Category Archives: NewsWatch

Compost Your Cardboard?

WLBC asks “Please help us keep refuse and recycling collections running smoothly.

“Residents can help us to keep refuse and recycling collections running smoothly during the Coronavirus Pandemic. With many of us spending more time at home this can often mean there is more waste to be collected from households.

“To help Council staff to get round to everybody here are a few things we are asking you all to do. Please continue to recycle and put the right waste items in the right bins. You can find out all you need to know about this on our What goes in my bins, bags and boxes page. You can also help us by only putting out your recycling wheelie bins for collection if the bin is more than half full so we can get through the rounds as easily as possible. We are sorry if this causes any inconvenience, but we would hope that you could help us in this way at this difficult time.

“It would be a big help to us as well if, as always, all bins can be put out for collection by 7am on the day they are due to be collected, and please park responsibly so our crews can get down your street to collect your bins. This will help reduce the number of bins that are missed.

Councillor Kev Wilkie, whose Cabinet responsibilities include Refuse and Recycling and waste management, said “Please help us to help as we work to keep collecting your waste through these difficult times. Please don’t burn waste, compost instead. With many of us currently spending more time at home we may have more food waste and garden waste to deal with, particularly those keen gardeners amongst us.

“Composting is a great way of disposing of garden waste and some food items that you would normally dispose of in your grey bin, such as raw fruit and vegetable scraps, even paper and cardboard. It also saves money on fertiliser. Please don’t burn rubbish at home. If the fire gets out of hand it could endanger yourself and others.

Find out more about home composting, including where you can get a bin, by visiting Councillor Wilkie said “Home composting helps the garden and is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of recycling. Please don’t be tempted to start a fire to burn rubbish at home. As a firefighter I know only too well how easily fires can get out of hand and the terrible consequences this can have”.

Now cast your minds back ten years when WLBC hit the nationals with the story of  Albert Stewart,

who wanted to help householders keep their streets looking clean and clear of clutter. “But the binman has been removed from the round he has worked for 33 years – for picking up too much rubbish. The 60-year-old took away extra  bin bags left beside overflowing wheelie bins, which council bosses say is against strict refuse rules.

“Householders caught leaving rubbish outside wheelie bins could be fined up to £1,000. Albert was issued with a written warning by officers from West Lancashire Borough Council and moved from his route in Aughton to another one eight miles away. Mr Stewart, a married grandfather-of-six from Ormskirk, Lancashire, accused the council of ‘spying’ on its own binmen and said bosses were motivated by money. 

‘I’m really annoyed and upset about this,’ he said. ‘I’ve been on the same round for 33 years – I’ve seen babies born, go to school, grow up and have babies themselves. They weren’t just people I took rubbish from – they were my friends too. I’ve had lots of people coming up to me saying they miss me”. Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said ‘This case is a sad indictment of Britain”. More of an indictment of WLBC?

Exciting Seasonal Work With WLBC

WLBC has 2 Seasonal Clean and Green Operative vacancies

The salary will be £18,795 to £19,171 per annum, Fixed Term, Full Time, but the closing date is  23.59 hours BST on Friday 03 April 2020, Reference: HR-0012-20-R.

“We are currently seeking to appoint two Seasonal Clean and Green Operatives (Scale 3) to join our Clean and Green service within Street Scene Services based at the Robert Hodge Centre in Skelmersdale between 1st April 2020 and 31st October 2020. This is an exciting opportunity to join a team who are focused on making a difference to our local areas.

“As a Clean and Green Operative you will work as part of a team to provide a high quality environmental maintenance service, including both planned and reactive work for all aspects of street cleansing and grounds maintenance functions. You will drive a range of Council owned vehicles including vans, tipper vans and link tips in addition to towing trailers commensurate with licence certification and appropriate training. You will also use a full range of handheld plant with walk behind plant and machinery including pedestrian mowers, strimmers, hedge trimmers, again commensurate with certification and/or successful completion of appropriate training.

“You will hold a full UK Driving licence (Licence B and B1), have experience of working as part of a manual operational service and the ability to undertake tasks as directed to a high standard and be committed to health and safety and adherence to policy and procedures. Ideally you will have experience of operating commercial handheld grounds maintenance and street cleansing equipment e.g mowers, strimmer, hedge trimmers and blowers, however this is not essential as training will be given”.

