'I have asked the Street Services Officer if as a 'one off' they can change
this particular Road so we can address the problem'
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
The Southport Visiter has the story . John Pugh was quickly off the mark and has called for a public inqiry. the Story was front page news in the Daily Post:
An ambulance was called to tend to the child after he stopped breathing due
to suspected heart problems.
Paramedics rushed to the home in Bank Square, in Southport town centre, just after 1.20am yesterday, and tried to resuscitate the child.
But when they radioed ahead to Southport and Formby District Hospital,
they were told they must take the child eight miles to Ormskirk.
The ambulance finally arrived at Ormskirk A&E at 2.05am, but the baby later
Southport MP John Pugh is demanding an inquiry as to why the child
could not be treated at its local hospital.
He said: “There needs to be a proper, independent inquiry into how this happened and why the sophisticated resources of Southport hospital were bypassed.
“If they could have saved this poor mite’s life, it puts a huge question mark against the assurances and policy that NHS bosses have doled out for the last few years.
“Children have to be treated in Southport.”
A post mortem will be carried out on the child later today.
The NHS Trust put out a statement which even those without an higher degree in textual analysis can see is far from the full story:
A Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust spokesperson said: “A call was received at Southport and Formby Hospital from the ambulance service control room in the early hours yesterday about a baby at a residential address in Southport.
“As is normal in such situations, the ambulance service was advised to take the baby to Ormskirk Hospital because the children’s A&E Department there is fully equipped to deal with emergencies.
“The baby was not refused admittance to Southport and Formby, and was taken directly to Ormskirk.”
A North West Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed the ambulance carrying the child acted on instructions and went straight to Ormskirk.
Well, if it was normal practice to have nothing to do with Southport why did the para medics ring the hospital?
Assurances have always been given that common sense would prevail. As you can imagine the local websites have been full of comment. The following contribution took my notice:
"My heart goes out to the babies family, I can understand totally what they are going through, as my wife and I lost our baby girl last March aged 3 days, she was taken to Southport and Formby DGH by the paramedics from our home in Southport and died a short time later. I could not Fault the staff at Southport A+E that directly worked on our daughter.
"Question: Why was the baby in March taken to Southport DGH BY PARAMEDICS, whereas with Bank Sq baby PARAMEDICS were told to take her to Ormskirk?"
We need to know if the protocols have changed in the few months between these two incidents? We need a transcript of the radioed message from the para medics to Southport Hospital.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Friday, 10 July 2009
Scarisbrick Ave is in the heart of Southport's tourist quarter linking Lord Street with the Promenade. Blythe Homes were developing the site and it was to accommodate the borough's Independent Living Centre and some social housing. To most folk the level of guaranteed investment should have ensured that the project was completed. Rumours persist that the attitude of Blythe's bankers RBS has led the scheme into difficulties
I had understood that we owned RBS as it has been nationalised. How come projects like this are grinding to a halt for want for credit? It would seem to me to illustrate two things; firstly the need for the government to take a more direct approach to the nationalised banks and secondly that when the banks return to profitability and are ( I hope) broken up and disposed of by the state that establishing regional banks so that locally based financial institutions can make informed local decisions is considered .
Below is an extract from the report made in public session to councillors this week. The full report is in the download section of the website:
2.39 The Bus Link Road
project, which would provide public transport access improvements to Southport
Commerce Park, and at the same time bring forward a further 2.9 hectares of the
remaining 20 hectares of development land within the Park, has now completed its
first phase, which is the removal of topsoil, and the compaction of the base.
