Maghull – Netto on its way and another twist of the knife in Maghull’s Labour councillors ribs

The story of how the former Maghull Library and Stafford Moreton Youth Centre site, in the heart of Maghull’s shopping centre, has been disposed of by Sefton Council is quite a saga as this blog site has previously noted. However, the Champion newspaper has added another chapter in its Aintree & Maghull edition of 9th December.

Apart from announcing the Netto planning application for the former Library site, which of course this blog site made public on 30th November, the Champion also refers back to the ding dong battle between Maghull’s Labour councillors and their Labour masters on Sefton Council.

Readers will recall that the all-Labour and all-powerful Cabinet of Sefton Council decided to sell the former Library/Youth Centre site but that they were then publicly challenged by what we shall call ‘brave’ Maghull Labour back-benchers. For brave we had better substitute ‘foolish’ as they were never going to get away with challenging their Labour bosses. And so it proved as the day after the Maghull Labour councillors announced a public consultation about the site their Labour bosses on the Cabinet squashed the consultation flat by confirming their original decision to sell the land.

Oh how Maghull’s Labour councillors must wish the Champion had not resurrected the story of their put-down by their Bootle Labour bosses.

Netto store for Maghull – well it seems so

Well Morrisons must be sighing with a little bit of relief as it’s a Netto store that it is likely to have as a neighbour. The nightmare Aldi alternative (as surely it would have seen Morrisons off?) seems not to be a runner if the recent planning application to Sefton Council is anything to go by for the old Maghull Library/Stafford Moreton Youth Centre site.

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The site is at the junction of Stafford Moreton Way and Liverpool Road North and presently looks like this:-

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull's shopping area.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull’s shopping area.

The Scandinavian Netto is now a part of the Sainsburys Group of companies.

Here’s a link to the planning application before Sefton Council:-

pa.sefton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=NXYY1VNWHLI00

This is of course the very same site that Maghull’s Labour Councillors bizarrely invited folks to say what they wanted it to be used for, when only the following day Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet sold the site off, ignoring their fellow ‘comrades’ completely! My previous postings of a couple of weeks ago refer.

Maghull – Former Library & Youth Centre Site – the final bit of the story and the evidence

My previous posting of yesterday refers – see link below

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/11/10/former-maghull-library-site-call-for-community-to-express-a-view-on-the-future-use-of-it-lasted-less-than-one-day/

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull's shopping area.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull’s shopping area.

Some of my readers may have been sceptical about my postings on this rather bizarre subject, frankly I was beginning to wonder myself! However, here is the evidence, in the form of a documented official minute from Sefton Council’s Cabinet meeting of last Thursday 5th November:-

70. FORMER MAGHULL LIBRARY AND YOUTH CENTRE, LIVERPOOL ROAD NORTH, MAGHULL

Further to Minute No. 43 of the meeting held on 3 2015, the Cabinet considered the report of the Head of Corporate Support which provided details of the tenders received as a result of the marketing exercise for the sale of the Council’s freehold interest in the former Maghull Library and adjoining Youth Centre, Liverpool Road North, Maghull. The previous decision of the Cabinet had been called-in and was considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services) on 22 October 2015.

The Committee had decided that it should be referred back to Cabinet to enable information to be provided on the following issues:-

1. that the views of local residents were not taken into account
2. the local housing needs were not given adequate consideration particularly bearing in mind the ageing population of Maghull
3. the principle of social value was not taken into account
4. the requirement for a different mix of shopping opportunities on the site
5. the Maghull Neighbourhood Plan was not taken into account
6. the strategic opportunity for the development of the wider site/area, to provide a greater development opportunity, was not considered

The report provided information on the above issues in Paragraph 4.5 of the report.

Decision Made: That:

(1) the additional information set out in Paragraph 4.5 of the report be noted;

(2) subject to the receipt of planning permission, approval be given to disposal of the Council freehold interest in the former Maghull Library and Youth Centre to the highest bidding tenderer detailed in Appendix 1, on the terms set out in the report; and.

