Southport Labour announces candidates for May 2nd local elections

Southport Labour has announced its candidates for this year’s local elections in May.

Unusually, there are eight candidates for the seven wards, as Norwood will have the opportunity to vote for two Labour candidates, Greg Myers and Carran Waterfield.

That’s because Norwood’s two councillors who crossed over to Labour from the Lib Dems in 2017, Bill and Marianne Welsh, are standing down and not seeking re-election.

Southport Labour thanks both of the councillors for their work since joining and wishes them well for the future.

The full list of the Labour candidates is as follows:

Ainsdale – Kevin Donnellon; Birkdale – Danny Burns; Cambridge – James Hansen: Dukes – Lesley Delves; Kew – Sean Halsall; Meols – Steve Jowett; Norwood – Greg Myers and Carran Waterfield.

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Liz Savage, said it was a very strong line-up with a wealth of experience across a range of fields to draw from:

” Labour had its first-ever Sefton council victories in Southport last year, taking seats in Kew and Norwood with big majorities. Residents are increasingly tired of the lack of anything actually constructive from the local Lib Dems and Conservatives.”

“Southport Labour, in contrast, in a short space of time is already achieving for residents – from helping gain the return of 30 minute parking, or helping young mums save a local park; to assisting local people struggling with the vicious Tory DWP system, or ensuring elderly residents finally get the new heating system in their blocks of flats that they’ve been crying out for, for years. ”

Labour Councillors Mhairi Doyle and Janis Blackburne (both front) with local Labour activists

Southport Labour Chair and Norwood councillor Mhairi Doyle agreed, commenting:

“If we can gain more councillors here then we will be able to do even more for local residents. Local councillors should be trying their utmost to protect your services, not doing their utmost to help cut them as the Lib Dems and Tories have.”

“They’ve taken a heavy toll on Southport and the wider borough with their near quarter of a billion pounds in cuts to local services. Local residents can see the damage the Lib Dems and Tories have done here and want change.”

Lib Dems slammed for “scurrilous” Southport Hospital scare story.

Southport Lib Dems have come under fire for “blatant scare stories” claiming that there is a plan to relocate local hospital services to Skelmersdale.

The condemnation follows reports in Lib Dem campaign literature raising the possibility of Southport being left with just a “hospital for the elderly” while a new “Super Hospital” is built in the West Lancs town.

Several Liberal Dem leaflets claim that it’s all part of a Labour plan to downgrade Southport Hospital but local Labour politicians say that is simply untrue and it is spreading undue concern amongst residents.

Southport Labour Chair and Norwood Councillor Mhairi Doyle, says she believes the reports are “shameless” in how they try to mislead local people:

“The hospital has no plans at all to relocate services to Skelmersdale or build there and if it did we would fight it all the way. The Lib Dems know this but are deliberately spreading misinformation and concern.”

“They have spun the comments of a single Lancashire Labour councillor who said he’d like to see any new built hospital constructed in his patch – well, I can say as a local councillor myself, who wouldn’t?”

“That does not mean it is going to happen or that it is a Labour plan. I’d love to see a new hospital being built in Norwood but saying so doesn’t suddenly transform my wish into a proposal or mean that it could happen. It’s crazy to say it does.”

“These sort of blatant shameless scare stories do little but show how just divisive the Lib Dems are, and just how far they are prepared to go to mislead local residents.”

Southport’s Lib Dem councillors have also been making similar claims of a “Labour plan” online. Their opponents point out that the whole of Tory-run Lancashire County Council doesn’t have the power to implement such a proposal even if it came up with one – so presenting the hopes of a single councillor in the non-ruling group there as a plan is irresponsible.

Mhairi Doyle, Liz Savage and Janis Blackburne

Labour’s Kew Councillor Janis Blackburne described the story as “scurrilous” and one that could well backfire:

“We’ve been contacted about this by worried residents who are then pretty furious when we tell them the truth of it. This isn’t just a health matter, the hospital is also a vital local employer. It’s completely irresponsible to talk of any plan to move services or the jobs to Skelmersdale when it simply doesn’t exist.”

“We’ve seen enough of local Liberal Democrat rumour mongering to know that this is straight out of the Lib Dem playbook. With these sort of tired old tactics, it’s no surprise that their new candidate polled less than 4 percent of the vote in South Ribble when he stood there last year.”

“Southport residents are no less canny than their South Ribble neighbours when it comes to such antics and we believe they will respond in similar fashion.”

Liz Savage, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for the town, says the hospital’s future is far too important for the opposition to be playing such games with:

“We’ve had very positive talks with the hospital trust’s Chief Executive Silas Nicholls. There is no intention to move anything to Skelmersdale.”

“A new build hospital is clearly needed in Southport due to the problems with the current site – if the Tories will give the funding.”

“Staff at Southport Hospital need to know that all local parties are behind them in their desire to improve local services and are not churning out ridiculous but unsettling rumours such as this.”

“With another expected winter crisis facing the NHS, due in no small part to 42,000 nursing vacancies, you’d think local Lib Dems might have better things to concern themselves with? Sadly, it appears not.”

Southport Labour march in support of the local hospital.

 

Local business at heart of Labour plan to revive Southport high streets

Southport retailers, residents and Labour campaigners have been discussing how to save local high streets as part of Small Business Saturday.

