Saturday, 31 December 2011

Blue Badge scheme changes

There are changes coming in tomorrow (1st Jan) to the Blue Badge Scheme for disabled drivers.  Its a national change (England and Scotland) .  The main idea is to try to stamp out fraud (there is considerable fraud at the moment which causes problems for disabled and non disabled people)

There is a story about the changes on the BBC news website here. 

The Government has said that Councils can charge up to £10 for a Blue Badge (if the application is successful).  Liverpool City Council has decided to charge £10. The badge is valid for three years at a time.

Applicants in Liverpool will also have to make their application on-line rather than on paper. Staff at One Stop Shops will be able to help people who don't have access to the internet at home or elsewhere.

Update on Cressington Heath traffic calming

Several residents on Cressington Heath have spoken to Richard and I over the last months about whether or not there'll be traffic calming on the estate.

We've looked into this and the short answer is yes.

Basically the estate is in different phases so the traffic calming will go in at different times but there is definitely some planned.  It'll be paid for by the developers.

I do have more detailed briefing material so if you would like me to forward that on to you , please email me at

More pictures of our Tree Planting

The Garston and District Historical Society has put some pictures of the Garston Park Tree Planting on the society's Flickr site.

Here is a link to the Flickr stream showing the planting day

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

BBC cuts consultation

The consultation on the BBC proposals closed last week.  I sent in comments.  This (below) is what I said:

"I write to give my views as part of this consultation.  I am leader of the Liberal Democrats on Liverpool City Council but am also a current lecturer in higher education and a former employee of BBC local radio.
The main station I listen to is BBC Radio Merseyside although I am familiar with some others.
To start with a point of principle, I am surprised that the BBC is asking for cuts from local radio.  Local radio is a tiny part of the corporation's overall spend and must be one of the most, if not the most, cost effective form of communication the BBC has.  It must also be one of the only parts in which participation by the community is not just allowed, it is encouraged.  This ranges from local vicars taking active production roles in faith programmes to angling experts contributing on a regular basis. Certainly in my time in local radio there was a signicant "volunteer" element which must surely be valued.
To move on to BBC Radio Merseyside, I would be against any reduction in locally derived/produced broadcasting (by locally I mean about and on Merseyside).  It is easy to argue that under your proposals elements such as news and current affairs will be protected.  But the voice of a locality does not just consist in news.  It is the complete range of topics rooted in an area that makes sure a station has its "local voice". It is also the case that non news broadcasters frequently uncover things which become news.  Remove these other broadcasters and you remove another source of local intelligence.
BBC Radio Merseyside is very much valued and loved in Liverpool and beyond. I know this from talking to my constituents on a daily basis as do other members of the Lib Dem Group in Liverpool.  Not only would reductions here mean the population of this area losing out, it would send a signal about the value of local broadcasting that I don't believe the BBC wants to send."

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Xmas tree recycling in Liverpool.

There are several drop off points for real Xmas trees so they can be "recycled". These run from 4 January and include Garston Park (also described as Long Lane Rec).

The list of sites is available here

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Social Liberal Forum letter in Guardian

Along with others from the Social Liberal Forum council I signed a letter to the Guardian earlier this week.  Glad to see it got published.  You can read it here

80 and 80a bus petition

We've kicked off a petition for a better bus service on the 80 and 80 a route.  During the day on weekdays its actually pretty good but once the evening comes and on Sundays its back to half hourly with only one of the routes being covered.  This effectively means you've had it if you want to go, for example, from Brodie Avenue to Morrisons at Speke.

Hard copies of the petition are making their way around the area but you can sign on line at this link

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Local news e mail bulletin

I've been doing an e mail bulletin of local news (mainly Cressington ward but some other stuff from South Liverpool too) for a while now.

If you don't already get this but would like to you can sign up by clicking on this link

Monday, 19 December 2011

New coffee shop on Garston Old Road

I blogged earlier about a planning application for a coffee shop at 77 Garston Old Road (where the sweet shop used to be)

This has been approved now.

You can see (brief) details including planned opening hours etc at this link

BBC Radio Merseyside cuts consultation

It's the deadline on Wednesday (21st) for any comments as part of the BBC Trust's "consultation" on plans for how it is going to allocate savings across the BBC.

The suggestion at the moment has BBC local radio, which includes Radio Merseyside, taking a significant percentage share of those savings.

Given the relatively tiny share that local radio actually takes of the BBCs overall budget, this seems extremely unfair (I am sure we can all think of other things that could go!)

Anyway, the link to the consultation is

Cllr Flo Clucas and I tabled a Council motion on this subject some time ago asking the Council to put the link to the consulation on the Liverpool City Council website.  After a reminder (!) the link finally went on last week.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Takeaway on Greenhill road (update December 2011)

I've blogged previously about the application(s) to turn the Greengrocers at 306 Greenhill Road into a takeaway (this is on the corner with Melbreck Road).

Richard (my Lib Dem colleague) and I opposed this as, like many of the local residents, we worried about litter, traffic, noise, parking and so on.

Anyway, we have now heard that the objections have had an effect and the second application is being turned down.

We have already written to local people to make sure that they are aware of this.

Thanks to everyone who was in touch with comments etc.

ATM Campaign update (December 2011)

The work I have been doing to highlight "cash deserts" has had some publicity this week.  The problem is that in some parts of Liverpool, and some parts of the country, there are virtually  no ATMs (cash machines) that will let you take money out without a fee.  When you think that the average fee is £1 75 you can soon see that for people on low incomes that amounts to a tax on poverty.

Earlier in the year I did some work with the Liverpool Echo and their analysis showed that the problem is more pronounced in parts of North Liverpool than elsewhere (although situations can change and a bank pulling out of an area, as happened on Mersey Road, can create a cash desert quite suddenly).

Anyway, some time ago I recorded an interview for the BBC programme, Rip Off Britain , which is on BBC One.  This was aired this week, with a preview on the One Show on Monday.  There  is a link to the BBC I Player here.

The Council did agree to look at whether its One Stop Shops would be suitable locations for fee free ATMs (as they are often buildings with high footfall and in places where there are a lot of people either living or working nearby). I am following this up.  Interestingly, a representative from one of the machine companies is now very keen to talk to the Council about finding some more locations in areas of shortage, like Anfield, so I am sorting this out too.

Freedom Ceremony for Edge Hill University

Last night was the ceremony for Edge Hill University's admission to the Freedom Roll of Association (the equivalent for organisations of the Freedom of the City)

I spoke at the ceremony as opposition leader.

This is a picture of  part of the ceremony.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Application for cafe/restaurant - 668 Aigburth Road

An application's just come in so that there can be  a cafe or restaurant at 668 Aigburth Road.

This is the old dry cleaners on the stretch of shops between Fletcher and Bennison.

By the looks of things the Council hasn't sent any letters to neighbours about this yet. I have been in touch with the agents acting for the people who own the building and although no one has been found to run it yet, they are keen to get permission so it can be a restaurant (they are thinking more of this than of a cafe.. and actually there is one just a few doors along).  They haven't applied for permission for a takeaway so this would be a question of food cooked and eaten on the premises.

You can  find some very basic details, and a contact number, on the Planning Explorer website at this link

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tree planting on Garston Park

A good, but a bit wet and windy, session today with the Friends of Garston Park and youngsters from Gilmour junior school.

We were planting trees (some very small others larger) on Garston Park near the Leisure Centre.

You can find out more about the Friends of Garston Park at

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Santa Dash

Lib Dem colleagues Cllr Erica Kemp and Cllr Graham Hulme took part in the Liverpool Santa Dash today.

This is Erica in her Santa gear. 

Garston waste plant site - update (December 2011)

Richard Oglethorpe and I had a meeting with Associated British Ports a few days ago to discuss the land at Stalbridge Dock.

