14 Dec 2011

Brown bins for Birkenhead

I get so many complaints from residents across Birkenhead & Tranmere who are unfairly excluded from the garden waste recycling scheme. Below is the latest comment from the Council which at least offers some hope that the scheme may be extended:

Dear Mr Cleary,

Re: Garden Waste Collection Service

Thank you for taking the time to contact Wirral Council to request information regarding the Garden Waste collection service.

The Waste and Recycling team have recently carried out a full analysis of the garden waste collection service.  This involved an assessment of the borough to identify areas and roads where the properties do have gardens but are not on the service. This piece of work was completed in September and this information was passed to our Garden Waste Collection Contractor, Biffa, to assess the additional operational requirements and work out the most efficient way of expanding the service to the additional properties.  It is highly likely that this will require Biffa to completely restructure the service, meaning many existing customers will have collection day changes and routes the trucks currently work to will change. 

After this work has been completed we can determine whether we are able to service all the additional properties with existing resources.  If we can expand the service at no additional revenue cost to the Council then we would expect to roll out brown garden waste bins to new and additional properties (Craven Close and surrounds included) towards the end of February, with a view to starting collections from 1st April 2012.   We are hopeful that this will be the senario that will happen.

However, if there were an annual revenue cost to expanding the service, then the Council would consider the request for additional funding as part of the 2012/13 budget setting process, which would include public consultation.  Even if the funding was approved, this means that the earliest the scheme could be expanded would be Spring 2013.  In the event that additional revenue is required, Elected Members and Chief Officers involved in the decision making process will be informed of all complaints that have been made from residents waiting to join the scheme.

In the meamtime, garden waste can be put into your green refuse bin for collection.  If you or anyone living at your property has access to a vehicle, you can take also garden waste to any of the Household Waste Recycling Centres:

Bidston Moss, Wallasey Bridge Road, Birkenhead.
Greenbank Road, West Kirby.
Mount Road, Clatterbridge.

If you have any further queries regarding the waste and recycling service, please do not hesitate to contact Streetscene on 606-2004. 


2 Dec 2011

letter to the press re strikes

The Con-LibDem coaltion's relentless attacks on public sector jobs and services must be resisted. The Green Party, unlike the Labour Party, supported Wednesday's strike action because the public sector provides services vital to a civilised society and a healthy economy.

Destroying jobs and services and reducing pay and pensions in the public sector damage rather than help the economy. This can be seen in the catastrophic unemployment figures and from every economic indicator--including a rising Government borrowing requirement, with tax receipts down and benefit payments up. Meanwhile the bankers and chief executives continue to "earn" obscene salaries and bonuses.

David Cameron's contemptuous"damp squib" remark is typically glib, insulting and inappropriate. His government's policies are similarly wrong-headed, worsening rather than improving the lives of millions, and deserve to be opposed.

1 Dec 2011

REVIEW OF STREETSCENE ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY AND POLICIES

Wirral Council is conducting a review of its streetscene enforcement strategy and policies. I have submitted the following comments on fly-tipping:


I would like to submit some comments to this Review on the subject of fly-tipping.

Your notes point out that fly-tipping is mainly a problem in back entries. I believe this is correct. However, while this problem may be relatively isolated, for those affected it has a huge impact on their quality of life.

Over the past three years the Green Party has conducted regular door-to-door surveys in the Birkenhead and Tranmere ward. Without doubt, the number one complaint from residents relates to fly-tipping. It cannot be an understatement in my view to say that fly-tipping is endemic in this part of Wirral.

While residents are grateful that back entries are cleared of rubbish on a regular basis, there is widespread anger at Wirral Council's failure to prosecute those guilty of fly-tipping. Over recent years, not a single prosecution has been brought for fly-tipping in the Birkenhead and Tranmere area. It is therefore hardly surprising that irresponsible residents feel they can dump rubbish with impunity. The sad result is that the impacts of fly-tipping are now a routine part of life for most residents. This will never change until the relevant authorities take seriously their obligations to pursue fly-tippers and set an example for the wider community.

