Care in Maghull – Damfield Lane Extra Care plans

Today I went to the drop-in event at St Andrew’s Parish Hall regarding the Extra Care housing development proposed for site off Damfield Lane.

I went with fellow Park Ward Cllr. Andrew Blackburn although our Sudell Ward colleague Cllr. Cliff Mainey has been keeping a close eye on this matter for months now.

Maghull has a long history of caring for those less fortunate via what was the Maghull Homes and now the ParkhavenTrust. The Maghull Homes was a unique epileptic colony spread over two large sites off Liverpool Road South and also Deyes Lane. My dear old mum worked there for many years and I worked with the disabled residents myself in a part time capacity organising snooker, football and cricket matches between the residents and visiting teams. they were very enjoyable years indeed and they taught me to value those less fortunate.

One very clear lesson that I soon picked up on was that those who suffer disability can be very vulnerable and there is always someone willing to exploit that and their trusting nature. But I digress, the point being that Maghull and district has this long history of helping those less fortunate and for that reason if no other I have always been proud to represent such caring communities on the Council

Turning to the plans for the new houses and care facilities; they are impressive but the major considerations will be whether the chosen site is the right one and will car parking provision be adequate? As it is a part of  what was the Parkhaven Trust’s property one could say that it is simply continuing a caring role in the Town in a modern way. Others may disagree so I would welcome any feedback on this subject.

Lydiate Parish Council’s submission to Sefton Council’s Core Stretegy consultation – Don’t touch our Green Belt!

Lydiate Parish Council’s submission to Sefton Council’s Core Strategy consultation – July 2011

Lydiate Parish Council had the pleasure of hosting one of the Borough Council’s public consultation events regarding the Core Strategy on 13th June at its new Village Centre and around 300 local residents attended the event to speak with Planning Officers, Parish Councillors and Park Ward Borough Councillors.

The message that we picked up very clearly at this event and also via other discussions with Lydiate residents has been one of ‘please don’t take forward proposals to develop our Green Belt’. Running alongside this message was a similar point but related to the fact that virtually all of the Green Belt surrounding Lydiate Parish is designated as either Grade 1 Agricultural Land. Lydiate residents have clearly told us that they want this high grade agricultural land to remain in that use especially as environmental considerations in the coming years will mean that more food will need to grown locally. This point is made in the context of there being so little Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land available across England therefore building on what is presently undeveloped land in those two categories is felt to be an environmentally unsustainable way forward.


Once it is developed it is gone for good

The Parish Council accepts that not all the local green belt land is presently used for the growing of food but it considers that the land should be preserved for that very purpose for future generations as once it is developed it is, in effect, gone for good.

In recent times there has been a proposal to build a canal marina in Lydiate (off Bells Lane) and the Parish Council opposed the planning application very much because of the perceived negative effect on the Green Belt and available agricultural land. Whilst the Parish Council is supportive of the principle of a canal marina locally in the East Parishes part of the Borough the overriding imperative of protecting the Green Belt and agricultural land that could be brought back into use in the future meant that the Parish Council had to recommend refusal of the application to Sefton’s Planning Committee, who came to the same conclusion. We appreciate that at the time of writing this submission the applicant was in the process of appealing against the refusal of planning permission with the hearing in late July.

Consultation process concerns

Turning to the consultation process itself, it is fair to say that the Parish Council was concerned prior to the Lydiate consultation event that the importance of what the event was about had not been satisfactorily communicated to Lydiate residents, especially those living close to sites that may be under potential threat of future development for housing in the Parish. We asked Park Ward Borough Councillor Tony Robertson to take this concern up with Sefton Planning Dept. and were pleased to note that the Borough Council did try to deliver a letter to houses close to potential development sites prior to the event, although we did hear of concerns that the coverage was not complete. However, the fact that around 300 residents came to the event on 13th June meant that the profile of the consultation process had been raised to some degree with local people. We remain concerned however that the Borough Council did not engage with local residents well throughout this process and therefore the planned events and general awareness amongst residents was not sufficient for such a far reaching and significant consultation.


Retaining the ‘Village’ feel of Lydiate

Fundamentally, Lydiate residents want the nature of Lydiate Parish, with its ‘village’ atmosphere to remain very much as it is and they fear that allowing any encroachment into Green Belt land will be the thin end of the wedge.


Agricultural land not treated with sufficient importance

We are also concerned that the Core Strategy processes have not put enough emphasis on the need for sustainable development, ‘green’ issues and the vital nature of local food production. Whilst we appreciate that towards the end of this round of consultation the importance of Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land was being highlighted we feel that this was a matter almost forced onto the agenda by campaigners rather than it being seen as a fundamental issue by the Borough Council  Planning Dept. at the start of the process. We accept that this may well be a failing of national planning guidance given to Councils by Government in recent years but none the less we are disappointed that environmental considerations as important as the land on which we grown our food were not seen as hugely important by Sefton Planning Dept. from the start of the Core Strategy process. When the fact that such a small % of land in England is listed as either Grade 1 or 2 Agricultural Land is considered and that virtually all the undeveloped land surrounding Lydiate is deemed to be Grade 1 then this is a very significant issue not an afterthought.


