Monday, 21 February 2011

Cressington ward walkabouts

Along with my colleagues, Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe, I go on regular ward "walkabouts" to look at very specific issues that we have identified or that constituents have asked us to look at.  I am about to start organising the next couple.  If you live in Cressington and there is something you feel we need to make sure is included, please let us know.  You can e mail me at

The picture (rather badly taken) was taken when we were outside the vacant land on Booker Avenue talking about the need to get the litter shifted again and to get the landowner to sit up and take notice of people's annoyance.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Reviewing the youth service in Liverpool - feedback deadline approaching

Last night I went along to one of the youth service review meetings organised by the City Council .  There've been five in the five districts of Liverpool, but this one was specifically to look at City-wide services (which by their nature are often also specialist).

The idea was for young people, youth workers and others interested in the youth service to have their say and ask questions.  This was a tad problemmatic as many of the questions actually couldn't be answered.  We were told that the review was about how the decision making about the future of the youth service should work.

Although on one level, asking people to help determine how decisions should be made is a good idea, I could sense that many were frustrated that they weren't actually there to discuss and amend any actual decisions.

There's obviously a lot of commitment to the City wide services and organisations.  We heard from GYRO, Calder Kids, YPAS and MYA as well as from a youth council rep (apologies for any I have missed out)

The panel - two Labour Cabinet members and some Council officers, made the point that there is still time for young people and others to send views in, so please do if you want to.

They suggested two ways of doing this.  One was via the Youth Service website which is here.
(I had a look at this this morning and I am not sure which section you'd use for this - the deadline is wrong on the section that seems to be about consultation)
The other way is by e mailing an officer from Committee Services who is keeping the notes.  I am a bit wary of publishing someone's e mail here without permission so I am happy to forward on any comments/input to him if you e mail me at  (I will when I forward these also copy you in so you can see I haven't made any amendments)

The document as a result of these meetings is being written on 24 Feb so I imagine that means feedback by 23rd.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Business Survey and ATM Campaign

I've just spent most of the morning visiting local businesses to deliver our Cressington ward business survey.

I started early so in some cases it was a case of putting the forms through the door (or in the mail) .  Later though I was able to speak to some of the (mainly) shopkeepers.

As local Councillors we often ask residents for their views.  I don't think we're always quite as good though when it comes to local businesses.

Obviously we are not about to publish the details of what individual businesses say.  But hopefully we'll be able to give a flavour of what opinion is and what we need to be doing to help the businesses serve their communities.

One of the key questions in the Cressington survey is about ATMs (cash machines).  I'm hoping that as well as getting replies about a range of local issues, we'll identify some locations for possible non-charging cash machines.

There's a South Liverpool campaign on this issue at the moment as one of the problems that's been highlighted in parts of our area is the number of "cash deserts" - places where the only access to money involves paying a fee.  That's annoying at the best of times but if you are on a low income the fee can be disproportionately high.

You can find out more about the ATM Campaign  at

Monday, 14 February 2011

Help for women setting up businesses

This information, about money for women setting up in business, has come to me on e mail today.

I'm posting it here to help get it to a wider audience.  It is pretty self explanatory.  If you have queries about it though please contact the organisation not me!

"The Women’s Organisation are delighted to announce that we have been able to open our

£200 business start up grant to

every woman in Knowsley or Liverpool who is starting up a business
regardless of their employment status.

In order to access the grant the women will be asked to complete a business plan with help from our team and to provide evidence of business start.

*please note that this does not apply to areas of Liverpool where Stepclever funding can be claimed.

For more information or to book in to see one of our advisers please call our team on 0151 236 6601 or email

(Step Clever covers part of North Liverpool)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Liverpool Cricket Club and Traffic

At the Regeneration and Transport Select committee last night (10th February) I raised (in a joint motion with Mossley Hill Lib Dem Cllr Ron Gould) the problems some of my constituents have when there is a big event at Liverpool Cricket Club.

The major events, like the County Cricket matches, give local people the chance to see good cricket.  They also however can cause parking problems and safety problems in the streets nearby.

Anyway, it was agreed that the first step is a site visit to the location during one of the major events, and we've picked the one that looks most likely to generate crowds - a Lancashire Yorkshire match.

Hopefully this will give us a clearer idea of the state of the problem while helping us come up with whatever solutions are needed.

The date is a little way off yet, but I will update as and when I can.

The text of the motion will be available on the Regeneration and Transport Select Committee section of the Council website which is here

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Garston waste site - another blow tonight.

I am just out of the Regeneration and Transport Select Committee and I am afraid the news is not good.

Tonight we were discussing the "call in" of the Labour Cabinet member's plans to designate Stalbridge as the official "sub regional " waste site for Liverpool.

The Cabinet had met last Friday and agreed the proposal, but four Lib Dem colleagues and I called it in.  (And to be absolutely fair to  him the Cabinet member also said it should be discussed further at the committee).

There was quite an intense debate with some good questions .

However that proved to be of absolutely no importance when it came to voting.

Select committees have the power to either approve or disagree with a Cabinet decision.  If they vote to disagree, the Cabinet has to think again (it can of course then come to the same conclusion but often the scutiny means changes are made).  If they approve the decision, it still goes back to Cabinet but the likelihood of getting a change is much, much less.

Well tonight, despite some questions and remarks from Labour Councillors giving the impression that they had problems with the suggestion, they went and voted it through.

We lost by three votes to four on both votes.