This is the site that Jack Allen Holdings wanted to build a waste plant on, but then decided not to (see earlier posts on this)

We wanted to see if there was anything else planned for that land (and also if we could persuade them to choose something other than a waste plant)

The history of this site and the rows about it is long so forgive me if I don't recap everything here.  We have written to people living near the site with a fuller update (although if you have questions please don't hesitate to e mail me at

Mr Jervis from Associated British Ports told us that they are not currently pursuing any other waste firm for that particular site and are happy for it to be empty for a while.  They haven't had any other approaches either.

He also said that ABP has concerns about the Council's decision to designate the land as the official sub regional waste site for Liverpool.  (We were rather surprised to hear this!)

There is now a short period for consultation on the "soundness" of the Waste DPD Plan (the scheme that includes this designation) . (E mail me if you haven't seen this and want the link to the "consultation".)

ABP are not  attached to the idea of a waste plant there.  The company's criterion for leasing the land is that whoever wants to use it must be in a "port related business".Obviously this could be something else although some of the "something elses" would clearly also generate traffic.

I'll post again shortly about the follow up actions Richard and I are taking.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Tree planting on Garston Park.

The Friends of Garston Park are going to be out planting trees on Garston Park next week.

With support from the Mersey Forest, the session on 8th December will see shrubs and trees being planted by volunteers.

Anyone who wants to turn up and help is very welcome.  The group starts at 10 30 near the sports pitches on the park.  If you have a spade do bring it along!

This planting is the first of two sessions to introduce more trees onto the park and it follows the wildflower planting day of which more later!

Holmefield Road licence application

The old Spar shop on Holmefield Road is being taken over by Tesco.  The company will be putting in some planning applications (to do with changing the entrance etc)

It has also however put in an application to sell alcohol from 7 am to 10 pm Monday to Sunday.

When the previous shop was open, people living nearby often reported problems linked to alcohol sales here.

I understand that Tesco has written to some local people about their general plans but usually what happens with these licensing applications is that all that  a sign goes up which most people don't see.

Anyway, Richard Oglethorpe and I have written to some of the streets nearest the shop to let people know what's going on and to explain how they can comment.

If you want to comment on the licensing application, the Council has designed a handy form which is on the website here.

You will need to scroll down the page a bit to find the form.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Art project -reminder

Don't forget the first meeting for the Garston Park art project.  It's 6pm tomorrow (24th) at the leisure centre.  You don't have to be good at art - all you need is ideas.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friends of Garston Park - loads happening

Just back from a meeting of the Friends of Garston Park.  It was our last actual meeting before Christmas but we have loads of activities between now and then so perhaps it's just as well.

Tomorrow, as well as the regular morning litter pick we've got wildflower planting as part of the creation of two wildflower meadows on the park.

Next week (24th November) we've got the kick off meeting for our art project - 6pm at the Leisure Centre.  We'll be commissioning some community artists so you don't actually have to be a dab hand with a brush to take part.

And on 8th December at 10 30 we'll be planting the first of our extra trees.

If you want to join in any of this and want more information, do drop me an e mail at

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Down Syndrome Liverpool

While out knocking on doors this evening I came across a lady who is involved in a charity called Down Syndrome Liverpool.

I hadn't heard of this group before but from what she said they do really good work.

Anyway, when I got home I looked them up and they certainly seem very active

Here is the link to their website.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Garston Park Art project - update

If you want to join in the Garston Park Art project, do come along to our first meeting on 24th November at 6pm at the Leisure Centre (off Long Lane)

We are looking for people who want to get involved in generating ideas and generally helping with our project to create a mural around the outside of the sports pitches on the park.

These walls look a bit "prison like" so we want to paint some of them and do some planting to soften the lines of the others.

You don't need to be an artist to take part.. simply someone interested in having a say and helping make a difference in the park.

 And if you want to get involved in other Friends of Garston Park activities, do come along to our next meeting which is 18th November at 6 30 at the Long Lane Church.

Garston Park Church info

Garston Park Church is starting a lunch club from this Monday.  Information is available on 0151 427 2574.

The Church has also got its Chrismas fair next weekend (19th)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Friends of Garston Park - next meeting and tree planting

The Friends of Garston Park have their next general meeting on Friday 18th November at 6 30pm at Long Lane Church. Do come along if you want to get involved.

The Saturday is our normal litter picking day but we may be out there planting new trees instead.

Garston Old Road off licence application - update

We had good news a while ago when the licensing committee of Liverpool City Council turned down the application to sell alcohol from the building on the corner of Garston Old Road and Stormont Road. Arguments included the fact that the building was opposite Clarendon College ( a school and nursery) and that this could add to anti social behaviour on Garston Park.

The bad news, if you are opposed to alcohol sales here, is that the applicants have appealed.  There'll be a hearing in the magistrates court to decide whether or not the licensing committee made the right decision.  I've written to residents to let them know and the Council will write to people who had official objections in by the deadline.

I'll be giving evidence in the magistrates court as part of this but we don't have the date yet.  I'll update when I can.

Takeaway on Greenhill road -update

A few weeks ago  a planning application for a takeaway on Greenhill Road (by the corner with Melbreck) was turned down.  Local people were pleased because there'd been all sorts of worries about smells, litter, traffic etc.

I've now heard that another application has come in for the same site.  It's still an application for a takeaway from the same person although the opening hours are a bit different and there are different arrangements for the fumes and the front of the shop.

I've had a look at the application and to be honest it presents the same problems as the earlier one so I have objected.

I'm not sure how widely the official letters will go about this but I have written to people living nearby to let them know.

The deadline for comments is later in November.  You can find basic details on the City Council's website here

Animal rescue in Garston

While out door knocking today in South Liverpool I called on a house in Garston where the owner runs an animal rescue sanctuary. 

She takes in dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and others that have been abandonned.

I am not sure I could live in a house so completely full of animals but this lady's commitment was so impressive. She ploughs all her earnings back into the charity and works so hard to look after, and rehome, the animals.

Some of the ones I saw today were rather ill - the dog with cancer was particularly sad. But others were just waiting for a home.

I asked about her motivation and it seems she started off years ago by rescuing a few abandonned cats in town.

She is the only thing between some of these poor animals and being out down.

It's great meeting someone like that and I learned a lot about cat care from her ( I also may have agreed to adopt a kitten when the litter she has there are over their illness and I'll have to think about how my existing two cats will cope with that)

Her organisation is Garston Animal Rescue.  It's a registered charity and can be contacted at PO Box 233, Liverpool, L69 7LF.

I don't think they have a website.  If I find they do I will add a link.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Greenhill Road off licence update - committee decision 1 November

I've just got back from the licensing committee discussing whether or not to allow alcohol sales at 206 Greenhill Road (that's the shop on the corner with Caithness Road).

Despite considerable objections from residents (including letters and a petition) the committee decided that the shop WILL be able to sell alcohol.

We know some people will be disappointed at this as residents have been pointing out all the potential problems.  It's clear also that you don't have very far to go in that area to buy alcohol already!

I spoke as did other Councillors and we made all the points local people had asked us to (and some extra). However we weren't able to persuade the committee to agree with us.

There was one small concesssion, which is that the starting time for selling beer, wines and spirits etc would be 8 am rather than the suggested 6am.

The shopkeepers did also volunteer to put an extra litter bin out, so I am following that up.

