By Mike Ashworth | March 6, 2014
This is the trailer for “This Is Liverpool” that many people are up in arms about. It paints a picture far too similar to that seen in the Benefits Street program.
And this is a rebuttal video created by Jake Mills, a comedian from Liverpool.
I asked Jake for his opinion of the This Is Liverpool TV Trailer and this is what he said.
@mikeashworth This Is L'pool is a cheap & crass interpretation of my city. Unimaginative media once again bow down to redundant stereotypes
— Jake Mills (@Jakemills1) March 6, 2014
By Mike Ashworth | March 6, 2014
I like this story that appeared in St Helens Reporter
Town Hall bosses used a little-known legal power to transform a local eyesore and solve a tenant’s bedroom tax conundrum.
Knowsley Council’s strategic housing team seized control of an empty two-bedroom property in Whiston, which had been a blight on the community for eight years, after their repeated attempts to engage with the owner fell on deaf ears.
They have now handed the property over to Knowsley Housing Trust, who have let it out to tenant Elaine McNally – who has downsized from a four-bedroom house and lives in the property with her daughter.
Elaine said: “In my old house I had the stress of thinking about where the money was going to come from to pay the bedroom tax and it was too much. Coming into this house was great and I really feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
“When I first came to view the house with my daughter, I was absolutely delighted. The fact that all the work had been done took away a lot of the stress of moving. There is a lovely feel to the house and I felt at home right away.”
Knowsley Council has successfully used their legal powers on a number of occasions to bring empty properties back into use and claim they are the only authority in the Liverpool City Region to do so.
Coun Dave Lonergan, Knowsley Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, economy and skills, said: “We have a clear strategy aimed at bringing empty properties in Knowsley back into use and we use a range of innovative methods to achieve that goal.
“In this instance, we have removed a blight from the community, turned a problem property into a lovely family home and helped a resident downsize to take them out of the bedroom tax.
“This is a great example of how our approach to dealing with empty properties in the borough can resolve the issue to everyone’s benefit.”
Ian Thomson, of Knowsley Housing Trust, added: “We are really pleased that we have been able to help Elaine avoid the Government’s bedroom tax and this is one way in which KHT are supporting customers do this.”
Here is a video about the transformation of the property.
By Mike Ashworth | March 6, 2014
I’m not really sure what is going on with Labour. Recently they have talked about “reconnecting” with the people of this Country, allowing more people to get involved etc.
On the 24th Feb I sent them a tweet enquiring as to why they needed both my email address and postcode to begin a “conversation” with me.
@UKLabour taken to page asking for email address and postcode. Why postcode? What do you do with this info?
— Mike Ashworth (@mikeashworth) February 24, 2014
I’ve followed up a few times since, no response to any of them. Tells you all you need to know about this new campaign I guess.
By Mike Ashworth | March 6, 2014
Back on Feb 28th I tweeted Catherine McDonald as follows, no response……
@Cath_McDonald if you wanted to do something very cool, you could arrange small informal mtgs with retail / biz owners in town….
— Mike Ashworth (@mikeashworth) February 28, 2014
@Cath_McDonald listen to what they have to say, few others seems to take an interest!
— Mike Ashworth (@mikeashworth) February 28, 2014
By Mike Ashworth | March 6, 2014
I popped along to the Town Hall in St Helens last night for the most important Full Council Meeting of the year, the one where they pass the new budget and agree any changes in Council Tax etc.
Not having gone along to any Council Meetings before I imagined that I might be the only member of the public, along with reporters from the local papers. How wrong I was.
Their was a large contingent of people outside demonstrating about cuts, equal pay for cleaners etc. Wonderful.
It’s a long time since I’ve been involved in “activism” and I’m glad to see it is still thriving at the local level here in St Helens, more people should get involved, scrutinise what the elected representatives are up to.
I was chatting to a lot of the people outside beforehand and discovered lots of things that really havent made our local papers. such as….
Police intimidation of young people in town centre
Recently young people skateboarding in St Helens has become the focus of the Police and others. But something that’s not really been written about much is how they feel intimidated and threatened by the Police. In one instance, a child, who was sat on their skateboard, had the skateboard pulled from underneath them by a Police Officer, which threw the child to the floor.
I’ve urged them all to have their phones at the ready and get recording any examples such as this in future and upload them to Youtube etc. Seems that many of them believes they werent “allowed” to record the police like that. Well, yes you can, and yes you should. More scrutiny needed of what’s going on right under our noses. The powers of PCSO’s do vary from force to force but it’s worth noting that they don’t have the power of arrest, they can ask for your name and address, but you don’t have to give it.
