Lydiate & Maghull – Those Neighbourhood Plan Referendums – We were given a vote on the wrong Plan!

Here I am looking at what was protected Green Belt and presently still is high grade agricultural land off Lambshear Lane in Lydiate. It’s been reserved as building land in Sefton’s Local Plan.

If you live in either community did you vote in the 2 separate referendums on the Lydiate or Maghull NP’s on 18th December? I did but with little enthusiasm even though I had a hand in putting the Lydiate one together.

Why my lack of enthusiasm? Because these Neighbourhood Plans will have only marginal influence on the big planning issues that people are concerned about. The significant issues were all ‘settled’ when Sefton Borough’s Local Plan was controversially rammed through Sefton Council by its Labour majority.

It’s the Sefton Local Plan that we should have had a referendum on!

I must admit to being baffled by the publicity surrounding the two NP referendums with even our local MP seemingly getting over-excited about them in the Champion newspaper. You’d have thought that these NP’s were game changers in the world of urban planning because of the hype, when in fact they are only very limited in their effect.

Did I vote yes?. Yes, I did. Would it have made any difference if I had not voted for the Lydiate plan or if either of the plans had been rejected? No, not really.

In simple terms, the electorate was given the chance to vote on the wrong plan. Now a vote on Sefton’s Local Plan, which only Sefton Councillors were able to back or sack, would have been very significant and well worth getting excited about. Why? Because that Local Plan defined which parcels of Green Belt and high-grade agricultural land will be built on across Sefton Borough. In other words, it defined 95% of planning guidance for Sefton Borough whilst the public (on this occasion in Maghull & Lydiate) was thrown a ‘democratic’ option to approve, or not approve’ around just 5% of that guidance.

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Sorry, I really can’t get excited about a worthy but hardly significant NP for my Lydiate community when I’ve had a hugely controversial Local Plan imposed on me by Sefton Council’s ruling political establishment. The massive Maghull East urban extension, to be built on the highest grades of agricultural land, will still be built – The Maghull NP does not stop that. And in Lydiate, the allocated sites for building houses (again mostly on high-grade agricultural land which feeds us) are unchanged by that community’s NP.

We were thrown one bag of Kevin Carrots to approve or disapprove

As I say the vote was on the wrong plan. We were thrown one bag of Kevin carrots to approve or disapprove of when we should have been considering whether it is wise to build on field after field of them across the joint communities of Lydiate and Maghull.

Labour excited about an Eric Pickles inspired policy

It was also strange how excited the political party (which voted through Sefton’s Local Plan) got about the two Neighbourhood Plans whilst also trying to give the impression that their Local Plan had been nothing to do with them at all. Even odder when you consider that Neighbourhood Plans were promoted by none other than the Tory’s Eric Pickles.

There’s nothing wrong with the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan, I might add, in case you were wondering. It’s just that the context of it and indeed the importance of it has been completely over-played in my view. I have had nothing to do with the Maghull NP I should add.

Wheelie bad joke

A Carmarthen traffic warden is being investigated after giving a £30 ticket to a wheelie bin because it was parked on double yellow lines. John McEvoy, Carmarthenshire Council’s traffic and safety manager, said: “Although this was meant as a humorous incident, we take this kind of thing very seriously.”

The Daily Telegraph & The Times ran this article.

Goodness knows what punishment Eric Pickles would want to hand out to the ‘owner’ of the bin. By the way did you see him being interviewed on the TV recently in connection with litter bringing down house prices? All he was able to say, as far as I could understand him, was that the litter was the fault of by-weekly collections of wheelie bins. Excuse me but litter is normally chucked on the floor by those who do not give a damn for their community!

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Pickles – What is it with this man’s bin obsession?

Pickles: Flog people who leave bins in the street

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Eric Pickles has said that householders who leave bins in the street should be “flogged”. The local government secretary was asked by MP’s if families should be punished for leaving their bins in the street after they are emptied. Mr Pickles said: “They should be flogged, flogging is too good for them.” He added: “If you are parking the damn thing in the middle of the road, it is not exactly good neighbourly behaviour is it?”

The Daily Telegraph covered this story

Apart from a Minister saying such a stupid thing as ‘flog’ people what on earth motivates Pickles to go on and on about bins all the time? I hope when he retires from politics, sooner rather than later, he is presented with a bin to remember his sparkling time in Westminster!

Tory in call for mandatory weekly collections – Locallism my hat!

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has said that weekly bin collections could be made compulsory by law as part of the Conservative manifesto. “This move towards near–monthly bin collections is a sign of the blinkered view of municipal bin bureaucrats who don’t see rubbish collections are a vital service for families. Reducing bin collections harms the environment by fuelling fly–tipping and rips off taxpayers by cutting the services they pay for in council tax,” said Mr Lewis. The announcement follows Bury Council’s decision last month to make collections every three weeks, an idea which has been seized upon by Somerset Waste Partnership, which manages services for the county’s six councils.

If this does not prove once and for all that the Tories have only been pretending to like localism I don’t know what does. This subject is usually the pet rant of Eric Pickles but as he as been told to keep his head down another Tory is shouting this out for the sake of Daily Mail readers.

But my point is this, you can’t on the one hand say you believe in localism, where decisions are taken locally, and then on the other say you want to specify from Westminster what level of service should be provided in local areas. Frankly it is none of the Government’s business to tell local authorities what to do; it is a matter between a local authority and the residents who live in it to decide the level of service of bin collections or anything else. That’s what local accountability is all about.

But hang on a minute, if local democracy worked properly folks would vote in local election on local issues. If they did not like the frequency of bin collections in a particular council they would boot its political rulers out. Instead, we seem to use local elections as a referendum on the government of the day without a care in the world about the standard of service offered by our local council.

Tories, just like socialists, just want to tel us what is good for us. Big Brother is alive and well!

Secrecy – Mm can’t carp about Pickles over this.

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulation 2014

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Click to enlarge the letter.

Eric Pickles is hardly a popular politician (if there is such a thing) but this new regulation issued by his Department hits the right note. I find it incredible that Councils and other public authorities have tried to stop members of the public from taking photos or recording meetings. I was amazed when I became aware that they could do such a thing.

Pickles a petty dictator?

In his environmental blog, Damien Carrington suggests Eric Pickles’ embrace of localism only stretches as far local opinions that he shares. Mr Carrington says that repeated interventions by Mr Pickles, overruling local decision making, mark him out “as no more than a petty dictator.” Several examples are given before Mr Carrington warns that people hoping local decisions on fracking will be upheld will not to find an ally in Pickles. “For him, localism is meaningless unless it happens to back his personal prejudices.”

On the The Guardian Web

I can’t help but think that this opinion may well be right because sadly when Eric appears he seems to me to be peddling prejudices rather than coherent policy.