When the minutes of the meeting are published I will put a link to them on the blog.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Coffee shop planning application

An application's come in for a coffee shop on Garston Old Road at number 77 (on a small parade of shops)

You can see the details on the Council's website here

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Event at CREATE

CREATE, the organisation that recycles and reconditions used white goods like freezers is having an "indoor car boot sale" next Saturday - 5th November.
You can find out more about CREATE here

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Nursery Opening

I was thrilled to be asked to do the official opening of the new nursery attached to Clarendon College today.  Clarendon college is a Montessori school on Garston Old Road and the nursery is just round the corner in Whitehedge Road.  I last saw the building back in the summer when there was lots to do,  so it was nice to see the progress.  It really looked lovely today with all the bright coloured toys and the cots for babies.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Interested in Garston - keep this date free

The Friends of Garston Park are working to create a Garston skyline mural which will not only celebrate some of our buildings, it will help make the walls round the sports pitches in the park look less like prison walls!

The first planning meeting, where we hope volunteers will come along to share ideas, will be on 24th November.  More details will follow but if you want to be involved (as an ideas person , or an artist, or photographer or anything really) please keep this evening free.

ATM Campaign update

We've managed to get some national attention for our ATM Campaign.  This is the campaign highlighting the lack of fee free cash machines.  If you are very short of money, every time you have to pay a fee to get your money is like an extra tax on poverty.  And given the lack of machines that don't charge, this is becoming less and less unavoidable.

Anyway, after quite a bit of work trying to highlight this, the BBC TV's "Rip Off Britain"programme is going to give it some exposure.  I recorded an interview with them earlier this week.  More interestingly however they did some vox pop interviews in Anfield and not only discovered a real lack of machines there, but also were told that some charging machines change what they charge according to what day it is.  The programme makers were told that on match days the fee rises!  I hadn't heard of this before so will be doing some research on it.

Meanwhile the City Council did say it would consider putting some fee free machines in its buildings.  Since this was agreed I have heard nothing so the task for this week is to chase this up.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cenotaph Community Clean up

The community clean up in the Cenotaph area of Garston is this Sunday (23rd) at 3pm.  We are meeting at Long Lane Church (unless you spot us already out there litter picking).  Our aim is to tidy up the area a bit.

This is part of a general project to improve this spot.  Watch out for the arrival of soil and plants for the planters and painting of the railings and benches to smarten things up a bit.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Community Clean up

I'm helping organise a community clean up of the Garston Cenotaph area (the bit around the cenotaph near the shops and row of houses and just around the corner).

This is building on some work I did earlier, getting some reps together to see what could be done to help brighten up and tidy up.  The planters on Long Lane are part of this work.

Anyway, I'm working my way round with flyers to let shops and residents know more about how to join in.  I'll post details shortly but if you want to get more involved, do please drop me an e mail at

Saturday, 8 October 2011

New project for Garston Park

The Friends of Garston Park are looking for budding artists to help with a project to make part of the park look better.

The idea is to improve the wall round the sports pitch so that it doesnt' look quite so "prison like".

As well as some planting nearby, the Friends are looking for people to help paint some of the panels.

They now need to hear from anyone wanting to get involved.  I've posted the details below.  If you are interested, the person to get in touch with is Gwen (details towards the end)

The Great Art Project

FOGP is working on a project to camouflage the screens around the outdoor pitches at the Leisure Centre. Some sides of the pitches will have shrubs planted around them, but the sides facing the car park will be painted.

The idea has 2 parts: (1) to paint a Garston skyline on boards along the top of the screens and (2) below and around it will be boards representing how people express health and well-being in Garston. School children and other young people will do (2).

The skyline

This work will be done by community groups in the area. Small groups will work with community artists, starting with taking digital photos and working up to designing the final skyline. You don’t have to have a digital camera to take part.

You do have to commit to a number of sessions for the work. There will be a preliminary meeting in November and work will start in January 2012, for completion in May.

If you are interested and have ideas about what should be included in the skyline, please contact Gwen White, . If you give your email or telephone details, you will be sent the date of the preliminary meeting.

Monday, 3 October 2011

See this film

As a huge fan of the Smiley novels of John Le Carre, and the original Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy TV adaptation, I was worried I would be disappointed by the new film.  Not a bit of it.  It is absolutely brilliant and the flashbacks give more character to some of the figures involved.  If you haven't seen it yet make sure you do.  It must surely win every award goind.

Dovedale Children's Centre Campaign

This weekend's been marked by several messages from people at the Church and Mossley Hill Children's Centre (I call it Dovedale!)

The Council is consulting on whether or not to close this centre (and others)

Some of the messages about how the centre helps parents and children are so touching and they really underline the good work done there.

The centre has set up a campaign website which I promised to tell people about.

You can find it at this link

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Garston waste plant update

I reported earlier that Jack Allen Holdings have decided not to build a waste plant on Stalbridge Dock by the Cressington Heath housing development.

However the Council is still looking to designate that piece of land as the official "sub regional" waste site for Liverpool (there are others being designated in other parts of Merseyside)

There was a consultation on this earlier this year in which I took part as did others from the Garston area, but the final report has to go through each relevant Council.

The bad news is that Stalbridge remains the identified site in a report going to the City Council's Cabinet this coming Friday.

I'll be speaking to residents about what we need to do next.

Door knocking in South Liverpool

This weather is great for some Lib Dem doorknocking.  This is part of the team out yesterday (rubbish photo which manages to cut people out of the shot entirely) is by me!

Cenotaph area - can we improve this?

I got a small group together recently to see what we could all jointly do to improve the small area by the Cenotaph in Garston.  We've got a row of shops and some houses as well as a bench and some bus stops. It's by a busy road and very visible.  But it's one of those places that seems to suffer from more litter and mess than most and this picture shows a typical morning site outside the shops.

So we've got together some people from the Council, Enterprise Liverpool, the Long Lane Church and others to see if there is something we can do to make some changes.  We're talking to shop keepers and residents.

The empty planters on the central reservation on Long Lane are the first visible sign of progress (plants to come!!)

I'm also working on funding applications for other things and we have a commitment to get the bench and barriers repainted to look brighter.

Thanks to the residents from that immediate area who've already been in touch.  Do e mail me if you want to know about meetings or have any ideas. is my e mail.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Greenhill Road takeaway update

An update on the planning application for a takeaway on the corner of Greenhill Road and Melbreck Road, L18.  (grocers shop - no 306)

Richard and I sent in objections to this planning application as did a number of local residents (we had to alert some of them to the application as the council official letter hadn't reached that far)

We have just had it confirmed today that the application is being turned down.  The planners must have been convinced by the arguments about traffic, parking, litter and so on.

We have written to people in the area to let them know.

It is possible that the applicant will appeal against the decision.  If this is the case we will let people know.

(NB: Not to be confused with the application for an off license at number 206 further along the road!)

Garston Old Road off licence update

As promised an update.

I went to licensing committee today to argue against the application for an off licence, as part of a convenience store, at 184 Garston Old Road (corner of Stormont) and opposite the park.

There were also some residents there and the lady who runs Clarendon College (the lovely little Montessori school)

The good news is the application was turned down completely.

The applicants may well appeal but if this happens we will let people know.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Garston Reading Room - 150th anniversary event

Next weekend (1 October) the Reading Room at Garston is hosting an event to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Built as a venue for lectures and reading, the Reading Room became well known as the venue for the preliminary hearing in the trial of Florence Maybrick.  She was accused of poisoning her husband Janes in 1889.

The building will be open for visitors on Saturday 1 October from 10 to 4.  The event includes an exhibition, a craft sale and a victorian tea room selling refreshments (not sure if at Victorian prices!)

It costs 50p to get in (although accompanied children will get in free)

The Garston Reading Room is at the corner of Wellington Street and Chapel Road

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Garston Old Road off licence application

I blogged a while ago about the application for an off licence on Garston Old Road at the corner of Stormont and by the park.

The licensing committee will be deciding on this at a meeting at the end of September

I'll be going along to argue against this.

If you want any information, please e mail me at

Jack Allen update

The Jack Allen/waste plant saga has taken another turn.

