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Southport Labour have announced that their candidate for the Dukes By-Election is Frank Hanley, a former senior local government officer and community relations expert.

Labour's surge of support in Southport since 2015 meant it came second for the first time in Dukes Ward in June's general election.
 
The former Head of Services at Bradford Council now lives in Ainsdale with his wife Anne and is very actively involved in the local community. He's also Southport Labour's observer to Sefton Council.
 
Frank says this experience helps him to understand the huge strain the local authority is operating under due to Government cuts to Sefton's budget and the need to work cooperatively with it for the good of Southport: 
"Sefton has lost some £200m in funding since 2010, that is a devastating amount and I'm amazed that it manages to do what it does working under that type of restraint. It deserves a lot more credit than it gets in these circumstances but others in Southport just want to constantly attack it rather than acknowledge the constraints it operates under and try to work with it for the good of our town."  
 
He believes this goes to the heart of a major problem in Southport's current political landscape: 
"There's simply too much hypocrisy at present. The Lib-Dems and Tories are pretty shameless. John Pugh while MP voted for those cuts, Ann Pearmain as a Tory activist supported them, then they carp and criticise and try and score cheap political points." 
 
"Our town has suffered as a result of those cuts. Our community has suffered too. We have endured cutbacks to vital services for children, for the elderly, for all of us. To what end? Drive around our town, on our roads, past our parks and playgrounds, that's what those cuts look like. Does it feel like Southport has benefitted from their choice?"
 
"Issues like the red tarmac for Lord St. really highlight the problem. At double the cost it was simply unjustifiable at a time when childrens' centres are also having to be decommissioned and reorganised but the Tories and Lib-Dems jump up and down about it, even though they are the reason the cost can't be met. It's also important to remember they didn't oppose it when it was passed back in April. That is hypocrisy."  
 
"They loudly claim Sefton does nothing for Southport, quietly ignoring the near £100m investment in the town via projects such as The Atkinson and Southport Market redevelopments; conveniently ignoring its successes in areas like tourism, which brought in over £500m to the local economy in 2016. It's hypocrisy."  
   
frank_dukes_canvass-crop.jpg"Southport needs change, it needs Labour's message of hope not hypocrisy. It needs funding for local government; funding for Southport. We need Labour councillors here who will work for the good of the town within the local authority, we need cooperation not condemnation. We need those looking to build, not bluster. We need progress."
 
Frank hopes to use his experience of previously working for the Community Relations Council to help push forward an agenda of collaborative working with the council, local employers and other interested parties for the good of Southport: 
"No council is perfect but Sefton is doing the best it can with the increasingly meagre resources it has. There are issues, for instance, I intend to lobby the council over the parking charges but first and foremost is the fight for better funding for our local authority and an end to austerity."
 
"I also want to ensure that Southport has first-rate services for older people and to liaise with local business to help ensure economic growth. We also need to ensure that we have good standards of rented accommodation and the same for guest accommodation to help improve our tourism and economy. We have to tackle anti-social behaviour in the ward and I also support an increase in police officers and reversing the cuts in their numbers."
       
"We find solutions by working together, I spent my career doing that but at present Southport and Dukes are being sold short by hard-faced men and women who are not interested in Southport's progress, only their own progress in Southport."

Dukes Ward Candidate Frank Hanley Offers Message of "Hope not Hypocrisy"

  Southport Labour have announced that their candidate for the Dukes By-Election is Frank Hanley, a former senior local government officer and community relations expert. Labour's surge of support in...

 Ovington_Drive_park_protest.jpgIn an open letter to Kew Ward residents we are delighted to be able to announce a major development regarding the Ovington Drive Park playground closure. 

Photo - Liz Savage and Kew Ward members, Janis and Jim Blackburne and Linda Heap, with protestors.

 

 "Dear Kew Ward Resident,

We have an important update for you concerning Ovington Drive Park. 

You may be aware that the playground has had to be temporarily closed on safety grounds. This is after a young girl broke her arm in Formby on equipment of a similar design and age.
 
The equipment, which is now 30 years old, had corroded internally and gave way, forcing Sefton Council to close the playgrounds in Formby and Ovington Drive to avoid the possibility of further injury.
 
This has caused a lot of concern locally, especially as it appears there was some confusing information surrounding the decision being circulated and a meeting with council officers and ward councillors had to be abandoned after details were leaked.
 
