2019 Parish Council elections in Sefton Borough – Some interesting situations

I’m a bit of a parish council nut as I’ve been a parish councillor since 1985 and always seek out quirky things on the notice boards of parish councils when I travel around England.

This year was the year in which all parish councils were potentially up for re-election. Unlike most district and Borough councils (who tend to elected in thirds) parish councils are elected once every 4 years when the whole of the council is potentially at the mercy of the electorate. Some parish councils however never really have elections as only enough or too few nominations are forthcoming and candidates are elected unopposed.

There are 10 parish councils within Sefton Borough – they are:-

Little Altcar PC – had an election
Formby PC – had an election
Ince Blundell PC – no election
Thornton PC – no election
Hightown PC – no election
Sefton PC – had an election in one of its 2 wards
Melling PC – had an election
Lydiate PC – had an election in all 3 wards
Maghull TC* – had an election but only in one of its 4 wards
Aintree Village PC – no election

* There is no real difference between a Parish or Town Council other than a Town Council can elect a Mayor instead of a Chairperson

Here are a few highlights from the elections which took place on 2nd May at the same time as the Sefton Borough elections

Little Altcar Parish Council (7 seats) – Formby Residents Action Group 6, Green Party 1

Formby Parish Council (15 seats across 2 wards) – Formby Residents Action Group 11, Conservatives 3, Labour 1

Ince Blundell Parish Council (5 seats) – Only 3 nominations for the 5 seats on this council – Independents 2, Formby Residents Action Group 1 (all elected unopposed), vacancies 2.

Thornton Parish Council (7 seats) – Only 2 nominations for the 7 seats on this council – Conservative 1, Green 1 (both elected unopposed), vacancies 5 * – potentially the additional 5 seat can be filled by the 2 unopposed/elected councillors co-opting up to another 5 councillors? Could be time to consult the Bible of Parish Council administration by Charles Arnold-Baker.

Hightown Parish Council (7 seats) – Only 5 nominations for the 7 seats on this council – Independents 5 (all elected unopposed) Vacancies 2.

Sefton Parish Council (7 seats across 2 wards) – Independents 6, Green Party 1

Melling Parish Council (11 seats) – Melling Resident 8, Labour 1, Independent 1, Asst Leader Cub Scouts 1 – Labour put up 12 candidates for the 11 seats but only got one elected. However, a Labour Borough Councillor for Molyneux ward (which includes Melling Parish) stood as a Melling Resident and came top of the poll.

Lydiate Parish Council (9 seats in 3 wards) – Labour 7, Lib Dem 2

Maghull Town Council (16 seats in 4 wards) – Labour 12, Conservative 2, Independent 1, Vacancy 1 – Labour effectively lost 4 seats having previously held all 16 on this council. It seems that a candidate elected under the Labour banner subsequently declared as an Independent after the elections. It also looks like a Labour member of this council sits on Melling Parish Council as well but as a Melling Resident not as a Labour councillor.

Aintree Village Parish Council – (12 seats across 2 wards) – Independent 8, Green 2, Labour 2 (all elected unopposed)

My thanks to Andrew Blackburn who helped me trawl through information on Sefton Council’s and other websites to pull together this information. I hope the information is correct but if you see an error please flag it up so that I can correct it.

Oh and one final note – Vacancies on Parish/Town Council can be filled by an election being held, however, if no candidates come forward to stand in an election then the council has the power to co-opt people to fill the vacancies.

Lower Alt Wind Turbines – West Lancs Planning Committee meets on 10th November to determine whether they will go ahead or not

Readers of this blog site will be aware that Labour members of West Lancs Planning Committee were not prepared to make a decision on this most controversial of planning applications a couple of weeks ago so it was deferred. They can’t keep ducking the issue so it’s back before them on 10th November.

The Planning report has changed a bit and is detailed below but the substance of the recommendation, to reject the application, is as it was in my view. The deferment last time was supposedly because the Labour members had not had time to read the papers and consider the matter fully.

7.0 DEPARTURE APPLICATION
7.1 This proposal is a significant Departure from the Development Plan in that it
involves a development normally inappropriate in the Green Belt. The application
should, therefore, be referred to the Secretary of State if the Council were mindful
to grant approval.

8.0 RECOMMENDATION

8.1 That planning permission be REFUSED for the following reasons:-
Reasons for Refusal

1. The proposed development constitutes inappropriate development within the
Green Belt which would be harmful to the Green Belt by definition, contrary to the
National Planning Policy Framework and Policy GN1 in the West Lancashire
Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027. In addition the proposed
development would have a significant adverse impact upon the openness of the
Green Belt and conflict with one of the purposes of including land in the Green
Belt, aimed at safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. The very special
circumstances advanced in favour of the proposed development, namely the
provision of renewable energy, are considered insufficient to outweigh this harm.

