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’.

Maghull – 1 & 2 bedroom properties are required BUT………

My frustrations with Sefton Council’s Local Plan are well documented on this blog site. Having spent more years than I care to recall fighting it; I lost of course as did many other campaigners across the Borough.

It’s not that we don’t recognise the need for housing locally, as our opponents often try to portray our campaigning, its that we see the need to protect some of the very highest grades of agricultural land in England from being concreted over. But the other clash was actually about the type of housing to be built in the Borough. The poster below on fencing surrounding the the Ashworth South Site in Maghull sums up the problem:-

If we have to lose land for housing (in fact nearly everyone was happy for the Ashworth South site to be developed) then at least make it for types of housing that we actually need. Yes I’m sure 4 and 5 bedroomed properties will sell but they are hardly a priority for the Maghull & Lydiate part of the Borough. We need single level 1 and 2 bedroomed properties for the elderly to move into to free up family sized houses together with small properties to get young folk on the housing ladder. And of course we need more social housing for rent as the housing ladder is actually beyond the pockets of many young folk these days even if they are in work.

Yet despite these rather obvious housing needs we seem to have the worst of all worlds. Other than the Ashworth South site a great deal of high grade agricultural land (which grows the food we eat) is going to be used for house building particularly in Maghull, but where will the housing be that we actually need?

Housing and land use policy in the UK is without doubt a complete mess. I despair I really do…..

Sefton Housing Plans Fail New Government Test – Pugh turns screw on Council’s building plans

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will be concreted over.

The Liberal Democrat leader on Sefton Council, Cllr. John Pugh is calling on Sefton to review its housing plans following a new government statement toughening up environmental requirements.

In launching the new environmental policy last week, the Prime Minister and the government called for the principle of environmental net gain to be embedded in the planning system.

What this means according to Cllr. Pugh is that any development must enhance and improve the environment. “It is clear that Sefton’s current plans do not meet this test. The government policy document specifically mentions “flooding” and there is no doubt that many of Sefton’s housing projects increase rather than decrease pressure on our ancient drainage system.

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

This new policy raises the threshold for what we expect of new development in order to give more sustainable outcomes.

The Council repeatedly state that they must observe government policy and here is an opportunity to run a new slide rule over proposed developments in Southport, Maghull and all parts of Sefton.

My instinct is that many proposed current developments would fail the new test. That’s scarcely surprising when the council previous policy relied on consultants who also work for the big house building firms. Opposition councillors will be seeking an early opportunity to force a council re-think in the light of the new policy.”

ENDS

Quote from “Our Green Future” HM Government www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673203/25-year-environment-plan.pdf

P5
We will ensure that we support development and the environment by embedding the principle that new development should result in net environmental gain

P33 We will seek to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle for development to deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally. …………. We want to establish strategic, flexible and locally tailored approaches that recognise the relationship between the quality of the environment and development. That will enable us to achieve measurable improvements for the environment – ‘environmental net gains’ – while ensuring economic growth and reducing costs, complexity and delays for developers.

NB Current policy is simply permissive that planners should provide environmental gains where possible.

Financial Times 11th January

‘Developers will have to deliver a “net environmental gain” when they build new housing estates and infrastructure projects under Theresa May’s new 25-year environment plan.’

Maghull – It’s eastern urban extension land has been cropping in 2017 but for how much longer?

The Maghull East site is probably the most controversial of all of the Green Belt development sites across the whole Borough of Sefton because it is so vast, indeed it is now referred to as an ‘urban extension’ such will be its size.

The land is predominately high grade agricultural land which grows our food so building on it is utter madness to me. However, we environmental campaigners lost the battle to save it and Sefton Council is to have its will to develop the site for housing and business use.

I thought it would be useful to have a photographic record of the site so I took a photo at the height of summer and another one in this autumn. Both shots are from the same location – the M58 motorway junction bridge at Ashworth. I think you will agree they look radically different despite there being less than 2 months between them. Obviously the weather played its part too:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The photos are also on my Flickr site at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/council-leaders-fury-arrogant-developers-13496470

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.

M58 Junction 1 (Ashworth Junction) planning application made

pa.sefton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OQIHN0NWHRI00

The plans are now on Sefton Council’s Planning Web Pages and can be viewed via the link above.

Interestingly the application is to Sefton Council by Sefton Council, in other words the Council is seeking to gain planning approval for itself.

For those who don’t know the plan is to turn the present limited access ‘Ashworth’ junction on the M58 into a full motorway junction.

I had assumed, wrongly it seems, that the application would be made by Highways England (used to be known as the Highways Agency) as they control, maintain and in effect own the M58 Motorway. However, the Government money, pledged a few years back, has been funneled via Liverpool City Region and as the project is in Sefton Borough (in Melling Civil Parish) it has fallen to Sefton Council to apply to itself for planning approval.

The presently gated Giddygate Lane where it joins the ‘limited’ M58 Motorway Junction 1.

An interesting issue, which I have commented on before via this blog site, is that the final part of Giddygate Lane is to be stopped up. Presently it is a gated road which joins onto the current motorway junction. However, it is also a public right of way so access for pedestrians and cyclists will have to be maintained. The planning documents show how this is intended to be achieved.

You will need to access the planning application, via the link above, to see all that is proposed.