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Simon O'Brien hits the road to talk green spaces

Series of public meetings will look for ideas to secure future of Liverpool's parks

Written by . Published on March 6th 2015.


Simon O'Brien hits the road to talk green spaces
 

ACTOR Simon O’Brien is to chair a series of meetings across the city on the future of its green spaces.

The aim is to give local people and organisations the opportunity to express their views.

Plucked by Mayor Joe Anderson to head the newly established Strategic Green and Open Space Review Board, O’Brien and his team have been tasked with looking at their fate in the wake of dwindling financial resources.

The big question will be how the board will respond if it is challenged on more controversial proposals currently exercising the thoughts and concerns of green-space campaigners across the city - namely Walton Hall Park, Sefton Park meadows, Woolton Woods and Calderstones Park. All are lined up for major housing and development schemes.

O’Brien told Confidential today: “Somebody said to me that I must be mad to take up this role. But I can’t think of a better time, when people are so engaged in the future of our green spaces.

“We will have meetings in each ward, compile our report and it will be fully independent.”

He added: “If people at the meetings make it clear they want their parks to remain untouched that will be reflected in my report to the mayor.”

Ahead of the meetings, which start next Tuesday, O’Brien has had a number of briefing sessions with the council.

“I will start each meeting by giving an overview, outlining how the council is running out of maintenance money for the parks, giving people the hard facts. It will then be thrown open for people to come up with their own ideas about the way forward.”

Dwindling

Critics of the exercise are already suspicious about the motives, given the seemingly intransigence towards the fate of the four parks that are currently green battlegrounds in the city.

In the official announcement from the Town Hall about the meetings, O’Brien is quoted: “We know Liverpool people are passionate about their parks, play areas and other green and open spaces and we want them to have their say about their future, 

“We are on the lookout for ideas and suggestions which will help us to advise the city on how to preserve the long term future of some of the region’s most cherished spaces at a time when there is dwindling resources. 

“This is not just an issue which affects Liverpool. With pressure on the public finances of every town and city throughout the region and across the country there will be a lot of interest in Liverpool as we gather evidence and grapple with this hot topic. 

“I would urge people to come to the meetings and let us have their views and ideas - they could well influence how green and open spaces develop in the years to come.” 

The former Brookside star selected five of the board members to sit alongside him, with another five nominated by the city council.  

The council's list includes Regeneration Cabinet Member Malcolm Kennedy and Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member Steve Munby. 

Ex-councillor Malcolm Kelly of Woolton is also one of selections, described by O’Brien as his “guard dog”.

Following the ward visits, there be three themed workshops on “Accessibility”, “Finance” and “Stewardship” in April and May. These workshops will be for invited groups and individuals.

Schedule of meetings

The first meeting is on Tuesday 10 March (6.30pm to 8pm) at the Southern Neighbourhood Council, Upper Mann Street, Liverpool 8.

Future meetings are as follows:

Thursday 12 March (6.30 to 8pm) Porchfield Community Centre, Porchfield Close, Liverpool 11

Saturday 14 March (10.30am to midday) Wavertree Athletics Centre, Wellington Road, Liverpool 15

Tuesday 17 March (6.30pm to 8pm): Community Centre, Formosa Drive, Liverpool 10

Friday 20 March (6.30pm to 8pm) Merseyside Police Support and Social Association, Riversdale Road, Liverpool 19

Saturday 21 March (10.30am to midday) Kensington Fields Community Centre, Hall Lane, Liverpool 7

Tuesday 24 March (6.30pm to 8pm) Garston Urban Village Hall, Banks Road, Liverpool 19

Wednesday 25 March (6.30pm to 8pm) Croxteth Hall, Liverpool 11

Thursday 26 March (6.30pm to 8pm) Kirkdale Neighbourhood Centre, Liverpool 5

Saturday 28 March (10.30am to midday) St James Church Hall, Liverpool 25.

