Halsall Residents Against Planning

Latest News From The Halsall Residents

26/2/14, Solar Farm In Halsall?

Planning Application Summary

2014/0067/SCR

It is reported there is a proposed solar farm development planned in Halsall. The land is to the South-west Of New Cut Lane Halsall Lancashire. Understood to be for 18ha or 44 acres, including 27,000 solar panels 2 metres high, 330 watts per solar panel. It is believed this is next to the proposed controversial building site in New Cut Lane.

newcutfields

What Value Is Put On Councillor Accountability?

Do Halsall, Aughton, Burscough, and WLBC have “Councillor Accountability” and what is its value?

In a case of considerable interest to observers of “elected councillor accountability” a striking example occurred in Halsall during the course of the Local Plan through its consultations on proposed residential developments on New Cut Lane.

A number of alleged incidents relating to the conduct of Parish and Borough Deputy Mayor Councillor Doreen Stephenson, seen in Full Council, planvote17 were reported. They included various complaints of her alleged failure to comply with the Code of Conduct; alleged breach of the Principles of Openness and Accountability; alleged lack of Accountability and Integrity; alleged lack of Honesty, Openness and Integrity. These incidents allegedly occurred in July, August, September, and October 2013 at parish and public meetings and were witnessed. They became the subject of a formal complaint relating to four issues.

In essence, the formal complaint was relative to the Councillor’s alleged conduct as parish and borough councillor and her alleged attitude and responses to the public. It sought removal of the Councillor from all public office. At the October meeting of the Halsall Parish Council it was alleged, recorded, and reported the Councillor shouted “I am glad that woman has left” in response to the Complainant being upset by a previous alleged remark that “I will not be pushed out and if you had all handled the situation differently the outcome would have been different” in reply to a question in respect of her not representing residents’ views.

In the Official Response there is included a particular reference made by the Monitoring Officer that “…however, the comment that the Subject Member is alleged to have made when the Complainant left the room is likely to be a breach of the respect provision in paragraph 3.1 of the Code”.

“I do not consider that the four issues raised in the complaint could reasonably be dealt with by local resolution, e.g. by way of an apology or other remedial action.

“Having regard to the Complaint, the seriousness of the allegations as set out at (i) and (ii) above, balancing the interests of good governance in undertaking or completing an investigation into these four issues in the complaints and all relevant matters the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Independent Person has decided that no action should be taken on these allegations.

“In determining this, regard was had to the significant cost of an investigation against the “value” of a finding of breach which, in these circumstances under the current standards regime, would provide limited available sanctions to the Standards Committee.

“It is noted that the remedy sought by the Complainant is not a sanction that is available to the Standards Committee under the current regime”.

Does that mean our councillors should pick their offences carefully so as to avoid a sanction, apart from the ballot box whenever that might be for them as individuals and could be one/two/three years away?

How many ways can this WLBC defend its alleged recalcitrant councillors? Cost, as it applies to the public cost for who else pays council tax for events such as this, is a new excuse for insulting the public…”significant cost of an investigation against the “value” of a finding of breach”. Well, we must give them the answer to that. Whatever the cost, whatever the sanctions, councillors must be judged properly. A breach DOES have a value. Good governance is indispensable and critical to the values we, the public, set ourselves.

Our council values its council tax funded councillor hospitality; it values its council tax conservation grants; it values its generous conditions for its employees; it values its denial of travel help for disabled immobile residents; it valued its poor management of its Housing Division. These “council” values should be open to challenge because they are not OUR values and we see breaches of them all too often. This particular alleged breach should be vigorously appealed by the Complainant. An alleged comment that’s described as “likely to be a breach of the respect provision” is equally likely to have consequences. After all, a bland conclusion that “does not merit further action” decision merits further public consideration in the ward and parish where the alleged offences occurred.

Resident letter from Cllr Doreen Stephenson

Jan 2014, www.westlancashirerecord.com
The Worst Ever Councillor? The Votes Are In


Does Halsall Have The Worst Ever Councillor? In a fiercely contested competition for worst local councillor of 2013 it seems Halsall Councillor Doreen Stephenson tops the poll. She beat Aughton’s awful pair, Cllrs Westley and G Jones after their personal tirades against their local residents, Cllr Ruth Melling of Burscough for ignoring not only a petition but a parish referendum, plus the entire out of touch Cabinet of Owens, Hopley, Forshaw, Sudworth, and of course the Leader, Cllr Grant who still hasn’t found his phantom personal letter!

So how might you react to your local councillor who is not only a member of the WLBC Planning Committee and a past Vice Chairperson of it, but has defied the wishes of your local campaign and voted for development of your greenbelt land, who faces a formal complaint about her behaviour to residents, and then sends you a party political letter she is clearly incapable of writing herself, let alone understanding?

halsall-sitter-Stephenson

You might ask this of the Halsall Borough Councillor Doreen Stephenson who has publicly told a Halsall resident he was offensive and she didn’t want to speak to him about the Local Plan. Cllr Stephenson told another resident she was “between a rock and a hard place” which was by a strange coincidence a phrase used in the Advertiser Comment the following morning! In response to another question she said that “I have to put my hands up and say, maybe I failed” and as the despairing resident turned away she said quite forcibly to Stephenson “you did Doreen, you did”.

