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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...

hunt___moore_resize1.jpgJust a few weeks ago, those who like to keep a keen eye on the local press may have seen a very forthright article in the Visiter which in no uncertain terms declared the future of Southport Hospital and its A&E "safe" and "not under threat". 

It followed fears for the hospital after criticism of surgical standards and safety and also the privatisation of its community and urgent care services, which went to Virgin Care in a contract worth £65m.
 
The biggest question mark hanging over it though was the proposal to downgrade the A&E, contained in the Conservative Government's Sustainability and Transformation Plan project for the NHS, known as the STP.
 
The town's new Conservative MP, Damien Moore, featured heavily in the Visiter article and he firmly dismissed concerns about the hospital's future stating "the suggestion that Southport Hospital needs ‘saving’ is nonsensical and misleading".
 
Towards the end of his considerable contribution even the keen-eyed might have missed that he did not completely shut the door on the possibility of "considerable change" but as he soothed the readership by claiming that, if so, it would be a decision for "experienced medical professionals - not bureaucrats or politicians - and on the basis of patient safety", it might not have set alarms bells ringing. It certainly should have.
 
In any event, they might possibly have been drowned out by all the thundering reassurance on offer, given it was then immediately stated in the piece that "the future of the hospital has never been more clear".
 
With support from Health Minister Phillip Dunne and, apparently, Trust Chairman Richard Fraser, it appeared Southport's new MP was basically trying out his good beat cop routine for the first time, best paraphrased as, "All's fine, nothing to see here, move along now folks please."
 
It was a bold and confident move that deserved a "Bravo" for its bravura, perhaps it even earned him a Charlie, Lima, Alpha, Papa, back in the control room of Conservative HQ.
 
Contrast this then with the scenes at the hospital for this week's visit by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.
 
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Over 100 protestors, the vast majority Mr. Moore's own constituents, had gathered at the main entrance to voice their concern for the hospital and their disapproval of Mr. Hunt and Conservative cuts.
 
Organised by Southport Labour and Liz Savage, the town's Parliamentary Candidate in 2015 and '17, the protest also involved the GMB, Royal College of Nursing, hospital staff and Sefton Central MP, Bill Esterson.
 
Attending the hospital as part of the Hunt entourage, the previously bold Mr Moore decided to avoid them all by taking a side entrance. It wasn't the only apparent change in attitude by him.
 
When interviewed on site by BBC North West Tonight's Health Correspondent, Gill Dummigan, he rightly pointed to the hospital's recent improvement in care standards. He also told her that the future of the hospital was secure. When the doughty Dummigan specifically asked about the future of the A&E, however, his response was described by the reporter as "less certain".
 
Indeed, it seemed the only thing Mr Moore was more certain of was his determination to give the hospital trust the old "hospital pass" on this one.
 
At present, there is a local review of service provision in process. This review comes after plans to downgrade the A&E were included in the local version of the STP, the vehicle by which Mrs May's Government are looking to make over £900m in cuts in Cheshire and Merseyside. Consequently, the review report is also a big part of the uncertainty hanging over the hospital's future capability.
 
When asked if he was confident that there would be an A&E at Southport Hospital in a couple of years time, the previously confident Mr Moore didn't seem so, well, confident. He replied:
 "What I'm waiting for is to see what that report says and to actually trust medical professionals to make the decisions based on Southport people"
The health correspondent then asked the MP "So you can't be certain?"
His repetitive response was anything but: 
"I'm waiting on to see what the report says but I'm positive about the work that's happening in Southport hospital at the moment."
 
We are all sure there is a lot of positive work happening in Southport Hospital every day Mr. Moore but the question was, is the future of the A&E safe?  
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The problem for Southport Hospital, its NHS trust, and the people of Southport is that instead of actually being a good beat cop, Mr. Moore appears to be playing political "cups and ball" with the A&E issue.
 
"Cups" is the age-old game where you have to guess which of the three cups the ball is under. It's a favourite back alley hustle the world over and a classic of the art of misdirection.
 
In this case, the "ball" is the decision on the A&E and the cups are the supposed decision makers. Is it a clinical decision? Is it an administrative decision? Is it a joint decision after public consultation?
 
