Thursday, 28 October 2010

Latest Application for a Phone Mast

An application seeking planning permission to erect a mobile phone mast on Slaidburn Crescent has been submitted to Sefton Council.

The mast design is known as monopole which is similar to a lamp post, only not as slim, and about 5 metres taller. It is not like the monstrous box-type mast looming over Seacroft Crescent which, many years ago now, we succeeded in getting the Planning Committee to refuse. But that democratic local decision was subsequently overturned by an independent Planning Inspector on appeal, as sadly very frequently happens, and whose decision is final. So the eyesore was built to the distress of residents. Mobile phone companies have the automatic right to appeal against local planning committee decisions.

The monopole mast would be on the pavement on the first right hand bend that you meet after turning into Slaidburn Crescent from Fylde Road. It would be approx. 100 metres from the nearest house on Coyford Drive and visibly shielded by the intervening commercial buildings on the estate.

Mobile phone companies, like other utilities such as gas and electricity, have the automatic right to use pavements for equipment without any payment. All they need is planning permission. Councils cannot stop them using the pavement itself. That’s a national law.

We have demanded, and made sure, that this planning application is properly considered by the full Sefton Council planning committee of councillors because of concerns expressed by some local residents.

The meeting takes place on 10 November at Southport Town Hall at 6.30pm.
To object, write to Sefton Council’s Planning Department, Magdalen House, 30 Trinity Road, Bootle L20
3NJ or use the on-line comments form at The deadline for receipt of objections is 10am Friday 5 November. A petition from a minimum of 25 residents and signed/supported by a local councillor (which we, of course, would agree to do) gives one of the petitioners the opportunity to speak for 5 minutes at the planning committee meeting.

We should tell you, in all honesty, that the legally valid reasons for turning down such an application are
limited. Councillors on the Planning Committee are required to work within national planning legislation.
For example, health concerns are technically not lawful reasons for rejection, although that does not, of
course, stop you saying what you feel. Issues worth mentioning include things like loss of visual amenity
and over concentration of masts in the area and, of course, anything that you personally think is important.
It would be misleading of us to suggest or forecast the outcome or build up hopes of refusal given the fact
that whatever the planning committee decides, the phone company usually appeals and an independent
Planning Inspector subsequently gives permission. And that decision is final with no further right of appeal.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Give Rogue Traders the Cold Shoulder

Trading Standards officers in Sefton are backing a national campaign which highlights rogue doorstep traders offering winter home improvement services.

 The Office of Fair Trading and Age UK have joined forces to warn people, particularly those in later life, the vulnerable and their friends and family, of the problem as winter approaches.

The awareness drive highlights the financial risks of being scammed and the emotional toll it can take. It is being supported by resident agony aunt at ITV's 'This Morning', Denise Robertson.  She said: "I receive many letters from people who have been swindled by illegitimate doorstep handymen.

 "They often feel too embarrassed to talk about it, even with their closest family and friends. I hope that by bringing this issue into the open, people will feel more comfortable to talk about it and also more confident, if they are approached, to say no or ask for time to consider, rather than agree to work on the spot."

 While canvassing on the doorstep is not illegal and there are many legitimate businesses selling to people in the home, rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem in the UK.

 Last year, advice service Consumer Direct received more than 5,300 complaints about traders offering home maintenance work on the doorstep, a 16 per cent rise from the previous year.

 Sefton Council Trading Standards manager, Andrew Naisbitt, said: "Only in the past couple of weeks we have had complaints from residents in relation to callers turning up on the doorstep offering services. Some residents have also been contacted over the phone.

 "These have been in relation to roofing repairs and selling alarm systems, the type of services people consider as winter approaches.

 "Work or service carried out by these traders is sometimes unnecessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than originally quoted or not done at all. Our advice is to try and ignore such sellers.

 "If in doubt, call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit"

Advice for residents:
* If a trader knocks at your door do not agree to on-the-spot house repairs, or sign anything on the spot.
* Be wary of special offers or warnings that your house is unsafe.
* Do not make snap decisions. Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make a decision. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Girls, Football and Politics

The role of football mum is becoming one I am switching to more and more often, as my daughter plays football for three teams with matches almost everyday - its just a good job she's the goalie - although washing the kit is becoming a bit of a chore.

After one match this week, which I had supported rather enthusiastically from the sidelines, my daughter proudly announced that she was going to be on the school council.  My ears pricked up and seeing an opening for an election edition of a FOCUS leaflet, I was keen for more details. So I asked rather casually if, in fact, there would be an election for the positions and what things will she would like to be  responsible for.   My daughter looked at me sideways and replied "Responsible for Mum - I'm going to be the chair so I can tell everyone else what their responsibilities should be"

Some people, who know me, may say like mother like daughter but I prefer to think this exchange shows very clearly that girls are keen to get involved in politics and campaigning - the question is how do we keep them involved?

Work begins on Hesketh Park Lake

Regular users of Hesketh Park may have noticed something a little amiss with the lake this week, as work begins to repair the lower lake bank.  The work will involve lowering the lake level (retaining sufficient for wildfowl) together with closing sections of the lakeside path.  In addition the lake edge treatment will also be upgraded with some extra planting at the lake edge.
The cost of this work is being met by the contractor who undertook the original work as part of the refurbishment of the park in 2008.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Have Your Say!

