Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 18, 2019

Serco Managed Park Pool Cockroach Infestation

The WLBC owned Park Pool that’s Serco managed 

is infested with cockroaches.

The Champion reports it, although it doesn’t admit to it being Serco. It uses the alias West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, its funding partner. But Serco it is that “vows urgent action to deal with repeated infestation of pests…which begs the question, why are there repeated infestations, because cockroaches carry and spread various diseases, pathogens, bacteria, and germs”.

Wherever they travel they leave a path of urine, faeces, and regurgitated saliva and digestive fluids that contain harmful agents that can be transmitted to humans. These agents can cause E. coli, salmonella, typhoid, urinary tract infections, digestive problems, and sepsis. For anyone in who is very young, very old, or already has a compromised immune system or serious illness, these diseases can be life threatening.

WLBC states “Our Health Promotion Service aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of West Lancashire. We do this through the provision of education, training and workshops, and by supporting both local and national campaigns for health improvement within the borough. The service delivers health promotion initiatives on a wide range of topics including accident prevention, food safety, healthy eating and infection disease control. Our Health Promotion Officer, and members of the Commercial Safety Team work, in partnership with a range of individuals from the community, public, private and voluntary sector to promote and improve health”.

So when did Serco inform the WLBC Health Promotion Officer about cockroaches around the viewing area, vending machines, changing rooms, and toilet areas? Can we believe WLBC knew of these infestations and are now embarrassed because pool users have complained to the press? 14 week spray cycles might now be obsolete, every two weeks should become the norm!

And, considering Serco claimed “UK Pool & Spa Awards 2018”, “Water Leisure Operator of the Year”, “Category winner Serco Leisure”, will they return the trophy? 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 18, 2019

Picture Gallery

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 18, 2019

Virgin Care’s Low Standards Slammed By Rosie Cooper

Rosie Cooper MP

has called on West Lancashire CCG To urgently improve Virgin Care standards.

She reacted angrily to the news that the Virgin Care operated Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Rosie said “This is very disappointing news that Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre run by Virgin Care was found to require improvement overall, as well as Requires Improvement in the areas of Safe, Effective and Well-led.

“Virgin Care wrote to me explaining that the CQC felt that clinical staff needed additional competency in the assessment and treatment of children, and asked Virgin to put additional appropriate clinical cover in place.

“I am astonished that the leadership and management at Virgin Care did not identify these failings in the two years they have been operating, nor could the CCG who commissioned Virgin notice these issues.

“Was it difficult for the Chair of West Lancashire CCG Dr John Caine and the CCG Board to truly hold Virgin Care to the highest standards given the similar situation at Parbold Surgery also recently found to require improvement in safety and leadership?

“With the Elms Surgery in Ormskirk and Burscough Family Practice also requiring improvement according to the CQC, West Lancashire CCG needs to urgently take action to raise the standards of its GP and walk-in provision across the borough”.

West Lancashire’s residents seem not to have the health services we need and expect. The staff of the Centres are amazing. As is so often the case, outsourced services are based on private company profits. It’s wrong! 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 17, 2019

A CBI Conversation

Richard Patient

was the London Chairman of Business for Britain, and he imagines two people, called John and Carolyn, who happen to run the CBI, having this conversation.

“Carolyn, when you tell the PM that she can’t go for No Deal, say that you fear that it will hit small businesses hardest. She will have to listen then”.

“But John, the CBI doesn’t have many small businesses as members, not any that I know about anyway, so how can we say that small businesses will be affected?”

“Carolyn, don’t let little details like that get in the way of a good bit of PR. I know all about small businesses after all, many of the suppliers at the supermarket I run in my other job are small. If we tell a small porky about the concerns of small businesses, it will deflect attention away from our real concerns, which is the need to protect our members’ interests, and they want us to stay in the EU to prevent the rise of those pesky disruptor competitors.”

“You mean we actually want EU regulation?

Isn’t that crony capitalism?”

“Yes, of course we like regulation, the more the better. Our members have the resources, the time, the money and the compliance officers, whereas any smaller competitor companies will be smothered by the mass of paperwork.”

“But we’re the voice of business, aren’t we? Surely that means all businesses.”