Stephenson might have followed the example of a real man of honour, the Tory councillor who resigned from his Planning Committee. He exposed a case where two so-called affordable homes were proposed in a village specifically for locals. However, the developer then negotiated with the council to have the ‘affordable’ clause dropped and was able to sell the new homes at the same price as the others, as no housing association wanted to take them on at that price. In some cases, the difference in specification can mean ‘affordable’ houses have larger rooms than houses on general sale. Then there’s the question of the use of industrial land. “We’re instructed to make it available for any development plans, but I’m told it’s now proposed that if the available land isn’t taken up for industrial purposes after a relatively short period of time, it can instead be used to build housing that fetches more money”. Isn’t that racketeering?

So what has Stephenson said in “her” letter to some residents? Well, she goes on about the recent history of the Local Plan, although as with every other councillor Option A, Altys Lane, is clearly off limits. She mentions there has been “some local controversy about the release of some land in Halsall for development” and she is writing to explain the situation. Her problem is her allegiance to her party over the residents of Halsall and what she doesn’t explain is the lack of her commitment to the electorate. She can’t reconcile personal honour with party duty.

She states “The purpose of the plan is to create some planning certainty, in a letter to me, the council’s planning officers confirmed that without a local plan in place West Lancashire would have been vulnerable to losing planning appeals on housing applications even if we had refused them locally. Officers confirmed to me that we would have been in this situation for the foreseeable future and therefore vulnerable to ad hoc, unplanned housing developments across the Borough, possibly even on Green Belt including all the countryside around housing in Halsall”. But she still remains silent on Option A, Altys Lane, and this is her, and every other councillor’s Achilles heel. If this so called “vulnerable, ad hoc, unplanned housing DID occur across the Borough it would occur on Lord Derby’s land that was Option A, all 500 of them. And who among the Derby ward councillors, Sudworth, Owens, Greenall, could oppose that, building fine houses on prime Altys Lane?

It’s not worth boring readers with much more of what the Stephenson letter claims. Those of us who were allowed through police lines at the Full Borough Council on 16th October 2013 know a political fix when we see one. We saw Stephenson support it. She insults borough residents by writing that “the issues in the main are that this increased development should be everywhere else in the Borough other than the land near to those raising concerns”. And “When the local plan was submitted for public scrutiny it was always contemplated that the area of land in Halsall would be removed from the green belt. This land, like many other sites in West Lancashire, was needed to satisfy the ‘numbers’ required within the Borough in the event that the major sites did not deliver the required numbers in the lifetime of the plan and particularly at the review dates”.

Stephenson is no worse than any other development-supporting councillor in relying on the Planning Inspector’s report, which merely puts her in bad company. Indeed she mentions them. “There were difficult issues for all ward councillors in option B areas of Halsall – Aughton – Burscough and Up Holland as well as the strategic land allocations in Skelmersdale – Burscough – Latham – Up Holland. In other words most parts of the Borough” [BUT NOT DERBY WARD].

And so we come to the sob story “I am proud to be your ward and parish councillor. The local plan is the strategic plan for the whole of West Lancashire – the choice to deliver housing numbers is not a local aspiration – it is a nationally set requirement for each and every council. A vote for no local plan was a vote for uncontrolled development – Halsall like some other areas in West Lancashire is a developers’ dream. The only way to restrict and control development was to support a plan which limited the amount of encroachment into the green belt – as the Inspector concluded …development in the green belt is inevitable. It does NOT take away the important role of councillors to scrutinise any particular planning application if and when it is lodged. I have been for a number of years the Vice Chairman of the planning Committee and with it comes experience of what approach can be made at Planning meetings as regards the application itself or appropriate conditions to attach to any application. The matters which I always consider appropriate are issues of the infrastructure-highways-drainage-density-loss of amenity to name just a few. These are now the important matters looking forward”.

But aren’t all those matters the very reason why not one single field in any part of this borough should be developed? Plus schools, medical services, transport? Stephenson now claims “I as your parish councillor and district councillor will work with you on all these important aspects. I need you to work with me and vice versa”. Just how gullible does she think you are?

As we approach the end of this diatribe she writes “We are now at the sharp end of the planning process – the application – the details and the impact. I will have no hesitation in voting against any application if it does not meet the planning expectations and needs of the area – at this stage it is all assumptions until an application is seen and considered, it is at that stage whether at the Parish Council or as your ward councillor that we need to work together.  The strategic plan was for the whole of West Lancashire – any planning application for New Cut Lane is for Halsall and I as your councillor will be looking solely at that issue”.

Returning to the subject of how that local Halsall resident was told he was offensive for asking her about the Local Plan, how will HE feel today to read of this letter, its plea that he and she need to work together, indeed she “needs you to work with me”. I’ll give you one guess, but it involves the futility of voting against what is inevitable because she voted for the rights of developers over the rights of residents. Residents merely vote, developers pay for the privilege, so long as it is to the right party!


10th December 2013,
 West Lancashire Council finally admits to a challenge to the Local Plan!
 

