Saturday, 14 April 2007


Little fella, big hearts

Apr 13 2007

by Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo

Sue and John Connerty, with their children Alex, age2, Jess, age9, and Michael age12

AMAZING ECHO readers raised £10,000 in 10 days for little Alex Connerty.

Readers rallied to send the extraordinary toddler, the UK's only primordial dwarf and one of only 58 worldwide, to America for specialist treatment.

His father John said: "I can't thank people enough for their help."

The £10,000 target may have been reached but the fundraising goes on for little Alex.

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    Friday, 13 April 2007


    Council in bid to transform neglected area

    Mar 28 2007

    The estate where an 82-yr-old sits in the dark . . too afraid to switch on her TV in case the yobs discover that she’s at home

    by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo

    PEOPLE are living in the grip of fear and misery on one of Liverpool’s most notorious housing estates, the ECHO can reveal.

    The derelict and crime-ridden Daneville Estate in Clubmoor is blighted by a catalogue of social problems which is driving people from their homes.

    Today, we can expose some of the shocking stories of those still living in the ailing district. They include:

    An 82-year-old woman who sat in her dark front room every evening, too afraid to switch on lights or a TV, for fear it could alert street gangs.

    Teenage mobs hurling petrol bombs at front doors.

    Up to 20 youths daubing “RIP Smigger” graffiti on house walls, in tribute to murdered teenage gang member Liam Smith.

    Cllr Roz Gladden, ward member for Clubmoor, has called on Liverpool council to take action to clean up the ailing housing estate.

    She said: “There have been deep-rooted problems here for years, which have turned into a nightmare for ordinary, decent people who just want to live a quiet life.

    “From being quite a nice estate, the last 12 months have seen the place degenerate into a living hell.”

    Huge swathes of empty and boarded-up homes still blight the area after an exodus of tenants.

    Many owner-occupiers have grown so disenchanted by the problems blighting the area that they have sold up.

    Driving around some parts of the estate, the sight of metal sheeting over windows, crumbling brickwork and broken shopping trolleys lying in front gardens is commonplace.

    Now, a hard-hitting action plan has been unveiled by Liverpool council to renovate the area in a bid to get the estate back on track.

    Vacant homes are being let to responsible tenants in a bid to reverse the trend that saw only homeless people applying to live in the estate’s properties.

    The Loopline, a disused 12-mile cycle track that runs through the estate, has frequently become a haven for criminals.

    Up to £30,000 was taken from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to boost home securities of houses that back on to the popular route.

    There are more council homes in Clubmoor, around 4,000, than in any other ward in Liverpool.

    Frampton Road, Knighton Road, Hillcrest Road, Evesham Road and Daneville Road are among those badly affected.

    But ward councillors believe the estate is improving for the better after a notorious drug dealing family was evicted.

    Police swooped on the home in Frampton Road last year after a build-up of community inform-ation about illegal activity.

    Neighbours complained that even mothers could be seen openly selling drugs while sitting on deckchairs in their front garden.

    Vacant homes, used as a meeting point for yobs for drug-taking and illegal dog-fighting, left many responsible owners terrified.

    Over the past 12 months, residents have been faced with persistent fly tipping outside abandoned properties and cold, damp and rat-infested homes barely fit for human habitation.

    A city-wide vote, to be concluded at the end of the week, to decide the future of their homes, could be crucial for the area.

    Tenants across the city are being urged by the council to back plans to transfer their properties to Liverpool Mutual Homes, which promises to spend £300m refurbishing them.

    Cllr Gladden said: “Many properties are a nightmare for residents to live in, there are massive problems which need to be solved.

    “The Scarisbrick Estate has been given a lot of investment since Cobalt Housing took it over, and it’s difficult to see one area blooming and the other getting worse and worse.

    “We want people on the Daneville Estate to have pride in the area where they live.

    “This is now starting to happen, but we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball.”

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    Council leader Warren Bradley said that some individual councillors’ behaviour was “appalling” and not fitting of a democratic society.




