Thursday, 30 June 2011

Dog owners events in South Liverpool

Free dog health checks and microchipping  are on offer at an event in Garston, and others across the City.

The Garston event, which runs from 10 to 4 on Sunday 10th takes place at the Sports Centre on Long Lane, L19.  You can take your dog along and talk to experts from the PDSA and other charities.

Microchipping a dog means that if it gets lost there is a greater chance of you being reunited with it!

Other dog owner roadshows are taking place in July.  There's one on the 9th at the Wavertree Sports Park and one on the 17th in Sefton Park for example.

If you can't transport your dog yourself, there is a service called Pets to Vets that can do it.  There's a small charge and the service has to be booked by phoning 07941259754.

Social Liberal Forum commentary

Thanks to Mary Reid of the Social Liberal Forum we have a list of blogs about our recent conference, including the interviews with Chris, Evan and Vince.

The link to the list is here

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Garston Fun Day

Saturday was another great Garston Fun Day (although the weather wasn't quite as good as last year)

The organisers, mainly the local churches, did a fantastic job and there were plenty of stalls with things to do for both children and us older lot.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Friends of Garston Park stall.  Our tombola and our bird box making was very popular.  The picture here shows a crowd round the stall while Mark (one of our committee members) helped a visitor make a bird box. (You can't actually see Mark. He is too hard at work!)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Weed spraying update

For some weeks now, my Lib Dem colleagues and I have been raising the extent of weeds across the City and the lack of weed spraying.  I have found weeds in some parts of the City that are literally shoulder high and foot high is not at all unusual. 

For some people this may not be a big issue.  But the volume of complaints individual councillors have received shows that it is bigger than you might expect.  Some complaints are around the fact that weeds make it difficult for some with limited mobility, or for people pushing a shopping trolley or a pram (try going too near a thick patch of growth and see what happeens to a small wheel).  Other people's complaints have been more about appearance.  People are proud of their City and don't like to see it looking bad (I have had remarks for example about feeling the need to apologise to visitors)

Anyway, research showed the programme this year had a start date of 1 July (although that didn't mean starting everywhere on the same date) and would be a single spray

We felt that wasn't enough and put some pressure on to, at the very least, get the start date moved forward.  People had remarked that parts of the City looked like a jungle

Opposition members don't make the decisions.  That is what the administration does.  However we can attempt to persuade which is what we did this time, with a series of motions to committees and so on.

Anyway, the good news is that the weed spraying programme has had its start date pulled foward to mid June (now in other words).  So we were successful. 

The bad news is that because it is a six week programme and the people doing the spraying have to move from one area to another, depending on where the starting place is there will still be some parts of the City that don't get their weeds sprayed until the end of July . 

At last night's environment committee we heard a lot about how the programme had started and the fact that there were quad bikes, but nothing about which particular areas the staff were doing first.  I am firing off a question about that this morning and will post if/when I get an answer as what most residents are actually asking is not when the programme kicks off in general but when they will get their area done.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Social Liberal Forum Conference

Yesterday was our first Social Liberal Forum Conference.  In a few short months we went from worrying about whether there would actually be enough people to attend, to having standing space only!

(You can find out more about the SLF at

Some great speakers (Will Hutton in particular was excellent - he struggled to get there and then spoke without any notes).  It was good also to be able to hear from, and question, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and Simon Hughes.

We made a point of not just inviting Lib Dem speakers and I personally was particularly interested to hear from Neal Lawson from Compass and from Halina Ward, an expert on the concept of sustainable development.

David Hall Matthews (chair of SLF) made the point that a few years ago the organisation was a smallish group and today there are around 1,500 members and more on a mailing list.  I loved the point about the fact that we are now big enough to hold an event which runs itself without the Chair doing all the work!

As well as chairing one of the sessions, I made a point of lobbying Vince Cable re a Liverpool issue and spoke to Chris Huhne about another.  (I took part in a bloggers interview with Chris Huhne which I'll write about separately)

Obviously there's going to be loads of follow up needed within the party as well as outside it but really very well done indeed to the team who did the legwork.

