In September I attended a great event in Wavertree High Street when the road was closed (perfectly legally!) and the community took over the space for 6 hours. Everyone who was there seemed to enjoy it. Some local traders including the shops and bars on the High Street made some money; community groups let people know what they did for the community; local kids performed; there was live music and good food.
This wasn’t a venture that I can take any credit for. I tacitly supported it because part of my Ward thinks of itself as being ‘Wavertree’. I attended the first meeting and was impressed but that was it. I and my fellow Lib Dems tweeted and expressed support in a variety of ways and turned up to support the day.
Party politics was kept out of it with the exception of some pan bangers from Wavertree Labour Party who had one of their interminable protests at the roundabout at the end of the High Street. Always a stupid gesture made even more so as there were no cars at all passing them. I met and chatted to many councillors of all Parties who attend parts of the event and we all agreed that it was a good event and that we ought to try and emulate it in our own wards.
The events before during and since have been led by an informal group of volunteers who are making a huge effort in their own time and with scant resources to enhance the community spirit in that area. One councillor in particular, Clare McIntyre is, correctly, using her position as a councillor to bring together the public and voluntary sectors and the community to combine their strengths and opportunities in an innovative way. There are very few people who do not believe that in this context she has done a good job.
However, there are some who want to snipe from the side-lines. Sadly, most of these are from her own Party.
You can see from the picture above that some of the North Koreans in the Wavertree Labour Party (AKA the saucepan bangers) don’t believe that what is going on is above board. They are demanding that the Cllrs for Wavertree account to them for what is going on.
There are three problems with this line of attack on Cllr McIntyre:
- If they did spend time on doing things in the community and supporting one of their local councillors they would know all the answers to the questions they ask.
- Councillors do not answer to their Party for things like this but to their electors. The Political Party exists to get people of like mind elected not to act as gauleiters supervising their work.
- This is what councillors are supposed to do. Although because of the nature of my role as Group Leader I spend more time on ‘politics’ than most the vast majority of my work as a councillor is non-political. It is the job of all of us to work within our communities and bring the community and public sector closer together.
If a motion had been put down to a Lib Dem meeting on a subject such as this it would not be censorial but congratulatory in tone.
Not everyone who objected was from within the Labour Party. Others objected because it made minor difficulties as they carried out their business especially with movement around that part of Wavertree. I know that the organisers went out of their way to minimise disruption and let people know in advance about the road closure and associated events.
I have to say to the few people who got upset because they were delayed for a few minutes that so many people gained from the event, probably in the thousands, that their sacrifice should be considered by them to be worthwhile.
Even if the Council and other parts of the public sector had all the money they needed to provide everything that they wanted to do, they could not run an idea/organisation like ‘Love Wavertree’. The public sector cannot create communities or even community spirit. Our role as a Council is to support communities and the people that lead them to bring the community together and establish a framework of care and compassion which leads to a better feeling of inclusion within neighbourhoods.
The motto on the ‘badge’ on the Town Hall, which is the one of the former Wavertree Council which was absorbed into Liverpool in 1895, is ‘sub umbra floresco’ which translated from Latin means under the trees we flourish. Many of the trees might have gone but Wavertree can and will flourish if we all back those trying to make it better. Sniping from the side-lines might satisfy some malevolent souls in the Wavertree CLP but it won’t create the better society that most of us want.