I was recently asked by the Labour administration whether the now 5 strong group of Lib Dem Opposition members on Maghull Town Council would like to help Labour in its proposed sample survey of the Maghull population over the draft Local Plan that Labour run Sefton Borough Council is putting forward. That draft Local Plan, which has already been endorsed for consultation by the majority Labour Group on Sefton Council, means a huge chunk of Maghull’s Green Belt is down to be concreted over.
I got to see a copy of the proposed survey and after consultation with my fellow Lib Dem members we decided not to work with Labour over this matter. But why did we make that decision? Don’t Lib Dems believe in co-operation with other political parties? Well yes we do but…………….
Our problem with Labour over the Sefton Green Belt is that whilst they have been shouting ‘save the Green Belt’ they have been voting to consult on doing just the opposite. What’s more some of the Labour members of Sefton Council also sit on Maghull Town Council; in fact 5 Labour members of Sefton Council (including 3 all-powerful Bootle Cabinet members) are members of Maghull Council.
Separately, Maghull Town Council Labour Group recently published a plan for their own proposed activities over the next year or so. Included in this plan was the proposed Green Belt survey. We Lib Dems said then that the Town Council needed to lead the community to oppose the Green Belt grab rather than launching an all too late sample consultation.
You see the real problem here is that any sample public consultation should have been undertaken in 2011 when the first round of public consultation took place over the Green Belt. All of the Parish Councils in Sefton made submissions to the Borough Council about their concerns back then but Maghull Town Council, under its Labour leadership, made no comment at all!
Two years down the track and Big Brother Labour run Sefton Council has proposed the biggest of all the Green Belt developments in the Borough should be on Maghull’s high grade agricultural land east of Poverty Lane. If Maghull TC had fought for the Green Belt back in 2011 we may not now be facing the attack on the Town’s Green belt now. If you don’t make representations when it matters you should not be surprised if failing to make representations drops you in it!
Also back in July across 3 of Maghull’s 4 electoral Town Council wards there were by-elections where Labour lost 2 of the 3 seats up for grabs and clung onto the 3rd by just 9 votes. And what were the two big issues in those by-elections? Not surprisingly they were opposition to Labour’s proposal to build on the Green Belt and to Labour’s plan to charge folks to have their green bins emptied. Two of those by-elections (the 2 Labour lost) were fought across the two Town Council wards that make up the Borough ward of Sudell. My point? Sudell ward is where all the Green Belt building is proposed to happen in Maghull!
Elections are the biggest test of opinion in a democracy as everyone on the electoral register has the chance to vote should they choose to do so. In Maghull North and East wards (the two which make up Sudell ward) Labour failed the public consultation test because they were proposing Green Belt building and charging for Green Bin collections. Don’t you think that the public consultation has been done, that it is very recent and that the result is clear; do I.
Labour’s consultation smacks of ‘we did not like the result of the last consultation (elections) so lets try again to see if we can find a way of getting a different answer’.
Please Labour, stop this carry on now and reaffirm the Town Council policy from 1998 (when it was Lib Dem run). Back then the Council led the community and fought a hard campaign to see off Sefton Borough Council who wanted to build on the Green Belt. It may be very late in the day, it may well be that saying nothing in 2011 showed an appalling lack of community leadership, but Labour can repent if they just stop running around in circles and do what the electorate said in July – fight to save the Green Belt instead of voting to build on it!!