Lydiate – Peter Greener RIP

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.

I think I first met Peter Greener in 2011, although it could have been earlier, when we were fighting a planning application that would have breached the Green Belt on the western side of Lydiate. It went all the way to a Planning Inspector’s Inquiry which was held at Bootle Town Hall over a couple of days. Peter, myself, Andrew Blackburn, Robbie Fenton (Andrew, Robbie and I were at the time Sefton Councillors for Park Ward) and a representative of the Sefton Branch of CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) were fighting the local resident’s case and we won that battle.

Peter was a real driving force and he had great environmental credentials.

He went on to join with other environmental campaigners, such as Fragoff, across Sefton Borough to try to defend Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from development. The photo at the head of this posting (click on it to enlarge) shows Peter center stage in a light blue pullover with other protestors outside Maghull Town Hall during a meeting of what was then the Sefton Central Area Committee of Sefton Council.

I covered, on this very blog site, Peter’s efforts to challenge Sefton Council’s emerging Local Plan in March 2015 and here it is:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/29/sefton-local-plan-an-excellent-submission-from-a-lydiate-resident/

Unfortunately, Peter’s health went to decline 2 or 3 years back and he died on 9th May. My condolences to his wife Wendy (a Lydiate in Flower volunteer) and her family at this sad time. We have lost a decent man who put a great deal of effort into campaigning for our local environment.

Formby/Little Altcar – Their Neighbourhood Plan Proposals

A Red Squirrel - What could be more symbolic of Formby and Little Altcar

A Red Squirrel – What could be more symbolic of Formby and Little Altcar

Being involved with the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan, although still reasonably sceptical of the limited scope of Neighbourhood Planning generally, I thought looking at a plan that was at a pretty advanced stage from a local perspective would be useful. Here’s a link to the joint Neighbourhood Plan of Formby and Little Altcar Parish Councils:-

www.formbyparishcouncil.org.uk/images/Development_Plan_-website.pdf

I have always looked upon the Neighborhood Planning process in a similar way to how I look at the Merseyside Devolution Deal – They are both too subservient to powers and plans above them in the democratic hierarchy. In other words they are hand me downs giving the feeling of more local control when in fact the additional local control is actually quite negligible.

A protest placard demanding that Sefton Council takes notice of Formby views.

A protest placard demanding that Sefton Council takes notice of Formby views.

In Sefton I have often said that the Labour-run Borough Council has promoted them more as an apology for it allocating acre upon acre of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt for building development. You may also recall that at one point Labour sources locally seemed to be trying to put out the message that a Neighbourhood Plan could restrict the development on Green Belt! I right old made up story if I ever heard one.

Anyway that’s off my chest again so back to the Neighbourhood Plans that are being put together locally. Formby and Little Altcar seem to have tried very hard to make a successful and influential Plan but it still has to go via a Planning Inspector and a referendum of electors in those two Civil Parishes.

The section of the Formby Plan copied below struck me as I know only too well how flooding concerns in that community are significant and how there is a great concern that proposed developments may well inadequately tackle what is in reality a Countrywide concern:-

Producing this Plan has been extremely difficult taking into account the various constraints on the land and concerns of local people.
Unfortunately, the planning system, in its current form, is unable to take an holistic approach when addressing flooding and flood risk to the
community. As this plan has not allocated any land but works with land already allocated via the emerging Sefton Local Plan, we reserve our
right to object to any application that does not demonstrate that it has fully addressed the flooding issues. The evidence base and flood
management section of this Plan demonstrates beyond any doubt that the community is determined to do something meaningful with
regards to addressing the very real ongoing risk of flooding in Formby.

I will post about Lydiate’s progress along the Neighbourhood Plan route in the not too distant future.

Sefton Labour – An apology? – Well one is certainly required

Do you think if we listened very quietly we may just hear an apology like this being muttered from Labour HQ on Maghull’s Industrial Estate?

We in the Sefton Labour Party took a bit of a pounding on 5th May in some Sefton wards and to be honest we brought it all on ourselves by not being straight with voters about the Green Belt.

Yes, we said we would defend the Green Belt and yes we put up posters saying this too. But we then voted to build on Borough’s Green Belt on Sefton Council. Indeed, we consistently voted to build on Sefton’s Green Belt.

And yes, we then blamed everyone else for us voting to release Green Belt and high grade agricultural land for development; the very land we had pledged to defend. We even attacked those who were fighting to save the Green Belt.

Well it’s time to apologise. The electors in Park, Sudell and Ravenmeols wards saw that we were saying one thing but doing another and turned to independent Green Belt campaigners as a consequence.

We in the Labour Party slagged off Nick Clegg unmercifully for his say one thing do another over Tuition Fees yet we, on a local level, found ourselves doing something similar. We are sorry for what we have done and hope the electorate will find a way to forgive us in the fullness of time.

Well sadly, it seems unlikely that Sefton Labour will acknowledge their failings. It takes a lot of guts in politics to say openly that you were wrong but Labour really does need to try to clear the air if it wants to rebuild it’s tattered environmental credentials with the electorate in Maghull, Lydiate and Formby.

