Lydiate & Maghull Labour’s bizarre ‘Fake News’ obfuscation

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

There’s a very odd Labour Party leaflet doing the rounds in Lydiate and Maghull at present which seems to have an unhealthy fascination with Donald Trump’s infamous ‘fake news’ phrase.

I don’t intend to comment on the majority of the leaflet but on one very very bizarre part of it. It says:-

‘What they say: The Council has released land for development… but this is FAKE NEWS’ – It then goes on to say under the heading ‘THE TRUTH’ that ‘The Council owns very little land in Lydiate and Maghull – almost exclusively parks and gardens and hasn’t released any to be built on.’

Firstly, Sefton Council under its Labour rulers HAS released land for development, it did it via it’s own Local Plan process and this is a matter of public record.

Secondly, the release of land for development has NOTHING what so ever to do with parks and gardens.

The land released by Sefton Council is not its own land, it’s land in the hands of private owners who have been falling over themselves in the past few years to try to get the Council, via its Local Plan process, to release their land from the Green Belt so that it can be built upon.

What Sefton Council under its Labour Leadership HAS done is to decide which parcels of Green Belt land will be released from that protection for development to take place.

So Labour are denying that they are allowing parks and gardens to be built upon when we all know that no parks and gardens in the Borough are down to be built on. Yes I know, it makes no sense at all.

But what they seem unwilling to admit is that their Local Plan, published by their Labour-run Council (and which is a public document freely available on the internet for anyone to see) HAS released land from Green Belt (some of it being the highest grade of agricultural land in England) for building upon. Yes, I know again, it makes no sense at all!

So just what is the fake news here? It’s certainly not that ‘The Council has released land for development’ because it has and we all know it has.

‘The Truth’ is in fact the truth as we all know that our local parks and gardens are not going to be built on.

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!

How utterly bizarre, the Party that said it would protect the Green Belt actually voted to build on it, then it enshrined its own U-Turn in a public document (the Sefton Local Plan). Now it tries to hide behind some weird obfuscation that tells locals that their parks and gardens are not going to be built on when no one thought that was going to happen anyway!

I thought I had seen it all in my 33 in local politics but this just takes the biscuit especially under the strap line ‘Trust your neighbours in Labour to tell you the truth’.

Lydiate – A lot of folk at Parish Council meeting to hear about a leisure/sporting facility being proposed

Last Tuesday’s Lydiate Parish Council meeting was a full house so to speak as over 30 residents from the Hall Lane/Southport Road area turned out to hear a presentation to the Council from a local landowner who wants to develop outdoor leisure/sporting facilities on what is presently agricultural land in Green Belt off these roads.

It had not been intended as public presentation by the land owner but as word got around of the presentation locals turned out in force from what is a sparsely populated rural part of Lydiate Civil Parish.

We were told that the land owner wanted to diversify and use the 22 acres of land for water sports activities, nature reserve, mountain bike track, zip wire etc. Access would be off Southport Road with a car park on the site. A pre-planning application had been submitted to Sefton Council in late 2017 and the owner said he had been asked to provide evidence of support and need for the facility.

Soil taken from creating the lakes would be used on site to mound up the mountain bike track around 1m. The present idea is that the site would potentially attract up to 200 visitors on a good summer day with a charge of around £5 for access to what seems to be planned to be an unfenced site. Not much winter use is envisaged and no floodlighting is planned. Over a year 15,000 to 20,000 people visiting the facility seems to be envisaged.

The facility would be run by a staff of around 6 people engaged with training, maintenance and water sports supervision.

I think it fair to say that the developer’s plans got a frosty reception from the attending residents with many questions being asked about a myriad of concerns. Having said that we were told that the developer had letters of support from some local schools, business and the scouts.

I got the impression that the developer was testing the water and looking for ideas to develop his plans from locals and that things may well change prior to any formal planning application being made to Sefton Council.

The fact that the land is firmly within Sefton’s recently revised Green Belt and that it is high grade agricultural land means to me that Planners are going to have a very critical eye on the matter. The other thing that struck me was that I don’t recall any proposals being made to take this piece of land out of Green Belt or to develop it during Sefton Council’s controversial Local Plan process which has only just ended. To me that process was the obvious time to have raised such plans.

I have the feeling that this matter is going to be hugely controversial should a formal planning application follow on from the presentation to Lydiate Parish Council. I would add that the Parish Council will respond to any formal planning application that is submitted when the full facts surrounding the matter are known.

