By Cllr David Baines, St Helens Council leader

AT last week’s meeting of the City Region, myself and other local leaders approved an ambitious economic recovery plan for the region.

‘Building Back Better’ is the aim, and the plan sets out how £1.4 billion in investment could unlock £8.8 billion worth of projects including the world-leading Glass Futures centre here in St Helens.

The plan isn’t just about infrastructure and construction projects – it has people at its heart. We must address the long-standing and systemic health and social inequalities that have been exposed by Covid, both within our region and the nation as a whole, and that’s what I and my Labour colleagues are fighting for. We have to build back better. You can read the plan at

Last week’s Star reported on an argument between an Independent councillor, their supporters, and some Labour members on Facebook, and it’s raised questions about the tone of debate in politics.

It’s right that people like me, my council colleagues and our MPs are held accountable for the decisions we make and the things we say, and it’s equally fair for us and the Labour Party to respond and challenge our political opponents in the same way. But this should never cross the line into personal abuse.

Politics can be a tough business, and when people passionately disagree then tensions can run high. Sadly, the provocative and vitriolic abuse we sometimes see – often by anonymous online trolls but also by unaccountable individuals and opaque groups – goes far beyond that.

Politicians from all parties have a duty to stand together against this and say it is unacceptable. We also must conduct ourselves with dignity and respect in person and on social media.

I know that recent exchanges between local politicians and parties have fallen short of those high standards, and the public rightly expect better.

Those of us elected, or hoping to be so, need to remember what matters: serving and working hard for residents and our communities, helping to protect and deliver essential local services, and doing all we can to build back better after Covid. That’s what I, my Cabinet, and my Party are focused on.

Best wishes to all Star readers.