More Sad News For West Lancashire

The sadness over West Lancashire continues today as the death toll at Southport & Ormskirk Hospitals has continued to rise as a further four patients with confirmed coronavirus passed away.

The latest deaths, confirmed over the last 24 hours, take the number recorded at the trust to 38 and come after a steep rise of 14 in the previous one-day period.

Stay Home, Stay Safe, And Help The NHS

From Lancashire Police

We know the temptation to go out with family over this Easter weekend will be high. But right now, we’re amidst a critical peak in this pandemic where we still have the opportunity to make a difference.

We’ve been working with landowners like United Utilities and partner constabularies like GMP around major beauty spots all over Lancashire, to ensure we are all doing our utmost to keep people safe this Easter weekend. You may find at some sites, like Rivington Pike, the landowners and local councils have made decisions to shut car parks and close off land to visitors. Please think twice before travelling to beauty spots like Rivington…it will still be here, long after #Covid19 is gone!

Superintendent Karen Edwards said “Over the last few days my officers have had some issues with people coming to the area, to visit rural areas in Lancashire, which is not in the spirit of the legislation. I want to support the local community around places such as Rivington and beauty spots and urge people to make themselves aware of government information relating to the National Emergency. It is everyone’s responsibility to do all they can to keep themselves safe but also others.

“If excessive numbers of people visit rural areas it is impossible to maintain social distancing. This increases the risk of infection, in particular to vulnerable people in our communities. We are working hard with our communities and partners to help people understand the rules and guidelines and why they are important.”

Thank you to the majority of people in Lancashire who are following government guidance and doing all they can to support our NHS. For those that continue to ignore the rules, we appeal to you to do the right thing and think about how your actions can affect those around you. When you look back at this pandemic, please don’t let your contribution be a fine for unnecessary travel.


The Cycle Of Responsibility

How will our local services and democracy be delivered while coronavirus rages?

Probably by remote attendance by members’ at Council meetings?

“Regulations in relation to the holding of remote meetings were published yesterday (3rd April). The regulations come in effect from tomorrow (Saturday 4 April) and are in force until 7 May 2021. The regulations cover all categories of Council meetings including council, cabinet and committee meetings.

“Further government/sector guidance regarding remote meetings is expected shortly.In the meantime officers are working closely with BTLS (BT Lancashire Services which runs Remote Access to Corporate Desktop (RACD) Service), colleagues to look at what is technically feasible to enable members to participate remotely in Council meetings (e.g. through a video/telephone conference – possibly using Skype/phone calls) and how members can be supported to ensure they feel confident in using the technology.

“Officers will provide a further update shortly once BTLS have identified a preferred technical solution that meets the requirements of the regulations”.

April Planning Committee Meeting

“The next scheduled Council meeting is Planning Committee, which is due to be held on Thursday 23 April. It is, of course, highly likely that the Government restrictions on movement will remain in force at the time of this meeting and so, as noted above, officers are looking at ways that this meeting can be run as a purely remote meeting, with all members and officers (and any public speakers) participating remotely. Officers are also looking at ways to “broadcast” proceedings so that members of the public who are not participating directly in the meeting can still listen/watch remotely.

“There are a number of issues to work through and officers and members will need to feel confident in the use of the identified technology, possibly trialling the technology by way of a “test” fictional meeting. Issues such as voting and members’ interests (which might ordinarily require a member to leave a physical meeting during discussion of an item) will need careful thought.

“Consequently, the date of this meeting will be kept under review, and appropriate notice given, if it is necessary to push back the date of this meeting whilst any remaining issues are resolved. A further update will follow shortly.

Other Scheduled Meetings

“At February Council the schedule of meetings for the municipal year 20/21 were agreed. As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds thought can be given as to whether the Council is able to return to traditional meetings for the remainder of the municipal year or utilises remote meetings.

