Monthly Archives: February 2020

David’s Got Talent

You remember Aughton’s Got Talent

the annual Aughton “Showbiz” extravaganza shows? Run by Dr David Gallagher and Eunice Woof MBE, they were highly successful for charities like the Queenscourt Hospice and The Stroke Association.

Well now, it’s been announced that David Gallagher will perform a “One Man Show”, probably for the British Heart Foundation at Aughton Village Hall on Saturday 5 September 2020, 7.00. – 10.30 pm

Tickets will cost Adults £10, Children, senior Citizens £5.

Dr Gallagher writes

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Four crossed out… three crossed out … around two hours of entertainment, well that’s what I’m calling it anyway, for your delight and delectation at the Aughton Village Hall.

“I will be doing my: Impressions; Comedy act; Magic Act; Singing Act;
Dancing Act.

“Not necessarily in that order and not for that long either, maybe an hour and a half?…What do you think I am, superman or something? I also apologise in advance for unconsciously ripping off any previous catchphrases, jokes or material that comedians have done in the past and who have influenced my comedy style. It is quite intentional, I mean, unintentional, not the style… no…oh I give up.

“Plus I still need a lot of practice on my magic act, which is rather sketchy at the moment. I do have some tricks up my sleeve, though.

“Singing and dancing act, well that’s quite different, both of them together at the same time?… Well, I’m not quite sure about this one just at the moment. This is subject to a clear bill of health from the doctor and it also involves me dual- or double-tasking, whatever you call it…is it multi-tasking? I will have to ask any ladies who come on the night.

“And…I will be wearing a series of disguises (or maybe just silly hats depending on the budget) throughout the evening.

“The bar will be open and refreshments at the interval, if I manage to rope some people in, I mean, I am nearly 100% positive that there will be some biscuits and cake left.

“Anyway, all proceeds above what I’m paying to hire the hall and all my expenses and that…no I won’t be chauffeur-driven to the Aughton Village Hall… I will be either on my bike or in the Chicago car, well that’s what I call the All that Jazz or Honda, don’t ask me what the registration is… I am saving that for my Memory Act, which I am not doing this time because of possible litigation from some Count somebody or other.

“All the money, except any that potentially might rest in my current account for a bit until I work out how much I have lost on the night, will be going to named charity, British Heart Foundation? So come on down, the price is right, and it will be nice to see you, to see you, nice. I want to tell you a story… what do you mean, he’s before my time, just like that! My coffee has gone cold while I am writing this, so I will have to put it in the microwave.

“Songs? Don’t laugh at me cause I’m a fool; Singin’ in the Rain; Moon River; Strangers in the Night; Hushabye Mountain; Heartbreak Hotel; The Boxer; The Wanderer; Somewhere; The Good Life; My Way.

“Comedy Act? School register. Poems; A reading from the book of D.

“Piano? The Wind; The Rain; The Sea; Butterflying Theme

“Piano/ Vocals? Blues Rejection; Chardonnay

“Guitar and Vocals? The Rain; The Stranger; Edyta Butterfly”

There will be tea, coffee, biscuits and some cakes for the interval. The bar will also be open. Put it in your diary.

Cutting Councillor Numbers? All Our Yesterdays! Nothing Today!

The scandal of over-representation of the public by elected members is overdue for correction

On Tuesday, 7 April, 2015 the West Lancashire Conservative Group launched its Manifesto for the Borough Election on the 7th May 2015. The then Leader of the Council, David Westley said “The Conservatives have an excellent record over the last 14 years whilst in control of the Council, providing fairness for all [Really? Pensioners losing an annual travel grant was fairness? Discrimination against the elderly was fairness? Probably, to an ignoramous!] low council tax, value for money frontline services and investment in our town and village centres. Our Manifesto builds on these achievements and provides a clear choice for the all the residents of West Lancashire”.

The manifesto included “Councillors & Elections. Reduce the number of Councillors by at least a third and move to single ‘all-out’ borough elections every four years, saving more than £100k a year”.

Moving on to October 2018

the WLBC Labour Group issued a press statement that included “At the recent meeting of West Lancashire Borough Council, Cllr Adam Yates of Ormskirk’s Knowsley Ward moved a motion to reduce the number of elected members.

“West Lancashire Borough Council has recently begun a full organisational review, in order to ensure that the council remains sustainable in the face of further austerity cuts to council funds by the Conservative Government. The motion to review councillor numbers, which was seconded by Cllr Yates’s fellow Knowsley Ward councillor, Cllr Gareth Dowling [ Later corrected to Cllr Adrian Owens] is in response to this review, as the restructure could allow for a change in the role of a councillor and therefore the number of members needed.

