Thursday, 27 May 2010

ID Cards going

Great news today. The Coalition Government confirmed that the ID cards scheme will be scapped within the next 100 days.

Labour pushed and pushed ID cards. The rationale changed over and over again. And then they tried to get take up voluntarily in pilot areas (including Liverpool and the North West). They spent huge amounts on marketing and planning.

Anyway, it's great to see a manifesto promise being put into effect almost immediately. ID cards, and the associated database, would have been part of a change of the relationship between the citizen and the state - so thank goodness the scheme's been stopped in its tracks.

Ward walkabout - locations

As Cressington Councillors we do regular walkabouts (or driveabouts) with Council staff. The idea is to look at particular issues - maybe a fly tipping site or somewhere needing attention.

We've got one of these coming up next month.

We've already got quite a list of sites but if there is anywhere you particularly think we should include (and it's in Cressington) please e mail me at

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Councillors Community Fund - opens next week

The Councillors Community Initiative Fund is a scheme through which groups can apply for small grants for projects in wards across the City. The idea is that the Councillors in the ward decide how much to put into the pot (from an amount allocated to be spent in their wards) and then groups can apply.

In Cressington we have put £3,000 aside and hope to see some good applications for the cash.

You don't apply directly to us. Instead if you are interested you need to contact the City Council who can then send you the criteria and details of how to apply.

Once the applications are in, the Councillors decide which to fund - either fully or partially.

The scheme for this year is being launched on 1st June.

If you want me to get the details sent to you when they are available, please e mail me at with your e mail details and I will pass them on to make sure you are contacted.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Stamfordham Drive trees

I blogged a while ago about how we had spent a small amount of money from the sum that ward councillors can allocate on checking whether trees could be planted on Stamfordham Drive. The results were positive and we then asked Council staff to consult people living on S Drive about whether or not they wanted trees planted.

The survey forms have gone out now and a few have already come back. The deadline is this coming Friday (28th). If you live on S Drive and have had a form do please send it back as it's important we have feedback from as many people as possible.

We started this because of an initial demand for some trees. S Drive can look a bit bleak. But whatever you think, do let us know.

If your letter and form have gone astray, please let me know by e mailing (I'll need to know what number you live at).

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lib Dem conference decisions

I wasn't able to get to the Lib Dem special conference on Sunday (the one giving members a chance to have their say on the co alition deal)

The fact that the deal was endorsed by a huge majority was reported widely, but I am not sure that the amendments (which were all passed) got the same level of coverage.

Here is a link to the text of the various amendments - which were written to reinforce key Lib Dem values and policies.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Motion to next council meeting

I mentioned earlier that I had written a motion about Home Educated children and the Schools Parliament. The agenda has just been published. I've pasted the text below.

Whether the motion gets debated depends on the party whips. Only five get picked for actual debate and there are more than five. It's possible though that instead of being debated it'll be agreed across parties in advance. And even if this doesn't happen the Executive Member for the subject, which I understand will be Councillor Jane Corbett, will need to report back on it. So hopefully something will happen whichever route the motion actually takes through the system.

Text of motion starts:

Council recognises the excellent work done by the Liverpool Schools Parliament. Council believes that the Parliament gives a chance for children from across Liverpool to take part in, and experience, democratic discussion and decision making.

Some children in the City are however excluded from any possibility of taking part in the Schools Parliament. These are children who are being educated at home.

Council believes that a number of representatives of “home educated children” ought to be allowed to take part in Schools Parliament debates and events.

Council understands that there is a network of parents involved in home education in the City and that through them it would be possible to organise a selection process for representatives for the Upper and Lower Houses of the Parliament.

Council therefore requests the relevant Executive Member to ensure arrangements are made to recruit home educated children to the Parliament in time for the next academic year.

Council also requests the relevant select committee to review this arrangement after one year of operation.

Why I stood for Lib Dem Leader

Well I lost the election for Leader of the Lib Dems on Liverpool City Council. It was pretty close but in the end Warren Bradley got 20 votes and I got 17. It was a reasonably good tempered event last night with speeches and questions and I don't at all regret doing it (although walking past the news stand with its poster saying Lib Dem Leadership fight made me feel a tad apprehensive).

