Coming soon…

This site has lain dormant since the very disappointing result in the 2015 General Election. It was not used in 2017 or 2019 when Cllr Ryan Bate became the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate and spokesman for Warrington South.

However, I now intend to revive the site as my personal platform. Posts here will reflect my opinions rather than formally agreed Warrington Liberal Democrat statements or policies which will appear on our local party website and Twitter account.

Six good reasons for vote for Bob

  1.  He has lived in the constituency for 32 years and didn’t arrive just before the last election because he wanted to be an MP
  2. The best local person to look after Warrington’s interests with a strong track record of service to Warrington
  3. His expertise in urban policy has prepared him well to argue for a fair deal for Warrington which it hasn’t had under previous MPs
  4. The last thing the country needs is a radical swing to the left or right – Bob is committed to supporting measures that stick to the centre ground
  5. Warrington is a prosperous town yet it is still too unequal and unfair. Bob wants to spread the benefits of prosperity to everyone
  6. Bob can win in three way marginal Warrington South

The Warrington Success Story

By every inwarrington-town-halldependent measure Warrington is a very successful town. The annual Centre for Cities reports show it to have very high employment levels, relatively high wages, a vibrant business environment with high levels of start-ups and good educational standards give or take the odd stumble. Warrington has much to be confident about and because of major investments in housing and community hubs, secured under a LibDem led administration in the Town Hall, has weathered the recession much better than many surrounding areas.

However Warrington has been treated very unfairly since the late 1980s. By closing down the New Town Corporation the Conservatives stopped the development of the town in its tracks, despite the population more than doubling. Under Labour Warrington was deemed to be too wealthy and not deprived enough to get aid, instead money was taken from the town. This despite some inner wards with levels of deprivation in the nation’s worst 10%.

Warrington needs to make clear what sort of town, or city, the word doesn’t matter, it aspires to be. Cllr Bob Barr, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate says, “I want a clear vision for Warrington and to argue in Westminster that we should retain taxes generated locally through growth until that New Warrington vision is completed and our infrastructure matches our population. Warrington has the potential to be the Green Science City of the North West with high wages, a clean protected environment and good communications. But until somebody represents the town whose sole ambition is to achieve that, it isn’t going to happen.”

Warrington needs access to a regional infrastructure growth fund

xcik_merseygatewayThe North West requires substantial investment in a coherent transport infrastructure to become more competitive and become the “Northern Powerhouse”. Instead of further commitment to a Regional Growth Fund a series of disconnected vanity or token projects have become campaign issues in Warrington. The social and economic divide produced by the barriers of the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal need to be bridged both physically and metaphorically.

Yet, the national Labour Leadership, at a party rally in Warrington, have failed to commit to removing the tolls from the new Mersey Crossing for Warrington residents. A teacher who commutes to school in south Warrington expects the tolls to add more than £100 per month to his commuting costs.

“This is part of a pattern” says Bob Barr, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Warrington South. “By opting to finance the Mersey Crossing using the Private Finance Initiative the last Labour government went for the most expensive form of finance, for the most expensive new crossing of the Mersey possible, expecting drivers to pick up the costs through tolls. Insult has been added to injury by tolling the original Jubilee Bridge, this is the first time tolls have been introduced for an existing crossing in the last 100 years.

Labour has saddled this area with the hugely expensive Whiston Hospital Private Finance Initiative scheme, payments on which have threatened other hospitals in the area. This hospital, built by Labour, maximised the number of single bedded wards to allow private operations to take place.

Nearby the Fire Control centre at Lingley Mere stood empty for years, part of a Labour project that wasted £469m according to MPs and the National Audit Office.

HS2 remains hugely controversial, and again it was wildly over-specified for train speeds not yet feasible, or necessary, with a wasteful billion pound link to a proposed train works in Wigan.

Labour wants to be trusted with the economy, yet in our region they have privatised, overspent and under-delivered consistently saddling residents with the costs. Instead of delivering the infrastructure the North West badly needs to be competitive, Labour opted for wasteful privately financed vanity projects. When given the opportunity to put a little of this right by pledging the removal of tolls from this vital new crossing all they offer is a ‘future review’, a totally meaningless gesture.

What Warrington and the North West needs is a properly funded regional growth initiative to ensure that the infrastructure can sustain the economic development of the region, not a few expensive vanity projects.”

This election should be about Warrington

Bob Barr at Golden Gates“This election should be about Warrington and its people not political ambition” says Bob Barr

I am seeking election as Warrington South’s MP because I want to make this prosperous town a really special place to live and work. Having lived here for 32 years, and served on the Council for 9, I believe in the town and its people and that it can become a leader in the NW.