Shadow Treasury Minister Peter Dowd MP and Labour’s candidate for the town, Liz Savage, were out and about as part of a Labour campaign to listen to local concerns, asking how it can help and explaining its plans to assist small business owners and troubled high streets.

Speaking to local retailers and residents at the opening of Santa’s Grotto in Wayfarer Arcade on Lord St, Liz Savage heard that the government’s much-trumpeted plan to reduce the business rates will actually leave most shops on the town’s premier retail destination completely untouched. 

Liz Savage explained:

“High business rates is the number one problem Lord St retailers have complained to me about. Yet the government, which sets the rates in the first place, proposes a solution which leaves many of the retailers here in exactly the same boat as their premises are above the low ceiling the government has set for assistance.”

“It’s great the government is finally listening to our calls to look again at business rates but it doesn’t go anywhere near the level of reform we want to see. To qualify businesses must have a rateable value below £51,000, so this won’t really help Lord St and it’s misleading of the local MP to claim it will.”

The team also visited Birkdale Village to talk to local business owners to explain Labour’s plans and listen to residents concerned about recent closures such as the RBS bank branch, which shut its doors for the last time at the start of last month.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd said Labour’s plans received a warm welcome in the village: Continue reading “Local business at heart of Labour plan to revive Southport high streets”

Government must launch inquiry into leasehold “con-trick” says Labour’s Liz.

Southport’s Labour Candidate Liz Savage has backed local home-owners feeling ripped off by leasehold contracts and calls for a government inquiry into the scandal of mis-sold leasehold houses.

Latest figures available reveal that of nearly 47,000 new build homes in the North West sold as leasehold between 2010 -2017, 63% of them were houses, not flats.

Staggeringly, the North West also made up nearly exactly the same percentage of the total number of new build houses that were sold as leasehold nationally during the same period.

The arrangement, which is traditionally most common for flats, means homes are bought but also leased rather than entirely owned, with leaseholders often paying a ‘ground rent’ as well as service charges to the property freeholder, or to a managing agent acting on their behalf.

Homeowners who purchased the leasehold of their property are often locked into contracts forcing them to seek permission to make basic alterations or to build extensions such as conservatories, even if no local authority planning permission is required.

Some leaseholders find they’re obliged to pay extortionate ground rents, while others are locked into rip-off service charges. Many didn’t choose their own solicitor and feel they were poorly advised when purchasing their home.

Liz Savage.

Southport Labour’s Liz Savage says with numbers rising nationally and over 29,500 new build houses sold as leasehold in the North West since 2010, it’s time for an inquiry into what she believes is yet another mis-selling scandal:

“Leasehold for houses is little more than a con trick as far as I’m concerned. There’s no justification for it and I think it’s little more than a way of duping unsuspecting home-owners out of more cash and possibly even their home.”

“Leasehold for flats is perhaps more understandable when there is shared occupancy and responsibility but it still needs to be made clear when purchasing what it entails. For houses though it makes no sense at all; it isn’t expected or understood and it needs to stop.”

Survey data suggests almost six in ten leaseholders didn’t understand what being a leaseholder meant until they had already purchased the property, and more than nine in ten leaseholders regret buying a leasehold property at all. A total of 4.3 million properties across England – almost one in five of all homes – are now classified as leasehold.

In the House of Commons this week, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP, challenged government ministers to set up an inquiry into the mis-selling of leasehold homes, saying:

“Leaseholders find they’ve bought their home but still don’t own it, and many feel ripped off by unfair leasehold contracts. This is a national scandal but the Government’s action to date has been too weak, too slow and has overlooked the plight of existing leaseholders.”

“Ministers must act to back an inquiry into this systematic leasehold misselling, as with other misselling scandals like pensions, endowment mortgages and PPI.

“Leasehold for houses is little more than a con trick as far as I’m concerned. There’s no justification for it” – Liz Savage

 

Southport Hospital trust “catastrophic failures” risk as vital repairs pile up under Tories

Liz Savage on our recent march in support of Southport Hospital.

A soaring backlog of “high” or “significant” risk maintenance repair is threatening Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust’s capability.

New figures reveal that the trust’s repair bill backlog for maintenance in the categories has nearly doubled in just three years.

The NHS defines ‘high risk’ maintenance as work that is so pressing that it “must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure”.

The local NHS trust’s repair bill for unaddressed high or significant risk work now stands at £2,154,600, a near 100% increase during the period from the previous £1,081,100.

The trust is currently struggling under a £29 million deficit due to lack of government funding and is in the process of reviewing its future options.

Liz Savage, Labour’s candidate for Southport, says the new figures show how little the government or the town’s Conservative MP really care about the NHS or local residents:

” The government’s record on this is shocking and they are playing with the safety of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust patients and staff  – so why isn’t Damien Moore calling for Tory cuts to be cancelled? ”

“ The Tories are betraying the NHS and Southport. We’re all being let down by a government that won’t pay for the vital basic repairs needed ”

” Our doctors and nurses in Southport and Ormskirk work extremely hard to look after us and the people we love, while the government is then putting us and the people who care for us into potential danger. It’s appalling.

“ Worryingly, just like with police funding, Damien Moore still hasn’t called on Theresa May to cancel the cuts she’s got planned for the next four years. ”

Southport Labour NHS 70th birthday marchers

“If you’re the MP for this area but you don’t support its people and its public services, then you’ve fundamentally failed. ”

Continue reading “Southport Hospital trust “catastrophic failures” risk as vital repairs pile up under Tories”