We know you have been told by Jeremy Corbyn how to vote in Parliament over Brexit and Article 50 Bill but this issue is far bigger than Labour Party loyalty; our fragile economy is at stake and many other things too.
Please defy the whips and vote not to trigger Article 50; this is a time to stand up and be counted not to just follow what your Leader tells you to do.
The Aintree & Maghull Champion has the story – See link above
How sad but I can’t say I am surprised by Sefton Labour’s latest kick in the teeth for Aintree – at least they are consistent though! But what does surprise me is that the area’s Labour MP is surprised!
Frankly, having seen the previous bid to run Aintree Library using volunteers being given the short shrift by Sefton and then the MP’s objections to his own councillors plan to build on acres of Green Belt being ignored you would have thought that Bill Esterson should have almost been expecting another rejection.
This Labour MP says one thing but his Labour councillors on Sefton say just about the opposite is becoming an unfortunate farce.
PS. I sent this piece to the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper but it was not used.
Environmental campaigners across the Sefton Central Constituency and indeed even I as a political opponent of the incumbent Labour MP Bill Esterson have praised his brave move prior to Christmas in attacking the poor Local Plan that Labour-led Sefton Council has been forcing through.
That the plan is poor is a massive understatement, that it is an environmental disaster is nearer to the point. What with some of the 2% highest grade agricultural land in England going to be built upon in Sefton Central no wonder environmental campaigners, the Lib Dems and indeed our Labour MP have been up in arms.
So Bill was right to attack the plan as indeed was the Lib Dem MP for Southport – John Pugh. But, unlike the Lib Dems who have been wholly consistent in their approach to the Local Plan, Labour has been all over the place. Yes, Bill Esterson has been consistent in saying that Green Belt should be protected from development, but his Labour Sefton Council colleagues have not been. They started off by seemingly agreeing with him that the Green Belt should be protected only to U turn later in the process and vote for building on it. Bill must have felt very let down, as indeed we all were.
But now we face elections both local and national on 7th May and it seems to be an appropriate time for Bill to stand aside from his councillors who backed away from following his principled lead. For both the MP and his councillors to be campaigning together is at best incongruous and at worst ridiculous in my view. Time for Bill not only to show his anger at his Labour colleagues behind doors (which surely he must have done?) but to come out and do so in public.
Will Bill appear on the same leaflets as those Labour councillors who ignored his concerns? Well yes it seems he will as there is one doing the rounds in Sudell ward, Maghull right now. Don’t you think this is how politics gets a bad name? Bill you disappoint me.
I have long held the view that there must be few if any people within Sefton Labour Party whom I would class as environmental campaigners. This view has been formed as I have watched the Labour Party develop a Local Plan for Sefton that will mean that building is now highly likely to take place on precious high grade agricultural land locally.
But maybe there is some hope as the biggest beast in Labour’s local jungle has made it very clear that he is not supporting what Labour councillors are promoting i.e. building on the Green Belt.
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson says in a recent press release:-
‘Sefton Council should reconsider the latest draft of its Local Plan and give communities a far bigger role in drawing up a new version.’
He also says the Local Plan releases ‘far too much greenbelt to developers.’
He goes on to say ‘Sefton Council was in danger of allowing big business developers to build on great swathes of Sefton’s greenbelt with little or no benefit to local people.’
Welcome comments indeed but of course Bill needs to convince the Labour councillors on Sefton Council because they are the ones promoting what he seems to have grave reservations about.
Bill does seem to have forgotten though that his own Labour Party Leader, Ed Miliband, has called for even more house building but let’s give the MP a break here as he is effectively battling against his own Party Leader and his own local Labour councillors.
‘In my view, this plan is unfair. The plan, and the loss of greenbelt, disproportionately impacts communities in Sefton Central, in particular in East Sefton and in Formby.’ says Bill.
I think we all agree on that Bill so please get your local Labour councillors who represent wards in the Sefton Central Constituency to oppose the plan and the job will be a good one.
Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by a number of people about the ‘additional sites’ that Sefton Council is presently consulting upon – that consultation ends on 9th August, I would add.
To recap we have a draft Local Plan in place and readers will know how I have fought against Green Belt and high grade agricultural land being built upon. The ‘additional sites’ are those which developers and land owners want brought into the Local Plan before it is finalised. I suppose you could say they want their sites brought in either as an alternative to those the Council has already selected or in addition to those sites.
The battle is clearly bigger in the East Parishes part of Sefton than anywhere else
For me it is sadly more of the same as our Labour-led Council is already planning to allow building on huge swathes of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt to the east of Maghull and Lydiate. But developers and some land owners want the Council to agree to even more building on additional sites that would truly swamp Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree Village and Melling in housing and industrial parks.
This has become a lottery from which we can all only be losers. The Council is already putting at risk the character of Maghull by allowing it increase in size by just under 25% and in poor old Lydiate it could as high as a 35% increase! But developers want more with a huge plan to build onto the western side of Maghull and Lydiate from Green Park to Bells Lane. And even that is not enough as they also want to extend the building on the eastern side of Lydiate even further.
Down in Melling they are facing the potential for the land on the northern side of the M57 to become a logistics park from Switch Island to Brewery Lane and a number of sites in Aintree Village are also under threat from developers, one being the other side of the M57 – between it and Oriel Drive.
I am appalled by what Sefton Council has agreed to so far in its draft Local Plan as it will be giving the green light to building on the very land that we and future generations need to grow food upon. The additional sites, should any of them be agreed to, can only worsen the environmental catastrophe.
The big question is will the Labour-led Council agree to more Green Belt land being built upon? They said not so long ago they were going to defend the Green Belt but then voted to build on it! I hope they sober up before they make the East Parishes part of the Borough a sea of buildings whilst destroying its agricultural land for good.
Sefton Council’s opposition Lib Dem Group, who have campaigned against the Labour-run Council’s plans to build on areas of Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough, have welcomed a recent intervention from Coalition Planning Minister Nick Bowles.
Labour have told us that they have no choice but to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, some of which is prone to flooding, but we have said they do have a choice. Now the Minister with Planning responsibilities has effectively backed our stance.
In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, the body that deals with appeals against planning applications that are turned down by a local authority, dated 3rd March the Minister says ‘local authorities and the communities who elect them, are in charge of planning for their own areas.’ He goes on to say ‘a local authority could adjust a Green Belt boundary through a review of the Local Plan. It must however always be transparently clear that it is the local authority itself which has chosen that path’.
Environmental protestors outside Maghull Town Hall
So its clear, Labour do have a choice and they made it to build on Green Belt which also happens to be high grade agricultural land in most cases across Sefton. Labour have been far from straight with Sefton residents. They have even put up posters saying ‘Save our Green Belt’ whilst in the Council chamber they have been voting to build on it! No wonder environmental campaign groups like Fragoff have taken the Council on.
We Lib Dems want to save the land, which Labour is going to allow to be built on, to grow food for future generations. Labour wants to plant houses on land that will never be able to support food growing again.