Sefton CPRE – Now they are in the Green Belt campaigner’s sights

The Sefton Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England is not making any friends within the environmental campaigners who are fighting to protect Sefton Green belt from Development.

I must admit I was just a little taken aback when I heard that CPRE were backing Sefton Council’s Option 2 for the Local Plan which will mean building on Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land in the Borough. I picked on their stance back in May at the now infamous Sefton Council ‘Stakeholder’ meeting where the Council’s consultants, NLP, first got into hot water over their (rising) population stats which I have posted about previously.

But two previous encounters with CPRE in Sefton have made me wonder. One was when our local Labour MP was photographed with a representative of CPRE after the majority of Labour members on Sefton Council’s Planning Committee had voted to support the building of a canal marina, off Bells Lane in Lydiate, on Green Belt land. (It had taken Lib Dem and Tory members voting together to block the application!) That photo was in a Labour Party leaflet dated Autumn 2011 and circulated in Lydiate and Maghull! Why was a CPRE representative appearing in a Labour Party leaflet at all and even more so when Labour councillors had not only backed building on a Green Belt site but had failed to turn up at the subsequent planning appeal where residents supported by Lib Dem councillors were left to fight it off? Odd, well I thought so and I told CPRE of my concerns at the time.

The other incident concerned a CPRE public meeting in Crosby (I think it was in July of 2011) about the Green Belt. The trouble was that the meeting only had political representation from Labour Party speakers! I protested about CPRE’s supposed non-party political stance being compromised by this turn of events at the time and received a very late invitation to join the speakers which I was not able to do.

So whilst I have some reservations about CPRE locally it seems that the campaign group FRAGOFF and the wider environmental movement that has been building in Sefton, because of the Council’s proposals to build on Green Belt/high grade agricultural land, is more than a little unhappy with CPRE’s stance in backing Option 2.

I suspect this issue has more legs in it…………………

Dog Fouling

I was interviewed on Monday by the Champion newspaper about my views on the curse of dog fouling.

Anyone who has been a local councillor just about anywhere in the UK will have had folks on to them demanding that action is taken to address that small minority of dog owners who allow their dogs to foul pavements and other public places and refuse to clean up after them.

Of course it is an offence punishable via fines but the problem is no one really gets caught at it; allowing their dog to foul a mean. The problem is that the dirty deed is often done late at night or in the early morning when there are less people about to witness it. It must also be the case, at times, that residents are not willing to say who allowed a dog to foul and then be willing to go to court as a witness. This is probably due to wanting to maintain good neighbourly relations or even fear of retributions?

Whatever the case evidence is rare. In Sefton the Environmental Officers will respond to foulling complaints by working outside normal hours to try to catch folk whose dogs are doing the fouling in areas where there are significant complaints. But this time has to be paid for by Area Committees or Parish Councils stumping up the cash. This ‘Operation Collar’ as it is called has been used across the Borough many times but the culprits seem not to be caught.

Oh for a few heavy fines and those responsible getting their photo in the local newspapers, now that would be a really good deterrent.

A look at Sefton Council’s web site will explain the legal matter referred to in this week’s Champion newspaper article –

Maghull in Bloom Judging Day

Last Wednesday was the 2013 judging day for Maghull in Bloom in respect of the various entries into North West in Bloom.

It seems, although we don’t know, that the judges were impressed with what they saw across the Town.

As chair of the Steering Group I met with the two experienced judges at Maghull Town Hall and explained to them how our Steering Group works and why it is useful in bringing together volunteers, councils and other bodies on a monthly basis to discuss projects, objectives and problems that have been encountered.

Ann Hill of Maghull in Bloom with Nigel Winchester of Maghull Station Volunteers enjoy a snack at the buffet that concluded the judges tour of Maghull.

Anne Hill of Maghull in Bloom with Nigel Winchester of Maghull Station Volunteers enjoy a snack at the buffet that concluded the judges tour of Maghull.

I remain hugely impressed with the work of the volunteers who are effectively in two groups i.e. the Maghull in Bloom Volunteers and the Maghull Station Volunteers. Our shopping centre and station are looking wonderful at present as are many other places across the Town.

I have no reason to think that Maghull will do anything but well in this year’s competition.

Lessons for Labour from Maghull by-election defeats

There were 4 very clear messages coming across from the electorate in the three Maghull wards where by-elections were held last week.