Following the Local Plan Inspector’s report in September 2013 and subsequent adoption by the Council in October 2013 of the West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 Development Plan Document the time limit for bringing a challenge to the Local Plan has expired.

 One challenge was brought, in time, by Peel Land and Property (Ports) Limited. Peel’s challenge focuses on the employment land requirements and allocations in the Local Plan. Peel own land to the south of Stopgate Lane, Simonswood and unsuccessfully sought the allocation of this land for employment purposes through the Local Plan process.

 Proceedings have been served upon the Council and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (as an interested party).

 

The Council and the Secretary of State have informed the High Court that it is their intention to resist the Claim. The Council will respond further to the Local Plan challenge in accordance with the timetable to be set out by the Court.

http://www.westlancs.gov.uk/planning/planning_policy/the_local_plan/the_local_plan_2012-2027.aspx


The West Lancashire Council Stunt, MP Pugh Steps In

6th December 2013, www.west lancashirerecord.com

A Sefton Libdem Cllr Tony Robinson wrote about 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 clever 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 [NOT TRUE!] 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 to stand in added on time. But now the Southport MP Dr John Pugh pugh has challenged it and written to the Chief Inspector of Planning, below;

Sir Michael Pitt,
Chief Inspector,
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
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.

Yours sincerely,

Dr John Pugh MP

   
 
Published on: 03/12/2013

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has welcomed the new powers requiring Lancashire County Council as the lead flood authority to give consent to new developments only if they are satisfied that the drainage systems can cope.

In recent years West Lancashire homes and farm land has been hit by flooding from heavy rainfall.

Following these incidents, residents have expressed their concern that further new building developments will make the flooding situation worse unless action is taken and drainage improved.

From April 2014, LCC as the lead flood authority (LLFA) will be required to give their consent to any development of more than 10 houses or greater than 0.5 hectares before any development can proceed. This new regulatory power will impose stringent limits on the design of sustainable drainage systems to control water discharge into the drainage and sewer system at times of extreme rainfall.

The MP's written to the County Council seeking further clarification on the extent of these powers, what they mean in practice and how they will work.

She told QLocal: "For so many people more development, brings more homes that results in more flooding.

"Across West Lancashire the drainage and sewer system is unable to cope at times of extreme rainfall which we are seeing happen with increasing regularity.

"Adding more water to the system will undoubtedly increase people's fear of the consequences.

"I am looking to Lancashire County Council to use these powers fully to reassure residents that new developments won't increase the threat of flooding. Residents need to be assured that these capacity issues are addressed before building work begins and it is too late.

"These new powers are a welcome addition to all the other work being done through local flood action groups to better protect local residents from flooding."
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Councillor pays the price of 'disloyalty' to Halsall

Published on: 18/11/2013 06:12 Reported by: roger Blaxall www.southport.gb.com

The deputy mayor of west Lancashire seems to have lost all credibility in her own parish after a vote of no confidence in her was passed at November's Halsall PC meeting.


Parish councillors backed a vote asking that Borough councillor Doreen Stephenson - pictured top at a full council meeting - resign both her parish and Borough seat.

Is she paying a high price for backing the controversial Borough Local Plan in mid October; a Labour councillor asked for a recorded vote at the time and on Wednesday night Stephenson - who has not taken the opportunity to put her case to QLocal - was given the thumbs down in a majority vote by parish councillors, although she wasn't there to witness it.


Breaking News From Halsall   13th Oct 2013  www.westlancashirerecord.com

breakingnews

In a remarkable night in the usually calm village of Halsall, the Parish Council meeting was enlivened by two events. When the Chairman invited the public to speak a local resident rose to propose a motion that Parish and Borough Councillor Doreen Stephenson, who did not attend the meeting, should resign. cllrstephenson The motion was seconded and passed unanimously by a show of hands. The Chairman ascertained the motion included Cllr Stephenson’s resignation from both seats, parish and borough. He advised the public the council could not act on the public motion but would record it.

Halsall Parish Council Meeting   www.westlanashirerecord.com

  Wednesday 13th November at 7.30pm at the Memorial Hall. It could be eventful as the New Cut Lane Residents Action Group wants to ask the Halsall Borough Councillor Doreen Stephenson some pertinent questions. As she sat next to the Mayor at the Full Council in October and her name was read out she uttered the immortal word “for” adopting the Local Plan. No taking it back, like all the others who want to enable building on green belt land she got her way. Will this be her day of reckoning?

UPDATE: NEW CUT LANE RESIDENTS ACTION GROUP (12th November 2013) www.otsnew.co.uk

ots-new cut lane action group 4 building site ray belcher southport ots onthespot ots otsnews.co.uk_0

Posted by & filed under News.

UPDATE: NEW CUT LANE RESIDENTS ACTION GROUP


The Council voted in favour of adopting the Local Plan, which now means we will be faced with fighting planning applications for the building of 150 new homes on New Cut Lane.


You maybe interested to know, Councillor Doreen Stephenson refused to listen to the views of the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall, and voted in favour of the Plan.


At no time during the Council debate on adopting the Local Plan did she mention the views of the people who don’t want this development.