Bizarrely one of the Speke Garston councillors is a member of the committee but he decided to come off it for that evening to act as a ward Councillor (I had understood this is allowed.  Someone is now querying this although given that someone from the Council's legal department was there I'd be amazed if this was something not possible to do)

The said Councillor then said nothing.  If he had stayed on the committee he could at least have voted.  There is no value in giving up your vote unless you then speak forcefully and passionately to persuade others. Unless of course you don't want to be seen voting in a particular way.

Peter, Richard and I are pretty hacked off right now with it - particularly with the Labour amendment which tried to blame the whole thing on the Government Actually we had a glimmer of hope going in because a group of Labour Councillors, including the chief whip, had written that they thought the whole decision should be delayed for more in depth scutiny.  Clearly that was just a ruse to get something on paper but we would have agreed to co operate with a proper scutiny focus over time if that was what was on offer (and if outright rejection had failed - which it had)

Still we are now where we are and we need to regroup and think about what else we can do to protect this part of Garston.

To those to whom I am giving bad news, I apologise for being the bearer.  But there is no point delaying it.

The committee papers (minutes) won't be published yet but when they are you should be able to find them

Friday, 4 February 2011

Garston waste site - update - blow for Garston.

I'm just back from the City Council Cabinet meeting where I and my colleauges Peter Millea and Richard Oglethorpe were attempting to stop a decision to say that Garston should be the city's waste destination.

(see previous post for details and links to the Cabinet agenda)

Sadly we were not able to persuade them and the Labour administration decided to support the recommendation.  This is a blow of course.  We were the only Councillors to bother to attend and speak at this meeting but I think between us we did a good job of spelling out the various arguments.

I am finding it hard to believe that an organisation that , only last year and with wide support,  was arguing that a waste plant was a bad idea in Garston now seems to think that its OK.  I am finding it extremely hard to believe that a decision can be made on facts that are quite so wrong (my colleague Richard did well on highlighting this)

However, its not quite over as we have "called in" the decision  (Call in is a method whereby councillors can ask the Cabinet to think again).  This means the decision, and the issue, will be discussed at the Regeneration and Transport Select Committee next week (10th Feb)

We, thats me, Peter and Richard, are deteremined to do all we can to stop this going ahead.  Its a difficult fight but we won't give up.

This is a meeting in public and people are entitled to come along and make their feelings known (although if you have a question or want to make a point its best to be in touch with the committee clerk beforehand)

The part of the agenda for the meeting including this issue is not yet published but when it is it will be available at

(To be absolutely fair and accurate, I do think the cabinet member wanted the select committee to have a chance to discuss this issue.  However without the "call in" we wouldn't have had a specific call for the decision to be looked at again)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Poverty Commission - anytime soon?

UPDATE (8th Feb):  To be fair to him, I have just received an e mail from Cllr Nick Small which shows he is chasing a date.

Last year I had a bit of an internet rant about the failure of the Liverpool Poverty Commission to start.

To be fair, Labour Councillor Nick Small did get in touch and explained the delay.  We also discussed the change of the name - to Fairness Commission - and some of the potential ideas we could explore.

I felt that actually some movement was imminent and looked forward to being able to participate.  We discussed the fact that once it started it would want to "get on with things" quite quickly.

Well, sad to report that unless this is taking place in secret, the Commission still hasn't got going.

I'm disappointed because this had the potential (still does I suppose) to do some important work for people across Merseyside.

Aigburth Road parking - committee motion - 10 Feb

Ron Gould, who represents Mossley Hill, and I have a motion at the next Regeneration and Transport committee about parking.

We've both been contacted by residents worried about problems caused by overspill parking when there's a big event at the cricket club on Aigburth Road.

So we are calling on the Council to look into what the problems might be and see what can be done to deal with any safety issues.

The committee meets on 10th February.  Details about agendas for this and other council committees are available here.

The motion is pased below:

(text starts)

“Committee notes that Liverpool Cricket Club on Aigburth Road provides a useful and popular venue for all sorts of events from boot sales to county cricket matches.

Committee however also notes that during major events, the overspill parking from such events has caused major problems for residents in nearby roads. These problems have included

* inability to get into and out of properties

* difficulty in seeing round corners when pulling into other roads

Residents have reported that they have experienced some potentially dangerous situations because of this.

Committee believes its important to balance the needs of the venue and its visitors with those of the local residents.

Committee therefore calls for the City Council to

* review what plans exist for parking control during major events at the club

* organise a joint police/council site visit during the first major event in 2011 to ascertain the scale of the problem and to recommend any measures that need to be taken for future events.

* liaise with the Cricket Club and hirers of the cricket club about the best way to manage parking demand caused by large scale events

Budget decisions

At the back end of last year, the Lib Dems in Liverpool agreed to work jointly with other parties on the Council on developing the Council's budget.

We have some disagreements about some of what's been said about the figures, but putting that aside the group voted to try to co operate over discussing the various options.

I went to a Councillors' briefing last week about this and there's one tomorrow night also.

Last week I have to say I was impressed by the attitude of just about everybody.  Liberal Councillor Steve Radford spoke very well I thought when he said it was up to all of us to be honest about the need for cuts and not to play politics with the situation. It would have been easy for the session to degenerate into a row - but it didn't which I think says a lot for everyone.

Anyway, one of the things we are keen for people to do is to send in some of their own thoughts and views.

There is an online form which gives people the opportunity not only to suggest things but to see the implications of some of the suggestions.  The results will, I am told, be reported back to us before we vote on anything.  The form is open until the 20th of this month (Feb) and you can find it here.