Friday, 30 August 2013

Meadowlands update (30 August)

There's been a development in events around the decision of the Council to sell off the bit of land at Sefton Park referred to as the meadows.

When the Labour Cabinet voted to sell this land off for housing, it still had to go through a legal process.  When open land is potentially being lost, it has to be advertised to give people a chance to make objections.

This advert was published and a large number of objections came in.

This means these need to be discussed before anything can happen.

The Council has now said that this discussion will happen at a Cabinet meeting at the end of September (in four weeks time)

Brief details have been published at this link.  Full paperwork isn't up yet but should be published ahead of the meeting (which should be open to the public).

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Odd sales calls about council tax

An L19 resident was in touch recently about an odd phone call he received about his Council Tax.

Apparently a company has been cold calling some people telling them that their property is in the wrong council tax band so they might be due a refund.

The company then asks the resident to sign a contract which involves paying a fee and then a percentage of any refund won.  The company's part of the deal is to try to get the refund.

Now there's nothing illegal in any of this, as long as cool off periods are respected etc, but the resident was concerned it might be a scam.

The facts are that anyone who thinks their property might be in the wrong Council Tax band can get it looked at free of charge by the Valuation Agency, the Government body that does the banding (NB the Council does not decide bands)

If you want to get your banding checked, you can contact the agency at

The agency also has an office on Church Street in Liverpool.

Where's the art gone?

I've had a few questions about the disappearance of the community artwork opposite St Michaels Church in Garston.

This is/was a series of panels designed to celebrate the life and achievements of Garston born Jack Jones.

The panels were on display on the bit of vacant land opposite the church (by the bridge).  There was a bit of graffiti, and then a couple looked loose.  But all of a sudden they were gone (leaving just the frame).

Anyway, the good news is that they haven't just disappeared.  They are in storage as people were worried about future damage and the need to make sure they were protected.  The group involved in the whole project is going to get together to discuss the best place for the art so Garston people (and others!!) can see it and that it is also safer from vandalism.

I'm not sure how long it'll be before there is any news but I will post it when I have it.  It was good to see that people were genuinely interested.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bin collection update - Liverpool (20 August)

The Council is now saying that they expect the backlog of bin collections to have been cleared on or by Friday 23rd August.  If your normal day is missed the advice is to still have the bin out on following days.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bin collection update - Liverpool

It's reported that the industrial action affecting bin collections (work to rule) and other environmental work (which had included a Friday strike) is now over.

It's not clear how long it'll take for things to get back to their normal days.

The Council is asking residents to keep putting bins out until collections get back to normal.

South Liverpool planning

Liverpool's planning committee will be taking decisions on quite a few South Liverpool planning applications later this month (27 August).

These include proposals for the redevelopment of the shopping centre on Gateacre Park Drive, new housing in Speke and changing a shop to a restaurant on Allerton Road.

You can see the details of the meeting (which also includes other items) at this link.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Extra help with fuel bills

Someone contacted me today to say he'd found out about a Government scheme (Warm Home Discount Scheme)  helping with fuel bills over the winter.  It turns out that it's one of those schemes not a lot of people are aware of.  It's aimed at pensioners but also some people on low incomes.

The details are at this link.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Aunty Paula's guide to clearing.

Tomorrow's the day students get their A level results.  It's also the day that clearing lines open at Universities up and down the country.

Clearing is the system that matches people without University places (perhaps because they've not got the results they needed) with places on courses.

It can be a really stressful time, for the potential students and their families, but also for the course teams at Universities.

I teach at Edge Hill and have been one of the voices on the end of the clearing line for a few years.  So I thought I'd note down my tips for students making that call.

1.  Under no account get your parents to make the call for you (this does happen).  We need to make judgements based on talking to you and if  mum or dad calls then I am already making a judgement about your initiative and determination. 

2. Have all your details to hand.  At the very least you need your UCAS number and details of your exam results, including some of your GCSEs. If you are not yet in the UCAS system, say so.

3. Often the person you are talking to will be making decisions about a range of courses.  I sometimes take calls for media courses ranging from advertising to TV production management.  You may be interested in more than one course but try not to come across as vague.  "Any media course"  is not a good answer to "what are you interested in?"

4. Think about what might be important to the course you are calling about.  If you have failed to make the grades for your offer, wherever that offer was,  you need to find other things to persuade us.  I usually ask something like "why are you interested in the subject?" which is a good chance to highlight any non exam experience.  For example, I teach Public Relations which includes a lot of writing.  If you love writing and have written for a school magazine, this will impress someone like me. Students often under sell themselves at this stage.  If you do voluntary work, like organising events for charities, big it up!

5. Ask questions.  This shows interest in the course and also helps you make a decision.  Key things to ask for a more practically based degree would include class sizes, available equipment, any hidden costs (for example will you need to buy equipment).  Some courses have a lot of exams.  Others are entirely course work based. If you are really exam phobic, it is worth asking about the split. Questions are also another way of you selling yourself to us as what we are looking for are students who really want to study our course with us.  Good questions include "what sort of jobs are your recent graduates in now?" and "If I do this course, is there any reading or preparation I should be doing now?"

