Efforts to save A & E Services at Southport Hospital are stepped up this week

Campaigners to save Accident & Emergency Services at Southport Hospital are stepping up their efforts this week.  Petitions are available on-line  at  www.southportsays.co.uk  and www.westlancssays.co.uk  and many hundreds have been collected in the first few days.  Petitions are also being collected in the streets and in shops and workplaces.

On Thursday evening, in Southport Town Hall, councillors will be debating a motion from local Lib Dem councillors who hope to bring the Council and residents to work together to retain this vital service in Southport. The service has been threatened in secret plans by health bosses which have been ‘leaked’ recently. These plans are called the ‘Cheshire & Merseyside NHS Sustainability & Transformation Programme’ (the STP).

The campaign to retain the A&E service in Southport is being spearheaded by John Pugh MP and Southport Liberal Democrat councillors but these elected representative are seeking involvement from all sections of the community.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Sefton, Councillor Sue McGuire who is proposing the motion at the Council meeting on Thursday says:

“The Sustainability & Transformation programme is an attempt to disguise cutbacks in the NHS which is being presented as if it were simply a reconfiguration of services.

“The decisions and plans have been made behind closed doors with no input from patients, residents or healthcare professionals. These proposals will impact on the health and wellbeing of all our communities and, at the very least ,should be made in the open with input and discussion from the people who will be affected.”

The secret plans for Southport & Ormskirk Hospital only came to light because the plans for Cheshire & Merseyside STP were leaked to the Liverpool Echo.

Councillor Tony Dawson, spokesperson on Health and Adult Care for the Lib Team team, says:

“The plans that I have seen clearly show a possible downgrading in A&E service at Southport. The people of Southport, Formby and West Lancashire must all work together to send a clear message to Health Chiefs that this is not an option for our town.”

The full motion is as follows:

“That this Council deplores:

  1. the severe threat to local NHS Services created by the draft ‘Merseyside and Cheshire Sustainability and Transformation Programme’ (STP) which has been developed in secret to cope with the effects of cutbacks in real terms NHS spending imposed by the government;
  1. in particular, threats posed in the published plans to NHS services presently provided within Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust, especially its A&E service; within the Aintree Hospital Trust and in respect of Mental Health Services across the Borough; and
  1. the fact that this STP plan, addressing a £900 million ‘black hole’ in NHS finance across Merseyside and Cheshire over the next five years, has been ‘worked up’ in private with no input into the process from any democratic representatives.

This Council notes:

  1. that these proposals come at a time when the cash available for Local Authority-delivered care has also been under a substantial reduction and would be placed under unacceptable pressure by further cuts in NHS services.
  1. recent denials which have been issued following the public ‘leaking’ of these plans but also that these denials have not included any explanation of where else the money would come from; and
  1. the all-Party NHS Parliamentary Committee, chaired by Dr Sarah Woolaston, has drawn attention to the factual deficiencies in government statements about future funding of the NHS.

This Council resolves:

  1. to publicise the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Programme Plan and to inform the people of the Borough of Sefton of the effects which the changes proposed therein are likely to have on the health and social services provision provided to the local population; and
  1. to notify the Merseyside and Cheshire NHS Sustainability and Transformation Programme lead and the Secretary of State for Health of its opposition to any programme of cutbacks locally and nationally in the NHS created to meet underfunding by the Conservative Government.”

Councillor Sue McGuire argues “Council Parking policy needs to be reviewed”

Cllr Sue McGuire inspects one of the new parking machines

Cllr Sue McGuire inspects one of the new parking machines

Residents and visitors to Southport are being penalised for an outdated parking policy which takes no account of the new modern technology now available at parking meters.

The Council have invested in new parking machines which now allow motorists to pay for parking using their bank card but Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Sue McGuire has raised concerns that the policy regarding parking tickets needs to be reviewed and updated.

Councillor McGuire said

“I understand the current Council policy that it is the motorists’ responsibility to ensure that a valid parking ticket is displayed at all times whilst the vehicle is parked. But what concerns me, is when a motorist appeals a parking fine for non-display and is able to provide evidence that a parking ticket was purchased by card, Sefton Council still insist on payment of the fine.  This is grossly unfair – surely if you can show a receipt for payment, that should be enough for the fine to be withdrawn”.

Councillor McGuire added,

“The law says that, ‘An authority has a discretionary power to cancel a PCN at any point and that authorities have a duty to act fairly and proportionately’. In the situation outlined, the law seems pretty clear, proof of purchase has been provided and I don’t understand how it can be deemed ‘fair’ to penalise a person who paid to park”

Councillor Mike Booth has also raised similar concerns about fines being issued when parking tickets are not displayed.

Councillor Booth explained,

“Most places in the UK now provide tickets which have an adhesive strip that allows them to be fixed to the windscreen.  Why, when the Council were investing so much in new machines, was this option not considered?”

