13 Dec 2010

Cuts Watch #3: Merseyside police to slash head count

The police force on Merseyside is set to lose 800 officers over the next four years. 1,000 civilian staff are also expected to be let go.

More details here.

10 Dec 2010

Greens offer free membership to students and young people

In an unprecedented move, the Green Party today offered free membership to people under 30 or in full-time education.

Any student or young person who applies to join the Green Party before 1 January 2011 will pay no subscription for the coming year.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said today:

“I want students and young people to know there is a political party that still cares about their future, and that will keep fighting for a fairer future and will not give up on doing the right thing.

“We have to keep fighting, because we can’t leave the future of our country and our planet to people who want to run things primarily in the interests of big business and the wealthiest people.

“Politics is important and it’s time to reclaim it. I want to extend the warmest possible welcome to all new members, but not least to students and young people who are having such a difficult time at the hands of the other political parties.”

Greens want “a society which values mobility and inclusiveness”

Caroline, who was elected as Britain’s first Green MP in this year’s general election – and who has stood strongly by the Green Party’s policy of universal free education – said last night after the tuition fees vote:

“This is a dark day for the future of higher education in this country. The huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding, amount to nothing less than a Government assault on our young people – and an attack on the principles of universal education. Many people may be priced out of going to university as a result of today’s vote – and those who do go are likely to be saddled with massive debt. This is unacceptable for a society which values social mobility and inclusiveness.”

Further information

1. Students and young people can join the Green Party free here.

2. Students can normally join the Green Party for £5, as opposed to the standard membership rate of £31. Many people, however, pay higher membership fees to help the party fund its campaigns. Donations are always welcome, as the Green Party receives no financial backing from unions or big businesses as Labour and the Conservatives do, but gets the bulk of its income from members and ordinary supporters.

3. For any enquiries regarding individual membership call 020 7272 4474. For media enquiries only, call 020 7561 0282.

Cuts Watch #2: £48m slashed from Council spending

The assault on public services in Wirral was confirmed last night. Cuts totalling £48m including over £10m slashed from adult social services.

The Daily Post covers the story here.

8 Dec 2010

Cuts Watch #1: Council jobs cull begins

The culling of jobs at Wirral Council has begun. Almost 500 jobs are to go by the end of this month with more to follow in 2011.

The Daily Post has the full story.

1 Dec 2010

Green View Monthly Update

Welcome to the latest monthly update. This month the focus is on housing renewal, fuel poverty and, of course, the usual round-up of street issues.

Housing regeneration faces increased turmoil

It seems no aspect of our lives is immune from the savage cuts agenda. Recently the government announced that it would no longer fund the Pathfinder housing renewal programme. The shocking implications of this were exposed in a Channel 4 report.

The Green Party in Wirral has been very critical of certain aspects of housing renewal. In particular, many homes which should have been refurbished were needlessly demolished with all too predictable consequences as anyone who takes a walk around Tranmere can see.

However, to cut funding off at the knees is clearly senseless at a time when unemployment is rising. This has plunged housing renewal into chaos and the panic it has generated is clear for all to see in this report from the Wirral Globe.

Housing is just one example but anger generally is rising rapidly against the cuts. To find out more about what is happening locally you are invited to a Green Party meeting at the Stork Hotel on Price Street on December 8. Clara Paillard who is branch secretary of the PCS union will be speaking on the rising tide of opposition to government cuts. The meeting starts at 7.30pm.

Also, as the only party with a coherent and comprehensive anti-cuts message, the Green Party is supporting the Merseyside march against the cuts in Liverpool on December 11. Full details here.

Shocking rise in fuel poverty

Instead of slashing funding for vital public works like social housing, the government could instead look to the extortionate profits being earned by UK energy companies. Even though fuel poverty has doubled over the past five years energy prices are soaring again this winter. It is simply unacceptable that energy companies making billions in profits are allowed to add to fuel poverty at a time of austerity.

For a long time, the Green Party has been pushing for a massive roll out in home insulation. The failure to do this has led to increased distress for many on low incomes. Thankfully, Wirral Council is now following our advice and extending its free insulation scheme.

With energy prices soaring it is essential that householders take advantage of any grants available, especially given the current government’s aggressive cuts programme. To find out if you qualify for free insulation under Wirral’s “Cosy Homes” scheme, call 0800 512 012.