I took this picture (below) to demonstrate how significant the event became

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Doorknocking again

Hmm.  A rather unflattering photo of part of the team starting a doorknocking session in L25.

20 mph roads

Liverpool City Council is going to consult about which residential streets could become 20mph roads.  This could see quite a few extra places getting the slower speed limit.  The change could make quite a difference to people's safety.  If you are hit by a car at 20mph you are likely to live.  If the speed is 40 you are likely to die.

Councils up and down the country are now able to do this a lot faster and with more ease than they could previously.  While some places (Portsmouth is the example that is quoted most often) have already made this sort of change, there used to be loads of red tape.  Last week though Norman Baker, who is one of the Lib Dems in government, announced some changes which meant that a lot of that red tape, and some of the expense, disappeared.

What he said was, ‘if councils and local communities want to put in place 20 mph schemes on residential roads or use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools, then they should be able to do so without spending time and money satisfying unnecessary Whitehall diktats.’

The key changes in the process are:

Many of the current restrictions and obstacles to rolling out 20mph zones are being removed so that residential roads can be implemented with cheaper and less signs.

Importantly councils will no longer require approval from Government to introduce 20 mph zones.

Which brings me to the issue at hand.  Liverpool hasn't been explicit yet about how it will consult and how it will make the decisions, but I am keen to get some information in to help people in roads that know they would support the change.
So, if you live in a road where you think this would be a good idea, please drop me an e mail to  Obviously I need to know your name and contact details and the road you are talking about .
In Cressington some of you will already have had notes from me about this but there's no reason to wait if you want to get in touch.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

New planters

This is one of the planters placed in part of our area this month.  These were paid for out of the neighbourhood fund, a small pot of money that ward councillors decide how to spend.  The money was committed before May and it's great to see the flowers here now.  These were one of the items decided on by myself, Richard Oglethorpe and Peter Millea (who sadly is not a Councillor any more)  I popped into the shop on Garston Old Road the other day and the shopkeeper told me that people were really made up at the difference it made to have flowers there.  (He also promised to water the plants although after this weekend's weather that won't be needed for a while!)

These two have their birthday this week.

They are nine but they seem to think they are still kittens!

The week just gone

This has been a week of balancing my work at Edge Hill with being a Councillor.  At this point in the academic year there are all sorts of deadlines to do with marking and degree classifications so the week started off with me having to meet one of them.  It's always a big relief when that is done as the students won't get their marks or their degrees if we don't get things sorted in time.  Luckily for me I've got some great students and some of the marks are very impressive indeed.

That done however, I had some important Cressington ward and Lib Dem things to do.  I've blogged about the Fairness Commission already which met on Wednesday. As soon as there is more to say about evidence collecting and other opportunities, I'll post it.

This week saw three important meetings for Cressington (meetings with officers not committee meetings). At the first Richard Oglethorpe and I were looking at the maps the Council had drawn up of all the plots of land the Council thought could be used for housing.  Some of these were bizarre and simply either wouldn't work or would involve getting rid of some nice bits of open space that are valued by local people.  Others look doable if there is local support (and we asked for some consultation).

We then discussed, in a separate meeting, the future of Garston Library and Garston Leisure Centre. The Council has been consulting about the future of Libraries and we were worried about what might come out of that for our area.  There won't be any clear recommendations or decisions for a while but I think we managed to highlight the importance of Garston Library and we understand that the useage figures etc prove that it's a valueable resource.

I did a street surgery in the middle of the week, and another on Saturday morning.  These are a good way of talking to people and spotting issues.  Got rained on both times though.

Friday was Shadow Cabinet.  We meet at 8 am (which means I have to be there quite a bit earlier) to do some thinking about the next fortnight's activities on the Council.  It was good to see that Tina Gould's motion on electronic cigarettes had some press coverage and that there's interest in Barbara Mace's work on local history.

