Maghull – What a strange address for a council candidate.

More on that strange situation whereby Nina Killen a Labour councillor from Formby is crossing the Borough of Sefton to trying to get re-elected in Maghull’s Sudell ward that I posted about a few days ago.

I have also separately made mention of Labour’s new candidate for Park ward, which nieghbours Sudell ward. You see both Labour’s candidates have written to their local electors but there is one very significant difference between the two letters.

The Park ward letter clearly gives the address of Labour’s candidate for that ward as the address at which he lives. The Sudell ward letter gives an address on Sefton Lane Industrial Estate in Maghull which I am betting is not where Nina Killen lives!

Maghull – Can Labour not find a Maghull candidate to stand for Sudell Ward?

Some rather bizarre news has come to my attention and it’s with regard to who the Labour Candidate is to be in Sefton Council’s Sudell Ward in May’s local elections. The ward covers the eastern side of Maghull. It’s none other than the present Labour Councillor for Sefton’s Harrington Ward in Formby, Nina Killen.

The following is from the web site of Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson

‘Nina Killen is Harington Ward’s Labour Councillor.

Cllr Killen is a Formby mum and a national newspaper journalist. She is a member of Formby’s Holy Trinity Church.’ and ‘she works with her fellow members of Formby Labour Action Team to ensure that the concerns and issues of her fellow Formby residents are tackled.’

No mention of Maghull here and no mention of her leaving Formby either.

Now then why is Nina, who is quite obviously a Formby resident, wanting to stop representing her own community and at the same time make a bid to represent another community that she clearly does not live in? Why does Maghull Labour Party need to import a candidate from another community? Is the long list of Maghull Labour Councillors resigning in recent times an indicator to the answer to the last question? What’s happening to the present Labour Councillor for Sudell Ward whose seat it is that comes up for re-election in May?

Maghull Labour are a cocky lot and you wonder if they have concluded that they can put any name on a ballot paper and because they wear a Labour rosette the good folks of Maghull will automatically elect them. This may or may not be a correct gamble of course but it still begs the questions above to which I assume we will not be getting any answers soon.

All very intriguing.

Maghull – Netto on its way and another twist of the knife in Maghull’s Labour councillors ribs

The story of how the former Maghull Library and Stafford Moreton Youth Centre site, in the heart of Maghull’s shopping centre, has been disposed of by Sefton Council is quite a saga as this blog site has previously noted. However, the Champion newspaper has added another chapter in its Aintree & Maghull edition of 9th December.

Apart from announcing the Netto planning application for the former Library site, which of course this blog site made public on 30th November, the Champion also refers back to the ding dong battle between Maghull’s Labour councillors and their Labour masters on Sefton Council.

Readers will recall that the all-Labour and all-powerful Cabinet of Sefton Council decided to sell the former Library/Youth Centre site but that they were then publicly challenged by what we shall call ‘brave’ Maghull Labour back-benchers. For brave we had better substitute ‘foolish’ as they were never going to get away with challenging their Labour bosses. And so it proved as the day after the Maghull Labour councillors announced a public consultation about the site their Labour bosses on the Cabinet squashed the consultation flat by confirming their original decision to sell the land.

Oh how Maghull’s Labour councillors must wish the Champion had not resurrected the story of their put-down by their Bootle Labour bosses.

Sefton Central Labour – 9th Councillor resigns!

What is it about the Sefton Central Labour Party and its resigning councillors? 9 of them have now gone since late 2011.

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To date all of them have been from the Maghull part of the constituency where 8 Labour Councillors have chucked the towel into the ring. Now a 9th Labour member has resigned, this time from Formby.

What is it with Labour councillors resigning in Sefton Central Constituency? All political parties face the odd councillor resigning now and again for all sorts of reasons but 9 all from one party in one constituency in just over 3 years!

Answers on a post card to Sefton Central Labour Party as they could clearly do with some advice in this area of local governance.

Maghull TC – Lib Dem Opposition Group’s response to ‘additional sites’ consultation – Sefton Local Plan

Here is our submission regarding the ‘additional sites’ as they affect the Civil Parish of Maghull. Informed readers may wonder about the first paragraph of our submission as an article on this very blog site from last Saturday indicated that Maghull Town Council was indeed trying to cobble together a submission on the very last day of the consultation (8th August). Whether anything was sent in by the Town Council your guess is as good as mine but this submission was was sent off on the 6th August whilst the Labour-run Town Council was seemingly asleep on the job you might say!

I will soon publish the submission of the Lib Dem opposition councillors on Sefton Council.

*****

Maghull Town Council Liberal Democrat Group of Councillors

Submission to Sefton Council’s ‘Additional Sites’ Consultation – August 2014

We make this submission as an opposition group on the Town Council as the Council itself has, at least to our knowledge, not discussed the matter or indeed made any comments. This reflects Maghull Council’s reluctance to make a detailed submission in previous rounds of consultation on Sefton’s Local Plan.