Currently, I do not believe that Wirral Council takes these obligations seriously. On many occasions I have been contacted by residents who can identify those responsible for fly-tipping and assume that Wirral Council will support them in this end. However, the response received is, in my view, quite the opposite. Warning residents of the need to appear in court and the resulting costs imposed on the authority is not a response that suggests that Wirral Council is eager to prosecute fly-tippers. Indeed, many residents take the view that Wirral Council has a policy of not pursuing prosecutions for fly-tipping.

People have a right to live in a clean environment and their local authority should be supportive of this. I would therefore suggest the following:

  • that Wirral Council reassesses its approach to fly-tipping and implements a medium term strategy to significantly reduce the incidents of fly-tipping
  • that, as part of this review, Wirral Council recognises that it already has sufficient statutory powers to prosecute fly-tippers
  • that, instead of discouraging those residents who wish to see those guilty of fly-tipping prosecuted, Wirral Council begins to engage positively and support these residents
  • that any short term costs associated with prosecuting fly-tipping will be more than repaid by a long term reduction in this anti-social behaviour

I hope that Wirral Council can recognise that fly-tipping is a really serious issue in certain areas and that it's current approach merely amounts to damage limitation rather than a robust, medium term strategy. I look forward to a revised approach and would be delighted to assist in any way I can in advancing this.

30 Nov 2011

Day of Action, November 30

A few photos from today's day of action in support of public service workers. First the march in Birkenhead and then the rally in Liverpool. Great to see such a strong Green Party presence.

27 Nov 2011

Wirral ARK bike project

On Friday I was very proud to be asked to officially open the new bike repair scheme at the ARK project for the homeless. They already have a successful boat repair scheme and this new project aims to build on that. You can get more details of the scheme here. If you have any unwanted bicycles or bike parts to donate please ring 650 6858.

The photo shows me with Barry Miller on the left who is running the bike scheme and David Astle, one of the volunteer helpers.

Green Lane pavement cleaned at last

Good to see the pathway under the railway bridge on Green Lane has finally been cleared. More details and pictures on the Wirral Talk website.

22 Nov 2011

Victoria Road car park

I've complained several times about the state of the car park at the top of Victoria Road. Earlier this year I was promised that the area would be cleared and neighbouring residents would be able to add appropriate planting at their own expense and time. It's very disappointing that this still hasn't happened and I have asked for reassurance that this will indeed be done at the earliest opportunity.

Copied below is the most recent correspondence that I have received:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Cleary,
 
You recently enquired about the area adjacent to number 8 Victoria Road, Tranmere.
 
This area will be passed to the council's maintenance team for spraying, however, it may not happen until spring, as spray is not effective in colder weather.
 
Regards,

17 Nov 2011

Pavement repairs Church Road/Chesnut Grove

The Council has now responded to my enquiry about the uneven pavement on Chesnut Grove:

Dear Mr Cleary



Thank you for your e-mail regarding the uneven pavement on Church Road adjacent to Chesnut Grove by the site of the former Tranmere Park pub.

Our highways inspector has visited the location and has agreed that some work is needed. He has requested that our contractor schedule this work into their programme

Regards

Streetscene Highway Management Team

9 Nov 2011

Another shocking set of road casualty stats for Wirral

 
Complacency rules!
Latest road safety figures show people face unacceptable risks when walking or cycling
Labour’s failure to implement 20mph zones shows a complete disregard for road safety
Merseyside police need to seriously up their game


Latest figures confirm the dismal state of road safety in Wirral. Once again, our borough falls way behind national statistics confirming that pedestrians and cyclists face wholly unacceptable risks.

The figures for  child pedestrian casualties are particularly shocking. Under 16s in Wirral are almost twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with the national average.

The figures for cyclists are also very poor. Despite low rates of cycling, local casualty rates are well above the national average.

Commenting on the figures, Pat Cleary of Wirral Green party says “How long do we have to tolerate such dismal statistics for road safety in Wirral? Each statistic is a tragedy in itself and we simply shouldn’t accept such a poor performance from local councillors and the local police force.

Given these figures, it is particularly shocking that the Labour Party is dragging its heels on the implementation of 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas. This is something Liverpool and other areas are fast tracking but Wirral Labour clearly doesn’t see road safety as a priority.”

