Posts in Regional Affairs



If you gathered all of the families and friends of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster and asked them for their stories, you'd get a uniform shared sense of loss. Understandable. Predictable, even. But if you explored each individual's journey over the past 23 years, every complex story of grief, disbelief, betrayal, hurt, anger, loss and a myriad of other emotions would be quite unique.

Long term supporter of the families Phil Scraton spoke on Wednesday night at St Georges Hall about his own journey, specifically as a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel over the last couple of years.

mark_dowd_hs.jpgMerseytravel's Labour chairman Mark Dowd has finally broken his silence over revelations about possible broken contract laws at the authority.

A fortnight ago we reported how Merseytravel may have broken the law in the way it spent millions of pounds with consultants. It failed to tender for much of the work.

A critical letter from the district auditor, came hot on the heels from a critical anonymous report (written by Cllr Dowd's own Labour colleagues at Merseytravel).

Last week Dale St was able to bring you the response from chief executive Jim Barclay (via a leaked letter to council chief executives).

Now Cllr Dowd has issued a statement titled 'anonymous nonsense'. Here it is:

Do you ever look at the small print of your electricity bills? Me neither.

However, my wife Jan (who has been a Councillor since 1994 and is stepping down in May) does.

She drew my attention to the differential pricing which exists in the 14 distribution areas in the UK.

cranie_dowding.jpgWe all know the phrase 'the early bird catches the worm', but the Green party seem to have taken it to new extremes.

Keen to prove that they think about the long game the Green party have selected their candidates fr the European election in 2014.

Peter Cranie, who topped the list in 2009, and Gina Dowding, a former Lancaster city councillor, will be leading the list, with the aim of gaining their first ever MEP.

In 2009 Cranie narrowly missed out on becoming an MEP and instead we got BNP leader Nick Griffin instead.

Liverpool council has tonight voted to ditch its council leader and have an elected mayor instead.

Sixty-two councillors voted in favour of the measure, three were against, and there were 12 abstentions in the vote held in the council chamber, my colleague David Bartlett reports.

That kind of result will please the government whose pet project this is. In deciding to ditch a referendum - which 10 other cities will hold in May - and go straight to a mayoral election, the city council has reportedly secured some £130 million in extra funding.

It's been interesting to observe this little democratic (or not as the Lib Dems would have it) experiment that my former home city is undertaking right now in deciding to go for a mayoral election on 3 May...

cuts_map.jpgThis heat map of the cuts does a pretty good job of showing the north south divide in the way government cuts are hitting people.

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool having taken one of the worst cuts in the country is shown as having lost more than £40 per person out of next year's budget. St Helens and Knowsley are in the same category.

On Wirral £20 to £30 per resident has been lost. Sefton fares better losing 'just' £10 to £20.

If you exclude London boroughs, the south of the country clearly fares much better than the north.

The debate around full disclosure of the documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster is due to take place in the House of Commons this evening as the families of the 96 made a fresh call to The Sun newspaper to reveal their controversial police sources.

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Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James in the disaster, demanded the paper name who told them the lies that caused such deep hurt in this city.

Imagine the scene at the Garmoyle: Lib-Dem activists hurrying around, printing off leaflets, stuffing envelopes.

Weary souls will slump down in the Liverpool Lib-Dem HQ returning to the office with very little sleep after spending days in the run up to the general election pounding the streets.

"We don't want to get carried away yet, but we are quietly confident that Colin will beat Luciana," one campaigner will look at the camera and say.

It could possibly be the opening sequence of "Winning Wavertree".

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Before I started work at the Liverpool Daily Post in the summer of 2007, I had covered politics in Blackburn for the Lancashire Telegraph.

So naturally when @blackburnlabour started following me on Twitter a couple of months back I returned the compliment.

The local party has also created a great blog at blackburnlabour.org

Almost 2m people in Greater Manchester may, in part, hold the key to whether the latest attempt to make a funding bid for Merseytram is successful.

As we reported on Friday (see here), the Department for Transport (DfT) is to be asked for at least £270m to build Line One of Merseytram from Liverpool to Kirkby.

People living in Greater Manchester are currently voting in a referendum on whether a congestion charge should brought in.

Dale Street Associates

David Bartlett

David Bartlett

City editor of the Post and Echo covering politics, regeneration, and urban affairs.
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