Please check the website www.rapgroup.org for updates

ots-new cut lane action group 3 building site ray belcher southport ots onthespot ots otsnews.co.uk_0

NEXT HALSALL PARISH COUNCIL MEETING   Wednesday 13th November at 7.30 at the Memorial hall in Halsall


Please attend and ask Doreen Stephenson why she voted against the wishes of the residents of New Cut Lane & Halsall


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  12/11/2013   www.southport.gb.com

As you may know the Council voted in favour of adopting the Local Plan, which now means we will be faced with fighting planning applications for the building of 150 new homes on New Cut Lane.



Councillor Doreen Stephenson

You maybe interested to know, Councillor Doreen Stephenson refused to listen to the views of the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall, and voted in favour of the Plan.

At no time during the Council debate on adopting the Local Plan did she mention the views of the people who don’t want this development.
Please check the website www.rapgroup.org for updates

NEXT HALSALL PARISH COUNCIL MEETING
Wednesday 13th November at 7.30 at the Memorial hall in Halsall
Please attend and ask Doreen Stephenson why she voted against the wishes of the residents of New Cut Lane & Halsall

West Lancashire Local Plan means homes will be built on Green Belt


HOMES will be built on Green Belt land in West Lancashire despite passionate protests from the community.


Councillors voted last Wednesday to adopt the Local Plan as angry residents descended on the council offices in Ormskirk to protest about the proposed 210 homes.


The plan has been plagued by controversy since its inception – with residents claiming they were not properly consulted about proposals.


The 210 homes will be built in Halsall as council officers decided it was the most suitable site for the extra housing allocation required by the planning inspector.



The Local Plan guides how the borough develops over the next 15 years. It covers everything from new homes, jobs, infrastructure and leisure facilities.


All 28 of the council’s Conservative councillors voted for the new policy – which became effective immediately – while the 24 Labour councillors voted against.


Speaking at the meeting, Conservative council leader Ian Grant said: “It’s not easy to be a councillor. We have to make hard decisions for West Lancashire.


“I sympathise with those affected but we have no brown-field sites remaining and we have been forced to build on the Green Belt.


“The adoption of the plan is the right thing to do and will secure the future of West Lancashire for the next 15 years.”


Labour councillor Cynthia Dereli said at the meeting: “The council has refused to listen to residents’ concerns repeatedly through this process.


“There has been a marginalisation of the local voice as the council has presented its own version of reality.”


Lynn Campbell is head of the Halsall protest group who are firmly against the proposed development. She said: “We are left wondering if we actually have anyone representing us as we require in the borough council.


“We feel completely let down and we will continue to protest against what we feel is an unfair and flawed judgment.”


There were fears that Parrs Lane in Aughton would also be built upon as it has officially been removed from the Green Belt under the Local Plan.


However councillors have said that the land is no longer considered a prime site for development.


Colin Atkinson, chairman of Aughton Residents Group said: “We’re very angry and disappointed by the council’s decision even though it was expected.


“We feel we’ve been ridden over roughshod for the benefit of land owners.


“This is not the end however. We plan to fight on against any planning applications that may be put in.”


 

23rd Oct2013, www.westlancashirerecord.com

Why Not Call For a Judicial Review?

The opposition Labour group voted against the Local Plan, with Labour Group Leader Councillor Roger Bell telling Roger Blaxall of QLocal every reason for them to call for a Judicial Review. Royal_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_United_Kingdom_(HM_Government)_svgTo complete the list, it contains Option A, Skelmersdale, unused brown field sites, a missing pertinent letter, Parish councillors denying local participation, a scandalous claim the Burscough Parish Poll wasn’t legally representative of the electorate, its endless!


“We voted against because we continue to believe it’s been deeply flawed throughout the whole process. The fundamental issue arises from when a small number of Tory councillors ignored advice from senior Council officials, and removed Option A the Ormskirk site from active consideration. At the time, it was stated that three options might be ‘confusing’ for people. Instead the consultation presented two ‘preferred options’ and one, the Ormskirk site, as a ‘non-preferred option’. I have not met anyone who thinks this to be less confusing!


“As a direct result, other sites have been included in the Plan that are significantly less sustainable. In many parts of the Borough, local people have responded in a most vociferous way to the insult to their intelligence. Whether it is in Aughton, Burscough, and Upholland or now in Halsall, the majority of local people simply cannot believe that their future has been made hostage to the purely selfish political advantage of a very small number of Tory councillors.


“Indeed it has had the remarkable effect of setting Tory against Tory! But the removal of Option A has also meant that Ormskirk loses out. The longstanding issue of student accommodation continues to create anxiety all across the town, with more and more applications for Houses of Multiple Occupancy in the most inappropriate places.


“At the very least, if Option A had a chance to be thoroughly considered, then a solution to the problem of student housing might have been found. Now the Local Plan has been adopted, the Labour group will have to work with it. But we give this pledge. We will do everything we can to lessen the impact on the communities most affected, and as plans move ahead we will listen to local people!”