(3) the Head of Regulation and Compliance be authorised to prepare the necessary legal documentation on the terms and conditions detailed in the tender documents, by way of a Building Lease followed by Conveyance of the freehold interest, or an appropriate alternative means of Transfer, if required.

Reasons for Decision: Maghull Library relocated to new premises within the Meadows Leisure Centre in Maghull and the existing property was declared surplus to operational requirements. The adjoining Youth Centre had also been closed and declared surplus to requirements. The premises are included in the Council’s Asset Disposal Programme for 2015/16. Disposal would bring the premises into productive use and relieve the Council of an ongoing liability.

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected: The Council could retain the premises and continue to incur the holding costs.

Yes the Labour Cabinet utterly and completely rejected, or should I say ignored, the promised community consultation (promised by Labour Councillors I might add) that had been published in the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper the day before the Cabinet met. No ifs, no buts, no doubt!

What silly game is Labour playing here? Promising consultation one day and then voting against it happening the next?

Former Maghull Library Site – Call for community to express a view on the future use of it lasted less than one day!

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

Now call me an old cynic if you like but a community engagement process that was launched in the Aintree & Maghull Champion on Wednesday 4th November and ended just after 10am on Thursday 5th November is just a little short. But even that ridiculously short period depended on your copy of the Champion being delivered on the 4th November. Are we being played silly beggars with; you can bet your bottom dollar we are!

My previous postings on this subject refer at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/16/maghull-sale-of-old-library-and-stafford-moreton-youth-centre-site-the-facts-need-outing/

and

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/26/former-maghull-library-site-labours-internal-squabble-was-quite-odd-to-say-the-least/

This is what the Champion newspaper article of 4th November said:-

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Click on the article to enlarge it

‘The Cabinet now have the chance to carry out a full review of the sell-off of these community assets while taking into account evidence from the emerging Neighbourhood Plan’ and ‘The key is to ensure people in this community have a say’ are the interesting quotes from the Champion article because it seems as though Sefton’s all-powerful Labour Cabinet gave the promises of Maghull’s back bench Labour councillors the two finger salute literally hours after they were published in the paper! The Labour big guns simply confirmed their original decision to sell off the land at the Cabinet meeting on 5th November and in doing so humiliated their fellow comrades. Clearly Sefton Labour’s factions have fallen out big time.

But we can only assume that the Maghull Labour back bencher’s did not know that their lords and masters were going to make fools of them, why else would they use the pages of the Champion to launch a community consultation process which, in effect, could never happen?

I do hope that Champion is not being used to fight Labour’s internal battles and it will be interesting to see how the paper reacts to this bizarre turn of events.

Former Maghull Library Site – Labour’s internal squabble was quite odd to say the least.

Firstly, a refresh, have a read of my previous posting on this rather bizarre matter of a few days ago:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/16/maghull-sale-of-old-library-and-stafford-moreton-youth-centre-site-the-facts-need-outing/

A report from a Sefton Focus Special Correspondent who witnessed Labour Councillors have a dig at their bosses on Sefton Council.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

6 Labour councillors turned up to seemingly have a pop at their Labour bosses at the specially convened Sefton Council Scrutiny Committee and it started off with some audible Labour mutterings of internal discontent.

When the formal part of the Scrutiny Committee commenced a Labour back-bencher gave a speech which was based on Sefton’s Cabinet not taking into account information from the emerging Maghull Neighbourhood Plan and also not giving adequate consideration to ‘social value’ when they agreed to sell the former Maghull Library site to the highest bidder.

