Parish Councils and Planning applications

I was just a little taken aback when I picked up Private Eye edition 1346 to find Balcombe Parish Council in the sights of this respected investigative publication because it had not opposed the drilling associated with fracking when it had been asked to comment on the planning application by West Sussex Council, the planning authority.

An internet search for Balcombe PC brings up quite a few hits, which is hardly surprising based on the amount of national media attention this rural community has been getting recently.

It seems that Private Eye’s jab at Balcombe Parish Council is on the money because a BBC web site posting records the Parish Council apologising for their error of judgement.

This incident must be a wake up call for all Parish Councils not to be superficial or disinterested in planning applications that could have a significant or detrimental affect on their community.

I sit on two Parish Councils. One (Lydiate) has a list in front of it of every plan submitted in the Parish since the previous meeting of the Parish Council. The other (Maghull) hardly ever discusses planning applications at all these days. Indeed, whilst not on the scale of Balcombe, Maghull failed, or more accurately effectively seemingly refused, to discuss a hugely controversial planning application for a development on a piece of urban green space (Damfield Lane) in the Town not so long ago and this despite being asked to do so on 3 occasions by former Cllr. Cliff Mainey, present Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and me!

Planning applications, most of which will be of little consequence, have to be given serious consideration or surely a Parish Council can find itself being accused of failing in its duty to represent its community well.

Lydiate Parish – Boundary signs on the Leeds Liverpool Canal?

Well no there aren’t any actually but it is a thought because there is quite a bit of barge traffic travelling through Lydiate these days. Indeed, Parish Council Chairman Dave Russell has pondered on putting Welcome to Lydiate signs at either end of the stretch through the Parish showing where boaters can pick up supplies, have a pint, a meal etc.

A similar thought occurred to me when I ‘rescued’ the Lydiate boundary sign a few weeks ago after the road crash in Southport Road (see previous posting) so I stuck the sign at the end of my garden, which is on the canal, and photographed it. Just for laugh you may say.

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Peat – Now here’s a thing I had not heard of before in relation to a planning application

When Sefton’s Planning Committee recently voted to approve development on the Parkhaven Trust’s land off South Meade and Green Lane in Maghull (my posting and why I voted against the development are in my posting of 25th July) a surprising and in some ways puzzling late report was made to the Committee about the possible consequences of peat being in the sub soil.

The development site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull where peat is now an issue

The development site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull where peat is now an issue

As far as I could ascertain even long-standing members of the Planning Committee had not come across this type of report before. This is what the report says:-

There are significant bands of peat deposits in Sefton and this development is in an area where these deposits may be substantial. Peat produces naturally occurring methane and carbon dioxide and if sufficient amounts of these gases are allowed to collect under or within a newly erected or extended building, there is a potential risk to the development and occupants.

It goes on further but I think you get the drift i.e. developers who are told this need to think about what measures they will need to put in place to protect against the effects of methane gas.

Strangely, I could not find the document that was submitted to the Planning Committee, on Sefton’s web site in connection with this application. Also, when I made further enquires about where the peat deposits are (i.e. show me a map) I was told there was no map and that, in effect, it was down to council officers knowledge of the land in question when individual planning applications are made.

If you hear rumbling in the night it could be methane building up……………………

Green Bin Tax – When will Sefton Labour signal their final retreat from this most unpopular taxation proposal?

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labours Green Bill tax for Sefton

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labours Green Bill tax for Sefton

We have seen much shuffling about over this matter from Labour in recent times. Indeed, despite the fact that the £46 per year tax was a part of their last Sefton Council budget they have even tried to pretend that it was a Lib Dem policy that they were opposing! That silly stunt was seen through by the electorate and it helped Labour in their loss of 2 Maghull Council seats 3 weeks weeks ago.

The Labour Cabinet member responsible for the environment on Sefton Council has all but conceded defeat for this policy but it is still alive and awaiting to be put out of its misery.

A tax proposed by 7 Labour Cabinet members from Bootle but which was always going to have the biggest impact on communities outside of Bootle, where large gardens are the norm, was always going to go down like proverbial brick budgie and so it has. But even comrade Bill Esterson MP, hardly know for missing a passing band wagon, has not been opposing this unfair tax on his own constituents. Could that be because it is a Labour devised tax; you can bet it is.

I wonder what it has done for the fractious relationship between Bill and Labour Council leader Peter Dowd? It can hardly have helped build bridges, can it!

Well said Jo Barton – 40% recycling rate is simply not good enough in Sefton

I was delighted to see that one of Southport’s biggest supporters of recycling, Jo Barton, is saying that a 40% recycling rate in Sefton is not good enough and that the Council has to do better by providing plastic bottle and cardboard collections on our doorsteps.

Check out Jo’s views at:-

www.localfocusnews.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/jo-barton-sees-red-over-green-waste.html