhere in Liverpool without seeing an ad for this "voluntary" scheme. Bus shelters, billboards, the local press, local radio - the ads are everywhere.

I have asked for the cost of all this spend. ID cards are an illiberal waste of time so why the government thinks its all right to pour money into marketing to try to con us into applying for one is beyond me.

I'll post again when I get my answer. How full an answer it will be remains to be seen.

Festival in Garston Park

The Pastor at Long Lane Church has been in touch about plans for a festival day on Garston Park later this year.

He wants to know if there are any other groups that want to join in. Already it looks as if there'll be some football, some play activities for children and some exhibitions. The Friends of Garston Park are also discussing what they might be able to do.

If you are from a group that wants to know more or wants to join in, do please get in touch with Nick the Pastor at


Deadline looming - Garston waste plans

The deadline for further comments or objections to be sent in about the terrible plans for a waste site on Garston Docks is nearly here.

It's March 9th.

The City Council turned down Jack Allen's plans for this site last year, but instead of going away and looking elsewhere, the company decided to appeal.

There'll be a public enquiry starting on June 15th this year.

I and the other Lib Dem Councillors are still fighting these plans and we know lots of local people are too.