Equal pay claim for cleaners
Despite having an all female shortlist for the new Labour MP it appears that St Helens Council are refusing to settle a claim for equal pay by cleaners, amongst others. It’s been to a court a few times, costing the taxpayers of St Helens lots of money in legal costs. Apparently the judge had advised St Helens Council to settle but the Council still refuse.
Some members of the public were turned away from the Meeting as their are only 20 spaces available for the public to use. This is terrible. I would urge more and more people to come along to future meetings, force the council to provide more access to public, or move to a bigger venue. I had a vision of the Council meetings being held at Langtree stadium. The Councillors etc all arranged on the pitch and the St Helens populace amassed in the stadium, every chair filled. Watching them, judging them, those they have elected! Fanciful I know, but you get where I’m going with this, more scrutiny, more access to public, most definitely.
At some points during the meeting it was difficult to hear some Councillors speak as other Councillors were talking amongst themselves and you couldnt hear anything other than that!
The new Combined Authority to be called Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The Leader of the Council, Barrie Gruneweld, advised the assembled that the new Combined Regional Authority would henceforth be referred to as Liverpool City Region Authority. Wow, I bet many people didnt see that coming. I wonder how those in Merseyside who didnt want this name used will be feeling about that?
The Lib Dems “pleaded” for the identity of St Helens not to be lost within this new Authority.
Barrie stated that St Helens identity will not be lost and that Liverpool will not be the “linchpin” of the new Authority. Hmmm, odd really as Liverpool is rather prominent in the name and Barrie has advised me that the inaugural meeting will likely take place in Liverpool too.
All this is rather odd as if you look at the dictionary definition of linchpin, it is as follows. “a person or thing vital to an enterprise or organisation.” and Liverpool is clearly that.
I’m interested in exactly what this “identity” they talk of is. Yep, we’ve got lots of wonderful heritage, but our “identity”, i’m not so sure, at least he didn’t call it the St Helens Brand!!
I’ll be popping along to the inaugral meeting of the new authority to see what’s what.
Town Centre – Boots, Dorothy Perkins, Burton to close….
The word on the street is that Boots along with Dorothy Perkins and Burton in the Town Centre are to close in the future. This is along with all the others stores we’ve lost such as WH Smith, HMV, Miss Selfridge etc.
How many more stores will need to close before alarm bells start to ring. Perhaps they are hoping that St Helens will become the first town centre in England to not have any chains at all, apart from pound shops that is!
So they’ve waited until the town centre is truly on it’s knees, and then, just before the local elections, come riding in to save the day. That’s the way it feels with the announcement of an extra £1m. This is in addition to the £2m they currently have in the Business Development Fund aka the Jobs And GRowth Fund. It should be noted that the latter wasnt money from our Council but was in fact a nice grant from Central Government. Where on Earth is this money going? I look around and I, like many others, struggle to see where, though the Chamber of Commerce building looks very nice!
It was interesting to note that the extra £1m is to come out of the Council’s reserves. If my understanding is correct, this is money that can be used for Capital Projects only.
I will be taking a keen interest in this fund and how this money is being spent and going to be spent in the future.
Money down the drain
Taxpayers money being wasted on legal bills to fight paying those such as cleaners the money they are served.
Parkside. Will this become a huge embarrassment to the Council? It’s estimated that the redevelopment will eventually cost £6m Yet I’ve not really seen anything tangible with regard to how success will be measured, though of course it’s worth remembering that this is Barrie Gruneweld’s pet project, so whatever else happens, this is not going to go away, as it will be too embarrassing for him to do a 180.
When frontline services should be supported the Council has earmarked £1m for first time buyers. They don’t even need to spend this money as their is a government scheme in place that requires no additional funding from Council;s. Read my blog post about it here.
Cuts, Cuts, Cuts…
The Leader of The Council, Barrie Gruneweld, launch into his usual rhetoric about how tough things are. Guess what, we all know, it’s mentioned every day, the cuts suck! But more time is given over to this than to looking to what we can do. It’s quite pitiful really.
But the weird thing was who exactly his speech was aimed at, not the public in attendance, not the other Councillors, I am guessing that it was for the benefit of the local press.
