Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has met with Southport business leaders to discuss how best to regenerate the town before then going walkabout along Lord St.
The politician was joined by Labour’s Southport Parliamentary Candidate, Liz Savage, along with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Sefton Council Leader Ian Maher for the roundtable table talks which were held at Remedy Cafe and Gin Bar in the town centre.
Remedy co-owner Susannah Porter, was one of the local business people giving a Southport perspective of what needs to be done, along with Norman Wallis of Southport Pleasureland, Agnes Ng of Dukes Folly Hotel, and Yvonne Burns, manager of Wayfarers Arcade.
Liz Savage says the talks focussed on what needs to be done and how Labour can help now and in the future with a Labour government elected:
“It was great to hear from people who like ourselves have a real passion and hope for Southport. It was a very positive meeting and Jeremy loved engaging with local business and hearing what they think is needed.”
“Obviously, there are problems such as the effect of Tory and Lib Dem austerity; high business rates; changes in retail and pension funds and the like sitting on empty properties in town that at present we have little control over.”
“We can only really tackle those once in government but we also talked through how Labour via the local authority, the Metro Mayor and our local councillors are doing all they can with the resources they have now and about how local business can work with them to take Southport forward.”
Remedy’s Susannah Porter felt the meeting showed how everyone around the table wanted the very best for the town:
“I found it really heartening that there was such a positive direction to it, far too often we hear and see politicians here doing little but talking Southport down when what they should be doing is talking it up and then working constructively to find solutions to any problems that there are.”
“That’s exactly what this meeting did though and it was a refreshing change I have to say.”
The Labour leader also met with the chief executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, Silas Nicholls, to discuss local health issues and to hear his support for Liz Savage’s Walk-In Centre Campaign for the town.
Labour’s Liz says problems with social care were highlighted as a real concern:
“We discussed the changing health needs of Southport and how it’s expected a third of Southport’s population will be of retirement age in 10 years. Social care problems are already a huge issue locally and of great concern to Silas, his team, and ourselves.”
“We then talked about my campaign for a Walk-in Centre in Southport and I was pleased that Silas once again gave that his backing. We really need to ease the pressure on our hard-pressed A&E.”
“He also made clear that in his view a new hospital is required and I was just as clear that Southport needs to retain its hospital to deal adequately with future health needs.”
Afterwards, the Labour leader was also keen to walk down Lord St to meet local residents and visitors to the town before heading into a packed main ballroom at the Prince of Wales Hotel to speak party members and activists, Liz Savage revealed:
“Jeremy has a soft spot for Southport, it’s the third time he’s been here in the last couple of years and at the last Labour Party conference he told me he was really keen to walk down Lord St next time.”
“Now he’s seen it and is suitably impressed, though he also couldn’t fail to notice the effect the problems we’d been discussing earlier and nine years of Tory and Lib Dem austerity have made to here.”
“That though that just makes him and us all the more determined to restore Southport’s fortunes and rebuild our services and our communities across the country and given the opportunity, we will do it.”
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. ”
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.”
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.
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.”
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