The Comrades need to sharpen their act up – Green Belt

At Sefton’s Cabinet meeting last Thursday there was a report from the Planning Dept. all about housing requirements i.e houses to be built. Readers will recall that the Green Belt is under threat and has been ever since Labour, when in Government, imposed a house building target of 500 houses to be built each year on Sefton. That figure would mean building on the Green Belt in maybe 5 years or there abouts.

Residents, especially those in the East Parishes part of the Borough, are very keen to keep their Green Belt and so am I. In late May the Council is going to start consultation about house building with the public of Sefton and you can bet your bottom Dollar that building on the Green Belt will be a big issue in that Planners will want to and residents will NOT!

Anyway, at Cabinet last Thursday, which I chaired, we got to item 14 and I heard a Labour member say agreed. My response was no we should not agree the report. So what was it? It was the ‘Study to Review the Regional Spacial Strategy Housing Requirement Figure for Sefton – Final Findings’ – what a title! In effect it was the conclusions of consultants who had modelled all sorts of things to assess housing demand in the Borough and we were being asked to ‘endorse’ their key findings. Well the key of all key findings was that we need to build 480 houses per year, almost back to Labour’s imposed target of 500!

Here I am at Lambshear Lane Lydiate checking out farm land that may come under threat from house building

Sorry, no I was not going to endorse it and persuaded the Cabinet to simply ‘note’ the findings. Not only did I feel it wrong to endorse findings that would inevitably impact on the Green Belt but if the Council is genuinely to consult Sefton residents having already endorsed a figure of house building it is not consultation; it’s telling them what we going to do and dressing it up as consultation! My good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie-Browne missed this Cabinet meeting, as he had urgent business in London, but he has previously scolded officers for poor consultation and it nearly happened again.

So why were Labour Cabinet members seemingly ready to endorse 480 houses being built each year when elsewhere Labour say that they are opposed to building on Green Belt land? Where do they think the houses will go if not on Green Belt? Maybe they were simply recalling the imposed Labour target and thinking 480 is near enough!

Getting a new pedestrian crossing installed at Sefton Lane Maghull

You know when you have been bashing your head against a brick wall (or maybe a sandstone one – read on) for a long time but then it finally becomes worth the headaches, well I have had one of those ‘finally worth it’ moments this last week.

For longer than I care to recall I have been be campaigning for a pedestrian phase to be incorporated in the traffic lights at the top of Sefton Lane where it joins Liverpool Road South. The junction is very busy and pedestrians are unsighted by an historic red sandstone wall belonging to the Parkhaven Trust.

This is me checking out the construction work during March

When Sefton Primary Care Trust decided to make what was only going to be a temporary GP surgery into a permanent one on the Parkhaven site my good friend Cllr. Andrew Blackburn helped me reignite the campaign to get the pedestrian lights installed. After a lot of pushing and shoving we have done it and the lights are now up and working.

What’s more we were helped by the pressure from Scott McCubbin who owns ‘It’s the Little Things’ children’s nursery which is also on the Parkhaven Trust site. So at last the worst junction in Maghull (unless you tell me otherwise) for pedestrians has been addressed with red and green men signals incorporated in the lights. I will have to find another brick wall to bash my head on now!

And to cap it all I have had a lovely card through the post today from Scott and the Nursery thanking me for getting the problem sorted. And thanks from me for taking the effort to send me a card; it is very much appreciated.

A visit to The House of Commons

Last Tuesday I was invited to a meeting at the House of Commons to discuss economic development challenges and opportunities in the North West of England. The event was organised by my good friend Dr John Pugh the MP for Southport. It was facilitated by Gordon Lishman (recently retired Chief Exec’ of Age Concern which has just merged with Help the Aged) and sponsored by United Utilities.

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport

Now before I go any further may I make it clear that I paid for my own train fare to and hotel in London.

The meeting was very interesting as we had a broad range of people attending who could all reflect what economic challenges and opportunities were like at present and what may need to happen in the future to support local economies across the North West of England.

Gordon Lishman

It did not take long before we got around to jobs, the reliance on public sector jobs and how to encourage more young people to set up their own businesses. Another interesting fact and a sobering one as well is that United Utilities is, I understand, the only FTSE 100 quoted company that is based in England’s North West.

I hope we will be able to develop the relationships that were formed at the meeting as the North West has to become the master of its own destiny and be less dependent on Government if we are ever going to turn the tide and be a more prosperous region.

My thanks to Dr. Pugh MP on his initiative and I hope to be able to return to this subject in the future.

Maghull’s Youngest Traffic Warden

I was campaigning in the Greenville Drive area of Maghull yesterday and parked my car in this road. I noticed a young chap playing football a few yards away and thought nothing of it. However, the young chap (I would guess about 12) came towards me and my Team and asked me to move my car! He said it would be blocking traffic in the road. I looked and and clearly it would not and then the penny dropped; the car was where he wanted to kick his ball. I thought I would play along with the polite young man and asked him whether if I parked on ther other side of the road it would be OK. He said it would so I moved the car.

The lad is a born traffic warden.

‘Joe Anderson is a Tory!’

Not my words but words of letter writers to the Liverpool Post and Echo which Joe Anderson has felt the need to respond to.

He has been labeled a ‘Tory’ by some people in Liverpool because his Labour run Council passed a legal budget a few weeks ago. The letter writers wanted him to set an illegal budget and not make any savings. The fact that Joe refused to do this is clearly to his credit as he will know better than most Council Leaders what happens when Labour goes down the Militant denial of reality track as happened in Liverpool during the 1980’s.

Joe’s response was robust and pragmatic but it also inadvertently highlighted the activities of Sefton Labour Party who did go down the denial of reality track during Sefton Council’s budgetary processes. Readers will recall that if Sefton Labour had been in a majority their voting would have brought in a 29% Council Tax increase!

I respect Joe for his forthright response to the deficit deniers and the fact that he not only set a legal budget but was willing to defend what he had done to members of his own Labour movement who were calling him a ‘Tory’. My only gripe with Joe, whom I know reasonably well, was that he set a budget that closed 4 Children’s Centres. Having said that I understand that he has backed off from that position since the budget meeting.

So to all those who think I don’t give Labour any credit may I say that the letter which Joe wrote to the Daily Post a few days ago in defence of his actions deserves some credit.