In fact, if you didn’t really know any of this you could be forgiven for thinking that Barrie has aspirations beyond being Leader of the Council. I suspect he was well gutted when an all female shortlist for a new Labour MP in St Helens was announced, but who knows, maybe he has aspirations to do Mayor Joe Anderson’s job instead? Watch this space.
Their is a lot of talk of protecting frontline services, how we may have to close libraries and other such things, yet today I read that a new “leisure village” is to be created in St Helens. You couldnt make this stuff up!
Be Careful Who You Quote – Henry Ford. Famed Industrialist / Nazi Sympathiser
I think it was during Barrie Grunewald’s “speech” that I overheard a quote from famed industrialist Henry Ford. This was the guy who set up the Ford Motor Company and he revolutionsed the way Business is done. Because of this he is often quoted by many people, in fact I used to quote him myself many many years ago, before I discovered some very unsavoury things about him. He was a noted Jew hater and Nazi sympathiser.
Here are some of the very unsavoury things you probably don’t know about Henry Ford, which Barrie has either overlooked or was ignorant of.
- “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration” – Adolph Hitler, 1931
- Hitler had a portrait of Henry Ford on his office wall
- He was a renowned anti semite and started a newspaper to spread his peculiar brand of anti semitism to the world at large.
- In 1938 Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the most important honour that Germany might offer a non-citizen. Adolf Hitler sent a personal note of gratitude to be delivered at the ceremony. Signed on July 7, the parchment scroll warmly thanked Ford for his “humanitarian ideals”…. Ford proudly accepted it and never relinquished it – not even after Germany started the Second World War, not after America was attacked by Japan and Germany declared war on the US, not even after the full scale of the Holocaust was known.”
- Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.
- Ford channelled funds to the Nazi Party,
- Published a book, titled “The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem. “
- He is credited with “Fordism”: mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. Sounds a lot like the kind of Policy Thatcher would have written!
Council tax raised by highest amount possible
The members of the Council were unanimous in voting through a Council Tax rise of 1.99%.
This is the highest possible amount you can raise it by without needing to hold a full referendum of the voters of St Helens.
Lib Dems and Conservatives hang your heads in shame
Their was no alternative budget proposed by any of the other parties, shameful really. It’s like they cant be bothered to at least look like they care enough to make some valid suggestions.
Leader of Council wants us to forget about the past
Barrie Gruneweld, who will always point fingers at the Coalition government and cuts, despite Labour having said they would do the same thing if they were in power still, would like it if all of us forgot how this Country got into such a mess in the first place.
Gordon Brown and his “light touch” regulation of the city. He failed to crack down on the bankers, look what happened.
Rampant public spending but without a proper plan of how to help those most in need to ensure they are less dependant on welfare state and tap into the potential they have. I’ve seen many of these “agencies” at work and they look at many of the people they are supposed to be helping as “cash cows”, rather than seeing each one as a human being, with potential that is yet to be realised.
Selling off our Country to the highest bidders.
Facilitating the transfer of wealth from those who have little, to those who dont need any more.
Mortgaging the future of our Country and it’s great people with PFI schemes which cost fortunes and make tons of money for Banks, Advisors, Consultants, that money coming from the taxpayers.
The numbers don’t add up
Despite having put up Council Tax by the highest possible amount, cutting services due to funding shortfall from central government, despite hundreds of council workers not being on the payroll anymore, despite avoiding the equal pay claim, the gross expenditure still appeared to be the same. I don’t get it, and others I was with didn’t either.
The illusion of Democracy
With the exception of one Councillor, a chap who represents Thatto Heath Ward, pretty much all questions, comments from public assembled after meeting were ignored by the elected representatives. Some appearing to scurry past the public, heaven help us if those that are elected were to engage in meaningful discussion with the populace of St Helens.
Failed to fix the roof when the sun was shining
If you’ve not heard this saying before, I’ll explain. The best way to ensure the roof of your house is in great condition to whether the storms etc you need to ensure you fix all the holes in it. And the best way to do that is to go in to your loft on a bright summer’s day and see where any light is shining through gaps in tiles. And then fix them.
The problem in St Helens is that when the sun was shining, when we had a labour party in government handing out vast sums of money to our town, it was taken for granted that the money would always be there, rather than work to improve our local prosperity so we wouldn’t be so reliant upon it in the future.
And you’d have to have had your head in the sand as a politician to not see where the Country was heading, spending was out of control, and now it’s had to be reigned in, because we failed to fix our roof when the sun was shining.