Councillor Booth added

“I have asked Sefton Council to explain their decision and have been given a range of reasons including hot weather and condensation – but if most other places can manage, why can’t Sefton?  It would save a huge amount of stress for motorists who are sometimes being penalised for a draft of wind.”

 

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Additional information:

Advice of the DfT and the Secretary of State.

Paragraph 85 from the Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities advises;

85. An authority has a discretionary power to cancel a PCN at any point throughout the CPE process. It can do this even when an undoubted
contravention has occurred if the authority deems it to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case. Under general principles of public law, authorities
have a duty to act fairly and proportionately and are encouraged to exercise discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest

This statutory guidance is given legal authority by section 87 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 whereby statute instructs that the council must have regard to this guidance. Any failure to have regard to this guidance is a procedural impropriety as defined by regulation 4(5) of the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007;

4(5) In these Regulations “procedural impropriety” means a failure by the enforcement authority to observe any requirement imposed on it by the 2004 Act, by the General Regulations or by these Regulations in relation to the imposition or recovery of a penalty charge or other sum and includes in particular

Rubbish Friends celebrate a job well done

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Rubbish Friends celebrate a job well done

Southport’s litter heroes donned their Rubbish Friends jackets and sprang into action to make the resort sparkle for this year’s Flower Show.

Lib Dem councillors turned out to swell the ranks of the litterazzi as figures were revealed that the annual cost of keeping Britain’s streets clean and tidy is almost £1billion.

We need to change our attitude to litter if we are serious about promoting Southport as a clean and healthy environment for tourists, the figure of almost £1 billion underlines the importance of the work our public spirited residents undertake – our success is down to them.” said Councillor Pat Keith, who founded Rubbish Friends with her colleague Councillor Sue McGuire in 2012. “We all have a role to play – it’s not someone else’s problem.”

The latest clean-up mission by Rubbish Friends, in the area of Kew roundabout, produced more than 20 bags of litter as a report commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy revealed the true cost to tax payers of keeping the country free of litter.

Councillor Sue McGuire said “Dropping litter should be recognised as anti-social, when people see rubbish on a street it sends a message that dropping litter is somehow OK. We need people understand the damage that littering causes to an area. Its time that local authorities, fast food companies and supermarket chains started to work together to find a solution to this growing problem before its too late.”

If you would like to be a Rubbish Friend to Southport please get in touch.

“State of the roundabouts could undermine Southport’s chance in Britain in Bloom competition”

Cllrs Sue McGuire & PAt Keith inspect the weeds on the Arglye Road roundabout

Cllrs Sue McGuire & PAt Keith inspect the weeds on the Arglye Road roundabout

Two Southport councillors have marched into action to improve what they call the “appalling state” of two of Southport’s roundabouts as Britain in Bloom judgement day looms.

Cambridge Ward Lib Dem Councillors Sue McGuire and Pat Keith say they are dismayed at the condition of the Argyle Road and Cambridge Road roundabouts.

“Last year Councillor McGuire and myself paid for these roundabouts to be planted out of our own Cambridge Ward funds and we did this on the understanding that they would be kept weed free and maintained,” said Councillor Keith.

“ But this has not happened and the roundabouts look a sorry sight, especially in a town that prides itself on its floral displays and has always been a leading contender for honours in the Britian in Bloom competition.

“We’ve asked Sefton Council to take urgent steps to tidy the two roundabouts which, quite frankly, are a blight on the town.”

Southport will be judged by Britain in Bloom on July 28 and the two councillors are concerned that the poor state of the roundabouts, which are at key junctions, will have a negative effect on the judging and undermine the work undertaken by the green fingered volunteers on Lord Street, Rotten Row, Hesketh Park and the Botanic Gardens.

Councillor Sue McGuire said “Sometimes the short sightedness of Sefton Council astounds me. When the Council put forward the proposal for roundabout sponsorship we argued that part of the sponsorship money should be ring fenced and used for on-going maintenance of the roundabouts. This suggestion was ignored and as a result the roundabouts are now just islands of weeds”.

“We assumed that the Council would make some attempt at maintenance in addition to grass cutting – how wrong we were. Council regulations mean that we can’t pay for any on-going maintenance ourselves and the volunteers are banned from tackling the roundabouts for health and safety reasons.”

“We have asked the Council to take urgent steps to at least weed these roundabouts before the judging visit so I hope that they will – and that civic pride will prevail.”

Park Road Improvements Finally Made

After an 8 year campaign led by Councillor Sue McGuire, work has finally been completed to make the junction at Park Road and Roe Lane safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

As Councillor Sue McGuire explains “Working with residents I first asked the Council to take action here in 2006 so am delighted that they have finally recognised how dangerous and intimidating this junction was for pedestrians.

