Exclusive: A new political party for Sefton?
Plus, a recommended long read about a far-right election candidate in St Helens, and the rest of the weekly briefing
Dear readers — today, we’re returning to Sefton’s political drama as five councillors reveal a plan to form their own renegade group.
This week’s briefing also has plenty of recommendations for the Bank Holiday weekend, including wild swimming, prosecco and yoga, world cinema and a great event on Bold Street we’ll be attending on Wednesday.
Thanks for your kind comments about our weekend read, which was a perceptive piece by Jack Walton looking at the state of Everton FC. Longtime Post reader Dr David Jeffery wrote in: “You've done what I thought was impossible — made me read about football, and enjoy it!” Read the piece here.
Before we get into it: As you know, we rely on reader subscriptions to make our journalism sustainable and fund our reporting. Our goal was to reach 350 members by the end of April, and we have now sailed past that. A warm welcome to the new subscribers who signed up over the weekend. If you want to join them and support independent journalism in Liverpool, it works out at £1.25 a week if you pay for a year up front.
☁️ This week’s weather
The big story: A new political party for Sefton?
The top line: A renegade group of five councillors is set to launch a new party in Sefton. Frustrated with the local leadership, the councillors are planning to break from the Labour Party. The Post hears that they are seeking advice from the Liverpool Community Independents, a similar splinter group that formed last month.
The councillors are: Patrick McKinley, Yvonne Sayers and her husband John (who are Labour). They are joined by Tony Carr and Andy Wilson (who are ex-Labour independents). Neil Spencer, an independent candidate for Park ward, is also part of the group.
What do they stand for? The party’s working title is the Federation of Councillors. They hope to unite independents in Merseyside. A draft manifesto shared with The Post says the federation believes in “democracy, openness and transparency” and called for local and national parties to stop meddling in community issues.
The context: Some Labour members complain of being unfairly sidelined for disagreeing with the two families who control Sefton politics, the Mahers and the Dowds (Ian Maher is the council leader, Peter Dowd the MP for Bootle).
Yvonne Sayers, a councillor for Sudell, says she was blocked from contesting this May’s election after she endorsed Fair Deal for Maghull, a campaign accusing Sefton of diverting regeneration funds away from the area.
Sayers, as The Champion first reported, believes she is being punished for speaking out against Sefton. Labour says she had not met a party requirement that electoral candidates put in enough campaign hours by an April deadline, but Sayers says that she was deselected four days beforehand.
What’s going on? Some local politicians say the power of the Maher-Dowd clans makes it hard to break with the party line. In a statement, John Pugh, Southport’s former Lib Dem MP, said Sefton’s “over-authoritarian and over-centralised” leadership stifles dissent. He added “the march of the independents” is now taking place as ex-Labour councillors and candidates look to challenge the party’s hold on Merseyside. The Post understands that ten independents (two councillors, eight activists) will contest Sefton’s elections next month.
Among the candidates are Chris Doyle, who is campaigning in Ford against Liz Dowd, the wife of Peter, who was automatically chosen as the candidate after a curiously-timed investigation into bullying scrapped the usual selection process. John Rice is running against Ian Maher, the council leader, in Netherton and Orrell.
Bottom line: It’s fair to say their campaigns have not gone down well with the Labour councillors they are trying to unseat. Liz Dowd has clashed with Rice, a former Labour councillor, posting on Twitter: “You are a woman hating, self-obsessed, sad man. Nobody wants you.” In response, Rice tells The Post: “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Elections take place in Sefton, as well as St Helens, Knowsley and Wirral on 5th May.
Local news in brief
Mohammed Azizi, a 58-year-old man, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the murder of Malak “Katy” Adabzadeh, who died of head trauma in her home on the Green in Stoneycroft in November. A post-mortem found she also had a broken bone in her hand, thought to be a defensive injury. The court heard she had plans to leave her husband and join her lover, Tooraj Khorshidi, in a city centre hotel that same evening. More here.
Women in Liverpool and Knowsley live seven years less than those in the wealthiest areas of the country, according to an analysis of the life expectancy of men and women in England and the UK by the Health Foundation. Looking at the UK’s life expectancy against comparable countries, the research also found the UK ranks 25th out of 38 countries for female life expectancy. More here.
Two young entrepreneurs from Liverpool have started a new ethical fashion brand with sustainable fabrics and repeat-wear garments in mind. They said: “With fast fashion brands saturating the market and designer brands prices spiralling out of reach, we wanted to create a collection with the 30-60 demographic in mind.” More here.
A lovely story in the Wirral Globe about one of the first venues in the North West to offer same sex marriage ceremonies. The owners of the Saddle Club said people from the Wirral can get charged more for a same sex marriage “due to it being a niche type of wedding”, adding: “I believe the same great service and price should be offered to everyone.” More here.
Covid-19 cases are falling. The case rate for the Liverpool City Region is 183.4, down 33.2% from last week, compared to England’s, which is 204.2, down 36.3%.
