Lydiate/Maghull Green Belt loss – The party politics of the Turnbridge Road site

Turnbridge Road site as it is today

One thing I did not do in my last posting about what went on at the Sefton Council Planning Committee last Wednesday was to mention how the political parties voted over this contentious matter. (I often do not dabble in the politics behind some of my postings when I am sharing them on other forums where party political comment is inappropriate)

What I saw was 7 Labour votes for the planning application and 5 votes against as follows – 3 Lib Dem, 1 Tory, 1 Independent. Frankly, this is no surprise to those of us who have tracked the progress of Sefton’s Local Plan, which has taken many, many acres of former Green Belt and some of the very highest grade of agricultural land across the Borough out of such protection for building purposes.

Since Sefton Labour did their about -turn (saying they would protect the Green Belt and then voting to build on it) Labour has been consistent in their line of taking land out of Green Belt. Do you remember this Labour poster from their protect the Green Belt days:-

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!

The election of two independent councillors in Maghull/Lydiate and indeed the independent councillors also elected in Formby are a direct consequence of Labour backing building on Green Belt via Sefton Council’s Local Plan.

Green Belt loss – Advice that missed the point?

I arrived late for the January Lydiate Parish Council Neighbourhood Planning meeting but in time to hear a Labour Parish Councillor giving Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon (who represents western Maghull & Lydiate) the benefit of his advice.

Incidentally the Labour Parish Councillor giving the ‘advice’ lost in last May’s Sefton Council elections to the very person he was advising.

The thrust of the advice, as I heard it, was all about why Labour-run Sefton Council had to have a Local Plan and why that plan had ended up meaning that Green Belt and high grade agricultural land would end up being built upon.

But what struck me was not the opinion being given but that it missed a quite crucial point out. The point being that Labour had made it very clear that they were going to defend/protect the Green Belt, indeed they put up posters and Labour councillors were photographed for the press holding up slogans about how they were going to save the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. Here’s one such poster:-

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!

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!

The reason Labour came unstuck in Maghull/Lydiate and Formby in the 2016 local elections was because they said one thing and then did another in the eyes of the electorate i.e. saying they would protect the Green Belt but then voting to build on it.

Goodness me I saw my own former Party leader throwing away our opposition to Tuition Fees when we had campaigned to oppose them so I know only too well what it feels like and indeed should feel like when the electorate catches up with you. Are Labour yet to learn that lesson?

Why I am backing Carl Cashman to be Merseyside Metro Mayor

14681612_696537703845859_7410615004637708644_n

Yesterday I attended a hustings meeting at Dovedale Baptist Church Hall in Liverpool to hear prospective Lib Dem Mersey Metro Mayor candidate Carl Cashman speak. Carl is an impressive young man who seems to have that ‘X’ factor that many other politicians simply don’t.

So what are Carl’s assets? Well youth is one, being in his 20’s brings us a candidate unburdened by the baggage that many older politicians carry with them. He has a fresh perspective and one that folks seem to like.

Carl has not had a privileged upbringing; he was brought up a a Merseyside Council estate.

He is big on green issues and has been a thorn in Labour’s side as they keep trying to build on Green Belt and green spaces. This is a huge issue across Merseyside.

He’s already a Borough Councillor on Knowsley Council regularly taking on the appalling record of Labour in running that Council. This is the Council that was staring down into the abyss of potentially having no schools where young people could take A Levels recently!

He wants more social housing built. The Merseyside housing crisis is at it’s worst in terms of the supply of such properties.

He wants to find a way of improving the income of those living on the Minimum Wage. A Merseyside initiative to try to address our low wage culture – Why not give it a go?

The people of Prescot and Knowsley have taken this young man to their heart and I hope he gets selected as the Lib Dem Metro Mayor candidate so that more electors can find out why Carl Cashman is going places.

Oh and by the way, yes I know that the vast majority of us don’t want another politician running our lives but this new post (Merseyside Metro Mayor/Liverpool City Region Mayor) is being imposed on us in 2017 whether we want it or not.

It’s a result of the Tory Government and Merseyside Labour doing a second or even third rate deal which supposedly devolves significant powers to Merseyside from Whitehall. The powers are far too limited though and Westminster will still be calling the vast majority of the shots, surprise, surprise!

Carl wants to renegotiate that shabby deal so that we have real power over our own affairs locally. And he does not want power for himself but to push that power down to local communities wherever its possible to do so.

Carl is not a man to be told what to do by Westminster, neither is he a slave to a party political machine. Watch this young man go places.