Hullo From Wally, Isolated In Halsall

Hullo, it’s me again

from Halsall Towers, on behalf of the Tory “Halsall Cohort” ie me, Doreen, and Marilyn, that “represents” and I use the term loosely, Aughton & Downholland and Aughton Park. I expect you have missed my musings?

“In case you are unaware of our status, it appears that we are “furloughed councillors” or “on gardening leave” the scheme for which we understand the government will pay up to 80% of councillors’ allowances. So far WLBC hasn’t told us our exact status but we are self isolating and cannot attend Council. It’s curious how the 80/20 ratio has crept into our lives.

“Of course, you will realise one of our number, Sam Currie, has benefited from 100% allowances for being absent from 80% and attending only 20% of meetings at WLBC, and is, we are told, working in London, so we can reasonably say he does not enjoy the benefit of being party whipped.

“I was very surprised to read that Sam tweeted “I’ve got @rickygervais tickets for October and if this pandemic isn’t over by then or the fat prick gets it and cancels his show then 2020 is a complete write off”, because that is barrack-room language, unlike when I referred to people, Aughtonians, as liars, telling lies door to door!

“Sam has also tweeted “20% drop in pay is difficult at best of times. For people on commission it’s much more Even with commission inc it can be closer to 65% when you take the max 2500k p/m For the (taxable) commission not to count many are taking a pay cut of 80%(!!) #furloughleave pay must change”. From which we might assume Sam is besotted with that ratio of 80% to 20%. 

“As you know I was a “senior” bank clerk, and If you’ve studied business or economics, you’re well familiar with the power of the Pareto Principle, namely that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action, or 20% of your work drives 80% of your outcomes! Simple! Perhaps Sam is smarter than I ever thought?

Anyway, enough of this theory, I must press on with my Tory manifesto for 2080…whoops, there I go again, 2021, in hopes of winning the delayed elections. 

A New BBC Production “Sneaky Blinders”

The BBC will stop at nothing to gather in the TV Licence Tax from over 75s.

And it thinks it might have played a “sneaky blinder” with its latest tax retention plot.

The BBC regularly reports on the many misdemeanours committed by Capita or “Crapita”, one of which was an “Army recruitment drive has faced “significant problems” including a website that cost three times its budget and was 52 months late, a National Audit Office report has found. Outsourcing giant Capita was awarded the £495m contract for Army recruitment in 2012, but has failed to hit soldier recruitment targets every year since. Capita admitted it had “underestimated the complexity” of the project.

And which firm does the BBC contract with to enforce the TV tax? Yes, Crapita!

You do know, don’t you, about the incestuous affair that exists between HM Government and Crapita? The Department For Work and Pensions contracts with Crapita to assess Personal Independence Payments.

But one claimant died months after her personal independence payments were stopped following a Capita assessment and the outsourcing company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages over its handling of her disability claim. The week after her death, a social security tribunal decided she had been eligible for PIP.

Crapita tried to overturn the decision and was accused of an abuse of public funds and plainly wrong that such “reports are presented as fact and a shameful indictment of the government welfare reform ideology clearly persecuting disabled and vulnerable people”.

The BBC has issued a statement on who is poor enough not to pay the TV tax, aka what we know as, the “Gary Lineker et al at the BBC Staff Personal Income and Fortune Retention Scam/Scheme”.

“We recognise that the current system of collection by TV Licensing could be improved, and the BBC is happy to work with Government on proposals, such as more effective access to data and extending the simple payment plan scheme to help more people, particularly the most vulnerable and those on lower incomes. Yes, those on lower incomes than Gary Lineker!

“And whilst we can of course understand why some people are attracted to a civil system, we agree with the Government’s own list of significant difficulties as set out in its consultation. This includes higher evasion and higher penalties.

“It is likely that a civil system would hit the poorest hardest as there is no discretion built into the system. Unlike in the magistrates’ courts, where the court decides on the level of the fine, there is no discretion to vary the size of the fixed penalty. It is just that, fixed. The only discretion is to establish how the penalty should be paid”. However, in its response to the Government’s consultation, the BBC has also said that they’re willing to consider alternative funding models, such as one linked directly to an existing household bill”.

