The War against Labour-run Sefton Council’s Green Belt busting Local Plan has been lost but there were many local battles where Labour was bloodied.

This is what a recent letter said to those who had taken part in the Sefton Council Local Plan process:-

Dear Sir or Madam

Examination of the Local Plan for Sefton – Receipt of Inspector’s Report

The Council has received the Inspector’s Report into the examination of the Local Plan for Sefton. This is has now been published by the Council and is available at the following locations:

Online at www.sefton.gov.uk/localplan
At each of Sefton’s libraries
At the Planning Offices at Magdalen House, Bootle

Following receipt of the Inspector’s Report the Council now intends to adopt the Local Plan at its meeting of full Council on Thursday 20th April 2017 [6.30pm at Southport Town Hall].

The Council will notify people when the Local Plan is adopted. Following adoption the Local Plan will be used in the determination of planning applications in the borough

Kind Regards

Local Plan Team

In many ways it says so little after so many pitched battles between environmental and community campaigners on one side and Sefton Council, Sefton Labour, property owners and developers on the other. It was a long war and the environmental campaigners lost, although they gave Sefton Labour a number of bloody noses along the way.

I was one of the environmental campaigners and yes I am still angry. Angry because much of the land that has been taken out of Green Belt protection around the Borough is amongst the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. To build anything on the land that grows our food is utter madness to me.

But we all remember the heady days of the start of the Local plan process when both Labour and the Lib Dems in Sefton pledged to defend the Green Belt. The Lib Dems did that but Labour, who by then had a majority on the Council, bailed out and started to vote for building on the Green Belt.

The bloody nose was that they lost 4 seats on the Council because of their say one thing, do another approach to this matter. But sadly despite such losses Labour have got their way and what was previously Green Belt land in some parts of the Borough will be designated for building on following the final vote on 20th April.

And yes I know that housing is required but no I am not at all sure that the kind of housing we need will actually get built even though we are chucking away for ever the highest grade of agricultural land. Will there be accessible homes for the elderly, will there be starter homes for young people to get on the housing ladder, will there be social housing for rent?

What do I fear? That the majority of new homes will be 3 and 4 bedroomed properties for the well off which will price out those who need housing.

Sad, yes you bet I am but you know what we have learned is that if there were any ‘green’ credentials locally within the Labour Party there certainly aren’t any more.

Green Belt loss – Advice that missed the point?

I arrived late for the January Lydiate Parish Council Neighbourhood Planning meeting but in time to hear a Labour Parish Councillor giving Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon (who represents western Maghull & Lydiate) the benefit of his advice.

Incidentally the Labour Parish Councillor giving the ‘advice’ lost in last May’s Sefton Council elections to the very person he was advising.

The thrust of the advice, as I heard it, was all about why Labour-run Sefton Council had to have a Local Plan and why that plan had ended up meaning that Green Belt and high grade agricultural land would end up being built upon.

But what struck me was not the opinion being given but that it missed a quite crucial point out. The point being that Labour had made it very clear that they were going to defend/protect the Green Belt, indeed they put up posters and Labour councillors were photographed for the press holding up slogans about how they were going to save the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. Here’s one such poster:-

Labour poster displayed in Lydiate - October 2013 - how much must Labour be regretting put these posters up because they voted on Sefton Council to build on the Green Belt!

Labour poster displayed in Lydiate – October 2013 – how much must Labour be regretting put these posters up because they voted on Sefton Council to build on the Green Belt!

The reason Labour came unstuck in Maghull/Lydiate and Formby in the 2016 local elections was because they said one thing and then did another in the eyes of the electorate i.e. saying they would protect the Green Belt but then voting to build on it.

Goodness me I saw my own former Party leader throwing away our opposition to Tuition Fees when we had campaigned to oppose them so I know only too well what it feels like and indeed should feel like when the electorate catches up with you. Are Labour yet to learn that lesson?

Fracking – Those who fight it could well be seen as a danger to society!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/shock-after-anti-fracking-campaigners-12380317

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

Extremism? Does anyone really think that environmental campaigners are a danger to our society? Should we not be welcoming the challenge that such campaigners bring to our democracy? Is Orwell’s 1984 being taken as a ‘guide’ to how our society should be organised?

Goodness me, I must be viewed as being an ‘extremist’ then as I look upon myself as an environmental campaigner! I wonder whose radar I am on for protesting about building on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land in Sefton?

Big Brother seems to be be watching a lot of people!

Protecting our Soil

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36428361

This is a very serious matter indeed but it rarely gets any coverage in the media. The BBC web site article – accessible via the link above – is therefore worth reading.

By allowing the degrading of the quality of our soil we are in effect taking steps to starve ourselves!

The poor link between environmental and planning policy in the UK is also highlighted as it is the case that land is sometimes deliberately degraded to make it more likely to be developed. Having said that here in Sefton Borough our local Labour rulers (via the Borough’s Local Plan) seem quite happy to make even the highest quality of agricultural land available to be concreted over!

Lydiate – The ‘scale’ of the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan

If you live in Lydiate you should have had a leaflet from the Parish Council in the past week or so all about the proposed Neighbourhood Plan for the Civil Parish of Lydiate.

It was not a bad leaflet actually apart from one rather surprising word in it. That word was ‘scale’ and the context in which the words was used is this:-

‘Influencing the scale and design of new [housing] developments’

Now, what can’t a Neighbourhood Plan do? It can’t be at odds with the Borough’s (in our case Sefton Borough) Local Plan. That means, as far as housing is concerned, that Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plan can’t say that less houses should be built in Lydiate but it can say that more housing should be built.

Now look at the sentence the word ‘scale’ is used in again and remember that the only influence the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan can have on house numbers is to increase the number to be built. So why say ‘scale’ unless you mean you really do wish to up the number of houses that are to be built?

Could it be that Lydiate Parish Council are mistakenly of the view that their Neighbourhood Plan can reduce the number of houses that are going to be built? Frankly, I would find that rather hard to believe as I have heard professional planners make it so clear so often that a Neighbourhood Plan can’t propose that less houses be built than the number in the Borough Council’s Local Plan.

Is Labour-led Lydiate Parish Council seriously suggesting therefore that even more Green Belt and high grade agricultural land be concreted over for additional houses? Frankly, I would doubt it as the Lydiate electorate has recently taught Labour a very hard lesson about being straight with them over the Green Belt. So what on earth do they mean by the word ‘scale’?

Labour – What a strange Green Belt pledge

Everyone in Sefton knows that Labour pledged to defend the Green Belt but then voted on Sefton Council to build on it! A real say one thing do another politician’s pledge if ever we heard one.

The part of Sefton Borough that it going to be hit hardest by Labour’s broken pledge is Maghull & Lydiate where huge urban extensions are to be built on high grade agricultural land which is also Green Belt. This is the very land that grows the food that we eat.

This huge site off Poverty Lane in Maghull is just one that Labour-run Sefton Council has voted to build on.

This huge site off Poverty Lane in Maghull is just one that Labour-run Sefton Council has voted to build on.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

So what is the Labour pledge now? ‘Protect our community from inappropriate development on greenbelt land’. What on earth does that mean?

Does that mean it was ‘appropriate’ for Labour to vote for Green Belt land to be built on across the Borough on the ‘we say it is appropriate’ basis?

Why did Labour think it ‘appropriate’ for the land to the east of Maghull (1500+ houses and an industrial park) to be built on? What made this site ‘appropriate’?

If I was a potential Labour supporter, which of course I am not, in Maghull & Lydiate I would be thinking that I had been spun too many yarns by the comrades especially about such vital environmental matters locally.