6. In most cases, the tutor you are speaking to will decide whether to make you an offer of a place and tell you.  This may then be followed up by e mail and/or mail which you have to reply to quickly.  Offers will lapse after a certain period of time so you absolutely need to check your e mail for the follow up and then act on it.  You don't need to accept this offer, so think carefully about it.

7. Think about where you will live.  Because you are effectively applying late, some of the halls of residence will be full.  Some Universities deal with this by block booking other rooms for late entrants.  Edge Hill for example has block booked rooms in a Liverpool based private student building which, with a travel bursary, makes it possible for new students to still find somewhere to live. If you are applying at this stage, you won't have had long to research the area and the University may be one in a town you've not thought of before.  This means asking about accommodation is a really important part of your decision making.

8. Visit if you can.  Many Universities make it possible for potential students to visit the campus around this time.  Edge Hill for example has an open day on Saturday.  Any opportunity to look around and speak to teaching staff needs to be taken.  This is a big decision and you need to feel happy that you have made the right decision for you.

I am not on the phones tomorrow, but good luck to everyone seeking that last minute place on what could be a life changing course!


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Liverpool City Council and the bins... still failing!

The Liverpool Echo today ran a story about the elected mayor personally intervening in the bin dispute (odd because up to  now the Council has very much been implying it's nowt to do with them)

Anyway, the way it was written I expected to see Indiana Jones himself in the alleyway sorting out the problem.

Sadly, when I got home it was to find still no collections.

The website the Council clearly thinks passes for communication says the collections are now four days behind schedule.

More than a week late down my street and more than a week late according to everyone I've asked.

So how about the Council does some proper comms and stops spinning that they're sorting it out? 

ASDA update

I blogged previously about plans to allow unloading at ASDA on St Mary's Road from 6 in the morning.  People living nearby wouldn't have needed an alarm clock!

Anyway, it seems that has been thought too early as there's a new request in now which doesn't have the early start and the late finish.

You can have a look and comment at this link.  The deadline is about ten days away.

Movement on the Bankfield House site?

The old Bankfield House site on Banks Road has been vacant for quite a while now. Long enough in fact for several clean ups to have taken place although it's still a bit overgrown and littered.

Years ago there was planning permission for housing there.  It must have lapsed by now.

But there seems to be some movement with another application coming in to the Council (may well be the same sort of details).

You can have a look at it at this link.  As ever the bulk of the info is in the Related Documents section.  The comments facility isn't up yet but you should be able to comment on the plans when it is.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Get news about South Liverpool

With my colleague Cllr Richard Oglethorpe, I produce an e mail bulletin of new about South Liverpool roughly once a fortnight.  We mainly cover L19 and L18 but do also include some material from a little further away.

If you don' get the bulletin but would like to, you can sign up at this link.

We're also keen to hear about local events you'd like included (like school open days and charity events).  If you've got something you think we should tell people about, please drop me an e mail at

Planning application - more than 100 houses

A planning application's come in to Liverpool City Council for more than 100 new houses on the former site of New Heys school in South Liverpool.

Details are at this link.  If you want to comment, there's a deadline in early September. (Most of the details, including plans etc, are in the Related Documents bit of the website so you'll need to scroll down)

Liverpool Council's bin failure

Today my bin, and those of my neighbours, remain un emptied a full week after the bin men were meant to come.  The alleys behind some of these terraced houses are looking squalid and the views from neighbours are that they have little faith in the Council to get things back on track.

So what's happened?

It is a fact that the problems stem from a work to rule by staff.  The staff are employed by private firm Amey which has the contract to provide the bin service for Liverpool Council..

So the Council has, on the whole, been merrily shifting blame.

But it is also a fact that the Council tax that we pay, and the money that comes from central government, goes not to this private company but to the Council. And it is the Council that has the responsibility to get this service provided.

Now we all know there are times when there are blips.  Bad weather, sickness and yes industrial action can cause problems.  But it is the Council's job to make sure that things get sorted out and if they can't intervene it is their responsibility to let people know what the score is.

The latest piece of non communication on the Council's website tells us two things.  Firstly that the bin men are 3.2 days behind schedule.  Secondly that we should keep putting the bins out and bringing them back in again until they are collected (website as of 9pm Monday 12 August)

Now most of us are facing delays of at least five days on the purple bins (goodness knows what the situation is with blue and green) and it's simply not good enough to tell people to put bins out and hope.

The reality is that many people can't heave heavy bins in and out and down alleyways on a daily basis on spec.  Yes there is an "assistance" programme but that only works when the men are here.  And sadly even if everyone is perfectly capable of heaving the bin backwards and forwards repeatedly, people simply won't.  Having seen repeated non collection, the bins get left, adding to the general mess and smell.

So the question is... given the Council must take responsibility , what are they actually doing?  Based on what they've published so far, the answer seems to be .... not a lot. 

Given that the mayor has said there'll be major changes to the bin service later this year, which will need good communication and good management, the failure to provide either in this case tells us all we need to know about how good our service is set to be.