The second phase is expected to start in July, which entails the actual
construction of the road surface. The project is expected to be completed by
2.40 The second
project on the Commerce Park involves bringing forward a new office development,
which would create some 5,776 m² of commercial floor space (1.2 hectares of
land) in order to provide quality office accommodation to meet potential local
demand. The total cost of this project is approximately £9,773,000, and due to
additional costs associated with land remediation works, Blythes Development
Ltd, the company responsible for this project, is seeking some £1.3 million from
the new European Programme. However, this project is now at risk as a result of
Blythe’s other company undertaking the Scarisbrick Avenue development project
going into administration, as indicated in paragraph 2.48
2.41 Members may be aware that on
the back of the proposed Blythe’s development above, Sefton Council was able to
‘secure’ £3.07m of RDA funding for the provision of electric power supply and
some remediation work. However, if Blythe’s proposals to create additional
commercial space does not progress then the argument for needing additional
electric power capacity will not be accepted by the RDA, thereby putting the
project at risk. Officers are currently working with the RDA and Blythe’s to
explore potential options.
2.42The White Paper ‘Our Health, Our
Care, Our Say, provides a framework for the future delivery of health social
care, and imposes a statutory duty on local authorities to provide Independent
Living Centres by 2010. The Cabinet at its meeting on 30th October 2008, agreed
to the development of an independent Living Centre on Tulketh Street Car Park
(West), Southport. However, the location of the Centre at this site would have
resulted in loss of car parking income, and would have entailed the relocation
of the Cleansing operation, the cost of which were not quantifiable at the
2.43 Cabinet at its meeting on
26th February 2009, considered a report setting out the background into the
development of part ERDF/HLF grant funded 19–35 Scarisbrick Avenue, Southport
project by Blythe's, and the difficulties the developer was encountering as
result of the current economic climate. In order to ensure the completion of
this project, and minimise the possibility of claw-back of grant Members agreed
to the location of the Independent Living Centre on the ground floor of this
2.44 Unfortunately, the
developer Blythe’s has recently been put into administration, and officers are
currently having discussions with the appointed administrators,
PriceWaterhouseCoopers to explore potential options for the completion of this
indicated in paragraph 2.40 above, the developer undertaking Scarisbrick Avenue
Project as gone into administration as a result of the current economic
downturn. Consequently, the project is not yet completed, and unless Sefton
Council as the accountable body can demonstrate before the end of June 2009 that
the project will be completed, not only will the Council lose outstanding grant,
but will be required to repay the grant already claimed to date.
9 JULY 2009
QUESTIONS RAISED BY MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL
1. Question submitted by Councillor Brodie Browne to the Leader of the Council (Councillor Robertson)
“Can the Leader use his best endeavours to have placed on the Council website a detailed list of all allowances actually paid to individual Councillors, both by the Council and by those bodies - both locally and nationally - funded from the Council tax through a precept or levy”
This may seem a strange question so let me explain the sub text. Many councillors sit bodies that are funded via local councils. There are allowances -which are in some cases very substantial -which the average interested member of the public looking on the Council website would not know about. So if I was interested in, say, Mark Dowd's claim and looked on the Sefton website I would come away with the impression that his total payment was circa £10k. I reality it is much closer to £60k. It would seem sensible that all the claims were published in one place so a member of the public seek to understand his/her councillors allowances does not have to become a private detective. This transparency is long over due. The same thought has occurred to the Labour Leader of Wirral Council.
Of course if it is to work there has to be some standardisation of accounting systems. Firstly all councillors payments must be published as soon as practically possible. That may not always be the case. Several months after the year end there are still no sign of the Merseyside Transport Authorities (or what ever it is now called) information. It would be strange if that information was not already prepared. Equally if the public is to compare like with like then we require some standardisation. The public have been most interested in expenses claims. Now if a body has an account with-say-a taxi firm and does not allocate to individual councillors the amount spent on that account or say a booking of a hotel or flight, then the public could get a very false impression. My colleague Fred Weavers occasioned some press comment for his travel expenses-all of which were perfectly proper. I do wonder if the public knew the full extent of expenditure incurred by other whether they might have taken a different attitude.
I asked the Leader a second question last night; 'would he use his best endeavours to ensure that all allowances paid to councillors have been subjected to review by an independent re numeration panel?'
Shock, horror, you don't mean that there some council bodies where the member make up their own allowances regime like the MPs? Surely not.
Writing in The Visiter John Siddle says:
KING George V College today thanked the Southport Visiter for leading a campaign calling on the government to release £40m it had promised for a dream rebuild.
