Sefton Borough – Building on Green Belt and the land that grows our food

I light of Labour supporters continuing to blame everyone else for Labour-run Sefton Council voting to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough, here’s my recent letter to the Champion newspaper:-

Dear Sir,

Interesting how Labour supporters and councillors still try to defend their Sefton Councillors voting to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land around Maghull & Lydiate and indeed in other places across Sefton Borough. Their line of defence seems to be ‘the government made us vote for it’ or words to that effect.

Well when I was a Sefton Councillor representing Maghull & Lydiate until 2015 I did not feel in any way compelled to vote for building on Green Belt and the land that grows our food, indeed I kept voting against it! Had I won my seat again in 2015 I would have continued to oppose it.

Sefton Council allocated the sites that are down for development, no one else. My advice to Labour supporters is stop blaming others and accept responsibility for what Labour-run Sefton Council decided to do.

Yours sincerely

Tony Robertson

Maghull’s vast urban extension – Labour blasts development on land their Local Plan identified for development! You could not make this up

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

Well, well, well would you believe it Sefton Labour are protesting about a housing development on land which they voted to take out of the Green Belt for it to be built upon.

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently growing crops.

I fought for this particular site (and indeed many others) to be protected from development not only because it was in Green Belt (prior to Labour-run Sefton taking them out of it) but in many cases these development sites are also the highest grade of food growing agricultural land. That I now hear Labour complaining over a process which they put in motion by picking the sites that would be built on is bizarre!

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – That fight to stop Green Belt building was won.

In 1998, when Sefton’s last Local Plan (known then as a Unitary Development Plan) was being put together Sefton Council wanted the very same site east of Maghull to be taken out of Green Belt. I was then a Maghull Town Councillor and we brought together a community-wide campaign to resist the plan. What’s more we won. But as soon as the next plan was announced (the recently agreed Sefton Local Plan) it was no surprise that Sefton looked straight at the site, which is partly in Melling Civil Parish as well, that they had failed to take out of Green Belt last time for building on once again. This time the now Labour-run Town Council in effect rolled over and did not raise a community-wide campaign to fight their political masters in Bootle Town Hall.

By sitting back and letting it happen Labour were signalling that they were going to allow the vast Maghull East site of high grade agricultural land to be taken out of Green Belt. And that’s what happened bearing in mind that Labour had said they were going to fight for the Green Belt! In the end Labour voted on Sefton Council to allow this and many other sites to be built on.

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

And this is not the first time they have protested about the activities of developers whom they gave the green light to. They did it only a few weeks ago with regard to the much smaller Turnbridge Road site on the western side of Maghull & Lydiate.

So what are all these crocodile tears all about? Are they trying to cover their tracks by blaming developers? It was always the case that developers would have their own ideas for the sites and would not want to do what Sefton Council or the local community wanted them to do.

Developers are are about as popular as bankers or politicians. I’m sure the developers will be pushing at boundaries; that’s what I would expect but the bottom line here is that no matter how the developers are perceived the fact is that Sefton Labour fired the starting pistol for building on these sites in their Local Plan. Labour-run Sefton Council chose the land that would be developed no one else.

Labour need to stop running and hiding and take the blame for what they chose to do.

Maghull/Lydiate – My letter to the Champion newspaper in respect of the Turnbridge Road site

The letter below is in response to the article on page 9 of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper on 24th May where Labour councillors complain about a developer when their party on Sefton Council voted for the site to be developed via the Sefton Local Plan!


That the developer of the Turnbridge Road site in Lydiate (which will be accessed from Maghull) is not engaging with locals is indeed an outrage. I wrote a detailed objection regarding this development to Sefton Council as part of the planning process. I also opposed the Sefton Local Plan which designated this site for development.

But just hang on a minute the councillors protesting about this in the Maghull Champion article belong to a political party – Labour – which voted for that site (amongst many others across the Borough) to be developed! Do I hear the sound of stable doors being slammed shut after the horse was allowed to trot out?