I was a lead member when Liberal Democrats ran the council from 2006-11.

During those 5 years I learned what a difference good leadership makes – setting clear aims and respecting our workforce attracted top quality officers and Warrington became a byword for good practice in the NW.

We tackled local problems left drifting for years under Labour. We introduced PCSOs,; introduced kerbside recycling; we enabled Golden Gates to become an independent Housing Trust unlocking £105 million to improve social housing and stopping tenants’ rents being used to subsidise housing in other towns; we introduced equal pay and staff restructuring with support from the unions; we attracted new business and set in hand the regeneration of the town centre.

At the same time we saved £50m while improving services. While the Labour administration like to deny it, their programme for the town is largely a continuation of the good start we gave it.

Professionally I am an urban geographer so I understand what makes a town successful and understand Warrington’s recent history well. I can see the challenges we face, sitting between the revived cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Warrington needs to carve out a clear identity as a town with high ambitions, quality jobs and homes, and a motivated and well educated workforce while preserving and improving the quality of our environment.

As your MP I would work to help the town retain more of the taxes it generates to complete the expanded / new town project that was cut short in the late 1980’s. We ended up with the population of a city but not the services or the infrastructure. That needs to be put right.

I want to be an MP solely to ensure that Warrington is properly represented and its interests are fought for. I am not just using Warrington to become an MP.

Lymm Councillor joins the Parliamentary race

Cllr Bob BarrBob Barr, a Lymm Parish Councillor since 2004 and a Warrington Borough Councillor since 2006, has been selected as the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Warrington South. Bob has lived in Lymm since 1982 with his wife Caroline. His daughters Sarah and Katie have grown up in Lymm and attended Cherry Tree Primary and Lymm High School. Bob’s first public role in the village was as a Parent Governor at Cherry Tree.

Bob is an academic geographer and has taught about Warrington since 1975, so feels he knows the constituency very well. He is an internationally recognised expert in geographical information systems and was awarded an OBE ‘for services to geography’ in 2008. He has been called on on numerous occasions to serve as an expert adviser to government in his field.

Currently Bob is Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Warrington Borough Council. During the LibDem led administration between 2006 and 2011 Bob was Executive Board Member for Planning, Housing and Regeneration. In that time he provided the political leadership to the initiative which saw Golden Gates Housing set up as an independent housing trust allowing substantial funds to be raised to improve the town’s housing stock. He has also been an independent director of the St Helens based Helena Partnerships Housing Trust since 2006. The two organisations are now joining together to form a new housing group that will build and manage new homes in Warrington and the surrounding area.

“I want to represent Warrington because it is a fascinating and successful town that faces many challenges” says Bob. “The project of integrating the New Town areas with the old town has never been properly completed. It is now more important than ever, with new powers and funds on offer to Manchester and Liverpool, that Warrington’s voice is heard.”

“I wouldn’t be interested in representing any other constituency. Having lived in Warrington South for half my life I want to be an MP to represent the town and to ensure that we get a fair deal from central government. I believe that I am very well qualified to do that. I am the only candidate from the three main parties with true roots here and a long record of serving the residents of Lymm and Warrington”

The 2010 election result saw Warrington South become a three way marginal, with the results for the three major parties closer than at any other time in the constituency’s history. “Voters in Lymm have the opportunity to make a real difference to the result of the next general election, because their votes will really count, any of the major party candidates could win this seat and that can lead to real influence in Westminster.” says Bob “I hope Lymm electors will look at my record and decide that I am the candidate for them”.

Thank you Lymm!

I am proud and pleased to have been re-elected for a third term representing Lymm on Warrington Borough Council. The results were close:

Bob Barr Liberal Democrat 1423
Kath Buckley Conservative 1305
Sean Chapman Labour 685
James Ashington UKIP 597

This was a very hard fought election campaign in what the Conservatives saw as a target seat in the local elections. David Mowat MP became directly involved in the campaign, meeting voters at one of the polling stations on the evening of the poll and, apparently, deploying Conservative supporters from a neighbouring constituency to get the Conservative vote out. Labour will have been disappointed by their vote almost halving after putting up a less well known candidate than in recent elections. James Ashington will be delighted to have doubled the UKIP vote, largely on the back of massive national publicity for his party’s charge at the European elections.

On the doorstep local issues and our local record played a large part in people telling us that they would support us in these elections. Getting a fair deal for Lymm, protecting our Green Belt, looking after the look of Lymm and parking and road safety issues were all mentioned as people’s top concerns.

