30 Dec 2009

New Street Sign for Convent Close

The photo below shows the new street sign for Convent Close. Hopefully this will put an end to the confusion as to where Convent Close begins and Rectory Close ends.

16 Dec 2009

(broken) Lights, camera, action

Glad to see that the Council has acted quickly to fix the day burning light on Frodsham Street.

Also the broken light on Hampden Road just off Church Road has been repaired following my report.

And the damaged street sign on St. Laurence Drive (pictured) is now a thing of the past having been replaced.


15 Dec 2009

Wirral Road Safety, the shocking truth



Final figures for road safety in Wirral including the most recent data for 2008 have now been analysed. They show that vulnerable road users are much more at risk in Wirral when compared with the national average. Indeed, figures for pedestrians are amongst the worst in the whole country

Using the government's own preferred measure encompassing data over the past three years the figures show:

Pedestrians: taking all ages together, Wirral rates are 30% above the UK average. For children, Wirral rates are 80% above the UK average.

Cyclists: the total rate is 15% above the UK average; for child cyclists, the Wirral rate is 48% above the UK average,

You can download the full details at:

http://www.livingstreetswirralchester.org.uk/wirral_casualty_statistics.htm




Surveys undertaken by the Green Party show that residents on Well Lane in Tranmere are very concerned about road safety.

10 Dec 2009

Spot the difference

After months of prodding I'm delighted that the awful conditions in the alleyway between Rodney Street and Clifton Road have finally been addressed.

6 Dec 2009

Streets update

Been out and about today checking on a few outstanding items.

Glad to say that the offensive graffiti I reported on Bentinck Street is gone as is the graffiti on the Netto store downtown.

Also the longstanding broken light on Conway Drive has been repaired.

3 Dec 2009

Latest Activity Report

Welcome to my activity report for the month of November.

Our latest ward newsletter is currently being delivered. If you haven’t received a copy yet you can download a pdf version here.

The big news this month has been the release of the government’s report into the planned closure of libraries across Wirral. This whole saga has made a laughing stock of Wirral and the report doesn’t mince its words. It says the Council’s plans would have been in breach of its statutory duties and “would disadvantage relatively deprived communities” This is a shocking verdict on a Labour-led Council which is supposed to be supporting the less well off in our community.

The full report is available at http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/wirral_local_inquiry.doc .

There is a 6-page Summary (pages i to vi) at the start.

I continue to champion improvements to road safety. The latest figures revealed this month show that child pedestrians locally are 80% more likely to be killed or seriously injured on our roads than the national average. This prompted me to write to the Wirral Globe which published this letter in its latest edition.

Street issue developments this month include:

  • Broken street lights on Willmer Road have finally been fixed
  • The damaged street sign (pictured) on Birchwood Avenue has now been repaired.

  • I complained about the state of the alleyway between Elmswood Road and Harrowby Road. This has now been cleaned and should get a clean on the first Tuesday of each month.
  • The Council is unable to repair the broken lights on the Quarrybank site by the YMCA. However, the good news is that the site has been acquired by Venture Housing and is to be refurbished with work due to start in the Spring.

Finally, if you or anyone you know missed out on our door-to-door survey you can complete an on-line version here.

2 Dec 2009

Report on Library Closures

The Libraries Inquiry Report by Sue Charteris was published on Monday, and is available at
http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/wirral_local_inquiry.doc .
The Report is 98 pages long, but there is a 6-page Executive Summary (pages i to vi) at the start.
As reported extensively in the local media, the report is a clear rejection of the Labour-led Council's attempted closure of libraries across Wirral.

29 Nov 2009

Letter to the Wirral Globe

An edited version of this letter has just been published in the Wirral Globe:

--------------------------------------

I was shocked by the comments attributed to Conservative Councillor Leah Fraser in your recent front page report "Wirral wardens to target pavement parkers". She seems to be unaware that parking on the pavement is illegal and shows scant regard for Wirral's appalling record on pedestrian safety.

Pavement parking is endemic across Wirral. Pedestrians, especially the disabled and those pushing prams, are routinely inconvenienced and put at risk by vehicles blocking their path. This is one of the reasons why Wirral is such a dangerous place to be a pedestrian. Figures recently compiled by Living Streets show that pedestrains in Wirral are 30% more likely to be killed or seriously injured than the national average. For children, the corresponding figure is a shocking 80%.

According to the Chief Examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists "parking on the pavement is generally illegal, unless there are signs etc. to permit it". In theory, if not in practise, this view is shared by Merseyside police who say "it is an offence for a person to park their vehicle on a pavement and they would normally get a parking ticket."

The latest proposals from Wirral Council to introduce enforcement on just half a dozen extra roads are an extremely modest step in the right direction. Moreover, on none of the roads earmarked could any responsible driver consider it acceptable to park on the pavement.

Wirral needs to shift from prioritising motor vehicles to giving proper respect to pedestrians. Until this happens, our children will contine to run unacceptable risks. This, rather than cheap point scoring, should be the real priority for Leah Fraser.

3 Nov 2009

1 Nov 2009

Activity Report for October

Welcome to my activity report for the month of October. It’s been another busy month. Details below of developments in housing, education, road safety and the usual round-up of street issues.

For quite some time I have highlighted the delays to housing renewal around our area. Frustrated by the lack of progress on new housing for Fountain Street/Whitford Road I got in touch with the media. My thanks to the Birkenhead News who carried the story on October 14th. Within days, workers were on site to give the area a deep clean. The following week we learned that the government has found £1 million to kick start the renewal programme. The full report can be read here.

This is great news for residents who have put up with so much since half their street was demolished some three years ago. Work on the new housing is now due to start before the end of this year. Hopefully Wirral Council will learn some lessons from this sorry affair. In my view, demolition has to be a last resort. In future the Council needs to think twice before ripping the heart out of our communities.