As he referred to specifically in the Visiter and by implication in his BBC interview, Mr Moore wants you to believe that the ball currently is with a clinical senate of the hospital trust and its "experienced medical professionals" but it is misdirection. The reality is that whichever "cup" it is actually under, what's important to understand is that it's the Conservative Government placing the ball and moving the cups.
 
During his visit to the hospital, we understand that Jeremy Hunt found himself unexpectedly confronted by medical staff who essentially gatecrashed the talk he was there for.
 
A junior doctor challenged him over his previous claims regarding the "Weekend Effect" on mortality rates so recently and publicly derided by Professor Stephen Hawking. Mr Hunt showed he's no slouch at misdirection himself by appearing to suggest to those assembled that HE was the one defending the NHS from Prof. Hawking! We certainly did not see that one coming.
 
He also said that due to the conflicting evidence on the issue he'd been advised to choose the side he did. It seems an oddly unscientific basis for such controversial claims, for his proposed changes to hospital working practices, and for subsequently getting into an argument with the world's most famous scientist and was one which led to claims of cherry-picking from the audience.
 
hunt___moore_resize_7.jpgIn addition to all this, we believe that the hospital chaplain no less asked him for reassurances about A&E. We suspect Mr Hunt did not earn himself any grace by refusing to give any.
 
A senior consultant meanwhile asked if the Secretary of State could reassure them that the STP would address the yawning gaps in recruitment, once more the ball was placed under a cup when Mr Hunt responded that this would be a matter for the local STP.
   
He did tell the meeting that he was fully committed to the NHS but then also said that as a Conservative he was opposed to publically owned services. This as he stood talking to public sector workers, on public sector land, in a public sector hospital.
  
It does not bode well but perhaps it's not so surprising from the man who literally co-wrote the book on how to dismantle the NHS and replace it with a US-style private medical insurance system. The man the Conservatives have put in charge of the NHS.
 
One can only assume that at this point in proceedings local MP Mr. Moore preferred to smile and shuffle his feet rather than the cups, it would prove much harder to fool the trained eye of the hospital doctors and staff after all. hunt___moore_resize_6.jpg
There is a significant and rather sad irony in all of this, as Southport actually has a strong claim to being the birthplace of the NHS.
 
Back in 1934 at the Garrick Theatre on Lord Street, it's now the town's bingo hall, the Labour Party held its annual conference. It was at that conference that the creation of a national health service was first adopted as party policy.
 
It took 14 years, a second world war and the resulting Labour Government for it to come into being. In the meantime, it has become the cornerstone of our welfare system, a point of national pride and an object of international envy.
 
Since 2010, however, it has also been under assault after austerity measures were introduced by the Coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
  
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act they brought in also allowed the once creeping now sweeping privatisation that is currently undermining it. It's what enabled Virgin Care to take over those services from Southport Hospital this summer.
 
The Conservative's ramping up of the austerity programme has further hamstrung NHS funding; their 1% pay cap is further demoralising its staff.
 
Massively dependent on foreign staff, the huge uncertainty over Brexit has seen an equally massive 96% reduction in EU nationals applying to work in it. Meanwhile, the Tory backed Naylor Report means NHS trusts are being coerced into selling off the very land they stand on.
 
Against this background, make no mistake, the future of Southport Hospital and its A&E is not certain; it is not safe; nor confident; nor bold.
 
Most importantly, despite what Mr. Moore wants you to believe, the current decisions over service provision and the future of our town's A&E are not at their root actually a clinical matter, it is instead essentially a matter of choice made by a Conservative government hell-bent on further cuts, one that clinicians and administrators are struggling to do their best with.
 
If that ultimately means downgrading our A&E, Southport's residents will also struggle.
 
In such distressing circumstances, the people of Southport will not forget how their local MP and his party played a game with them and their hospital's future. That at least will be clear
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How Damien Moore's promises may well mean less for Southport Hospital and our town

Just a few weeks ago, those who like to keep a keen eye on the local press may have seen a very forthright article in the Visiter which in no uncertain terms...

