Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 28, 2017

Ormskirk In Bloom…ing Mess?

A letter to the Champion is scathing about Ormskirk and its appearance but praises Burscough. Read it here  [click to enlarge]. The writer is a bit mixed up about responsibilities and no wonder, what with LCC, WLBC and parish councils all in the mix.

On “Highway maintenance” we might recall that in June 2016 West Lancashire Borough Council announced it is “…advising residents of changes in relation to the maintenance of grassed areas adjacent to the district’s highway verges and major roads from this summer. The changes affect highways with speed limits over 50mph where grass verge cutting has, for a number of years, been carried out by the Borough Council on behalf of Lancashire County Council, as the highways authority. Due to funding changes, from 1 July, the work will again be carried out by the County Council. Any queries should therefore be directed to LCC as the Highways Authority. Roads affected include the Rainford bypass; roads around Skelmersdale including Grimshaw Road, Stannanought Road and Neverstitch Road; and parts of the A59 through Aughton, Ormkskirk, Burscough, Rufford and Tarleton”.

All public services ultimately exist to serve their communities and their citizens. A key driver in establishing the future “Public Service Delivery Model” is to place the citizen at the heart of the delivery agenda whilst also empowering and enabling local communities towards independence [pardon me while I start the bullshit meter] . The new model will make accessing information easier with an integrated Front Office and access to information that clearly signposts people to the right service at the right time.

At a county level, the public finances in Lancashire are significantly stretched with recent performance data (June 2016) showing four of the six NHS providers in Lancashire & South Cumbria posting a deficit. Lancashire Constabulary has had to make budget savings of £53.4m over four years since the 2010/11 spending review. In total the Local Authorities have lost 27% of their spending power between 2010/11 to 2015/16. Following a review by PwC of LCC’s statutory services budget (Statutory Services Budget Review, Sept 16) the Council is forecasting a cumulative deficit of £398m by the end of 2020/21. It also found that even if the Council was to reduce its expenditure to the level of lowest quartile within the term of this financial planning period it would still be facing an in year deficit of £79m and a cumulative deficit of £227m by 2020/21. The Council has been drawing on its reserves to plug the financial gap. On the current trajectory, these will be exhausted by 2018/19. But don’t worry too much, we will still have 84 LCC councillors and 54 WLBC councillors, all with no inclination to cut those numbers in line with the cuts in services and new charges for services we already pay for in council tax!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 27, 2017

Sam’s Fracking Silence

When will fracking really take its place in the West Lancashire general election campaign? One resident of Digmoor may have forced the issue by writing to the Champion. Read it here  [click to read.]

Now cast your minds back to the fracking public inquiry. 70 residents of Lancashire gave evidence against fracking. They quoted peer-reviewed studies, personal experiences with Cuadrilla, and details of the impacts so far on their house prices, their health and livelihoods.

The Inquiry Inspector Wendy McKay lost her patience with them. She had, they said, been quiet, calm and most sensible throughout but then she became troubled by the passion, solidarity and kindness in the room that led to applause, laughter and floods of genuine human reactions, which she evidently felt were inappropriate and delayed proceedings.

One local resident described how “The Inspector chastised us like naughty school-children and added that if we didn’t agree, we would be asked to leave. It was very uncomfortable. For us, this stale and clinical process is unfamiliar and it’s hard to stop reacting like yourself when the vast majority in the room are on the same side and are experiencing a genuine emotional connection to what we’re seeing before our own eyes”.

Precious words. And even now the silence from Sam Currie on fracking is speaking louder than words. He’s committed to it as “the Conservatives plan to develop the shale industry in Britain” in the party manifesto. “Frackers against Currie” is one slogan easily enough won. When will PEDL164  [click to enlarge] come home to haunt him?

Meanwhile the Church of England is under pressure because of the possibility of its local land being fracked and the Archbishop of Canterbury has had a visit from the Grim Reaper  to remind him that “Humankind has a divinely mandated responsibility for the physical world, for its creatures and for one another, especially the weakest and least. This mandate also requires us to do all we can to minimise damage to creation and God’s creatures, and to promote all that is good and that brings the kingdom of heaven into ever greater realization on earth”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 26, 2017

Aughton Park By-Election Latest

Today we can bring you another DS special report    [click to read] which provides more welcome background information on the Tory choice for the ward.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 25, 2017

West Lancashire Ignored As LCC Cabinet Announced

New Leader And Cabinet For Lancashire County Council. Lancashire County Council announced its new leader and cabinet at its full council meeting today (Thursday 25 May). County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the Conservative group and county councillor for Preston North electoral division, has been formally appointed as leader of Lancashire County Council.