I look forward to representing everyone in Lymm at Warrington and to continue meeting residents and hearing their concerns. Elections give us an excuse to knock on doors and hear people’s views but the Liberal Democrat FOCUS team is not just for elections, we deliver our newsletter and talk to residents whether there is an election or not. I enjoy casework and am happy to represent everyone in Lymm – so if you have any issues I can help with please do not hesitate to get in touch.

A Stronger Warrington, A Fairer Warrington



Warrington’s Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the Borough elections on 22 May. The launch took place at a recent meeting of party members from across the town.Group leader on Warrington Council, Cllr Ian Marks says, “Our vision is for a better Warrington that is ambitious, active and aspirational. We believe in ‘One Warrington’ with fairness across the town. Our strapline is ‘A stronger Warrington, a fairer Warrington’ which mirrors our national message that Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society.

We all know that Warrington is an important and successful town with a well educated and well paid population. It has suffered less than its neighbours from the recession and is showing stronger and faster signs of recovery. But there are neighbourhoods in the town that are amongst the poorest 10% in the country. They should be benefiting from our more favourable economy. Under the previous Lib Dem-led administration, a ‘Closing the Gap’ programme was put in place to focus on those areas identified as being deprived.

We are extremely proud of our record when we led the Council from 2006 to 2011 and we achieved a great deal. Much of the work carried out by the current Labour administration is a continuation of the groundwork and building blocks we put in place, such as most of the regeneration and development.

Our three priorities for a better Warrington can be summed up as a better environment, better communities and a better run Council. The financial climate is tough but it is surprising how often doing things differently can both save money and lead to better services for residents. Collaborative working across different public sector organisations such as NHS health and Council social care is the way forward.”

A full version of the manifesto may be downloaded from

Residents’ delight as tip application refused

Liberal Democrats have joined with local residents in expressing their delight at the refusal to grant planning permission for an extension to the Arpley tip.

Planning committee councillors accepted their officers’ recommendation to turn down a proposed extension of the operational life of the Arpley Landfill facility to 2025 at a special meeting held at the Parr Hall.  For years residents and local councillors have battled against any extension of the site.

Great Sankey North Councillor Trudi Wood said, “I have been involved with this campaign right from the start.  I support the officers when they say it would be an inappropriate development in the Green Belt and there are no special circumstances to justify it.  The volume of traffic is completely unacceptable and has been a blight on local residents including those in my ward for far too long.  The dust and smells from the tip have messed up the quality of life of people and we have to put an end to it.”

Whittle Hall Councillor Keith Gleave told the Committee, “For Whittle Hall ward, my main objections relate to traffic on Whittle Avenue.  Twice lorries have turned over and emptied their loads on the highway and grass verges.  The remains were never cleared up and just left to bury themselves, causing a danger to wildlife.  Residents on the Avenue have frequently complained about noise and vibration from lorries.”

Cllr Bob Barr, a member of the Committee, expressed disbelief at the applicants’ apparent naivety.  “They cannot have failed to realise that the people of Warrington would not tolerate any extension to the operation of the tip.  When planning permission was originally granted for twenty-five years expiring in 2013, it meant precisely that – no extension.

Protests about the operation of the tip, the noise, the pollution, the traffic and the breaches of operating conditions must have been heard by the applicants who should have known that there were overwhelming planning reasons to refuse the application.

Yet they came to the meeting putting up a last minute legal challenge to some minor aspects of the handling of the application, rather than explaining how they would satisfy residents. That was because they knew they couldn’t persuade the people of Warrington to tolerate this noxious site anymore.  I am delighted that the committee voted unanimously to reject the application.”

Queen’s speech

The Liberal Democrats have strongly influenced the following measures announced in the Queen’s speech:

  • Lords Reform
  • Green Investment Bank
  • Libel Reform
  • Giving shareholders a vote on directors’ remuneration
  • Flexible parental leave – the measure Nick Clegg’s championed to give families the choices that work for them by allowing parents to divide leave entitlements between them whereas now the mother is entitled to a year’s leave, the father just two weeks.
  • Meeting the 0.7% target for overseas aid
  • Reform of the State Pension, driven by Steve Webb
  • Establishing a Groceries Adjudicator to ensure the big supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly
  • Banking reform as championed by Vince Cable
  • Reform of electricity markets – especially on fair pricing
  • Continued progress towards reforming succession so that girls have equal rights to boys, as championed by Lynne Featherstone

See the full article in Liberal Democrat Voice