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Over a hundred protestors gathered at Southport Hospital today to voice their anger at the current state of the NHS during a visit by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

Despite recent reassurances from the town's Conservative MP, Damien Moore, that the hospital is safe, many people are unconvinced that it will remain untouched given the current local review of its services.
 
The review comes as a result of the Conservative Government's Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which is looking to make over £900 million worth of savings.
 
Another major reason for the scepticism is Jeremy Hunt himself who, despite his denials, is widely seen an advocate of privatisation and most recently was also severely criticised by world-renowned scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking, for his claims regarding increased mortality rates at weekends.
 
Amid shouts of "Ban the Hunt" and "Save the NHS" protestors demanded that Mr Hunt resign and claimed that he was deliberately underfunding and undermining the NHS in an effort to ease the path to privatisation.
  
As Mr Hunt's black Jaguar swept past there were loud boos and jeers. 
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Southport Labour Party helped organise the demonstration and its Chair, Mhairi Doyle, said:
 
"No-one is fooled by Jeremy Hunt's claims to be a supporter of the NHS. He literally co-wrote the book calling for it to be dismantled and replaced with a US-style private insurance system. The Tories simply cannot be trusted with the NHS."
 
Local demonstrators were joined by hospital staff and trade union members from the GMB and Royal College of Nursing, as well as Sefton Central MP, Bill Esterson, and Southport's Labour Parliamentary Candidate in 2015 and '17, Liz Savage.
  
"It's a joint protest because we all need to come together to protect one of our most vital national resources," said  Mhairi Doyle, "The damage the Conservatives are causing is deliberate, it has to stop. Mr Hunt needs to realise that and realise it quickly.
  
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SLP Protest At Jeremy Hunt's Southport Hospital Visit

  Over a hundred protestors gathered at Southport Hospital today to voice their anger at the current state of the NHS during a visit by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt....

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Southport felt the full Jeremy Corbyn effect last night, with the Labour Leader holding a big rally on the beach front.

Estimates claimed up to 6,000 people attended the event, despite the very poor weather which threatened it earlier in the day. 
The rally had a host of Labour party notables as speakers and guests with Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotherham, acting as compere.
Former Deputy Prime minister John Prescott, who until Liz Savage's result in June was the last Labour parliamentary candidate to come second in Southport back in 1966, was also well-received by an enthusiastic crowd. 
Local party chair, Mhairi Doyle, told them details of her experiences working for the DWP and the injustices she'd witnessed.
There was no doubting the main attraction, however, was Jeremy Corbyn. 
Earlier in a local media interview, he'd addressed the issue of Labour never having an MP in Southport by pointing to their recent first-ever wins in Kensington and Canterbury, telling Sandgrounder Radio:
"We are winning over people in all parts of the country and also areas are changing. We are on the way." 
During the rally, Liz Savage was also called up on stage by the Labour leader who warmly congratulated her on nearly quadrupling Labour's vote in Southport since 2015. jc_rally_group.jpg
Talking without the aid of cue cards or autocue, he addressed the crowd for around half an hour telling them he didn't want to live in "foodbank Britain" and slamming what he described as "the arid economic nonsense that the Tories and the Lib Dems practised since 2010.” 
He also talked of how proud he was of his party's manifesto which he said was now in its third reprint. To the crowd's cheers, he contrasted this with the Conservative manifesto which he said was removed from their website the day after the election. 
After his speech, he spent as long talking to members of the crowd, stopping for selfies and signing t-shirts and memorabilia.
Southport Labour Party Chair, Mhairi Doyle, summed up the visit as "a stunning success" and claimed:
"This is supposed to be a Tory town but look at all these people, do you think any Conservative politician could come here and draw a crowd this big? There is huge support for Labour here and we will fight austerity and we will fight for Southport."  
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Jeremy Corbyn's Southport Rally "a stunning success".

Southport felt the full Jeremy Corbyn effect last night, with the Labour Leader holding a big rally on the beach front. Estimates claimed up to 6,000 people attended the event,...

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It's finally confirmed! Southport Labour is delighted to announce that our party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will be here to hold a rally on the beach!