So which Tory is set against Tory? Aughton O’Toole against Derby supporting Aughton Westley? Doubtful Halsall Stephenson against Aughton Park Grant? Derby Sudworth against Aughton Atherley? Aughton Jones against the lot of them? What a farce, and what a disgraceful and spectacular example of local democracy.

   

 


Published on: 17/10/2013 04:14 PM www.qlocal.co.ukReported by: rogerblaxall


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Cllr Doreen Stephenson,
Rarely have the residents of Halsall witnessed what they consider to be such disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour from someone elected to represent them.

The collective group of people, the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall, are disappointed in your decision to vote for the Local Plan and not to speak publicly on their behalf.

This was in complete contrast to many other Borough Ward Councillors who had listened to the opinions and wishes of the people who elected them, and stood up to represent them by speaking against the Adoption of the Local Plan.

They spoke of how they, along with the public, believe it has been in part politically motivated regarding the designated sites for housing in Halsall and Burscough, in an attempt to safeguard the seats of the minority of Cabinet Councillors. They were therefore of the opinion that the Plan was fundamentally flawed, and disregarded the scaremongering tactics adopted by others, including members of Council Cabinet that should the Plan fail 'Developer Armageddon' would descend on the Borough. So for those reasons and many others, unlike you, they voted against it.

Over the last two months, we along with others, consider you have avoided and fudged the issues that concern us, and that rather than speak for yourself have looked for guidance on how to reply to questions by Borough Cllr Westley, specifically at a public meeting.

He, of course, is a member of the Borough Cabinet referred to above, so we wonder why we elected you to speak for us when you needed Westley’s advice. We also wonder why you refused outright to answer the question 'how you intend to vote regarding the Local Plan.' We ask, is this the correct conduct for our local Ward Councillor?

We refer to your responses to individual residents, what we perceive to have been your crude and naïve attempts to salvage what remains of your political career at the most recent Parish Council meeting where you conversed with Mrs Wright, a resident of New Cut Lane. You apparently confirmed to her that you would now re-look at the situation as she information she gave you that the numbers/shortfall of housing could still be covered if New Cut Lane was withdrawn from the Local Plan and remain a safeguarded Plan B site.

Mrs Wright then spent hours drafting emails which contained facts and figures, to demonstrate this, which were sent to you, the Borough planning department, and ourselves. Mrs Wright believed you were now ready to show some backbone, and even at this late stage be prepared to stand up for Halsall. Her efforts were met with complicated responses from the Borough planning department, which a planning lawyer would have had difficulty deciphering, or as a planning officer from another borough commented, they are using "a forest to hide the tree." And yet again there was no direct answer from you on that you would look to take this further.

Mrs Wright informed us of your concern at what a terrible time you have been having over this 'situation'. Please understand how little sympathy the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall will offer you in your unfortunate situation. We can conclude that your attempt to regain any credibility well and truly failed based on last night's Borough Council poor performance and your lack of support for us. As was witnessed by members of the public, your contemporaries and the press, your decision to say absolutely nothing on behalf of how the people of Halsall felt, like a slap in the face, as was your decision to vote to adopt the 'Local Plan.'

We, the residents of Halsall, are today left wondering if we actually have anyone representing us as we require in the Borough Council. Unlike other members of Halsall Parish Council who have consistently supported us, we consider your best attempts do the complete opposite.

In spite of your decision to vote for the Local Plan the Halsall Residents Action Group, on behalf of the residents of New Cut Lane and the rest of Halsall will continue to fight against it.

It is the collective opinion of the residents of New Cut Lane and elsewhere locally that you do not deserve to hold public office in any capacity, you do not represent their opinions and wishes, and therefore you should resign with immediate effect because they, and Halsall, deserve better.

  Halsall Residents Action Group

   

 


   www.qlocal.co.uk 17/10/2013Reported by: rogerblaxall
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Not many people know that west Lancashire has the highest amount of green belt in England.
   


Just how many are concerned that councillors last night voted through controversial plans to develop it for future generations remains to seen at future ballot boxes, although campaigners from Aughton, Halsall and Burscough expressed their disgust last night at a 'victory' for the ruling Borough Conservatives who decided to adopt the Local Plan in its entirety.

The irony is that the very attractiveness of the green belt which gives west Lancashire its unique character will soon be lost as massive developments take place on it over coming years.


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Click here to see just one reaction to the decision by residents in Halsall: http://www.qlocal.co.uk/southport/ne...n-52636956.htm
suffice to say this will not be the last that local councillors will be hearing of the decision, taken after two hours of reasoned debate in the council chamber.


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Even before that, there was a move by Labour's Roger Bell to delay making a decision until a meeting in a larger venue like the Civic Hall could be arranged so that local folk - just 50 were allowed into the chamber for some an unexplained reason - could see democracy being done.

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That was to no avail and there were spirited points made on both sides of the argument over the Plan which if nothing else has sparked a grassroots interest in democracy that's seen a number of action groups formed to fight what people have claimed will see the 'desecration' of green belt land in Burscough, Halsall and possibly Aughton.

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Mayor Iain Ashcroft did an excellent job in keeping the highly charged meeting in order, even allowing an extra four questions at around nine o'clock but even he wasn't quick enough to stop a shout of 'Judas' when Burscough councillor Ruth Melling cast her vote for accepting the plan, following what can only be presumed the Tory whip.