The story has been covered in the Liverpool Post and Echo and on Radio Merseyside as well as in e bulletins from me and from the South Liverpool Residents Group.

But for those who haven't yet seen it this is what's happened.

Jack Allen is going away!

The reason it is pulling out of the plan to build at Stalbridge Dock we are told is because of a failure to get the contracts it needed to run the plant.  After all there is no point building something if you then can't use it and Jack Allen are a commercial company which can only do things if they are going to make a profit. 

Several people I have spoken to about the economics of all of this are saying that there may now be too many actual or potential waste treatment facilities/options in our area and that other companies would find a similar problem.

So on the face of it - good news.

It's only "one cheer" for Garston though as the Council decision to "designate" that land as the "sub regional" waste site for Liverpool still remains.  It's not entirely finished as there was a consultation and the results still have to go to a Council meeting but we are very close indeed to that designation being done and dusted.

What that potentially means is that any other waste company coming along in the future would be directed to Stalbridge Dock.

Garston residents believe that given that the decision to designate this land was based heavily on the Jack Allen situtation, now that the JA situation has changed we should try to get the designation removed.

So efforts have started to do this.

I'll post again when I can on this but if you want to make sure you are being informed directly I can add you to my e mail bulletin list Just e mail me at with the e mail address you want me to use.  If you want me to pass this on to the South Liverpool Residents Campaign Group please also let me know.


Planning applications - Cressington Heath development

I had an e mail the other day about whether developers are being allowed to change their plans for the rest of the Cressington Heath/Cressington Grange development.  (Actually some people were keen on there being some changes).  A couple of planning applications have come in from developers which go some way to answering the question.  Firstly there is one about the bit that's along Dock Road and Garston Way

And the other one is about the bit to the South of Lowestoft Drive

Monday, 5 September 2011

LMH Open Day - 6th September

A reminder to LMH tenants in the Stamfordham Drive area that there's an open day tomorrow (6th) at the Bridge Chapel Centre.  LMH tell me they'll be putting their bathroom and kitchen packages on show and providing information on the external work that'll be going on.

The event is a drop in one from 12 to 6 and tenants from the affected roads should have had invitations. The roads include Ramsey, Lascelles, Hylton, Hardinge, Caldwell, Blomfield,  Verney Crescent (and Crescent South), Stamfordham, Mostyn Avenue and Brocklebank Lane

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fair Access to Care survey - deadline extended

The Council has been writing to people about its proposals on eligibility for care.  Part of this involves a questionniare to get the views of people who receive a service (and others like carers and family members).  I was contacted by a Garston lady earlier this week concerned that she hadn't received a questionnaire and that she might miss the deadline to give in any views.

It turns out that the letters went out without the questionniares (I am told this is so that people could request them in the right format for them and so that people who didnt want to take part weren't bothered . Personally not sure that makes a lot of sense as you can always say that its available in different formats etc, but there you go)

Anyway the news from Social Care is that they have pushed back the deadline for returning these to 30th September so if you are one of those who does want to get a questionnaire and fill it in there is still time.

So if you are one of those with a letter and no questionnaire, and you do want to give your views, you can request a form and still get it back before deadline.

The e mail of the team dealing with this is

Funds available - Speke

I have just come across this from LCVS which is relevant to any organisations doing work that benefits people in Speke. NB: the deadline is quite tight.

Speke Connecting Communities Fund

A small pot of funding is available to help community and voluntary organisations, which benefit people in Speke. Maximum amount of funding per application £1,000.

For application form and applicant criteria please contact Eileen Deakin on 0151 233 2319 or email

Applications must be returned by 12noon on 16 September 2011. Letters confirming funding will be sent out to successful applicants 23 September 2011.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Honouring a Garston Hero,

I've recently come across the story of Lt Newgass, someone who saved a lot of lives by defusing a mine in Garston during the war.

A local man is keen to see Lt Newgass' bravery commemorated someone - perhaps with a plaque at the library or on another local landmark.

I've put my name to a motion about this for the next Liverpool City Council meeting (along with colleagues Tina Gould, Lynnie Williams and Richard Oglethorpe). The local man , Stuart Daniels, who told us about this is hopefully going to take part in an interview on Radio Merseyside to give more deetails.

The story, I am told,  is this.  Back in November 1940 a parachute mine landed on Garston gasworks. It didn't go off straight away but people feared it might detonate at any time so 6,000 people who lived nearby had to be evacuated.  It wasn't even clear exactly where the mine had lodged, so pumps and fans were used.  It was when the air inside the tank wasn't considered explosive that some could actually go in.

Lt Newgass, a veteran of the previous war, was a member of the bomb disposal unit.  Using oxygen apparatus, he went into the tank.  He spent time over two days defusing the mine.  It was particularly difficult work as the oxygen tended only to last for thirty minutes at a time and the fuse was hard to reach so the mine had to be turned.  Imagine the pressure of worrying about the oxygen and the bomb while having to do quite a bit of heavy lifting!

If the mine had gone off, not jus the gas works but the neighbouring properties would have been completely destroyed.  Lt Newgass was awarded the George Cross for his bravery.  Other brave men also worked to save lives at the Gas works that night and any marking of Lt Newgass' heroism would also be marking theirs.

I do hope some way can be found of recognising this further.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Take away planning application - Greenhill Road

A planning application has come in to change one of the shops on Greenhill Road to a "hot food take away".

By the looks of things on the City Council website, letters haven't gone to anyone living nearby yet.

However you can see the basic details on the website here.

A bit more information is in the section called related documents.

Last time there was a planning application for a takeaway in this area (although not at this particular site) there was quite a lot of worry about litter and traffic.  The takeaway got permission but there were some conditions, including a litter bin. Richard and I are interested to hear people's views on this so please feel free to e mail us at or

Social Liberal Forum at Lib Dem Conference

The conference directory, with all the fringe meetings etc in it, doesn't seem to have been published for party conference yet but looking through the list of what's planned by the Social Liberal Forum, or what the Forum is involved in, it looks like there are going to be some great debates.

The fringe on phone hacking on the Sunday is not only topical but has some great speakers - Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian and Hugh Grant are just two of them.

It's good also to see that Will Hutton is down to speak at another meeting.  He was so informative and interesting (also challenging and rather scary) at the SLF conference.  I know that people there wanted to hear more from him so its great we've managed to sort that.

A Level success for Liverpool young people

Great news today that the A level passes for young people at Liverpool schools mean that the City's results are above the national average for the first time.

I don't really like league tables, but given they seem to exist everywhere its good to see we are moving up this one!

Garston Park Church community garden project

A group of young people will be getting together next week to work on turning a piece of ground behind Garston Park Church (formerly Island Road Church) into a community garden .  They've got assistance from B and Q and have already done some work to prepare the ground.

Brendan, a local youth worker on the Grassendale detatched youth project, says that work should be going on from Tuesday to Friday next week (23rd to 26th) from 12 till 5 every day.  And if you want to pop along and lend a hand, or show some support, you'd be very welcome (even more welcome if you bring along a garden fork or spade to get stuck in)

I'll try to post more information to update on the project

Monday, 8 August 2011

Boost for ATM Campaign

Great news today.  The Liverpool Echo has run a great story about our campaign for more fee free ATMs (cash machines)

This is the link to the story.

(There are several pages to it)

Liverpool Pride

Liverpool Lib Dems took part in Liverpool Pride on Saturday.  This is Paul setting up the stall shortly before it all started.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Off Licence application - Garston Old Road

An application's come in to the City Council for an off licence at 180/184 Garston Old Road.  That's the building on the corner with Stormont. Actually if you live near there you may have noticed the blue sign on the wall with some of the details.

Anyway, people who want to comment have until 14th August.

The application is for off sales from 7 am to 10 pm Monday to Sunday.

