Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Calderstones Park - open days at the Mansion House

The Reader Organisation, which is to be the new occupant of the Mansion House in Calderstones Park, is inviting people to some open days to find out more and share views about what will and should be happening there.

The days are from 10 to 3 on the 12th and 13th April. 

There'll be lots going on, including children's story times and lunchtime music (on the Friday)

The organisers are keen to let people know what's planned for the Mansion house, but also to hear from local people and to answer questions.

If you want to know more you can contact

Regular readers of this blog will know that we consulted people about the future of the Mansion House and fed into the Council decision making process before The Reader was chosen.  Feedback since then has shown that it was a good choice!

Monday, 25 March 2013

More news about South Liverpool.

I publish an e mail bulletin which comes out roughly once a month and carries news about L19, L18 and sometimes information from a wider area.

If you don't already get this but want to subscribe, you can do so at this link.

Raids on Liverpool's open spaces?

My Lib Dem colleagues on the Council are calling for an special Council meeting to discuss a series of potential "land grabs" of green open space by the Council.

While all these proposals can be looked at individually, a trend seems to be developing that sees green open space as up for grabs.

The Council's constitution says that a special meeting can be called by a certain number of Councillors and then a date is set at the Lord Mayor's discretion (that's not a direct quote).  What that means right now is we don't have the exact date.

I've pasted an extract from the motion for debate, written by Cllr Richard Kemp, below:

“Council notes with concern continued and consistent proposals from the Labour Party to use the precious green spaces of Liverpool for development.

It notes that there is already land available within the City to provide homes for more than 60,000 people and empty homes that could provide accommodation for about 5,000 more. It believes that this land should be developed and that if the population does rise to 520,000+ every piece of land currently designated as green space will be needed for the leisure and recreation of the city's residents and that the provision of good green space is an important factor in both improving the health of the City and attracting inward investment.

It resolves therefore to request the Mayor of Liverpool and officers of the council to withdraw proposals to develop the Meadowlands in Sefton Park and the green wedge site in Jericho Lane.

It further requests the Mayor of Liverpool to safeguard all Green wedge sites in the city including giving a guarantee that whatever the results of the review at Allerton Golf Course that land will remain as public open space.”

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mobile phone mast application - Long Lane

An application's come in to replace the phone mast on Long Lane (by Garston Park  roughly opposite number 88)

By the looks of the plans the mast would be a bit higher than the one there now and there'd be a couple of extra cabinets.

You can see the details, and comment if you want to, at this link. (the detail is all in the related documents bit at the end)

You're also welcome to let Richard Oglethorpe and I know what you think.  Richard is at   and I am at

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mobile phone mast application - Aigburth Road/Beechwood

An application's come in to the Council for a new phone mast and cabinets on Aigburth Road by the Cricket Club and corner of Beechwood Road

It's not entirely a new thing as what's suggested is that the mast that's there at the moment gets replaced and two new cabinets are added.

Looking at the plans though the new mast would be taller than the one that's there now and the two extra cabinets could be two extra sites for grafitti.

If you want to have a look at the plans, and comment, you can do it at this link.  There's a deadline in early April.  You can also let Richard Oglethorpe and I have any views by e mailing us at or

I am not wildly impressed by the work done so far by the phone people on this.  They appear to have written to a school which hasn't existed for quite some time!  Perhaps a little more basic research is required!!!

You'll find most of the detailed stuff, which can be downloaded and printed off, in the Related Documents section which is at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tesco on Holmefield Road

UPDATE: This meeting isnt now going ahead.  Not sure why.  There will be  new date and time which I will blog about when I get it.

Residents on Aigburth Hall Avenue and roads nearby have been putting up with quite a bit of traffic and parking chaos near the new(ish) Tescos on Holmefield Road.

The Council did make some proposals to do with loading etc by the store.

It looks as if these will be discussed, and a decision taken, at a committee meeting later this month (27th March).

