Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Holmefield Road Tesco licensing decision

People living in the Holmefield Road/Aigburth Hall Avenue area will know about the new Tesco that is going to open where the Spar used to be on Holmefield Road.

Today the licensing committee was making the decision about the alcohol license - the issues being whether to grant one and whether to make any changes to what Tesco was asking for.

I went along to speak on behalf of some local residents on Aigburth Hall Avenue who were worried that the return of alcohol sales at that location would mean the return of the drink related asb they had endured when Spar was selling drink. Councillor Tina Gould was there to represent some Mossley Hill residents and we were joined by a lady who lives very near the shop.

The committee decided to grant the licence - which means alcohol sales being allowed during the same hours the shop is open (7 am to 10 pm Monday to Sunday).  Tesco did make some commitments, among which was a phone number residents could use to get hold of the duty manager straight away if there is trouble.  I also asked them if they would put an extra litter bin out.

The information from the meeting, including anonymised copies of the objections sent in, is on the Council website at this link.  The minutes, which will include the reason for the decision, should also appear shortly

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Speeding traffic petition

I blogged earlier about a call for council action on speeding traffic on Booker Avenue and Aigburth Hall Avenue.

To support the call I've started a petition which has already been given out on both roads and some of those nearby.

You can sign the petition on line as well.  Its on the website ( at this link

Is your green waste being collected?

I bumped into a lady the other day who said that the green waste bins in her street hadn't been emptied the last few times they were meant to.  I complained about this to the Council.  The bins are due to be emptied again today so I have asked one of the Council's environmental officers to check whether or not they are.

I've written to the residents on that particular street, but it seems that the problem may be a wider one and that the lorries are just not turning up.

I told the Council that this is a wider problem, but ideally to make sure it's dealt with examples are needed.

If your green waste bin hasn't been collected for a few times in a row, can you let me know please?  I don't necessarily need names but I do need street names.  You can e mail me at

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dealing with litter from or near takeaways

As a ward councillor one of the most common things people raise with me is litter.  And one of the most common places where this is a problem is near takeaways (also betting shops and ATM machines in some cases).   In Cressington ward the places where this is most obviously a problem are the parades where Mather Avenue and Heath Road meet, the Cenotaph area, and parts of Aigburth Road.  (I say most obviously.. but there are others)

Now not everybody chucks their drinks can and takeaway wrapper on the pavement.  But enough people do for it to become a problem.  And the sad fact is that the more takeaways we have, the more likely this is to happen (even though takeaway food shop owners are not the ones doing the dumping).

The City Council has made it clear that there isn't loads of extra money for street cleansing.  Quite the reverse in fact. So if we want our streets to be clean that means we need to use extra approaches (which can range from education, to campaigns, to peer pressure to legal action)

The Government (actually the Labour Government in part) gave Councils the power to do more to keep streets clean.  In fact Councils have the power to use something called a street litter control notice to get takeaway outlets (or betting shops or ATM owners if these are the source of the problem) to take responsibility for any litter outside that is obviously linked to their shop. 

It's a power that some Councils use.  Manchester and Leicester are two examples. 

But Liverpool is reluctant to do this.

At full Council last night I tried again (this has been a bit of an ongoing effort on my part) to get the administration to think again.  Surely, I thought, if money for street cleansing is tight then we need to be making more effort to look at what else can be done to keep people's street clean.

( I will say now that the Lib Dems did not use this power when in administration.  I wish we had.  I think we were wrong not to.  But this itself makes no difference to whether its right to do it now)

Sadly my proposals weren't supported by the Labour party.  I find it hard to understand why as frankly running a few pilot schemes in different parts of the City to do this wouldn't hurt and might actually make a big difference in some of our residential areas.

The motion I proposed is pasted below.

"Take aways and litter – Pride in Our (shopping) Parades and Street Litter control notices by Councillor Paula Keaveney

Council recognizes that litter is frequently caused by the sale of food and drink on the go and that research by the Tidy Britain Group (2011) has identified that nearly 60 percent of the litter on Liverpool streets can be attributed to this cause.

Council recognizes that very often opposition to new take away food outlets is based on a likely increase in litter and that experience of those living near take away outlets bears out the fact that this happens.

