“Souxit” – Southport out of Sefton plan would be a “costly sham” claim
John Pugh’s campaign to get Southport out of Sefton has been labelled a “sham” and an attempt at “local gerrymandering” by critics of the plan.
The former Liberal Democrat MP is the leading light of the scheme but it has been roundly condemned as a “low voltage proposal” by opponents who have dubbed it “Souxit”.
The Pugh plan is to split Sefton in two, creating two new authorities, one based in Southport, the other Bootle. He says it’s needed because Southport’s “distinctive voice” is not being heard.
In response, local critics have asked if that’s the case, what exactly are the town’s 20 odd Lib-Dem and Tory councillors doing? They claim that if a problem exists it is more to do with the political games they indulge in rather than a fault of Sefton Council which has invested nearly £100m in the town.
Southport’s Lib-Dem councillors especially have a reputation for opposing Sefton proposals in the town, such as the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Southport Market, and channelled through them it’s claimed that Southport’s voice often adopts a rather carping tone with a vocabulary heavily reliant on just one word, “No!”
Southport would be far more eloquently served by Labour councillors who can work in cooperation with the rest of their colleagues in Sefton for the good of the town, says Mhairi Doyle, Chair of the local Labour Party:
“Labour councillors here would ensure that Southport’s voice could be heard loud and clear and that when it was it would be a voice of progress, not hindrance. Next year’s council elections will give the town an opportunity to start a conversation that will move it forward, not mire it in needless squabbling.”
She points out that what Southport’s Lib-Dem and Conservative critics of Sefton fail to acknowledge is that it was their parties in government, firstly through coalition and then the Tories solely, that ordered a 51% cut in its budget and that over £200m of funds lost between 2010/11 and 2017/18 obviously then has a huge knock-on effect:
“To order those cuts and then criticise the council is akin to severely hobbling a horse and then complaining that it’s lame,” says Ms Doyle, “Like a Dickensian street gang, proponents of Souxit want to cut ’em and run, making off into the night with their spoils.”
Critics of the plan also claim that creating a completely new authority at a time of reduced local government funding would be a double whammy that could see money withdrawn from other vital areas such as the NHS and would add over 25% to local council tax bills.
They say that instead of being good for Southport a major motivation behind this is an attempt to create a local power base for the Liberal Democrat Party in the town which not only lost the constituency in last month’s general election but was pushed all the way back into third place by Labour’s resurgence. Mhairi Doyle is convinced:
“Mr Pugh seems determined to become Southport’s very own Nigel Farage but as far as I’m concerned it’s a sham and little more than a very costly attempt at local gerrymandering. Souxiters basically want local council tax payers to fund their own naked political ambition.”
The full article can be found at http://www.southportlabour.