The agenda for this meeting (The traffic and highways representation committee) isn't published yet but when it is is will be at this link.

I'll blog again on this when I have more details.

Monday, 18 March 2013

"Vandalism" at Aigburth Station?

I've just been made aware of this story about work going on at Aigburth Station.  I don't use the station much myself (using Cressington or Liverpool South Parkway) but these passengers seem to have a point.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Work starts on Island Road eyesore

It's good to see that work has started on converting the empty eyesore building on Island Road (by the park) into homes.

The building belongs to South Liverpool Housing.

It's some time ago that planning permission was given but here is a link to the details of what is being done (NB: the bulk of the  information is in the related documents section so you need to scroll down and click again)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Friends of Garston Library - give us your views

I've posted before about the new Friends of Garston Library Group.

We exist to promote, protect and improve our Library by working with the Library Service and others to do things like organise events to celebrate reading and the range of services we have in Garston.

We very much hope that people who live in Garston, or who use the Library, will want to join us.

It costs nothing to join and you can sign up on line by following this link

The form also asks for your views on the Library and what we should be doing.  Even if you don't want to join we are keen to get people's views.

There is also a hard copy sign up sheet for members on the noticeboard in the library.  We aim to put more hard copy sign up sheets around the area shortly, so if you run an organisation that would be happy to have a sheet on the front desk  please let me know by e mailing

Meanwhile the Friends also has a website at

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Jericho Lane meeting

My colleagues in Mossley Hill tell me that there's a meeting of the Jericho Lane Action Group coming up next week.  This is a group concerned about plans to build a school on Jericho Lane, right next to a very busy road and potentially taking away open space.

The meeting is on 21 March at 5pm at Dale Hall, which is on Elmswood Road.

Don't worry if the water looks odd!

United Utilities have just written to say they'll be doing some work in the L19 area on Tuesday (19th) which might make the tap water look a bit cloudy.

Apparently it'll still be OK to drink, although you might need to run the tap for a bit longer.

The company does say though that it's best not to use a washing machine if the water is discoloured.

The number to call , with any queries, is 0845 746 2200  and there's  a reference number too which is 80025438.

Advice and info event in L18

St Barnabus Church is to play host to an event bringing together organisations giving advice, help and information later this month.

On 22 March, from 11 till 2, there'll be stalls run by organisations including Age Concern, the CAB,Healthy Homes, the local Credit Union and others.  There'll be free lunch on offer and a chance to find out about local developments (including what's planned for the Mansion House in Calderstones Park)

St Barnabus is on Allerton Road at its junction with Penny Lane.  You can get there on the 86 bus.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Community skip available again

If you live in the Duncombe Road South area, don't forget that the third time (and final for the time being) the community skip will be available for any clean ups is this coming Friday (15th).  The skip will be on Duncombe Road South at one of the juntions.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

What's going on on the heath (update March 12th)

An update on the events on Cressington Heath. 

Residents were shocked to see a digger arrive and start digging up part of the area that they love.

We raised it with planning officers and they visited on Friday to talk to Redrow (currently the responsible company)

It seems that the original planning permission means  that the heath area is meant to be kept pretty empty without gorse and shrubs spreading across, but because there hasnt been annual maintenance there is now quite a bit to clear.

This means Redrow isn't breaking any rules by doing this work.

BUT the company is clearly breaking the common sense rule of communicating with residents by starting something so drastic without even a whisper.

My colleague Richard Oglethorpe is due to meet Redrow soon to raise residents' issues (there are several).  We don't yet have a date but please let us have anything you want us to raise with them. 

You can e mail them to me at and I will make sure they get passed on.

How bookies exploit the poor and is the council negligent?

When I was a student I had a Saturday job in a bookies.  Taking the bets, on horses or dogs, and paying out was surprisingly labour -intensive.  Odds changed all the times and the bets varied hugely.

Fast forward and many bookies are less "studying the odds" and more standing in front of machines.

