Having adopted very different stances its no surprise that Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central and Peter Dowd, Labour Leader of Sefton Council, are on differing pages over the Local Plan but of course they seem to be on differing pages over far more than this according to my internal Labour sources.
I commented recently about Labour-run Maghull Town Council and its weird and wonderful way of trying to carve out what it hoped would be a half decent stance that enabled it to not upset Bootle Labour (those in charge of the Labour Party in Sefton) too much whilst telling them that Maghull folk are a little unhappy over the Local Plan, building on the Green Belt etc. It was a ridiculous muddled compromise.
Shuffling of feet in Labour ranks is now a dance as they try to sell differing messages to differing audiences and there can be little doubt that they are unsettled especially by the activities of environmental campaign group Fragoff who have been making Labour feel very uneasy with their probing of the draft Local Plan.
Now Bill Esterson is calling on Sefton Labour to think again over the Plan. His call could be to embarrass Council Leader Peter Dowd or it could be little more than spin to get the press to run stories that make it look like Labour is fighting the against the Local Plan. It could of course be both. Throwing up a smoke screen is an old trick for cornered politicians. BUT could it be that some Labour Sefton Councillors are thinking of breaking ranks over the Local Plan. That seems unlikely as loyalty to the Party is the first, second and every though of elected Labour politicians and any who are brave enough to break ranks are sent to Siberia for reprogramming or worse.
Or could all this be because Ed Miliband has announced that if he gets into Government he wants to build 200,000 houses by 2020 which, as I have said before, will mean Sefton building around 1,000 houses per year not the 510 that is in the present Sefton Labour preferred Local Plan! Now that’s a message that most of us thought Labour would not want folks to latch onto. But not a bit of it as Labour’s biggest beast in the Sefton jungle, Peter Dowd, has firmly said that he backs Ed Milibands plan – talk about being off Bill Esterson’s message!
If you hear frantic shuffling of feet or suspect some Labour councillors are spinning like tops then you can be assured they are severely rattled.
Bootle Labour wants to build thousands of new houses on prime agricultural land in Bill Esterson’s Sefton Central Constituency and in Southport. Bill says he is defending the Green Belt yet his own Labour councillors from Sefton Central are all but sticking two fingers up at him as they toe the Bootle Labour line . This is going to end in tears.