“Er, no. For starters, we dropped that slogan after those two whipper-snappers said we were the voice of Brussels. And we don’t actually represent that many businesses in the grand scheme of things.”

“Oh.”

“Actually, don’t worry, I’m seeing the PM later today, as part of my Brexit advisory role at No. 10.”

“How on earth did you get that job?

I thought you told me there was nothing good that could come from Brexit?!”

“I know, it’s hilarious. Still Mark has done a good job, hasn’t he? 10% rise in food prices! She can’t go for No Deal after that bit of scaremongering, oh…I mean that bit of excellent considered analysis.”

“10% rise? But didn’t the British Retail Consortium tell us privately that food bills would actually go down, with things like cheaper veg?”

“Luckily, the BRC are not saying that publicly yet. And who needs to look at the detail of the No Deal tariffs when it’s so much easier just to tell Mark to include a nice round number like 10% in his report. Meat prices will definitely be higher.”

“Yes, but only by a few pence.”

“The great thing is that there will be massive reductions on all that wine we import.

Hopefully the population will be too sozzled to notice the price cuts.”

“I’ll drink to that, John. And I think you’ve done a great job giving her the line that it’s Brexiteers that should be blamed for stopping Brexit, when we all know the choice we face now is between Mrs May and Brexit.”

“Thank you. The great thing is that the voters’ memories are so poor that they forget that nearly everyone voted for the two things that make Brexit legal, Article 50 and the Withdrawal Act. A bit of conjuring and the PM has been able to blame Brexiteers for everything, by not backing the indicative votes, when we all know the PM didn’t have to take a blind bit of notice of those votes. If we keep her in power for a bit longer, she’ll probably go the whole way and revoke Article 50. We can blame the Brexiteers for that as well. Mind you, our friend Corbyn has helped us.”

“Maybe we need to take a crate of that cheap booze to Corbyn?”

“Yes, let’s Carolyn. Unlike our united view on staying in the EU, our members are divided on Corbyn, with many being firm Corbyn fans.”

“John, I know. Our next trick will be to make the PM love Corbyn.”

“She’s ahead of you there. She already does!”

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 16, 2019

Is Nigel Farage Back As A Serious Force In Politics?

Lucy Harris, director of Leavers of Britain, says YES.


Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has come out with an upbeat message and a fresh look, and that’s what many Leave voters are desperately searching for in this relentless artificial atmosphere of Brexit doom. Farage is assembling a range of well-known candidates, and the party has a decent chance of achieving its first goal of winning the most seats in the European Parliament elections next month.

Farage’s challenge, and the long-term challenge for Brexiteers more generally, is to ensure that euro-scepticism is cemented as a mainstream movement, not just a protest vote. A polished mainstream alternative that actively defends the democratic mandate of the referendum will be highly appealing to a Brexiteer base, ostracised both by Theresa May’s softening and delaying of Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyn’s flirtation with a second referendum.

There is a clear gap opening up in the political market for disillusioned Brexiteers, and Farage is placing himself smack bang in the middle of it.

But the European Parliament’s outspoken Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt

has taken a swipe at the self-styled “Bad Boy of Brexit” Nigel Farage, comparing him to field marshal Douglas Haig from the final episode of sitcom Blackadder. Sneering Verhofstadt said that like Haig in Blackadder, Farage was “sitting safely in his office, while his people are walking in the cold and the rain. I thought you were marching 200 miles for the leave campaign? How many did you do? Two miles!”

Farage hit back

by invoking the real-life Field Marshal Haig, who he said “saved the Belgian town of Ypres from German domination” during the First World War. “Far from mocking Haig in Belgium, he should be a great hero to you” he added.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 16, 2019

Redwood LetterTo The Attorney General

About the legal impact of signing the wrongly named Withdrawal Treaty

By John Redwood

Dear Geoffrey

Let me have another go at getting a reply from you concerning the way the Withdrawal Agreement stops us leaving the EU. Would you kindly confirm

1. If we sign this Treaty we will be locked into the EU and have to obey all its rules and pay all the bills it sends us for a period of at least 21 months, and probably for 45 months if we have not surrendered further to reach an exit agreement at the 21 month stage. This would mean remaining in the EU for at least 5 years from the decision to leave and probably for 7 years. The EU would be able to legislate and spend against UK interests during this period, whilst we would have no vote or voice in the matter.

