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Posted by: John Brace | 23rd October 2010

Dogs, Rain, Alcohol – Crime, ASB & the Labour Party

Well, stone the crows when my wife walked the dog this morning; Labour have been sighted in Bidston & St. James delivering a leaflet.

This follows on from Cllr Harry Smith refusing to answer the question on Monday evening whether he’d visit Bidston & St. James ward on Friday/Saturday nights to see the problems that alcohol brings in the area he represents deriding the question as “political”.

I will give full marks to Cllr Smith for consistency. The independently written minutes of the Wirral Council Scrutiny Programme Board at point 33 quoted below state in response to my wife’s letter on this matter back in January (for Members read Labour councillors):-

“Members considered also a response they had received from a local resident to the Alcohol Scrutiny Review, which also offered some general observations on the issue of alcohol in the Bidston area of Birkenhead. A number of Members expressed their disagreement with a number of points in the letter, particularly what they perceived to be attacks on Council officers in relation to licensing of off-licences and test sales of alcohol to young people under the age of 18. Other Members questioned the objectivity of the response, as the respondent appeared to be promoting the issue for party political purposes.”

However you can read the actual letter from my wife to the members of the Scrutiny Programme Board who were discussing the Alcohol Strategy Review at the meeting.

The points she made that prompted this response from Labour councillors, were “A number of off licences in the area have in recent years made sales of alcohol to customers under 18. Although Trading Standards send in teenagers in test sales to check on under age sales; local shop assistants know who lives locally and will generally be able to spot these strangers.”

This is based on fact. An offlicence in Hoylake Road had had its licence revoked after making an underage sale. This is not the only one that had been selling to under-18s (in fact some still do!)

While Labour merely deride bringing up the problem as “political”, it was Liberal Democrats that asked the police to do something about alcohol related antisocial behaviour which led to the mobile police station being placed near Birkenhead Park train station. Local residents in this area were pleased that finally their complaints were heard and (finally) something was done about it!

What was the response from a party that said they were “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”?

I personally wish I didn’t feel the need to write this post highlighting problems with crime and alcohol in the area. It feels like I’m talking down an area I live in, however as a local resident who lives here, I want the area to improve. If the Labour Party won’t even answer an easy yes/no question or merely derides residents like myself and my wife bring it up with a local councillor as “political”; is Labour there to truly represent the views of the local people or is it party politics first and the local community second?

Wirral Council’s own constitution states:-

“2.3 (a) All Councillors will: …represent their communities and bring their views into the
Council’s decision-making process”

Cllr. Harry Smith chooses to live in Oxton where he’s represented by three Liberal Democrat councillors. Doesn’t this say it all?


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