On Friday, we launched a Downing Street petition demanding Gordon Brown delivers on a pledge to transform the town’s flagship college.
College chiefs were given a green-light to transform the Scarisbrick New Road campus into a world-class learning facility by the government-backed Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
They then spent £2m of taxpayers’ money in preparation of anticipated building work.
But their visionary plans were last week left hanging by a thread after the cash- strapped LSC suddenly scrapped the scheme.
The Visiter is continuing to call on the town to sign the petition, while the college has circulated an email to all staff and students asking for them to back our campaign.
KGV marketing director Tony Langan said: "We are really grateful for the backing the Visiter has given the college and the support it is showing.
"We are delighted such a strong local presence has launched a key campaign over the predicament we find ourselves in.
"We are very grateful."
Alumni of the college have rushed to the Downing Street website to sign the petition.
Richard McCulloch, 24, left KGV in 2003.
He said: "It’s a no-brainer to sign this petition. The government, via the LSC, promised the college much-needed money to bring it into the 21st century and those responsible need to be held to account."
A total of 79 college improvement schemes were given "approval in principle" only for it to emerge that the £2.3bn pledged did not exist.
Just 13 colleges will receive some form of funding.
Unsuccessful institutions – like KGV – will be reconsidered in 2011, but by then Britain will be in the grip of a squeeze on capital spending, raising serious questions about whether the scheme will ever go ahead.
Visiter editor Andrew Edwards said: "The money may be available in two years’ time, but there will be a general election before then, so who knows what will happen.
"We urge you to sign the petition and get Mr Brown to take positive action."
To sign our petition, visit http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/kgvfunding
Doing an equally good job are the two men photographed with Simon and me. They are cleaning the pavements on Lord Street and removing the chewing gum. You can see their handiwork outside the Town Hall and (where we are photographed) by the bandstand. This is no easy task. The men work between 6pm and 9pm and in 9 hours this week they have made a real impact. So please don't drop chewing gum-put it in the bins provided!
A copy of the Council's press release is in the download section of the website
Saturday 18th July, 2009
12 NOON - 4.30PM
Trade Stalls, BBQs and Food, Fairground Rides, Live music, Children`s Entertainmener
Starting at 12 noon, Birkdale Village will come alive with activities for the whole family.
The live music, performed from a stage, starts at 1pm and runs until approximately 4.30pm
6 different acts, including singers and bands, will be performing on stage during the afternoon - with something for everyone.
There will be plenty of Fun Fair rides and an Entertainer for the kids, too.
All the usual shops, cafes and bars and pubs will also be open during the afternoon.
There will also be BBQ`s and Food available.
Various trade stalls will be offering unique items for sale.
One of these will be Birkdale based business THE FAIR TRADE STORE. They will be selling unique Fair Trade gifts, Ethnic Jewellery, Funky Handbags and Recycled Fashion Accessories, including the now infamous Ugly Betty Bag.
You can check out the range by visiting their website at:-
Please come along to Birkdale Village with your friends and family to support this event and have a great afternoon of fun and entertainment.
Remember the date - Saturday 18th July.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
My colleague Richard Hands, chairs the Scrutiny and Review Committee and has been active in trying to improve the draft protocol that was presented to them. This is all laid out in the cabinet papers today in item 21. I think Richard and his committee have done a good job. The amendments that they have suggested are a great improvement on the original.
I was concerned at cabinet this morning to fill some of the gaps in the protocol which seemed to me ended without dealing with what happened to a Serious Incident Report (S.I.R) once it was published.
At the end of the session I think we had made further progress. We agreed at my suggestion that once a S.I.R. is published it should be reported to the Cabinet Member meeting and Scrutiny and Review. Given the synopsis is a public document I take it that the item will be held in public. My second proposal was that the FULL report should be shown to the 3 party leaders. This was accepted in principle and we are going to get a further report on how that will be implemented.