 

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25 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Robin HoodMarch 7th 2015.

They are hardly likely to be discussing contentious issues such as The Meadows, Walton Hall, Woolton, because they have already been excluded from this process. A process that is obviously timed to miss the merry month of May. I don't doubt for a moment the credentials of the committee assembled by Simon, however I baulk at the inclusion of Messrs. Kennedy and Munby, there are no more sycophantic supporters of The Mayor than these two nodding donkeys.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

"They could well influence how green and open spaces do not develop in the years to come " would of been a more apposite sentence.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

And "would have" would have been more apposite chum

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

"would" conveys past tense as well as "would have" pal, "have" becomes superfluous just like the word "chum". Oh dear I forgot the "P". Shall we discuss the word "of" which followed the word "would"?

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Some people can't see the Would for the Ps

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

This dude doesn't even see the main point!

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Precisely. He's probably one of the sticky bun brigade. He's so concerned about the grammar, that he missed the point completely...NOT DEVELOP.

Hugh GivsashitMarch 7th 2015.

If one stands and points a finger at the night sky, then focuses on ones fingertip, then one is likely to miss the majesty of the Universe.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

How much is Damon getting paid for this?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

I suppose nothing, as Damon is a fictional character. Simon O'Brien however, is committed to the preservation of green space and will along with the rest of the committee incur some expense in the month long defence of "Our Green Assets". It would be churlish of us to deny them this courtesy.

Josie MullenMarch 11th 2015.

The idea is commendable- however, coming from Anderson it probably means that the Green Review has been put in place to give the impression that he actually gives a damn about parks and green open space- which he doesn't. As soon as the elections are over- let's see what happens. It will probably go something like this - "Thank you so much Simon for such an in-depth and insightful review. However, our plans to sell off whatever we bloody well please will still go ahead"

1 Response: Reply To This...
Steve Mor...March 11th 2015.

Whatever Joe Anderson's intentions, the people approached and appointed to sit on this review, are not fools. they are hardly likely to impugn their own integrity by giving Joe the ammunition, that he so badly desires. As for the appointed councillors, they now have the opportunity within the confines of the review board, to be individuals and assert their own independence, free from Joe's sphere of influence. The resultant final conclusion could be "Joe's get out of gaol card", without loss of face.

Josie MullenMarch 11th 2015.

The thing that really troubles me is that Ron Odunaiya from the Council said recently that the Council haven't got the funds to maintain the parks. First of all,what does that mean? Secondly, if the Green Review recommends that all parks/ green wedge/ green spaces remain- how can that happen if the Council are saying they don't have the funds. I have noticed that a lot of investment and initiatives are being focused on Everton Park ( I think I know why! Surely, in times of austerity there should be a more equitable distribution of funding. Which brings me to another point.Anderson says he has created 47 acres of new green space- rubbish. Neighbourhoods Services Selecy Committee- 4th Nov- 2014 - "The work completed equates to 47 acres of IMPROVED green space. None of it is new. These are mostly tarted up small areas and Councillors had to admit- "Each site has the potential to be handed back should a confirmed development opportunity come forward" I put in a FOI asking where these 47 acres of green spaces were located/ their acreage and their previous use. The Council refused to tell me and then subsequently banned me from asking any more FOI questions. Just to finish off- was looking at Anderson's Tweets. One of his responses was- " If shit was wit mate- you'd be constipated" I rest my case.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

Do you seriously think that the people with real clout, would idly stand by and watch a mouthy piece of work like Joe, implement his weird machinations. I think not. Ron Odunaiya, although a fine big fellow, is yet another employee, and just another member of the chorus, he does the job he's paid to do. The parks have existed through more arduous times of late, and will continue to do so. What the current process is, is damage limitation, until such time as Joe does one, to use Joe's fondness for the vernacular.

AnonymousMarch 12th 2015.

