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.