Council acknowledges that there are take away operators who take responsibility for their surroundings and who take measures to provide litter bins etc for their customers.

Nevertheless a quick tour around any part of the City near a take away would show that litter is still a problem.

Council believes that a two pronged approach is needed to deal with the problem of litter generated by the sale of food and drink on the go and that it is important to focus on residential neighbourhood areas as well as parts of the City Centre. This approach should encompass both proactive campaigning involving key stakeholders and the use of enforcement powers.

Council is aware that local authorities have the power ( under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 )to issue street litter control notices to compel take aways and other outlets which can generate litter to remove litter that originates from their premises and is within a certain distance of it. Council believes that there are cases in which the use of this legislation would make a huge difference to the environment of people living or working near take away outlets.

Council is therefore surprised that, despite a working group set up in 2010 to look at this, the authority is not using these powers or publicizing the fact that these powers exist.

Council is aware of other authorities that either use, or highlight, these powers. These include Leicester, Manchester and Chichester.

Council believes that in an environment where money for services such as street cleansing is tight, every possible avenue should be explored to keep our streets clean

Council requests the Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change to give consideration for -

A Pride in our (shopping) Parades campaign to be launched in pilot areas around the city to bring together shopkeepers and residents to see what can be done voluntarily to reduce the litter emanating from take away outlets and other retail outlets. These areas should be selected on the recommendation of ward councillors and should be spread around Liverpool fairly.

The administration to begin to use street litter control notices and to consult ward councillors on locations in which this would make a difference to litter control

The publication of these existing legal powers on the City Council’s website so that residents can see what options are open to authorities, should they choose to take them.

School uniform grants petition

I've just been alerted to a new e petition on the Government e petition site on school uniform grants.  It basically makes the point that local authorities that have been doing this should carry on doing so.

The link is below

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bus progress?

I've got a meeting at Arriva on Monday next to follow up on the Better Bus petition re the 80 and 80a services.  I'll be meeting managers at the depot at Speke. 

Obviously the main reason for the meeting is to try to get improvements on those two services but if you have points about other Arriva buses in South Liverpool let me have them and I will try to push those points too.  Personally I am still pursuing the whole issue about the drivers never having any change.

You can either post comments here or e mail me directly at

New restaurant for St Mary's Road is a step nearer

The building at the bottom of St Mary's Road, that was a restaurant but then closed, is shortly to open again as an Indian restaurant. 

The Spice Brasserie is applying for a licence from 12 noon to just after midnight Monday to Sunday.

It'll be great to see that building in use again and for someone like me very keen on Indian food, to have an indian restaurant in the village.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Simon Hughes MP speech on benefits.

Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats nationally, was in Liverpool yesterday (14th Jan).  Here's the information about part of his speech to members and supporters (which you may have seen covered in the Times or the Guardian yesterday)

The future tense use is because this was written ahead of the event.  It is however an accurate account of what he said.

Speaking at the Annual Dinner of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats on Saturday 14th January Rt Hon. Simon Hughes MP, Member of Parliament for Bermondsey and Old Southwark and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats will call on  the government to bring forward proposals to protect children and families from some of the most damaging consequences of the benefits cap.

Simon Hughes will highlight some of the perverse incentives the cap as currently planned introduces such as increasing the money available in benefits if families break up, and the disproportionate affect it will have on children.

Speaking in Liverpool Simon Hughes will say:

“There are many people in this country and this city who still have difficulty with our decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives. But I am convinced we are doing the right thing.

People in Liverpool remember well having a government that cared little about communities. The response of the Tories to unemployment and social depravation was ‘on your bike’ and the solution of the Labour party was to bankrupt this city.

The very reason why Liberal Democrats are in government is to stop this happening again.

This is why, when government proposals to cut the housing benefit bill risked making families homeless, I and other Liberal Democrat colleagues intervened, and the plans were modified.

This is why today we cannot simply stand by and watch the benefits system become an instrument for breaking up families, breaking up communities or punishing children for the poor decisions of their parents.

Let me be clear. Liberal Democrats have no problem with the policy of making work pay - and we do not believe that the support which the state offers can or should be limitless.

It is not progressive or humane to keep people locked into a benefits trap, unable to work and unable to improve their lives - because they will become poorer if they do so.