Jeremy's visit is part of a tour of key marginal seats and reflects the remarkable rise of Labour within the town in the last two years or so.
In 2015, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Southport, Liz Savage, doubled the party's vote and then almost repeated the feat again this year when Labour came second for the first time since John Prescott stood here in 1966. In June we also went one better and achieved our highest ever vote in Southport. 
Another 837 votes would have seen a quadrupling of the 2010 result for Labour, which in two elections in just over two years is a fantastic achievement.
Jeremy will be here to recognise that and talk about much more on August 18th. He'll be addressing the beachfront crowd at 6pm so people are advised to arrive by 5.30pm to avoid any difficulties. jc_west_kirby1.jpg
The rally will take place at Southport Beach car park on the front at the southern end of Marine Drive behind Pleasureland.
There are various car parks nearby but Southport Flower Show is also taking place on the day so if at all possible it's recommended to take public transport or make suitable arrangements.
As you can see from the photos of his visit to West Kirby, Jeremy's rallies are very popular, it gets busy so please bear that in mind when planning your visit.
We look forward to seeing you and Jeremy there!
Cut and paste this link into your browser for further details: http://www.labournorthwest.org.uk/southport_rally
Photo credit Liverpool Echo unless otherwise stated.
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Jeremy Corbyn Visit Confirmed!

  It's finally confirmed! Southport Labour is delighted to announce that our party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will be here to hold a rally on the beach! Jeremy's visit is part of...

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If football is a "funny old game" politics can be a downright hysterical one at times. The latest bit of funny business comes from Southport's former Liberal Democrat MP, John Pugh. 

With more time for hobbies these days, Mr Pugh seems determined to become the town's very own Nigel Farage by shouting long and hard, if none too coherently, for "Souxit" ...Southport's very own leave campaign.        
Trying to breathe new life into a long-corpsed idea, Mr Pugh asserts that Southport should no longer be part of Sefton Council. Nor indeed should it even be part of the neighbouring Lancashire councils. No, Sefton should apparently be split in two and Southport would essentially become its own separate unitary authority, with the other Bootle-based.
According to the leading light of Souxit, this is because Southport's "distinctive voice" is not being heard:
"Bootle is a very different place from Southport," says Mr Pugh, whose geography at least seems sound, "It’s very hard for the decision makers, however talented, to take into account the concerns, interests and priorities of areas they’re not familiar with and don’t actually represent." 
It's a rather low voltage proposal, however, for several reasons. 
Firstly, if Southport's 'voice' is not being heard it rather begs the question what exactly are the town's 20-odd Lib-Dem and Tory councillors doing? The criticism appears a tacit admission it's not a lot that's constructive. 
Southport's Lib-Dem councillors especially have a reputation for opposing Sefton proposals in the town, such as the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Southport Market, while Labour-led initiatives such as the refurbishment of Birkdale village are given scant regard. That Sefton has invested nearly £100m in the town is also ignored in the Souxit narrative. 
Channelled through Mr Pugh's party colleagues, it can often seem that Southport's voice adopts a rather carping tone with a vocabulary heavily reliant on just one word, "No!"
Southport would be far more eloquently served by Labour councillors who can work in cooperation with the rest of their colleagues in Sefton for the good of the town, says Mhairi Doyle, Chair of Southport Labour Party:
"Labour councillors here would ensure that Southport's voice could be heard loud and clear and that when it was it would be a voice of progress, not hindrance. Next year's council elections will give the town an opportunity to start a conversation that will move it forward, not mire it in needless squabbling." 
It's a dialogue however that others appear determined to drown out and prevent happening in whatever way they can.
 
The most recent example is a story which Mr Pugh and Kew Ward's Lib-Dem Councillor, David Pullin, put out to the local press loudly proclaiming "Lib-Dems Challenge Council Secrecy". Proceeding to thunder along with the measured quality of an enraged bull elephant it trumpeted of things being "almost Stalinist" as it made claims of a cabal-like Labour-only secret meeting regarding a council acquisition. 
 
The problem for Messrs Pugh and Pullin is that not only is much of it incorrect says Sefton Council but also the leaders of the three opposition parties, including the Lib-Dems, actually took part in the acquisition discussions. A particularly liberal definition of "secret" then it seems. 
 