Last week I met one of the organisers of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.  They want to crack down on so called Fixed odds betting terminals.  These are machines at which it's literally possible to lose hundreds of pounds in minutes.  There is no thought or judgement involved and the speed makes them addictive.

And the problem is that traditional bookies are becoming more and more dominated by these machines.

I remember my grandparents who liked a bet and who would study the odds for ages before walking down the road  or phoning up to place their limited bets.  They would have never stood mindlessly before a machine shoving in their last few quid.

Yet these machines are now causing real problems in deprived communities up and down the country.

And the industry insider I met at the weekend says bookies have a strategy now of targeting deprived neighourhoods with new shops and these machines.

If you don't believe me, think about Liverpool neighbourhoods.  Would you find a row of bookies in Childwall?  But look at parts of Garston and there is more than one in a short bit of high street.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not one of those who thinks all gambling is wrong.  But these machines are addictive and harmful in a way that is nothing to do with the fun of a bet.

So why do I say the Council is negligent?

Well Liverpool City Council will certainly tell you it wants to protect people in deprived neighbourhoods.  And yet planning permission for new bookies which clearly will be dominated by these machines is going through without challenge.

Today I discovered that an application for a new bookies in Speke had gone through with no committee discussion at all.  Planning officers can approve things without Councillors'say so and this has happened in this case.  Yet a careful reading of the info, including proposed staff numbers, shows that this is likely to be one more premises which rakes in cash from these addictive machines.

If the City Council really cares about cases like this it will tell planning officers that all bookies applications need at the very least to come to committee.  That doesn't necessarily mean they'll be challenged (todays planning committe didn't appear to want to challenge anything much) but it would at least shine a light on the problem and force betting companies to justify their behaviour.

Surely vulnerable people in poor neighbourhoods deserve a bit more consideration.

Greenhill road takeaway update (March 12th)

The City Council's planning committee met a little earlier today to decide whether or not to give permission for a takeaway at the corner of Greenhill Road and Melbreck Road (Caffleys).

They effectively had three options.  To say yes, to say no or to postpone a decision to go on a site visit (these are not that common but they do happen)

Sadly they said yes.

This is despite the volume of resident objections (52 were reported in the paperwork) and the list of concerns raised by local people and by Councillor Richard Oglethorpe and myself.

Richard and I both spoke at the committee.  I pointed out the existing traffic and parking problems at the junction as well as worries about noise, litter and so on.  We were joined by a local resident (big thanks to him) who spoke about his personal worried about what might happen.

In my speech I called on the committee to reject the plans, but if they didn't feel able to do that straight away, to at the very least visit the area.

Sadly the Councillors on the committee decided not to do either of those.

No Labour representative bothered to come along and speak against the application.

I'm sorry to be reporting what will be bad news to all of the residents who did not want a takeaway at this junction.  Richard and I will, of course, be keeping an eye on how things develop and will chase up things like the extra litter bin which is being put into the agreement.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cressington Community First - what should we fund?

The Cressington Community First fund is money given by the Government to be spent on projects in the Cressington ward in Liverpool.

We've got a panel of local representatives who make decisions and we've funded quite a few projects to date.

Now we are renewing our plan for the next two years so that we make sure we have the right priorities for the area.

As part of this we'd like to hear from people living, working or studying in the ward as well as from organisations based here.  I've designed a short survey so if you have a Cressington connection it would be great if you could help by filling it in.  You will find the link here

We need to get our next two years plan done by the end of the month so it would be great if people wanting to fill this in could do it by 25th March.

And please do forward the link on to other people you know who may have an interest in responding.

Cressington covers part of L19 and a smaller part of L18.  If you are not sure whether your location is in Cressington or not, this link has details of where it is!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Do you love our park?

The Friends of Garston Park AGM and General Meeting is coming up later this month.

