Friday, July 29, 2011

Ongoing battle against alcohol licensing in Kensington and Fairfield

Liam and I attended the meeting of the Licensing Committee to object to (yet another) alcohol licence in Kensington and Fairfield.

In this particular case it was the new shop on Farnworth Street which we are delighted has taken over the Phythian pub with a much needed local resource.

What local people did not want though, and were fighting hard against, was for this shop to be open until 11pm selling alcohol. It is about three years ago when we last fought on behalf of the people of Farnworth Street, Butler Crescent and Molyneux Road in particular for a proposed shop on this site to be open so late; with the support of the Planning Committee it was agreed that any shop here should close at 8pm.

In particular Molyneux Road is designated as a "gold" hotspot for anti-social behaviour by our local police.

So it was with great disappointment that we all learnt of an application for an alcohol licence that would extend shop opening hours in this way and make the situation even worse.

We both attended the committee and were delighted when the members of licensing agreed with us. The shop and its alcohol licence will finish at 8pm. The new owner seems like a nice bloke that we can do business with and we wish him well, but we are glad that his enterprise will finish at a respectable time.


30th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Lady Di

The Liverpool Echo tells us tonight that it will carry a big feature tomorrow remembering the 30th anniversary of the Royal Wedding where Prince Charles married Diana Spencer. (And no doubt they will not be alone in this, we can expect this from lots of newspapers tomorrow I am sure, I am not especially singling them out).

Am I alone in finding this hideously distasteful?

There is so much wrong with this. For one thing the marriage was not a success and ended in divorce, secondly the bride died in difficult circumstances 14 years ago, thirdly the groom has since remarried and fourthly their elder son celebrated his own wedding only a few months ago.

Are we so devoid of news items that an article about how we remember celebrating this event is worthy of coverage?

Consider this, it is 25 years since I was married,  the marriage was not a success and ended in divorce, secondly the groom died in difficult circumstances 15 years ago. And although I have not remarried and we did not have any children, I would be simply horrified if any newspaper chose to remind the world of our wedding anniversary and ask how people remembered celebrating it at the time. Of course they wont because we weren't famous and most of the guests will have long forgotten the entire event anyway and nobody would be remotely interested, but that is only because we were neither famous nor royal. But the point still stands, it would be staggeringly inappropriate and I would be very upset.

For what it is worth, as a confirmed Republican even then, I studiously ignored the Royal wedding, despite being an unwitting visitor to London at the time when it was all happening. However, I still have compassion for the Prince of Wales and his sons, second wife and wider family, and I think this is very wrong.

Incidentally the couple were married on 29th July 1981 which is today, not tomorrow so I have to presume that the coverage is timed for tomorrow because, particularly during Parliamentary Recess and outside of the Football season, there is very little else to write about. This does the already damaged image of our fourth estate no favours.

Photo from

Iraqi Asylum Seeker arrested by police after self harm

I have just read a disturbing piece in tonight's Liverpool Echo

It would seem that an Iraqi Asylum Seeker, frustrated and desperate whilst attending the UK Borders Agency in Liverpool began to self-harm with a knife saying he had "had enough".

And how was this terrible state of affairs dealt with by our police force?
They tasered him and then arrested him for possession of an offensive weapon.

I am reminded of another case where someone attempted to set fire to themselves in Louise Elman's office, and would have succeeded had she not grappled with them. And the many cases of people who have sewed their mouth and eyes closed in desperation at being sent back to regimes they feared would kill them.

Is this how a democracy supposedly based upon respect and human dignity responds to a crisis?

They say he became aggressive but ask yourself this, if it was you who was forced to flee for your life wouldn't you become frustrated and desperate and aggressive if you felt you were getting nowhere?

Imagine that a violent civil war broke out in this country between our political parties, between the Government and the Opposition,  or between the Protestants and Catholics or between Monarchists and Republicans, or integrationalists and seperatists (Ireland and N Ireland for instance) (all of which have been the case in the last 500 years).

Imagine that as a result of that conflict the army in the pay of the ruling force began to massacre your family and torture you because you found yourself on the wrong side through an accident of birth.

Imagine that you somehow got away and made it over to Berlin or Hong Kong or Brazil... And then when you got there, people accused you of over-exaggerating, that they said that you had the wrong papers, that you didn't make it clear when you got there that you wanted their help (and you couldn't properly speak the language and didn't know the right words to use). And what they really wanted was to send you back to Liverpool where perhaps a gas attack against your fellow residents had killed 50,000 people.