“This Labour administration has a strong track record of looking to offer value to residents, having previously ended the free bar for councillors, which was enjoyed by the Conservatives under the Finance Portfolio of Cllr Adrian Owens, and having continuously frozen allowances since we took control, including for the next two years.

“It makes far more sense to look at the overall number of councillors we need, which is why I have called for the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to be contacted. We hope to get the ball rolling ahead of the SORP report, due to come to Council in July 2019, which will give us a much clearer idea of how the council can be restructured to provide the best value and quality of service to all residents”.

But now, the future of all of Lancashire’s councils could depend on whether the county can strike a devolution deal with the government, and the conditions attached to it. The region has been told that it should simplify its multi-layered local authority system in return for extra powers and cash.

Officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) informed a meeting of Lancashire’s 15 council leaders that a “revised” structure would be expected for a devolution settlement, Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver has revealed. Depending on any future agreement, that could result in all of the region’s councils – county, district and unitary – being radically redesigned or disappearing altogether in their current form.

The region would also have to create a new combined authority and establish an elected mayor – similar to the roles formed in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region – who would ultimately be responsible for the devolved arrangements.

Council Comments

Reaction so far from the district and city councils to the latest proposals has been limited. But West Lancashire Council leader Ian Moran said the government’s demand for reorganisation was far from definitive.

“They told us we should have a good look at it, but didn’t say we absolutely had to reorganise. Devolution is supposed to be about power coming back down to the people, not being sucked to the centre in Preston. It shouldn’t be about taking services further away from the people.

“If we have to merge any of the districts, then that is something for the districts themselves to decide. Senior civil servants have said that any combined authority should be based on local economic drivers – and ours are over towards Liverpool and Manchester. So whatever we do has got to be right for West Lancashire” Cllr Moran said.

The government has been offering local areas devolution deals for just over five years and, by 2019, ten agreements were in place with different parts of the country, six of which have resulted in the formation of mayor-led combined authorities.

The additional powers and cash on offer vary from one place to the next, but typically include control over integrated transport, adult education and strategic planning. The minimum cash offer from government for such a deal is usually an additional £30m every year for 30 years.

Some of the more ambitious agreements, such as that covering health in Greater Manchester, attract much greater sums. But the deals have proved politically and practically difficult to negotiate in some localities, not least here in Lancashire, where there are more councils involved than any other area which has so far agreed a devolved set-up.

As ever, to quote Lewis Carroll, ‘The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam today”.

What Will May 2020 Bring Wally Westley?

You may recall, May 2015

when Westley claimed to the Visiter “OWL is less of a political party and more about failed political ambition together with an ill thought out set of policies designed to grab a headline than bear serious consideration”?

Stupidity personified, as we all know. By February 2020 OWLs “less of a party” now have 6 West Lancashire wards. That’s some failure? That’s not “grabbing headlines” but gaining seats. That’s not “ill thought out policies” but policies the public voted for. And we have another OWL policy for the public to consider, especially for Aughton given the huge allowance amounts disclosed today,

“Councillor allowances or “pay” in West Lancashire is voted on and agreed by… you guessed it, councillors themselves. Our West Lancashire believe that this process should be more transparent than it is. That’s why today we are publishing our submission to the IRP for all to read. What’s more we are calling on the Labour and Conservative groups to also publish their stance on councillor allowances by releasing their submissions to the IRP.

“There is though a small group of outside people who advise on allowances. They are known as the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). This month, they have asked each of the three political groups for their stance on councillor allowances as they conduct their review before providing their advice”.

We should be told in time for the May 2020 elections what each party stance is. He who pays the piper calls the tune?

Local NHS “Social Prescribing” Jobs New Initiative In Two Neighbourhoods Of West Lancashire

Meet the new army!

An army of advisers will be recruited to help patients live fitter, healthier lives and combat anxiety, loneliness and depression under plans to ramp up social prescribing set to be launched by NHS England soon. Around half of GP appointments are not directly related to medical conditions, according to experts.

Growing evidence shows that referrals to community services such as exercise or art classes, history groups and even ballroom dancing can boost health and wellbeing more than dishing out pills or other treatments.

Now NHS England plans to recruit 1,000 social prescribing ‘link workers’ as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The link workers will be able to give people time to talk about what matters to them and support them to find suitable activities that are a better alternative to medication as part of a step change in the provision of ‘personalised care’.

The blueprint for Universal Personalised Care, which will also free up GPs to deal with patients who really need them, is due to approved by the NHS England Board later this week.
The NHS Long Term Plan will see GPs surgeries big and small will work to support each other in around 1,400 Primary Care Networks covering the country, with each network having access to a social prescriber link worker and NHS England agreeing to fund their salaries in full.
By 2023-24, social prescribers will be handling around 900,000 patient appointments a year.