As you may be aware, the North East Police Team have a meeting once a month for residents to discuss any local policing issues they may have with police officers and PCSO's.

These priority setting meetings have now been given the far snappier title of 'Have your Say.'

The next meeting is going to be held at Eton Court on Park Road West on the 14th October, starting at 7pm and will be chaired by PC Steve Keefe.

Current priorities that local police are looking at include speeding traffic in Park Avenue, Park Crescent and Fylde Road.

Please come along and let us know about any issues that you have. These meetings are a great way to air problems and to meet your local policing team!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fish, Chips and Lib Dem diners

Your Lib Dem Team, are delighted to say that last nights Fish & Chip supper at Fylde Fish Bar was again a huge success.  So many people came that the chippy ran out of chairs but I'm happy to say not of fish or chips.

Lord Ronnie Fearn gives a helping hand with chef Banico and staff
The evening was a great opportunity for our new members to meet and chat to some of our councillors from the ward but also from across Sefton with diners including John Pugh MP, Tony Roberston, Leader of Sefton Council and the one and only Lord Fearn of Southport.

Sefton Council Leader Tony Robertson pictured with owner Banico and John Pugh MP
It was also a great opportunity to support a new and thriving local business.  Our thanks and appreciation go, as always, to Banico and his staff for the excellent food and service we received last night.

 We are planning another event here shortly so anyone who wants to have fish and chips by the sea in Southport is more than welcome to join us although given the quality of food tickets sell out fast.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Newsnight and the parallel universe

I think I must have entered some sort of parallel universe last night whilst watching Newsnight.  There I was, merrily watching Paxman doing what he does best, when up popped Conservative MP Phil Hammond  arguing the case for the removal of child benefit.  Then in response to a challenge by Polly Tonybee, Hammond moved swiftly onto the steps the government had already or planned to take to help the low paid and children in deprived areas.

Then, like one of those slow motion delays, as I began to open my mouth to shout at the telly that these were Lib Dem policies, my brain re-engaged and I realised that yes indeed these are our Lib Dem policies but we are part of the coalition government.

Now I know I know this - I was at the conference in Liverpool but even so it is still taking time to sink in and I can't believe I am the only one who keeps forgetting.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Get ready for REAL progressive politics..

I, along with Sue and a delegation from the Southport Liberal Democrats, attended a mega training day put on by Chris Davies our regional MEP. It was a great day, with lots of training events to keep us all up to date with the latest campaigning techniques and messages.

The highlight for me was listening to Andrew Stunell, MP for Hazel Grove and our party's Minister in Government for Communities and Local Government (pictured). He was also one of our negotiating MP's who helped to formulate the Coalition Government agreement.

The word 'revolutionary' is often overused in politics, but I think it can truly be applied to the localism agenda that will form a key feature of this Parliament.

Localism is all about decentralising and detaching the strangling tendrils of central Government. Its about realising that different areas have individual needs and priorities and that Whitehall diktats are not the best way to govern. One example of this was the Regional Spatial Strategies, housebuilding targets imposed from the centre on to communities. These gave no leeway to local opinion. RSS has now been abolished by the new government.

The concept of Localism is relevant to all of us. It will mean that town, parish and local Councils will all be able to have a say about local budgets and local services.

We need look no further locally than the stalemate over the Childrens Walk in Centre for Southport. Its clearly a service that local people want and need, yet nothing is happening.

There is nothing that will invoke electoral apathy than this sort of situation. You can understand why people are turned off voting if they think that they are powerless. This is even further entrenched if people also feel disillusioned with their ability to enact any change through their votes. Its not hard to see how people then think, ' well whats the point voting, I cant change anything can I?' Or, 'well, i really like that candidate and that party, but they cant win here, so my vote will just be a wasted one.'

A new and progressive politics has to challenge and eradicate the 'whats the point,' and 'why bother' attitudes that the Labour Government certainly didn't tackle. Localism and political reform in the shape of fairer votes, will truly radicalise the political system as we know it.

Next years referendum on introducing a better voting system will be an exciting opportunity, not just for Liberal Democrats, but for people who feel they dont have a voice.

Its time to shout loudly!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Musings of a football (& rugby) mum

When I first got involved in politics my children were very young and so it was easy to find a baby sitter (usually my brother) all I had to do was give them a kiss and put them to bed. Then lipstick on and away I went merrily to council, community or local party meetings.

I naively thought, that, as the children got older the need for babysitters would be reduced and things would be easier.  How wrong I was. I am now a fully fledged football (& rugby) mum and all that this role entails - coach, taxi driver, catering manager, laundry operative, provider of hugs and the teams biggest fan.

The interesting point here is that this group of women (aka as soccer or hockey mums) are recognised as a politically significant category in their own rights in the USA and now being a fully fledged member of this group I can understand why. These people are generally  the lynch pins of the family, time management is a way of life, together with diplomacy and advanced driving.  Politics for these women is very real and this should be recognised by campaigners and politicians alike.

By the way - the lipstick before meetings bit the dust many years ago now I'm lucky if I remember my reading glasses !