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It was Skem councillor Terry 'Yank' Aldridge whose words resonated with the observers cheering him as he reminded councillors they were there to represent the people.

Quite how they'll vote when local elections are next called remains to be seen - one thing's for sure, the Borough Local Plan just might have changed local politics for the foreseeable future...


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The meeting ended with panto style boos and shouts of 'out' 'out'; one of the few people seen with a smile on his face was a local Burscough developer.

And this afternoon, the Borough Council PR department issued this press release:

'Your West Lancashire 2027 - Adoption of the West Lancashire Local Plan'

A plan that will help to shape the future of West Lancashire has been formally approved.

The West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 Development Plan Document will guide how the Borough develops over the next 15 years. It covers everything from new homes and jobs to retail and leisure facilities, transport and local services and energy and the environment.

The Local Plan allocates specific sites for development – including housing and employment. It will ensure new homes, jobs and services required by communities are located in the most sustainable places. The plan will also deliver the necessary infrastructure, facilities and other development to make this possible.

Following several stages of preparation and consultation, the Local Plan was submitted for Examination in Public by an independent Planning Inspector. The Inspector’s Report, published on 26 September 2013, concluded that the Local Plan is sound and legally compliant, subject to the inclusion of the Inspector’s recommended modifications. The modifications recommended by the Inspector have been incorporated into the adopted Local Plan.

West Lancashire Borough Council adopted the Local Plan at its meeting on 16 October 2013. It now replaces the previous Replacement Local Plan 2001-2016 as part of the development plan for the borough.

Councillor Martin Forshaw, portfolio holder for Planning and Development, said: “We are pleased to adopt the West Lancashire Local Plan, which will help to deliver the sustainable development required by West Lancashire to 2027. The independent Planning Inspector has confirmed that it is robust and flexible enough to deliver development and will work to shape a strong future for West Lancashire”.

Copies of the Local Plan, Policies Maps, Sustainability Appraisal Report and Statement of Adoption are available to view on the Council’s website at www.westlancs.gov.uk/2027 and at Council offices, local libraries and post offices.(Please note, this infomation is not available in any Post Office or Library in or near Halsall as West Lancashire Council does not supply infomation leafets or posters for this area!)

17th Oct 2013, www.westlancashirerecord.com

John Hodson Spoke, Well Worth The Admission Fee

The protestors to the adoption of the Local Plan who heard the debate were impressed that, in his speech, a Councillor for Scott ward John Hodson
had shown a grasp of the situation that was outstanding, and more so by comparison with the dross of the majority party.

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He spoke about the National Planning Policy Framework and about Council’s flawed thinking behind it that was obviously designed to aid developers open up the Green Belt and greenfield sites for their profits. As Cllr Hodson put it, planning is not an obstruction to development, it’s more a question of lenders and the loss of confidence. It is a policy cynically dressed up as ‘Localism’ and that is the exact opposite to what the public understood it to be.

He suggested that the Local Plan has been only partially produced under the NPPF and so is bound to be flawed. It’s not that it does not meet the test of Soundness under the NPPF, nor is it that it does not meet the test of Legal Compliance under the NPPF, but it is that it does not meet the test of the people who it is mostly going to affect, the residents of West Lancashire. Quite simply it is not the best Local Plan for West Lancashire.

Cllr Hodson spoke of this Local Plan also letting down the people of Skelmersdale, that less than 50% of development, equivalent to just a few thousand population, is to take place in a Strategic Town Settlement which was originally designed for twice its current population of 45,000 in terms of infrastructure.

What did this mean? It means less. Less attraction to potential employers, less attraction to investors, less attraction to major retailers, and less for the people of Skelmersdale New Town.

But it also does mean more for some, and here we heard Cllr Hodson refer to what the Tories always want for their backers. More profit for greenfield landowners, more profit for developers who get to build where they want to, more safeguarding of the Political bases of certain elected members, the true ultimate NIMBYs.

Cllr Hodson made an impassioned statement that we should be clear about the ownership of this Local Plan. He asked, does it belong to the People of Ormskirk? Does it belong to the people of Halsall? Does it belong to the people of Burscough? Does it belong to the people of Skelmersdale? Does it even belong to the people of West Lancashire? His answer was a firm No, it belongs ONLY to its creators and advocates, the Tories of West Lancashire and their National Cohorts in Government. Not to mention their land developer donors.

For that reason, he said, “I am proud to say that I will be voting “Against” this Local Plan which is not worthy of the people of West Lancashire, and I request a recorded vote by name”.

This contribution was worth the admission fee…my contribution to the hospitality enjoyed by the freeloaders in the Westley Arms.

17th Oct 2013, www.otsnews.com

Open letter to Halsall Ward Councillor Doreen Stephenson, Vice Chair of Planning and Deputy Mayor

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Posted by & filed under News.


Open letter to Halsall Ward Councillor Doreen Stephenson, Vice Chair of Planning and Deputy Mayor


Cc’d members of Halsall Residents Action Group, Halsall Parish Council, Office of Rosie Cooper MP, and Local and Regional media


Rarely have the residents of Halsall witnessed what they consider to be such disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour from someone elected to represent them. The collective group of people, the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall, are disappointed in your decision to vote for the Local Plan and not to speak publicly on their behalf.