At the very least, the raising of the topic some three months after the meeting; just as Souxit touts its wares and attempts to lure unsuspecting passers-by with its breathy promises and also via the offices of its most enthusiastic salesman, Mr Pugh, could be seen as worthy of a quizzical eyebrow.  
Another reason that the Souxit proposal produces more heat than light is that the division suggested by the former MP appears based more on party politics and an attempted populism than it is on practicality.  
What Southport's Lib-Dem and Conservative critics of Sefton fail to acknowledge is that it was their parties in government, firstly through coalition and then the Tories solely, that ordered a 51% cut in its budget. Like a Dickensian street gang, proponents of Souxit want to cut 'em and run, making off into the night with their spoils.
Over £200m of funds lost between 2010/11 and 2017/18 is a simply huge amount which obviously then has a huge knock-on effect. To order those cuts and then criticise the council is akin to severely hobbling a horse and then complaining that it's lame.
Not unlike the call to ignore experts during the Brexit campaign, the proponents of a separate authority don't really talk numbers though and with good reason, because here they just don't stack up. 
On top of all those budgets cuts, they want to add the cost of setting up a completely new council. A unitary authority has a responsibility for over 1,300 statutory duties, creating a totally new body to carry those out would be hugely expensive.
 
Souxit9_resize.jpgIt's a double-whammy that would certainly hit Southport's council tax payers hard. It's estimated that their bills would rise by over 25%, something that Mr Pugh again tends not to highlight in his proposals. Significant central government funds would also have to be called upon, so no money being promised for the NHS by this leave campaign but possibly being diverted from it. 
The costs involved are just one of several huge hurdles that would have to be overcome at a time when local government is under more pressure than ever. Simply put, it's a completely impractical proposal. So why is Mr Pugh now so vocally attempting to revive it?
One possible reason is that this is little to do with what's good for Southport and much more to do with what's good for the Liberal Democrats in the town. This would also explain why Mr Pugh does not suggest Southport goes back into Lancashire but wants a totally new council created.
After 20 years of returning a Lib-Dem MP, Southport comprehensively rejected them in the general election last month and they were also pushed all the way back into third place by a resurgent Labour Party.  
Southport Lib-Dems are understandably nervous that they will go the way of their colleagues in Sefton Central and become virtually extinct. By suggesting a separate authority the Lib-Dems are hoping they can create a power base and also re-establish themselves in the town. 
Mr Pugh claims he has cross-party support for the idea and reinforcing the impression of his going "full-Farage" he even appeared on the BBC at the weekend alongside UKIP's parliamentary candidate in the town, Terry Durrance, with both calling for Souxit. That both parties are also rightly fearful of their highly precarious position in Southport is surely not just coincidence? The possible doubling of councillors in the town as a result of Souxit would be seen by both as offering hope for survival. 
 
As such, Souxit, much like its Brexit big brother, appears born more of party political considerations than careful consideration of the practicalities claims Mhairi Doyle:  
"As far as I'm concerned it's a sham and little more than what would be a very costly attempt at local gerrymandering. Souxiters basically want local council tax payers to fund their own naked political ambition." 
How long then before Mr Pugh stands for election to the very body he wants us all to leave, or starts to pop up in the press doing his best man-of-the-people impression with pint in hand? We shall see. 

"Souxit" - Southport out of Sefton plan would be a costly sham

If football is a "funny old game" politics can be a downright hysterical one at times. The latest bit of funny business comes from Southport's former Liberal Democrat MP, John...