The analysis also raises serious questions for the police, especially as Merseyside as a whole is shown to be the fourth worst area of the country for pedestrian casualties.Merseyside police recently used 2010 data in isolation to suggest that significant progress has been made(1). However, using a single year’s figures is not a statistically robust approach and ignores the fact that traffic levels have fallen due to economic recession.

Pat Cleary says, “Merseyside police need to give a much higher priority to pedestrian and cyclist safety. Basic infringements including speeding and pavement parking are routine. We need a cultural shift, both within the police and across the wider community, if these figures are to show a much needed improvement in the years to come”

Note: 1 “Dramatic reduction in Merseyside road deaths”, Wirral Globe, 30th June 2011







8 Nov 2011

Access issues, Simpson Street

We recently responded to concerns from residents in Simpson Street regarding access. I'm glad to say we have now received the following positive response:

Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the junction of Conway Street and Simpson Street, Birkenhead.
I can advise you that I will arrange for a ‘KEEP CLEAR’ road marking to be introduced on Conway Street at the junction with Simpson Street, Birkenhead.
Thank you for your interest in this matter.

28 Oct 2011

Wirral Council in turmoil

What on earth is going on at Labour run Wirral Council?

Over the past few weeks Wirral Council has been rocked by a series of scandals which point to serious incompetence and waste of taxpayers’ money. To cap it all, the local MP has now called in the Serious Fraud Office amid allegations of serious malpractice.

First, we had an independent review into how Wirral Council is managed. This is a truly shocking exposure of incompetence and mismanagement. I would urge you to read the brief summary which, as the Wirral Globe put it, revealed a devastating catalogue of failures by Wirral Council and claimed the authority was in the grip of a corrosive and inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its “bureaucratic machinations.”

The report really confirms what many people have said for many years, that Wirral Council is hopelessly mismanaged and does not serve its local residents well. Of particular concern to all council tax payers will be that Wirral Council’s failures include:

·        being unable to understand and implement fees and charges properly

·        not being able to commission, manage and, where necessary, dismiss failing contractors and suppliers  

…in other words, wasting taxpayers’ money

It is very important to remember that for 24 of the past 25 years Wirral has been a council led by the Labour Party. It is surely no coincidence that this report was commissioned during that one brief period when Labour was not in control.

You would therefore expect that Labour would do the decent thing, that its leader would step down and an inclusive response to what is clearly a major crisis would be implemented.

But, that would be expecting Labour to put Wirral people first.

Instead, Labour has set up what is cheerfully called a “turnaround team” consisting of, you guessed it, Labour councillors.

So, Labour’s response to a damning report on the management of a Labour run authority is to set up a crack response unit run by, eh, the Labour Party.

But, it doesn’t end there….

On September 30th we learned that the district auditor has questioned whether Wirral Council has “proper arrangements to secure value for money in its use of resources.”

The criticisms relate to the outsourcing of a multi-million pound highways contract which could have left the council facing “substantial damages”. The auditor’s report concludes that Wirral Council is unable to determine whether it is receiving value for money.

In other words, Wirral Council is failing in its basic duty to manage our money effectively. It is yet another confirmation that Wirral residents are being comprehensively failed by a delusional political elite.

But it doesn’t end there either….

Following the district auditor’s report, a group of council employees approached local MP Frank Field with serious claims relating to the council’s handling of the highways contract referred to in the auditor’s report.

As a result of their approach, the Serious Fraud Office has been asked to investigate whether the council is guilty of malpractice in signing this contract.

It is, perhaps, instructive in my view that council employees approached their MP rather than the local councillors who are directly responsible for how Wirral runs its affairs.

A very rotten borough

It is very clear that Wirral Council needs to change and change quickly. Unfortunately, the same people who presided over such a rotten borough are still in charge. The Labour Party has let down the people of Wirral. At a time when local government is under attack from savage government cuts, we simply cannot trust Labour to provide the leadership we need.

As if to confirm this, today’s Daily Post carries the headline “Wirral Council predicts budget deficit to rise to £100m.