The scandal of council tax payers funding political duties under the guise of “Special Responsibility Allowances is retained, as the “Majority Group Secretary receives £4,439 and the Majority Group Whip receives £4,439” based on 15% of the Leaders’s allowance. There should be a public inquiry into these payments, with the electorate having an opportunity to say no, use your party funds.

As council leader, Councillor Driver appoints his cabinet which is responsible for day-to-day decision making across the full range of county council services and makes recommendations on policy, strategy and budget issues to the full council.

The county council’s new-look cabinet was announced by Driver today. The cabinet members are:
• County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader (county councillor for Ribble Valley North East)
• County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children, young people and schools (county councillor for Lancaster Rural East)
• County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport (county councillor for Chorley Rural West)
• County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development and planning (county councillor for Moss Side & Farington)
• County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services (county councillor for St Annes North)
• County Councillor Viv Taylor, cabinet member for health and wellbeing (county councillor for Wyre Rural Central)
• County Councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services (county councillor for South Ribble West)

In addition to being council leader, Driver will also take cabinet decisions about resources, which includes council functions such as finance, communications, organisational development and HR. Driver said: “We have one purpose as an organisation and that is to serve the people of Lancashire. The council clearly faces financial challenges and our first priority is to ensure that we develop a way forward that will enable us to continue to provide the services that our residents need. That will include looking at where we spend the money that we do have, to ensure that the frontline services valued by our residents are protected. We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work to deliver on our promises.”

In addition to the appointment of the new leadership, today’s full council meeting also saw the announcement of Skelmersdale County Councillor Terry Aldridge as its new chairman and County Councillor Anne Cheetham as vice-chairman.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 25, 2017

You’re Nicked!

Cars parking on pavements can be hazardous for many pedestrians. In particular, the blind, disabled, and individuals with push chairs can struggle to get past an inappropriately parked vehicle. It can also lead pedestrians having to walk into the road to navigate their way around the obstruction. Parking on pavement laws are dependent on where you live. Since 1991, parking on pavements has become a decriminalised offence in many parts of the UK and is essentially the councils’ responsibility, local to your area to enforce the banning of pavement parking.

Questions often asked “Are the police responsible for preventing pavement parking in my area? Is it illegal to park on the pavement in my area?”

Currently as the law stands, it is apparently not illegal to park on pavements in areas that do not have pavement parking restriction signs erected by the local council . This of course excludes areas that are outlined in the Highway Code as being illegal such a double yellow lines or zigzag lines near a pedestrian crossing for example.

Anyway, it’s been a problem for Wigan Road , as a sharp eyed resident reported and as all these pictures show . Cars and vans all  totally blocking the legal right of way. And then along comes a disabled buggy driver   who had to avoid cars and vans after which the Police arrive to  nick pinky and others  [with thanks to Barrie French for the pics].

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 25, 2017

Does WLBC Use Convenient Amusing Idiosyncrasies Against Complainants?

In a recent response to the ongoing vexing issue of Stage 3 of the Booth development, the Secretary of Burscough Flooding Group has suggested bypassing a ”response to complaints system” created by the Director of Planning. It all relates to “Approval of details reserved by condition no. 8 of planning permission 2016/0212/FUL relating to details of foul and surface water drainage. | Land North Of Junction With Pippin Street Liverpool Road South Burscough Lancashire”.

WLBC wrote “I refer to planning permission 2016/0212/FUL and to the details required under Condition 8. I am able to advise that the details provided in respect of the following condition are acceptable and may be treated as formally approved by the Local Planning Authority: Condition 8 – Drainage; The details as indicated on Clancy Consulting Plan Ref: 100002 Rev 07 received by the Local Planning Authority on 16th May 2016; Walker Design Plan Refs: C-104 rev B and C-103 rev H dated 10/02/16. For the avoidance of doubt the developer is advised that the development must be completed in accordance with the approved details to fully meet the requirements of the condition”…John Harrison

The dissatisfaction with this case has rumbled along with no signs of it being agreed to any time soon. Mr Rattray wrote once again a few days ago and told the WLBC Chief Executive “To use Mr Harrisons words, I remain dissatisfied with the responses in his letter and wish my complaint to be investigated again. I would also like to highlight some points which have recently come to light which I would please like answers to:

“Regarding paragraph 2 in Mr Harrison’s letter immediately below. I should explain that I wasn’t quoting the Engineer, but simply clarifying what he meant which is that there will be an increase in flood risk, because if there was a reduction or zero increase then he would have stated that instead.

