Labour – What a strange Green Belt pledge

Everyone in Sefton knows that Labour pledged to defend the Green Belt but then voted on Sefton Council to build on it! A real say one thing do another politician’s pledge if ever we heard one.

The part of Sefton Borough that it going to be hit hardest by Labour’s broken pledge is Maghull & Lydiate where huge urban extensions are to be built on high grade agricultural land which is also Green Belt. This is the very land that grows the food that we eat.

This huge site off Poverty Lane in Maghull is just one that Labour-run Sefton Council has voted to build on.

This huge site off Poverty Lane in Maghull is just one that Labour-run Sefton Council has voted to build on.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

So what is the Labour pledge now? ‘Protect our community from inappropriate development on greenbelt land’. What on earth does that mean?

Does that mean it was ‘appropriate’ for Labour to vote for Green Belt land to be built on across the Borough on the ‘we say it is appropriate’ basis?

Why did Labour think it ‘appropriate’ for the land to the east of Maghull (1500+ houses and an industrial park) to be built on? What made this site ‘appropriate’?

If I was a potential Labour supporter, which of course I am not, in Maghull & Lydiate I would be thinking that I had been spun too many yarns by the comrades especially about such vital environmental matters locally.

Southport – Sandbrook Way run-down former shops – Sadly such problems affect many communities


Click on the article from Lynn Thompson’s FOCUS newsletter above to enlarge it

I was interested to read about the campaign launched by Lynne Thompson in Southport to try to get Sefton Council to take decisive action to bring about real change to some very run down shops in Ainsdale’s Sandbook Way. Having seen the properties on many occasions I can only conclude that in my opinion they are very much a blight on the surrounding community. But whilst wishing Lynn, Cllr. Haydn Preece and indeed John Pugh MP very success in their campaign it does not take you long to realise that similar problems exist in communities across the UK.

The fundamental change in retail brought about by out of town shopping malls and of course internet shopping are probably the two most obvious signs that we can all see. Indeed, we all to some extent help drive forward that agenda by our own actions whilst we also moan about the loss of local shops. In Sandbrook Way a former snooker club is involved too, which makes you wonder about what was once a popular participation sport only a few years ago. Again things are changing and my own local snooker hall in Maghull has also gone and yes as an occasional snooker player I miss it.

But what about sorting these run-down premises out? Local authorities need to be more decisive (and be given more powers to help them be more decisive if required) because sitting back doing nothing much simply allows abandoned retail units to blight communities everywhere.

Ironically, Sefton has a problem in that its Council wants to concrete over vast areas of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt to build new houses yet clearly there are pockets of abandoned former retail properties whose land could help provide space for new housing. It has been Sefton Council’s lack of imagination in trying to address alternatives to building on the land that grows our food that has made me so angry as it’s Local Plan process has been taken forward.

Compulsory purchase powers should be used where a property has been left unused/abandoned for a specified period so that land owners are forced to face up to things.

So good luck to Lynn and her fellow campaigners but let’s have a sensible national debate about how Councils can be more proactive in forcing resolutions in circumstances such as these.

Knowsley – Green Belt building protests – Can’t say I’m surprised

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

I missed this story when it was published on 16th December but can’t say I am at all surprised by the protests. Knowsley Council is to allow Green Belt land some of which is bang up against the Melling Parish boundary to be built upon so this decision will affect Sefton Borough as well. Trouble is Sefton Council is just as keen to build on Green Belt as Knowsley.

What is it with Labour-run councils not being environmentally aware? Neighbouring Liverpool (also Labour run) is of course trying to build on green space around Sefton Park. Socialism and strong environmental credentials just don’t seem to go together.

Merseyside has 8,528 empty houses but don’t worry Sefton Council will allow even more houses to be built on high grade agricultural land!

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough's high grade agricultural land from development.

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

This Echo article really brings home what the local housing crisis is all about and why building thousands of 3 and 4 bedroom houses for sale on Sefton’s Green Belt and high grade agricultural land is certainly not the answer.

What’s more Merseysiders only need a 42% pay rise to enable them to get on the housing ladder to buy the new houses that we are going to sacrifice our Green Belt and decimate some of the best agricultural land in England for.

The big gap in the Merseyside housing market is for social housing and affordable rent housing generally but hey let’s just keep building houses that Merseysiders can’t afford to buy or rent because it looks like we are addressing the housing problem when we not doing any such thing!

‘The green belt can be rightly protected’ – Really? Do you mean it? Just look at Sefton Council’s plans!!!

This is a major Green Belt and high grade agricultural land site allocated by Sefton Council for future development in Lydiate off Liverpool Road, Lambshear lane, Sandy Lane & Moss Lane. Liverpool Road and is often referred to as Tyson's Triangle.

This is a major Green Belt and high grade agricultural land site for future development in Lydiate off Liverpool Road, Lambshear Lane, Sandy Lane & Moss Lane.

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

If you read down towards the end of this article the following appears:-

“The green belt can be rightly protected. There is plenty of land which is not green belt that we can build on and which is suitable for housing and we need to get on with it. We need to find new ways to encourage it.”

These are the words of Tory Minister Sajid Javid, so why is Sefton Council under it’s Labour rulers planning to concrete over acre after acre of Green Belt high grade agricultural land with the ‘threat’ of more to come in its Local Plan?

Sefton’s foggier Local Plan – Another guest posting from Peter Greener

The mist has not cleared and the fog thickens by the day! Lydiate resident and environmental campaigner Peter Greener writes:-

I don’t know if the DCLG [Department for Communities & Local Government] have issued their more detailed stuff yet [for Sefton Borough] but I’d be interested to know how many single households there are for a start and sizes of younger families in greater detail.

For example, the DCLG talk about increased numbers of older people living by themselves. But where these people come from is of interest. And why do they now require housing? If they come from larger houses in Sefton what happens to those houses? Have they been sold or on the market? Does an increase in older people living by themselves mean they need new houses building for them?

There seems to be a lack of precise information coming from our [Sefton’s] planning department and as has been pointed out some of NLP’s [Nathaniel Litchfield & Partners – consultants working for Sefton Council] work appears to ‘fit’ some ‘desired’ outcome.

When FRAGOFF representatives and I sat down with Steve Matthews and Alan Young [Sefton Council Officers] to discuss the Local Plan they agreed that fewer people on the waiting lists for housing were in ‘need’ of housing. But I cant recall seeing this written down!

So as the DCLG have “thrown a spanner in the works”, I think more information should be forthcoming from them. After all, now the Labour controlled [Sefton] Council is saying it’s all the Government’s fault (for the umpteenth time). In his interview with Tom Martin in the Champion Cllr. Maher said the Government’s told Sefton they need to build over 1000 houses per year. I tweeted the Councillor asking which member of the Government told him that. So far, no answer has been forthcoming. I tweeted Tom Martin and asked him had he asked the councillor which member of the Gov had told him that Sefton should up their build rates (no answer from Tom Martin either).

There have been so many twists and turns in the concoction of a Local Plan that I forget where we are at and why we got there and the finger always seems to point back at the DCLG projections, NLP’s interpretation and the Council’s unwillingness to invoke the protection of Green Belt/farmlands offered in the planning regs.

Well Peter’s last paragraph is the killer for me as how on earth can any ordinary member of the public get their heads around Sefton’s Local Plan process? When people like Peter Greener can’t and they have spent many hours, weeks and months trying to do so no wonder the fog is getting thicker and sadly the amount of building on high grade and Green Belt agricultural land in the Borough becomes ever greater!