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April 27, 2011 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary
One of my constituents described the roundabout by the new Maghull prison as the world’s most expensive roundabout. As you probably know, the prison has been cancelled after £300,000 has already been spent on the roads and other preparation work.
£300,000 is a lot for a roundabout especially for one that does nothing, so I thought the description was a good one. But it reminded me that something now needs to be done with the site.
One suggestion was for a retail park, a second suggestion was for a new Tesco, a third for a park and a fourth was for a housing estate. Clearly, the site cannot be left derelict, so the question is what should be built there?
I would be very interested to hear from you what you would like to see happen to the prison site. Whatever happens to it, I think it is essential that the council listens to residents in Maghull and elsewhere before making decisions about housing or any other developments.
The changes to the planning rules in this year’s budget will make it easier for developers to build what they like on the prison site and on our urban greenspaces. I am supporting an amendment to the Localism Bill which would give local people the right of appeal against planning decisions.
My concern is that our precious greenspace is under threat and that will mean the greenbelt. The number of people who have signed our petition in Maghull, Aintree and Formby shows the strength of feeling against these changes. The pressure to build affordable housing is a reality but it is vital that the needs of those of us living here already are taken into account. That’s what the amendment to the Localism Bill seeks to do.
Eddie Kay lives in Maghull and went into hospital with chest pains. He had an operation and is now back home thankfully. Eddie was very grateful to the staff for their wonderful care and reminded me just how great our NHS is.
Eddie also told me that his operation was cancelled four times and that a number of beds had been closed and nurses made redundant on the ward he stayed on. We are told that the NHS is making efficiency savings and I will be asking the NHS trust whether it really can maintain the levels of care with such cuts in beds and staff numbers.
I have heard a number of stories like the one Eddie told me and I will be raising Eddie’s story with the Prime Minister to find out whether this is a one off or not.
A number of people have written to me following my comments about the poor service from Royal Bank of Scotland and also the difficulties I have had with BT and Scottish Power. Once the chief executive has become involved, each of those companies has sorted out the problems. But many of you have not been so lucky.
One lady told me that Talk Talk had written to a 98 year old friend of hers to thank her for changing onto another tariff. In fact, the lady had been charged more money for the same service and had not agreed to change tariff.
Another familiar story is about the number of people not receiving their post. I would be very interested in hearing from people who have difficulties with their post as there seems to be a problem with the sorting office across Sefton. This is an issue I plan to raise with Post Office management. Our postmen and women are working hard to get the post to us but the problem seems to be before the post gets to them.
Finally, my wife and daughter are taking part in a sponsored run for Cancer research, something they do each year. The fight against cancer is something which has made huge progress over recent years. NHS waiting times have come right down and there is no doubt this saves lives. But Cancer Research is one of those charities which does a fantastic job and without which the job of the NHS would be that bit harder.
So please support Cancer Research and if you want to sponsor my daughter this year, I am sure she would be very pleased. You can send cheques payable to cancer research to my office at 29 Liverpool Road North, Maghull, L31 2HB.
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