Category Archives: Uncategorized

conference – just visiting

With this year’s conference just a few miles away, you’d think that I’d sort out my pass and make sure I was going. Well… it didn’t happen. Mainly because I didn’t know if I was going to be busy with work (which I am) and that our little Joel is one on Tuesday.

Next year, I’ll be more organised.

Picked up the conference magazine today and there is still plenty going on outside the secure conference bubble, so I can get along after work.

It’s a shame that all the progress events are inside the secure area because one of the most interesting things will be to compare the compass and progress events – that, and I suppose the leadership gossip.

Old postings

I finally sorted out the old postings from 2004 and 2005. These had been lost because the database on the old site had broken – in the end they just needed a “repair table”, but it wasn’t a top priority!

Some of the early messages relate to Up Holland when I was on the Parish Council.

Chequer Lane – Campaign website

Local residents in Up Holland have put together a website as part of their campaign to save the Chequer Lane playing fields. It’s at

If you have any memories of the playing fields, information about when they were donated to the people of Up Holland, or would like to help the campaign then please contact Allison or Alizon who are organising the local campaign. Their contact details are here.

Loss of playing fields at Chequer Lane – Public meeting

The District Council recently decided to sell off the playing fields in Chequer Lane, Up Holland – just over the road from Holland Moor, and well used by people in Up Holland and Moorside.

There will be a public meeting in the Up Holland Library Meeting Rooms, on Friday 30th June at 6pm to see how local residents feel about the loss of such an important open space, and I would encourage anyone who is concerned about the loss of playing fields and the over-development of Up Holland to attend.

The council seems unaware that the fields are used for a lot more than just playing football on a Sunday morning. They are well used by local children and residents from both sides of Stannanought Road and it is wrong for the council to do this without any consultation with either the local councillors or the residents.

Going offline

There won’t be too many posts here through ’till the local elections on the 4th May. For two reasons: firstly, this isn’t an election site and I don’t want to post anything that could be mis-interpreted as that. Secondly, I’m just too damn busy with the campaign, work and a house move that might happen next week. I just don’t see myself having the time.

Embarrassing Picture Time

Steve... a long time ago!Found an old railcard from when I started working after Uni. Ah, I was just a child! It had a 1995 pass in the wallet, so the photo was probably from around ’94 (when I moved to Twickenham).

Steve... Older, greyer, but happy!Of course, time hasn’t been kind to me and today I’m a shadow of my former self. Here’s a more recent picture of me and my wife, Jude, at Formby Point, a couple of years ago.

Lily and Joel weren’t on the scene yet, and I wasn’t yet a councillor – hence I don’t have a head of grey hair!

What’s this got to do with West Lancs, the Labour party, or anything? Nothing. I just thought someone might want to see a picture. If you’re _really_ interested, there are some pictures over at flickr, but I need to dig out the URL.

‘Local government, new localism and the delivery of regeneration’

Yet another speech from local government ministers about the broad range of changes going on in local government. Some of which have already happened (LAA’s, LSP’s and some devolution to communities) and some that look possible – namely, city regions, changes to two-tier areas and further devolution.

The problem that seems to be raised, particularly with the two-tier reform, is that people want to know the terms of the changes – some ground rules. Understandably this comes from both members and officers. The line from the ODPM seems to be that no decision has been made on two-tier areas yet. This is probably to avoid jumpiness from councils that might be scrapped, but it adds to the uncertainty. The lack of ground rules also means that when we’re asked to come forward with our proposals for what we think the most appropriate local government structures should be – there is a concern that we don’t know what things like the preferred population should be.

I think it’s actually quite clear what the government are trying to achieve, and it’s spelled out yet again in the speech by Jim Kirkpatrick. The devil is in the detail. And while the govt appears to be trying to consult to create the ground rules and build a consensus on the way forward, many in local govt can’t help but get stuck in the detail – because that’s their job.

So while the whole thing has been an open process and the govt are trying to make a good job of it, it wouldn’t surprise me if the white paper still comes as a surprise to people.

Serco, swimming pool complaints

It seems that there is a small note in the Ormskirk advertiser this week that mentions my name. It’s based on a press release that I sent them about six weeks ago regarding Stockport swimming pool and Serco’s reported renegotiation with the Council.

In the article it says that I’m not convinced that we’re getting the full story from the Council and from Serco about what’s going on at the pools and the leisure facilities and that there will be a debate at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting next month – gripping stuff.

Anyway, I start getting phone calls saying how bad things are now at the pools since Serco took over. These chime with tales that I’ve heard over the past twelve months and so I’m guessing there’s something in it.

Some of the issues revolve around staff, that they change frequently and that they are unhappy with the new setup. Also that the water seems to be colder since Serco took over (a common complaint, and one that the Council reacted to strongly when I asked last time).

There seems to be a thread that people feel like corners are being cut and that they are being squeezed for more and more money – for example the children’s swimming lessons are paid for in advance. I am told that previously the lessons used to have a break during the school holidays at Christmas, Easter and Summer. Now Serco are running the classes through the holidays and parents have to pay for the extra weeks whether or not they’re able to attend. I get the impression that people feel the service has gone down while the costs have increased.

If there are any more issues such as this I would be interested in hearing them. I don’t think we’re hearing half the story and it would be good to get some more information before the briefing at Overview and Scrutiny.