This piece is from prior to the Scottish referendum result, although let’s face it that result was never in doubt despite the tedious incessant media hype of recent weeks.

Graham Allen MP, chairman of the House of Commons political and constitutional reform committee, has said that English regions should get the power to spend the tax collected from local residents in the wake of further Scottish devolution. He said that devolution should not just be for Scotland if it is to be credible. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Devolution isn’t just for Scotland. This week I’d like to see Miliband, Clegg and Cameron issue a statement saying very clearly that we are in favour of both union and devolution, and perhaps to be credible, it can’t apply only to Scotland, it must also find a way to apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

The Guardian ran this piece

Some people take a long time to catch on, don’t they. For what it is worth Mr Allen Liberals have been championing this cause for generations, it’s Tories and Socialists who have been keen to hold tight to the reigns of power in Westminster!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/labour-party-intervenes-forces-changes-7790422

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

I have commented on this situation before because, as a Liberal, I am able to put political tribalism to one side and say what a good MP Joe Benton is and indeed will be until the next General Election. For Labour to stab him in the back says more about those that did it than Joe whom I have always had a huge amount of respect for.

Now the ferrets are fighting in the sack and let’s face it you really could have put money on this happening.

My previous posting said:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/06/12/labour-give-joe-benton-mp-the-boot/

Continuing my WW1 theme for 2014

lydiateparishcouncil.gov.uk/lusitania-audio-project-visits-lydiate/

Visit the Lydiate Parish Council web site – see link above – for more information.

Sheila and I went along to see and hear this today. It was very well done with the short audio plays being very emotional and descriptive. Lydiate Parish Arts Group had also joined in and their pieces of artwork were displayed around the room. Some excellent work here. Well worth the visit.

The visit to Lydiate Village Centre by the project finishes tomorrow Friday 19th September.

Here are a few shots I took whilst there – click on them to enlarge:-

The 6 short plays are chosen from the buttons on the box and listened to via the headphones.

The 6 short plays are chosen from the buttons on the box and listened to via the headphones.

Great artwork

Great artwork

Lusitania lifebelt

Lusitania lifebelt

Last night at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee two important decisions were made and from my perspective both were very much the right decisions.

Firstly, an application to build on Green Belt land in Melling Civil Parish right up to the boundary with Aintree Village Civil Parish was firmly rejected. The land under threat (to build 100 houses upon) is bounded by the M57 Motorway, The River Alt and Spencers Lane. A map detailing where this site is located is below:-

The site is the upside down triangle just below the middle of this map right next to the M57 Motorway.

The site is the upside down triangle (with A519 on it) just below the middle of this map right next to the M57 Motorway. Click on the photo to enlarge it

Aintree Village Community Action Group came to speak to the Planning Committee meeting (held in Southport Town Hall) to press it to reject this planning application.

Interestingly, Labour voted against the development but I can’t help but feel that they are playing games here. You see it suits Labour to be seen as saving some Green Belt from development as it acts as a smoke screen for those areas of Green Belt they are promoting for development and yes some of those sites are within Melling Civil Parish. Beware that political party claiming, as I am sure they will, that they are defending the Green Belt!

The second site whilst also technically within Green Belt has been covered in my postings a number of times on this blog. It’s the Ashworth South site where there has been general agreement amongst local environmental campaigners that it should be released for development because it has been developed before, was going to be the site of a new prison that had planning permission, and it will provide a much needed second railway station for Maghull. The map below shows the site:-

The large red area is where Labour want to build houses and industrial premises. The orange area is the Ashworth South site.

The large red area is where Labour want to build houses and industrial premises. The orange area is the Ashworth South site. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Readers of this blog will recall that Labour have been all over the place about this site and for reasons no one can understand. They jumped on the band wagon to support the new station but have been unwilling pledge their support for the development of the rest of the site. And one could not happen without the other in that without a financial contribution from the housing development Maghull North Station would be short of the money required to be constructed. This Labour reluctance to support the development of this site was at complete odds with their own draft Local Plan for Sefton which incredibly designates a massive Green Belt site just across the road for hundreds and hundreds of houses and an industrial park.