Licensing is a legal process so decisions have to be made on licensing grounds.  If you want to comment on this, and have never done a licensing comment before, the easiest thing to do is to use the form on the Council's website.  You may need to scroll down a bit.

I'll be sending in comments as a local councillor so if you would prefer to send things to me that is fine.  My e mail is

Another Fun Day on the Park

There's a Fun Day at Garston Park this Tuesday (2nd).  Its from 12 till 4 and the organisers say there are plenty of activities for both children and adults.

Fingers crossed for sunshine!

Polling station review

Liverpool City Council is reviewing the polling stations it uses for elections.  Councils are supposed to do this on a regular basis and it's a good chance to check whether there is feedback on accessibility etc.

This May just gone we had some changes to the polling stations in Cressington.  They didn't move but some of the people who usually went to one, went to another instead.  This was because in the past far too many people had to go to the Guide Hut on Ambergate Road (in 2010 there were people who couldn't get in to vote and it was quite tense)

It's important that polling stations are right - that they have disabled access, are large enough, are light enough etc.

If you've got any comments about the ones in Cressington, or if you live elsewhere about the ones elsewhere, do send them to me at or directly to the Electoral Services Unit at the Council (Dale Street, L2 2DH).  The deadline is 19th August.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Movement on Bankfield House site

I blogged a while ago about plans for housing on the bit of land on the corner of Brunswick Street and Banks Road where Bankfield House used to be.

There's been quite a bit of concern about this site with dumping and graffiti and it has been making the area look run down at times.

Anyway, the good news is that the plans have moved forward and they are on the agenda for the City Council's planning committee later this month (July).

Here is the link.  You need to scroll down a bit to find the relevant section.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dearling with derelict pubs - council motion for 20 July

As opposition leader I get a slot for a motion at Liverpool City Council meetings.  I decided to go on derelict pubs as these buildings are really blighting some of our communities.  The meeting is on 20th July.  I've pased the text of the motion below:

Liverpool Derelict Public Houses by Councillor Paula Keaveney

Council recognises that public houses serve as significant community hubs in many areas of the city, often in impressive buildings, and have developed roles beyond simply being places for the consumption of alcohol.

Council recognises that the closure of Public Houses has left many neighbourhoods across Liverpool not only with fewer community hubs but also with empty and derelict buildings that add to the general degeneration of an area.

Council notes that in many cases, Public House Buildings are part of the historic fabric of a district and can cause feelings of strong local loyalty and identification.

Council notes that recent figures (from CAMRA- 2008) for national pub closures show nearly 40 pubs per week closing. This is an increase on a survey in 2004 which showed the rate of closures as eight a week. More recent research (by CR Consulting) has highlighted closures between 2007 and 2010 with 45 closures in Liverpool Riverside constituency and 27 in Liverpool Wavertree. The reasons for closures are many and can be complex. The results however are the same.

Council notes that there are examples of empty and/or derelict pub buildings in most wards across the City, for example Kitty Macs in Garston and the Newsham Park on Lower Breck Road/West Derby Road.

Council notes that work was undertaken to try to deal with this problem both in 2002 and in 2007. As part of this work, through the Regeneration Portfolio, enforcement/intervention action was taken in some cases.

However the number and rate of pub closures has increased.

Council believes that a strategy is needed across the City which

· identifies key empty Public House Buildings

· where these buildings are not too damaged to be of use, ascertains what could be done, with partners and the private sector, to either bring them back into use as a Public House or other trading outlet or find other uses to help the community

· enforces conditions on owners who are neglecting their buildings

· works with organisations such as CAMRA and the All Party Beer Group to lobby for government measures which would make the protection and re use of Public House Buildings easier.

Council therefore calls on the Cabinet Members for Regeneration and Transport, Environment and Climate Change, Neighbourhoods and Employment, Enterprise and Skills to produce a report identifying the full extent of the problem within Liverpool and working with partners including in the business sector to draw up a strategy to re invigorate some of our crumbling pub buildings.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Some theatre in the park

A plug for these Shakespeare performances coming up later this month.  Venues include Reynolds Park in Woolton and Sudley House.  Sounds like a great way to spend an evening.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Weedspraying - still not happening is it

Hmm.  We were told extra effort was going into weedspraying. It's now nearly the middle of July and yet there are still waist and shoulder high weeds all over the place.  These two pictures are in the same tiny part of L16.


A good evening's doorknocking tonight.  Here's part of the team getting ready to start.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The week just gone

I've had a real mix of things to do this week. Actually I'm very lucky to have such a combination of job and politics that gives such a variety.

Along with quite a few doorstep conversations with constituents, some meetings on local issues (some of which I'll blog about separately) and a load of writing and research, I shared a bill with Ken Dodd.

Tuesday was the Freedom Roll ceremony for the Liverpool Post and Echo.  As opposition leader I am asked to speak at these and it was a great pleasure (although speaking last you always find you are having to rely on your wits as most of the factual information has already been used up by the others).  Ken Dodd wasn't originally scheduled to speak at this but he agreed to be added in at the last moment.  The ceremony was in the atrium of the newspapers' building (they are usually in the Town Hall). It's the first time I've seen an event done there but it's clearly a good space to use.

Yesterday following a street surgery in Cressington I popped over to Woolton to help colleagues deliver a last minute leaflet.  It seems that a local bus service won't be running next week (Merseytravel's new company not being able to start straight away) and the Councillors wanted to make sure that people along the route knew not to be standing at a bus stop in vain.  The services in Woolton affected are the 173 and 174 although there are other South Liverpool routes with similar problems.  should have the details.

Last night was a regional Lib Dem dinner with Chris Huhne MP (energy and climate change secretary of state) as the speaker.  He was very good about the Green Deal but also about the whole issue of media ethics and the News International investigation. He pointed out that, unlike Labour and the Tories, the Lib Dems had not been "canoodling" with Rupert Murdoch.

And this morning I was out with Gill from the Cricket Club working on a local parking problem (details in my earlier blog)

Trying to solve parking problems

I've been out this morning with the charming Gill from Liverpool Cricket Club trying to solve some parking problems in our area.

The cricket club plays host to car boot sales on a Sunday.  It has a free car park for visitors to the sales.  However these Sundays are also marked by quite a lot of indiscriminate parking in some of the residential streets near the club and quite a few complaints from residents who can't get into and out of their own drive.

It's not an easy one to solve but we thought we'd do some work to draw visitors' attention to the free car par and try to persuade them to park in a way that doesn't cause problems for residents.

We jointly wrote a leaflet which this morning Gill and I put under windscreen wipers as we walked round the neighbouring streets.  We chatted to some people and it was clear that some didn't even know there was a car park they could be using (this might be an issue around signage and publicity).

Obviously if people are parking in an illegal way then more forceful action needs to be taken but we decided to use persuasion at first.

We're hoping to do a repeat performance in a couple of weeks time so it'll be interesting to see if there are fewer cars.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Dog owners events in South Liverpool

Free dog health checks and microchipping  are on offer at an event in Garston, and others across the City.

The Garston event, which runs from 10 to 4 on Sunday 10th takes place at the Sports Centre on Long Lane, L19.  You can take your dog along and talk to experts from the PDSA and other charities.

Microchipping a dog means that if it gets lost there is a greater chance of you being reunited with it!

Other dog owner roadshows are taking place in July.  There's one on the 9th at the Wavertree Sports Park and one on the 17th in Sefton Park for example.

If you can't transport your dog yourself, there is a service called Pets to Vets that can do it.  There's a small charge and the service has to be booked by phoning 07941259754.

Social Liberal Forum commentary

Thanks to Mary Reid of the Social Liberal Forum we have a list of blogs about our recent conference, including the interviews with Chris, Evan and Vince.

