At Sefton’s Cabinet meeting last Thursday there was a report from the Planning Dept. all about housing requirements i.e houses to be built. Readers will recall that the Green Belt is under threat and has been ever since Labour, when in Government, imposed a house building target of 500 houses to be built each year on Sefton. That figure would mean building on the Green Belt in maybe 5 years or there abouts.
Residents, especially those in the East Parishes part of the Borough, are very keen to keep their Green Belt and so am I. In late May the Council is going to start consultation about house building with the public of Sefton and you can bet your bottom Dollar that building on the Green Belt will be a big issue in that Planners will want to and residents will NOT!
Anyway, at Cabinet last Thursday, which I chaired, we got to item 14 and I heard a Labour member say agreed. My response was no we should not agree the report. So what was it? It was the ‘Study to Review the Regional Spacial Strategy Housing Requirement Figure for Sefton – Final Findings’ – what a title! In effect it was the conclusions of consultants who had modelled all sorts of things to assess housing demand in the Borough and we were being asked to ‘endorse’ their key findings. Well the key of all key findings was that we need to build 480 houses per year, almost back to Labour’s imposed target of 500!
Sorry, no I was not going to endorse it and persuaded the Cabinet to simply ‘note’ the findings. Not only did I feel it wrong to endorse findings that would inevitably impact on the Green Belt but if the Council is genuinely to consult Sefton residents having already endorsed a figure of house building it is not consultation; it’s telling them what we going to do and dressing it up as consultation! My good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie-Browne missed this Cabinet meeting, as he had urgent business in London, but he has previously scolded officers for poor consultation and it nearly happened again.
So why were Labour Cabinet members seemingly ready to endorse 480 houses being built each year when elsewhere Labour say that they are opposed to building on Green Belt land? Where do they think the houses will go if not on Green Belt? Maybe they were simply recalling the imposed Labour target and thinking 480 is near enough!