Streets update

Below you will find the usual round-up of actions taken by the Green Party team over the past month. As usual, if there are any issues affecting your area please get in touch:

  • Recently, I did a check on numerous broken street lights that were reported over recent months. I was pleased to see that repairs have been carried out to lights on Maybank Road, Craven Street, Paterson Street and in Victoria Park. I was less pleased that several lights on Bentinck Street are still out so I have sent a reminder to Streetscene. I have also reported broken lights on Birchwood Avenue and Cleveland Street.
  • During a recent residents survey we were alerted to persistent fly-tipping by a specific household in the Chester Street area. I immediately wrote to Wirral Methodist Housing who own the relevant property. I received a very positive response and have been impressed by their proactive approach. I am therefore hopeful of a positive outcome.
  • Other issues reported this month include graffiti on Hollybank Road and fly-tipping on Florence Street (opposite Europa Pools).

Latest Green View now available

And finally, our latest ward newsletter will be delivered across Birkenhead and Tranmere this month. You can read the on-line version here.

If you would like to help by delivering 100 copies where you live, please get in touch.

30 Nov 2010

Latest Green View now available

Our latest ward newsletter is hot off the press and will be delivered across Birkenhead and Tranmere during December.

You can view an on-line version here.

26 Nov 2010

Great news from Merseyrail

Excellent news today that Merseyrail is increasing frequency along the Liverpool-Chester route which serves Birkenhead Central and Green Lane. The full details are reported in the Daily Post.

Merseyrail also operates an excellent cycle parking scheme. If more people cycled to the station rather than driving it would help ease congestion for local residents around Green Lane and Central stations.

21 Nov 2010

Fly-tipping alert: Florence Street

Florence Street runs between Simpson Street and Parkfield Avenue opposite Europe Pools. It's a frequent target for fly-tipppers.

Graffiti watch: Hollybank Road

Hawthorne House on Hollybank Road is a frequent target of mindless graffiti. I've just reported this to Streetscene.

1 Nov 2010

Activity report for October and why the cuts are so unfair

Welcome to the latest monthly update. As well as the usual Streets report below I wanted to spend some time addressing why I believe the savage cuts which are only just beginning to hit our key public services are deeply unfair.

Cuts: Why we are not all in this together

Throughout the year the Green Party is busy knocking on doors across Birkenhead and Tranmere. This not only keeps us up-to-date with problems in your street, it also shows us how the bigger issues are affecting people. Over recent months I have met several residents directly affected by the cuts in public services. These are people concerned about their housing benefit or those working in the public sector fearful for their jobs. Or, it may be people working in the charity sector who are reliant on funding from local government to maintain care for the elderly or those with special needs.

It’s not surprising that cuts are already beginning to bite. A recent report by the Financial Times showed that, along with Plymouth and Middlesbrough, Wirral is the area most likely to suffer from public sector cuts. Wirral is identified in the report (registration required) as an area with high levels of public sector employment and low levels of economic resilience.

Many are rightly angry that a deficit born of corrupt business practices and slack regulation is now laying waste to basic public services and creating real distress across our community. At the same time, the very wealthy and those who caused the problem in the first place are barely affected at all. Consider the following facts:

These are just a few examples but, in every case, the sums are massive. The government could easily clear the deficit by forcing corporations to pay their way. However, this ConDem government, supported by its partners in crime at Wirral town hall would rather force the most vulnerable in our society to carry the can.

If you think the Labour Party would address these concerns just consider that Labour in Wirral believes our Tory led Council has not been tackling the deficit quickly enough as reported in today’s Daily Post.

The whole saga is a disaster from top to bottom and clearly shows the need for real change which only the Green Party can provide.

Streets update

Another busy month with quite a few successes. As usual if there are any issues affecting your area please get in touch:

  • Dumped rubbish behind the Carlton pub off Borough Road was removed after I sent photos into Streetscene.
  • There was a similar outcome on Woodville Road where rubbish left on the pavement has now been cleared.
  • The broken lock on the alley gates serving Claughton Road/Corfu Street has now been repaired.
  • I have reported broken street lights in Victoria Park and on Bentinck Street.
  • The Council has promised to clear rubbish dumped in the entry between Fairview and Holborn Hill. I am also liaising with the empty homes unit to try and bring a long term empty home on Holborn Hill back into use.
  • Graffiti and fly-tipping in the Oxton Road car park has been reported as has the graffiti on the electricity substation on Westbourne Road.
  • Streetscene has been asked to clean the vandalised street sign on Exmouth Way which you can see here.
  • Traffic management has promised to pay more attention to illegal parking on the junction of Kingsland Road and Woodchurch Road.