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Labour has signalled its serious intent to make a piece of political history by taking Southport from the Conservatives at the next general election. 
Southport has never had a Labour MP but after coming second in June for the first time in over half a century, the party believes it can now go one better and that another election might be called before the year is out. 
This weekend saw the first of two events which will be the official restart of campaigning in the town, just weeks after June's result and before Southport's new MP, Damien Moore, has even had a chance to properly warm his seat. 
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Liz Savage, Labour's candidate in Southport in the last two general elections, is confident we can build on a strong showing which has seen her nearly quadruple our vote in the town in just over two years:
"I think people are already starting to realise that Damien Moore means less for Southport. The threat to our hospital due to planned Tory cuts has actually increased since he took office and with their reduced mandate and desperate deal with the DUP, his party are looking anything but strong and stable."
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Labour front benchers Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Bootle's Peter Dowd and Sefton Central's Bill Esterson all joined Liz and local party members at the event to kickstart the campaign.
"It's fantastic to have the support of our parliamentary colleagues here and also to see so many new faces campaigning for the first time" said Liz, "There is a real buzz about Labour's chances in Southport now; the town wants real change, it needs real change and only we can provide that."
Labour’s shadow cabinet member for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith, believes there's a chance mounting pressure on the Conservatives will force an early election and that Southport now faces a clear choice:
"I enjoyed campaigning alongside many dozens of Labour Party members and volunteers from Southport, which is a target seat for the Labour Party at the next general election. The Conservatives want to keep cutting our NHS and public services but Theresa May gambled when she called the election and now they have no majority and no mandate for their reckless cuts. Next time the choice will be between Labour, which is on the side of the many in Southport and the Conservatives, who only ever stand up for the few.”

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Southport Now A Target Seat for Labour

Labour has signalled its serious intent to make a piece of political history by taking Southport from the Conservatives at the next general election.  Southport has never had a Labour...

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We made history! YOU made history!!

It's not a claim many people or campaigns can make.... but we can, we did!
Now that our rosettes are unpinned; our campaign HQ has closed it's doors; our boards are being taken down and all those Lib-Dem campaigning leaflets are just so much junk mail, (were they ever anything else?) we can reflect on what a truly momentous result we achieved in this election. 
In just over two years we have nearly quadrupled our vote in Southport! That is remarkable.
We would like to thank every single constituent who voted for us, you can be proud; we have all sent a clear message that Southport is changing.
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We just came second, for only the first time in over half a century. Not since a youthful John Prescott, back in the days before he had his Jags and didn't have such a strong objection to eggs, had we done this - way back in '66. 
liz_profile_pic_resize.jpgThis time, our candidate, Liz Savage, went one better and also produced our BEST EVER result in Southport, with nearly 33% of the vote and over 15,600 votes. A fantastic achievement. 
Liz stood in 2015 and doubled our vote, she virtually did the same this time around and gained nearly 25% more votes than the Lib-Dems. She was just 6% short of taking the seat and had a bigger share of the vote than when the Lib-Dems held it two years ago. If the Lib-Dems had not split our vote Liz would now be the MP for Southport. 
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Next time, we firmly believe we will make history again and it WILL be a Labour MP for Southport. 
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For far too long the Liberal Democrats party in Southport has ridden on the backs of Labour supporters; no longer!
For decades Labour supporters in Southport did the decent thing, reluctantly accepting the harsh choice of voting Lib-Dem to stop the Tories. But times have changed in Southport, this is no longer the constituency of old. Southport wants change. Just look at the graphs of the last three elections.
We posed a simple question; what exactly has 20 years of a Lib-Dem MP done for Southport? We clearly warned them (see our previous articles) that WE are now the tactical vote here if you want to stop the Tories. They chose to ignore that warning this time; they must not next. 
Make no mistake, Damien Moore is now the Conservative MP for Southport because they shirked that responsibility. 
A Tory MP for a town that has its local hospital, schools and its elderly all facing threat from Tory plans. An MP for Southport whose lame duck party are so desperate to hold on to power that they are looking once again to go into coalition; this time with the DUP, despite its terrorist links, its attacks on women's rights and its anti-LGBT vitriol.
Locally, we believe it will soon be clear that Moore means less for Southport. It will soon be clear that Southport needs real change, not continued loose change Tory funding. It will soon be clear that only Labour offers a future for our country based on fairness and hope, offers Southport future regeneration through cooperation with our neighbours.

When that happens, we will be there. Southport needs Labour and we are ready.  

 

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Labour make history in Southport. Lib Dems must now accept changed role.

We made history! YOU made history!! It's not a claim many people or campaigns can make.... but we can, we did! Now that our rosettes are unpinned; our campaign HQ...

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