Changes to the Council Procedure Rules

“It is likely that minor changes will be needed to the Council Procedure Rules to facilitate remote meetings and officers are considering any necessary changes.

Attendance and disqualification – 6 month rule

“The regulations provide that ‘attendance’ at meetings includes remote attendance so members will be considered “in attendance” if they participate remotely in a meeting by way of video/telephone conference. This will highlight the disgraceful situation in Aughton & Downholland of one now inactive member living and working in London, not having honourably resigned, receiving £4,840 annually of taxpayers’ money. 

Public admission and access to local authority meetings

“The regulations enable such access to be available through remote means. As noted above officers are looking at the ways to “broadcast” proceedings so the public can listen/watch”.

COVID-19 Service Update

“At the core of our purpose here at Patient lie two fundamental objectives: 1. To educate people on how to stay healthy and recover from illness or injury. 2. To provide people with easy access to healthcare services”.

Jason Keane , Chief Executive Officer

Writes “With the global outbreak of COVID-19 we find ourselves in unprecedented times, and it’s clear to me that Patient’s role in delivering on these two objectives has never been more crucial.

“As a leading publisher of online health content and provider of the UK’s biggest patient online services platform, we are in a fortunate position to help in a time of great need and I wanted to take the opportunity to update you on the actions we are taking to do so:

• Patient Access COVID-19 symptom checker

“For anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or concerned for any reason that they may have contracted it, we have built a bespoke COVID-19 symptom checker tool in which we can advise you on the appropriate course of action for your situation. Remember, if you are concerned that you may have symptoms of COVID-19 please complete our symptom checker before contacting your GP.

• Video consultations in Patient Access

“We have accelerated the rollout of video appointments to Patient Access GP and Community Pharmacy partners so they can conduct remote appointments with their patients. It’s more important than ever for elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating patients to access healthcare services and advice, and we are committed to removing barriers to support this. It’s also critical that key healthcare workers be protected as much as possible from falling ill themselves, and the ability to carry out remote appointments will help achieve this.

We will soon be reaching out to UK-based Talking Therapy professionals to help facilitate easier access to mental health services at a time when for many people anxiety is high.

• Clinically approved COVID-19 content

“Our team of clinical content writers is busier than ever creating new content and tools to keep all users informed on the evolving COVID-19 situation and educated on how to stay healthy during the outbreak. Every day we are writing more on the subject of COVID-19, ranging from features on how to self-isolate, articles on how to keep fit whilst working from home and patient information leaflets regarding symptoms of the virus itself. This content is all housed within our new COVID-19 content hub and much of it can be found directly on the homepage or in our COVID-19 email updates. Like all our clinical content, everything in our hub is written or peer reviewed by UK clinicians.

• Healthcare content on
“If you suffer from symptoms or a condition unrelated to COVID-19, you may be finding it harder than usual to reach your GP or community pharmacy for advice due to the unprecedented level of demand they are currently experiencing. If that’s the case, remember we have a wealth of content covering a very broad range of conditions and topics, as well as a full symptom checker at
“Lastly, on behalf of everyone at Patient I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to the healthcare workers and volunteers in the NHS and around the world who are working tirelessly under incredibly trying circumstances to help people and communities beat this pandemic”.

No Brownfield Sites Left In West Lancashire?

Assuming the February Minutes of the Aughton Parish Council to be correct, there are “no  brownfield sites (none left in West Lancashire)”.

The Chairman welcomed Borough Councillor David Westley to the meeting and invited him to give a brief update on the new Local Plan. Westley explained as much as he could on the matter and confirmed that there was still a Local Plan Cabinet Working Group in existence, cross-party members: 2 Conservative, 6 Labour & 1 Our West Lancashire, to prepare proposals for 2023-2038. He said the Government had changed the methodology for calculating the Local Housing Need figure.