2. In order to “leave” in your terms at the 5 to 7 year stage the UK will need to stay in the customs union and accept all single market rules and laws, unless the EU relented over the alleged Irish border issue. 3 years on and the EU has given no ground on the made up border issue, so why would they over the next two years? Isn’t the most likely outcome we would remain in the single market and customs union contrary to the government promise leaving meant leaving them in its referendum literature ?

3. After the 45 month period fully in the EU, the UK still would face financial obligations under the Withdrawal Treaty. The bills will be decided by the EU and we will have to pay them. Any attempt to query them would be adjudicated by the EU’s own court! The longer we stay in the more the future bills are likely to be. The £39bn figure is likely to be a considerable underestimate.

4 The Treaty creates a category of super citizen in the UK. EU nationals living in the UK when we “leave” the EU will have their access to benefits guaranteed in a way the rest of us do not for their entire lifetimes. So we will not be taking back control of our benefit system.

There is much more I could object to. This is no Treaty to take back control, no Treaty for a newly independent nation. It does not quantify the financial liabilities, which are open ended and could be much larger than the low field £39bn Treasury estimate. We have little power to abate the bills and no power to abort the bills. It would probably result even in failure to take back control of our fishing grounds.

Mrs May needs to go back to the EU and explain why the UK people and Parliament have opposed this Treaty, and ask them to think again if they want an agreement before we leave. She needs to make it clear we now intend to leave without signing the Withdrawal Agreement prior to the European Parliamentary elections.

Yours
John Redwood

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 16, 2019

May’s Conduct Of Brexit Has Humiliated A Once Proud Nation

Lord Salisbury, 7th Marquess of Salisbury

served as leader of the House of Lords from 1994 to 1997. Before that he was MP for South Dorset from 1979 to 1987. He and his family have a deep connection with the Conservative party. In this letter sent last week to the Prime Minister he says her conduct of the Brexit negotiations has humiliated the British nation. Until things change, he says, with great sadness, that he will not make his ancestral family home, Hatfield House, available for Conservative party fundraising events. Lord Salisbury is chairman of Reaction.

Dear Prime Minister,

We have not met often, but when we have you have always been engaging and friendly and I have of late admired your astonishing powers of endurance. I particularly enjoyed sitting next to you when you kindly visited Hatfield to attend a dinner to raise funds for our Party. It therefore gives me no pleasure to say that I feel that I have to write this letter. My only consolation is that, amidst all your troubles, its contents will barely add to them.

Nevertheless, I think it would be courteous to write, especially after you somehow managed to find the time to congratulate me on being honoured with the Garter.

I have always believed in the nation state as the polity best equipped to govern a population, to provide a focus for its peoples’ loyalty and, if governed by the rule of law and powerful representative institutions, to adapt to the demands of a changing world. It is for that reason that I have never been a supporter of our membership of the Common Market or its successor, the EU. You only have to read the works of Jean Monnet to realise that from the beginning the European project aimed to create a United States of Europe based on a Napoleonic, top down administration wholly unsuited to our modern world which, if we use the technological revolution as our servant, will give more power to the individual.

It can therefore be no surprise that the EU has evolved into an ancien regime incapable of adapting to the demands of today’s world. Innovation and economic growth, leading universities and their high tech spin-offs, and the constitutional reform now necessary to satisfy the electorate that they are being properly represented, are being rapidly killed off by the disaster that is the Euro and a European administrative class too frightened for its own future to allow change.

I was therefore delighted when we voted to leave.

I am not naive enough to believe that leaving would not be painful. It clearly would be and I thought the Leave campaign was most unwise not to say so. Neither do I think that the mere act of leaving would lead us to the sunlit uplands. It would merely allow British politics and Parliament not to be infantilised by delegating so many decisions to the paternalists in Europe and force us to grow up and ask ourselves what sort of country we wanted to be and decide how to get there.