For completeness our view on the already ‘approved’ sites for development in Green Belt and on high grade agricultural land (sites SR4.49 & SR4.27) in Maghull remains that they should not be developed because of the principles we detail below.

These are the principles which guide our response to the Local Plan in general and, in this case, the ‘additional sites’ consultation:-

Our starting point is the loss of ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land
The Green Belt surrounding Maghull is almost totally comprised of high grade agricultural land often referred to as ‘best and most versatile’.

Our clear view is that compromising high grade agricultural land is a hugely negative step backwards and that it is environmentally unsustainable.

An Urban Extension
The potential size increase of Maghull will be nearly 25% and that’s simply based on Sefton Council’s draft Local Plan proposals (particularly site SR4.27) and not taking account of the ‘additional’ sites which land owners and developers wish to see added to this. This is, in our view, an urban extension not simply letting a little Green Belt be concreted over.

Environmental considerations
Whilst the draft Local Plan raises issues such as global warming, climate change and sustainable development it is far from being ambitious in this crucial area of environmental sustainability. Sefton’s Local Plan and indeed those of our neighbouring Councils need to major on energy conservation and the highest possible energy-saving/low carbon targets for all new developments. District heating is being embraced in one area of Kew in Southport but this can only be the start. Biomass boilers on a communal basis are another way forward that must be grasped.

Whilst doing this Sefton Council should be seeking effective ways to improve, as far as possible, the current stock of commercial and domestic buildings with regard to energy usage.

Shale Gas extraction has to be a major issue for Sefton as exploration work is already happening in neighbouring West Lancashire and the license under which that is taking place also covers parts of our Borough. It is almost certain that the UK will need to exploit this source of fuel within the next few years yet the Local Plan is all but silent on the matter. As the plan is meant to cover the next 15 to 20 years for it to virtually ignore this issue is far from being a sound planning process.

Flooding – Maghull is low lying and prone to flooding. Houses in Sefton Lane and in Fouracres have recently been flooded when Dovers Brook over-topped in September 2012. We would point out that Additional site AS15 is on land immediately adjacent to Fouracres.

Schools
We fear that planning for future school requirements is not a robust part of the Local Plan and that this needs to be addressed, especially if the Council is determined to press ahead with major housing developments in and around Maghull. A sit and wait to see what happens approach is irresponsible where significant developments are to take place, especially when half of the Borough is already very close to experiencing stresses with regard to primary school places.

It also has to be held in mind that schools in Maghull are popular for parents from West Lancs, Knowsley and Liverpool to send their children to, so housing developments in those neighbouring council areas will have an impact on the demand for places within Maghull.

NHS Pressure
We have concerns about the impact of major housing developments in the Maghull (and indeed in surrounding council areas) as they will have an impact on the capacity of our local NHS facilities and hospitals. The Local Plan needs to addresses the problems that will occur with extra pressure on hospitals, GP surgeries and NHS dentists. These health aspects have to be a major part of all future major planning applications as accessibility to and the capacity of NHS facilities to cope are big issues

These general principles are our over riding concerns and they lead us to make the following comments on the major ‘additional sites’ as they affect the Civil Parish of Maghull.

Site AS12 To the west of South Meade, West Meade, Green Lane, Rigby Road & Turnbridge Road, Maghull – This huge site to the west of Maghull is high grade agricultural land and Green Belt that is presently being farmed.

To turn it over to housing is unthinkable in environmental sustainability terms.

AS12 is vast stretching from behind and to the west of South Meade all the way to the Lydiate Civil Parish boundary and on past it to Lydiate’s Bells Lane. If approved it will, like the already provisionally approved site SR4.27 to the east of Maghull, form another massive urban extension.

We fear that the consequence of approval of AS12 will be that the former track bed of the Cheshire Lines Railway will, by default, become the boundary of housing to the west of Maghull and the semi-rural nature of the community in that part of the Town will be lost for good.

Further Green Belt encroachments would sadly be inevitable so development of this site is simply unacceptable in our view.

Site AS15 – Behind The Crescent & Fouracres, Maghull – As mentioned above this site is prone to flooding as the flood events of September 2010 demonstrated with many homes in Fouracres, Maghull being under water. These flooded properties are adjacent to this site and risk being flooded again. Our understanding is that this site is rich in wildlife and there have been previous proposals to turn it into a nature reserve, which seems a far more sensible use for the land.

Our view remains that these two sites are inappropriate for development because they are both in Green Belt, AS12 is being farmed and AS15 is prone to flooding.

Cllrs. Tony Robertson, Andrew Blackburn, Bruce Hubbard, Jen Robertson & Jane Day.