I decided to challenge not because I have it in for the Leader but because there are some things I thought we, as Lib Dems, needed to change. I am a Lib Dem through and through. We exist to create a fair, free and open society in which we balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. (That's an extract from our constitution) However I do sometimes feel that we don't communicate what we are doing in terms of those values. And I have felt that sometimes we are a bit deaf to some of the messages people are trying to get across to us. That's not because we don't want to listen but it's easy to get so sucked in to running things, dealing with problems, sorting out campaign mechanics etc that you just don't hear that well.

I suspect the opposition period will be good for us in the sense that we can do some thinking and building and changing.

If we do, I firmly believe that the Liberal Democrats, with our bedrock beliefs and our commitment to Liverpool, will again be the party of choice in the City. I am not sure how long that will take though. It's clear to me that the Labour administration will enjoy both a honeymoon period and the impression of "freshness and change" and I suspect that nitpicking attacks in the first few months will simply backfire.

I have to say that doing a "Leadership Challenge" is a strange experience. I have never had someone quite so eager to take a photo of me walking into a building!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

After much soulsearching...

.. I have decided to stand for the Leadership of the Lib Dem Group on Liverpool City Council.

Nominations closed earlier today and our group meeting, at which we all vote, is tomorrow.

I'm not a great fan of promoting internal party election contests in the media, but given that I have now had a call from the Echo I guess the news has been passed on by someone.

Citizenship Ceremony

Today I spoke at one of the Citizenship Ceremonies in Liverpool. There were two guest speakers this time so I was a sort of double act with the deputy Lord Lieutenant and his wife.

I felt very underdressed as his uniform includes a sword and boots with spurs on them. He also had some impressive looking medals.

The ceremony was again a brilliant event. There were 14 new adult citizens plus some children. A really happy day for them and their families. Lots of smiling and picture taking.

I don't use a written speech for these as I like to adapt what I say. I do however have a contents list in my head. Today however, as I listened to the first speaker use all my material I had to do a quick mental rewrite! Luckily it went OK.

I am one of a few Liverpool Councillors who speak at these ceremonies. I really can recommend it, so for those other Councillors who read this blog (and I know there are some) do please think about doing it and get in touch with the Registrars (via me if you prefer) to arrange to sit in one a ceremony.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Litter picking in Garston

Today I joined a team from three Garston Churches, plus New Heys school and the Friends of Garston Park for a litter picking session in part of our area.

The annual event is organised by people from Long Lane Church, All Souls and the Bridge Chapel. It started at Long Lane with breakfast. We then did some litter picking along Long Lane and into Garston Park before teams made their way up towards Bridge Chapel (with lunch as a reward)

I couldn't stay the whole time but it was great to take part and meet some of the people. And really well done to the Churches for taking the initiative.

I took a few photographs - so here are a couple which actually don't do justice to the numbers taking part.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Jack Allen's last stand?

Jack Allen, the private company which wants to put a waste plant on Garston Docks, is trying again to get permission to build this monstrosity.

The City Council's planning Committee, which at the time had a Lib Dem majority, turned the plans down.

But the national law says that Jack Allen had the right to appeal. So they did.

Now there is a public enquiry which starts on 15th June at Garston Urban Village Hall in Banks Road. (A central Liverpool venue was originally booked in case a local one couldn't be found. This location is good news as it makes it a lot easier for residents to be there) The start time is 10 am.

In Cressington ward, all three of the local councillors went to the planning committee and spoke out against these plans. We have all sent in more objections and plan to be there at the public enquiry.

We believe that this plan threatens to stop the regeneration of Garston in its tracks. How would Jack Allen bosses like it if they lived on Cressington Heath and someone else tried to build that thing right by their fence?

Any member of the public is entitled to go to the Public Enquiry and information letters are being sent out now to residents who originally sent in objections.

I'll post updates on the situation here. You might also want to have a look at which is a website set up by local people when the first planning application was being made.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

I have to disagree....

.. with my colleagues.

Today's Daily Post carries a story about an e mail sent by some members of the Liverpool Lib Dems to Nick Clegg about negotiations with other parties.

