Hung parliament speculation

Found in my drafts from a couple of weeks ago….

Peter Kellner speculates on the Progress blog about what might happen if there is a hung parliament after the next GE. Rather than the usual stuff about jumping into bed with the Fib Dems it sets out a couple of scenarios and what might happen in each.

It’s a much more thoughtful article than I’ve seen in the past which might indicate that we need to be realistically planning for these eventualities.

Rather than delete it, I’m posting it now because I notice that Rob Alcock mentioned it here and acknowledges it as a useful article – even if I would disagree with the description of Progress as a “New Labour think-tank-cum-ginger-group”!!

West Lancs District Council – Committee Papers online

A useful link for anyone interested in West Lancs District Council:

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before, but this system is one of the most interesting on the WLDC site. You can get papers for all the public meetings, information about councillors and which committees they sit on.

For example, next week’s Executive Overview and Scrutiny committee’s meeting agenda and papers are here. Ironically however, the interesting stuff – the papers about the Skem Town Centre project and those relating to Firbeck and Findon, aren’t yet available…. ho hum!

Free Our Bills! (

TheyWorkForYou is a great resource for seeing how your local MP has been representing you in Parliament. When I last dropped in on their site they were promoting their Free Our Bills! campaign.
Quite sensibly they have been encouraging Parliament to publish proceedings in a way that can be better understood by computers. This might sound irrelevant, but it could change the way that people engage with the way that our legislation is made.

For example, if you were interested in a particular issue and wanted to follow the debate and progress of legislation through parliament, then legislation that can be ‘understood’ by a computer would mean that you could be kept informed quicker and easier. Similar to the way that XML and RSS feeds keep people up to date on a plethora of other information sources.

It would hardly cost the taxpayer anything, but could radically change the way that people engage with law-making. If you have the time, please show your support.

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Train line reopens after 40 years. Lessons for Burscough Curves?

News from last week about train line reopening after 40 years in Scotland. Reminded me of the  Burscough Curves which must be around their 40th anniversary of being closed. Like the Ormskirk bypass the local papers flip-flop between optimism and pessimism about the future of the project; and just at the moment there seems to be a feeling that neither will happen soon.

This week’s Champ reports that a transport minister said that the curves will only happen when a private company stumps up the cash, which sounds like a death-knell to me (or a continue-to-be-dead knell). A brief read through the Scottish Transport Agency’s site about the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway suggests that it is public money that paid for the project.

It might be that John Pugh has the business plan tucked away somewhere to convince one of the rail companies to reopen the curves, but I doubt it. Unless this project is supported by central government, then it won’t happen. And ultimately that means all the local MP’s pushing for it.

At a time when there’s no end in sight of the petrol price rises, the key investment has to be in local public transport. Arguably, the investment should be put in when the economy is going well, but that’s a different subject. If it’s a straight choice between more trains and buses locally or, say, more roads, then surely we should be putting the money into public transport.

Pilkington invests £40m in Northwest facilities

This press release reports that Pilkington is investing £40m in new facilities in St Helens. Great news locally, but the bit that jumped out for me was this paragraph:

The coating facility will produce Activ self cleaning glass. It will use nanotechnology developed down the road at the company’s European Technical Centre at Lathom, near Ormskirk, to produce coated glass for the solar cell and thermal installation markets.

This is the sort of news that we should be shouting from the roof-tops. Pilkington’s technical centre in Lathom is a world leading research centre, and it’s on our doorstep. Research and development at the centre has led to a £40m investment in neighbouring St Helens. Yes, Pilks is now owned by Nippon Sheet Glass, but the lesson is that British R&D can lead to re-investment in Britain.


between the lines

I thought things had gone very quiet for local journalists blogging since David Sudworth shuffled off his journalistic coil, but I’m pleased to see that Robert Alcock has stepped into his shoes with his take on the local political scene. Of course, I’m seven months late noticing this – so everyone will have come across this already.

It’s mostly about Southport politics, but I’ve recently noticed his name in the advertiser, so perhaps we’ll see some postings about the political life in West Lancs. Regardless, it’s a good read – keep up the good work Rob :-)

Jude’s musings

A moment to point readers to our Jude’s blog. If you’re interested in her knitting, our children or other personal stuff (you might have stumbled on this as a relative or friend, who knows?) then her site is probably a lot more interesting than this.

It’s time to update my blogroll…

Skelmersdale regeneration consultation feedback

This from the Council’s website about the Skelmersdale consultation over the past six weeks. I would be interested to see the details, which I assume will be in the papers for Overview and Scrutiny on the 5th June. The Labour group should be congratulated for promoting the consultation too.

I hope that the Labour group will be analysing the numbers, particularly in terms of Firbeck. It seems that a majority were in favour of demolition of Firbeck, but it doesn’t say where those respondents are from.

They also say that 93% were in favour of a pedestrian friendly high street. I hope that this ends the Councils insistence on slapping a road through the centre of the redevelopment and adopt a pedestrianised centre.

Skelmersdale regeneration plan gets thumbs up from local people

Multi-million pound plans to bring a new heart to Skelmersdale town centre have been given strong support by local people.


A total of 1,879 people responded to West Lancashire District Council’s invitation to give their views on the town centre masterplan, and the majority were in favour of the proposals.


The masterplan includes the features that local people have said they want in the town centre including a new high street, more shops, another supermarket, a new leisure centre, community facilities, improvements to the Tawd Valley, and housing.


A six-week consultation period was held to give people the chance to comment. A newsletter and questionnaire was sent to every house in the town and a special exhibition was held in the Concourse. The questionnaires have now been analysed and the results show that:

· The vast majority of those who took part 93% support the proposals to create a new pedestrian-friendly high street with a range of shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, a cinema and leisure and community facilities

· 86% are in favour of moving the college, library, swimming pool, sports centre and ecumenical centre to new purpose-built facilities in the town centre

· The proposal to develop parts of Tawd Valley for recreation and leisure won support from 91%

· 92% support for the proposals to create new routes, links and car parks to allow better access to the town centre

· 90% support proposals to move the bus station at the Concourse to a new ground-level location, and improve links to the town centre.


Proposals for new housing also won widespread support:

· 73% backed proposals for new homes in the town centre.

· The development of open areas of land near Yewdale – improving the Tawd Valley and funding the new public and leisure facilities in the town – won support from 80%.

· 68% of those who completed questionnaires are in favour of proposals to demolish the Firbeck estate to allow the town centre area to be planned and redeveloped, providing residents are fully compensated and given alternative accommodation options.


Proposals for new housing also won widespread support:

Les Abernethy, Deputy Chief Executive, said: “It is great that so many people took the opportunity to fill in the questionnaires and give their views on the masterplan. It’s clear that there is strong support for the regeneration plans. We are now looking closely at the results and will study the results of the consultation before we make decisions to finalise the masterplan.”


The masterplan will be discussed at the Local Development Framework Working Group meeting on 15 May. Following that, it will be on the agenda at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 5 June. Any views expressed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be passed on to the Cabinet meeting on 17 June, when a final decision will be made on the masterplan.

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