Now the reference to the Maghull Neighbourhood Plan is interesting as this Plan is little more than a Labour cover-up job to try to mitigate the worst effects of Labour’s Sefton Local Plan which aims to build many hundreds of houses and an industrial estate on high grade agricultural land around Maghull. Labour’s problem is that the Neighbourhood Plan had a very dodgy start and Maghull folk are simply not engaging with it. Here is a link to what happened when Labour launched it a couple of years ago:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/01/neighbourhood-plans-are-they-labours-apology/

A second Labour back-bencher then spoke ‘as a member of public for Maghull’ and said they wanted nicer shops or words to that effect.

Then it should have been the turn of a Sefton Cabinet member to respond to the criticisms (or is that to justify the indefensible?) but the opportunity was declined in favour of a suggestion that the matter be sent back to the Labour-run Cabinet. It seems the Cabinet did not want to be exposed to questioning from opposition Lib Dem’s and grumbling Labour back-benchers.

It was then formally proposed by Lib Dem members that it indeed be sent back to the Cabinet for the matter to be reconsidered on the basis of the decision lacking in social value and no input into the decision to sell the land from Maghull’s Neighbourhood Plan. This was agreed.

What did we learn about this internal Labour bust-up? Well not a lot really as the Labour back-benchers were vague in their criticism and the Labour Cabinet members were not for being scrutinised in public. So the next stage is for the dig in the Labour’s ruler’s ribs (from their own side) to be formally considered by the Labour-run Cabinet. What will they do? Probably rubber stamp their original decision but will the Labour rebels turn up and press their case again? Disgrace and disciplining come to mind between now and then and the carpet being lifted so this matter can quietly be brushed underneath!

Maghull – Sale of Old library and Stafford Moreton Youth Centre site -The facts need outing

I mentioned not so long ago (15th September) – see link below – that Sefton Council was selling this valuable piece of land in the heart of Maghull’s shopping area:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/09/15/morrisons-maghull-store-to-stay-open-but-whats-happening-around-it/

The sale was approved by the Labour elite running the Council but Labour back-benchers are unhappy and have called for the decision to be brought to a Council Scrutiny Committee. This will happen on 22nd October.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull.

I recall seeing the original public report going before the Cabinet and thought at the time it was a little thin and lacking in the background information you would expect to see when valuable public land is being sold off. It seems my concerns were shared by Labour back-benchers on the Council because they have broken ranks to challenge a decision made by their own elite; a very rare if not unique occurrence in my experience. Normally Labour back-benchers toe the Party line or else so I think we can take it that the Sefton Labour Party is as unhappy as their national colleagues seem to be.

The Labour back-benchers ‘calling in’ the decision have sighted the following reason for the Cabinet decision to sell the land being reviewed by a cross-party Scrutiny Committee:-

“The decision is unsound because not all potentially relevant facts /information were provided to enable the Cabinet to make a balanced
decision”.

Now of course the Scrutiny Committee has a Labour majority and a Labour Chair so the Labour Party will in effect be scrutinising themselves! This is what goes for democracy in Sefton it would seem.

But the point of this posting is really this; why was the report to Cabinet so brief and lacking in detail about the tendering exercise? Who were the bidders? What were the amounts bid? Has value for money been achieved? Is the land being sold for a purpose commensurate with the best interests of Maghull’s (and indeed the Borough’s) residents and Maghull’s shopping centre?

My view, based on what I have managed to glean so far, is that the Council has put itself in a position whereby people are questioning what it is doing because it has seemingly tried not to put relevant information in the public domain.

Of course folks may well not be surprised at the secrecy of the one-party ruled Labour Council where decisions are are so poorly detailed that Joe and Jane Public would really have no idea what was going on in their name. But as I pointed out above even back-bench comrades are asking questions and doing so in public! Does that mean they have not got answers by asking their bosses face to face so they are putting those rather uncomradely bosses in a public forum to try to extract the information? Will anesthetics be required to combat the Labour pains?

Let’s get this out in the open and be told what the Sefton Council has done, why it had done it and gain an undertaking that ‘say nothing reports’ will no longer be put before the public of the Borough. Of course, there may be more to fall out of this, time will tell.