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.”
“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.”