The link to the list is here

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Garston Fun Day

Saturday was another great Garston Fun Day (although the weather wasn't quite as good as last year)

The organisers, mainly the local churches, did a fantastic job and there were plenty of stalls with things to do for both children and us older lot.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Friends of Garston Park stall.  Our tombola and our bird box making was very popular.  The picture here shows a crowd round the stall while Mark (one of our committee members) helped a visitor make a bird box. (You can't actually see Mark. He is too hard at work!)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Weed spraying update

For some weeks now, my Lib Dem colleagues and I have been raising the extent of weeds across the City and the lack of weed spraying.  I have found weeds in some parts of the City that are literally shoulder high and foot high is not at all unusual. 

For some people this may not be a big issue.  But the volume of complaints individual councillors have received shows that it is bigger than you might expect.  Some complaints are around the fact that weeds make it difficult for some with limited mobility, or for people pushing a shopping trolley or a pram (try going too near a thick patch of growth and see what happeens to a small wheel).  Other people's complaints have been more about appearance.  People are proud of their City and don't like to see it looking bad (I have had remarks for example about feeling the need to apologise to visitors)

Anyway, research showed the programme this year had a start date of 1 July (although that didn't mean starting everywhere on the same date) and would be a single spray

We felt that wasn't enough and put some pressure on to, at the very least, get the start date moved forward.  People had remarked that parts of the City looked like a jungle

Opposition members don't make the decisions.  That is what the administration does.  However we can attempt to persuade which is what we did this time, with a series of motions to committees and so on.

Anyway, the good news is that the weed spraying programme has had its start date pulled foward to mid June (now in other words).  So we were successful. 

The bad news is that because it is a six week programme and the people doing the spraying have to move from one area to another, depending on where the starting place is there will still be some parts of the City that don't get their weeds sprayed until the end of July . 

At last night's environment committee we heard a lot about how the programme had started and the fact that there were quad bikes, but nothing about which particular areas the staff were doing first.  I am firing off a question about that this morning and will post if/when I get an answer as what most residents are actually asking is not when the programme kicks off in general but when they will get their area done.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Social Liberal Forum Conference

Yesterday was our first Social Liberal Forum Conference.  In a few short months we went from worrying about whether there would actually be enough people to attend, to having standing space only!

(You can find out more about the SLF at

Some great speakers (Will Hutton in particular was excellent - he struggled to get there and then spoke without any notes).  It was good also to be able to hear from, and question, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and Simon Hughes.

We made a point of not just inviting Lib Dem speakers and I personally was particularly interested to hear from Neal Lawson from Compass and from Halina Ward, an expert on the concept of sustainable development.

David Hall Matthews (chair of SLF) made the point that a few years ago the organisation was a smallish group and today there are around 1,500 members and more on a mailing list.  I loved the point about the fact that we are now big enough to hold an event which runs itself without the Chair doing all the work!

As well as chairing one of the sessions, I made a point of lobbying Vince Cable re a Liverpool issue and spoke to Chris Huhne about another.  (I took part in a bloggers interview with Chris Huhne which I'll write about separately)

Obviously there's going to be loads of follow up needed within the party as well as outside it but really very well done indeed to the team who did the legwork.

I took this picture (below) to demonstrate how significant the event became

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Doorknocking again

Hmm.  A rather unflattering photo of part of the team starting a doorknocking session in L25.

20 mph roads

Liverpool City Council is going to consult about which residential streets could become 20mph roads.  This could see quite a few extra places getting the slower speed limit.  The change could make quite a difference to people's safety.  If you are hit by a car at 20mph you are likely to live.  If the speed is 40 you are likely to die.

Councils up and down the country are now able to do this a lot faster and with more ease than they could previously.  While some places (Portsmouth is the example that is quoted most often) have already made this sort of change, there used to be loads of red tape.  Last week though Norman Baker, who is one of the Lib Dems in government, announced some changes which meant that a lot of that red tape, and some of the expense, disappeared.

What he said was, ‘if councils and local communities want to put in place 20 mph schemes on residential roads or use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools, then they should be able to do so without spending time and money satisfying unnecessary Whitehall diktats.’

The key changes in the process are:

Many of the current restrictions and obstacles to rolling out 20mph zones are being removed so that residential roads can be implemented with cheaper and less signs.

Importantly councils will no longer require approval from Government to introduce 20 mph zones.

Which brings me to the issue at hand.  Liverpool hasn't been explicit yet about how it will consult and how it will make the decisions, but I am keen to get some information in to help people in roads that know they would support the change.
So, if you live in a road where you think this would be a good idea, please drop me an e mail to  Obviously I need to know your name and contact details and the road you are talking about .
In Cressington some of you will already have had notes from me about this but there's no reason to wait if you want to get in touch.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

New planters

This is one of the planters placed in part of our area this month.  These were paid for out of the neighbourhood fund, a small pot of money that ward councillors decide how to spend.  The money was committed before May and it's great to see the flowers here now.  These were one of the items decided on by myself, Richard Oglethorpe and Peter Millea (who sadly is not a Councillor any more)  I popped into the shop on Garston Old Road the other day and the shopkeeper told me that people were really made up at the difference it made to have flowers there.  (He also promised to water the plants although after this weekend's weather that won't be needed for a while!)

These two have their birthday this week.

They are nine but they seem to think they are still kittens!

The week just gone

This has been a week of balancing my work at Edge Hill with being a Councillor.  At this point in the academic year there are all sorts of deadlines to do with marking and degree classifications so the week started off with me having to meet one of them.  It's always a big relief when that is done as the students won't get their marks or their degrees if we don't get things sorted in time.  Luckily for me I've got some great students and some of the marks are very impressive indeed.

That done however, I had some important Cressington ward and Lib Dem things to do.  I've blogged about the Fairness Commission already which met on Wednesday. As soon as there is more to say about evidence collecting and other opportunities, I'll post it.

This week saw three important meetings for Cressington (meetings with officers not committee meetings). At the first Richard Oglethorpe and I were looking at the maps the Council had drawn up of all the plots of land the Council thought could be used for housing.  Some of these were bizarre and simply either wouldn't work or would involve getting rid of some nice bits of open space that are valued by local people.  Others look doable if there is local support (and we asked for some consultation).

We then discussed, in a separate meeting, the future of Garston Library and Garston Leisure Centre. The Council has been consulting about the future of Libraries and we were worried about what might come out of that for our area.  There won't be any clear recommendations or decisions for a while but I think we managed to highlight the importance of Garston Library and we understand that the useage figures etc prove that it's a valueable resource.

I did a street surgery in the middle of the week, and another on Saturday morning.  These are a good way of talking to people and spotting issues.  Got rained on both times though.

Friday was Shadow Cabinet.  We meet at 8 am (which means I have to be there quite a bit earlier) to do some thinking about the next fortnight's activities on the Council.  It was good to see that Tina Gould's motion on electronic cigarettes had some press coverage and that there's interest in Barbara Mace's work on local history.

Saturday saw good news in the press for one of my colleagues - Richard Kemp - who got a CBE. I had been tipped off about this but had to keep it quiet till it was announced. 

Saturday for me also saw me doing the Councillors' surgery at the Library and then kicking off a petition on a particular local issue (which I'll blog about separately rather than cover in a throw away line)

And today.. well I've been catching up on my work for Edge Hill University, catching up on casework letters and e mails and attempting some research for this week's events and meetings.

Oh, we also had a not very helpful meeting about the plans for Stalbridge Dock.  The deadline for anyone wanting to send in a comment on the Merseyside wide plan is 20th June.  One of my previous posts has the link to the website.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I realise it can look a bit odd going round photographing dumping and litter, but here's a picture of some dumping I noticed in Cressington ward yesterday.  I've reported it for clearance and the Council say it should be gone by the 15th ( suspect it will have grown by then)

Fairness Commission


Here's the link to the Islington report mentioned below.