Exmouth Way

Reporting mindless graffiti is one important way the Green Party helps to improve the local area.

This is a typical example on Exmouth Way.

29 Oct 2010

Woodville Road

It seems this bag of muck has been a charming feature on Woodville Road for many months. Several residents complained about it during our recent survey.

I've had to report it more than once but thankfully it has now been removed.

21 Oct 2010

Nice to see that....

....this fly-tipping behind the Carlton pub has been cleared.

How long before it fills up again I wonder?


4 Oct 2010

Activity report for September

Welcome to the latest monthly update. The Council’s consultation exercise on service cuts leads the way followed by the scandal surrounding adult social care in Wirral. Details also on new residents’ groups and the usual streets update.

Cuts Consultation

Wirral Council is currently consulting with residents about the services it provides. In reality, this will partly determine which services are cut the most over the coming months. Whilst I have a lot of misgivings about the length and wording of the questionnaire my main concern is that relatively few people from our area will participate. I would therefore encourage you to take part in the consultation, perhaps taking on board the comments I make below. You can complete the questionnaire on-line via the Council website.

Section B “Living in Wirral” is particularly worrying. It is clear from this that the Council is planning to charge for services such as graffiti and fly-tipping removal and to increase charges for bulky waste collection. This could have a major impact across Birkenhead and Tranmere so I would encourage you to add your concerns here. This section also gives you the opportunity (should you wish) to suggest a more robust approach to tackling issues such as fly-tipping and to voice support for 20 mph limits for residential roads.

The scandal of adult social care in Wirral

The Care Quality Commission recently issued a scathing report on the quality of adult social care in Wirral. The Commission rated Wirral as “poor” in safeguarding adults with learning disabilities. The report (which you can access here) forced Steve Foulkes the leader of the Labour Party in Wirral to “apologise for those people who’ve been let down”.

Given the incompetence of the previous Labour-led administration in Wirral and the savage cuts being planned by the new Tory-led Council, the clear danger is that the quality of care for some of the most vulnerable in our community will be further eroded.

New residents’ group need more support

I’ve been very pleased to attend some of the recent meetings of the (relatively new) association representing residents in the Church Road area. These groups can be very effective in making sure local Councillors work effectively for you, something which hasn’t always happened in the past.

If you live in the Church Road area and would like to get involved please let me know. Alternatively, if you are interested in establishing a residents’ group the Green Party can help so do get in touch

Streets update

A particularly busy update this month with lots to report on:

  • I complained about the lack of a garden waste collection service for houses in and around Bentinck Street. However, the Council is refusing to consider this which is quite shocking and yet another example of how our area is discriminated against. You can read the Council’s excuses on my website.
  • Graffiti in the alleyway between Victoria Road and Chesnut Grove has been cleared but the Council refuses to tidy the extensive overgrowth claiming it is on private land.
  • Meanwhile, the dumped furniture by the substation on Chesnut Grove has been cleared while Environmental Health has been informed of the fly-tipping in the alleyway behind the substation.
  • Following our recent survey work I reported the broken street light (column 3) on Maybank Road. I am also writing to the Council to remind them of the abject failure to address the rubbish dumped on derelict land by Victoria Fields.
  • Persistent fly-tipping on Holt Road has also been reported.

As usual, if there are any issues you would like to raise please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

17 Sep 2010

Garden waste collection update

Anyone hoping for a brown bin collection in their road will be disappointed. I have had this reply following my request that streets off Bentinck Street receive the same service that almost all other residents in Wirral get. Not good.

Dear Mr Cleary
 
Thank you for your enquiry regarding garden waste collection services to your road. Unfortunately we do not have any plans currently to roll out this service to other roads in the borough, however this is constantly under review and should things change we will of course notify you. Your request is though noted.
 
Wirral Council is currently supporting home composting details of which can be found on www.wirral.getcomposting.com
 
As part of the new scheme, which is being run in partnership with Straight plc, low price compost bins are available to residents from as little as £14 for a 220 litre Compost Converter or £17 for a 330 litre model.
 
