Cllr Sue McGuire says “The 48 second Sefton Cabinet meeting was a total farce”

Sefton Council’s most expensive committee has become a total farce, say the Liberal Democrats. The latest meeting of this body held in Bootle Town Hall on the 21st July lasted an amazing 48 seconds and included no discussion about any decision despite both the £2.9 Million Southport Town Centre Heritage Lottery bid, and the Sefton Borough Sports Field Strategy being on the agenda.

Opposition party Members are allowed to attend meetings of the Cabinet Committee as are members of the public however neither can play any part in the Cabinet’s deliberations.

Councillor Nigel Ashton, who attended the meeting said:

“I was absolutely shocked. You blinked and it was over. It was farcical. I had been told that the meetings were becoming shorter and shorter but did not believe it. So I took my stopwatch. This ‘meeting’ lasted all of forty-eight seconds.”

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Sue McGuire said:

“When there are such serious pressures on council spending, so much so that important services are being cut, every hour that is spent by senior councillors and officers of the council needs to be productive and worthwhile. This Cabinet Meeting costs the Council Tax payers thousands of pounds per minute – and for what?

Councillor Sue McGuire added

“These Cabinet meetings clearly only rubber-stamps decisions already made elsewhere. Meetings like this are not open or transparent and its clear that any discussion on agenda items are undertaken elsewhere away from public scrutiny.”

Lib Dems vote against “like for like” replacement of Trident

The Liberal Democrats seek a nuclear-free Britain and a nuclear-free world. We believe that these aims, and all of Britain’s interests, are best advanced by actively and constructively working with the UK’s allies and partners in the European Union, Commonwealth, UK and NATO to develop effective global solutions.

Liberal Democrats have long argued that the UK, while maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent, should be fully engaged in international nuclear disarmament efforts. In particular, the UK should seek ways to persuade others countries to agree to step down the nuclear ladder. In maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent, we maintain leverage in non-proliferation discussions and keep our place at that table.

We also recognise that the world has changed profoundly since the UK became one of the five declared nuclear powers in the 1950s, yet Britain’s nuclear posture has not kept up. In 2015, the Liberal Democrats proposed to step down the nuclear ladder by procuring fewer Vanguard Successor submarines and moving from Continuous-at Sea Deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling a surge to armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate. This would help the UK fulfil its obligations in international law and reduce the UK nuclear warhead stockpile.

That is why our MP’s drafted the amendment below before Monday’s vote:

“Declines to give support to the Government for like-for-like replacement of the Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines;  believes that the UK must be able to defend itself and its overseas territories but believes that the full replacement of four Successor submarines is not in line with the UK’s obligations as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; calls instead for the UK to step down the nuclear ladder through procurement of fewer submarines and a move from Continuous at Sea Deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling the deployment of armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate; further believes that the UK should take an international lead in nuclear disarmament by engaging in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament; and supports the Government’s commitment to continuing to work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.”

Unfortunately, this amendment was not selected to be voted on last night. The party did however, vote against the Government motion but this was defeated by a margin of 472 votes to 117.

However, the Liberal Democrats will continue to argue for reduced nuclear deterrent and for international nuclear disarmament leading to a nuclear-free world.

“Rubbish Friends” are happy to work whatever the weather!!

Cllrs Sue McGuire & Pat Keith with their "Rubbish Friends"

Cllrs Sue McGuire & Pat Keith with their “Rubbish Friends”

Rain may have stopped play at Wimbledon recently but it certainly didn’t stop the Rubbish Friends litter picking group in their most recent clean up in Southport earlier this month.

The team of intrepid volunteers battled on under iron grey skies and persistent rain to clean up the area between Morrison’s supermarket, Dunes Leisure Centre and Victoria Park, collecting a staggering 12 bags of rubbish.

Councillor Sue McGuire, co-founder of the Rubbish Friends group explained “We wanted to clean up this area before the North West In Bloom judges visited. Nothing stands out more than one piece of litter in a perfectly coiffured flower bed.”

Councillor McGuire added “Rubbish Friends also wanted to do their bit to support the work that the other fantastic volunteer groups, Lord Street in Bloom and the Friends of Rotten Row Gardeners, do to make Southport bloom.”

Councillor Pat Keith added “It is the on-going aim of Rubbish Friends to make Southport a litter free zone.”

The group will be next out on Wednesday 3rd August working alongside volunteers from The Southport Hoteliers Association and the Lord Street in Bloom group to tackle any grot spots on The Promenade before the next Britain in Bloom judging on the 5th August.

The group will be meeting outside the Ambassador TownHouse on Bath Street at 12:30pm. Anyone who wants to get involved please get in touch with Councillor Sue McGuire on 07766 968162 or email sue@bluefountain.com

 

Cllr Sue McGuire’s motion on Honorary Consuls receives full Council support

Sefton Council gave its full backing to a motion moved Southport Councillor and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Sue McGuire.

