Christmas is upon us – Maghull switches on its lights tonight

A very chilly night tonight as Maghull’s Mayor switched on the Christmas lights in Central Square Shopping Centre.

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Singing in the Christmas season

Singing in the Christmas season

It took me back to Christmases 2009 and 2010 which were probably the last time there were really good light displays in Maghull Square. Back then it was joint affair between Sefton Council, Maghull Town Council, Altside Business Village and the Maghull Group.

Altside Business Village has all but gone now but the other partners, together with the Town Team, have brought things back after a couple of, shall I say, less significant displays in 2011 and 2012.

This was Christmas 2009 in Maghull Square

This was Christmas 2009 in Maghull Square

Melling – Why not celebrate this historic community?

Having previously represented Melling Parish on Sefton Council I have often pondered and why at times some Melling addresses are said to be in Maghull.

A lovely view of Melling Rock and St. Thomas Church

A lovely view of Melling Rock and St. Thomas Church

Take the Pear Tree Pub that is closer to Kirkby than it is to Maghull, yet its web references, at least some of them, say it is in Maghull when it is very firmly in Melling.

Then there is HMP Kennet, not a part of it is in Maghull yet it promotes its self as having a Maghull address. It’s in Melling.

I also recall having an odd conversation with a resident about a road called Beechway in Melling, odd because whilst the whole of the road is in Melling Civil Parish the resident was most insistent that she lived in Maghull.

But you could say this identity issue goes back at least as far as the late 1800’s when the former Maghull and Melling railway station was renamed just Maghull. Agreed, the station is wholley within Maghull Civil Parish but on its far eastern side and clearly serves Melling as well.

If some folks think that Melling may be having an identity crisis let’s help it fight back. Here are some interesting Melling links:-

www.mellingparishcouncil.org/

www.animals-in-need.co.uk/

www.mellingtithebarn.org.uk/barn.htm

A final word. Some years ago, whilst I was a Borough Councillor for Melling, I was given a book called ‘A Melling Lassie’ by Irene Birch which told the story of the Scottish potters who came to live and work in Melling. How many people know that Melling once produced pottery?

Labour blocks attempts to reform unworkable Sefton Central Area Committee

Stubborn Labour Council leaders will just not admit when they have got something wrong. My latest attempt to get the Leader of Sefton Council to reverse the decision to create one huge Area Committee for the middle of the Borough came to nought at last week’s Sefton Council meeting.

The new Area Committee which replaced the 3 former Area Committees of Formby, East Parishes and Crosby as part of Labour’s cost cutting drive has been criticised at every turn for being far to large and difficult for residents to engage with.

The first two meetings saw Formby residents with local highway concerns to raise having to travel firstly to Maghull and then to Crosby to get a hearing.

We Lib Dems opposed this ridiculously large Area Committee when Labour proposed it; we knew it would not work and so it has proved. Labour’s stubborn refusal to reverse this daftest of policy ideas does them no credit what so ever.

Area Committees are meant to reflect real communities and that is what we had with the previous well thought out 3 Committees for the middle part of the Borough. Now we have this huge committee with 27 Borough Councillors and 10 Parish Councillors on it; that’s a conference not an area committee. Labour just needs to admit they were wrong to make this change.

West Lancs Local Plan – Pugh challenges Planning Inspectorate as Sefton is dumped on

A couple of days ago I highlighted the unfortunate consequences upon Southport of the West Lancashire Local Plan being approved by a Planning Inspector. The matter has now been taken up by the MP for Southport Dr John Pugh.

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport

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Sir Michael Pitt,
Chief Inspector,
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
BRISTOL BS1 6PN

Date: 16 November 2013

Dear Sir Michael,

It has been reported to me that a Planning Inspector recently gave the ‘all clear’ to West Lancashire District Council’s Draft Local Plan in particular as it related to plans to build new houses on the local Green Belt around New Cut Lane, Halsall, an area which is regarded by most of its residents as being part of Birkdale which it abuts.

While the Inspector has, quite correctly, recognised that there is travel to work and shop between Southport (Seton MBC) and West Lancashire, in determining that this new housing can be treated as meeting West Lancashire’s Housing need, rather than Sefton’s I find this argument to have significant and worrying weaknesses. Draft Local Plans need to look not just simplistically at Housing need but also at the infrastructure which is necessary to accompany and support any new housing and indeed the present housing, industry etc. There is no evidence that I have yet seen to show that West Lancashire District Council has in any way considered the extra stress on an already-overburdened and tightly-enveloped Southport which will be associated with the building of and occupation of these substantial number of new houses. Nor is there any obvious evidence of West Lancashire District Council having co-operated with Sefton MBC in terms of assessing the possibility of development in boundary areas between the two authorities in general and the New Cut Lane area in particular. There may have been some information, which might be stretched to ‘consultation’ but these processes do not amount to ‘co-operation’ which involves working together. The decision to choose this particular area to expand into would seem to be a rather cynical determination that there will be no substantial group of residents/electors who will be particularly objecting to this proposal compared to any proposal closer to one of the West Lancashire current population centres.

I should be interested to receive your response to the above points.

Yours sincerely,

Dr John Pugh MP

Lydiate Flooding – Work at Highbanks tries to resolve problem

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Residents who live in the first couple of houses in Highbanks have suffered flooding problems for a while now and I have previously posted about them.

Last week Sefton Council and their contractors started works which will, I hope, resolve the problems that led to one house being internally flooded in September 2012.

The two photo’s above show works taking place with the second shot being of the remote controlled camera robot about to be sent down the culvert to look for problems. It found them! Solidified slurry has reduced the size of the culvert by maybe 70% and the drainage engineers tell me that this is often caused by sand and cement from building works being washed into the surface water drains.

More work is to be done this week to try to clear the obstructions I understand.

West Lancs Local Plan is approved by Planning Inspector but Southport has been dumped on!

News that West Lancashire Council’s Local Plan has been approved by a Planning Inspector has been met with dismay by Sefton and Southport Lib Dems because some last minute additions to land to be released to be built on in Halsall Parish will clearly mean that the new West Lancashire Council tax payers will in fact be relying on Southport’s GP’s, Dentists and schools.

West Lancs plans to allow houses to be built on what is presently Green Belt land bang up against the boundary with Southport. The new housing will be significantly detached from other population centres and community facilities in West Lancashire meaning that the people who move into the houses will be dependent on services within Sefton such as GP’s, Dentists, schools etc.

It’s a cleaver move by West Lancs to pick sites far enough away from their own residents so there will be little protest about the loss of Green Belt land but the consequences of this last minute idea, which was endorsed by the Planning Inspector who approved the West Lancs Local Plan, will fall upon Sefton and Southport!

As part of the Local Plan process Councils are expected to work together and have a ‘duty to consult’ with each other. But when last minute changes were being made by West Lancs to their Plan via the release land bang up against the Sefton boundary the consultation process fell woefully short. What’s more by endorsing the West Lancs Local Plan the Planning Inspectorate, who we expect to referee a fair game, allowed West Lancs Council to get away with dumping housing on the boundary with Sefton that Southport’s schools, GP’s and dentists will have to pick up the consequences of.

The Planning Inspector should have seen the stunt that West Lancs was pulling and stopped it rather than allowing it stand in added on time.