English Local elections – Who gained, who lost – Latest news

Ch1yjr-WMAA-xNf.jpg large

Click on the chart to enlarge it

Across England the Lib Dems gained the most seats (37) – Lynne Thompson in Southport’s Ainsdale Ward of Sefton Council being one of those 37 net gains.

But look at the ‘Residents’ tag, it’s plus 4 and 3 of those gains by independent resident groups were from Labour in Sefton Central Constituency. A badge to wear proudly for Pat O’Hanlon, Matt Gannon and Bob McCann. A badge Sefton Central Labour Party will very much not be wearing though as they contributed to Labour’s net loss of 25 seats across England!

You can almost feel the tension rising between Ian Maher’s Bootle brethren and Bill Esterson’s comrades in Sefton Central. You can bet Bootle Labour, who rule the roost, will be highly unimpressed with their ‘colleagues’ losing seats to independents in Sefton Central.

Will update when final figures in.

Lib Dems take Southport by Storm and some other election reflections

Last night was a bad night for Labour on Sefton Council they lost 1 seat to the Tories and 3 to Independent Green Belt campaigners. But the Tories also lost a seat to the Lib Dems in Southport where all 7 Council seats that were up for grabs in the Southport Parliamentary Constituency were won by Lib Dem candidates. The last time Liberals won all 7 seat in Southport was 1856!

Lib Dems take all 7 Council seats up for election in Southport

Southport's victorious Lib Dem Team - Photo credit Jamie Lopez

Southport’s victorious Lib Dem Team – Photo credit Jamie Lopez

Congratulations to Lynne Thompson the Lib Dem candidate and now councillor in Ainsdale ward, whom I delivered leaflets for on a number of occasions, who took a seat from the Tories. Lynne had stood on a number of occasions previously in this ward each time just losing out but this time she stormed to victory. Both my wife and I used to work with Lynne when she was a civil servant so we are delighted for her.

Labour’s loss in Ravenmeols ward also had a personal connection with me as the losing Labour councillor, Tim Hale, was the very same chap I defeated in Molyneux ward when I first won a seat on Sefton Council in 1999. Indeed, Tim is an old friend of mine from our days as trade union officers in the civil service so as with my victory over him in 1999 I felt a little uncomfortable on a personal level to see Tim lose again. Of course on a political level I am delighted that Labour lost the seat as the independent Green Belt campaigner Bob McCann who took it is likely to be a real thorn in Labour’s side.

Labour vote in Sefton fell by 44%!

In my own part of the Borough (Lydiate and Maghull) the independent candidates won both wards (Park & Sudell). I know Pat O’Hanlon well as she lives just up Southport Road in Lydiate from me and we have shared information about our joint environmental campaigning against Labour. I wish Pat well and it should be remembered that she left Labour because they said they would defend the Green Belt but then voted to build on it. I look forward to getting to know Matt Gannon and hope they both do Maghull & Lydiate proud as they fight for the environment that Labour has abandoned.

Labour also came unstuck in Sudell ward because they ‘imported’ a candidate from Formby to stand there. In fact they lost the ward she had been a councillor for (Harrington – to the Tories) as well as Sudell ward.

The connection between the Independent and Lib Dem winners is that they all fought Labour’s Green Belt building plans so I am delighted that the Independents won as well as my own Lib Dems.

So an interesting night in Sefton whilst much of the rest of England did not see many changes. But, on a Liverpool note what on earth possessed the electorate in Liverpool to re-elect Mayor Joe Anderson? In my view he has been a drag on Liverpool moving forward. But on a wonderful Knowsley note my young mate Carl Cashman, together with older mates Mike Wynn and Ian Smith took 3 seats off Labour for the Lib Dems – well done Carl, Mike, Ian and Prescot Lib Dems.

Me – Guilty as charged for wanting to save the Green Belt and reduce the number of Sefton Councillors

Below is my response to what I can only say was a most odd attack on me from a Labour Councillor which was published in the Aintree & Maghull Champion on 24th February.

*****

Dear Sir

Councillor John Sayers (Labour – Park Ward) seems to be criticising me for things I am very much guilty of.

Yes I have campaigned for the number of Sefton Councillors to be reduced from 3 to 2 per ward to save the public purse money and no I did not succeeded in that aim because Labour Sefton councillors refused to support that campaign.

Yes I am guilty of being an environmental campaigner who is utterly horrified that Labour-run Sefton Council proposes to build on vast swathes of the highest grade of agricultural land in England which also happens to be a part of Sefton’s Green Belt.

It was not I that voted against reducing the number of councillors in Sefton and it was not I that voted for building on the highest grade of agricultural land. However, in both cases it was the Labour Group on Sefton Council voting against reducing the number of councillors and for building on the Green Belt.

So yes accuse me of wanting to save council tax payers money and of campaigning to save the environment but all I can say in response is I am guilty as charged.

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Lib Dem member of Lydiate Parish Council

The Champion newspaper published my reply in their edition of 9th March