First army recruits In West Lancashire

Social Prescribing Link Worker Salary £20,000 – £22,500 West Lancashire CVS & West Lancashire GP Federation. An exciting opportunity has arisen for a motivated individual to work in collaboration with West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) and West Lancashire GP Federation to deliver a coordinated and high-quality Social Prescribing Link Worker service – supporting clients to access and engage with the extensive range of support in the community.

The post holder will manage a caseload of clients through assessment to onward-referral, working with clients in the practice that have been referred by the GP. They will provide ongoing support for an allocated timeframe to promote engagement with identified services and achievement of goals. The role requires extensive liaison with statutory and non-statutory services, to both generate referrals into the service and support access to relevant local services, so that seamless and joined up local services are provided for the individual. The post holder will have demonstrable high levels of emotional intelligence, with working practices based upon compassion and empathy.

Team Leader. Salary £22,500 – £25,000. The post holder will work in collaboration with West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) and West Lancashire Network Plus to deliver a coordinated and high-quality social prescribing Link Worker service – supporting clients to access and engage with the extensive range of support in the community.

The post holder will be responsible for providing leadership to the Social Prescribing Link Workers in the neighbourhood team. This will include support with training and development, ongoing monitoring of capacity and providing supervision for the Link Workers if necessary. Social Prescribing is a new initiative in two of the neighbourhoods of West Lancashire and therefore will provide an excellent opportunity for an individual to be involved in establishing and grounding the operational aspects of the service. This is a responsible role and vital for safe and excellent services!

Flooded In Town Green, Again!

Once again, some heavy rain, residents expect to have a highways anti-flooding infrastructure suitable for modern use.

There isn’t one here, nor has there been one for years. As ever, flood water running down gutter grids totally blocked in Parrs Lane, onto Prescot Road, gathering at the Town Green Lane junction and off past the school to flood the Aughton Surgery entrance. It will be a miracle if any child has dry feet in the local school today!

It’s appalling. We have five WLBC councillors and one LCC councillor. Collectively they cost us £57,772 for the two Aughton WLBC wards and one LCC division. All five are invisible, useless to council tax payers, as proved by the images we show of today compared with those of up to ten years ago.

Four WLBC Aughton councillors receive the basic £4,842 annual allowance

One WLBC Aughton councillor, D Westley, receives an extra £3,749 as “Leader of the Opposition”! Or is that “rabble”?

One WLBC Aughton councillor, O’Toole, receives further allowances for LCC and Lancashire Combined Fire Authority posts, in all £35,015.

Elderly and disabled people have to negotiate the above flooded pavement at the local surgery and have done so for years of sheer neglect by any and all Aughton councillors, where were they today, and last year, and before that?

And at the main road junction, we wait for any appearance of flood warning signs, nowhere in sight. 

All the above pictures taken at 9.30am today. No local councillors to pose for us, just no interest, but what do we expect? What value do we receive from our £57,772 investment in representation? And when and if there is a borough reduction of one third of Aughton councillors, will we be rid of these current useless office holders, perhaps a new independent party free from this lot? We live in hope! 

Peers Taking The Pee!

The House of Lords is an embarrassment to democracy. It’s half-full of deadbeat failed politicians

And now it is an embarrassment to honesty as the members are claiming 29% more in expenses in just one year, as reported in the Sunday Times. When did you ever receive 29% more of anything in one year? It’s more like you will have to PAY more every year. Council tax, police precept, to name two here in West Lancashire, they go up as sure as day follows night. 

And it gets worse, The size of the House of Lords is set to swell to its largest in two decades. The average tax-free payment was £30,827, higher than the median salary of a UK worker, while 31 lords claimed more in expenses than the standard take-home pay of an MP.

Time for a moratorium while someone with balls puts it out of its misery, and ours!  The Lord Kinnock, the Baroness Kinnock? As it happens, in 2004, Kinnock was quoted in the Daily Telegraph where he condemned it “as a place for the descendants of “brigands, muggers, bribers and gangsters” but he still took his place alongside them in the House of Lords. The former Labour leader, 62, “put behind him his past calls for the Lords to be abolished”.  

Baroness Glenys and Lord Neil Kinnock have six state pensions.

“The Kinnocks are Brussels’s very own Lord and Lady Expenses” according to Bojan Pancevski and Robert Watts, Friday March 19 2010, in The Times “Glenys Kinnock, the new minister for Europe, has amassed six publicly funded pensions worth £185,000 per year with her husband Neil, the former leader of the Labour party.  They have already received up to £8m of taxpayers’ money in pay and allowances, he as a European commissioner and she as a member of the European parliament.