2. By virtue of its siting, height and scale the proposed development would be
harmful to the visual amenity and landscape character of this part of the Green
Belt contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework, Policies GN3 and EN2
of the West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027 and
the Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance “Natural Areas and Areas of
Landscape History Importance”.

3. The development of the proposed 12 turbines would due to their height, scale,
proximity and extent cause harm to the significance, to the historic setting, of a
number of designated heritage assets (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas).
The proposal in this respect fails to meet the statutory duty as required by
Section 66(1) and Section 72 (1) of the Planning (Listed Building and
Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The Council does not consider the stated public
benefits, including the provision of renewable energy, outweigh the harm
identified (less than substantial) to the designated heritage assets affected. The
proposal is therefore contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework and
Policy EN4 of the adopted West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan
Document 2012-2027.

4. The proposed development conflicts with paragraph 118 of the National Planning
Policy Framework and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
2010 (as amended) and Policy EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan
Development Plan Document 2012-2027 in that insufficient information has been
provided to demonstrate that the proposed development would not adversely
affect internationally designated sites, their qualifying features and supporting
habitat.

5. The proposed development fails to comply with the National Planning Practice
Guidance in that the site is not allocated as suitable for wind energy development
in the West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027 and
the planning impacts identified by local communities in relation to the green belt,
landscape character, heritage assets and ecology have not been fully addressed
and therefore the proposal does not have their backing.

Lydiate and Ince Blundell Parish Councils both opposed the plans a long time ago and their concerns seem to be mirrored by the comments of the professional planning officers at West Lancs Council.

Note: Whilst the site for the turbines is in West Lancashire it is on that strip of land that cuts into Sefton Borough between Lydiate and Ince Blundell Civil Parishes.

The Planning Committee meeting will be held in the offices of West Lancs Council in Derby Street Ormskirk and the meeting starts at 19.30hrs.

Lower Alt Wind farm – Update

For those wondering where this long-running project has actually got to here is an update. For clarity it should be remembered that the proposed site is within West Lancs Borough but the land that surrounds it to the east, west and south, is all in Sefton Borough.

HALT poster

Planners at West Lancs Council do not, I understand, expect the planning processes to be completed until October or even November.

It seems that several of the statutory consultees have yet to respond to the planning authority. These include Rural England, English Heritage, NATS and MOD.

If memory serves this has been on-going for over 4 years now and still no planning application has come before the Planning Committee of West Lancs Borough Council for them to decide upon.

The campaign group who oppose the wind farm (HALT) are still active and my own concerns about it being sited on high grade agricultural land still stand.

Lower Alt Wind Farm – Where are we up to with it?

This has been doing the rounds for a very long time as West Lancashire Borough Council grapples with such a hugely controversial planning issue. The site sits between Lydiate and Ince Blundell – both these communities are in Sefton Borough but the land between them is in West Lancashire Borough.

I am told that letters have started to appear on the West Lancs Council web site supporting the wind farm and that some of them are from people or organisations who are outside of the affected area.

Clearly the developers are drumming up support letters in order to counter the huge local community opposition to the project.

HALT poster

HALT, the community based opposition to the wind farm wants anyone who knows someone who does object, but who mistakenly believes that they have missed the opportunity for their objection to count, to be encouraged to write in to the Council or to go on line at the West Lancs Planning Portal to register their views.

Whilst being strongly in favour of wind energy I oppose this site being developed for this purpose because areas of high grade agricultural land will be taken out of use for the bases of the turbines and the access roads required to service them. Lydiate Parish Council, which I am a member of, has opposed the plans.

Lower Alt wind turbines meeting

A Public meeting will be held at Ince Blundell Village Hall on Monday 4th January 2016 at 20.00hrs in relation to the recent planning application for wind turbines in the Lower Alt area by Coriolis.

Lower Alt Wind Turbines – What’s the latest?

I have not touched on this controversial subject for a while now as little has been happening. However, wheels are in motion and my understanding is that a planning application is now before West Lancashire Borough Council, although not all the required paperwork had been filed as typed this posting by Coriolis Energy (the applicants).

The land in question whilst being in West Lancs is actually sandwiched between Ince Blundell and Lydiate both of which are in Sefton Borough.

The environmental pressure group HALT continues to lead the opposition to the proposed wind farm of 12 taller than Blackpool Tower turbines. It was originally for 24 turbines in the previous proposals which were withdrawn.

My view on this proposal has always been that the land is high grade agricultural land so to compromise any of it for other uses is simply not acceptable. I am not opposed to wind turbines and certainly do not subscribe to what seems to be the Daily Mail view that they are all evil or some such nonsense. Indeed, I often go walking in the hills of Lancashire and I find the turbines on the moors to be quite majestic; but not on high grade agricultural land!

Here’s a link to HALT:-

www.h-alt.info

And a reminder of the position that Lydiate Parish Council has adopted under both Lib Dem and Labour administrations:-

lydiateparishcouncil.gov.uk/objections-to-wind-farm/