Imagine that you were physically scarred from torture and you were deeply grieving your lost family, with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and terrible nightmares.

And when you cannot get anyone to listen or to give you comfort and succour, in desperation you hurt yourself.

Do you think that being tasered and arrested is the right kind of response? Because I don't. Call me a bleedin' heart liberal if you like, I will happily own the badge, but unless there is very much more to this than meets the eye, this was a sad day for Liverpool.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A few words reflecting upon Kensington, Liverpool and the health of its people

Which words, quotes, poetry or lyrics would you want to see illuminated on an exciting new public building on the principle route into our city?

Plans have been published for a new PCT Health Centre to be built on the corner of Holt Road and Edge Lane.

Naturally I am in favour of the plans, local Kensington residents have been receiving care in a temporary site on Jubilee Park, behind Kensington library, for far too long already. The plans and the proposals to actually get on with the building of the new centre have been delayed several times while CPOs needed to be acquired to demolish properties (and I dont want to get into the rights and wrongs of that, my views are well known on the subject). It will provide a huge array of health services and be a huge benefit for the community.

However, there is an element to the plans which I think may attract wider interest and comment for people who travel around the city, other than the people who actually live in Kensington, Fairfield or Edge Hill, and this is what I want to address here.

Liverpool planners and regeneration specialists have urged the PCT to think creatively when designing a building on this site, because it is on a main thoroughfare into the city, at a major junction, and should be as far as possible an interesting if not iconic building to give additional value to the development.

And I believe the PCT have embraced those wishes. Instead of designing something utilitarian and painting it battle-ship grey, they have looked for something much more visual and interesting.

You will have to click on the link to the plans above to see them, as they are PDFs and I dont have the facility to reproduce those on the blog. If I had a JPEG, or if I can get one, I will put it up for you. However, to summarise, the building is two storeys, clad in different colours and shades with different sizes of windows, set in landscaping and sympathetic to local resident neighbours and looks fine and modern. I dont think that will be at issue.

The interesting part (sorry you have had to read so far to get to this part) is the art work that they intend to decorate the building with.

They want to incorpate a metal furled "banner" (I cannot think of a better word just now) which curls around some of the front elevation and which will be seen from Edge Lane, and which will be lit up at night.

The current design proposals include several quotes and lyrics about Liverpool, some of which are in a smaller font and some much bigger.

It goes something like this.

"For this land is a place I LOVE" (lyrics from Ferry Cross the Mersey, obviously) with "LOVE" being in a much bigger font than the proceeding words, then at the end of the artwork it says "Pool of LIFE" (quote from philosopher Carl Jung about Liverpool) where the word "LIFE" is much bigger too. So that the two big words, which will be lit up at night, will be LOVE LIFE, the other words will be visible in the day but less so at night.

And in between in a smaller block, not to be lit up in the dark, but nontheless visible, it says "Here comes the sun and I say it's alright" (which you will recognise as a lyric from a George Harrison song).

So here is my thinking and my concerns... I like LOVE LIFE as a lit piece of art work on a public health building on a main road into our city.

I do like Carl Jung's quote and can see it is appropriate. I am less convinced by the inclusion of a bit of Gerry Marsden although maybe could go for it if I was really leaned on but in general I find the inclusion of Beatles/Harrison lyrics to be lazy and hackneyed (and News International would be bound to seize on it enthusiastically too!).

Surely Liverpool - and Kensington - are worth more than this idle regurgitation? In Kensington in particular we are bored to death by journalists from national newspapers and radio stations wanting to do endless comparisons between Liverpool's Kensington and London's Kensington. Just as we as a city are bored also with the lazy references to football, Aintree and the Beatles. We have so much more to offer than this.

Surely we can think of better quotes?

Or can we?

That is the challenge I am setting you. The PCT won't have commissioned and paid for the metal artwork feature yet, so I reckon that if we can come up with something a bit more imaginative, providing that across the piece it still highlights the words LOVE and LIFE, we could persuade them to think more creatively.

What would you like to see engraved or picked out on the art work on such an important featured building on the road into our city?