It's at Long Lane Church on 22 March at 6 30 pm.  The group's achieved quite a bit this year, including the art by the sports pitches near the leisure centre.  But we can always do more and we love hearing new ideas.

So do please come along to get involved or just find out more.

The Chair is Mr Alan Helsby who lives at 80 Long Lane... or e mail me and I will pass messages and queries on. I am at

Fuel Poverty advice

The City Council and the Government funded Healthy Homes project  is starting a series of "surgeries" to give advice to people on minimising their fuel costs.  This might be by using grants available for insulation etc or even just understanding the bills. There'll be debt advice available also.

The first one is on 13th March.  They'll take place at the One Stop Shop in the Municipal Buildings on Dale Street and you will need to book an appointment. I'm told these will be every fortnight initially with a 1pm start.

If you want to make an appointment, or find out more, the number to call is  0800 012 1754

Friends of Garston Library update (March 6th)

We had a good meeting of the newly formed Friends of Garston Library at the weekend.

I have become Chair of the group and we have a secretary and treasurer as well as committee members.  We did the boring stuff around writing a constitution and very soon we'll be ready to sign up members.
(Watch out for sign up sheets in various places)

Our new e mail, if you have questions or suggestions, is

We even have a logo which combines reading with a bit of fun.

We decided to meet initially once a month on the first Saturday of each month at 11 am at the Library.  If you've expressed an interest in the past we will have your details and will send you a reminder e mail.  If you haven't do please e mail us if you want to get involved  in an active way or if you just have questions.

There is also a Friends of Allerton Library Group. 

I agree with the mayor (well this time anyway!)

Interesting story today about how Liverpool's elected Mayor, Joe Anderson, wants a review of democratic processes including a look at whether the number of Councillors should be reduced and whether elections should move to every four years instead of once a year (with a gap in the 4th one).

I'm agnostic about the timing of elections but I think it really is time we had a look at what elected councillors do, whether ward boundaries are right and whether the number of people we elect is correct.

The role of an elected councillor is really important... or it should be .  But I wonder if everyone who takes it on sees it in the same way.

I know from personal experience just how much work and effort it can take to do the job properly.  Don't get me wrong, people volunteer and compete for these posts so they are clearly volunteering for hard work. I didn't feel sorry for myself and I don't feel sorry for anyone with a huge workload now.

But effort and engagement varies hugely across the group of 90 Councillors and it's crazy to pretend otherwise.

I know of people who I have literally never heard speak in committee or council for a full four years.  I know of people who are unavailable to their constituents and who don't do the work I consider basic. I know people of people who turn up to vote on an issue and the first they see of the paperwork is as they open their envelope on the way in to the room.  These are all unacceptable.  Sure, speaking at a committee is not all a Councillor should be doing but shouldn't they be willing to at least open their own mouth when their area is under discussion.  Sure, we don't all have hours to pour over paperwork but a little reading before a meeting is not an excessive expectation.

I rather suspect that if the number of Councillors was reduced and there was a proper focus on what the role should be, performance would improve and it would not be in any party's interest to select someone to be a passenger.

It could also make the role more attractive to people who have not thought about it before.  The Council has, to be fair, made considerable efforts to encourage some people to think about putting themselves forward and the Operation Black Vote scheme has resulted in at least one new councillor who perhaps would not have thought about this in the past. But despite this and the Liverpool Commission, the understanding of a Councillor's role remains vague and on the whole people don't apply for jobs that are that vague. The vagueness can also lead to all sorts of misconceptions (some good some bad)

Looking at ward boundaries is also important.  Personally I think there should be smaller wards with one elected representative.  This may help remove problems caused by communities being stuck together in a large unit to justify the three reps.  It is much easier and more logical to represent a defined community but often ward boundaries split and combine communities in bizarre ways.  Speke Garston ward to me  would make much more sense as a smaller Speke ward and a separate Garston ward for example.  It may be that some wards make sense with two reps and some with one, and it would be nice to get away from the "one size fits all" thinking.