There has been much reporting lately about the Council’s controversial plans for school acadamies. Much less attention has been paid to the “consolidation” of primary school places in Birkenhead. Predictably, following an inadequate consultation exercise the Council seems intent on building a brand new primary school by Birkenhead Park. This would replace the existing schools at Cathcart Street, Cole Street and St. Laurence’s. This, however, ignores what seems the far more sensible option of expanding Cathcart Street. If you are affected by school reorganisation at either primary or secondary level I would be very interested in your views.

We learned this week that the Council is proposing to introduce 20mph limits around all schools. While this is welcome it goes nowhere near far enough in addressing the shocking casualty figures in Wirral which I have highlighted previously. In response, the Green Party is supporting moves to set up a pedestrian’s forum for Wirral. You can aid this process by taking just a couple of minutes to complete this survey.

And finally a round-up of street-by-street developments:

  • The owners of the Argyle industrial estate have now agreed to remove vegetation blocking the adjacent alleyway behind Hinderton Road.
  • Following persistent complaints, we finally succeeded in having bulky waste (pictured) blocking the alleyway between Rodney Street and Clifton Road removed.
  • Residents in Convent Close and Rectory Close have been promised new street signs which should put an end to confusion for postal workers, taxi drivers and other visitors.
  • Offensive graffiti on Elmswood Road has now been removed.
  • Thanks to all those residents in the Bentinck Street area who completed our resident’s survey on October 25th. I have reported several instances of graffiti on Bentinck Street and the broken street light on Conway Drive.
  • I was impressed with the rapid response from the Council’s pest control unit in dealing with a rat infestation in Birkenhead. To report a problem call 606 2020.
  • I alerted the Council to the delay in restoring road markings along Derby Road. Thankfully this produced a prompt response and the markings have now been restored. This should put an end to the unnecessary congestion around St. Catherine’s Hospital.
  • On my request Streetscene carried out an inspection of the alleyway between Baytree Road and Rosedale Road. Fly-tipped rubbish has now been removed.

15 Oct 2009

Calling all pedestrians

Are you fed up with walking conditions - busy roads, dangerous junctions, cars parked on pavements etc?

Please take a couple of minutes to complete this survey. The results will help to put pressure on our local authority to improve conditions for pedestrians.

14 Oct 2009

Fountain Street/Whitford Road

Completely frustrated by the way residents on Fountain Street and Whitford Road have been let down I got in touch with the media. I'm glad to say the Birkenhead News has followed up on the story. You can read their report here.

1 Oct 2009

Activity report for September

Welcome to my activity report for the month of September.

It’s been a particularly dramatic week for local politics in Wirral. We have had a stunning U-turn on the mass closure of libraries. You can read the local press report here. It seems the yet-to-be-published government report on the closures contains some pretty damning conclusions on how our Labour-led Council handled the whole affair. As a result, Councillors have been forced to eat humble pie. This means the whole affair has been a complete waste of time and public money. Really you couldn’t make it up. However, our Council finances are still in big trouble and the need to deal with this hasn’t gone away.

On that very theme this week has also seen plans to privatise Wirral’s parks and other outdoor facilities including allotments. I am completely opposed to this. All the evidence suggests that privatisation is actually more expensive, less accountable, damaging to the public service ethos as well as being implicated in political and corporate corruption.

I am especially angry that the relevant Councillor is seeking to present this as a plan "to improve maintenance standards, gain a closer working relationship with park users and community groups and provide improved facilities". This is shameless spin on what is clearly an attempt to reduce costs and cut services.
Where cost savings do need to be made they need to involve all relevant employees and stakeholders putting public service ahead of private profit. You can read a good example of how one area has approached this in a responsible way here.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been banging on about Wirral’s poor record on road safety for some time. In response to requests for specific safety measures on Derby Road I’ve been fobbed off with the usual excuse that areas with few reported deaths and injuries do not qualify for safety measures. Until there is a major culture change with respect to road safety we will continue to see higher rates of collisions locally than elsewhere in the country. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to report any incidents to the police, the Council and to me.

Were you one of the many people who took part in our Big Green Clean day on September 13. If you were, thanks very much for taking part. Pictures of the day are on my blog site.

Finally, despite all the goings-on this week I haven’t forgotten the bread and butter issues that matter so much to people. Here is a round-up:

We have had major success with the alleyway running between Chesnut Grove and Victoria Road. Graffiti and fly-tipped rubbish has been cleared and the broken light repaired. Separately, another broken light on Chesnut Grove has also been fixed as have the lights in the car park off Hinson Street.

The alleyway behind Woodville Road was given a special clean following my complaint. I also complained about the delay in restoring the road markings on Derby Road. Thankfully these have now been done.
Our residents’ survey on September 27th produced the usual raft of issues. I have today reported broken lights on Sidney Road and Holt Road and sent pictures of the alleyway running between Seymour Street and Acuba Grove (pictured). The relevant Council officer has promised an early inspection.

Also I am still awaiting developments regarding the alleyway problems reported on Rodney Street and Hinderton Road.

22 Sep 2009

Chesnut Grove/Victoria Road

One area we highlighted following our survey of Chesnut Grove was the alleyway that runs to Victoria Road.

I'm happy to report that the graffiti and rubbish shown here has been removed and the broken light nearby has been fixed.

13 Sep 2009

Big Green Clean photos

Thanks to everyone who helped with the Big Green Clean today. We collected loads of rubbish for recycling and disposal at four different sites - Mersey Park, Fountain Street/Whitford Road, Quarrybank/Borough Road and Whetstone Lane/Church Road.




7 Sep 2009

Activity report for August

My latest newsletter is currently doing the rounds. If you haven’t received a copy yet you can download one here. The newsletter includes a special feature on road safety which crops up time and time again on our residents’ survey. Last month’s call for you to vote in my safer streets poll produced a great response. If you haven’t yet done so please take a minute to add your voice.