    Roger: This is not a good report for us is it Warren?
    Fireman:Well Roger we’ve got to put it into perspective really haven’t we and remember where Liverpool was and that’s not thinking back 10 years. Liverpool has come an awful long way. The people of Liverpool were asking for lower Council Tax and the Liberal Democrats have delivered that and they also wanted better services and you look at the services that are now delivered by Liverpool City Council. If we look at the most vulnerable either elderly or the Children’s Services the social care we are now delivering at a level that Liverpool has never delivered before. We also look at the bread and butter your schools, your sports centres, your libraries, One Stop Shops in communities, our parks, we’ve got 13 green flag parks. It’s like a new home to me when you get an old dilapidated derelict building you’ve got to bring it up to a standard and I think Liverpool City Council under the Liberal Democrats have certainly done that and I am certain if we did a survey of people in the City do you want Liverpool City Council to sit on £20m worth of reserves or do you want the City Council delivering front line services that affect the most vulnerable and people’s lives in the City. I think that they would vote with their feet and say that we support the policies of Liverpool City Council. We’ve got to look at the financial regulations put in by Government and if you want my opinion about this Roger it is purely political.
    Roger: Well come on, you know the Audit Commission is not a political body
    Fireman: Well with respect Roger and I would beg to differ on that
    Roger: Well how can it be a political, it’s an independent organisation?
    Fireman: We can say everything is independent to a certain extent but you know you look at what we’ve got at the moment in Liverpool and we’re delivering top quality services.
    Roger: But the problem with this is that you’ve got an overall score rating of 2 which was adequate performance into 05, overall score in 06 was 2 which is adequate performance.
    This year it is down to 1 below minimum requirements inadequate performance.
    Fireman: Based around financial regulations…
    Roger: Yes I’m talking about the financial…..
    Fireman: Laid down by government. I mean that’s what you’ve got to remember. Don’t try and muddy the waters and say oh this is about Liverpool City Council and their overall performance. It’s not. You look at the issue that we’ve done about achievements. Liverpool scoring 3-4 on achievement at the moment through the Audit Commission.
    Roger: I didn’t know that.
    (EDs: Pitiful, just pitiful.)
    Fireman: And we do seem to always go to the negatives when we’re looking for something like this.
    Roger: The District Auditor was pretty negative about you wasn’t he and…
    Fireman: No, I have got to say Roger I would love to have £50m in reserves. I would also love not to have to put additions of £7m into adult social care and £2-3m into children’s social care. The facts are we have got to do that because of the pressures that are on Liverpool at the moment.
    Roger: So are other Councils….
    Fireman: I’m not willing as Leader of this Council to take away care to the most vulnerable to allow it to sit in reserve. I am not willing to do that and I will go to the stake on that the people of the City. Liverpool now is only one of a handful of Councils up and down the country that is providing moderate care to the most vulnerable people in the City. Now to give people an idea of what moderate care is that is home care. These people who’ve got no family to support them and require a visit in the morning or a visit in the evening to make sure they’re ok to help them to take the pills, to make sure that they’ve got the food. Most Councils up and down this country have removed that care. Liverpool City Council is still allowing our most vulnerable people our sort of care. Now is that wrong, is that wrong?
    Roger: Now no one would argue that’s wrong but everyone. But many people are affected by housing. Housing is really poor isn’t it. I mean you are so poor you’ve had to hand it over to a different group to run it.
    Fireman: Well with respect Roger, with respect, you’ve got to know what the Housing Corporation have done and in partnership with the Government again it’s easy to say it’s the Council, in partnership with the Government we’ve tackled head on through the Pathfinder areas of the inner core of the City some of the housing inefficiencies of the City. That hasn’t happened over the last five years that’s happened over 30 or 40 years. The problems in Norris Green in housing were prevalent 30 or 40 years ago and weren’t tackled. As an Authority we’ve challenged what wasn’t tackled and we’ve challenged it head on and I opened a couple of weeks ago with Flo Clucas and Marilyn Fielding with Cobalt Housing the first phase of Norris Green. We’ve transformed that area and its got houses for sale and social housing in Norris Green that people are seeking to live in now. We’ve got in a core Edge Hill, Kensington, Kirkdale the same issues that have been there for 30 or 40 years that we’re tackling now hand in hand with the Government. I’m not taking the credit for it and the Government isn’t. We’ve got a schools’ programme that is second to none. Liverpool’s young people are now achieving at the national average. I want it higher than national average to give new opportunity but again I’ll say I’m not going to suit accountants’ financial regulations in London and leave £millions sitting in reserve while we have still got the challenges Liverpool has got and I think people you know.
    Roger: Do you think it was a mistake to keep Council Tax down or freeze it over the past few years?
    Fireman: Well isn’t it ironic Roger how last week John Healey said how Liverpool is charging £101 a head...
    Roger: Because its inefficiencies….
    Fireman: Well we have taken £150m worth of inefficiencies out of our budget over the last 10 years. We’ve kept Council tax down which is exactly what Government policy is and is exactly what John Healey is saying. Councillor Joe Anderson is saying something completely different to the people of Liverpool that he will put taxes up to build reserves to put in reserve well again this administration this Lib Dem administration is not going to tax for the sake of taxing to leave money sitting in reserve. We will build up the reserves over a period of years and then we will be able to tackle some of the other issues that we’ve got to do. We recognise the health inequalities. To improve health inequalities we’ve got to have a real stable economy offering real opportunity and raising the aspirations in them poorer communities. You cannot do that leaving millions and millions of pounds laying in reserves and this administration will continue the robust financial management that we’ve done. We’ll carry on delivering…
    Roger: If it was that robust we wouldn’t have this problem of £20m overdrawn on Capital of Culture.
    Fireman: Roger, lets put things into hindsight. We are still delivering front line services. We are still…
    Roger: It’s about £20m overall that we’re short this year – now that’s not robust management
    Fireman: But Roger we are going through a budget setting process. Every Local Authority up and down the country is in the same process as us. I remember reading about Wirral being £50m short. Other Local Authorities. I meet the core city leaders who are £40-£50m short exactly the same as Liverpool . And let’s not forget I haven’t come on here to knock the Government I’ve come on here to say that I believe we’ve got a robust financial programme in place that is going to deal with the shortfall. We’ve delivered year on year but I’ll say again I am not going to allow millions and millions of pounds to lay in reserve. Cut front line services to the most vulnerable and then say that’s acceptable. Nor as Leader of this Council am I going to allow Council Tax to go through the roof again which will drive the inability to bring further investment into this City. While the Lib Dems have been in control we’ve brought Council Tax down, we’ve brought renewed confidence and we’ve brought real investment that will bring opportunities to the most vulnerable and I think that is the most important and I think the people of this City will stand full square with us on that. I’m proud of what we’ve delivered in this City over the last 10 years and Capital of Culture is part of that."