Saturday saw good news in the press for one of my colleagues - Richard Kemp - who got a CBE. I had been tipped off about this but had to keep it quiet till it was announced. 

Saturday for me also saw me doing the Councillors' surgery at the Library and then kicking off a petition on a particular local issue (which I'll blog about separately rather than cover in a throw away line)

And today.. well I've been catching up on my work for Edge Hill University, catching up on casework letters and e mails and attempting some research for this week's events and meetings.

Oh, we also had a not very helpful meeting about the plans for Stalbridge Dock.  The deadline for anyone wanting to send in a comment on the Merseyside wide plan is 20th June.  One of my previous posts has the link to the website.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I realise it can look a bit odd going round photographing dumping and litter, but here's a picture of some dumping I noticed in Cressington ward yesterday.  I've reported it for clearance and the Council say it should be gone by the 15th ( suspect it will have grown by then)

Fairness Commission


Here's the link to the Islington report mentioned below.

Went to the second meeting of the Fairness Commission today.  As luck would have it today was also the publication date for the report of the Islington Fairness Commission, and one of the members of that came up to share some of his experiences and advice.

I'll post a link to the Islington report when I can.

What I found really good about the Islington work is that the report's recommendations were easy to understand and were actually directed to somebody or to a particular organisation.  These included Islington Council itself, the local chamber of commerce, the Mayor of London etc.  That meant that it wasn't a lot of platitudes but some thought out suggestions about practical things that could be done to make Islington fairer.

Obviously a lot depends on whether the recommendations get acted on, but I got the sense that those involved didn't see the report as the end of their work, merely a stepping stone to getting some action.

The first two meetings of the Liverpool Fairness Commission have been scene setting rather than evidence gathering but we seem to be about to move into more evidence gathering mode.

I'll post some links to the Liverpool material when I can.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Doorknocking again

Another good evening's doorknocking in South Liverpool.  This is some of the team we had out working for the Liverpool Lib Dems tonight.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Social Liberal Forum Conference

Our first ever conference takes place this month (in a fortnight in fact).  Called Liberty, Equality and the State we are aiming to look at  policy and do some thinking about some pretty fundamental issues.

It is a Lib Dem led conference and it does include Simon Hughes, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne but we also have speakers from other parties and none. 

The event takes place down in London (although we hope in future to have satellite events for people who can't travel quite so far). 

I agreed to chair a session.  In fact I am doing the kick off plenary which features Simon Hughes, Will Hutton, Neal Lawson and James Graham.  Its a sort of scene setting/agenda setting bit which should lead in well to the workshops.

Quite a few of the tickets have already gone, but if you want to find out more about the conference, the SLF website is here

Woodhey/Bayfield alleygate update

People in the bit off Beechwood Road affected by the ongoing alleygate saga should already be aware but in case there is someone who isn't, here's the update.

All the legal stuff was done when a check showed that the wall we wanted to fix the gate onto wasn't safe enough.

The gate could be fixed sort of freestanding, but then people could simply step around the gate (there would be enough of a gap)

The answer was to pay for a post of some sort to attach the gate to and make sure there isn't a gap.

The Council said it didn't have the money for this.

However there is a small pot of money that the councillors can allocate for projects and I was happy to agree that this should be one of the things we spend on.  Credit needs to go to my colleague Richard Oglethorpe who got the costings and pushed hard to get this done.

Garston Park Fun Day Coming up - and help needed

Saturday 25th June is the Garston Park Fun Day. The weather was fantastic last time and it was great to see so many people there so fingers crossed for another great day.

The Friends of Garston Park will be there again.  This time we're also looking to have a tombola on our stall .  We've got some prizes but we could do with some more.  If you've got something you can give away to help with this, please either drop it off at 80 Long Lane or drop me an e mail so we can sort out about collecting it.  You can contact me at