Our “Big Green Clean” day is fast approaching. This takes place on Sunday afternoon, September 13th at the following locations:
Mersey Park, (Seymour St. entrance) – 2pm
Fountain St/Whitford Road – 3pm
Quarrybank by the YMCA, Whetstone Lane – 4pm

Full equipment will be provided and there will be stickers and certificates for children. Do join us if you can at any of the locations.

Many thanks to those residents around Milton Road who took part in our residents’ survey this week. I’ll be following up the issues raised over the coming weeks and have already photographed and reported the blocked pavement on Victoria Road.

Other issues that have been successfully dealt with over the past month include:
New street sign for Brunswick Mews (at last!)
Cleared alleyway behind Chesnut Grove and also between Whetstone Lane and Raffles Road
Graffiti on Europa Pools was due to be cleaned by today (Friday)
The Council is at last taking steps to get the overgrown alleyway behind Hinderton Road cleared. More details
here

I am also pressing the Council to replace the road markings on Derby Road as a matter of urgency and have approached Wirral Partnership Homes about the overgrowth affecting Caerwys Grove.

2 Sep 2009

Latest Newsletter now available

My latest newsletter is currently doing the rounds. If you haven’t received your copy yet you can download a pdf version here.

27 Aug 2009

Good news for Hinderton Road

I've now spoken to a Council official about the overgrown alleyway behind Hinderton Road.

Vegetation is encroaching from the adjacant industrial estate.

I've been assured that the Council will act promptly to get the owners of the industrial estate to deal with this.

Sooner rather than later hopefully.

17 Aug 2009

Green Clean


The Green Party is organising a big tidy-up day for Birkenhead and Tranmere on Sunday afternoon, September 13th.

The chosen sites are as follows:

Mersey Park,
(Seymour St. entrance) – 2pm
Fountain St/Whitford Road – 3pm
Quarrybank by the YMCA, Whetstone Lane – 4pm

Full equipment will be provided and there will be stickers and certificates for accompanied children.

Come and join us.

9 Aug 2009

Survey

My resident's survey has now gone live. The survey only takes a minute or two to complete and helps me identify areas that need attention such as litter hotspots, graffiti, broken lights etc.

You can complete the survey at:

http://surveys.polldaddy.com/s/82438DFE00ED7EE6/


.

8 Aug 2009

Activity report for August

I was delighted to see that improvements have finally been made to the vacant site between Fountain Street and Whitford Road. The damaged wall has been removed and the site made secure with new fencing. Residents I spoke to seemed pleased with the outcome and it should help to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area.

If my inbox is anything to go by then flytipping is on the increase. This is an all too predictable result of the charge introduced in April for ERIC collections. In the past month, alleyways on Town Road and Castle Street have been cleared. The alleyway behind Rodney Street is due to be cleaned on August 12 and I have reported the jungle-like state behind Hinderton Road due to overgrowth from the adjacent industrial estate.

There was a real success story this month as I managed to persuade the Council to clear rubbish that had accumulated over several years on waste ground off Kinmel Close. Around the corner on Price Street Wirral Partnership Homes has agreed to conduct it’s own survey of residents following concerns expressed to me about its repair service. I’d also like to thank Pierhead Housing who carried out swift repairs in Gertrude Street following my alert. Meanwhile, United Utilities inform me that the water leak behind Rosedale Road should be fixed within the next week.
Kinmel Close before and after

31 Jul 2009

Life begins at 20

This chart paints a shocking picture. It shows the pedestrian casualty statistics in Wirral compared with the national trend (2008 national data is yet to be released).

This country already has a poor record on pedestrian road safety compared with our European peers. However, Wirral is worse again and I find this completely unacceptable.

Our Council needs to do a lot more and has been rightly criticised by the government for not doing enough.

One simple and cost effective measure which is being introduced elsewhere is a 20 mph speed limit on residential roads. Below 20mph any collision is unlikely to result in a fatality but above this speed the risk of death increases exponentially.

What do you think? The poll top right is your chance to express a view.

Thanks to Living Streets Wirral for providing the data:
http://www.livingstreetswirralchester.org.uk/

25 Jul 2009

Pierhead Housing

A recent survey highlighted some problems with the flats on Gertrude Street owned by Pierhead Housing.

I'm glad to say there has been a swift response to my enquiry and the necessary repairs have now been carried out.

Around the corner I have also reported the partly-blocked drains on Duncan Street to Streetscene.

16 Jul 2009

flytipping on Castle Street

I'm glad to see that the flytipped rubbish pictured on Castle Street/Church Street has now been cleared.

It is hardly surprising but it seems clear to me that since ERIC charges were reintroduced in April, instances of flytipping have increased.

While everyone appreciates that Council finances are stretched, a policy that adds to overstretched clearly has cost implications that will at least partially offset any increase in revenues from ERIC charges. On top of that there is the increased aggravation for residents whose lives are blighted by flytipping.

A free to user ERIC service has got to be part of any sensible Council strategy to deal with bulky waste and the sooner it comes back the better.

good news on cycling

Reading the latest minutes from the Council Cycle Forum I am pleased to see that Merseyrail have some funding available and propose to put in cycle storage facilities at Birkenhead Central Station.
Also, Merseytravel has applied for funding for cycle training which will be offered to all schools.
Let's hope the funding application is successful and we can see more kids cycling safely. I know the Sustrans Bike-it scheme has been a great success at several schools across Wirral.

4 Jul 2009

Activity report for June

Welcome to my activity report for the month of June. Our latest ward newsletter is currently being delivered and includes a special focus on housing renewal. If you haven’t had yours yet you can download a pdf copy here.

With the long evenings there have been plenty of opportunities to get out and about and meet residents. Many thanks to those in the Price Street area and around Mersey and Victoria parks who completed our residents’ survey over recent weeks. As usual there has been plenty to follow-up on. Already there are positive outcomes to report including:

Cleaned-up graffiti on the former butcher’s shop on Saint Anne Street
Fixed street light on Price Street at the top of Europa Boulevard
Flytipped rubbish in the alleyway behind Town Road was promptly cleared

Other issues are still outstanding, however. Several residents on Price Street are unhappy about the repair service provided by Wirral Partnership Homes. I have phoned and emailed WPH and have been promised an early response. I have also reported the broken street signs on Birchwood Avenue and Saint Laurence Drive.

