As regular readers of my blog know I am highly sceptical of the value of council meetings where rational debates are few and far between and we spend a lot of time talking about things that we cannot control.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in the motion tabled below which the Mayor of Liverpool is moving at the Council meeting to be held at 5 pm on 11th November at Liverpool Town Hall.
Unbelievably the motion from the Mayor invites us to “Welcome the Mayor’s initiative to ‘free up’ the land on Harthill Road”. It ends with these chilling words, “Council urges Cabinet to continue to seek new and imaginative ways to help sustain our City and organisations within it.” Mayor Anderson flogging off the City’s assets is nothing new. You are simply following the example of what Militant did in the 80s – no wonder Derek Hatton is back as a member of His and Jeremy Corbyn’s new Labour Party.
This motion is wrong on so many counts not least it does not have an understanding of what local residents mean by Calderstones Park. We mean all the Calderstones and Harthill estates both of which is used by the community but only some of which is ‘public open space.
Motion from the Mayor of Liverpool
This Council welcomes:
· the initiative shown by the Mayor to free up the land on Harthill Road currently occupied by Beechley Stables, Calder Kids and the Miniature Railway to support a housing development scheme on the combined site that will fund new facilities for two of the organisations.
· The Mayor’s clarification that Liverpool City Council is not selling any part of Calderstones Park.
· The three sites sit outside of Calderstones Park and were not available to the public without authorisation.
· New housing built in the city has directly resulted in an additional £3m a year of Council Tax revenue, which can be spent on crucial services.
· The scheme will allow the capital receipt from the sale to provide and pay for much needed premises and development for all three facilities on sites they are happy with. Both, Calder kids and Beechley Stables are desperate for modern facilities and investment to provide support to children with disabilities and are delighted with the proposals as a way of securing their future.
· the 58% funding cut to government grant imposed on the council by the previous Lib-Dem Tory Government, and the painful impact this cut means to both services delivered by the council and organisations and charities across the City, supported by the council.
Council urges Cabinet to continue to seek new and imaginative ways to help sustain our City and organisations within it”.
We will seek to move something like the following amendment to this motion which we hope will be supported by the other opposition parties:
Amendment by Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
“Council believes that all public open space owned by the council such as Sefton Park Meadowlands and Walton Hall Park and all land owned by the council which has habitually been used by the community for sport and recreation such as the Harthill Estate of Calderstones Park and the former MANWEB playing fields in Childwall/Wavertree should be permanently kept for public use.
It notes that it is the stated wish of the council to grow the population of the City and if this is to be achieved a green city is one of the major ways of achieving this.
It believes that true innovation about our green spaces is not flogging them off to developers but finding ways in which we can involve a wide variety of groups in running green spaces to increase the income from them and increase the use of them”.
My amendment will give the chance for Labour councillors from Fazakerley, Warbreck, County, Wavertree, Childwall, Church, Allerton & Hunts Cross, Woolton, Mossley Hill and Greenbank wards to stand out from the Mayor’s wishes and put the people of their wards before the interests of the Labour Party. Indeed it will give a chance for any Labour Councillor to stand up for the green issues which affect their ward.
But I am not betting the house on it. Labour councillors in Liverpool do what they are told. As Gilbert & Sullivan remarked so acutely 100+ years ago, “they always vote at their Party’s call – they never think of thinking for themselves at all!
There is no doubt that the sale of our green spaces is bitterly resented by the people of the areas that surround them. We know that the council has severe financial difficulties – difficulties that would have occurred no matter which parties were in government after 2010. If you doubt that just look at the way in which the Party has spilt over the issue of tax credits with leading members of Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband’s team abstaining when the Tories bring in devastating cuts which the Lib Dems prevented in Government and unanimously opposed in the past few months.
I hope that as many of you as possible will come and listen to the debate to make your own mind up about the issues and who is fighting for your communities. But don’t worry if you cannot come. We will be recording this debate and ensuring that people have access to it through YouTube.