No sooner had I commented on the perennial attempts to prise Southport out of Sefton than the local Tories – led by their local Member of Parliament – sought to establish a Southport Town council. Their intentions are clearly to undermine Labour’s current stranglehold on the borough. They know that there are plenty of voters ready to support such a move, if only because of their long-standing abhorrence of being associated with Merseyside in any way, shape or form. Snobbery can be a very powerful toxin within the body politic.
Meanwhile, my omission of any up to date comment on the Wirral was shown to be remiss of me. Where else locally would one encounter such a farce as that surrounding the fate of Mr Stewart Halliday? This man was lined up for a senior council role in charge of economic and housing development. That is, until he was blackballed for the post after council officials alleged that he was guilty of “potential financial irregularities” as a private contractor to the council. No wonder councillors’ eyes are off the political ball. One senior councillor described the council to me as ”…blacker than black. Councillors are frightened to voice opinions that are not the views of the Left/Momentum/Socialist Worker controlled constituency, local campaign forum and branches. The Labour group is a battleground”.
The build up in political pressure is no different in St Helens, where, I am reliably informed, the chief whip has offered his resignation in frustration at his inability to secure wider Labour support for his attempts to maintain discipline within the Labour group. There are allegations of widespread abuse and homophobia within the Labour group. As in Wirral and Sefton, there is a key role for the Labour Party’s regional office and board in assisting the relevant party units to function correctly if the party is serious about holding on to its current dominant role in the politics of the city-region. As I am tired of saying, a house divided against itself…
My recent mention of the Labour candidature of Mr George Knibb in Liverpool’s Norris Green ward prompted a number of responses. One concerned his role as the driving force behind one of the city’s numerous social enterprises, the North Liverpool Regeneration Company. Billed as a training organization, it was lashed by Ofsted in a recent report. Specialist training press reported in reference to the company that :
“An inadequate community learning provider has been caught breaking government funding rules after Ofsted found most of its construction apprentices were unemployed.”
Its property services arm was struck off at Companies House last year, with the parent company writing off £113,644 on its behalf. The company itself is not skint – it records on its balance sheet investment properties worth over £7,500,000! The company is closely associated with other “community organizations”, the Vauxhall Neighbourhood Council and the Florence Institute. Strikingly, its board has had a large number of former, expelled Labour party members running the show. I am sure that this curious hotch-potch is standing by to support Mr Knibb’s election campaign.
I am equally sure that Mr Knibb will also secure support from within the Alt Valley Community Trust, given his close family and political connections with its leading lights. This is another body replete with former Labour Party luminaries, including expellees. However, this history has done nothing to halt the trust’s exponential growth across the north-east of the city, despite owing the city council in excess of £900,000.
Finally, the fraught future of Oglet has been raised with me. Is this to be another Harthill? Let me explain. This site was once a fishing hamlet many years ago, but it now remains as a valuable green space on the Liverpool/Halton border, edging on to the Mersey foreshore. The ubiquitous and ravenous Peel organization seeks to do two things on this stretch of land – or so they say. Firstly, they wish to extend Liverpool Airport’s runway on to it (they own the airport). Secondly, they want to build a photo-voltaic cell array to generate electricity from sunlight. This would be run by a subsidiary, Peel Power, which is also involved in fracking.
The questions which arise are many and troubling. Is a runway extension viable, given the airport’s reported losses year on year? Is it yet another litany of unrealizable promises which appears to be standard with Peel ? Surely LCC should have some input into this since the mayor has sunk council tax payers’ money into the airport? Will the generation plan ever eventuate? Remember that this generation project was originally said to be lined up for what was once Dunlop’s sports field. That is, until that site was flogged off by Peel for housing.
The smart money says that such a fate awaits this prime wedge of real estate sitting between Speke and Hale Village. Frankly, I would never believe a word that Peel says. They are first and foremost, property speculators – they go wherever the money is. In this case, the money would be in housing – but certainly not social housing !!