This was in complete contrast to many other Borough Ward Councillors who had listened to the opinions and wishes of the people who elected them, and stood up to represent them by speaking against the Adoption of the Local Plan. They spoke of how they, along with the public, believe it has been in part politically motivated regarding the designated sites for housing in Halsall and Burscough, in an attempt to safeguard the seats of the minority of Cabinet Councillors. They were therefore of the opinion that the Plan was fundamentally flawed. They also disregarded the scaremongering tactics adopted by others, including members of Council Cabinet that should the Plan fail ‘Developer Armageddon’ would descend on the Borough. So for those reasons and many others, unlike you, they voted against it.



Over the last two months, we along with others, consider you have avoided and fudged the issues that concern us, and that rather than speak for yourself have looked for guidance on how to reply to questions by Borough Cllr Westley, specifically at a public meeting. He, of course, is a member of the Borough Cabinet referred to above. So we wonder why we elected you to speak for us when you needed Westley’s advice. We also wonder why you refused outright to answer the question ‘how you intend to vote regarding the Local Plan.’ We ask, is this the correct conduct for our local Ward Councillor?


We refer to your responses to individual residents, what we perceive to have been your crude and naïve attempts to salvage what remains of your political career at the most recent Parish Council meeting where you conversed with Mrs Wright, a resident of New Cut Lane. You apparently confirmed to her that you would now re-look at the situation as she information she gave you that the numbers/shortfall of housing could still be covered if New Cut Lane was withdrawn from the Local Plan and remain a safeguarded Plan B site.


Mrs Wright then spent hours drafting emails which contained facts and figures, to demonstrate this, which were sent to you, the Borough planning department, and ourselves. Mrs Wright believed you were now ready to show some backbone, and even at this late stage be prepared to stand up for Halsall. Her efforts were met with complicated responses from the Borough planning department, which a planning lawyer would have had difficulty deciphering, or as a planning officer from another borough commented, they are using “a forest to hide the tree.” And yet again there was no direct answer from you on that you would look to take this further.


Mrs Wright informed us of your concern at what a terrible time you have been having over this ‘situation’. Please understand how little sympathy the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall will offer you in your unfortunate situation. We can conclude that your attempt to regain any credibility well and truly failed based on last night’s Borough Council poor performance and your lack of support for us. As was witnessed by members of the public, your contemporaries and the press, your decision to say absolutely nothing on behalf of how the people of Halsall felt, like a slap in the face, as was your decision to vote to adopt the ‘Local Plan.’


We, the residents of Halsall, are today left wondering if we actually have anyone representing us as we require in the Borough Council. Unlike other members of Halsall Parish Council who have consistently supported us, we consider your best attempts do the complete opposite.


In spite of your decision to vote for the Local Plan the Halsall Residents Action Group, on behalf of the residents of New Cut Lane and the rest of Halsall will continue to fight against it.


It is the collective opinion of the residents of New Cut Lane and elsewhere locally that you do not deserve to hold public office in any capacity, you do not represent their opinions and wishes, and therefore you should resign with immediate effect because they, and Halsall, deserve better.


Lynn Campbell


(Sent on behalf of the Halsall Residents Action Group)

17th Oct 2013 www.westlancashirerecord.com

A Note To A Councillor

The events at Council have had early repercussions for a Borough Councillor. A member of the Halsall Residents Action Group has, on their behalf, asked Cllr Stephenson to resign. “Hi Doreen. I note with great interest that at the meeting to vote for the adoption of the Local Plan that you voted for adoption. I also note that you did not utter a single word voicing the opinion of the residents of New Cut Lane despite having information that could have excluded New Cut Lane from the local plan. You have sold the residents down the river and it is my opinion and that  of the residents of New Cut Lane, that you are totally ineffective as our local councillor. You, at all times have failed to represent us and have been led by the party whip. It is now time for you to do the honourable thing and resign from the position of being our local representative effective immediately”.

Residents Action Group New Cut Lane.

Has the Grim Reaper claimed his first victim?

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17th Oct 2013
To Councillor Pryce-Roberts
Dear Nicola
I have tweeted you briefly to thank you for speaking up on behalf of the Residents of New Cut Lane, Halsall, against the proposed development of 150 houses at the rear of our homes.I should also like to thank you again , in e mail form,for speaking for us, as to my recollection you were the only person who did, even though the main thrust of the modifications , which had recently gone out for public consultation , was the removal of New Cut Lane from Plan B to Plan A status.This change of status was in betrayal of the previous pledge by WLBC to only consider our NCL Plan B site in 2017 and thereafter at 5 yearly intervals in 2022 and 2027 if, 80% of housing were not achieved(not achievable by estimated  projection) on brownfield sites.
 