And it cannot be fair for people to be able to receive an income from the state much higher for staying out of work than others receive for working.

But changes to our welfare system are complex and difficult - which is why parliament must get them right. They deal directly with the day to day lives of disabled, poor and vulnerable people, people who need help just to survive. Any changes must be done with the greatest care and not driven with how they play in populist headlines. This is why the government needs to do further work to prevent harmful consequences of the benefits cap if the changes are to be accepted by Parliament.

As it currently stands the benefits cap will break up families, as it will provide a financial incentive to be apart. Under the plans as they stand a couple with four children will see their benefits limited to £500 but if the parents live separately they will be able to claim up to £1000. How will that support families?

If imposed without any mitigation, larger families will be forced to move not just down the street to a smaller property in a cheaper part of town, but across the country to places already suffering high rates of worklessness. Will this help people back into work?

The Children’s Society tell us that 70,000 adults will be affected by the cap and 210,000 children - with 80,000 of them being made homeless. The effect on large families of the present plans means that it will be today’s children who will disproportionately bear the burden of this policy. Is this really how we want to treat now the adults of the next generation?

The government and parliament must find another way.

The legislation as it stands does not require a hard and fast rule. The new system allows for the government to propose exceptions in order to stop many potentially damaging consequences of this policy.

Today I call on the government to make clear, at the latest before the Welfare Reform Bill comes back to the House of Commons, what it intends to do to prevent the planned benefits changes from breaking up families and damaging the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of children.

For families in Bermondsey and Bootle, Bradford and Bristol - and rural Berwick, Brecon and the Scottish Borders too - there must be a better way.”

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Cressington ward e bulletins

My colleague Richard and I do e mail bulletins with bits of local news and information in them which we send out every month.

It is mainly about stuff in Cressington ward but we do include other material too as obviously people don't suddenly lose interest in things once they get to a local authority ward boundary.

If you want to subscribe to these, there's a form here.

City Council Consultation Panel

The City  Council is setting up a panel of people it can consult about various services.

I am told the first consultation will be about how it communicates!

If you are interested in taking part, there is a link to a form at this address

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Garston Waste site consultation

A reminder that there is still time to go on line and comment on the decision to designate Stalbridge Dock as the official "sub regional" waste site for Liverpool.  The deadline is 20th January and you can comment on line at this link

Friday, 6 January 2012

Council's library proposals - special meeting

Update: This meeting is confirmed now and you should be able to find the agenda material on the committees section of the Council website.

There's likely to be a "select committee" to look at what the Council wants to do re libraries in Liverpool.  This follows the Cabinet meeting this morning which agreed the plans (including potential closure of Woolton and other libraries and changes to opening hours)

The Liberal Democrats have "called in" the plans.  A "call in" is basically a device which asks the administration to think again.  It means there has to be a meeting so that a different group of Councillors can look at the plans and make points.  The meeting can then agree with what the Cabinet wants to do or suggest changes.  At the end of the day though the decision is with the Cabinet so the Cabinet can just say, "we are sticking with what we said".

The Liberal Democrats have called this in for a number of reasons.  We are worried about the closure plans. Frankly we don't think that there is evidence of real attempts to save the threatened libraries and some of the data about useage demonstrates that these are used more than some that are being kept.

We are also worried about opening hours.  The suggestion at most libraries involves changing opening hours.  We understand that this may be needed.  However what's proposed means that if you have a job you are being squeezed into having to go along on a Saturday.  What's wrong with some opening times that take in evenings?  People with jobs are not all rich and may depend on libraries for books, reading space and internet access.

There was a consultation on the future of libraries a while ago.  I took part and made several points about Garston and Allerton libraries, which I know well.  As part of this process, Woolton campaigners collected an impressive petition.  For some reason this was reported to the Cabinet as a petition about one of the threatened libraries and Woolton wasn't even mentioned! So much for transparency.

Speeding traffic on Booker and Aigburth Hall

We've had quite a few complaints about traffic on Aigburth Hall Avenue and on Booker Avenue.  Quite a few things have already been tried to deal with this but the problem persists and it can be like taking your life in your hands to get across the road sometimes.

Along with colleagues from Church ward and Mossley Hill, Richard and I have written a motion for the City Council.  It may not get discussed but if it doesnt it still has to get replied to and hopefully acted on.

