Seacombe Councillors campaigning – with good company

Paul Stuart, Steve Rotheram, Chris Jones & Adrian Jones

It’s great to be campaigning with good company. Steve Rotheram was Jeremy Corbyn’s PPS. He’s now the Mersey City Region Metro Mayor. Steve’s been a good friend of Seacombe’s since the time when he and Adrian were both mayors.

Borough Road: Planning application to convert ‘Elmees’ shop to multi occupancy is refused

Cllr Adrian Jones addressed the Planning Committee, asking them to reject the application.

15th February 2018

Planning Committee this evening unanimously rejected a request to convert a former shop, in Seacombe’s Borough Road, for multi-occupancy. The plan provided for the first and second floors to be converted from their original purpose (to house a family running a shop below) into five single bedrooms. Occupants would share lavatories and showers – and a communal ‘sitting room’ located on the ground floor behind a shop.

Councillors who viewed the building a few days earlier reported that the stairs were narrow with what one described as inadequate rails. Another councillor commented that there was no external fire escape so in the event of a fire on the ground floor, or first floor, the occupants of the bed sitting rooms on the top floor would have to get past the fire below them to escape.

Several councillors commented on the cramped nature of many such conversions, one questioning whether the intensification of multi-occupancy in former family homes, and in former shops, in recent years may today be creating the conditions for tomorrow’s slums.

Several councillors commented that they felt the conversion offered inferior accommodation and would militate against the best interests of the locality.

The application was rejected unanimously.

Protecting the NHS and Social Services against the Tory funding onslaught

13th February 2018

Cllr Adrian Jones put Labour’s case, to public applause from the public in attendance, at this evening’s Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.

Labour’s ideology has long been to continue to build and strengthen a single, cohesive, NHS, co-operating seamlessly with Local Authorities’ Social Care Provision – to avoid duplication of services and waste through planning and co-operation to drive efficiency.

Conservative dogma has long been to de-centralise and localise NHS services, and to embrace private health-care provision, under a more market-based culture under which, it is believed, competition will drive efficiency.

Pragmatic action. What’s happening right now, in Wirral and beyond, is not driven by either of those ideologies. It’s a pragmatic, survival-driven, reaction to the Government’s massive funding cuts, both to NHS and Local Authority incomes.

Funding withdrawal since 2012 has meant that neither local government’s social care provision, nor the NHS, can survive without radical alteration of services.

Labour Party policy is to restore, and to unify, health and social care provision, from the regular fragmentations it has undergone after several Tory ‘re-organisations’ coupled with rapidly increasing pressure on services because people are enjoying longer, healthier, lives. That increased pressure on services (although the cost of old age care is crudely portrayed as an economic detriment) is in fact a tribute to Labour’s creation of the National Health Service – in the teeth of determined political opposition.

‘Your health is your greatest wealth’ is an old, but true, adage. People now live longer, healthier lives, not least because Labour’s NHS, and local authority social service provision, have made it possible.
What is now happening here, in Wirral, can mean either of two things:

1. This proposed amalgamation of services, driven and forced by Tory financial pressure, is widely seen as a function of the government’s wish to open NHS services to private sector penetration – including through open-market competitive commissioning.
There are strident ‘Heroic defeatists’ saying our Council should ‘… have nothing to do with it’.
But that pious, simplistic, retreat from action would result only in the collapse of existing services – to the appalling detriment of the people who elected us. We have no intention of delivering deficit budgets (which would conflict with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s unequivocal advice). It would be the greatest disservice to the Labour and Trade Union Movement and to the people of Wirral.

2. However, there are genuinely (not romantically) ‘Left’ – voices explaining patiently that of course this is not what Labour wants to do under a Tory Government – in conditions crafted by them to pave the way for marketisation of health and social services if they can achieve it. However, an amalgamation of services is what we would want under a Labour government’. But whilst we are under a Tory government it is what we have to do, in conditions not of our choosing, both in pursuit of damage limitation and – of the utmost importance – to have structures in place that an incoming Labour government can take back into public, accountable, social – not profiteering – control.
The short-term necessity facing Wirral derives from the crudely crafted financial austerity intended by the government to compel us, and the NHS, to establish a very different framework of services.

The contrary message we must give to the Tory government (and their LibDem lookalikes should they be thinking about joining yet another Collaboration Government) is that although they may believe they have crafted a framework ripe for increased privatisation under commissioning, it is also a framework that can be taken right back into fully funded, democratically accountable, public ownership under a Labour Government.

The Theresa May government knows exactly what it is doing despite Mr Cameron’s promise of ‘no top-down reorganisation’. Well, we didn’t believe that when Mr Cameron said it – but his Party under him, under Mrs May, or under Boris, can believe that a Labour government will take it all back and return the NHS, and Social care, to public ownership and popular accountability for the people it is there to serve.