Went to the second meeting of the Fairness Commission today.  As luck would have it today was also the publication date for the report of the Islington Fairness Commission, and one of the members of that came up to share some of his experiences and advice.

I'll post a link to the Islington report when I can.

What I found really good about the Islington work is that the report's recommendations were easy to understand and were actually directed to somebody or to a particular organisation.  These included Islington Council itself, the local chamber of commerce, the Mayor of London etc.  That meant that it wasn't a lot of platitudes but some thought out suggestions about practical things that could be done to make Islington fairer.

Obviously a lot depends on whether the recommendations get acted on, but I got the sense that those involved didn't see the report as the end of their work, merely a stepping stone to getting some action.

The first two meetings of the Liverpool Fairness Commission have been scene setting rather than evidence gathering but we seem to be about to move into more evidence gathering mode.

I'll post some links to the Liverpool material when I can.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Doorknocking again

Another good evening's doorknocking in South Liverpool.  This is some of the team we had out working for the Liverpool Lib Dems tonight.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Social Liberal Forum Conference

Our first ever conference takes place this month (in a fortnight in fact).  Called Liberty, Equality and the State we are aiming to look at  policy and do some thinking about some pretty fundamental issues.

It is a Lib Dem led conference and it does include Simon Hughes, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne but we also have speakers from other parties and none. 

The event takes place down in London (although we hope in future to have satellite events for people who can't travel quite so far). 

I agreed to chair a session.  In fact I am doing the kick off plenary which features Simon Hughes, Will Hutton, Neal Lawson and James Graham.  Its a sort of scene setting/agenda setting bit which should lead in well to the workshops.

Quite a few of the tickets have already gone, but if you want to find out more about the conference, the SLF website is here

Woodhey/Bayfield alleygate update

People in the bit off Beechwood Road affected by the ongoing alleygate saga should already be aware but in case there is someone who isn't, here's the update.

All the legal stuff was done when a check showed that the wall we wanted to fix the gate onto wasn't safe enough.

The gate could be fixed sort of freestanding, but then people could simply step around the gate (there would be enough of a gap)

The answer was to pay for a post of some sort to attach the gate to and make sure there isn't a gap.

The Council said it didn't have the money for this.

However there is a small pot of money that the councillors can allocate for projects and I was happy to agree that this should be one of the things we spend on.  Credit needs to go to my colleague Richard Oglethorpe who got the costings and pushed hard to get this done.

Garston Park Fun Day Coming up - and help needed

Saturday 25th June is the Garston Park Fun Day. The weather was fantastic last time and it was great to see so many people there so fingers crossed for another great day.

The Friends of Garston Park will be there again.  This time we're also looking to have a tombola on our stall .  We've got some prizes but we could do with some more.  If you've got something you can give away to help with this, please either drop it off at 80 Long Lane or drop me an e mail so we can sort out about collecting it.  You can contact me at

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Doorknocking in South Liverpool

Good evening out door knocking tonight.  This is me with Councillors Erica Kemp and Tom Morrison.  People really appreciated us calling. 

We got round loads of doors although my feet are very tired now.

Friday, 27 May 2011

What a week!

I'm finding it harder to remember to blog as often so I'm experimenting with doing a bit of a weekly diary. This is my diary for this week, which started on 23rd May. It includes my first speech as opposition leader so it's a bit of a biggie.

I have a job as well as being involved in politics. It's a job I love as a Lecturer at Edge Hill University and Monday morning was the slot for sessions with first and second year students to get them ready for next year. There is some great potential here and I suspect I am going to have to raise my game to keep up with them.  I had a session with a postgraduate student too who is doing a 20,000 word dissertation on marketing through social media.  I am the "supervisor" for this which isn't as bossy as it sounds - you are meant to give advice and support.  This topic sounds brilliant and I can't wait to read this one.

Monday afternoon was casework time.  I am dealing with an avalanche of e mails, not all from my own constituents.  I had a meeting with one particular couple with major worries re Council tax.  We were able to get it sorted out and they went away happy.

Next came the Lib Dem group meeting.  I am still getting used to sitting at the front for this! I shared deteails of the shadow cabinet appointments and we had some good discussions about rebuilding.


A whole day on Council stuff.  A lot of office work, casework and planning for the AGM in the evening.  A student journalist is doing a documentary about me so I had to think through what would work best in terms of filming. 

At 5 it was the Council AGM which is partly the ceremonial around the new mayor, and partly decisions about constitutional stuff.  To say I was apprehensive about my first speech as leader would be putting it mildly.  It went OK though (even got a couple of laughs at my jokes). Luckily I had managed to research a few anecdotes about the incoming Lord Mayor to use.  It is a bit odd sitting in the opposition leaders seat and gazing across at, well, rather a lot of Labour Councillors.  However now that I have done it I am not daunted.


I'd like to say I got a lot of solid academic work done but I also had to turn my hand to editing and proofing our Liverpool Lib Dem newsletter.  I can see that making every single bit of time count is going to be important.

Back to the ward in the afternoon for a couple of  home visits.  I recruited a new party member too.  In the evening I joined the police at a community meeting to look at local priorities.  Still lots of problems in one particular part of the ward and the lack of people able to give evidence is causing a major stumbling block.  Richard and I agreed to contact the social housing provider to try to get some more action.  Professional witnesses would really help here.


Today was the Edgehill Teaching and Learning conference and I was representing my department (media) by giving a talk about how we teach PR.  Two students joined me and we were able to explain the pioneering (if a bit risky) approach we take.  Lots of enthusiasm from the audience, plus  a request from the mayoress of west lancs for some PR support for the mayoral appeal.

In the afternoon I went to the consultation event on the plans to designate Stalbridge Dock as the official "sub regional" waste site for Liverpool.  My views on this are well known and this event helped me crystalise what I will say in my submission.

Annoyingly I started the day having to deal with an unfair piece of reporting about the Lib Dems in a local newspaper.  This meant finding time to research exactly what had been said to whom and then raising it with the editor (politely - no one likes a shouter).  Hopefully they'll print a letter from me in the next few days.


A key member of staff was about to go on leave today so we spent some time going through tasks for the small team supporting the Lib Dem Councillors.  There are plenty of interesting jobs to do and I hope the staff don't find me too odd!

This afternoon was a meeting with the three Cressington Councillors and two officers from neighbourhood management.  The management is changing as the administration has made clear decisions about which areas are priorities.  Cressington is not a priority we are told and we will have to work around this.  Such is life.  I am sure we can find creative ways to bridge any gaps.


Well Saturday hasn't happened yet but I have the Councillors' surgery and possibly a meeting with local residents about the waste issue.  I also have the Lib Dem girl's night out!


And if that pile of student marking is anything to go by, I know what I'll be doing on Sunday!

Garston waste plant site - update

I went along to the public consultation session about Stalbridge (and the other sites) this week.  It's one of a series of sessions across Merseyside .  My colleague Richard Oglethorpe and I were able to ask some questions which we hope will help us get our points across.  I had an interesting chat with a representative from Lovells (the house builders).  They are pretty hacked off about the whole thing as they have been trying to build and sell and help regenerate Garston and this whole waste designation business is hitting them hard.

Anyway, the deadline for public comments on the plan is 20th June.  I've put the link to the on line comment facility in an earlier blog posting but if you want a hard copy of the document, please call my office on 0151 225 2319 and we will stick one in the post to you.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Out with the team

This morning I had an early start.  I spent time with the Council enforcement team finding out how they actually look out for dog fouling and litter offences in South Liverpool.  Starting at 6 am (yes people are out dog walking that early) we started at Heath Road in Cressington ward before going along Mather Avenue and then crossing to walk through some parkland.  We also spent a bit of time in the Serpentine/Aigburth Road area.

