Sefton’s Green Belt – Why does the total of houses to be built always reach 500 or there abouts?

Back some years ago the previous Labour Government (you will find Sefton Labour Party totally in denial about this) had a Regional Strategy which imposed a house building target on Sefton of 500 new houses per year. That Regional Strategy was abolished by the Coalition Government but just hold onto that 500 house building target as we move on.

For a number of years Sefton Council has been developing what it used to call its Core Strategy (no one knew what that was) and now calls its Local Plan. In effect this is, at least the part of it that most folks are interested in, a land use policy for the Borough and when it is finally adopted in 2015 it will replace the present Unitary Development Plan.

Core Strategy, Local Plan, Unitary Development Plan – all the same thing really but with a few changes at the margins.

Remember that 500 house to be built per year that I mentioned before? Well, would you be surprised if I told you that after all the work to date, all the studies, all the paid consultants and even some public consultation in 2011 (to be repeated soon) the figure for houses to be built is still just over 500 per year!

Years have gone by, we have been hit by the worst recession in living memory, the Borough’s population has fallen (one of the biggest falls in the UK) yet here we are still ‘needing’ to build 500 houses per year.

It could make you think that all Sefton’s sums add up to 500 no matter what figures and factors are included in the calculations. No wonder folks are sceptical about what a realistic house building figure for the Borough really is.

And when most of the land that is down to be built on is part of the 2% of England that is high grade agricultural land is there any wonder that no one believes the Council’s stats and sums?

Save our Green Belt – What will Maghull Council do under its new Leader?

rsz_last_campaign_30_07_1998

Maghull Town Council has a new (Interim) Labour Leader in the form of Sandra Williams; she is the third Leader of the Council in less than 2 years. But why do I mention this revolving door of Labour Leaders?

History teaches us many things and this time it comes from an edition of a former newspaper that used to cover the Maghull area called the Maghull and Aintree Advertiser, which was a part of the Ormskirk Advertiser Group. Its edition of 30th July 1998, which is reproduced above, was all about how the Town Council under its then Lib Dem rulers was fighting to save the Green Belt.

In those days there were just two members of the Council who were from the Labour Party and one of them was none other than our new Interim Council Leader Sandra Williams. Whilst I appreciate the above reproduction of the article is necessarily small the interesting part is the third paragraph of the main article and I quote:-

‘Maghull Town Council Leader Tony Robertson made the proposal and was backed by 12 councillors with only Labour’s Sandra Williams abstaining.’

So back in 1998 Sandra was reluctant to support Green Belt defence as shown by her abstention. But what will she lead the Town Council to do now as she has moved from opposition councillor to Leader of the Council? Will she follow fellow Maghull Town Councillor and Sefton Borough Council Leader Peter Dowd who has recently upset many Green Belt campaigners by openly talking about building on the Green Belt? Or will she back MP for Sefton Central, Bill Esterson, who says he opposes building on Green Belt?

During the last round of public consultation over the future of our Green Belt in 2011 Labour led Maghull Town Council stood out like a sore thumb due to its abject failure to make a submission to Sefton Council in defence of our precious Green Belt.

Interesting historical notes:-

* The other Labour member of Maghull TC back in 1998 was Glenys Jones who sadly passed away some years ago.

* Cllr. Andrew Beattie (second from right hand side of photo) sadly died in 1999.

* Cllr. John Sharman (left hand side of photo) can still be seen out and about in Maghull and he is heavily involved in Aughton & Maghull Rotary Club.

* Former Town Councillor Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker (second from left) is now a young 91 years old and still turns out to the weekly quizzes at Maghull Town Hall on a Wednesday evening.

* It seems I had dark hair back in 1998 (ugly one on right hand side of photo)!