The motion which called on the Council to work with the Liverpool Consular Corps to increase the number of Honorary Consuls working in Sefton and Merseyside received full cross party support with councillors from all parties voting in favour of the motion.

An Honorary Consul is someone who is appointed by a country to strengthen the ties between one country and another, they can act to facilitate trade, investment and goodwill between two nations. Honorary Consuls are not professional diplomats and generally do not get paid for the position. The Liverpool Consular Corps is one of the oldest consular groups in the world which reflects the importance of Liverpool as one of the world’s greatest ports over the past two centuries. The Corps currently has 21 Honorary Consuls listed on their website.

Councillor Sue McGuire explained “The Leave victory in the Referendum has far reaching implications for the UK, not least the position of the regions on the international stage. Its vital that we continue to be an outward facing country which collaborates with other countries to tackle global challenges – now more than ever we cannot afford to pull up the drawbridge.

This motion in support of Honorary Consuls is a positive step towards fostering better international relationships between countries and Merseyside – and better still it will do this without costing the tax payer a penny.”

Councillor McGuire added “Increasing the number of Honorary Consuls present on Merseyside will ensure that the voices of Sefton, Liverpool and Merseyside are heard loud and clear on the world stage sending a very clear message that we are open for business and welcome global trade.”

John Gibson, currently the Honorary Consul to Finland commented “Currently Manchester is taking the lead in this area at a North West level which risks excluding Sefton and Merseyside. Its vital that we do whatever we can to attract international trade and businesses to chose Sefton and Merseyside to ensure the economic growth and business development required for the future.”

Former Southport councillor Sir Ron Watson, Deputy Honorary Consul to Finland added “I am confident that the Mayor of Sefton working with the current president of the Liverpool Consular Corps organisation will make a compelling case of why countries should consider appointing Honorary Consuls who would work and reside in the Sefton and Merseyside region.”

Councillor Sue McGuire calls for electronic signs rethink

There are three electronic road signs on the main routes into Southport; at Woodvale, the Plough roundabout and at Kew Roundabout. These signs currently display notices reminding drivers to wear seatbelts, to take notice of motorbikes and to avoid drink driving. Two Southport Councillors say that these signs could be used much more effectively to advise motorists of traffic or parking issues in Southport and most importantly messages about beach access.

Councillor Sue McGuire, Leader of the Lib Dem group explains “It would make sense if motorists could be advised in advance of getting to Ainsdale beach if the beach is closed to vehicles due to high tides. There was a huge issue recently when motorists unaware of the beach closure still arrived at the entrance to Ainsdale beach which resulted in traffic chaos with cars trying to access the beach and then trying to leave the area. ”

Councillor McGuire added “Our suggestion makes sense, would help visitors to Southport and would ensure that traffic chaos as Ainsdale beach entrance would be avoided in future. We are delighted that the Council have taken our suggestions on board and will be using the boards for messages about Ainsdale beach in the future.”

Ainsdale Councillor Lynne Thompson commented “We need to give people as much notice as possible on the rare occasions that Ainsdale Beach is closed. This would give people time to plan which other parts of Southport they wish to visit whether thats a stroll down Lord Street or walk along the Pier.

The use of the electronic signs is one of a number of proposals that Lib Dem Councillors and local MP John Pugh are considering to improve traffic flow throughout the resort. Although previous plans to alter the layout of Lord Street were with derision, the town can only benefit from having improved traffic management measures.”

Councillor Sue McGuire pictured with her Ainsdale ward colleague Lynne Thompson by the sign at Woodvale.

Councillor Sue McGuire pictured with her Ainsdale ward colleague Lynne Thompson by the sign at Woodvale.

Bath Street set for a Spookport clean up

Southport’s acclaimed Rubbish Friends are joining forces with the town’s Hoteliers Association and Lord Street Gardeners to ensure the town is blooming lovely!

The three organisations have targeted Bath Street and surrounding areas as their clean-up priorities in time for the launch of the Halloween spectacular Spookport.

The seasonal celebration , organised by Southport BID, begins with a Spookport Parade on October 24 and runs to November 2, comprising more than 50 events at venues across the town and Bath Street has been targeted for the clean-up.

“ Bath Street is often overlooked in terms of regeneration but it plays a key role in accommodating visitors to Southport with its range of bed and breakfast venues and we want to improve the appearance of this important area,” said Tracy Holgate, chair of the town’s hoteliers association and owner of Ambassador Townhouse .

