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Councillors pass motions

Gerry Corner goes to the the Town Hall to witness spats about trams, smoking in films and pats on the back all round

Published on December 11th 2009.


Councillors pass motions

The words “Liverpool” and “trams” continue to crop up in the same sentence despite the scheme's near-death experience in 2005 when then Transport Minister Derek Twigg pulled the plug on £170m of government money.

What we do know is that “Trams near over” is almost a perfect anagram of Tranmere Rovers . . . and we
all know what's
happened to them

After years of trains being delayed by leaves on the line, it was the first known instance of an entire transport system being halted by a Twigg.

Scarily-large sums of money are mentioned whenever the trams crop up. Merseytravel spent £70m of taxpayers' money just talking about them. And at last Wednesday's full meeting of Liverpool City Council, Labour leader Joe Anderson suggested they could use a big heap of dosh that Sefton doesn't appear to want anymore, to help pay for Merseytram instead.“Oh no we can't,” insisted Cllr Bradley.. “Oh yes we can!” insisted Cllr Anderson. Who says panto isn't fun?

Cllr Anderson's motion requiring the council to back the trams was subject to a Lib Dem amendment designed to scupper it. But the ruling party reckoned without the Champions League which lured away enough Red-supporting Lib Dems to ensure a rare red rose victory in the vote that followed. Liverpool 1 Fiorentina 2, Lib Dems 34 Labour 35. Cllr Anderson raised both fists in triumph – well, he doesn't get the chance very often.

Even so, Cllr Bradley threatened to spoil the party with his warning that if the readies were not forthcoming by the spring then “Merseytram cannot be delivered by the Merseyside authorities”.

So was this the beginning of the end of the beginning of the line? We don't know, but what we do know is that “Trams near over” is almost a perfect anagram of Tranmere Rovers . . . and we all know what's happened to them.

*****

The minute council leader Warren Bradley rose to introduce his major contribution, about a dozen elected representatives got up and went to the loo

Bit rude we thought. Until an insider suggested that the members (ahem!) were taking part in a 12-hose salute honouring Officer Bradley's considerable fire-fighting skills (and that's just at Municipal Buildings).

Once they had settled back in their seats, we looked forward to a hotly

contested debate over Cllr Bradley's assertion that “the services provided to the residents, businesses and visitors of Liverpool are second to none”.

Except there wasn't one, a debate that is. But then you could hardly blame the opposition for failing to contradict a motion calling on the council to recognise “the excellent work undertaken by staff across the city council and joint ventures”.

Instead, they left it to the Liverpool Labour website to empty several buckets of cold water on the reason behind Cllr Bradley's motion – the council's elevation from a one-star worst-in-the-country status, to three out of four and “performing well”.

To the casual observer there may appear to be an element of the good cop/bad cop routine about the council's attitude towards its workforce. Only last Christmas, reports claimed bullying and harassment of staff was “an everyday occurrence” - and a major factor behind high sickness rates.

A year on, Cllr Bradley was telling the council chamber that he and chief executive Colin Hilton should be sending thank you letters to every city council employee. However, the same meeting heard calls for an investigation into continuing “high levels of absenteeism”.

Maybe they will go the whole hog and shake each member of staff warmly by the throat, er, sorry, hand.

*****

As Confidential exclusively predicted here, demands for an X rating on films depicting smoking were finally, officially and very firmly stubbed out via the boot of Cllr Paula Keaveney.

An overwhelming “yes” vote followed the Liberal Democrat councillor and would-be MP's proposal that the council throw out calls to alter local licensing laws.

And after the majority of the public consulted on the subject came out heavily against the censorship of flicks featuring the evil weed, most councillors were keen to make it clear the idea was “nothing to do with us”.

The plan actually came from health chiefs at Liverpool Primary Care Trust who wanted an 18 certificate imposed on movies which showed anyone really enjoying a ciggie. You know, that one when you've saved yourself all day, you've just got a pint in, and your head goes all fuzzy and lovely as you draw the smoke deep, deep, down into . . . (I thought you'd packed in – ed).

Most members agreed that banning smoking from public buildings was a good thing; banning smoking in films a bad thing. “Barking” and “the nanny state gone bizarre,” were among comments from the floor.

Labour's Steve Munby, who introduced himself as “a professional smoker and drinker”, said it had been with “a heavy heart” that he voted for smoke-free pubs but that being forced to huddle in the rain with fellow addicts had been “great for my social life”.

Indeed, members learned, the Irish-coined pastime of “smirting” (smoking and flirting) had become quite the thing around Liverpool. It was even suggested on the Lib Dem benches that such activities had contributed to the city's green flag for creating a safer environment.

Other responses to the PCT proposal ranged from Cancer Research UK's measured “some details require further consideration” to an email from one Liverpool resident who suggested the council should “keep your totalitarian, Stasi nose out of my business”.

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warrior CrusaderDecember 11th 2009.

First the sooner that Fxxxxx tram is ditched once and for all the better. It will cost Council tax payers a fortune and will cost Council services dearly.,secondly who are the Dickxxxxs the the Health Authority who wound Ronnie the Gould up enough to put the scheme to the Council. this nob should do more for the elderley than arsing about with such a stupid idear

Hen BroonDecember 11th 2009.

According to The Sunday Post, 'smirting' was coined in Scotland where smoking was banned in pubs a full year before in England

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