The e mail comes from a meeting of Executive Board members - a meeting I couldn't get to.

The thrust of the story is that we are asking Nick Clegg not to deal with the Conservatives because of the possible electoral consequences for council seats in Liverpool.

Now I hold no brief for the Tories or Labour. I dislike both. They both have policies which in my view are extremely harmful. Labour for example has persisted with the appalling ID card scheme. And the Conservatives seem to want to make cuts before the economy has had a chance to recover (putting us at potential risk of a deeper recession)

However I believe that what Nick Clegg and his team decide to do should be based on what is best for the country and what delivers the best deal in terms of our Lib Dem policies. This isn't about whether people like Paula Keaveney are put at electoral risk, it's about getting as many of our core policies and principles into Government while preventing as many wrong headed policies as possible from being implemented.

Our four key points in our manifesto for the General Election were

* fair taxes (including raising the tax threshold to £10,000)
* job creation through a Greener economy (including breaking up banks and investing in green growth)
* smaller class sizes in schools and a Pupil Premium for schools where pupils are struggling
* cleaner politics including fair votes, a freedom bill and the right to sack corrupt MPs

Now we won't get all of that. But we can get some. And that is what Nick and his team should be and are negotiating on.

And before anyone asks - no that doesn't mean I am supporting a deal with the Conservatives. It simply means that given the huge issues at stake I think electoral considerations should not be the basis on which a decision is made.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Making the Schools Parliament bigger

Liverpool has a great Schools Parliament which involves representatives from schools councils getting together at least three times a year to discuss things of importance to them. They have the power to pass motions which are then treated as council motions. And they have a budget which they can use on causes they support.

It's a great way of young people getting involved in democracy.

By definition though it excludes some school age children as those being educated at home cannot be a representative of a school.

I think it should be possible for home educated children to get together to select representatives and that they would both bring something new to the meetings and gain a lot themselves.

I had previously raised this with an Executive Member on the Council but to pursue this further I have today sent in a motion calling for a scheme to be established for the start of the next school year.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The result

Well I lost in Garston and Halewood.

It's sort of a new seat so it's hard to make a hard and fast statement about the change in votes from last time. But it is true to say that Labour now has a large majority here.

I came second.

I loved taking part in the campaign. I loved meeting all the different people and talking about a range of interesting issues (I predict that next time e mail queries on policy issues will be even more significant)

I would have loved to be MP for Garston and Halewood and I haven't given up yet (although I am about to have a bit of a rest)

Sadly my colleague Colin failed to win Wavertree. He put his heart and soul into the campaign and it was heartbreaking to see him lose. Colin would have made an excellent MP and, I hope, still will in future.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Blogging interruption

I may not find time to blog again between now and the election. So in case I don't I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who have been in touch by phone, letter or e mail, or who I have seen when out campaigning, who have said they are supporting me. It is really heartening to see such an interest in politics, particularly at a time when commentators were all saying no one cared.

Being selected as a Parliamentary Candidate is a huge honour - particularly for me being selected for a third time in the constituency. I love it, but am also very aware of the serious responsibility I have.

If I win I really hope I can make all my constituents, even those who voted another way, proud.

Can you do two jobs at once?

For part of this campaign I have had to combine my work as a University Lecturer with being a Parliamentary Candidate and Councillor. These are all demanding roles and while multi tasking might be possible at times it's really illustrated how difficult it is to do two important things at once.

That's why, if I am elected to Parliament, I will be standing down from Liverpool City Council.

I won't be doing this immediately as there are quite a few things I am half way through.

But I will be doing it. And if I am elected to Parliament I will stop taking any Council allowances from the moment I win.

I am well aware that there are people who think you can do both jobs. In fact at one time Ian Paisley appeared to be an MP, and MEP, a local councillor and have another representative job (forget which). Not only does this mean you can't fully concentrate on any of them, it means there is a real blurring between roles.

Being an MP is important as is being a Councillor and I personally think it's wrong to try to do both.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Policy updates

I said a while ago that I'd publish some material on various aspects of Liberal Democrat policies.

I have done so - although these short articles are actually on another website here.

Other Lib Dems write on this section too, so you may need to scroll down a bit.