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Getting Down To The Hard Decisions

This week Sefton MBC will confront the hard decisions required to meet the Governments spending target for local Council Tax. In a series of meetings Sefton Cabinet members followed by the full Council will hear, debate and propose a budget.

There are many changes and the full document is well over 130 pages long. To see these proposals follow this link: Future Expenditure Plans. There's lot of pain in this long document.

There is an intriguing reference to the possibility of additional funding to support High Street Innovation in one of the other documents:

It is proposed to offer other town centres and shopping parades throughout the Borough the same level of support. The Revenue Budget 2013/14 and Two Year budget plan, elsewhere on today’s agenda, includes a proposal to finance an additional £1m of capital spend using funding from reserves, which will fund a variety of schemes. More detail on this will be put before Cabinet on 28 March 2013, but part of this funding will be earmarked as part of the initiative to regenerate the high street.

Some of you may recall that in the run-up to last years Sefton elections there was a promise of such aid. Perhaps this is the outcome of that promise.

At any rate if it does come to pass it will be some consolation to Formby for missing out on £22,000+ funding arising from the lack of a Portas Town Bid


Formby Parish Council Loses Funding Opportunity

Mary Portas and her report

Last February I suggested Formby Parish Council should become a 'Portas Town' Team. This would have enabled them to submit a bid for Central Government funds.

In the end Formby Parish Council did not submit a bid.

You can find the original posting here: "Parish Council Should Bid for a Town Team" as well as other stories that describe the progress of the suggestion.

The Portas Town scheme was popular and oversubscribed and some of the successful original applicants included Parish and Town Councils. Since then applicants that formed Town Teams and more importantly made a bid, even if it failed, have been awarded a sum of £10,000 pounds in a second funding award. This was given by central Government to each official applicant. Formby Parish Council missed out on this second award because it did not apply for the first one.

As a result Formby Parish Council is now ineligible for yet another large grant.

Sefton Cabinet members meet this week to discuss  the ‘High Street Innovation Fund'. The document in front of the Cabinet member’s states:

"To note the current Town Team partnerships that exists within Crosby,  Maghull, Southport and Waterloo and their agreed activities... Agree that the £100,000 High Street Innovation fund be allocated as follows;  Crosby - £17,000, Maghull - £17000, Southport - £49,000 and Waterloo -

The Council document goes onto comment:

"By allocating the above amounts to the Town Teams it will allow partners to create community and economic resilience within the Town Centres, while also allowing the Town Teams to implement a number of their activities. The funding combined with their already allocated £10,000 Portas Pilots monies will allow the Town Teams to plan a sustainable model that will enable them to co-ordinate future activity and map out the future of their Town Centres."

As a former member of the Parish Council I can only express my bitter disappointment at the inertia shown by our local Council members. Their failure to be proactive in the first place has led to the loss of considerable funding that Formby could ill afford to lose. Perhaps as much as around £22,000, the equivalent of half the annual precept.

In my view this failure ought to be acknowledged, the Council should resign. The citizens of Formby deserve an opportunity to elect others more willing to be active for the common good.

The Parish Council began in 2003 and initially received praise for its energy and actions. It is sadly merging into obscurity and anonymity. With the honourable exception of a couple of members, too many of the Council seem to be content to be members in name only.


Happy Saint Valentines Day

RoseHappy Saint Valentines Day, the most celebrated holiday around the world, after New Year's Day.

It originally started as a liturgical celebration in honour of an early Christian Saint called Valentinus. According to the most popular story he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry by the Roman Empire. He also ministered to Christians who were still being persecuted at the same time. He was imprisoned and eventually executed.

Today is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Church, though they celebrate the day later in the year. In the case of the Orthodox Church their celebrations occur twice and are in honour of two other Saints.

The association with romantic love first came about in the Middle Ages with the influence of Geoffrey Chaucer. During this period the concept of  'Courtly Love' grew and flourished. Over time it evolved and people expressed their love for each other using flowers and hand written cards.

Nowadays Saint Valentines day is a massive event dominated by mass produced greeting cards, ballons, sweets, gifts of all kinds and extensive marketing. Some might say 'it's too commercial' and it is oddly timed given that Lent began yesterday.

Nevertheless enjoy the day.


Time For a Neighbourhood Plan

Communities now have new powers to shape development through Neighbourhood Planning, a new right introduced through the Localism Act 2011. 

It allows communities to prepare:

• Neighbourhood Development Plans;
• Neighbourhood Development Orders; and
• Community Right to Build Orders.

Who can undertake Neighbourhood Planning?

If there’s a parish or town council, that is the only body that can lead on neighbourhood planning. If there isn’t a parish or town council, then a community group known as a neighbourhood forum needs to be established to lead the process.

Formby Parish Council and Little Altcar Parish will soon start the Neighbourhood Planning process.

Make sure you participate, these plans will shape the future of the whole of Formby.

I hope you will use this Blog to express your views or ask questions. There is also an On-line Formby Community web site here:


I will be happy to publish these on your behalf.

For more information have a look at this document:


Seed Swap Day Proves A Great Success

The Edible Formby seed swap day proved to be great success at a crowded swimming pool cafe on Saturday. Here are two impressions from early in the day.

Some of the Seed Swap Team

A busy corner for the enthusiasts

Formby Edible Garden Project: Seed Swap

It  might be apparent to readers of this blog that for some time I have also been part of the Edible Formby Garden Project. I first proposed this idea two to three years ago and with the kind support of the Formby Swimming Pool Trust the project is just starting it's second year. I thought you'd like to know the following.

The Formby Edible Garden Project launches this year’s new programme with:

A ‘Seed Swap’ event at Formby Pool on Saturday 9th February
between 10.30 and 3.30pm.

Residents in Formby  are invited to bring vegetable seeds in labelled envelopes to swap.  Please packet up your seeds in single varieties in advance - with a pinch of seeds per packet to ensure a reasonable sample crop.

Many vegetable growers have seeds left over at the end of the growing season. Others harvest seeds for use in the following year. Seed Swap events, where growers meet and exchange their excess seeds in person, are growing in popularity.

As the 'Grow your own' movement and the popular interest in organic food increases the project team hope to recruit more local participants to join the project.  

Nowadays people want to start growing in small urban gardens, swopping seeds is a way of starting.

During the day the project team will share their experiences and give advice. We hope that participants will also share their knowledge and experience.  Sometimes seed swaps lead to discoveries when participants are offered an opportunity to grow a variety they had never previously considered.  

We hope to engender a sense of community spirit, where everyone will share their knowledge and meet like-minded people.

Please join us and help 'Grow Formby'. More on this idea in the next posting.

There are other related stories on this blog. Here's an example: http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/2012/01/formby-edible-gardens-project.html