Here's the text. The actual agenda doesn't get published until Tuesday next week.

Motion by Cllrs Paula Keaveney, Richard Oglethorpe, Richard Kemp, Erica Kemp, Tina Gould, Tom Morrison

Council notes the ongoing problems caused by speeding traffic on Booker Avenue and Aigburth Hall Avenue.  Pedestrians, many of them elderly, report difficulties in crossing the road and families with children attending the local primary school are often worried at the risks the children are taking.

The speed of the traffic is often unaffected by signs near the school.

Actions to deal with the problem have already been taken, including checking the phasing of the nearby traffic lights and a site visit including police and Council representatives

However residents report that difficulties remain and in fact have increased.

Council therefore requests for the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport consider installing a speed monitoring device to remind motorists of the speed at which they are going.  Council also calls on the Cabinet Member for other measures to be considered including the installation of a zebra crossing where appropriate.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Garston Old Road off licence update (Jan 2012)

I blogged earlier about how I would be going to the magistrates court on 17th January to represent the community at a hearing about a possible off licence.

The Council had said no to the application (for the corner of Garston Old Road and Stormont Road) but there is a right of appeal and so when that happened the whole thing got passed to the magistrates.

There has been a rather sad development.  The gentleman making the application has passed away.  This means there is no appeal and so no off licence.  (There could only be an off licence in future if someone else started the appliction process from scratch)

Obviously this is a rather unfortunate way for a development to happen, but I expect people will want to be kept informed so I have written to neighbours today to let them know the latest.

Tescos on Holmefield Road - licensing update

We've got the date now for the licensing committee that'll decide on the licence for the planned Tescos on Holmefield Road .

The date is 25th January at 10 am.  The paperwork isn't available on-line yet but when it is you should be able to find it here.

Anyone who has sent in an objection or representation by the deadline should get a letter or e mail from the Council about the hearing.

I put in an objection to the alcohol sales based on evidence of problems caused on Aigburth Hall Avenue and nearby by alcohol sales at the location previously, so I will be at the committee to represent people.

Of course the Tesco management may well have specific ideas about how they can prevent problems and the licensing committee is an opportunity for them to explain this and for there to be conditions if necessary. Sometimes applications get turned down, sometimes they get approved but sometimes they get approved with changes.

Licensing meetings like this are regulated by quite a bit of law, in fact it can feel very legal, so not everybody can or wants to come and make their point.  If you have comments you want to pass on for me to mention however, please feel free to e mail me at

Getting the flytipping cleared

This is one of several pictures of flytipping and litter along the side of the railway line.  I checked out some sites the other day including across from Hartington Road and Chapel Place.  Anyway Network Rail is responsible for this particular patch so I've asked for it to be cleared. 

Lighting up the station footpath.

Some time ago I, and colleagues, started a petition about the two footpaths that run to Cressington Station.  They were dark and overgrown and one was particularly difficult to walk on.

We found some money to get some tarmac laid, which helped a bit, but the problems of light remained.

Anyway, the petition, and some lobbying led to Network Rail agreeing to deal with the lighting problem on the path that runs from Eastern Drive to the Station (they cut back some growth as well).

The lights are now in and they're working to get an electricity supply to them.

Big thanks to people who signed the petition.  Also credit needs to go to former Lib Dem Councillor Peter Millea who helped make some of the contacts with Network Rail.

I've written to people in the areas where we carried out the petition to update them.  Obviously there are still issues to do with the other footpath but its good to see some action on the first one.

(picture kindly provided by Network Rail)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Council's library proposals

Just published, ahead of a meeting on Friday morning, is the Liverpool City Council's cabinet proposals for the future of the libraries in the City.

Woolton library is under threat of closure if an organisation to take it over can't be found.

The proposed changes at other South Liverpool libraries are less drastic - Garston for example would open five days a week although for shorter hours.

Given the short period between the publication on line and the actual cabinet meeting, I wonder how many people will notice this decision coming up.

I also wonder why the suggested opening hours actually limit quite severely the ability of people with jobs to use the libraries.

Anyway, like many councillors I'll be asking constituents what they think about the proposals as they affect the libraries they use.

There is a link to the cabinet papers, which includes the library report here.  You need to scroll down a little and then click on another link.