But last night Labour finally fell into line with everyone else and supported the development of the Ashworth South site for around 350 houses and a new railway station. So why all the ducking and diving on Maghull Town Council by Labour?

So two important decisions were made last night and both went the way that I, my Lib Dem colleagues and local environmental campaigners have been fighting for. Sadly, I suspect they may well be the last of the good news on Sefton’s Green Belt because, unless there is a sea change in Labour’s approach to the Sefton Local Plan, they will be soon be voting for huge developments on it across the Borough.

Sheila, Jen and I took the opportunity last Sunday to visit the Paddington Tunnels being excavated by the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels. This site is not normally open to the public and is both separate from and run by a different group to the one which is a regularly open and ‘brown’ signposted in Liverpool.

Their web site is at:-

www.williamsontunnels.com/

A guided tour of around 45 minutes took us three levels down below ground level into brick vaulted tunnels. The work of the volunteers is impressive and extensive as all the tunnels had been back-filled with builders rubble and ash.

Quite a number of artifacts have been unearthed during the excavations.

No one really knows why Joseph Williams paid men to build the tunnels but they span a significant part of the City of Liverpool with the full extent of them still being unknown.

Here are a few shots I took on the day:-

Jen examines artifacts in hard hat an hi-vis jacket

Jen examines artifacts in hard hat an hi-vis jacket

Claire our guide. Behind her are the steps down to the tunnels and at the side a skip full of ash excavated by volunteers.

Claire our guide. Behind her are the steps down to the tunnels and at the side a skip full of ash excavated by volunteers.

Down in the depths, visitors get the grand tour.

Down in the depths, visitors get the grand tour.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/new-trains-arrive-liverpool-manchester-7778273

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_319

I think the word ‘new’ is a little over the top as these EMU’s were originally built in 1987–88 and 1990!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/pictures-liverpools-historic-buildings-reveal-7771784

I will post details of our visit to the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels tomorrow.

Posting 1 covered north eastern Lydiate, posting 2 western Maghull & Lydiate, posting 3 eastern Maghull (including Labour’s truly massive urban extension to Maghull) and posting 4 Melling and Aintree Village.

This posting is about land to the south of Maghull. Let’s have a look at a map. Click to enlarge it:-

The site is behind The Crescent and Fouracres and it is not actually in Maghull but in Sefton Civil Parish. The red line in this case is the boundary between Maghull & Sefton Civil Parishes.

The site is behind The Crescent and Fouracres and it is not actually in Maghull but in Sefton Civil Parish. The red line in this case is the boundary between Maghull & Sefton Civil Parishes.

The blue area is being promoted for building by a land owner/developer and worryingly parts of it are prone to flooding. Houses in Fouracres were under water in September 2012 due to Dovers Brook over-topping. Part of the site was once proposed to be a nature reserve which sounds a far more sensible use for this land.

The problem here is the River Alt which carries rainwater away from the whole district. Dovers Brook flows into it but when the River Alt is too high the brook can’t discharge its water and the over-topping, as happened in September 2012, can happen. Below is a shot of Dovers Brook when it was in full flood, where in goes under Sefton Lane, Maghull:-

rsz_a_very_swollen_dovers_brook_maghull

This can’t be a sensible site to develop for housing.

My last posting on this theme will draw all the Green Belt and high grade agricultural issues together in the East Parish part of Sefton Borough.

Scientists have found that car and taxi users are being exposed to air pollution levels inside their vehicles several times higher than those found along the roads they are driving on. The findings emerged from a study in which researchers at King’s College London equipped five MPs, all members of the environmental audit committee, with devices to measure airborne pollution levels plus a GPS unit to show where they got the highest doses. “Travelling in vehicles gave the greatest average exposure,” said Ben Barratt, a senior air quality scientist at King’s who oversaw the research. “Among the worst was when the MPs got a taxi across London.”

The Sunday Times ran this story.

This is a matter that has always interested me and this article confirms my own thoughts about the exposure of car drivers to pollution. I have got into the habit of shutting down my car’s heater/air intake when I spot a diesel vehicle in front of me. Sometimes on Bootle’s Dunningsbridge Road, for example, you can be surrounded by diesel belching lorries in a fog of fumes.

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