Building on Green Belt – The Echo story is about Knowsley but it could just as easily be about Sefton Council

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/politician-already-forgotten-voted-controversial-11455841

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

As an environmental campaigner I despair at the approach of many Labour politicians to green issues like this. Frankly, and quite surprisingly, I have come across politicians on the right of local politics who have better green credentials than some Labour members!

Claiming to support green/environmental issues then voting to trash them is beyond the pale in my book.

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’?

Melling – Giddygate Lane is a gated lane with restricted access

Giddygate Lane has been a ‘gated road’, that is only meant to be accessed by residents and land owners with a key from the M58 ‘Ashworth’ roundabout end ever since the M58 was constructed in the early 1980’s.

It’s gated to stop other vehicles using it as a short cut as it is narrow and little more than a tarmaced track. Nipping down there in a vehicle when the gate is open is liable to get you a fine if you don’t have legitimate access rights.

If memory serves around 25 people have such rights and the keys have always been issued by Sefton Council.

I recall this from my time as a Molyneux ward councillor. I also recall a motorist who was known to me getting a fine for nipping down there when she should not have done.

But problems have often popped up regarding the gate. Folks forget to shut and lock it, the padlock gets lost or it ‘disappears’ etc. Recently Sefton Council has been getting a little exasperated about it because each time the padlock ‘disappears’ or the gate is damaged (possibly sometimes deliberately damaged?) it costs them a lot of money to put right, money they can’t afford to keep spending.

In other words the solution that has been in place for 30 years has never worked very well but things may be about to change.

You see because our Labour friends who run Sefton Council have decided to allow huge swathes of Green Belt to be developed the area around this end of Giddygate Lane is about to change for good.

The one sided M58 motorway junction at Ashworth is going to be converted into a full junction so the Giddygate Lane access off the roundabout will have to be moved as will the public right of way down it.

I wonder if through this enforced move, which could easily happen in the next couple of years, a better arrangement can be found to keep this narrow lane restricted to traffic which it clearly needs to be?

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.

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.

Sefton Central Labour given bloody nose over Green Belt

Has the worm turned in Sefton Central? For years Labour has trained it’s voters to vote on national issues and to pretty much ignore local matters and for years it has worked. But in May 2016 things changed and voters started to look at local issues which did Labour no favours at all.

Labour had a terrible secret and it has certainly been outed. Well it was no secret really but voters attention turned to it; just what Labour did not want them to do.

The issue – THE GREEN BELT – which Labour said they would defend but then voted to build on. They got away with this say one thing, do another stance for a long time and then the electorate said hold on a minute, what’s going on here?

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 result was 3 Labour Sefton Council seats getting dumped by the electorate in favour of Independent candidates who had fought to save the Green Belt.

In Formby this trend had been established a while ago but now Maghull & Lydiate electors have joined the environmental lobby and they backed independent Green Belt campaigners and kicked Labour out.

The seed for this change was sown in a by-election in Maghull a few months ago when the Green Belt campaigners came within 3 votes of taking a Labour Council seat. And it was this web site that publicised that result as the media were strangely not for reporting Labour nearly losing. Indeed the result is still not posted on Sefton Council’s web site! –

So congratulations to the winning environmental campaigners in 3 Sefton Central wards – Sudell, Park (Maghull & Lydiate) and Ravenmeols (Formby).

Labour locally have found out to their cost what Nick Clegg found out over Tuition fees. Saying one thing and then doing another will eventually catch up with you.