Parish Councils and Planning applications

I was just a little taken aback when I picked up Private Eye edition 1346 to find Balcombe Parish Council in the sights of this respected investigative publication because it had not opposed the drilling associated with fracking when it had been asked to comment on the planning application by West Sussex Council, the planning authority.

An internet search for Balcombe PC brings up quite a few hits, which is hardly surprising based on the amount of national media attention this rural community has been getting recently.

It seems that Private Eye’s jab at Balcombe Parish Council is on the money because a BBC web site posting records the Parish Council apologising for their error of judgement.

This incident must be a wake up call for all Parish Councils not to be superficial or disinterested in planning applications that could have a significant or detrimental affect on their community.

I sit on two Parish Councils. One (Lydiate) has a list in front of it of every plan submitted in the Parish since the previous meeting of the Parish Council. The other (Maghull) hardly ever discusses planning applications at all these days. Indeed, whilst not on the scale of Balcombe, Maghull failed, or more accurately effectively seemingly refused, to discuss a hugely controversial planning application for a development on a piece of urban green space (Damfield Lane) in the Town not so long ago and this despite being asked to do so on 3 occasions by former Cllr. Cliff Mainey, present Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and me!

Planning applications, most of which will be of little consequence, have to be given serious consideration or surely a Parish Council can find itself being accused of failing in its duty to represent its community well.

Royal Mail Sorting Office – Maghull

At last the uncared for garden at the front of it is being cared for and no it has nothing to do with the Council.

How many times have I both gone on about this unkempt shrubbery area and tried to get the Royal Mail, Sefton Council or Maghull Town Council to do something about it?

But he who waits! The job has been started and it is looking great but do you know who is behind this work? Well I will tell you, it has been organised by Maghull in Bloom volunteers and soon to be released offenders from Kennet Prison are presently doing the work.

Here are some before and during the work photos:-

This was me at the Liverpool Road North site a while ago

This was me at the Liverpool Road North site a while ago


A couple of random thoughts on those Maghull by-elections

Visceral – Mm, now there’s an interesting word, but what does it really mean? Coming from Nottinghamshire I am well read in cricket and coal mining but I don’t use posh words like these modern day socialists do.

So I Google Visceral and an odd sort of word it is too, with meanings such as:-

• Relating to deep inward feelings
• you feel it in your guts
• something that is instinctive or emotional

But why do I mention this odd word? Well it is one used by the Labour Leader of Maghull Town Council to describe the winning Lib Dem campaign which saw Labour loose 2 of the 3 seats being fought over in the elections a few days ago.

Well he may have been nearer the truth than he thought because these 3 definitions (above) seem to neatly encompass what the electorate was saying about Labour run Maghull Council. There can be little doubt that electors had deep inner feelings in their guts and their instinct told them to give Labour a good old kicking! A Lib Dem wag even came up with this slogan:-


The other fascinating thing is how many folk stopped me in the street, supermarket and pub to ask what the result of the elections was; this before the Champion newspaper came out last Wednesday that is. Frankly, this has never happened before as most people either don’t vote in local elections or soon forget about politics when have done so. However, things seemed very different this time and each person that asked me smiled, rubbed their hands together or said that’s great news when I told them Labour had lost 2 seats. Don’t get me wrong I am not doing a Labour spin doctor routine here trying to tell you that my party is worshiped far and wide but what I am saying is that folks were just happy that Labour had got one in the eye so to speak. Whilst folk are happy the Lib Dems had won my guess is that Labour could have been beaten by the Girl Guides and the joy on those their faces would have been the same. This reaction, probably more than anything, shows the bind that Labour in Maghull has got into.