Sue on the newly improved junction

Sue on the newly improved junction

 Councillor McGuire added “As a pedestrian crossing this junction before the work was carried out was like running the gauntlet in “Death Race 2000”. Pedestrians had in effect to cross 4 lanes of traffic near a junction so wide that cars could turn into ParkRoad without actually slowing down.”

 The work which, was finished last week, involved making the junction narrower with a larger pedestrian island installed in the centre.  Bollards have now also been added on the junction corners to help cars make the narrower turn.

Councillors celebrate the black stuff

Councillors Sue McGuire and Pat Keith are delighted that the Council have finally tackled the road surface on Morley Rod, Rawlinson Road, Rawlinson Grove and Allerton Road.

morley road

As Councillor Sue McGuire explained “We have campaigned for a number of years to get these roads resurfaced and so are thrilled that the Council have finally got around to it – even if it is a year later than promised!”

Councillor Keith added” These roads were in a terrible state which had been made worse by the freezing conditions in 2009 and 2010. There is an on-going maintenance program for the rods and pavements so if residents feel there road needs attention please let us know and we will request and inspection.”

Sefton Council begin consultation on charging for green waste collection

Sefton Council have started to consult residents on their proposals to charge for the fortnightly collection of green waste.

Proposal to Charge for Green Waste Collection
epd_wheelie_bins_groupSefton Council are considering:

a) Charging for the collection of “green” or garden waste from residential properties in the borough
b)  Offering the service to any household in the borough that is willing to pay for a green waste collection service, including areas where the service
is not currently provided.
To have your say on this please visit the Sefton Council website
As Councillor Sue McGuire explained “I think this is a very ill thought out proposal which takes no account of the possible outcome of introducing a charge for this service.  I believe such a charge will be damaging to Southport and Sefton.
Councillor Pat Keith added “Apart from increasing fly-tipping, this proposal is completely contrary to everything we have been encouraged to do in recent years with regard to reducing land fill and recycling.  Such a move will force residents to put green waste in their grey bins destined for the land fill.”
Sue and Pat both agree that this is a totally backward step and shows a complete lack of regard for the environment and residents of Sefton.
We would encourage everyone who uses the green waste facility to make their voices heard by taking part in the consultation.

John Pugh MP questions local authority boundaries

Southport MP John Pugh has been busy in Westminster this week asking questions on Communities and Local Government which can be see at theyworkforyou

My favourite of which was John’s question on Local Government Constituencies

John Pugh (Southport, Liberal Democrat) To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his policy is on the alteration of local authority boundaries in order better to deliver the localism agenda.
And the answer
Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth, Conservative)The Government believes that it is preferable for local authorities not to be distracted by boundary changes, but to focus on combining and sharing operations across boundaries on both front line service delivery and back office. Where all councils concerned believe a boundary change would be of genuine benefit, the Government will not stand in the way of their pursuing this, providing there is clear evidence of public support and the changes unambiguously would lead to greater value for money. 

 

Your Library needs YOU

Friends of Churchtown Library are urging library users to join the fight to save our
libraries. After receiving a verbal reprieve at the Council meeting last week the race
is on to recruit a team of volunteers to keep Southport libraries open.

Sefton Council has committed to saving £400K from library services despite the
efforts of the 17,000 strong anti-closure movement and the rousing speeches and
impassioned pleas put forward by Library activist Chris Turner and the Lib Dem
councillors.

Plans to close Ainsdale, Birkdale and Churchtown and four other borough libraries
were approved by the ruling Labour Party at the budget council meeting. Then at
the eleventh hour, a plan detailing how the libraries could be saved was submitted,
and verbal assurances were given by the leader of the council, Peter Dowd that the
proposals would be looked at.

Lib Dem Councillor Nigel Ashton welcomed the reprieve and said: “it gives campaigning groups time to work out their plans. The three Southport campaigning groups have already been looking for volunteers and have had an excellent response so far but we have a lot of work to do. We are hopeful that we will be able to get a viable sustainable plan together within the schedule laid down by Cllr Dowd.”

The benefits of our branch libraries cannot be overestimated. People use the
internet to apply for jobs and pay bills on line. Elderly people come in to read the
papers, enjoy the companionship and learn new skills. Libraries have a vital impact
on children’s literacy skills.

Councillor Pat Keith explained “We all understand that a child’s desire to read and to be read to increases familiarity with language but not everyone can afford to buy the range of books children need to acquire good literacy skills such as rhymes, stories, factual books and well known fairy tales. But all are free to borrow on the library shelves. We need our libraries to carry on promoting early literacy skills and lifelong learning.

Pat added “I believe that closing a library during a recession is akin to closing a hospital during a
plague.”

If the libraries are able to continue they will depend heavily on volunteers. If you value our library service and are able to give up some of your time to save our library

please contact;

Elaine Langley at Friends of Churchtown Library (FOCL) elaineflangly@gmail.com