I've been itching for someone to raise the Afghan war. With 7 soldiers killed in 7 days it is time to think again about why we are there, whether we have the right tactics to achieve our objective and wher we can do things better. At the time of the troops going into Afghanistan we were all so relieved that Labour were not leading us into another illegal war that I'm beginging to think that there was not enough scruting of the policy.
Clegg gave a good account of himself on the Today programme:
Monday, 6 July 2009
'Best wishes Pat and we all look forward to seeing you out and about '
Sunday, 5 July 2009
The answer to that question is not straight forward. He was keen to let the world know that 'he got it'; 'it' being that the world of politics has changed in the era of the internet. He praised transparency. He praised Boris for publishing the detail of all the Mayor's spending. In fact he praised the virtues of transparency so much I began to feel sorry for Caroline Spellman who was sat the the front row and whose Nanny know all about the impact of transparency.
Anyway open-ness is going save the world. It is going to lower public expenditure make politicians honest and stop Council squandering public money on 'white Elephants'.
To be fair this bit of his speech was impressive. He is not one of the politicians who is burying his head in the sand and hoping things will 'die down' and 'go away' He has recognised that the free flow of information is here to stay and that it is in a long term relationship with more exacting standards. Those politicians who think that the most significant impact of this 'transparency' has been the hurt and discomfort it has caused to themselves are going to get no comfort from him (Nadine Norries take note). Equally those who imagine that this is just a 'phase' and the public will get over it are also lost.
Welcome though open-ness is, and I approve, it is not the answer to every political and economic question. Tough questions still exist. As we all know Gordon Brown finds the whole issue of public expenditure tough. A rather clumsy question from a Lib Dem to Cameron about public expenditure cuts was quite revealing.
A little context here will help. The Tories are uptight about Osbourne. The tea rooms at Harrogate Conference Centre are open plan and you can't but help overhear other peoples conversations and indeed not having got a yellow spot on my delegates badge I was engaged in conversations with other delegates who knew nothing of my political allegiances. Osborne is a concern. Philip Hammond the Tory No2 is openly spoken of as having more nouse and actually being the 'brains'. I've no idea if this is true. Hammon's mother is a Council Leader somewhere and she was often sited as confirming this impression. Coupled with the dynamic within the Tory treasury team there is of course the problem that Vince presents to them. They don't know whether to praise him or attack him. It is in this context that Cameron's answer to the cuts in public expenditure was revealing.
Cameron suggested that in this debate there are three stages. Base one (pause for cheap joke about GQ magazine reporting that Clegg has reached base one quite a lot)-is to recognise that some thing has to be done. Cameron says our party is there. Base two is to identify obvious examples of waste-ID cards, NHS computer system etc. Base three is to identify things that you would really want to do but recognise are not possible because of the level of debt. The revealing bit was that completely unnecessarily he credited the Lib Dems with having got to Base three. He didn't even claim that the Tories had got there. Interesting.
There followed lots of predictable stuff about cutting council tax, councils sharing officers and CEO's like his council does etc. You do wonder what he would make of Sefton Tories are their spendthrift notions. Given his rhetoric what possible justification can there be for failing to accept a Chief Officer's recommendation to slim down the cadre of top highly paid staff and save the council tax payer £1m over two years as our Tory Councillors did . Well come to think of it they have never felt the need to embrace the era of open-ness and explain their spendthrift actions. I share Cameron's view that there should be no hiding place for those who waste the public's money. Sadly some of his Sefton members still think that it is the height of bad manners to raise the issue.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
At ten o'clock I made my way to the tearoom and struck up a conversation in the queue with an officer from the South of England. He had formerly worked in the NW and he was interested how we were getting on in the recession. He was explaining some complex scheme he was involved in when he glanced at his watch and asked me 'what time is he on?' 10.30. The room rapidly emptied as those of all parties and none made their way to hear Vince.
Richard Kemp was master of ceremonies. It was a good rousing introduction by Richard. He recalled being in the House of Commons and hearing Vince mocked and heckled and called Dr Doom for suggesting that we were on the brink of a banking collapse. As Richard knows it is always best to put the Tories firmly in their place. In truth had the Tories been in power they would have done nothing different in advance of the collapse -except move to lighter regulation. They know it.