I presented a reasoned argument, accompanied by and based on WLBC figures, to Cllr Mrs Stephenson, our sole representative,based on WLBC housing trajectories,showing that in fact 189 surplus houses are projected to be achieved in the lifetime of the 2012/27 Local Plan, this surplus being in excess of the 5% buffer prescribed by the Inspector,I  worded an amendment which I and the other residents' Group members were hopeful she would table, to remove the 150 NCL houses from the plan.We believed this amendment to be sound and not to render the Plan unsound.Cllr Stephenson gave us hope when she said she would consider it.
 
This was not to be and in the event, you were the only person who spoke up for us, even though you are not our representative.We greatly appreciate this and we did not want you to be unaware of our gratitude.
kind regards
Elizabeth Wright
Halsall Residents' Action Group.

16th Oct 2013,  www.westlancashirerecord.com

The Grim Reaper Was Seen in Derby Street Tonight

In the Council Chamber tonight residents “lucky” enough to gain entrance were treated to a display of the political acrimony such an Agenda Item as the Local Plan could cause. We were treated to some serious and positive thoughts and questions on why Skelmersdale wasn’t being developed to achieve the potential it needs for growth, including jobs and housing. Mention was made of unused brownfield sites there that by some mystery unknown to anyone were simply ignored, but the mystery was simply that developers couldn’t make much profit from them. How sad! But more proof of who is driving the Local Plan.

For those Members with an interest in continuing their political careers, tonight was a sobering event.  The grim reaper was looking for them.

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Those who voted for the Local Plan adoption included Melling, O’Toole, Stephenson, Westley, Grant, Atherley, Jones, and the reaction of the public was they should be seeking an alternative career in the near future. There was some utterly bizarre and astonishing behaviour of the Chairman of the Aughton Parish Council, Graham Jones, whose ramblings about Aughton’s similarity to Belgium and then Heathrow Airport drew gasps of astonishment followed by raucous laughter and suggestions from the public that he had been in the Westley Arms BEFORE the meeting instead of after it! Those who had been locked out could consider themselves lucky to have missed that rubbish.

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It seems that despite being locked out of the building, a kind council official let the remaining few in to hear the end of Forshaw’s speech and the subsequent Councillor representations. Burscough was well represented by Cllrs Dereli and Davis but Aughton suffered by their elected representatives whose plan panders to the developers and entirely ignores the needs of the Borough and its residents. As usual O’Toole went into reminiscences of all our yesterdays and his years in planning, which was plain boring. As for Grant, he might have spent his time better in looking for his not so “personal” letter that seems to be missing!

The few members of the public who were allowed to stay started a chant of shame and a slow hand clap so the council took a break, prompting the Torys to be first out rushing to the loos with sickening grins and self congratulatory pats on the back, blithely ignoring the voting public who were excluded from the earlierpacked meeting. And then they went to the Westley Arms…

 

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Open letter dated 10 Oct 2013, Liz Wright Halsall Residents Action Group
To
Councillor Mrs.D Stephenson
Councillor M Forshaw
Councillor D.Westley
Mr P Richards WLBC
 
Dear Councillors and Mr Richards,
 
I refer to the document-Updated Housing Trajectory-Post Modifications,WLBC(May 2013) also taking into account actual Housing Completions 2012-13
May I draw your attention to the Annual Delivery Total of 5049 houses which represents the the projected final figure including 150 houses for New Cut Lane and 60 houses for Fine Jane's Farm.
The revised housing target which Mr Clews recommended for WLBC is 4860 houses.
There is a surplus to the required target of189 houses showing in the schedule, if New Cut Lane were excluded from the Plan there would still be a surplus of 39 houses above Mr Clews' 4860 houses.
 
Please may I request that you move an amendment to exclude New Cut Lane from  Plan A status as this will not lead to the Local Plan failing, as the 100% target will be met without New Cut Lane, and this will have the following advantages:-
 
1)The perceived contradiction between the pledge, by the Council, to only consider New Cut Lane if 80% of houses were not achieved on brownfield sites after 2017 and the precipitate haste with which New Cut Lane was catapulted to the fore into Plan A , on the grounds that the Council's requirements were for more houses, because Mr Clews revised the target,  would be removed in the public eye,and the seething sense of  injustice in the minds of residents who are voters as well as Council Tax Payers would be assuaged. 
2) The erosion of the greenbelt would be lessened.
3) Faith would be restored in the democratic process and public perception that the representations from lobbying consultants ,such as Roger Tym and Partners,(in the case of New Cut Lane), acting for developers,carry more weight than the electorate's representations would be rectified.
4) Councillors would be responding to the popular will but yet be acting responsibly , so as to keep the Local Plan sound and Legal
5)Councillors are the only people with the democratic mandate and power to shape the environment in reflection of the will of the people, as well as in reflection of the  professionalism of the planners, and by being seen to exercise this power, in response to popular wishes, in a responsible manner,using common sense, would uphold the balance between professional localism and commercialism. 
 
 
Suggested Amendment
 
To remove New Cut Lane(150 houses) from the proposed Plan A status,but to retain Fine Jane's Farm in Plan A status (60 houses),as the Local Plan exceeds  the target of 4860 houses by 189 houses, leaving an updated trajectory of a  surplus of 39 houses by 2027.The Local plan will remain sound.
 
thank you for your help
Elizabeth Wright