On Well Lane and Downham Road there is great concern about speeding traffic. I will be writing to both the Council and local police to request that they give this issue a higher priority and take steps to improve road safety. Sadly, Wirral has a very poor record on child road safety. You can read more about this on the local Living Streets website. This is something that simply isn’t getting sufficient attention and I will have more to say on this in our next ward newsletter. If you are concerned about safety on roads near you, do let me know.

You may also be interested in the community funding that has been allocated to local Area Forums to address issues of particular concern to residents. This could be road safety, local environment, youth services or adult learning for example. In total £250,000 is available so if there is a local improvement you would like to see you can fill in a brief application form here or email me for a copy. I would be very interested to hear from anyone interested in making a bid and potentially helping to round-up further supporters.

It is pleasing to note that as I get to know people across the ward they are approaching me in increasing numbers for assistance. Recently, I was very pleased by the prompt response from Servite Homes to fix an urgent problem for a resident on Rodney Street. I’ve also been contacted about and reported the broken street lights on Whitford Road and the serious water leak behind Rosedale Road.

Finally, I have written about the extremely low voter turnout in our ward on my blog. It sank to a new low of just 16% for the recent Euro elections, the second lowest turnout in the whole of Wirral. If you were unable to vote on the day or are afraid of missing out in future you may want to apply for a postal vote. If so, let me know and I will send you a form.

26 Jun 2009

Servite Housing Success

Many thanks to Servite Housing who responded promptly to my call on behalf of a resident on Rodney Street who needed urgent repairs.

Meanwhile, I am liaising with Wirral Partnership Homes on behalf of several residents on Price Street who raised issues during our recent survey of their area.

18 Jun 2009

16%

Well 16.09% to be precise. That was the miserable turnout in the recent Euro elections in Birkenhead & Tranmere ward. This was the second lowest in Wirral with only Bidston showing a lower turnout.

There are wider issues relating to the causes and implications of low voter turnout. However, it is interesting to note that turnout amongst voters with postal votes was much higher (63% versus 27% across Wirral).

If you want to register for a postal vote you can download a form here or contact me and I’ll get one to you.

9 Jun 2009

Living Streets Survey

The local branch of Living Streets (the Pedestrians Association) is carrying out an online survey of pedestrians’ concerns.

Anyone who is concerned about road survey should take a few minutes to fill it in.

To complete the survey, click on the following link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=GBEN1_2ffjv893FkZshmHqJg_3d_3d .

You can also reach the survey via the link on the local branch website http://www.livingstreetswirralchester.org.uk/

Closing date: Sunday 21st June.

7 Jun 2009

Latest Newsline now available

My latest newsletter for Birkenhead and Tranmere is now available.

You can download a pdf copy here.

21 May 2009

Letter to the press

The public is understandably angry with the mainstream political parties following recent events. On top of this we in Wirral have had the shocking defection of Labour Councillor Denis Knowles to the Conservatives. This raises many questions. How on earth did Councillor Knowles vote in favour of the Strategic Asset Review just weeks before his defection? Was his defection by any chance linked to his removal as vice chair of Merseytravel for which he was reportedly paid £23,000? How can he look his constituents in the eye following his betrayal of their trust in him?

Just as important, how can the Conservatives accept such an obviously self-serving member into their ranks? If the time has come to clean up politics then surely political parties need to develop some back bone and put aside their own grubby desire for power at any cost. Clearly this is beyond the local Conservative Party.

19 May 2009

Why voting Green on June 4th really matters

Here’s an excellent video explaining how the voting system for the European Parliament works and why voting Green in the North West can help stop the BNP gaining a foothold in Brussels.

Unbelievable

I’ve often wondered why at least some Labour and Lib Dem Councillors haven’t resigned following the disastrous Strategic Asset Review and the turmoil it has caused across Wirral.

I never imagined we would have the obscene developments we saw last night when a Labour Councillor defects…..to the Tories. But, that's what happened last night when Labour member for Seacombe Denis Knowles joined the Conservatives.

Sometimes you don’t need to comment on events, they simply speak for themselves. The Daily Post has the story in full.

14 May 2009

Town Hall up for sale

Our beautiful town hall has a For Sale sign. Words almost fail me. It is bad enough that the Town Hall and the whole Hamilton Square area have been sidelined by some appalling decisions made in the past but this will mean a loss of public control over this wonderful building and deny us any future revenue streams from exploiting its undoubted potential.

I hope the people who made the crazy decision to use Wallasey Town Hall as the council chamber are suitably embarrased.

4 May 2009

Activity report for April

Thanks to all those residents who have filled in our residents’ survey during the past month. The case load continues to mount and I have been kept busy chasing up various concerns some of which are detailed below.

The most common one remains the abject state of much of our area caused by littering, flytipping, graffiti and other anti-social behaviour. There have been some successes this month. The graffiti I reported on Ashford Road was promptly cleaned and flytipped rubbish off Willmer Road was also removed. This area is a particular problem with lots of complaints from residents. I have written and spoken to council staff and received assurances that the Willmer Road area will get a higher priority. I’ll be watching for improvements here and welcome any additional feedback from residents.

I am also glad to say that the environmental health department is pursuing complaints I have made about the state of the walled area between Fountain Street and Whitford Road and the grassy area between Holt Hill and Olive Mount. Ownership of the land in question is being identified which will hopefully lead to positive action for both these areas in due course. Sadly, the Council has refused to supply an occasional skip to facilitate clearance of the Quarrybank site by members of the YMCA so I am currently looking at other measures to address this ongoing eyesore.

I continue to liaise with Maritime Housing on behalf of residents concerned about the repair service. One piece of, hopefully, good news is that Maritime has appointed new heating contractors ("Warmer Heating"). Let's hope this results in a better service to residents who have had to deal with inadequate heating over the past winter.