Vince was billed to talk on localism and he did for bit and then he moved on to the economy and when questions came they to were on the economy.
The problem with localism is that everyone is in favour of it and almost everyone means something different by it. Vince was clear, for him it meant meant giving power to locally elected people. He held up the confident municipal activities of Chamberlain in Birmingham and even the Independence that local government had when he was a councillor to make and carry out major projects without the let or hindrance of central government. He acknowledged that as long as 75% of local government money came from Whitehall that control would continue and suggested that business rates should immediately be returned to local government.
As we all know Vince has a very particular style of delivery. He is appealing to your reason. The command and control mechanisms inflicted on local government were demeaning and had to go. Why should we be competing like school children for 'stars' awarded by a highly paid quango. The best people to judge local government are local people at the ballot box-altho he was quick to point out that the English needed to follow the Scots in reforming their electoral system for local government.
He wants the CAA and all its works to go. He reckoned that the compliance costs of all these targets and checks was £800m and that was better spent on services. But surly, one questioned asked, there is need for central government to objectively measure how local government is performing? It is a sign of the lack of confidence that many have that such a question was earnestly asked. Why does central government have to set up an expensive quango to look at local government? We are responsible. We have a mandate and are answerable not to a quango but to the electorate.
Vince was now warming to to his topic. The standards board should go, it was a kangaroo court. The building schools for the future was nonsense born of their centralise command and control model. It require significant recourse commitment even to get to stage one.
Local government should be free to borrow against its own assets to make important investments. He was scornful of the governments approach to funding social housing asserting that they would still be consulting when the General Election came.
Later in questions he pointed out other steps that could be taken immediately to restore local government. In particular he was critical of the quango the PCT and whilst he welcomed joint working he said that if the boundaries are coterminous they should be integrated under democratic control. Other unelected quango eg the LSC who had taken over when VIth forms and F.E. were effectively nationalised should be returned to local democratic control.
We then moved on to the economy. He was unimpressed by those who predicted with certainty a quick recovery. Yes there were some signs-but it would have been amazing if there was not given the scale of the government. He said that to that the economy was not just recovering from flu, it was more like a heart attack. Not since Macmillan has the government received so little revenue. The % of GDP that the government is borrowing is enormous. There is no certainty that there will not be a major loss of confidence in the financial markets if the government cannot demonstrate a clear way to pay down the debt.
He challenged others to spell out their plans and said that the Lib Dems were taking on the challenge and listed some reduction including Trident (better late than never), public sector pensions, and tax credit system -which is fiendishly complex, unclaimed by large numbers especially pensions and goes a long way up the income scale. Clear there are some other 'big ticket' defence items which may have been relevant in cold war times. In addition he refused to endorse Cameron's pledge that the health service was a sacred cow that can't be touched. Vince drew on his own recent experience in hospital to suggest that there was scope for improved performance.
The first question was from Jack Colbert. He wanted to know if Vince thought some areas would be hit harder by the recession.
Vince admitted that he had misread this issue (note to Gordon Brown-it is ok to admit you may have been wrong)to begin with he felt that as the crisis had been 'made in' the City and that a lot of the early job losses had been there in the financial sector this recession may have been centred there. It was now evident that this recession was going to impact hardest on the poorer areas of the country. Among other economic data he pointed to the recent figures on negative equity in the housing sector which had hit the urban conurbation of the north harder than the SE.
All in all an excellent contribution form Cable. He scorned high on content. Cameron certainly scored higher on the 'theatre' of his presentation-but on the way out of his speech I overheard a couple of Tories chundering about the 'need for more substance' but I will return to that when I post about Cameron's speech.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
It was good to bump into Sir Ron Watson at the conference he is seen above pictured with Cllr Jack Colbert a Maghull Lib Dem Councillor. Ron is held in high regard by many Tories in the local government world and one or two have siddled up to me to ask about what is going on with Sefton Tories; what with Les Byrom desertion to Labour and the involvement of the wider party in the David Pearson botched deselection.