Double Rating – Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree – A history of ups and downs

It’s all about why in Sefton Borough Lydiate, Maghull & Aintree Village Council Taxpayers pay twice to have their parks maintained

This shot of Rigeway Park in Lydiate was taken in 2017

Well, this is a subject I’ve blogged about a few times in the past. Here is one such posting that explains things, it’s from 2017:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/04/06/maghull-land-money-maintaining-old-hall-park/

And here’s Lydiate Parish Council’s submission (June 2013) to Sefton Council’s consultation on the withdrawal of Double rating payments to the parish councils doing their own parks and gardens maintenance:-

Double Rating in Sefton – Lydiate Parish Council’s response to Sefton MBC’s proposal to stop repaying the affected Parish Councils

In Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village (and to a lesser extent in Melling Parish – see note below) all of the parks are looked after by the Town or Parish Councils and these Councils charge residents for the cost of doing this, via the Council Tax – the separate ‘parish precept’.

Sefton Council also charges for looking after parks in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village even though it does not deliver any such service in those three communities. This means residents potentially paying twice for having their parks looked after. This is clearly not fair or right so, some years ago, an agreement was reached for Sefton Council to pay these Parish & Town Councils the same per acre that Sefton spends on its own parks, elsewhere in the borough. This stopped residents from paying double, so the agreement was called “Double Rating”. In other words, Sefton has been returning to these Parishes what it has been taking from them but not spending on their parks.

However, Sefton Council is now planning to scrap the “Double Rating” agreement and the payments it makes to the Parish Councils which maintain their own parks and gardens. This will mean residents paying twice for having their parks looked after. First, they will pay their Parish/Town Council for actually maintaining the parks and second they will pay Sefton Council to do nothing to them. Sefton will just take the money it raises in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village and spend it on parks elsewhere in the Borough.

Lydiate Parish Council’s view is that Sefton Council’s proposal to stop paying back Double Rating money to the affected Parish Councils is clearly unfair and the Borough Council needs to reconsider. If the proposal is carried forward the result will be that Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council taxpayers will be paying twice.

The good news, however, is that Sefton Council does have two quite viable alternative options to resolve this matter without putting the Council tax payers of Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village at disadvantage. These options are:-
a) To continue to make the payments but at a lower level commensurate with the reduced standards of grounds maintenance that the Borough has already budgeted for and may well budget for in the future. This option would mean that all of Sefton’s communities would be treated the same by the Borough Council no matter whether the parks and gardens are run by Borough or Parish Council.
b) For Sefton Council to charge a differing level (lower) of Council tax in the Parishes which maintain their own parks and gardens than in the rest of the Borough. This option would stop Sefton Council from collecting money in the Parished communities that look after their own parks and gardens and then having to refund the money via the Parish Councils. Doing this would also mean that Council taxpayers in the affected Parishes would not be put at a disadvantage.

Simply stopping the repayments to the Parish Councils is unfair and will lead the Borough Council open to the charge that it is raising money in one part of the Borough simply to spend it elsewhere. We contend that this is not a position that the Borough Council should wish to find itself in.
Finally, we would add that we fully appreciate the level of savings the Borough Council has to make; all we ask is that in this case of Double Rating the savings are made fairly.
*****
Note 1:- Melling Parish is also affected but in Melling, there is recreational land provided by both Sefton Council and Melling Parish Council so the situation there is more complex.
Note 2:- The other 6 Parish Councils in the Borough do not own or lease land that is used as parks or for public recreational purposes so ‘Double Rating’ is not an issue to them.

Entrance to Dodds Park Maghull

And I suppose you’re wondering why I’m banging on about this great local injustice again now. Is it just an old politician musing on former wins and losses? Well, actually the reason I’m back on the subject is due to a discussion with Maghull & Lydiate’s Sefton Park Ward Independent Councillor Andy Wilson. You see Andy has got the Double Rating bit between his teeth and wants to try to get things rebalanced. Of course, I agree with him. Well, I would, wouldn’t I, having put so much effort into getting a fair system put in place only for it to be pulled a few years later on the altar of austerity. So good luck Andy, I look forward to the oil tanker that is Sefton Council being turned around again and in doing so helping Parish Councils, like Lydiate, to reduce their precept on local council taxpayers.

Kenyons Park – Lydiate

Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan will ‘restrict where the developers are allowed to build’ – Really?

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I had a letter from Labour’s candidate for Sefton Council’s Park Ward through my door, along with every other household in Park Ward I assume.

Having a keen interest in local affairs I read it and the words ‘It will restrict where the developers are allowed to build’ jumped out at me. The words were in reference to Lydiate Parish Council’s in progress Neighbourhood Plan.

You see we have been around this one many times before but a Neighbourhood Plan can’t contradict Sefton Council’s Local Plan. On house building the only things Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plan can do (once it is in force and that will not be soon) is to either promote more house building in Lydiate (than Sefton’s Local Plan is already pushing for) or reallocate the prescribed house building to other/different sites within Lydiate.

On that basis I would love to hear how on earth Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plan is going to ‘restrict where the developers are allowed to build’.

Now this statement also seems very close to what I was told Maghull Labour was telling residents that the Maghull Neighbourhood Plan would do. Of course it will do no such thing.

But let’s not be churlish, maybe Labour locally has an opt-out clause within the legislation that brought in Neighbourhood Plans? If they have let’s see it. Alternatively, what they need to do is to tell us all which sites that are down to have houses built on them in Maghull and Lydiate are not now going to be built on because of either the Maghull or Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plans. Bearing in mind of course that neither the Maghull nor Lydiate Neighbourhood Plans are actually in existence yet.

We await with baited breath or will we just wait and see yet more ridiculous claims made by Labour for what Neighborhood Plans can allegedly do?

Sefton Labour – Steve Kermode to stand down in Park Ward – Labour sources

Leaks from within the Labour’s Party reveal that Cllr. Steve Kermode the Labour member for Sefton Council’s Park Ward (western Maghull & all Lydiate) is not standing again when his seat comes up for re-election in May of this year.

Steve is presently the Mayor of Sefton and was originally elected to Sefton Council in 2012.

I hope it is fair to say that Steve may not have found working within the local Labour Group a bed of roses. That could be because he is foremost a chap who seems to put the people who elected him first and within the Labour loyalty to the Party is always the first consideration.

Word also from within Labour is that Lydiate Parish Councillor Andy Wilson is taking Steve’s place and so it was no surprise when a letter from him, seemingly launching his campaign to win Park Ward, popped through my door a couple of days ago.

I think Park Ward will miss Steve Kermode whom I was able to work with during my last years as a Sefton Councillor. I wish him well.