Residents and Parish Council unconvinced about the housing need locally

We remain unconvinced by the arguments put forward that Lydiate (and the East Parishes part of the Borough) needs more housing especially as we are presently suffering the consequences of a deep recession from which we will emerge with differing priorities to when we entered it. On that basis we think it is premature to be making plans to provide extra housing locally when the need for it is, in our view, unproved and highly speculative. Not only that, demand for housing will follow economic growth and where available jobs are created. Sacrificing high grade agricultural land in any circumstances seems to be an extremely negative thing to do but to even consider it when the need to do so is in no way proved is poor planning indeed in the view of the Parish Council.

Should there be a need for additional housing in the East Parishes, which as we say we are yet to be unconvinced about, then we are aware that Ashworth Hospital is marketing its land that straddles the border between the Civil Parishes of Maghull and Melling. We are also aware that the land previously designated for a prison (Ashworth South), which is adjacent to aforementioned site, could also be made available for housing. Should either or both of these sites become housing then the need for the development of previously undeveloped land elsewhere across the East Parishes communities seems to us to be even less of a requirement in forthcoming years.

Finally we are aware that Lydiate Parish residents have been campaigning to oppose development locally and that petitions have been submitted to the Parish Council and Sefton Council making the views of Lydiate residents very clear. We are happy to endorse those petitions.



On the evidence we have seen and heard the position of Lydiate Parish Council is that we have not been provided with any convincing evidence that encroachment into the Green Belt and consequently onto Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land is warranted or indeed desirable and on that basis our clear view is one of rejecting proposals that place any threat to the Green Belt land surrounding the Lydiate community.

This response to Sefton Council’s Core Strategy was agreed by Lydiate Parish Council at its meeting held on Tuesday 26th July 2011

Another shocking angle on the News International scandal

Stephen Williams MP: Labour spent £38m taxpayer cash on News International advertising!!!

The Government spent nearly £38m on advertising in News International titles between 2005 and 2010, a Parliamentary answer to Co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Treasury Committee, Stephen Williams MP, has revealed.

The figures show:

  • More than £17m was spent advertising in The Sun, including £4.5m between April 2009 and March 2010.
  • More than £7m was spent advertising in the News of the World, including £1.8m between April 2009 and March 2010.
  • £877,153 was spent advertising in all News International titles between April 2010 and March 2011.

Commenting, Stephen Williams said:

“Despite the dire state of public finances, the Labour Government continued to spend millions with the Murdoch tabloids.

“This confirms the impression that the last Government was obsessed with spin and prepared to use taxpayers’ money to push its agenda with a bloated advertising budget.

“I am glad the Coalition has slashed expenditure by 90 per cent with these titles, continuing only essential information messages.”

Another Green Belt defence campaign meeting in Maghull – Folks are getting really angry now!

Last night I attended a second meeting at Maghull Community Association (MCA) organised by a local resident who also happens to be professional land remediation consultant. He certainly knows his subject better than us politicians and I have found his insight into Sefton’s ‘Core Strategy’ very illuminating.

His previous meeting brought in a huge number of residents from the western side of Maghull and readers will recall that a blogged about it two weeks ago. This second meeting also had a massive turn out (200 I would guess) and its purpose was to agree a submission to Sefton Council that Mr Reader had put together.

We had a good debate about a wide range of issues but what kept cropping up was what the residents saw as poor the consultation. I know they feel like that as this has been the strong message for weeks now. Lydiate Parish Council agrees as its submission makes specific reference to problems with the consultation process and readers will recall that the Lib Dems on Maghull Town Council tried to get it to raise problems over consultation. Maghull Council, as you may recall, decided not to do this and one Labour Councillor even said they thought the consultation had been OK, or words to that effect!

People are angry, they are angry about the potential loss of their precious Green Belt, angry over poor consultation, angry over the ‘leading’ and confusing questions in the Council’s consultation forms and on Sefton’s web site and angry because they feel that they have not been sufficiently informed about such a crucial matter.

Notts beat Lancs in County Championship match at Southport

There has not been one of English Cricket’s County Championship matches in Southport for 12 years but the one just ended today has been a big success for the Town.

The 'Square' at Southport Cricket Ground

I was there today to see my team Nottinghamshire win the game.

I have the feeling that I may become unwelcome in Southport because in the last football season my Team Mansfield Town played Southport and won at Haigh Avenue now Notts have come to Southport in Cricket’s County Championship and turned over Lancs!

Birkdale Cricket Ground is a pleasant if compact venue and I hope it will not be another 12 years before Lancashire use it again for a home game.

Lancs paceman Saj Mahmood who was strangely not playing in a game set up for pace rather than spin. He is seem here practicing during the lunch break today.

As an aside, whilst I was sat there enjoying the game today I picked up on a conversation happening just behind me. What was being said was how nice Maghull Cricket Club’s Ground is. Yes, it certainly is with the Leeds Liverpool Canal forming one boundary against the back drop of St Andrew’s Church – the nicest view in Maghull I have often heard folks say. And Maghull Cricket Club is a successful one with many teams and a policy of encouraging youth. Only recently a Lancs under 16 team played a match there.