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.