Do you or your family use local bus services? If you have any concerns about these I would like to hear from you. Several residents have contacted me and I intend to write to the relevant operators on their behalf.
If you have any comments or questions relating to these or any other issues please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

30 Apr 2009

new recycling bins

New recycling bins like the one pictured outside Conway Park station are popping up around town.

You can use them in the same way you use gray/green wheely bins.

I understand these are a trial so it's up to everyone to use them correctly otherwise we will lose them.

29 Apr 2009

Graffiti update

Some good news on the graffiti front. Wirral Council will now clear graffiti from private property as long as it is visible from the highway. Previously this only applied to public property.

If graffiti is offensive it should be cleaned within a few days. Otherwise it can take at least a month.

I've reported this eyesore on Ashford Road which hopefully soon will be a thing of the past.

21 Apr 2009

Letter to the press

Here is an important Green Party letter acknowledging the vital work of the Brook Advisory Service on Whetstone Lane:

It is good news that teenage pregnancy rates in Wirral are coming down--by 7% in 2007. Sadly Britain still leads the rest of Europe in this league table.
The Health Service in Schools initiative will be a positive step to reducing rates further in Wirral especially if it is combined with sex and relationship education, taught early enough by people who are enthusiastic and well equipped to deliver it.
One aspect not referred to in your article, however, is the important role played by specialist clinic services for young people provided by Brook Advisory Service in Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead. This service, which opened in 1992 has sessions 6 days a week and sees more than 16,000 young men and women every year. They are offered free, confidential sexual health information, cotraception and pregnancy testing, advice and counselling etc.
I am sure this service has made a significant contribution to the reduction of teenage pregnancies in Wirral and will continue to do so in the future.

19 Apr 2009

Olive Mount/Holt Hill

Here is the latest grot spot to be reported for action. It's between Olive Mount and Holt Hill.

Far too many of our roads are blighted by this kind of thing. If you want to bring one to my attention please get in touch.

12 Apr 2009

Maritime Housing update

I continue to liaise with Maritime Housing on behalf of residents concerned about the repair service. One piece of, hopefully, good news is that Maritime has appointed new heating contractors ("Warmer Heating"). Let's hope that results in a better service to residents who have had to deal with inadequate heating over the past winter.

3 Apr 2009

Activity report for March

Welcome to my activity report for the month of March. My latest ward newsletter is currently doing the rounds. If you haven’t received one yet you can download it here.

I recently visited Well Lane police station and spent several hours there. My residents’ survey has highlighted numerous cases of anti-social behaviour and I spent a considerable amount of time going through these in detail. I also made representations on behalf of residents who had raised specific concerns with me.

One matter of great concern is that of public drinking and the resulting litter that often goes with it. A no-drinking zone has been set up in Birkenhead town centre and there is a huge stash of confiscated booze at Well Lane which has been seized within this zone.

However, outside of this zone, police powers to act are greatly reduced. This has resulted in public drinking in places just outside the zone. Quarrybank by the YMCA and also behind the casino are two areas affected by this. This can result in significant disruption in nearby streets. Residents are encouraged to report such instances to the police even if this means frequent phone calls. For non-emergency calls ring 709 6010.

Longer term, the police are looking at the possibility of a small tolerance zone for public drinking which does not impact on local residents.

If you suffer from persistent anti-social behaviour it is well worth getting to know your local Community Support Officer (CSO). These are a bridge between the community and the regular police force. Visit the local police website to find out more.

One thing I was shocked to learn is that CSOs in Wirral do not have the powers to issue spot fines for basic offences including littering, speeding and dog fouling. This seems to fly in the face of common sense and is something I intend to report on in more detail in my next ward newsletter.

Another area of widespread concern is housing renewal. There is now a patchwork of sites where housing has been torn down but, with the slump in the property market, we have been left with vacant sites which can rapidly become eyesores and even dangers to the public. One such case is the area between Fountain Street and Whitford Road.

My view is that housing should be maintained and upgraded wherever possible. Demolition should be a last resort. Moreover, demolition should only take place where there are guaranteed plans for redevelopment that meet the needs of the local community following appropriate consultation.

Flytipping is a running sore in many areas and I continue to report incidents as when I become aware of them. Just this week I have been on to Council enforcement officers regarding the regular flytipping on Laurel Road and am awaiting their response.

I also recently managed to catch up with most of the residents who had raised concerns regarding the repair service from Maritime Housing. I got a mixed response and am in further contact with Maritime about this.

Finally, thanks to those residents in the Frodsham Street area who completed our survey on Wednesday evening. We will be following up on some of the issues raised in the coming weeks.

27 Mar 2009

Fountain Street update

Building Control has inspected the broken wall on Fountain Street and say there is no risk to the public. However, thay are seeking to identify the land owner to inform them about the open access to the site and remind them of their responsibilities.

Meantime, environmental health has been notified about the mounting rubbish problem and will hopefully carry out an inspectation soon.

Needless to say I'll be keeping a careful eye on this going forward.

23 Mar 2009

Fountain Street/Whitford Road

I was shocked at the state of the land between Fountain Street and Whitford Road. Thanks to those residents who drew it to my attention when we were conducting our residents' survey yesterday. This site has been earmarked for 56 new dwellings but as nothing is happening it is becoming more and more of an eyesore. Not only that but it is also a danger to local children as part of the wall has collapsed.

I've been on to Building Control and they have promised an inspection this week.

20 Mar 2009

Alleyways/YMCA

Littered alleyways are a persistent complaint when I speak with residents. Our area has over 100 of these, many of which are now gated. Strictly speaking these are on private land so the Council's legal obligations to clean them can be a bit vague. However, there is an understanding that alleyways will be cleaned within one month of receiving a complaint. Therefore, it's very important that any such problem is reported to Streetscene on 606 2004. Even better if you can take some pictures and email to streetscene@wirral.gov.uk. Always ask for a reference number. If the problem persists let me know and I will action it promptly.

