No crumb of comfort in Chancellor's budget


IT was always going to be a waste of time of course. But I still watched the Chancellor’s budget speech in the vain hope there would be some crumb of comfort for local authorities and areas like St Helens.


 Predictably though there was nothing - just more of the same. More pressure on council budgets and therefore less help we can give to the people of this borough.


 Indeed, working people everywhere are worse off under this government. Most people, on average, have been £1,600 worse off each year since 2010 due to the rise in VAT and other taxes, while an extra million people are now finding themselves paying tax at the 40 per cent higher rate. 


 First they put a dagger into St. Helens and now they are twisting it to cause the maximum amount of pain.


THERE’S been a lot of fuss about the name of the new Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.


Yet this was always a sideshow and detracted from the more important issue – namely how the new authority will actually improve the region’s economic outlook.


Hopefully we can all start to move on next week when we finally get down to business at the authority’s first meeting.


Along with the leaders of the other local authorities I’ll be sitting down with the Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership to tackle some urgent and important issues. These include the HS2 high-speed rail network action plan and the Liverpool City Region Growth Plan. 


The Growth Plan will help businesses to grow and create jobs by focusing on the city region’s strengths - and ensuring we can capitalise on opportunities such as the £340m Liverpool 2 container port development. 


It all adds up to more jobs and more investment for the region – which includes St Helens.


THIS time of year always brings everyone a bit of cheer. Warmer weather and lighter nights are a clear sign that summer is on the way.


Unfortunately it can also lead to an increase in anti social behaviour among the tiny minority with nothing better to do.


That’s why we’re again teaming up with our Community Safety Partner agencies – including the police, fire service and social landlords like Helena Partnerships – to roll out our annual SpringWatch campaign.


Everyone will be working hard to make sure the campaign is effective.  As well as stepping up police patrols in hot-spot locations, a wide range of youth activities will be on offer from our Youth Service and Sports Development teams to keep young people entertained over the Easter holidays.


Helena Partnerships and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will also be inviting 200 young people along to a community event at St Helens Community Fire Station.


But we need your help too. We're asking residents to be our eyes and ears – so we can all help keep St Helens safe and clean this spring.


So if you see off-road vehicles out causing a nuisance in the community, or anyone looking to set a nuisance fire in parks, please report it to the Police on 101. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated, and the police will seize off-road vehicles and take legal action on arson.


And I’d ask everyone to remember that people have different tolerance levels. So if you're planning an Easter get together with friends, just let your neighbours know – and keep the noise to an acceptable level.


Anyone who is concerned about anti-social behaviour in their area is asked to contact Merseyside Police via the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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