The other day whilst on a cycle ride I stopped at the top of Clieves Hill to catch my breath and fell into conversation with a West Lancs Council street cleansing chap who was emptying the bins and picking up litter.
View from Clieves Hill towards the Sefton Coast.
The first thing to say is that he was doing a great job but as I had seen the extent of the littering up there previously I asked him how often the area was litter picked and the bins emptied. Expecting to hear him say something like weekly I was surprised when he said virtually every day!
He went on to tell me about the littering and the behaviour of a minority of folk who drive up Clieves Hill for the view. Sadly, he recounted that chucking food waste and packaging out of car doors was a regular thing despite there being a couple of bins to use. He also indicated that people in flashy expensive cars were often the worst behaved. But what really struck me was when he said that these anti-social people even do it when he’s there and that he has to challenge them to get out of the car to pick their rubbish up.
But if that was not enough he then went on to tell me that when he is litter picking the nearby A59 the odd driver will blow their horn to gain his attention and then a window comes down and rubbish is chucked out for him to clear up!
I can’t tell you how a felt for that poor chap doing his bit to keep our countryside tidy and litter free whilst others deliberately do just the opposite.
The NWDA was abolished by the Coalition Government some 5 years ago. It was a quango giving out Government cash towards worthy infrastructure/economy developing causes across the north west of England.
Like most quangos it was not much loved and few will have mourned or even noticed its demise. So what brings it to mind now?
Well walking along the busy A59 in Aughton, literally on the Sefton/West Lancashire boundary I found this lying in the grass verge:-
It’s glass plaque on a stone plinth saying that a project was supported by the NWDA. So what was the project? It took us a couple of minutes to work it out but it seems it must have been the gateway planting of trees and shrubs on the Sefton – West Lancs boundary. I wonder how that project will have driven the West Lancs economy forward?
A couple of days ago I highlighted the unfortunate consequences upon Southport of the West Lancashire Local Plan being approved by a Planning Inspector. The matter has now been taken up by the MP for Southport Dr John Pugh.
Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport
Sir Michael Pitt,
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
BRISTOL BS1 6PN
Date: 16 November 2013
Dear Sir Michael,
It has been reported to me that a Planning Inspector recently gave the ‘all clear’ to West Lancashire District Council’s Draft Local Plan in particular as it related to plans to build new houses on the local Green Belt around New Cut Lane, Halsall, an area which is regarded by most of its residents as being part of Birkdale which it abuts.
While the Inspector has, quite correctly, recognised that there is travel to work and shop between Southport (Seton MBC) and West Lancashire, in determining that this new housing can be treated as meeting West Lancashire’s Housing need, rather than Sefton’s I find this argument to have significant and worrying weaknesses. Draft Local Plans need to look not just simplistically at Housing need but also at the infrastructure which is necessary to accompany and support any new housing and indeed the present housing, industry etc. There is no evidence that I have yet seen to show that West Lancashire District Council has in any way considered the extra stress on an already-overburdened and tightly-enveloped Southport which will be associated with the building of and occupation of these substantial number of new houses. Nor is there any obvious evidence of West Lancashire District Council having co-operated with Sefton MBC in terms of assessing the possibility of development in boundary areas between the two authorities in general and the New Cut Lane area in particular. There may have been some information, which might be stretched to ‘consultation’ but these processes do not amount to ‘co-operation’ which involves working together. The decision to choose this particular area to expand into would seem to be a rather cynical determination that there will be no substantial group of residents/electors who will be particularly objecting to this proposal compared to any proposal closer to one of the West Lancashire current population centres.
I should be interested to receive your response to the above points.
Dr John Pugh MP
News that West Lancashire Council’s Local Plan has been approved by a Planning Inspector has been met with dismay by Sefton and Southport Lib Dems because some last minute additions to land to be released to be built on in Halsall Parish will clearly mean that the new West Lancashire Council tax payers will in fact be relying on Southport’s GP’s, Dentists and schools.
West Lancs plans to allow houses to be built on what is presently Green Belt land bang up against the boundary with Southport. The new housing will be significantly detached from other population centres and community facilities in West Lancashire meaning that the people who move into the houses will be dependent on services within Sefton such as GP’s, Dentists, schools etc.
It’s a cleaver move by West Lancs to pick sites far enough away from their own residents so there will be little protest about the loss of Green Belt land but the consequences of this last minute idea, which was endorsed by the Planning Inspector who approved the West Lancs Local Plan, will fall upon Sefton and Southport!
As part of the Local Plan process Councils are expected to work together and have a ‘duty to consult’ with each other. But when last minute changes were being made by West Lancs to their Plan via the release land bang up against the Sefton boundary the consultation process fell woefully short. What’s more by endorsing the West Lancs Local Plan the Planning Inspectorate, who we expect to referee a fair game, allowed West Lancs Council to get away with dumping housing on the boundary with Sefton that Southport’s schools, GP’s and dentists will have to pick up the consequences of.
The Planning Inspector should have seen the stunt that West Lancs was pulling and stopped it rather than allowing it stand in added on time.
The admirable campaigners who are running the HALT Group that is opposing the potential construction of 24 ‘Blackpool Tower sized’ wind turbines in West lancs between Lydiate and Ince Blundell are stepping up the anti.
You now can’t move without seeing one of their posters. Below I have two shots, one is of their poster next to Bells Lane canal bridge in Lydiate, the second is taken in the new Maghull Costa coffee shop where it is on their Community Notice Board.
A huge campaign banner is also visible from the Formby By-Pass between Ince Blundell and Formby.
I have made references to the connection between the West Lancs Local Plan and the one for Sefton previously. Indeed, I have mentioned the concern of West Lancs Council about potential building on Green Belt in Lydiate which will reduce the Green Belt between Aughton and Lydiate.
West Lancs Council and particularly Aughton is true blue Tory but last week West Lancs Council got both barrels at a public meeting in Aughton because residents felt the Council was not listening to them. Now where have we heard that before!
The Ormskirk Champion has the story in its 16th October edition under the heading ‘Residents stage walk-out at parish Meeting’
So it’s not just the Labour comrades in Sefton who are feeling the heat of public objections to building on the Green Belt; they are jointly in the dock with West Lancs Tories!
HOT OFF THE PRESS – WHAT ARE LABOUR UP TO?
By the way I wonder if there is any truth to the latest leak from inside a very wobbly Sefton Labour Party? A source there has indicated that Labour is considering reducing the number of houses to be built on the proposed vast urban extension to the east of Maghull whilst shoving those houses off to the Lydiate ‘reserve’ sites. I will be looking into this further.