It soon became clear that appearing to casually watch a dog and owner isn't that easy!

This morning all the dog owners we came across were responsible and did scoop and bag.  But we also came across quite a few locations where that obviously hadn't happened.

Liverpool sadly is  high on the league table for dog fouling.  We're also high (top actually) of the league table for issuing penalty notices. (Figures from 2008/9)

Dog fouling is one of the main complaints I get from constituents and I've recently asked the enforcement team to look at quite a few locations in South Liverpool.  If there's a location you want me to ask them to look at, do please drop me an e mail to

We may not have seen any dog fouling offences but we did later spot a driver throwing litter from a moving car so that person will be getting a letter and fine.

Litter picking in Garston

Last Saturday I joined in the Litter Pick in parts of Garston organised by local churches.  It was rather on the windy side but we managed to clear up rather a lot, including litter from the park and streets roundabout.

This rather unflattering picture shows me at work!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Garston waste plant update - last chance to object?

Last time I blogged about the plans for a waste plant at Stalbridge Dock in Garston (next to Cressington Heath) the Labour Council had decided that this should be the location for the "sub regional" waste site in Liverpool.

We had opposed this, as had many, many residents.  But Labour persisted.

However it is not entirely over.

Because the "sub regional" site is part of a broader Merseyside waste plan, there is now a "public consultation" on the whole thing.

We were promised that there would be media publicity about this.  I haven't spotted any yet.

The deadline for responding to this consultation is 20th June.

You can do this on-line at

You can also contact the Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service on 0151 934 4951

I'll certainly be sending in my comments about why Stalbridge is such a bad idea.  I know that Jack Allen Holdings do have planning permission for the site but quite frankly they could decide not to build.  If that happens does Garston really want to find other waste operators being directed here?

I'll blog again when I have more news

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Leader of the Opposition

I haven't blogged for a while.  I have had plenty to say but virtually no time to say it.

The last few days have been eventful, sad, challenging.

On Monday night I was elected as the new Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the City Council.

There is certainly lots to do!

I'll be blogging a bit about this as well as my local ward stuff from now on.

Thanks to the people who have kindly sent me congratulatory messages.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Ebrington/Bowden alleygate update

Rather a delay in updating on this one but this is an update on the rather long running story about attempts to get an alleygate in this part of Garston.

The decision meeting took place earlier this month (third time lucky after one change of date and one sudden cancellation)

I was at work that day so can't give any first person report but my colleagues Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe were there and spoke at the meeting.

The alleygate application was agreed.

Details from the meeting are available here

Allotment story update

Thanks to the resident who sent me a really helpful e mail about allotments and about a DCLG consultation on local authority duties that looks relevant to my research.  When I have more news and links, will post again. But just wanted to say thanks!

Fairness Commission starts

The good news is that the Liverpool Fairness Commission (new name for the Poverty Commission) has started work.

We had a kick off meeting a few weeks ago and there's now a schedule which starts next month and looks like giving several good sessions to look at issues of fairness in Liverpool and the wider Liverpool area

We already have some of the Commissioners sorted - reps from business, the unions etc - but I know that we are also looking to recruit a few more (letters have already gone out)

There doesn't seem to be a weblink I can post to details about the commission yet, but as soon as I find one, or one is set up, I'll post the link.

Meanwhile, as a member myself, I'll report back on what goes on.

Liverpool Cricket Club update

I blogged earlier about the upcoming meeting to decide whether or not to let Liverpool Cricket Club have a licence for marquee events all year round.

The meeting took place earlier this month.  There was quite a debate. Residents who had opposed the application argued that there would be far too much noise and disturbance.  The club said it had agreed to monitor the noise, to limit number of events to 50 in the year, and to give notice to residents.
The residents believed that even with these measures, there would be far too much disturbance.

Peter Millea, Ron Gould and I were there to make points about disturbance.

In the end the committee decided to give the club permission but with some restrictions.  The number of events next year will be limited to 25 and the amount of notice given to neighbours will be 14 days. 

We delivered a note updating people about this shortly after the meeting.

The actual decision is available on the City Council website here.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Garston Skatepark meeting - reminder - 18 April

The young people working on plans for a skatepark in Garston are inviting anyone interested, or anyone with queries, to come along to a meeting tomorrow.

Its 7pm at the Urban Village Hall on Banks Road

Queries to Brendan at

Friends of Garston Park - park improvements.

Thanks to Friends of Garston Park, there've been some improvements to our park this Spring.  The Friends raised money for a new noticeboard (for the Island Road side) and for new benches to create some more "quiet places" to sit.

The board is already being used for some Friends and Community notices and the benches went in just this week (although we know they are already being used)

The Friends raised money for both these projects by holding raffles and sales, but also by applying to funds.  They received money from the Councillors Initiative Fund for Cressington and from the Grassroots Fund.  the City Council also helped out.

It's great to see these very solid examples of the Friends' work.  Other activities have included planting, regular Litter Picks and a presence at the Garston Park Fun Day (more about this year's Fun Day later)

If you want information about the Friends you can either contact me (I am a committee member) or have a look at our site at

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

More on skatepark meeting -18th April

I went to a meeting last week with a very impressive group of young people who want to create a skatepark in Garston.

Skatepark is probably the wrong word as we are talking about something BMX riders could use as well.

They've found a potential location, in the grounds of the Urban Village Hall on Banks Road.

They know that there's a long way to go, and that includes talking to local residents and answering questions. They need to be able to reassure people about noise and about how it could all be managed.

So there's a meeting to get people's views this Monday - 18th - at 7pm at the village hall.

The young people have produced a video which includes shots of skateboarding, but also interviews with people like police officers talking about how  a skatepark would benefit the area in a crime prevention way.

Anyway, its a really interesting project.  Do go along if you can and want to know more. (I know the young people are keen to get local people there - they are out delivering leaflets as I write!)

The key contact is Brendan Burton who is a local youth worker.  He is at

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Liverpool Cricket club - update

The Licensing Committee meets next week to decide whether or not to let Liverpool Cricket Club have what amounts to a year round license for events using a marquee. Local people are worried about a string of noisy night time events.

Peter Millea and I have sent in objections as has Mossley Hill Cllr Ron Gould.

There is a bit of coverage of the issue on the Post and Echo website today.  You can link across to it here

Information about the committee, including the agenda for this particular meeting, is available here

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Skateboard park for Garston?

Local youth workers and others are inviting Garston people to turn up to a meeting later this month to discuss a possible skate park (which could also be used for other activities) in Garston.  There's a potential site under the bridge.

The meeting is on Monday 18th April at the Village Hall on Banks Road at 7pm.

I don't have many details myself about this, although I have promised to tell people about the meeting.

(I'll be getting  a bit more of a briefing later this week)

If you want to know more, Brendon Burton, local youth worker, is the person to ask.

He is at

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Allotment statistics - nearly 1,000 waiting?

A Garston resident got in touch with me recently about whether there could be some more allotment sites in South Liverpool.

I've been doing a bit of research about the number of plots that exist in Liverpool and what the law actually says.

I found a bit of old statute, which seemed to say that an authority had to provide a site if a certain number of people asked for it (getting it checked)

However I also wanted to know the current state of play in Liverpool when it came to demand and waiting lists.

I asked a question about the stats at Full Council and got an "impossible to say" answer. I found that hard to believe so asked again ahead of the Environment Committee tonight.

Because the data is held by individual allotment societies it's hard to be absolutely precise, but the answer I got tonight was that "using a pro rata calculation a waitin glist of between 840 and 960 is suggested".

Seems an awful lot.  Perhaps there are ways of bringing some of the unused small bits of land into use this way.