A wide range of other home composters and composting accessories are also be available to Wirral residents, including wormeries, kitchen caddies and bases as well as water butts.
 
Residents can take advantage of these special offers by visiting the 'Get Composting' website. Alternatively, residents can order their home compost bins by calling 0844 571 4444. On this number, residents can also receive helpful composting tips and advice from the composting team on how to get started.

13 Sep 2010

Derby Road update

I have now received a reply to this letter I recently sent to Highways regarding road safety along Derby Road. It's pretty uninspiring and I'll be chasing this further.

I refer to your recent enquiry to Streetscene concerning the above.
 
The letter your refer to of August 2009 was specifically in answer to a request for the provision of waiting restrictions in Derby Road, due to parking associated with staff and visitors to St Catherine's Hospital. Whilst I do not consider the situation you raise in Elm Grove is related to the issues raised in the original letter my reply referred to, you will appreciate that the redevelopment of the hospital is still on going and whilst many of the staff have been relocated, the additional parking spaces are not yet available and there is likely to be additional contractors vehicles using the area during the redevelopment.
 
The hospital redevelopment will also provide a 'Puffin' crossing near to the main entrance on Derby Road.This will create natural breaks in traffic which will allow easier access on to Derby Road from it's side roads and also reduce vehicle speeds.

2 Sep 2010

Activity Report for August

Welcome to my latest monthly report. Below you will find the latest details on the Church Road development, our most recent attempts to improve road safety, an update on Parks’ privatisation and the usual streets news.

But first, a quick reminder that Wirral Council is currently updating its voter registration records. You should have had a post card about this recently. If your details have changed or you are not registered to vote don’t forget to notify the Council. If you need any help with this please get in touch.

Church Road: yet more delays

Residents in the Church Road area are hugely frustrated by the slow progress on planned retail and housing developments. Failure to agree terms with existing property owners is one problem. On the retail side, it seems that, at best, only four tenants have been found for the eight proposed units. The latest Council documents show that Wirral Council is being asked for additional funding to secure stage one of the retail development.

In the current climate trying to secure any additional funding is extremely difficult. This simply shows how damaging the years of delay have been. If you would like to study the full Council documents on this matter you can do so here.

Road Safety in and around Derby Road

Recently the Green Party has been out and about in the Derby Road area conducting our residents’ survey. Road safety is high on the list of concerns and in particular:

  • poor visibility for vehicles entering Derby Road from the Church Road side streets
  • lack of any pedestrian crossing facilities on Derby Road
  • speed and volume of traffic along Elm Grove

All of these concerns have been detailed in a recent letter sent to Traffic Management. You can read that letter on my website. We’ll also be posting any reply there.

Parks privatisation confirmed

Last month we reported in detail on the Council’s misguided and hasty plans to privatise countryside services. Despite all the complaints this was confirmed earlier this week. The Wirral Globe has the story in full.

Streets update

On the back of our Survey work we have alerted Wirral Council to a raft of items that need to be addressed. These include:

  • Our alert about the shocking state of the pavements around the new apartment block on Holt Hill/Warrington Street received a fairly feeble response which you can read here. We’ll continue to monitor this.
  • We have reported broken street lights in Hinderton Close (column 6) and Victoria Road (also column 6).
  • Graffiti on the entrance to Helmingham Grove has been reported.
  • Unfortunately, the alleyway between Victoria Road and Chesnut Grove is frequently disfigured. We have reported the latest graffiti and have also requested that the extensive overgrowth be trimmed.

As usual, if there are any issues you would like to raise please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Road safety on Derby Road/Elm Grove

A lot of residents raise road safety issues in and around Derby Road. Today I've sent this email to Traffic Management:

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

Ref: PLB/TC/1/1 Bir 317366

I am writing in relation to the above reference number and the wider issue of road safety in the Derby Road area of Birkenhead.

Your letter dated 4 August 2009 suggested that the relocation of staff from St. Catherine’s Hospital would alleviate traffic concerns along Derby Road. One year on, the feedback I receive from residents suggests that this is not the case. In particular I have had numerous contacts from residents in the area raising a number of issues as follows:

All of the roads running between Derby Road and Church Road have been closed off to vehicles at the Church Road end. Exiting these roads onto Derby Road is hazardous due to poor visibility. If anything, this problem has intensified since the resurfacing of Derby Road which appears to have led to increased traffic speeds.

