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…………………