Sick of Labour’s internal warfare

Firstly, residents are heartily sick of Labour’s local infighting and the consequent 7 Labour councillor resignations. One thing the electorate does not like is political party splits and this recent long-running one has really damaged Labour’s credibility.

Green Bin Tax

Secondly, Labour’s proposed Green Bin tax for Sefton Borough has clearly been binned by the electorate. There can be little doubt that it has really got people upset as they see it as an idea from Bootle Labour Party being imposed on a community like Maghull (but you could easily say Crosby, Formby, Southport etc.) where virtually everyone has a garden. Residents also see it as a back door Council tax rise and are having none of it. The outright lie that was published in one Labour election leaflet which said that the Lib Dems were bringing in the Green Bin tax and that Labour was opposing it was openly being laughed at as ridiculous desperation.

Building on Green Belt

The third big issue was the Green Belt. Labour councillors voting to build on the Green Belt whilst saying they opposed building on it has made folk angry. This is a huge credibility issue for Labour and time after time people have been saying things like ‘Labour said they were not going to let building take place on the Green Belt and then their councillors go and vote for just that!’ Interestingly, Cllr. Peter Dowd, the Labour Leader on Sefton Council and a Maghull Town Council member seems to have a little more credibility than his Labour colleagues over this issue. Electors had noticed that whilst he was advocating building on the Green Belt, which they opposed, at least he was doing it by promoting it as a positive thing rather than saying one thing and doing another whilst blaming just about everyone else, as his Labour colleagues have been doing.

Embracing austerity

The final issue is a national one. Labour’s national position of recently embracing austerity and agreeing to follow Coalition spending plans, if Labour gets elected at the next General election, is making people wonder why Labour locally has been presenting itself as being against all cuts and seemingly giving the impression that it will reverse them. This issue is important in a community like Maghull because of the high numbers of public sector workers. Obviously, Labour’s ploy nationally, between 2010 and early 2013, was to play to this public sector worker audience. However, with Ed Miliband now backing off from that message it leaves local Labour Party folk who continue to hammer this for all they are worth very exposed. Public sector workers now know Labour will not reverse the cuts in their pay, pensions etc. so why should they continue to troop out and vote for a party that promised them everything but then dropped them like a stone.

These are the factors that led to the significant collapse in Labour’s share of the vote in the 3 Maghull Town Council by-elections.

Lower Alt Wind Farm – What our local Parish Councils in Sefton are saying

I have posted about this a number of times in recent months but thought the letter below may well be of interest.It has gone to all the 10 Parish/Town Councils in Sefton. It is from the umbrella organisation that all 10 Parish/Town Councils are a part of. Lydiate Parish Council, which I am a member of, has already expressed its concerns as previously detailed on this blog. The proposed site for the wind farm is actually in West Lancashire not Sefton.

17 July 2013

To: Clerks to the Parish Councils of the SAPLC (Sefton Association of Parish and Local Councils)

Dear Sir/Madam

Lower Alt Wind Farm Proposal

At the meeting of the SAPLC last evening 16th July, we were addressed by the Chair of H-ALT, the group set up in Ince Blundell to protest against the proposal of CoriolisEnergy to erect 24 enormous wind turbines close to our village and town communities overlooking the R Alt.

Kevin Sharpe presented information concerning the proposal and how the group had been set up to oppose the development. It directly affects the residents of Lydiate, Sefton, Maghull, Ince Blundell, Little Altcar, Hightown and Formby especially and to a lesser extent to the other parishes.

It was unanimously agreed that, while we do not oppose the concept of turbines that placing of these turbines each as tall as the Blackpool tower, on land, they would have serious and deleterious effect upon the area, our residentsfor generations to come, affecting their health,property values and well being.

The impact upon the land quality from the installation, in their construction and the environmental consequences will be enormous and will decimate the prosperity of a fragile local farming economy, disrupting the unique environment we share.

It was agreed that I should write to you asking you please to raise the matter with your council with the view of enlisting your opposition to the scheme, and inviting you write to the developers saying so.

The contact is Vicky Portwain at Coriolis Energy and the reports are available on their website –

Her contact details are as follows

Vicky Portwain
Project manager
Coriolis Energy

With thanks,

Yours sincerely