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Lydiate Parish Councillor

Lydiate Green Belt – Turnbridge Road site – A further Update

I hear from Maghull & Lydiate Action Group sources that they are of the view that the tree felling on the site at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road was not licensed but that it should have been. This information comes, I am told, directly from the Forestry Commission.

This view of the site is from the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath. Uprooted tree stumps can be seen on the far side of the site. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

This view of the site is from the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath. Uprooted tree stumps can be seen on the far side of the site. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Should this turn out to be the case, which is seems it does, then the Forestry Commission will have to decide what the come back will be on those responsible for the felling.

No news at present on whether Sefton Council should have acted when it first became aware of what looks like illegal felling.

I should add for clarity that the whole of the site is in fact in Lydiate and is only accessed from Maghull.

More news when I have it.

Lydiate – Labour’s first Green Belt development site is being cleared for building

Land clearance machinery had been seen and heard on the site off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road over the past few days so I went today to check it out.

Trees taken out at the end of Maghull's Turnbridge Road

Trees taken out at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

Whilst this site, which Labour-run Sefton Council has earmarked for house building, will be accessed off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road the site is in reality all within Lydiate as Maghull Brook forms the Maghull/Lydiate boundary right at the end of Turnbridge Road.

I had a chat with one of the men doing the clearance work, which seemed to entail the removal of trees (some of them mature), bushes, scrub etc. The work was well advanced when I saw it and a large area had been cleared.

If I understood the contractor I spoke to correctly he was telling me that the initial reason for the work was an attempt to eradicate vermin from the site following complaints from residents. I assume he meant Turnbridge Road and Greenbank Avenue residents? He said Sefton Council had asked the land owner to address the vermin issue and that clearance was the best way of doing this? He went on to say that as the land was down for development the whole area was being cleared.

I took a couple of photos whilst I was there which are in this posting.

Land clearance machinery at work on the Lydiate site released from the Green Belt via Sefton Council's nearly complete Local Plan.

Land clearance machinery at work on the Lydiate site released from the Green Belt via Sefton Council’s nearly complete Local Plan.

In reality this is by far the smallest site in Maghull/Lydiate that is being released from the Green Belt for housing or industrial use across the joint communities. If all the released land is developed both Maghull & Lydiate will vastly increase in size/population.

I opposed building on the high grade agricultural land that surrounds Maghull, Lydiate, Formby, Southport etc. when I was a Sefton Borough Councillor. Labour said they opposed such development as well but then voted to build on the Green Belt! Labour lost 3 Council seats to Independents last May, in Maghull/Lydiate & Formby, on the basis of their say one thing but do another approach to the Green Belt.

PS. By the way the fact that the land is being cleared does not mean that the building will start very soon as I understand that there is presently no agreed planning application for the site.

Sefton’s Local Plan – A Maghull resident puts his concerns into verse

This was written as a follow up to a previous verse that was published in the Champion Newspaper.

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

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

RIP Maghull and Lydiate Part Two.

In 2012 you published my letter,
An obituary for our town, in verse.
After five weeks of public inquiry,
The situation has become far worse.

It will be like the Viking invasions,
As builders destroy our community town,
With the blessing of council and planners,
Unless the Inspector gives the thumbs down.

Your local groups attended every hearing,
To plead your cause, with experts, at great cost,
Whist the appearances of local councillors,
Were limited, four or five days at most.

With plans to surround us with fields full of houses,
There will be nowhere to soak up excess rain
So living in a flood risk area,
Boxing Day floods will soon happen again.

Local traffic will come to a standstill,
As vehicles creep along roads, nose to tail.
At peak times you may be overtaken,
By a rather athletic looking snail.

Make no mistake, we’ll all be affected,
We will all be in the same plight.
Because at least until 2030,
We will all live on one huge building site.

Despite all their eleventh hour protests,
Please don’t believe what your councillors say.
The reason we’re in this situation,
It’s had their support, each step of the way.

Malcolm Gore,
Concerned Resident.