“ We’re talking with the council and the BID team about ways to improve the appearance of this area which is important to the visitor economy. Linking up with the Rubbish Friends volunteers is the first big step and we’d like them to get in the Halloween mood by coming in fancy dress. Any old witch’s hat will do! ”

Rubbish Friends co-founder Councillor Pat Keith commented “Our litter heroes are delighted to be invited to help with this event as a prelude to our imminent campaign to put a sparkle back into Lord Street which should be Southport’s shining light.”

The clean up is set to take place on Wednesday 21st October from12 till 2 meeting outside the Ambassador Townhouse. For further details please contact Tracy Holgate on 543998.

“We can’t ignore domestic abuse” says Cllr Sue McGuire

Thanks to Norwood Ward Councillor Marianne Welsh for highlighting the statistics for domestic abuse which are truly shocking.  Did you know that according to the charity Refuge:

  • 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015) – 1 woman killed every 3 days
  • 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year(Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)
  • Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a male partner (State of the World’s Fathers Report, MenCare, 2015)
  • Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002)
  • Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police (Stanko, 2000 & Home Office, 2002)
  • The 2001/02 British Crime Survey (BCS) found that there were an estimated 635,000 incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales. 81% of the victims were women and 19% were men. Domestic violence incidents also made up nearly 22% of all violent incidents reported by participants in the BCS (Home Office, July 2002)
  • On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffe, 1982)

As Councillor Welsh says “These figures cannot nor should not be ignored but despite these startling statistics domestic violence is more often than not a hidden crime which goes on behind closed doors with its victims either to afraid or too ashamed to speak out”.

Marianne explained “Domestic abuse is also thought to only affect women and is perceived to be about physical abuse where violence is used or threats of violence against a female partner or ex partner are carried out. But domestic abuse can and does take many other forms. It can be psychological, sexual, emotional and also financial. Plus although women are the main victims it can also be directed at a male by a female partner. There are even elderly men and women who are subjected to regular domestic abuse from members of their own families”.

Here in Sefton, the Council are working to help those who are suffering from domestic abuse to come forward to get the help they desperately need. Sefton Council’s Vulnerable Victims Advocacy Team (VVAT), will help by taking self-referrals from victims requiring advice and/or sanctuary. They can be contacted on: 0151 934 5142.

There is also the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (Freephone) on 0808 200 0247.

No one should have to suffer domestic abuse in any shape or form. It is never ever the fault of the victim, and working with professionals in the field of abuse those affected can make choices and start to rebuild their lives.

“Season’s of mists and Mellow fruitfulness”

The BBC seem to have been making a lot of noise this year about the start of Autumn – its not clear to me why this may be since its guaranteed to happen every year but I’m not complaining. Far from it as Autumn is by far my favourite time of year – I love the smell, I love the misty mornings and that feeling that Winter is just around the corner.

To many people the start of Autumn hints at the approaching year end but to me September represents the start of a new phase of your life.  I think it must be related to the start of the new school term which is hard coded into most peoples psyche and although school finished a long time ago for me, the start of September always makes me think of new exercise books, new shiny shoes and sharp pencils.

This year Autumn will also mean starting to walk again following a knee replacement operation and I can’t wait to walk through Hesketh Park and marvel once again at the beautiful display that nature will once again provide.

To me the very best description of Autumn can be found John Keats Ode to Autumn which again is probably my favourite poem.

Ode to Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Raise a mug for McMillan on Saturday 26th September

coffee morning

It’s time to dust down your coffee mugs and tuck into the showstopper cakes at our Macmillan fundraiser’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, on Saturday 26th September 10.30 at St. Luke’s Church Hall, St Luke’s Road, Southport. The event will be opened by MP John Pugh.

This year Macmillan is hoping that more people than ever will take part and help to celebrate its 25th Anniversary by raising over £25 million for people affected by cancer.

The idea remains as simple today as it was in 1991 when the first official world’s biggest coffee morning took place. It’s a community get together with friends, colleagues and neighbours to raise money for Macmillan. So please come along and join us – after all cake really does taste better together.

Our Lancashire Lad – Tim Farron’s Leaders Speach

Glossophobia – more people than you think suffer from this – the fear of public speaking.  That feeling when you walk to the podium, look out at the expectant faces and your mind goes blank.  For 3 or 4 seconds you open you mouth like a stranded fish gasping for breath before, if you’re lucky, the words actually arrive.

One person who did not have Glossophobia this week was Tim Farron MP the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats.  His first speech as Leader of the Lib Dems was a real barn storming affair and I for one was so pleased I had voted for him.

Tim used his speech to outline all the reasons why Britain needs the Liberal Democrats and why at heart Britain is a liberal country.  His attack on Cameron and his support for refugees gave me goosebumps whilst you could almost feel his passion and commitment radiating from the TV set.

As my 89 year old mum said “He talks like a normal person and sounds like he means it” and who could ask for more.

You can see the full speech below