I am due to meet the PCT in a few weeks time to talk about the centre, the services that will be offered there, how residents will best access them, the tender process for the pharmacy services, the car parking, being good neighbours, all the things that you would in fact expect. And I want to go to them with a considered view about the art work and how residents in Liverpool would like to be reflected.

Over to you, start commenting!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Community information leads to discovery of cannabis factories in Fairfield

Local police have advised me of the following information concerning their activities in Fairfield recently.

We begin with Lorne Street, L7

A member of the community had contacted police saying two men were in the house, harvesting cannabis.
The police arrested them both after they had escaped through a downstairs window. One of them was sprayed with CS while trying to run away.

The men were in the process of removing the equipment from the ground floor flat and after a further look round, police also found a cannabis farm in the cellar. The men had sawn the floorboards and joists and then place the floorboards back. There was a ladder underneath going to the cellar.

Officers also discovered a cannabis farm in a property on Hampstead Road, L6 and investigations are ongoing there.

This weekend a farm has been located at an address in Gresham St, L7 after a resident phoned police about a man acting suspiciously. Police have detained a man having found the house rigged up for the start of a cannabis farm. There were 100 small cannabis plants and 150 more substantial plants.

Sergeant Joyce's message to the public in the area is this

"All arrests and discoveries were as the result of community intelligence. Our thanks to the local community for their continued support and help in identifying offences, offenders and providing us with various types of intelligence. Without their help our job would be more difficult."

Local residents have the opportunity to become part of the 'eyes and ears' of the community by joining others in locally organised Home Watch Schemes, details of which PCSTO Rob Moore at Tuebrook Police Station can provide.

The simple message to criminals in our area is simple - we don't want you here and we wont tolerate you, expect to be noticed and reported - and ultimately arrested and charged!

Dog Welfare Roadshows

Liverpool City Council working with the Merseyside Dog Forum, and in partnership with the R.S.P.C.A and the Dogs Trust will be holding a number of events during July to promote responsible dog ownership and provide owners with the opportunity to have their dog micro chipped.

In addition the P.D.S.A, the U.K’s leading veterinary charity will be in attendance at the events, offering free health checks for dogs, which will cover general fitness as well as keys concerns such as obesity and dental disease.

When and Where?

The Following Dates:-
Friday 8th July Newsham Park, L6
Saturday 9th July Wavertree Sports Park, Wellington Road, L15
Sunday 10th July Garston Sports Centre, Long Lane, L19
Monday 11th July Doric Park, Old Swan, L13
Tuesday 12 July Scargreen Park, Shottesbrook Green, L11
Wednesday 13th July Croxteth Park, L12
Saturday 16th July Walton Sports Centre, Walton Hall Avenue, L4
Sunday 17th July Sefton Park, L17
Saturday 23rd July Everton Park Sports Centre, Great Homer Street, L5

Micro chipping, dog health checks and advice on neutering and responsible dog ownership will be available each day between 10.00am and 4.00pm.

What is Micro Chipping?

The chip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is quickly implanted and carries a unique number that is recorded on a National Database.

Please note that a dog must be at least twelve weeks old before it can be “chipped”. And it needs to be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Why bother?

It will help to re unite you with your dog if it manages to get out. Dogs that have been micro chipped and are found to be straying will, on the first occasion, be returned to their owner by the Animal Warden.

In cases where the owner cannot be contacted then the dog will be taken to the R.S.P.C.A kennels in Halewood. In order for the owner to subsequently reclaim the dog, all costs and kennelling fees will need to be paid in full before the dog can be released.

What will it cost?

All dog health checks and micro chipping is free of charge.

However donations will be accepted and shared amongst the animal charities that are involved in the event.

Who is Eligible?

Any dog owner from Liverpool or from any part of Greater Merseyside (Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, Halton, Warrington and West Lancashire).

What if I’m unable to get my dog to the road show?

Mr Ray Gordon from “Pets to Vets”, who specialises in pet transportation has agreed to transport dogs to and from their home address to the road show, if the owner is housebound or is unable to do so themselves.

Due to limited availability this offer is open to Liverpool residents only and will need to be booked in advance, a small charge will be made to cover the costs of the transportation, further information is available by contacting Ray Gordon, “Pets to Vets” on telephone number 07941259754.

If you have any further enquiries please contact Liverpool Direct, Tel, 233 3001, who will be able to put you in touch with a member of the Animal Warden Team.