As access to Derby Road from Church Road has been closed there is heavy traffic along Elm Grove which is open at both ends. Residents along Elm Grove are very concerned by the volume and speed of traffic.

There are no crossing facilities for pedestrians along the entire length of Derby Road.

In view of the above I would very much appreciate feedback on the following points so that I can in turn relay this to residents:

What plans, if any, are there to review and calm traffic speeds along Derby Road and improve safety for vehicles accessing Derby Road from the Church Road side?

What plans, if any, are there to improve crossing facilities for pedestrians along Derby Road?

What steps have been taken to monitor road safety along Elm Grove? Are there any plans to implement road safety measures on Elm Grove?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Pat Cleary


16 Aug 2010

Footway on Holt Hill/Pearson Road

I have complained about the poor state of the footpath around the new apartment block on Pearson Road. Today I received the following email from the Highway Maintenance Team:

Dear Mr Cleary 

Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the footway outside the development on Holt Hill Birkenhead (ref 413848). 

We are aware of the unsatisfactory condition of the footway and do intend to ensure that the developer fulfils all conditions relating to footway construction. 

In the mean time the area is being monitored and will be made safe if required, with all costs being recharged to the developer. 

I hope that this clarifies the situation satisfactorily.


3 Aug 2010

A few updates

Just a few points to add to the latest Activity Report.

I'm glad to see that the graffiti I reported on Olive Mount has now been removed.

Also, on Victoria Road, the branches that were obstructing the car park have been trimmed.

2 Aug 2010

Activity Report for July

Welcome to an update for the month of July. Details and debate below on the fast tracking of the parks privatisation programme, the mounting cuts menace and the (rather depressing) results of our information request on fly-tipping.


Parks provision: more risk to services and a loss of accountability

Our new Tory-Liberal Council is wasting no time in aping the aggressive policies of its sister government in slashing the state provision of services. The last Labour-led Council was intent on privatising the maintenance of our parks and countryside services. This is now being fast-tracked by the new Tory-led administration.


Unsurprisingly, having asked a private-sector consultancy to report on parks provision the Council has been asked to adopt a private sector solution. Incredibly, we are expected to believe that not only will this improve delivery to the public but will also save the Council £10 million over 10 years.


However, on reading the Consultant’s report you also discover that:

  • The private sector option is by far the riskiest
  • It also has the highest up-front costs so will be more expensive in the short term
  • The proposed savings are based on the most optimistic assumptions
  • The report ignores the substantial savings to be made by modernising the existing in-house provision at far less risk to the public


The reality is that contracting out these services is likely to reduce quality, cut working conditions and make services less accountable to members of the public. Consultation as usual is completely lacking especially with the existing work force who have not been given the opportunity to show how services could be maintained at reduced cost. This rather than bringing in outside consultants would be a much more progressive approach.

You can read the full report to Council here.


Cuts: Council wastes no time in slashing services

If you want to get a flavour of the scale of cuts to local services just look at what is happening to transport provision. Over £1m has been cut from the local transport budget. This represents 20% of the total budget. However, scheduled road works on major routes have been ring-fenced. This means that all of the following will see a 25% cut in expenditure:

  • Congestion
  • Road Safety
  • Cycling
  • Air Quality


Funds allocated to basic road maintenance have also been cut.


We all know how poor the condition of our roads and pavements already is. Also, anyone who has read the Green Party newsletter in the past will be aware that road safety in Wirral significantly lags the rest of the country. These cuts can only mean that these issues will become even more acute.


Wirral: A fly-tippers paradise?

For the past few years the Green Party has been persistently highlighting the issue of fly-tipping across Birkenhead and Tranmere. Dismayed by the lack of results we asked the Council how many people have been prosecuted for fly-tipping across Birkenhead and Tranmere in each of the past three years. The dismally disappointing figure is precisely zero!


Not only that but prosecutions for littering have fallen dramatically in recent years. You can view the full details on my website.


Streets update

A shorter than usual streets update this month due to the holiday season. However, we are pleased to report that after numerous emails and phone calls we finally got Streetscene to clear rubbish from the entries along Westbourne Road.


Our residents survey resumes this week. If you live in the Hinderton Road area we may well be knocking on your door to get your thoughts.