As a result, Liz Savage, Labour's local parliamentary candidate in 2015 and '17 and colleagues from Kew Ward of Southport Labour Party have spoken to local residents and the Chair of Governors at Kew Woods Primary School and subsequently made representations to Sefton Council.
 
With over £200m lost to Sefton since 2010 in budget cuts agreed by Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats, money to replace the equipment is obviously very tight. Liz and her Southport Labour colleagues, however, have discovered that there is over £20,000 in local ward funds unspent, which could be put towards the cost of refitting the playground.
 
Ward funds are council funds but spent at the discretion of your local ward councillors, so it needs the agreement of Kew Ward's Liberal Democrat councillors, Booth, Weavers and Pullin to use them.
 
The proposal will also mean a full consultation is carried out with local residents and Kew Woods Primary School to explore what facilities they would like to see re-installed.
 
The most expensive option is thought to be refurbishment on a like-for-like basis which is significantly higher than the ward funds at an estimated £50,000 or more.
 
If that was the option local residents decided upon, Sefton Council's Leader, Ian Maher, has agreed to put in the extra money to save the playground if the Kew Ward funds are also contributed to the project, after discussions between Liz Savage and Sefton's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Ian Moncur.
 
In an email to her announcing the council's decision, Councillor Moncur stated: 
"Community involvement is fundamental to this development and I know from what we discussed there are lots of ideas which can be explored further... but the most important thing I did want to confirm to you and residents is that there will definitely be a play facility retained on site if the Kew Ward Councillors will cooperate with us on this matter."
 
This is a major step forward to save the playground.
 
We would ask that you contact your local ward councillors, Mike Booth, Fred Weavers and David Pullin and urge them to co-operate with Sefton Council to save the playground by agreeing to spend the ward funds on the Ovington Drive playground renovation. 
     
Yours faithfully, 
Southport Labour Party."
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Major Lifeline Offered to Ovington Drive Park Playground

 In an open letter to Kew Ward residents we are delighted to be able to announce a major development regarding the Ovington Drive Park playground closure.  Photo - Liz Savage...

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  (Cllrs Bill Welsh, 5th from left, and Marianne Welsh, 5th from right, join our canvassing team) 

Labour has sensationally gained two Sefton councillors in Southport, before they have even selected their candidates for next May's local elections.

Local councillors Bill and Marianne Welsh, who recently left the Liberal Democrats to initially go independent, have now "crossed the floor" after weeks of discussion with the council's Labour group.
 
The husband and wife team say they are in fact returning to their natural political roots as previously they were Labour Party members but had quit in protest after Tony Blair's Iraq War decision.
 
The pair, who both represent Norwood Ward, joined Southport Lib Dems after moving here in 2009 but left last month because they felt it had drifted further to the right and they were also increasingly unhappy with the way the local party was being run.
 
Bill Welsh explained:
 
"We found the Lib Dem's 2017 manifesto uninspiring and disagreed with a number of its policies, particularly their regressive income tax stance. By contrast, we were extremely impressed with the Labour manifesto and admired Jeremy Corbyn's performance in what was a strong Labour campaign."
 
As a result, the pair decided they wanted to rejoin the Labour Party, with their application recently accepted by Southport Labour.
 
The additions mean the local party is now just a few members away from the 1,000 mark says Secretary, Steve Jowett:
 
"We've gone from strength to strength in the last few years, it's a remarkable achievement and a vibrant, energetic group determined to see Labour win here. I'm sure all of Bill and Marianne's experience will only add to that."  
 
The news is the latest evidence of a surge in support for Labour in the town which in June came second in a general election here for the first time since 1966. Their candidate, Liz Savage, also recorded its highest ever vote share. Since then Southport has been declared a key marginal by Jeremy Corbyn who held a huge rally on its beachfront earlier this month.  
 
Marianne Welsh says they are delighted to be returning to the Labour fold:
 
"We will do all we can to ensure more Labour councillors are elected in Southport and believe it's vital for the town that it returns a Labour MP at the next general election. Only a Labour Government will act to rebalance the economy away from the overheated South East in order to help Northern towns like Southport."
 
Labour leader of Sefton Council, Ian Maher, commented:
 
"Marianne and Bill are a welcome addition to the Labour group of councillors on Sefton Council and hopefully we will have even more Labour colleagues from Southport joining us after the forthcoming May election." 

Southport's Former Lib-Dem Councillors Join Labour Party

      (Cllrs Bill Welsh, 5th from left, and Marianne Welsh, 5th from right, join our canvassing team)  Labour has sensationally gained two Sefton councillors in Southport, before they have...

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