“The pair are already drawing payments from three of their taxpayer-funded pensions. Glenys Kinnock, 64, soon to be elevated to the House of Lords alongside her husband, is collecting a teacher’s pension and from next month is entitled to another from Brussels with an estimated annual value of £48,000.  Lord Kinnock, 67, is receiving one pension as a former MP and a second, worth more than £80,000 for his service in Brussels”.

Campaigners from Open Europe

which argues for greater transparency, calculated the pair’s multi-million-pound earnings from allowances, wages and pension entitlements over a 15-year period. It worked out their salaries and perks included:

A total of £775,000 in wages for Mrs Kinnock and £1.85m for her husband, adding up to £2,625,000; Allowances for Mrs Kinnock’s staff and office costs of £2.9m, the Kinnocks’ daughter Rachel was her mother’s research assistant at the European Parliament; A £64,564 “entertainment allowance” for Lord Kinnock; A total of five publicly-funded pensions, worth £4.4m, allowing them to retire on £183,000 a year; A housing allowance that allowed them both to claim accommodation costs even though, as a married couple, they lived in the same house in the Belgian capital between 1995 and 2004.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign manager Susie Squire attacked the scale of the earnings. She said “It does seem an awful lot, but anyone who has experience of the Brussels gravy train will be able to believe these figures. There are lots of eurocrats on massive pensions and massive salaries living the five-star lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense. Brussels isn’t at all transparent. It’s very difficult to get information”.

Mrs Kinnock was given a life peerage and appointed to succeed Caroline Flint who resigned as Europe Minister, saying she was not content to be Gordon Brown’s “female window dressing”.

Time to clear out this rotten edifice!

Pomposity Personified David Dimbleby

has called Boris Johnson a “liar, arrogant, and untrustworthy”

in a furious attack over plans to curb the BBC licence fee. “Johnson’s never governed anything, Cummings has never governed anything” said the former Question Time host who, surprisingly, has also never governed anything!

“They’re ignorant, floundering. I don’t think they have a strategy”. 82-year-old Dimbleby made the comments in an interview for Germany’s ARD TV channel. His education was at Charterhouse, he studied French in Paris and Italian in Perugia, and then Christ Church Oxford studied PPE. He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, yes, that socially exclusive student dining and drinking society, and was also editor of the student magazine Isis.

An incident in 1969 led to Dimbleby, then freelance, being called in by the BBC’s Director of Television. During U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to the UK, a reference by Dimbleby to UK and US government heads “expensively hired” press secretaries whose job is to disguise the truth” was given much attention by the British press.

How much was Dimbleby paid for Question Time from the licence fee? He reportedly “earned” £450,000 per year for hosting Question Time. A report on BBC salaries from The Telegraph reported that sum, and “As Dimbleby hosts 30 episodes of Question Time each year, this works out at £15,000 per episode”. 

He accused the Prime Minister of using the issue to undermine the corporation, and also said election victory made PM ‘arrogant with power’. Dimbleby said the PM was ‘apeing Donald Trump’ by using the same ‘political rulebook’ to try to control the media. And he took a fierce sideswipe at Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, seen as the driving force behind Downing St threats to cut the licence fee, or scrap it altogether.

His comments were disclosed after Downing Street mooted a radical overhaul that could mean introducing a subscription model, forcing the sale of most BBC radio stations, cutting the number of TV stations and reducing the amount of online content.

Senior BBC figures have been encouraging people to sign a petition demanding the PM stops trying to ‘undermine’ the broadcaster. In the full transcript, Dimbleby said ‘The whole idea of a national broadcaster that speaks truth to the nation and is impartial and objective is under threat”. Imagine that for BBC arrogance…truth…impartial…objective!

But he conceded that the Government’s anti-licence fee move was a ‘clever strategy’. It was a “good moment to latch on to the growth in Netflix and social media to argue “why should people pay £154 a year to watch the BBC when they don’t watch the BBC. What are they paying for?”. 

TV licence payers made the likes of Dimbleby filthy rich. Now, he wants those of us over 75 to pay for  others to follow. It stinks and Boris Johnson should ignore the bluster and remember this. Two years ago The Telgraph published a table of the BBC star salaries. It contained 96 names, but the real number was higher as a technicality allowed the true figures to be masked. The government required the disclosure of “people paid more than £150,000 of licence fee revenue” in the last financial year. But that means direct payment only. Anyone who is paid via an independent production company is exempt from the list, as is anyone paid by the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It included Question Time!