Politics – it’s everywhere
Often people think that Politics can be boring, not to be discussed, something that is for the elected representatives to get involved in. They are wrong, politics is all around us, it informs many of the things we do every day, for better or worse. And my view is that Politics is way too important to be left to the politicians. More people need to start questioning, scrutininsing what their elected representatives are up to, more campaigining for regular public forums, get Democracy out in the open.
Being able to vote is one of the most precious things we have, alongside sitting on a jury in judgement of others. Democracy doesn’t end with your vote, that’s just the beginning of the process. I look forward to more people getting involved in the things that effect them every day of their lives.
By the way, I completely forgot to mention. This most important Full Council Meeting of the year lasted all of 50 minutes!
By Mike Ashworth | March 5, 2014
Just some news stories or articles that have caught my eye recently.
Mostly Manchester, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Merseyside, St Helens and surrounds.
Homegrown movie boss’ team effort is a triumph. St Helens Reporter
Two town hall leaders scoop national awards. Manchester Evening News.
Santander launches first fast growth SME incubator in Liverpool. Liverpool Echo.
Final countdown begins to the start of the International Festival For Business. Liverpool Echo.
Former United star Gary Neville will outline the thinking behind his 139-room hotel at MIPIM Conference. Manchester Evening News.
Merseyside Special Investment Fund helps drive expansion of Liverpool events company. Liverpool Echo
The return of the Giants to Liverpool to mark World War I gets £250,000 Arts Council boost. Liverpool Echo.
Liverpool Adelphi – the ‘Grand Old Lady of Lime Street’ – marks 100 years’. Liverpool Echo.
Liverpool businesses to get £1,000 off their tax bills under new plans backed by town hall bosses. Liverpool Echo.
Liverpool’s Spark Up business pilot gets under way today. Liverpool Echo.
The north holds the key to a better economy. Manchester Evening News.
‘Foreign owned SMEs not performing’. Manchester Evening News.
Our top growing firms win awards. Manchester Evening News.
Why regions are vital to the UK’s long-term prosperity. Manchester Evening News.
Wirral taxi drivers to be trained up as ‘ambassadors’ for the borough. Liverpool Echo
HOME topping out ceremony announced. Manchester Evening News.
Everything is ship-shape for cruise liner’s voyage across the Atlantic next year. Liverpool Echo.
Property gets new lease of life. St Helens Reporter.
A vinyl revival that shows records never really went away. Liverpool Echo.
By Mike Ashworth | March 4, 2014
Trains services arent exactly great in the North-West, lots of overcrowding and old diesel trains still running whilst we await electrification of various lines.
Imagine my surprise when I heard on the news earlier that a significant amount of rolling stock from the North is being sent down South to ease overcrowding. Worse to come as it’s expected that to make up the shortfall in rolling stock in the north they will compensate by utilising stock from other already overcrowded lines in the North as well. And it get’s even more unbelievable.
Currently the Manchester to Liverpool lines are being electrified, having for many years, only been able to run diesel trains. Well, it now appears that when the electrification project is all finshed that their may not be any electric trains available to run on them! You couldnt make this stuff up.
Something I wasn’t aware of is that the train companies themselves don’t actually own the rolling stock they use. They are owned by separate leasing companies, Porterbrook being one of them. Now this got me thinking.
If the trains being sent down south were previously being leased, and now as a result of letting them go, they are no longer having to pay for them, then the costs of running rail services has now reduced and passengers should therefore see a cut in ticket prices because of this.
If of course, the train company is still having to pay for trains that it no longer has the ability to use then that’s a scandal right there!
We need to stop the nonsense that is HS2 and invest more money in the rail network in the North-West so it is up to 21st century standards. This year we will see the North of England host the International Festival for Business 2014 #ifb14 .
Anyone visiting the region would think we’re an absolute joke if they were to check out the transport available in th region.
I’ve asked Mayor Joe Anderson MBE for a comment.
— Mike Ashworth (@mikeashworth) March 4, 2014
No response has been received from Mayor Joe Anderson OBE.
By Mike Ashworth | March 3, 2014
If you are looking for a refreshing perspective on what’s going on in Liverpool then here are a couple that provide a refreshingly different perspective to that of the Echo.
The Liverpool city region’s most read independent website: news, opinion, reviews and features by the best writers, photographers and designers. Mapping out our city, one step at a time.
Liverpool Confidential publishes news and reviews without fear or favour.