Home of the week
This four bedroom terrace near Sefton Park was recently reduced to £430,000. The entrance has amazing stained glass windows, and there’s a library upstairs and a secluded garden to the rear.
Our favourite reads
Our friends at Scout wrote a fascinating investigation into Terence Oakes, a former member of the BNP who is hoping to become a For Britain councillor in St Helens. Last year broke the record of the highest number of antisemitic incidents, and Scout works to investigate the far-right’s growing threat. This story reveals that Oakes’ social media posts include conspiratorial claims that British statutes are being replaced by Sharia law, and calls Jewish financiers and politicians “enemies”.
The food newsletter Vittles has a great feature about the decline of Scouse. It’s by the Guardian’s opinion editor Kirsty Major, who can recall the richness of the slow-cooked broth but never learnt to prepare Scouse because her parents were too busy to cook from scratch. She writes that this issue of time means that regional working class food culture is being lost. “Cities like Liverpool are made of a patchwork of thousands of working families sitting around dinner tables. When they cook together, they’re not only sustaining themselves, but their identities.”
There’s a great profile of Gabrielle de la Puente in Vogue, a writer in Liverpool who runs an online magazine critiquing the elitism of the art world. De la Puente describes the impact of a Marianne Keating exhibition being “like a fingernail crescent dug into a bar of soap” and often draws on her personal life with the aim of making arts criticism more intimate. “I grew up drawing and making art and it was so nice. Then you get into the art world and it’s shit,” says De la Puente. “We were being primed to be these artists who would read all these art journals as if it were our own fan fiction.”
A moving obituary to Vivien Fairhurst in The Times, the professional ice skater from Childwall who first started skating when her parents’ garden flooded and froze over one winter when she was ten. She would later win the free skating category in the British ladies professional championship in 1956, but the following year came fourth and stopped skating. In 1959, she met her husband Peter on holiday, and went skating on their first date. Vivien died after a short illness aged 85.
Photo of the week
The Oates family, who ran the Pelham Launderette off Lark Lane in the 1980s. Thanks to Tom Wood for the photo.
🏊♀️ You can begin your Bank Holiday weekend with an invigorating wild swimming session at Crosby Lakeside on Saturday morning, which is a great opportunity for beginners to get involved. Reserve a spot here.
🧘♀️ Sunday Yoga Social is back at Duke Street Market. Relax into an hour of vinyasa yoga on the mezzanine, plus a glass of prosecco, orange juice, pastries and fresh fruit afterwards. Book here.
🗣 South Liverpool debating society meet every Thursday at 7pm at Keith’s Food and Wine Bar on Lark Lane. This week, they’re discussing whether evil is a useful concept. Book a place here.
🎙 We will be at Ignite Liverpool at Leaf cafe on Bold Street on Wednesday evening for some fast-paced talks from Liverpool’s movers and shakers on everything from circular reasoning to how running can improve our sex lives. It's just £3.
🚶♀️ Local artist Emma Coyne is hosting an art walk on Friday afternoon. Meet at the Albert Dock, take in the architecture, and then settle in the Brasco Lounge for lunch and a painting session. Reserve a place here.
🇺🇦 There’s a concert for Ukraine at QU A RR Y Liverpool, near Vauxhall, on Saturday evening. Various DJs will be playing post punk and cold wave and proceeds go towards Help Ukraine Centre. Book here.
🎶 GOOD Market is setting up residency at GPO Foodhall on Saturday, alongside local DJ duo Coffee and Turntables, who play a lot of soul and funk. Expect music, independent shops and lots of lovely street food. More here.
🎞 Also at QU A RR Y Liverpool, there’s a world cinema film club meeting on Monday. Next up is Boy, a New Zealand comedy-drama about an 11-year-old Maori boy raising himself in the wild. More here.
Letters from readers
Good article. Had a leaflet through yesterday on behalf of the Tory candidate for Hoylake and Meols which managed to misspell Hoylake on the front of it. Maybe shows how much resource they are putting into this? ‘The battle for control of the Wirral’ Ross
Really good that kids are able to see that art isn't just about painting portraits to hang in galleries and possibly be sold for millions, and it's really good that some artists are actually taking the trouble to reach out and encourage the kids’ talents. ‘The club where Liverpool’s poorest children are embracing art’ Baz
As a born and bred Red of 70 years I have seen the best of times, and the worst of times; and sometimes both at the same time. And indeed it doesn't get much better than at the present time. My Blue friends would be wise to keep the faith and perhaps show a little more patience with Lampard than they were with their previous managers as he attempts to build a squad in his own image, he was a quite brilliant player and understands the modern game, and with a little help from fate can make Everton a power in the land once again. They can take great solace in two things, their fantastic and unique array of community outreach programmes and the prospect of having the finest club ground in the world situated, as it is, in the heart of what made Liverpool great to start with. ‘At Everton, the past weighs heavy on the present’ Keith Miller