Me – Guilty as charged for wanting to save the Green Belt and reduce the number of Sefton Councillors

Below is my response to what I can only say was a most odd attack on me from a Labour Councillor which was published in the Aintree & Maghull Champion on 24th February.

*****

Dear Sir

Councillor John Sayers (Labour – Park Ward) seems to be criticising me for things I am very much guilty of.

Yes I have campaigned for the number of Sefton Councillors to be reduced from 3 to 2 per ward to save the public purse money and no I did not succeeded in that aim because Labour Sefton councillors refused to support that campaign.

Yes I am guilty of being an environmental campaigner who is utterly horrified that Labour-run Sefton Council proposes to build on vast swathes of the highest grade of agricultural land in England which also happens to be a part of Sefton’s Green Belt.

It was not I that voted against reducing the number of councillors in Sefton and it was not I that voted for building on the highest grade of agricultural land. However, in both cases it was the Labour Group on Sefton Council voting against reducing the number of councillors and for building on the Green Belt.

So yes accuse me of wanting to save council tax payers money and of campaigning to save the environment but all I can say in response is I am guilty as charged.

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Lib Dem member of Lydiate Parish Council

The Champion newspaper published my reply in their edition of 9th March

Sefton Local Plan – Labour has concerns about it? Really, then why do they keep supporting it!

The letter below was written in response to the lead article in the Aintree & Maghull Champion on 13th January entitled ‘Concerns at Local Plan put to Inquiry’

Dear Sir,

I read with mounting disbelief the representations made to the Planning Inspector by Maghull’s Labour councillors as reported in the Champion on 13th January.

Yes they were making all the right noises but hang on a minute it is Labour run Sefton Council that is trying to impose its appalling Local Plan on the Borough. What’s more when I was a member of Maghull Town Council Labour members would not vote to reject the Local Plan! Now all of sudden Labour has concerns.

Frankly, this say one thing and then say just about the opposite when Labour thinks folks will have forgotten about their original stance on a matter as important as this is appalling.

Having fought Sefton’s Local Plan, which proposes thousands of houses to be built on high grade agricultural land, areas that flood and Green Belt with Labour councillors supporting for the Plan I find Labour’s concern now very hollow indeed.

Let’s see Labour run Maghull Town Council propose that the Local Plan be completely rejected and for Labour run Sefton Council to do the same then Labour will have clearly done a welcome U turn. Warm words now giving the impression of concerns about the Plan mean nothing unless they actually reject it/withdraw it.

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson

This letter was significantly edited and published in the Champion on 27th January 2016

Tories are ‘green’? No but they think we are!

I want this to be the ‘greenest government ever’ trumpeted Cameron when the Coalition Government came to power in 2010.

key_green_laws

Well yes it was probably a reasonable aspiration back then but only because the Lib Dems forced the Tories down a credible ‘green’ route.

However, since the Tories were given an overall majority by the electorate in 2015 they have done nothing but row back on all the environmental steps forward made in the previous 5 years ‘over their dead body’ by those bastard green Lib Dems.

Instead of ratcheting up the green policies as we need to do to save our world from environmental catastrophe they have been doing just the opposite! At best sitting back and saying we will reach our green targets (which were too low to start with) and at worst putting future generations at huge risk of that environmental catastrophe in its many forms. And all because Tory leaders think that Tory voters don’t care much for environmental issues and Cameron’s wafer thin House of Commons majority only cares about making the rich richer.

This is what the Lib Dems wanted to do to tackle climate change at the 2015 general election.

Five green laws:

A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the Right to Roam and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.
A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill: key measures include building on the Green Deal with a national programme to raise the energy efficiency standards for all Britain’s households. We will legislate to boost renewable and district heating programmes and heat saving standards.
A Zero Waste Britain Bill: key measures include establishing a “Stern Report” on resource use, with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.
A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from unabated coal.
A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Sadly, the electorate did not agree and backed a Tory party of very different views.

Also sadly Labour hardly makes any noise about environmental/green issues at a national level these days and at a local level their ‘green’ credentials are in tatters since they decided to build on Sefton’s high grade agricultural land.

Green Belt campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall.

Green campaigners outside Maghull Town Hall fighting against their own local authority over building on high grade agricultural land.

So who can stop the Tory’s mad policy plan to seemingly make our world a less safe place now and for certain so for future generations? One day, and that may not be very far down the track, people will say the Tory Government of 2015 – 2020 helped to cause harm instead of trying to stop harm to our world and that is a sad reflection on our times and maybe on us all collectively for allowing such a government to be elected.

We do not deliberately put our children and their children at risk yet collectively we often vote for very short-term matters whilst ignoring the far greater threats that we should be focusing on. Damn that Daily Mail way of viewing our world.