The BBC has said the TV licence fee could be incorporated into broadband, council tax or energy bills. But would over 75s be welcoming of having their broadband bills so directly linked to the BBC TV Tax, particularly since most regard internet access as being an essential service but many would not hold the broadcaster’s own content to that same level of importance?

Can you imagine giving BT, British Gas, LCC, WLBC, an extra sum just for it to be paid to the BBC for its TV Tax, ensuring Gary Lineker– £1,750,000 – £1,754,999, Graham Norton– £610,000 – £614,999, Huw Edwards – £490,000 – £494,999, Steve Wright– £465,000 – £469,999, Alan Shearer– £440,000 – £444,999, Andrew Marr– £390,000 – £394,999, Claudia Winkleman– £370,000 – £374,999? No, neither can I! 


RIP L/Cpl Brodie Gillon

Due to the COVID-19 crisis L/Cpl Brodie Gillon sadly, will not have a full military funeral.

Brodie, a Scots army medic, was sadly killed in a rocket attack in Iraq. So as a mark of your respect it is requested that everyone should light a candle at 9pm tonight 31 March 2020, in her memory RIP Brodie.

Sadly many people missed this news in time for the candle lighting. But Brodie will always be in the hearts of her regiment and her countryDr Mike Hill said “Tonight, I light a candle for an amazing medic, killed in Iraq two and a half weeks ago. Sadly Covid-19 has prevented her funeral with full military honours but that doesn’t stop us thinking of her tonight”.

She lived, and died, with honour. Rest in peace, Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon.


When The NHS Needed £20billion In Productivity Savings

Back in the day, October 2016, a question was being asked “How much can CCGs save by ending pharmacy repeat dispensing?”

We read that “Pharmacy minister David Mowat is a man with a lot on his plate. Signing off on a reconsidered pharmacy budget for England will be number one on his priority list, so one might assume medicines wastage is further down his to-do tray.

“But on one of the few occasions when he did speak to community pharmacists, at a Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) event last month organised to persuade him of the sector’s value, he stated that pharmacy will not “get away” from the £20 billion the NHS needs to make in productivity savings”.

A week later, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens went a step further by highlighting “legitimate considerations” about how much community pharmacy is spending to dole out “£8 billion-worth of medicines”. If the last few years had seen pharmacy’s service provision dominate debates, it’s clear the focus is back on dispensing.

Clamping down on medicines waste is nothing new, an influential study published in 2010 conservatively estimated that unnecessary primary care and community prescriptions cost £300 million in England every year.

But what has changed is that this research, conducted by academics at the University of London and the University of York, is now routinely cited by GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who are cracking down on medicine waste as the latest cost-cutting efficiency drive. And as Mr Mowat’s warning implied, community pharmacy has found itself very much in the cross hairs.

It was reported that Southport and Formby, as well as South Sefton, CCGs are piloting a system they claim will prevent “wasted medicines” and “improve the safety of repeat prescriptions”. The latest such repeat ordering initiative is in West Lancashire, a CCG which this month launched a new campaign to tackle medicines waste, snappily titled: “Being a hoarder is out of order!” (Pictured below).

They said “Help us minimise medicines waste. Medicines are expensive, so try not to order more than you actually need. £600,000 a year is spent in West Lancashire on wasted medicines. If this money was not wasted in this way, it could instead be spent on, for example: 50 hip replacements, 50 cataract operations, 40 heart by-pass operations, 10 knee replacements and five full-time nurses”.

So we had reached the stage of the CCG deciding, reasonably enough, that hoarding was to blame for there not being enough money for other NHS purposes. Moving on to how we received our medicines, they could be collected and or delivered, at no cost to the patient. Then, there was suddenly a charge to the patient for delivery, and finally there was no delivery because patients being unable or unwilling to pay and the chemists were unwilling to lose money.

And so we are where we are today. It all started with medicine waste, and ended with such zeal to save money that the only losers were, and are, home bound patients.