Also I've been contacted by a resident on Shaw Street about flytipping in the area close to the YMCA. I'll be checking that out over the weekend and making the appropriate phone calls next week.

12 Mar 2009

Does the left hand.....

....know what the right hand is doing? Streetscene says the tip by Wirral Spares is unadopted and nothing to do with them.

Environmental health says the opposite.

Apparantly this confusion happens all the time.

Anyway, the good news is the eyesore is due for a clean-up on April 1st. Unless of course they are winding me up and taking me for an April fool!

Time will tell.

9 Mar 2009

Tetbury Street/Borough Road update

I had a phone call today from the Council’s cleaning and recycling department regarding the appalling state of the landscaped area where Tetbury Street meets Borough Road. I’m glad to say that following my complaints this area had a special one-off clean on Friday. Apparently, over 1,000 drink cans were removed!

However, I was appalled to learn that cleaning of this area occurs only twice a year under a long term contract signed with a private contractor. I was told that the chances of this changing are close to zero. This is clearly unacceptable.

Public consumption of alcohol is banned in this area. I’ll be raising this with the police to see what can be done to enforce this and stop the problem at source. Hopefully, they can also stop people using the area as a public toilet!

6 Mar 2009

Beech Road/Tetbury Street

Today I have reported the graffiti pictured below on Beech Court/Milton Road as well as the diabolical collection of garbage on the entry from Borough Road to Tetbury Street.

5 Mar 2009

lights and rubbish update

I'm happy to say that the faulty lights I reported on Lowwood Road, Clifton Road, Hollybank Road and Cleveland Street have all been seen to.

However, the rubbish tip that lingers by Wirral Spares on Borough Road is apparently on unadopted land which means the land owner has to be found and notified before this mess can be sorted.

2 Mar 2009

Activity report for February

Here's an update on some of what I have been up to during February.

Thanks to those residents who have reported faulty street lighting. I have been reporting these to Streetscene as and when I become aware of them. Some have already been fixed but others remain outstanding.

In our residents' survey some people say that lights are not bright enough. Well,most of the street lighting was installed some 50 years ago and is pretty, shall we say, old. Modern lighting can give a better effect and has been installed on some busy roads but, as usual, cost is the issue in rolling out better and more efficient street lighting. It seems just to stand still, Wirral street lighting needs around £1m per year but only gets a fraction of this. My worry is that as the recession bites, funding will be further squeezed.

Following the comments on poor quality repairs by residents on Craven Street and Paterson Street I met with Maritime Housing on February 25th for over one hour. The meeting was very constructive and Maritime promised to get back to each of the residents who raised concerns through me. If you are a social housing tenant and have any issues you would like me to raise on your behalf, please let me know.

Litter is of course a constant complaint. I’ve recently spotted or been alerted to particular eyesores on Hilton Close, Borough Road (Glover Street) and Mount Grove Place (Whetstone Lane). I’ve photographed each of these which you can see here and have reported each of them to Streetscene.

Our door-to-door survey of the ward continues and issues relating to crime and anti-social behaviour feature prominently. I will be taking these to the police before the end of March and will report back during March.

Earlier this month I attended the Council meeting where the withdrawal of funding for community services across Wirral was confirmed. The event was a sorry day for local democracy and you can read my full report here.

To add fuel to the fire we now learn that Council tax bills are to rise by 4.4%. Effectively we are being asked to pay more for reduced council services. There will be more on this in the next edition of my ward newsletter which you can expect to receive by the end of April.

1 Mar 2009

more rubbish

Thanks to those residents who have alerted me to litter eyesores. Pictured are Hilton Close, Mount Grove Place (Whetstone Lane) and Borough Road (Glover Street). I'll be sending these to Streetscene in the morning and leeping an eye out for improvements.






24 Feb 2009

Labour's lost the plot

“You only have to reflect that no other local authority has ever attempted to undertake such an exercise to realise that this is almost certainly because it is not necessary, nor is it a good idea.”

These are the words of local labour MP Stephen Hesford as quoted in today’s Daily Post. He has asked the local government ombudsman to declare the closure of community facilities across Wirral unlawful.

The full article is well worth reading. It’s a damming verdict on the activities of Labour-led Wirral Council.

When their own MPs are taking such drastic measures you know the Labour party in Wirral has really lost the plot.

Good luck to Mr Hesford. He has my full support in this case.

21 Feb 2009

Area forum this Wednesday

The next area forum for Birkenhead and Tranmere is this Wednesday February 25th at the Town Hall in Hamilton Square.

It starts at 7pm.

16 Feb 2009

The lights are on....

Happily the light on Lowwood Road appears to have been fixed. Sadly there are three new ones to report. Pictured are lights on Hollybank Road, Cleveland Street and Clifton Road. I wonder how much the Council energy bill is inflated by all these lights burning 24/7?


Hinderton Road update

It seems both United Utilities and Environmental Health can find no fault with the smelly drains I reported on Hinderton Road. It seems we will have to wait for the weather to heat up when hopefully they will come to their senses.

This of course is little comfort to the resident’s affected, at least for now.

13 Feb 2009

Letter to the Wirral Globe

Chris Robinson and Terri Langan are right to highlight the aggressive tactics of the BNP (letters, February 11th). What many people may not realise is that the North West is their number one target constituency for the European elections on June 4th.

It is very likely that the party finishing in fourth position will secure a seat. This battle for fourth place is shaping up to be a straight contest between the Green Party and the BNP.

It is therefore vital that progressive and left-leaning voters of all colours back the Green Party. This is by far the best way to ensure that a positive green vision for the future of our region is heard in Brussels and not the far-right policies of the BNP.

12 Feb 2009

Amnesty International Wirral branch

A brief plug for Amnesty International which does fantastic work protecting human rights. I'm proud to be a member.

For details of the Wirral branch of Amnesty you should email Rowena Lovatt.