I imagine this review will also throw up the issue of whether or not a Councillor should be a full time job.  It is true it can be hard to combine a job with being an elected representative.  But I would be 100 percent against all Councillors being full time politicians.  Being a representative must include some element of being representative and there is a real risk of losing touch if all you do is Council stuff and politics.  That's not to say that some people shouldn't choose to be full time, just that most shouldn't be.

So it's good that a review looks likely to take place.  And I very much hope that as part of that the Council will make a real effort to consult people who have been Councillors in the past as well as those that sit there now!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

African drumming taster session

Healing sound, which is run by a musician in L19, is inviting people to a taster session to try out African drumming.

It's at the Penny Lane Development Trust (on Penny Lane obviously!) on 14th March from 7 to 8 30.

There's a small charge of £4 to cover the room hire but that's it.
I'm told its a lot of fun!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Greenhill takeaway update (4 March)

We've just heard that the committee to decide whether or not to give the go ahead to the takeaway on the corner of Greenhill Road and Melbreck Road is meeting later this month on 12th March.

Here's a link to the agenda.  The Greenhill Road item is number 14.

The bad news for those many residents who wrote to object, is that the planning officers are recommending that the committee says yes to the scheme.  That doesn't mean they will, but it makes it more likely.

Richard Oglethorpe and I will carry on speaking up for local people and will carry on pointing out that this is a very problematic location for this idea.

People who sent official letters to the planning department may well get an official letter about the meeting but whether you get a letter or not you are entitled to attend as it is in public.  The location is the Town Hall.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Why won't the Council take action.

This is flytipping that the Council is refusing to do anything about in L19.  There are plenty of pix showing piles of stuff over quite a space.  Today I saw several piles of deliberate dumping plus meals left out for animals (presumably urban foxes) on land right next to houses.  The Council says .. not our problem as not our land.
Well I've just been doing a land registry search and guess what.. some of the land is owned by the Council and the Council could use powers to get the stuff cleared up even in the case where it doesn't own the land. This is all being followed up now, including my contacting the land owner myself .

What's going on on the Heath?

UPDATE: The Council has now spoken to Redrow and will be going through with them what the want to do and what is allowed under the planning conditions.  We don't know yet if they have actually broken any of them but work will stop until a discussion takes place and they are clear about what they and can't do.
People living on Cressington Heath were shocked to discover a digger on the bit of land that's meant to be maintained (including through their management fees).

The digger was hacking into the ground and damaging trees.  When challenged residents were told that the company doing the work had been paid to remove the trees etc.

It was claimed the Council had told them to do this but many of us smelled a rat.  In fact it turns out that Redrow housing, wanting to hand the management of the site over to a particular company, wanted the trees taken out to "make it easier".  These are silver birches.  They are not diseased, or dangerous.

Anyway, we've (that's me, and  Richard Oglethorpe and residents) have been in touch with planning enforcement and with any luck they'll be able to enforce any conditions on that land to protect the trees if the conditions exist.

It's a mystery to me why those who were meant to be managing the land didn't bother to inform or consult residents. 

Forthlin road traffic problems

My colleague, Cllr Richard Oglethorpe, and I met a manager from the National Trust recently to talk about problems facing people living on Forthlin Road, and round the corner in Hurstlyn, caused by some visitors to 20 Forthlin Road (usually tourists visiting a series of Beatles related places)

The National Trust manage their own visits carefully, but it seems that selfish parking and noise and intrusion at all times of the day and night is being caused by some other organisations (not all)

We've agreed to work with the National Trust to see if there is a solution that at the very least eases the problem.

Residents did send a petition in to the Council Leader in 2011 but no action followed.

We suspect this is something that will take a while and we have written to residents to keep them in the loop.  I'll update again when I can.

Garston Historical Society meeting tonight

Late notice I know but here's a link to the info about tonight's meeting of the Garston and District Historical Society