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

Lydiate/Maghull Green Belt loss – The party politics of the Turnbridge Road site

Turnbridge Road site as it is today

One thing I did not do in my last posting about what went on at the Sefton Council Planning Committee last Wednesday was to mention how the political parties voted over this contentious matter. (I often do not dabble in the politics behind some of my postings when I am sharing them on other forums where party political comment is inappropriate)

What I saw was 7 Labour votes for the planning application and 5 votes against as follows – 3 Lib Dem, 1 Tory, 1 Independent. Frankly, this is no surprise to those of us who have tracked the progress of Sefton’s Local Plan, which has taken many, many acres of former Green Belt and some of the very highest grade of agricultural land across the Borough out of such protection for building purposes.

Since Sefton Labour did their about -turn (saying they would protect the Green Belt and then voting to build on it) Labour has been consistent in their line of taking land out of Green Belt. Do you remember this Labour poster from their protect the Green Belt days:-

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 election of two independent councillors in Maghull/Lydiate and indeed the independent councillors also elected in Formby are a direct consequence of Labour backing building on Green Belt via Sefton Council’s Local Plan.

Lydiate/Maghull – Turnbridge Road Site – A long night at a Sefton Planning Committee meeting

Tonight the contentious planning application for new housing was before Sefton Council’s Planning Committee for the land (in Lydiate) off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road.

Big turn-out of protesting residents at tonight’s Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting in Bootle Town Hall.

Turnbridge Road was the second item on the agenda following another contentious application for the former Peerless Factory site on Dunnings Bridge Road in Netherton. Oddly the Peerless site seemed to be almost a model of what community engagement in the planning process should be whereas Turnbridge sadly looked to be nothing like that.

June Avery addressing the Planning Committee

Local resident June Avery was presenting the case for local people who live close to the Turnbridge Road site in Maghull and Lydiate and she was an excellent advocate for local views and concerns. She was followed by someone speaking on behalf of Wain Homes (the developer who is to build on the site) and he did not, in my view, answer many of the concerns that June had raised in the detail that was required. I thought he was particularly weak on the issue of engagement with local residents, his line being that the site was consulted upon during the development of Sefton Council’s Local Plan and that no further consultation was needed, or words to that effect. His words did not go down well with some members of the Planning Committee who raised issues about his contribution and the implications of what he had said.

This then led to a protracted discussion about whether the Planning Committee was going to defer making a decision on the application for more information or whether it would vote on the matter tonight. The latter won out and a vote was taken. I think it was 7 votes for the application and 5 against and the only change was a condition to try to bring Wain Homes to the table to discuss issues about the site with residents. Whether this will work I am not at all sure.

So the application is now passed and the developer will get on with construction. But what really struck me was that on the same night at the same Planning Committee there were two applications which seemed to be at opposing ends of the spectrum in terms of community engagement. Everyone seemed pleased with the developer of the former Peerless site for the lengths they had gone to in taking residents views on board. Suffice to say that my impression was that few if any of those present tonight thought the same about the Turnbridge Road site.

So a small part of the Maghull/Lydiate Green Belt is now officially lost but there are far bigger sites in the sights of developers and many more acres of Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land at great risk locally.

Yes we will get more housing, but will it meet local needs i.e. social housing, housing for the elderly and housing for those trying to get onto the housing ladder? At the margins maybe but in the main it will almost certainly not. Sacrificing Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land is a very big step indeed (and it’s one I opposed) but if we go ahead and do it whilst not even meeting local housing needs then it becomes a huge mistake as we will never get the land that grows our food back.

Lydiate/Maghull – Green Belt loss & housing development at Turnbridge Road – Residents protest

I have covered the development of this site for housing many times on this blog site right through from Sefton Council deciding to take it out of the Green Belt to the unlicensed felling of many trees and the difficulties there will be in accessing the site during any construction period. And of course as I was heavily involved in the fight against Sefton Council releasing land from the Green Belt, during my time as as local Sefton Councillor, this is a matter close to my heart.

Sheila and I made a submission to Sefton Council about the original planning application for this site (the plan has since be slightly amended but is substantially the same in my view) and it can be accessed via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/24/lydiate-land-north-of-turnbridge-road-our-response-to-planning-application-for-34-dwellings/

Today Planning Committee members of Sefton Council visited the site and those raising concerns about the development were there too:-

And just to reiterate something that needs to be understood, the whole of the development site is within Lydiate but the access to it will be from Maghull’s Turnbridge Road.

And the debate now moves on to the meeting of Sefton Council’s Planning Committee to be held at Bootle Town Hall on Wednesday 5th July (which will decide upon the application) where a petition will be presented by local resident June Avery.

Click on the photos to enlarge them