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November 2008

Peak Oil

Just two days after my last posting the Guardian Newspaper has a story about 'Peak Oil'.

This is an extract from the story,

"The risk to the UK from falling oil production in coming years is greater than the threat posed by terrorism, according to an industry taskforce report published today.

The report, from the Peak Oil group, warns that the problem of declining availability of oil will hit the UK earlier than generally expected - possibly within the next five years and as early as 2011.


Oil supply could then rapidly decline, or even collapse, the report warns, with potentially devastating implications for the UK economy.

The report was issued today by the recently established UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security, a group of eight companies including transport firms Virgin, Stagecoach and FirstGroup, engineers Arup, architects Foster and Partners, and energy giant Scottish and Southern.

Entitled The Oil Crunch, the report argues that the risk of an early peak in oil production poses a bigger threat to UK society than tightening gas supplies, terrorism or the short-term impacts of climate change."

What are the implications for Formby? Given that most of us work outside Formby and use cars to get to work and that all our supplies rely on oil, what can and what should we be doing about it?
Is the Transition Towns approach useful?

Use it or Lose it

Village1 'Use it or lose it', these are the words of a local trader based in the village centre. I was struck by the force of his concern as he argued that unless we local residents use our local small scale businesses they will disappear from the village. Imagine what that could look like, rows of formerly active, attractive retail outlets providing a one to one service, where you know them and they know you, turned into a series of boarded up, run down frontages.

Is this too strong an image of the future? Not according to this retailer, the effects of the 'credit crunch' and changes in shopper behaviour could lead to this sort of outcome. In his words the big multiples will survive, it won't be the Tesco's of the world that go to the wall, it will be those very shops and services that make Formby village what it is, warm, lively and sociable.

The challenge, what can we do? Well I was struck by his suggestion, shop local, stay with the small trader, give the big multiples a miss - I left him, wondering is he right? Is there any merit in his final suggestion - 'Only use the local shop' is there any support for his idea, say for a period of a month?

For those of you concerned, there is an example in Totnes; there are actually many more, they are part of the 'Transition Town' movement.  To quote, it involves 'forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)' local retailing is an integral part of this vision of the future. Although Transition Towns started as a response to 'Peak Oil' and 'Climate Change' they are equally applicable in these circumstances in my view. Would you be interested in helping to set up a local 'Transition Town Initiative', please write to me and let me know.

In the meantime I will attending a Business Forum on the 12th November, the agenda includes the following:

<p>Breakfast at the Business Forum</p>

  • In this current economic climate, how to promote Formby Village as a shopping destination.

Great Altcar Visit

StMichaelAndAllAngels1a I was delighted to meet Joan Rimmer whilst out cycling last Sunday. She reminded me that St Michael and All Angels Church in Great Altcar were holding an open day. My wife and I abandoned our round Formby cycle tour and made our way across to Great Altcar.

There the Church was open and many local residents and others had taken the opportunity to visit it. Bathed in a glorious October sun the Church was at it's best. The Vicar, Reverend John Baker and his Assistant, Reverend David Baker and their loyal band of members of the congregation provided a splendid reception and a warm welcome.

The Church was decorated for the harvest service earlier in the day and this combined with the weather, the welcome and the architecture reminded me how much I like this building and all the people who worship there, as a former member of Little Altcar Parish Council I have attended many StMichaelAndAllAngels2aRemembrance Day services and Annual Civic Services. They were always deeply spiritual and moving experiences.

The presence of the Formby Times photographer will no doubt record the open day in the next edition of the newspaper, but more importantly this open day heralded the inaugration of the 'Friends of St Michaels'. As the opening paragraph of the little leaflet announcing this event wrote, 'There are many people who love this building ...many will be members of other Churches..many will have moved away from the area. Some will be busy, either at home or at work.'

I've added my name to the list as a 'Friend of St. Michael's', if you want to help then write to

Weekly Review

Formby Swimming Pool  In the last week I attended the usual monthly meeting of the Parish Council on Tuesday 7th October and on the following day from 10.30 - 11.30 I held my surgery in Formby swimming pool.

At some points in the Council meeting I felt as if I was attending a 'caucus' meeting of the local Conservative Party. All of the other Parish Councillors are members of the Conservative Party and this meeting was also attended by two of their local Sefton MBC members. When we got to the point in the agenda where we considered a notice of motion rejecting the formation of a 'Liverpool City Region' these members, were in my view, in very great danger of 'politicising' the work of the Parish Council.

I take the view that each member represents each and everyone of the residents irrespective of their political views. Presenting and supporting notices of motion that only represent a single party view are not the business of a Parish Council, what do you think? Please add your comments below.

Apart from that issue I was delighted to circulate a draft version of the Formby Community Plan to members. This has been available for several months on the internet but I still await any contribution from the other members of the Parish Council. Please go and have a look and make your views known.

Other non Parish Council activity and news will be the subject of other postings.