6th August 2014

Maghull Town Council – Quite simply not fighting for the Town

Back in 1998 it became apparent that Sefton Council had plans to allow a huge area of Green Belt and high grade agricultural land to be built upon to the east of Maghull. The site was bounded by Poverty Lane, the M58 Motorway and the Liverpool – Ormskirk Railway line; a truly massive area of land.

Unsurprisingly, Maghull Town Council was horrified and immediately launched a community campaign to stop Sefton Council in its tracks. The campaign was successful and the land was saved from being concreted over.

Some 14 years later Sefton Council again looked for land to build upon and surprise, surprise, it came back to have another look at the very same site in Maghull, as the biggest one in the whole Borough it would like to see developed. This time Sefton also added on a site off Melling Lane in Maghull plus two large sites in Lydiate Parish, just down the road.

Maghull Town Council, this time, was all but motionless and at the initial consultation stage did nothing much at all. Quite a policy U-turn from 1998 indeed!

This posting looks behind the astonishing U-turn and shines some light on why the Town Council turned from being determined environmentalists, Green Belt defenders and high grade agricultural land campaigners to a council that seemed to have lost its ‘green’ credentials in a big way.

Firstly, let’s look back at 1998 – the then 20 member Town Council was made up of 18 Lib Dems and 2 Labour. The Lib Dems were clearly seen to be big defenders of Maghull and they realised the perils of such a major development in the Town because of the strain it would put on the local infrastructure, schools, GP’s, dentists, roads, drainage systems etc. They were steeped in being ‘Maghullians’ and saw their task as being one of circling the wagons when an attack came in.

But what about Sefton Borough Council back in 1998 – it was ‘balanced’ with no one party having a majority. This is interesting because it meant that the Council was in effect run by all 3 of the major parties via a form of joint leadership.

The response from the Lib Dem run Maghull Town Council was robust to say the least – Sefton was told to sling its hook! What’s more the Town Council won the day.

Moving forward to 2012ish what had changed? Well Sefton was moving into the grip of sole party control – Labour. Its political power base was and indeed still is Bootle where old fashioned socialism is seen to be medicine that cures all ills. In the days of Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ the Labour councillors could often be heard to say we are ‘Old Labour’; they were certainly not on the same journey as Blair and neither did they seem to demonstrate much in the way ‘green’ credentials.

But what about Maghull Town Council; surely it would re-launch its campaign to save the Green Belt? Sorry, but no; the local elections of May 2011 saw a political landslide hit Maghull with the Lib Dems quite literally being thrown out of office to be replaced by Labour. The now 16 person Council was made up of 13 Labour and 3 Lib Dems. But surely this should not have affected how the Council approached this crucial land development issue? It did because Labour, despite issuing public ‘concerns’ about the Green Belt, were clearly reluctant to fight for it in any meaningful way. Why was this?

Of the 13 newly elected Labour members on Maghull TC 3 were Borough Councillors representing Bootle wards, 1 came from Crosby and 2 came from Aintree. Never in recent times had members of Maghull Town Council come from outside of Maghull or Lydiate. Times they were certainly changing.

So back to what Maghull TC would do in the face of another Green Belt attack from Sefton Borough Council. Well there was a lot of shuffling about and some vague press statements but little else; Maghull Labour was seemingly not prepared to take on Sefton which their political master now ran.
After a lot of running around in circles Labour got the Town Council to agree to do a survey of Maghull resident’s views. Unsurprisingly, the survey showed Maghull folk wanted to defend their Green Belt again. Maghull Labour simply sent the results to Sefton without comment of any significance. The Lib Dems were furious at the lack of fight for Maghull from Labour.

Then an odd and frankly quite ridiculous ruse was thought up by Labour. They proposed that Maghull TC does its own Neighbourhood Plan to complement Sefton Borough’s Local Plan. But hang on a minute Sefton’s Local Plan is the route by which the Green Belt and high grade agricultural land will most likely be built upon. In other words Maghull TC, under Labour, did not campaign against the loss of the land but instead started a process of softening up the community to accept the loss and to plan for it to happen!

Has Maghull been fought for, defended and promoted by Labour or has Maghull Labour simply taken orders from Bootle and carried them out in the Town? I think I know and it does not make me at all proud to be a member of a Town Council that, as far as I am concerned, just gave up fighting for the Town I lived in for 43 years and have represented as a councillor for 29 years.

PS. Lydiate Parish Council has of course fought Sefton’s development plans – Lydiate is Lib Dem run.

PPS. The survey done by Maghull TC is interesting as despite my asking the Town Clerk for all the paperwork/information associated with it I have been informed that the data is held by the Labour Party. How can a survey conducted by a Council end up with the data from it being placed within the control of a political party?