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Politics and accountability

After much thought about whether to add my views to the ongoing debate about politics, accountability and ethics I've decided to make the following observations and add my name to the Referendum 2010 campaign.

I've been involved in both local and national politics since the late 70's. My experience of 'party politics' eventually led me to the decision to become an 'independent' in the mid 90's. Gang warfare inside political parties and the driving force of 'party interests first' that are the prime motivation for all political parties drove me to the decision. I have found that being independent can actually work, if I propose an idea that local political party members feel might disadvantage them if they oppose the idea in public, then they frequently try to co-opt the idea and promote it their name!

But the situation is still not satisfactory, here in Formby the outcomes of Party Politics ensures that the residents have the dubious honour of being represented by 6 Conservative District Councillors (Sefton MBC) and 14 Conservative Parish Councillors, that's 20 Conservative Councillors in all. I am the only other locally elected Councillor. This is all on account of the voting system, 'first past the post' in this case places all the power in the upstairs meeting room of the Conservative Club. This is despite the fact that there is always a sizeable vote for the other parties in elections.

I want change this situation, I believe the voter deserves better, that's why I find myself in agreement with the following:

The campaign is now publicly launched.  A broad range of civil society organisations and individuals have come together to call for a referendum on the day of the next general election to change the way we elect our MPs. ........

Our message is simple and strong: real change, not just new faces. An end to safe seats and seeming jobs for life for some MPs. Remove the power that MPs have to decide how they are elected ... and give that to the voters instead. Bring in greater accountability for those who represent us; and greater choice at the ballot box in the first place.

If you feel like I do then visit 'Make My Vote Count'. Political parties frequently argue that they can't govern unless they have a majority but most local Councils are 'hung' and they manage to work together despite party differences. Finally I'd like to see the principle of proportional representation introduced at local level too, then every vote would count.


Edible Garden Project

I've decided not waste my time as I wait for my name to get to the top of the allotment waiting list. I've realised that I know little or nothing about 'growing your own' and so in preparation for the time when and if I can begin an allotment I've started to learn now.

RaisedBed In the past few weeks I've constructed a 'raised bed' from some scrap wood found in the garage and bought some seeds, some seedlings and three forms of container.

In this image you can see my veggie raised bed with some onions already in place, I am waiting with baited breath for signs of rows of a variety of seeds I've also planted to appear. On the right is my 'grow potatoes in a bag' trial, they've already  begun to show signs of successful growth. On the left is my second form of container, a grow-bag with three varieties of tomatoes.

This small edible garden is placed to the side of my house. The front garden is large and presently decorative while the small rear garden was described as a 'patio garden' by the builder when we bought the house and too small for a vegetable plot.

Strawberries Nonetheless I've smuggled my third container trial into the patio area.

Here three varieties of strawberries appear to be thriving, while behind the container I've placed a 'bumble-bee' nest box. I've already observed one bee investigate the box, so I hope to have more to report on this soon .

Let me say I have not given up on my campaign for more allotments in Formby, I am investigating some possible sites as I write, but I want to be prepared and get fitter while I wait.

It was the question of fitness which led me to interrupt a group of dignitaries from the Formby Swimming Pool management team today as they walked around the swimming pool site.

I was out on one of my regular cycle rides when I spotted them and took the opportunity to suggest that they could help to support a Formby 'Edible Gardens' Project. I explained  that they could reserve a small part of their site for a small demonstration plot using some of the ideas I've described above. I know I'd welcome some advice and instructions on how best to turn a corner of my garden into an a source of local food. I suspect many other Formby residents young and old would also welcome the opportunity to learn how to 'grow their own'.

This brings me my final comments, are you growing food in your garden? Would you like to? I'd be very happy to facilitate a 'Formby Edible Gardens Project', would you be prepared to join a group, grow your own and perhaps even exhibit the results later in the year?

Contact me if you want to take the idea forward.


Meetings

Just short note to update you on my plans for the remainder of this week.

Tomorrow I'll be attending two meetings, the first at Range High School starts at 10.00am and is a meeting of the Formby Business Exhibition Steering group. The second is at Blackburn House in Hope Street, Liverpool, this starts at 1.00pm and is planned to last two hours. The subject is 'Social Enterprises and funding sources'.

I will be holding my normal weekly surgery on Thursday morning rather than Wednesday, see you in the Formby swimming pool cafe.


Formby Junior Sports Club

Yesterday I came across another blog related to Formby and I'm delighted to feature it in this posting.
The Formby Junior Sports Club blog writes:

Formby Junior Sports Club was founded in January 1959 when Jim Rourke MBE took his son Frank for a game of football at Duke Street Park. A number of boys asked to join in, they enjoyed it so much that they told their friends about it, in no time there were enough boys for 4 football teams!

In the late 70's and throughout the 80's I stood on the touchline watching my son and his friends play football even spending a period of time as a manager, don't mention team selection and squad rotation to me, I know all about it. The oddest moment occurred one Sunday morning when I found myself, along with other ordinary Dads, in the company of Phil Neal, Kenny Dalglish, and Howard Kendall also on the touchline, all as Dads there to support their sons, funny game football!

More power to your arm Formby Junior Sports Club