Brownfield aid required

A study for the Civitas think-tank suggests the UK has enough so-called brownfield space for 2.5m houses to be built, however, the Government has not provided enough incentives for developers. The group suggests tax breaks to help developers absorb the costs of cleaning up brownfield sites and suggests subsequent profits from builders would see an increase in corporation tax flow to the Treasury.

This is an interesting study because, if the conclusions are right, there is a clear pointer towards stopping building on high grade agricultural land such as the Green Belt of Sefton which is predominately made up of it.

I have long argued that environmental and planning policy in the UK are not properly married up (and have not been for generations) and the consequence of this is that high grade agricultural land gets built on when there are undeveloped brownfield sites elsewhere. Surely building needs to take place where the brownfield sites are rather than this daft idea of putting more food growing fields under concrete.

Labour – There’s a lot to protest about in Sefton!

There have been a quite a number of public protests in recent years across the Borough of Sefton against things like:-

The Post Office closure programme pursued under the last Labour Government which saw Maghull and Lydiate having 4 Post Offices axed:- Below are Lib Dem protestors fighting for the former Coronation Road Post Road Post Office in Lydiate.

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Labour-run Sefton Council’s plan to close public toilets across the Borough. This fight was won by campaigners like those pictured below:-

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Labour’s £46 Green Bin tax for Sefton. This was fought off in the Summer of 2013 but the comrades are expected to try to bring it back once again having only deferred it:- Cllr. Bruce Hubbard is pictured below with his massive petition against the green bin tax which caused Labour to lose 2 council by-elections to the Lib Dems in Maghull.

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Building on Sefton’s Green Belt. Labour have got into big trouble over this by saying they would defend it whilst voting to build on it! Talk about being found out! Below are environment protestors lobbying a Sefton Council meeting at Maghull Town Hall. They were ignored!

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The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

Then there’s the hugely unpopular library closure programme pursued by Sefton Labour Party on the Council. 7 Libraries have been closed and Labour have even refused to let volunteer community groups run two of the closed libraries!

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

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The photo above was taken outside Southport Town hall as protestors tried to save 3 libraries in the Town from closure. Sadly, like the Green Belt protestors, they were ignored.

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour's library axe

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour’s library axe

Yes, there is a lot to protest about in the Bootle-dominated, Labour-run socialist republic of Sefton.

Why are Sefton’s Labour councillors not campaigning for the communities that elected them?

In the south of the Sefton Borough Aintree, College Road, Litherland & Orrell Libraries have all been shut down by Labour-run Sefton Council as part of its savings drive. All these closures have been in wards with at least one Labour member yet Labour councillors have, as far as I know, been at best distant from the community campaign groups trying to find a sustainable way forward for the libraries. 3 more libraries have also been closed by Labour in Southport wards where there are no Labour councillors.

We all knew the Council needed to save money but to close libraries was Labour’s choice. However, when community bids came in to run Aintree and College Road Libraries, using volunteer help, what on earth made Labour councillors rejected those bids?

Lib Dems fighting for Aintree Library

Lib Dem campaigners fighting for the Libraries that Labour shut. Labour even stopped volunteers from reopening two libraries!

Then there’s the Green Belt. In Maghull, Lydiate, Formby, Thornton & Southport (which, as noted above, does not have any socialist councillors) community campaigns are trying to stop the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from being concreted over. Sadly, it is Labour-run Sefton Council that is proposing to allow the building.

A petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to a threatened Green Belt development site.

A petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to a threatened Green Belt development site.

And what about the Green Bin tax that Labour wanted to impose on Sefton residents. That needed a huge community reaction (and the loss of two Labour council seats in Maghull) to make Labour back off but they have only deferred the imposition of this local tax and we await them trying again to impose it.

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labour's Green Bill tax for Sefton.

A green bin mountain, Cllr. Bruce Hubbard, and a huge pile of petitions opposing Labour’s Green Bin tax for Sefton.

Libraries, Green Belt and the Green Bin tax are massive community issues yet Labour councillors are not standing with the residents who elected them, indeed they seem firmly stood against residents.

Plan to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land – Labour can point the finger of blame at themselves

Sefton Council’s opposition Lib Dem Group, who have campaigned against the Labour-run Council’s plans to build on areas of Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough, have welcomed a recent intervention from Coalition Planning Minister Nick Bowles.

Labour have told us that they have no choice but to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land, some of which is prone to flooding, but we have said they do have a choice. Now the Minister with Planning responsibilities has effectively backed our stance.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, the body that deals with appeals against planning applications that are turned down by a local authority, dated 3rd March the Minister says ‘local authorities and the communities who elect them, are in charge of planning for their own areas.’ He goes on to say ‘a local authority could adjust a Green Belt boundary through a review of the Local Plan. It must however always be transparently clear that it is the local authority itself which has chosen that path’.

Environmental protestors outside Maghull Town Hall

Environmental protestors outside Maghull Town Hall

So its clear, Labour do have a choice and they made it to build on Green Belt which also happens to be high grade agricultural land in most cases across Sefton. Labour have been far from straight with Sefton residents. They have even put up posters saying ‘Save our Green Belt’ whilst in the Council chamber they have been voting to build on it! No wonder environmental campaign groups like Fragoff have taken the Council on.

We Lib Dems want to save the land, which Labour is going to allow to be built on, to grow food for future generations. Labour wants to plant houses on land that will never be able to support food growing again.