I am now not at all sure we will leave at all and, if we do, I am not sure we will do so on terms which enable us to negotiate as a sovereign power with either our European allies or other nations. We have reached this position as a result of the way you have conducted the negotiations. We are no longer a proud nation, but a postulant and humiliated one. This embarrassment has been brought about by a government provided by members of the Conservative Party.

When I first addressed my prospective constituents in 1977, I was asked what I thought our Party stood for. My answer was that I believed it stood for the Nation. I am sorry to find that today it no longer does.

I fear therefore that I can no longer send the modest financial support I have given up to now and, sadly, cannot, until things change offer Hatfield for future Party events. I hope you can appreciate, in view of the friendships I have forged in our Party over the last fifty years and the long association my family has had with it, this is one of the saddest letters I have ever had to write.

I am copying this letter to the Party Chairman and to Iain Martin, Editor of Reaction of which I am Chairman.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 16, 2019

Merseyside Voters Ready To Take Sides In A Turf War

The BBC reports on upcoming “turf” wars

Merseyside’s local elections are a turf war, meaning actual turf. The green stuff, the fields, parks and even bits of unloved scrub-land will be the area’s local election battlegrounds on 2 May.

Many green spaces are likely to be developed for housing as the Labour-run councils try to find space for enough new homes to meet demand, but in Wirral and St Helens, the plans have proved particularly contentious, as green belt sites could be used. The issue could cost Labour seats across the region. The Local Plans, long term forecasts for how many houses need to built and where, have opened up swathes of land for development.

There have been noisy protests outside council meetings in Wirral and St Helens, costly legal battles in Liverpool and a huge U-turn in Knowsley when plans to sell 17 parks were scrapped after public outcry. Labour insists it is being forced to earmark green space for housing due to government targets, but opposition parties claim Labour simply doesn’t care about what might be lost.

Watching Wirral

On Merseyside and in the Halton corner of Cheshire, which is, confusingly, also part of the Liverpool City Region, it is Labour who hold sway, mostly with significant majorities. The party and main rivals the Conservatives are fielding candidates in every ward.

The Tories are the leading opposition group on Wirral Council and have a small group of councillors in Sefton, St Helens and two in Halton. Interestingly, the Greens are fielding a higher number of candidates than the Liberal Democrats in total across the area.

This is possibly due to the green space campaigns, but also many voters have not forgiven the Lib Dems for going in to coalition with the Conservatives in national government. Wirral is the one to watch though, as if Labour lose just two of their 35 seats, they lose their majority. The council will then be in no overall control, as it was for a decade between 2002 and 2012.

Wirral Labour’s been increasingly split in the last couple of years, with claims that an influx of “hard left” members have pushed out long standing councillors. Four Labour councillors quit the party recently and set up their own independent group and council leader Phil Davies is not seeking re-election, leaving Labour campaigning without being able to tell voters who will lead them after 2 May.

Opposition parties have kept up pressure on the green belt, rallied against a luxury golf resort and claimed victory after the council scrapped an unpopular contract with a litter enforcement agency.

Moving away from Labour?

Across the Mersey, Labour has a huge majority in Liverpool under the leadership of the city’s mayor Joe Anderson. However, doubts about his future and the unpopularity of some of the developments he has been linked with mean some Labour candidates are publicly disagreeing, on the doorstep and on social media, with some of the decisions his administration has made. The Lib Dems, who ran the council until 2010, are hoping to make gains this year, but it is a steep mountain to climb, as they have eight seats to Labour’s 75.

Crossing the Mersey was the thing that many thought could have hit Labour hard in Halton, but last year the party held all its seats and its huge majority there, despite speculation that the unpopularity of the Mersey Gateway tolls could have influenced the vote.

Pressure remains on Halton Council to at least introduce a fairer enforcement system, if not scrap the tolls all together, something which opposition parties are demanding.

And in Knowlsey, things may be about to change.

The last time these seats were up for election, Labour was the only party represented there, but now there are three Liberal Democrats, a Green and an independent. Will voters decide the grass is greener away from Labour?

Turnout is predicted to be at an all-time low, according to Jon Tonge from the University of Liverpool, who believes Brexit fatigue could mean voters stay well away from the polling booths and maybe head to their local park instead.