The basic housing requirement was now less than anticipated. A question and answer session then took place with Westley on ‘safeguarded land & existing sites’, the ‘call for sites’ exercise, Permission in Principle applications, brownfield sites (none left in West Lancashire). “The Brownfield Land Register is in two parts: Part 1:  identifies suitable brownfield sites that can deliver five dwellings or more. Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that the site would be granted planning permission. Part 2: is a list of sites that have been granted Permission in Principle (PiP). PiP establishes whether a site is suitable in principle for residential development.  There are currently no sites on Part 2 of the West Lancs Brownfield Land Register.  If and when any sites are to be included on part 2 of the Register, we will consult appropriately”.

Finally, Westley said he was unable at this stage to give any assurance there would be ‘safeguarded land sites’ in the new Local Plan. It was likely that the first set of Preferred Options would be out in October 2020″.

Westley left the meeting at this stage. Short and not so sweet, so that leaves us with the likelihood of the developers of Parrs Lane being back in touch with WLBC and its gluttony for more development, more council tax, and more CIL.

(The Updated Housing Land Supply Position, using the current formula, shows the requirement for 2019-2024 = 1,038 dwellings. The anticipated deliverable housing land supply for 2019-2024 in West Lancashire = 2,242 dwellings. Therefore, against a LHN requirement of 1,038 dwellings, the number of years of deliverable housing land supply for West Lancashire Borough on 1.4.19 was 10.79 years).

WLBC statement “One of the main principles behind the planning system is community involvement. We encourage the public, local organisations, businesses, and others with an interest in the area to take part and have a say in different aspects of planning. The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) sets out who we will consult on various aspects of planning, and what methods we will use.

Aughton Residents Group 2012 considers

“The Draft SCI is considered a comprehensive document, no doubt covering all the statutory requirements under the various elements of current planning legislation. The Aughton Residents Group are however concerned that there is a danger that the document does leave the Council open to a repeat of the previous criticism that it was not robust enough in engaging with its community in a timely and informative manner.

“During the development of the current Local Plan 2012 – 2027 many considered the council to be more aligned to the needs and wishes of the big developers than the local communities. This grew largely out of the failure to provide timely and informative updates to the public in the early stages. This issue, and others, reappeared during the more recent attempt to create a thirty year Local Plan.

“If the Borough Council really wants to get the community to help in the planning process and to increase public acceptance of developments then they need to ensure they do not repeat those mistakes.

We suggest……Let the public know at the very earliest opportunity what it is that you are intending to do and why; Do not hide behind the ‘Statutory requirements only say we have to do….’ excuse, it looks lame and lazy; The local press are desperate for stories and you have a great deal of influence with them. So use them.

“Do not let it appear, unjustly or otherwise, that you are consulting/planning with developers, ahead of the public. After the current crisis has finally subsided the public’s trust in many institutions will be fragile”.

Is Crime Thriving In Your Area?

Crime IS thriving as the Aughton Parish Council Minute 11236 shows.

“CHAIRMAN/VICE-CHAIRMAN/PARISH CLERK’S FEBRUARY MEETING WITH THE LOCAL POLICE – a brief report was given on the meeting held 7 February 2020. There had been 26 reported crimes since the last meeting (a huge increase from the 12 reported in January 2020) including;

“ 3 malicious communication/harassment, 9 public order/neighbour dispute/domestic/assault, 5 vehicle crime (Granville Park (3), Holt Coppice, Delph Common Road), 2 burglary residential (Bracknell Way, Bold Lane), 3 theft (Granville Park, Butchers Lane, Noel Gate), 1 missing from home (found safe), 2 theft/shop-lifting (Co-op Convenience Store), 1 criminal damage excluding a vehicle (Fernhurst Gate – youths detained). Other than reported crimes, there had been 84 incidents.

“There were also 12 cases of ‘suspicious circumstances’ and local residents were asked to be observant, ensuring cars, doors, windows, garages were locked and sheds were secured. Anything suspicious to be reported via ‘101’ service”.