17 Oct 2011

The Green Party ahead of Liberal Democrats in new poll

 

The Green Party is surging ahead of the Liberal Democrats according to the latest voter intention figures published by ComRes. Public support for the Liberal Democrats has declined dramatically thanks to a growing disillusionment with the coalition government over controversial NHS reforms, cuts in housing and education and a U-turn on tuition fees.

The report coincides with another election poll released earlier this year by polling company, Marketing Means, which revealed a large swing to the Green Party in March this year.  However, while previous voter intention surveys such as Market Means have indicated the Green vote is increasing, the new ComRes report which came out on the 16th October 2011 proves that the Green Party is now a real alternative for traditionally Liberal Democrat voters.

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party recently called on disaffected Liberal Democrats to look to the Greens, saying:

 "I have a special message for those Lib Dem supporters who are beginning to despair of the path their leadership has taken them down. If you became involved in politics to serve your local community, to protect the environment, or to challenge inequality, then join us.”

The ComRes report coincides with another election poll released in March this year by polling company, Marketing Means which revealed a large swing to the Green Party.

Street lights: Trinity Lane and Hornby Street

Some news from Wirral Council re street lights on Trinity Lane and Hornby Street.

Dear Mr Cleary,

Request for Street Lighting Column – Trinity Lane, Birkenhead

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above.

It has been agreed that an 8 metre street lighting column will be erected half way along Trinity Lane. An instruction was raised for the Council’s contractor on the 13th August 2011 to supply and install the column. Due to the lack of vehicle access on the lane it will be necessary to use a folding post and this is a special order item. The manufacturer has informed the contractor that the column should be delivered week commencing the 24/10/11.

The column will then be assembled and should be installed within 5 working days following delivery.

Once the column is erected the work to connect the electricity supply cable to the column will be carried out by Scottish Power. Under the terms of the Ofgem Service Level Agreement Scottish Power have up to 35 working days to complete the works after they have been advised that the post is in situ. To shorten this process as much as possible, the order to proceed with the connection works will be e-mailed to Scottish Power as soon as the column is delivered to the contractor.

Our contractor have visited column 2 Hornby Street, Birkenhead and have repaired the Day Burning fault.


14 Oct 2011

Street lighting, Victoria Road, Council response

Request For Improved Lighting - Victoria Road, Tranmere

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above.

The above location has been added to the list of roads to be considered for improved lighting when funds become available.

Should you require any further assistance please contact the Streetscene Contact Centre on 0151 606 2004.

11 Oct 2011

Street conditions, Liversidge Road and Seaton Road

Bog-standard response to our requests regarding conditions on Liversidge Road. We had exactly the same reply re Seaton Road:


I am responding to your recent enquiry concerning the condition of the carriageway and footways in Liversidge Road Tranmere.All the carriageways within the Wirral are inspected by an accredited company who carried out a coarse visual inspection, as to the condition of carriageway. Along with a team of highway inspectors who walk all roads within the Wirral undertaking a network serviceability inspections.The data received from these inspections is used to form a structural maintenance programme of works that is presented to the council’s select committee for approval. I am sorry to inform you that Liversidge Road has not received sufficient ranking to be considered for inclusion as part of the current structural maintenance programme of works. However I will forward your comments to our Asset team and recommend that it is considered for possible inclusion in a future structural maintenance programme. In the mean time, arrangements will be made for a further safety inspection of the road you have highlighted to be carried out and any actionable repairs noted during this inspection will be action for repairs as per the code of practice for highway maintenance management.

Regards



Highway maintenance team


Streetscene

7 Oct 2011

Road safety Victoria Fields/Borough Road

An update from the Council on our most recent requests re road safety in Tranmere:

Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the junctions of Victoria Fields / Borough Road and Harland Road / Derby Road, Birkenhead.

Due to number of requests we receive for the introduction of waiting restrictions a priority has been given to resolving parking problems where a personal injury accident exists and parking is seen as the main contributory factor. This is in line with the Council's Corporate Priority of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents.