There appears to be some disparity as to when the meetings are scheduled to take place. The article states "ahead of the meetings which are to start next Thursday", yet the schedule has them starting on the Tuesday 10th March. I am sure this is not intentional for confidential to mislead, but it does make me wonder how well advertised these events are outside of the internet. There are lots of people who would comment about the loss of green space in the Dingle area, and the acquisition of new allotments, if only they knew about it....One question I would like to ask is, How do individuals apply for allotments in the Dingle, are they to be dispensed by a committee of people from Fazakerley ?

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialMarch 12th 2015.

Whoopsadaisy. Tuesday is, of course, the allotted time as stated in the list.

Robin HoodMarch 15th 2015.

I popped along to the meeting in Wavertree to see what was afoot. Simon O'Brien and another chap termed an "Academic" constituted the review group. The venue was bitterly cold, in fact if I'm not mistaken I thought I spotted Nanook of the North cowering in a corner. I did not see any councillors appointed to the review board present, a shame really, considering the sizeable wedge that the City pays them for their efforts. That is to say there were councillors for Picton present, although not in any official capacity, who contributed to the meeting by stating the usual party line. Simon would appear to be wholly passionate with the task he has undertaken and as concerned about green space as the fifty or so members of the public who attended, which is reassuring. Concerns were voiced by a number of the public about areas under threat. However, if I were Joe, I would expect more input from the people appointed by him, to at least turn up, and listen to the people they are supposed to represent.

AnonymousMarch 15th 2015.

Hey, Robin Hood. You whine that councillors are on the Review; you whine that they weren't present when you strolled along. And you'd whine if they had been present. You whine about the venue. You whine about the mayor. You whine - like every clueless Green I ever met. Useless incompetent whiners who spend all their energies kissing themselves - and whining

1 Response: Reply To This...
Robin hoodMarch 15th 2015.

Allow me to correct you, I did not whine about councillors being on the review, I whined about those two particular councillors being on the review, I did not whine that they weren't present, I merely pointed out that they were not present. I would not of whined if they had been present, because some of the public would have been able to ask some very pertinent questions, that they were in a position to answer, whereas Simon and his academic friend were not. Similarly I did not whine about the venue, I merely pointed that it was extremely cold. As for whining about The Mayor, I am not alone, one has only to look to neighbouring boroughs to realise that Joe is a one man band that nobody loves or understands. I am not that "clueless Green" that you cite, I am aware that this City pays Joe circa £78.000 per annum, and his two appointees £24,000 respectively. I am no narcissist given to kissing myself, rather a Labour voter who is also not given to kissing Joe's arse. In closing councillor I wish you well and hope, the next venue is warmer.

Wizard from platform 1.75March 16th 2015.

Just been gazing at my crystal ball and there was an article dated July 30, 2015. The headline read- Brookie star Simons quits green space inquiry claiming things swept under the grassed areas. The disturbing story read that Mr O Brien had been forced to publish his own minority report saying green spaces should be protected for future generations at all costs. Other members of his green board of inquiry refused to protect some of the threatened green spaces in Sefton Park, Woolton, Calderstonesand Walton Hall. O Brien said the exercise had put him off politics for life. I do hope the above was nothing more than my trusty old crystal ball needing a god clean with some Windolene.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Robin HodMarch 16th 2015.

O my God, that was good... The Wizard has only got one ball

Robin HoodMarch 16th 2015.

On a serious note, never having ever watched Brookside, and from the limited discourse that I had with Mr O'Brien, he never struck me as anything other than a genuine indigenous bloke whose concern for the aesthetic in this City is of real importance. I'm no Wizard, but I feel that he is never likely to walk away, he may have to be dragged kicking and screaming from what obviously is a subject he is passionate about.

AnonymousMarch 16th 2015.

Is there a meeting scheduled for a ward anywhere near to Walton Hall Park ? My knowledge of that area is not what it should be.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Tricky wooMarch 16th 2015.

In a word, no.

AnonymousMarch 16th 2015.

Thank you Woo

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