Peter Gregory, a GP and clinical lead at West Lancashire CCG, said at the time “With this campaign, we want to give [patients] the confidence to take control of how they take and order their medicines, and to only order what they need. Ultimately, it is about everyone in West Lancashire working together, residents, GPs and pharmacists, so that collectively we can help to tackle this issue of medicines waste”.

And on being warned of the “unintended consequences” that these schemes could have on patients who are “vulnerable, time poor and/or require assistance”, Pharmacy Voice has advised that schemes seeking to “unpick” the support services pharmacies offer patients to help them with their medications should be “considered and consulted on with local pharmacies, general practice and patients so that people are not adversely impacted”.

And now we have the coronavirus, about which the West Lancashire CCG stated “There are no prescription medicine shortages as a result of Coronavirus, but the difficulties facing isolated elderly, disabled, and at risk patients trying to obtain their prescriptions from their chosen chemists, hopefully by free delivery, have still not been resolved”.

Followed by, 19th March from CCG, “We are currently dealing with an exceptionally high level of demand for prescriptions and need to prioritise issuing of prescriptions to those that need them most”.

We wrote “Patients receive medication prescriptions because they need them, so to now be told the POD has a need to prioritise issuing of prescriptions to those that need them most indicates a judgement will be made that some of us need them less”.

And then we were told, 24th March “A national community pharmacy medicines delivery service for England is due to start “in the next few days”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said. As part of the new service commissioned by NHS England & NHS Improvement, community pharmacies will deliver medicines to self-isolating patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Up to 1.5 million people in the UK have been told to stay at home for 12 weeks – a process known as shielding – as they are at the “highest risk of being hospitalised by the virus”, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said at a daily press briefing from 10 Downing Street on March 22.

Shielded patients will be asked to have their medicines collected and delivered to them by “friends, family or a volunteer” before being directed to the pharmacy provided delivery service if this is not possible, the PSNC explained in a statement on Sunday. “We anticipate the service will commence in the next few days,” it added.

Well, it hasn’t started here in West Lancashire, and there is queuing at pharmacies such as Rowlands in Aughton , as these pictures kindly provided by Roger Blaxall of QLocal prove. 22 in a queue last Friday, 12+ today, Will it ever start here? Don’t put money on it!


Rosie On Skelmersdale Railway

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has received further assurances from the Department for Transport over the commitment to delivering Skelmersdale Railway.

Following the General Election, during which the Prime Minister promised the funding, MP Rosie wrote directly to Boris Johnson asking for further detail on his announcement and how the Skelmersdale project can access the money it needs to come to fruition.    

The Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP replied on behalf of the Government to confirm that £500m has been pledged to start reopening lines closed following the Beeching report, reconnecting smaller towns, regenerating local economies and improving access to jobs, homes and education.  

However, many residents expressed their lack of trust and confidence in the Prime Minister to actually deliver the project. Rosie, who has long campaigned for Skelmersdale Railway, understood the concerns of her constituents and made these clear to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport.

In response, Rosie has received the reassurances and continues to campaign to ensure that Skelmersdale Railway is delivered, she said “I can understand the distrust of residents of Skelmersdale who feel they have been let down and I made their feelings known to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary and that my constituents will not accept broken promises.

“The Transport Minister responded to reassure me, and residents, that they were keen to work with Lancashire County Council to discuss the case for bringing a rail link to Skelmersdale and seeking Government funding.

“He stated that the initial £500m funding could be used to accelerate the development of schemes that are already being considered for restoration – something we are well on with here having already progressed the case for Skelmersdale Railway through the initial GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages. I am clear that I will hold the Prime Minister to his promise.    A railway station in the heart of Skelmersdale will open up a world of economic and social opportunities for the town and its residents”.    

That’s not strictly true, is it? It won’t open up a world of social opportunities for the elderly and disabled residents of Skelmersdale any more than it does all those others in West Lancashire who have been denied by WLBC and LCC the free off peak rail travel enjoyed by the City Regions that enjoy huge capital grants from central government. 

If Shapps is really talking to LCC and working with them, surely now is the time for us no longer after about ten years campaigning, to be the “left behind” in off peak rail travel equality?