10 Feb 2009

Last night's Council meeting

Last night I attended the Council meeting at Wallasey town hall. Sadly the so-called strategic asset review (SAR) was voted through with devastating impacts on our libraries and community facilities. You can read more about it in the Globe and the News.

This wasn’t the only depressing aspect of the evening. Almost without exception, the contributions from our elected councillors were a sad reflection on the state of local democracy in Wirral. My chief observations are

Most Labour councillors were notable by their absence from the floor. All of them voted in favour of the SAR.

Most of the contributions were long on political rhetoric and desperately short on real content. Considered contributions from the floor were notable by their absence. This particularly applies to the Conservative Party for whom it is very easy to attack the SAR but it seems beyond them to come up with detailed, effective and practical solutions to the Council’s financial crisis.

There is clearly considerable turmoil within the Liberal Democrats. It is a pity that more of them didn’t follow the handful in voting against the SAR. Not just because the SAR is in itself an abomination but voting it down might just have forced everyone to go back to square one and conduct a thorough financial audit and a real consultation with the public about the savings that need to be made.

I want to make it clear that the mess the Council finds itself in is a result of a failure to manage its affairs properly over many years and all of the mainstream parties are culpable in this. It is unfortunate that there is not a greater willingness among politicians to own up to their failings but that is the world we live in and one I would like to help change.

However, we are where we are and there is no getting away from the fact that economic circumstances are putting a huge strain on local government finances. This will only get worse, at least in the near term.

A grown-up, Green approach to this problem would work something like this. The Council should be totally up front about its financial predicament and lay bare its finances to independent scrutiny. It should identify how much money it needs to save and allow an extended period for informed debate as to how that best can be achieved. When push comes to shove people can be very imaginative about raising additional finance and cutting costs where vital public services are concerned. Unfortunately, the opaque and rushed consultation process has only served to antagonise everyone and make the public even more bitter about the political process.

A reminder that the original Green Party response to the SAR can be viewed at http://www.wirralgreenparty.org.

6 Feb 2009

Street lighting update

Spoke with Streetscene and a chap in street lighting yesterday. Apparently the permanently-on light featured on Wednesday should be fixed within days. Hopefully!

In our residents' survey some people say that lights are not bright enough. Well most of the street lighting was installed some 50 years ago and is pretty, shall we say, old. Modern lighting can give a better effect and has been installed on some busy roads but, as usual, cost is the issue in rolling out better and more efficient street lighting.

It seems just to stand still, street lighting needs around £1m per year but only gets a fraction of this. My worry is that as the recession bites, funding will be further squeezed.

4 Feb 2009

Up in smoke...


....that's your council tax I'm referring to. It's all to common to see street lights lit during the day time like this one on Lowwood Road at the top of Hazel Road. Apparantly, residents have complained about this for over a year and nothing has been done.

Needless to say I'll be straight onto the Council about this tomorrow morning.

2 Feb 2009

February's Newsline now available

The February edition of my newsletter is now available. You can download it here.

Newsline is delivered to every home in Birkenhead and Tranmere ward. If you can help by leafleting for one hour please email me.

30 Jan 2009

How many...

….community facilities could we retain if Wirral took the same action as Liverpool which is introducing wide-ranging measures to slash town hall wages and pay-offs. Details are in this article in the Liverpool Echo.

This is the kind of action Wirral should have taken long before it even dreamt of shutting libraries and sports facilities.

27 Jan 2009

Activity report for January

Thanks to everyone who filled out my resident’s survey during the past few weeks. The feedback has been fantastic and I’ve already had almost 300 responses. As you can imagine a wide range of issues were raised which I have been following up as follows:

  • Residents on Craven Street and Paterson Street are unhappy with the repair service provided by Maritime Housing (Regenda). I have written to Regenda outlining these concerns and did receive a prompt response. They have offered to meet up and I am working on suitable times and dates and hope to get residents involved in this. However, I am concerned that Regenda is more keen to tell me about planned improvements to properties rather than addressing concerns about repairs which is the major complaint among residents.
  • On Park Road East, several residents are concerned about the accumulation of rubbish in neighbouring properties. This can be tackled by Environmental Health who will arrange an inspection if you call them on 691 8370. They can, if appropriate, serve a 21 day notice on the offending property owner and if there is no improvement in this time they will send in contractors to clean up and charge the property holder.
  • I was alerted to foul smelling drains on Hinderton Road. I have written to United Utilities and eventually received a response saying an inspection would be carried out. However, UU has been rather vague about when this will happen so I will keep chasing them.
  • Residents on Green Lane and Argyle Street South raised the difficulty in parking outside their properties. I have spoken with traffic management and you will not be surprised that this is a fairly sticky issue. Simply put, the council will not fund residents parking schemes. Therefore they have to be self-funding and the guidelines state that the cost per vehicle would be in the region of £75 with a minimum size of 300 residents. Effectively the council has washed its hands of this problem which is especially galling given the failure to tackle the problem at source by providing better and more affordable public transport.
  • Unsurprisingly, there have been quite a few comments re crime and anti-social behaviour. I am making a list of these including the problems adjacent to Hilton Close, at the rear of Baytree Road and towards the bottom of Argyle Street South. No doubt this list will grow as we survey other areas and in due course I will be taking these to the police and reporting back to you.
  • This weekend’s survey of the streets between Mersey and Victoria Parks saw a lot of complaints about dog muck and the reason wasn’t hard to spot! I’ll be making enquiries about this in the coming days.

Of course the major events of recent weeks have focused on Labour’s devastating cuts in local services and facilities with Pacific Road and Grange Road West included in the firing line. This will be covered in my door-to-door newsletter which will be delivered during February. In the meantime, you can read the official Green Party response to the cuts which includes constructive measures on cutting costs without cutting basic services.

