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

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.

Building on high grade agricultural land – My letter to the Champion newspaper

The vast Maghull East site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Dear Sir,

Your headline ‘Plan to Build 1,650 Homes On Farm land’ (Aintree & Maghull Champion 26 04 17) was one of the saddest I have read in a long time.

Sad because the building is to take place on some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. How on earth can it be environmentally sustainable to build on land that grows our crops and our food?

Yes I know we need housing but surely building on the very best agricultural land is just ridiculous. I realise that previous generations did it as well but how come we have not as a society protected high grade land from building now we know how precious such land really is?

As an environmental campaigner I despair, I really do.

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Lydiate Parish Councillor

Plans for Sefton Council’s massive urban extension of Maghull are on the move

The Maghull East site with crops growing on it on 24th April 2016. Building on it is madness.

I hear, from what I understand to be reliable a source, that a developer is is outlining its intentions with regard to the huge urban extension site on the eastern side of Maghull and into Melling.

A recent sunrise over the presently farmed land off Poverty Lane, Maghull. I wonder how many sunrises the crops will see in the future as the land has sadly been designated to build hundreds and hundreds of houses on (plus an industrial estate) by Sefton Council despite it being some of the 2% very best agricultural land in England.

Farmed high grade land which grows our food

The site, known as Maghull East, bounded by the M58, Poverty Lane, the Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line and School Lane is truly massive and Sefton Council wants around 1,600 houses on it plus an industrial park. It is presently farmed and the vast majority of it is the very highest quality of agricultural land which grows our food!

Because of the vast nature of the site planners from Labour-run Sefton Council are working up specific documents outlining how it should be built upon. This document is yet to be finalised but a developer is already knocking at the Council’s door.

Melling – Giddygate Lane is a gated lane with restricted access

Giddygate Lane has been a ‘gated road’, that is only meant to be accessed by residents and land owners with a key from the M58 ‘Ashworth’ roundabout end ever since the M58 was constructed in the early 1980’s.

It’s gated to stop other vehicles using it as a short cut as it is narrow and little more than a tarmaced track. Nipping down there in a vehicle when the gate is open is liable to get you a fine if you don’t have legitimate access rights.

If memory serves around 25 people have such rights and the keys have always been issued by Sefton Council.

I recall this from my time as a Molyneux ward councillor. I also recall a motorist who was known to me getting a fine for nipping down there when she should not have done.

But problems have often popped up regarding the gate. Folks forget to shut and lock it, the padlock gets lost or it ‘disappears’ etc. Recently Sefton Council has been getting a little exasperated about it because each time the padlock ‘disappears’ or the gate is damaged (possibly sometimes deliberately damaged?) it costs them a lot of money to put right, money they can’t afford to keep spending.

In other words the solution that has been in place for 30 years has never worked very well but things may be about to change.

You see because our Labour friends who run Sefton Council have decided to allow huge swathes of Green Belt to be developed the area around this end of Giddygate Lane is about to change for good.

The one sided M58 motorway junction at Ashworth is going to be converted into a full junction so the Giddygate Lane access off the roundabout will have to be moved as will the public right of way down it.

I wonder if through this enforced move, which could easily happen in the next couple of years, a better arrangement can be found to keep this narrow lane restricted to traffic which it clearly needs to be?

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus January 2016 – Posting 1 – The SuperPort implications

There’s some interesting, encouraging and indeed worrying information (or the lack of it) in this 47 page prospectus. I will cover the various aspects in 3 separate postings because they are all worth a mention in their own right.

The words Norther Powerhouse litter the document as they seem to every public sector paper from t’north these days. I assume this is to either keep or get George Osborne on side rather than the authors being enthusiastic about it?

The first thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Skelmersdale on page 12 not least because of the connection with the Liverpool SuperPort project. The relevant text says this:-

Skelmersdale in West Lancashire is closely linked to the Merseyside economy and is able to offer major sites for logistics and distribution companies keen to take advantage of the opportunities being generated by the opening of Liverpool SuperPort. This is supported by research commissioned by Peel Ports and the Liverpool City Region has highlighted the need to increase large market-attractive sites to take advantage of Atlantic Gateway opportunities.

rsz_1aintree__melling_sites

This is interesting not because it is new news but because it shows how far the tentacles of the SuperPort project spread. Readers will probably know that a huge piece of Green Belt/high grade agricultural land in Melling, next to the M57, is firmly on Peel Ports agenda for similar purposes and that Sefton Council has, for now, kicked the issue into the long grass.

rsz_photo0839

The problem will of course be how all the freight that lands in either or both of Melling and Skem actually gets to Seaforth Docks. Of course this will all have to happen in reverse too. The A5036 is the only road from the ends of the M57 and M58 motorways. Fools some years ago took up the rail connection and Highways England are now promoting a new road straight down the middle of Sefton’s Rimrose Valley Country Park as their preferred option to addresses the ‘need’ for a new freight route!

Never has so much Green Belt and green space been under more threat in Sefton, than via these proposals and of course Sefton Council’s own appalling Local Plan.