Or they could turn out and write “Brexit” on the ballot paper if they want Brexit? Remainers don’t need to, they, having lost the referendum, are winning by default of the remain parliament.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2019

Back In The League For Beacon Seniors

Back where they belong

On 1st April 2019 the Contracts Manager for Serco Leisure Operating Limited advised Rosie Cooper MP that the Senior Players of the Beacon Park Golf Course were reinstated to the competitive league we know they grace with their presence in it. Having been kicked out unceremoniously because Serco Leisure Operating Ltd (SLOL)and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd had ruined parts of the course and driving range  by illegal breaches of planning conditions, it was a case of job done by Rosie and the Senior players.

Rosie wrote “It seems there is now light at the end of the tunnel for the members at Beacon Park Golf Course after much controversy about the state of the course”.

She states she “has taken a keen interest in developments at the Beacon, following countless complaints over the poor state of the course since Serco took over and landfill works began”.

Despite all these challenges, the Beacon Seniors beat the odds and won the South West Lancs Seniors League last year. This season, due to the ongoing landfill situation, the Seniors were suspended from the league. There was uproar at this decision. MP Rosie had met with the golfers on site to discuss their concerns, as well as meeting with Serco and West Lancashire Borough Council Directors to find a solution.

Following a recent meeting of the league, at which Serco attended to present their work remeasuring the course and maintaining an 18-hole facility that meets CONGU regulations complete with new stroke index and score cards, to everyone’s delight, the Seniors have been re-admitted to compete in this year’s competition.

50% off all memberships

Additionally, SLOL has assured Rosie in writing that “From 1st April we are offering 50% off all memberships for the next 12 months at Beacon Park”. No work has yet started to reinstate the course to something approaching its former glory. Nor will it ever be, unless those involved in the works are not the cowboy companies mentioned here.

In a recent somewhat oblique reference to the course, Labour Cllr John Bullock said, of the new Borough development company “The entity acquiring the land is essentially passing the wealth of the Borough to a separate legal personality in which we may or may not have tools of control (to be tested – hopefully not in a court of law) [Think Beacon Golf Club]”

“Think court of law, think Beacon Golf Club”

and in that context surely it is reasonable to consider what we all know, that the land-filling of Beacon Park Golf Course began and ended with the wealth that was created by the dumping of 23,375 lorry loads, 187,000 m3 volume of fill being claimed by, accounted for, and paid in secret to the private companies Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd.

As we’ve published so often, the intended beneficiary of the landfill royalties would be the West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust. Its annual accounts do not provide any evidence to prove the receipt of other than its regular leisure income. It’s hardly surprising, because we know SLOL admitted to having received the royalty income. Serco plc has admitted to receiving a considerable sum from it. Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd showed various income moving between associated companies run by director Jonathan Snellgrove. No evidence has ever been produced of VAT accountability on the landfill activity, a matter that should be seriously examined by WLBC.

 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2019

On This Day

On This Day in 1945 Bergen-Belsen was set alight

British troops including my father, as part of the British 11th Armoured Division, liberated the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. More than 70,000 prisoners were murdered at Bergen-Belsen, where inhumane conditions led to the spread of diseases such as dysentery and tuberculosis. 

The camp was established in the north of Germany in 1940. In April 1943 part of the camp was handed over to the SS who established a ‘detention camp’, primarily for Jewish prisoners. As Allied forces liberated concentration camps closer to the frontline, the Germans transferred prisoners from these camps to Bergen-Belsen. In the period from July 1944 to April 1945 the camp population grew from approximately 7,300 to over 90,000. The inhumane conditions in the camp, including lack of adequate food and water, poor sanitation, overcrowding and lack of shelter led to the spread of diseases such as dysentery, typhoid fever and tuberculosis. In the first few months of 1945, tens of thousands of prisoners died.

When the British Army liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945 they found around 53,000 prisoners, the majority of whom were emaciated and suffering from various diseases. Thousands of dead bodies lay unburied on the camp grounds. Following the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, the camp buildings were burnt to the ground to stop the spread of disease. British troops established a displaced persons’ camp in a nearby German military school to house over 12,000 Holocaust survivors. 

We will remember them.

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