Maghull Town Council Budget meeting 22nd January – We don’t need a Neighbourhood Plan but we do need Maghull in Bloom and youth facilities.

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With reserves of £400,000 this Labour-run Council had room to pledge a £5,000 support grant to Maghull’s ‘In Bloom’ volunteers and to back a small financial package to secure the Town’s unique Youth Coffee Bar but it stubbornly refused to do either.

We Lib Dems have always seen youth facilities as being vital that’s why we set up Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall when we ran the Council. Labour’s shutting of the facility for a number of weeks last December was appalling but they are simply not investing in our young people. Labour has stopped the yearly grant to Maghull & District Youth Council and chopped out the Town Council’s Youth Projects fund. To counter this we Lib Dem proposed that £5,000 was put aside to help run the Youth Coffee Bar when volunteers are unavailable to run it.

On the environmental front Maghull folk are delighted with the floral displays in the Town’s shopping centre, at Deyes Lane shops and at Treeview Court. But the volunteers, who put on the prize winning displays in partnership with the local business community and the Town Council, can’t produce the displays from nothing so Maghull Council has long been a significant financial supporter of the ‘In Bloom’ Volunteers. But, under Labour the Council’s support has been slipping with no guarantee to the volunteers over the certainty of the Council’s support in the future. The Lib Dem view is that this is simply not on so we proposed that the Council return to supporting Maghull in Bloom to the tune of £5,000 per year. Labour sadly voted the grant down.

However, Labour’s major objective is an odd thing – a Neighbourhood Plan that it is planning to spend £10,000 on in the coming year and probably a significant amount more in future as these plans can cost £70,000+! Why they want to do one no one knows because they will not say despite being asked to do so by the Lib Dems.

A Neighbourhood Plan is a smaller version of a Local Plan, of which Sefton Council is presently putting one together for the whole Borough. Of course, Sefton’s Local Plan is hugely controversial because Labour-run Sefton wants to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, especially around Maghull!

But Maghull Town Council is Labour run too so why can’t they simply add whatever the matters are that are buzzing around in their bonnets straight into the Sefton Local Plan? They could do that for free instead of spending goodness knows how much Council tax payers money doing a separate Neighbourhood Plan for Maghull.

Our concern is that Labour may have an agenda to build even more houses in Maghull because a Neighbourhood Plan is not allowed to include anything that disagrees with the Borough’s Local Plan; so they could build more houses via a Neighbourhood Plan but they could not build less. I think it is about time Labour came clean on their secret Neighbourhood Plan objectives for Maghull because Labour Maghull Town Councillor and Sefton Leader Cllr. Peter Dowd has already signed up publicly to Ed Miliband’s doubling of the present house building targets.