26 Jan 2009

At last, United Utilities responds

I’ve finally heard back from United Utilities about the stinking drains on Hinderton Road. An inspection will be carried out soon. Hopefully they will do more than just inspect…

22 Jan 2009

Maritime Housing Part II

Glad to say that Maritime has responded promptly to my enquiries on behalf of residents in Craven Street and Paterson Street. They have offered to arrange a meeting and I’ll be following that up. Maritime is part of the Regenda group and if you have any comments arising from dealings with them or one of their subsidiaries I’d love to hear from you.

19 Jan 2009

Some people...

...aren't vey tidy. In fact some parts of our area are an absolute disgrace. which is a common theme on our resident's survey. If a neighbouring property to you is causing concern this can be tackled by Environmental Health. They will arrange an inspection if you call them on 691 8370. They can, if appropriate, serve a 21 day notice on the offending property owner and if there is no improvement in this time they will send in contractors to clean up and charge the property holder.

Let me know if this doesn't work and I will chase it for you.

16 Jan 2009

Labour's shameful legacy confirmed

The future now looks bleak for Pacific Road and Grange Road West. Last night’s Council meeting confirmed that both will lose Council funding along with a multitude of other local facilities. This article in the Wirral Globe provides a good summary. This is a devastating blow for many in our community and will clearly hit the poorest hardest. It certainly marks a shameful legacy for a Labour led authority.

Needless to say I and my Green Party colleagues are appalled. However, unlike the Tories, we have come up with a constructive response to this crisis which you can read here.

14 Jan 2009

Sums it up nicely

A friend passed this cartoon to me which neatly illustrates the impact of the proposed cuts in services. I don't know who penned this. If you do, let me know so I can acknowledge it appropriately. You can click on the image to enlarge it.


11 Jan 2009

What a stink!


One of the issues we encountered on today's survey was this alleyway on Hinderton Road. The drains absolutely stink so God knows what it must be like during the Summer. I'll be getting on to United Utilities about this and hopefully something can be sorted before the weather heats up.

Thanks to Joy, Perle and James for helping out with today's survey and all the residents in and around Hinderton Road who participated.

9 Jan 2009

Maritime Housing

Out and about around Craven Street last night following up with some of the residents who raised specific concerns during our survey at the weekend. Quite a list as you’d expect – litter, graffiti, anti-social behaviour. Also a lot of people in rented housing unhappy with the service provided by Maritime. I have written to them to express resident’s concerns. Interesting to see what kind of response I’ll get. Stay tuned…

7 Jan 2009

Don't forget ERIC....

The ERIC service where the Council comes and collects your bulky waste is still free but a charge is likely to apply from April so now is the time to safely dispose of any unwanted household items. Call Streetscene on 606 2004….

….but before you do remember any useful items are much better passed on to somebody else which you can do via Freecycle. You might also find something there you need for free.

6 Jan 2009

The heat is on

Last night I attended the special area forum at the Lauries Centre on the Council’s plans to slash community facilities. The venue was packed to overflowing and it was certainly a heated affair. None of the councillors and council officials present could have been left in any doubt how angry people are at these proposals.

The meeting got off to a bad start when the audience had to sit through around 30 minutes of presentations from council officials which tried to put a positive spin on the cutbacks. Even the brochure handed out to people had the misleading title “transforming Wirral”, as if life would be better when half our libraries and recreation centres have been mothballed. This only served to wind people up. They know the cuts represent a huge reduction in council services and can see through the spin. It is rather bizarre when we are told that cutbacks are essential but the end result will be an improvement. However, the culture of spin now so infects our daily lives that many in positions of authority seem to know no other way.

The leader of the council – Labour’s Steve Foulkes – had an uncomfortable evening. There was no support whatsoever from the floor. Many excellent points were raised throughout the evening and some of those that stood out for me were:
People really value their local facilities and they know that closures will have a major impact on their communities
The poorest and least mobile will be worst hit. There are major social implications here and this is the most worrying aspect of these proposals
It was made abundantly clear that the local bus service is woefully inadequate and far too expensive for the young and non car owners
People have a real affection for Birkenhead library and do not want to see it close
The same goes for Pacific Road and Grange Road West. I was really impressed by the young people who spoke with genuine passion for these facilities

Dozens of jobs will be lost at a time when unemployment is rising sharply

So, what to do….

Well firstly the council faces hard questions why it has allowed so many local facilities to deteriorate to such an extent that in its own words they are “no longer fit for purpose”. The fiasco over Birkenhead library suggests that basic maintenance of our facilities has been ignored. This issue extends across the political mainstream as it is barely 18 months since Wirral was governed by a coalition of Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dem. This meant that there was no opposition whatsoever and basic scrutiny of council operations was non-existent. This is just another reason why we urgently need a broader spectrum of representation on the council.

Secondly, there are cost savings to be made that would have no effect on local services. The Council needs to seriously examine it’s priorities. I don’t think it is acceptable in the current climate that significant sums are being allocated to promote grandiose schemes including boutique hotels and golf resorts in West Wirral while basic public services in Birkenhead are facing closure. Neither has the council got to grips with it’s own energy costs. Every council meeting I attend seems to be overheated and last night we had the ludicrous situation where a labour councillor was opening the window in the council run Lauries Centre because the room was grossly overheated.

Ultimately, we need real political change. People are rightly angry that the government can find £37bn to bail out the banking system and £12bn for a pointless VAT reduction but when it comes to local services the cupboard is bare. One has to ask what is the point in supporting a Labour led Council if it cannot secure appropriate funding from a Labour government? It is also clear that the Council Tax is an abject failure and needs urgent reform.

If you missed last night’s event you can still attend the remaining meetings all of which start at 7pm:
§ Tuesday, January 6th - Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight
§ Wednesday, January 7th - West Kirby Concourse in West Kirby
§ Thursday, January 8th - The Floral Pavilion in New Brighton

4 Jan 2009

Paterson Street area survey


Many thanks to Perle, Jim, Percy, James and Eileen who braved the icy conditions and helped out with the residents survey of the area around Paterson Street. Almost 100 residents completed the survey and I'll be following up on the issues raised in the coming days.