1) Victoria Fields / Borough Road - As part of the investigation, the Personal Injury Accident records for the current three-year study period have been examined. Our findings show that this location may benefit from the introduction of additional waiting restrictions. I have therefore included this location on a list of other sites that have been prioritised for further action.

2) Harland Road / Derby Road, Birkenhead - This location has been previously identified and was already on the list of sites that have been identified for further action.


21 Sep 2011

Green action ends nightmare on Price Street

Prompt action by the Green Party has helped to end a long running nightmare on Price Street. For eighteen months the derelict property shown below had become a magnet for fly-tipping. Blighted by foul smelling waste and infestations of rodents, neighbours’ complaints to Wirral Partnership Homes had fallen on deaf ears. However, they acted with extraordinary speed when we spoke to them.

Not only has the site been restored but the property in question is to be renovated and brought back into use.





Pat Cleary inspects the cleared site on Price Street, a big improvement on the same scene just a few days earlier

26 Aug 2011

Derelict Garages on Whitfield Street

The dilapidated garages on Whitfield Street are a persistent cause for concern in our resident surveys. We have complained about the lack of progress wrt this site and received the following response:

In response to your enquiry about the derelict garages in Whitfield Street, Tranmere I would like to inform you that I have visited the site and that the owner of the properties has now been written to and requested to make improvements to the appearance of the garages.  The letter requests improvement to be made within 28 days and following that time the situation will be reviewed.  For information, planning permission was granted on 12/01/2011 for the demolition of these garages and the construction of three townhouses.

24 Aug 2011

New bins for Derby Road

Just received this from the Council about our request for more bins on Derby Road. Good news!

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

I inspected the location yesterday and will recommend the installation of an additional 3 litter bins as follows;

1. Next to Bus stop nr junction Rose Place

2. Next to Bus stop outside 36 Derby Road

3. Next to bus stop opposite hospital entrance nr to junction of St Catherines Gardens.

The current stock of litter bins is being used to replace old  and damaged litter bins as part of the keep it local clean up campaign. Once this is completed an assessment of stock will be made and a final decision reached as to which locations will receive a new litter bin. Whilst all three bins cannot be guaranteed, I would expect at least two locations to be approved.


12 Aug 2011

Latest Activity Report

Welcome to another update on Green Party activities across Birkenhead and Tranmere.

It was dispiriting to see the widespread rioting affect our own area this week. Needless to say, such behaviour is totally unacceptable. However, it was good to see how quickly the local community came together and how swiftly some of the mindless minority have been brought to justice.

The whole sordid affair raises serious questions for our government. Worryingly, they have so far sought to deal with this issue purely in terms of crime and punishment. While punishing the guilty is hugely important, if we don’t seek to understand the underlying issues we are doomed to more of the same behavior.

The Pointless Party

My colleague, John Reardon, recently wrote a piece attacking Labour for its failure to support public sector workers.

Now the same can be said of the Labour party in Wirral. Just three months back in power and Labour councilors have voted to close care homes they previously campaigned to keep open; backtracked on plans to introduce 20mph zones in residential areas and, most shockingly of all, tried to prevent a modest pay award for the lowest paid workers on the Council. Incredibly, only the votes of Tory and Lib Dem Councillors secured a £250 increase in pay for a small number of Council employees. Labour’s embarrassment is laid bare in this report from the Birkenhead News. Suffice to say, when the Tories are doing a better job protecting the low-paid, you know Labour has completely lost it.

Streets update:

As usual, the Green Party continues to work hard on a daily basis to improve your quality of life. Some of the issues highlighted over the last month are outlined below with links to the full details on my web site:

·         For the latest on the (lack of) development along Church Road please click here

·         Thanks to Wirral Partnership Homes who finally got round to clearing the blocked drain on Holt Road/Kelvin Road

·         Technical Services has promised a cul-de-sac sign for Park Street which will hopefully put an end to this nonsense

·         There was a predictably disappointing response to my request for measures to address speeding traffic on Victoria Road and Harrowby Road

·         Wirral Council says it will install new lighting on Fountain Street/Whitford Road when “funds become available

·         Planning permission is being sought to use the land between Seymour Street and Thompson Street as a temporary car park. More details here.