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Monday, 28 February 2011 (3012526)
Mystery over turn out at youth centre cuts meeting
by Jim Sharpe


MYSTERY surrounds an event at Stafford Moreton Youth Centre last Thursday, when young people had the chance to discuss plans to close Sefton's Youth Centres.

Labour Party activists have criticised local Liberal Democrat councillors for failing to show up - but they claim they had specifically been asked not to attend.

According to Maghull Town and Sefton councillor, Andrew Blackburn (who is life president of the Maghull and District Youth council), fellow councillor Nicki Smith received an invitation from senior youth worker John Phillips asking if she, along with Councillor Blackburn and Maghull and Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Tony Robertson, would attend.

Because Cllr Robertson already had a commitment in York that day, it was agreed that Cllr Blackburn and Cllr Smith would represent the Lib Dems at the meeting. But then Cllr Smith received a second email from John Phillips saying that Peter Morgan, due to attend in his post as Director of Children's Services, felt that the presence of politicians at the meeting would be inappropriate - so in the end the Lib Dems didn't attend.

But a full coterie of Labour delegates did - including MP Bill Esterson, Molyneux ward councillor, Tony Carr and members of the Labour action team who are candidates in the May council elections.

After the meeting, Mr Esterson praised the young people: “... All of whom are very passionate about keeping the youth centres open.”

But he continued: “I was very disappointed that no Lib Dem councillors bothered to show up to hear for themselves why they are so wrong in ploughing on with these closures.”

But when The Champion raised this with Cllr Blackburn he was surprised - and angry.

“I think questions need to be asked about this whole affair,” he said. “Was John Phillips just the messenger? Was Peter Morgan actually present at the meeting?” (In fact, The Champion understands that Peter Morgan did attend the Stafford Moreton meeting).

And he emphasised: “The only reason we (the Lib Dems) didn't attend was because we were asked not to!”






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