“The Environment Agency (EA) disagrees with WLBC’s assertion that it is responsible for designating Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs). It says that areas which aren’t near rivers are WLBC’s responsibility. Given there aren’t any CDAs in Burscough and it suffers from widespread surface water flooding in storms. It seems somewhat remiss of someone (body) not to investigate flooding and designate areas like Lordsgate Lane as CDAs when necessary. Please can you tell me if WLBC has ever undertaken investigations into flooding at Lordsgate Lane/Admiralty Close itself; and/or asked any and/or all of the Flood Risk Management Authorities (FRMA) partners to undertake investigations into flooding in Lordsgate Lane/Admiralty Close (under Freedom Of Information (FOI) legislation/environmental legislation if necessary)?

“There is no need for WLBC and the EA to disagree about their responsibilities, because it is mandatory for WLBC to regularly meet with all its FRMA partners and for all the partners to have signed a memorandum of understanding, which determines the extents of their individual responsibilities. Therefore, please may I have a copy of all agreements and documents concerning flood risk shared between WLBC and any and all of its FRMA partners, UU, the EA and LCC (under FOI legislation/environmental legislation if necessary)?

“I have copies of correspondence from WLBCs previous Engineer, in which he first infers that it was unusual to connect surface water drainage to a road drain, and later goes on to state that it was allowed by LCC because there was no history of flooding on the Tollgate Road. Yet BFG know that the same Engineer commissioned the West Lancashire Borough Council Flood Studies Investigation July 2010, which found that the Tollgate Road floods [It has been flooding for years because the drainage is inadequate. GR]. That report was kept secret by WLBC and only recently released to LCC. Please tell me why the report was kept secret for 7 years? And why WLBC didn’t it tell LCC about the regular problems with the Tollgate Road drain?

“UU told the developers to remove the surface connection from their SUDs system to UU’s sewer. Given UU have only acted because of information BFG obtained using FOI legislation from WLBC. Why didn’t WLBC put that evidence into the any of the Booths planning applications?

“Finally, as you recently informed me that John Harrison creates the responses to third stage complaints on planning. He had an input to part of the first stage and all of the 2nd stage. Can you either find an independent person to investigate my complaint? Or, if that is not agreeable to WLBC, can we just accept the second and 3rd stages are just one of the council’s convenient amusing idiosyncrasies and, with your agreement, I can take my complaint direct to the ombudsman at this point?” After all, who among the WLBC autocracy would be unconcerned that foul sewage might be swirling around their roads as has happened in Burscough ?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 24, 2017

Where Does Sam Currie Stand On Fracking In And Around West Lancashire?

Local groups opposed to fracking are incensed by the present Tory government’s General Election Manifesto pledge to effectively wipe away yet another ‎layer of local democracy which would lead to wholesale fracking of the countryside. Does Tory candidate Sam Currie agree with this policy? When will he tell the West Lancashire electorate? He has said Of the 3 major parties standing in West Lancashire I am the only candidate who lives in West Lancashire. I am the only candidate who can look residents in the eye and say “your local hospital is my local hospital”, “your transport links are my transport links” and “when your area floods, my area floods”. He didn’t say “when your area fracks, my area fracks” did he?

The manifesto states “We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime”.

Maureen Mills  of Halsall Against Fracking  said “Their whole rationale has been discredited. There is no evidence to support a statement that the UK could replicate the so-called US Shale Gas “Revolution”. In fact geological differences and a clear lack of vast expanses of sparsely populated areas support the contrary opinion that a UK shale gas revolution is far from likely. ‎In a nutshell they are pledging that “non-fracking” wells will no longer need planning permission. They created a gaping loophole by adding an arbitrary definition of “fracking” in the Infrastructure Act based solely on the volume of fluid used. Regardless of the volume of liquid a frack is a frack is a frack!”

And Simon Maxwell of Frack Free Formby  said “If this plan ever goes ahead it will enable thousands of oil and gas wells to be drilled without any requirement for planning permission whatsoever, regardless of whether they are conventional or unconventional, single or multiple well pads, vertical or directional drilling, using acidisation or other chemicals and stimulation techniques. All ‘non-fracking’ wells. But here’s the twist. Because of the loophole in the legal definition, a non-fracking well CAN be fracked so long as it isn’t expected to exceed the specific volume of fluid in the definition! Using this same definition, a large proportion of the wells fracked in the US shale revolution would be defined as non-fracking wells, as would Cuadrilla’s infamous Preese Hall well in Lancashire, closed down in 2011 after causing 2 earthquakes but only using 8,400 cubic metres of fluid – short of the 10,000 cubic metres required for it to be defined as “fracking”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 24, 2017

A Message From DS

You probably know that Doreen Stephenson has been chosen by Aughton Conservatives to be the Aughton Park candidate in the forthcoming by-election. As it happens, residents of Aughton have today received letters from WLBC about the Redrow Homes challenge in the High Court in respect of “Land To The North-west Of Parrs Lane Aughton”. You can read it here  [click to read]

It might be a bit of bad timing for DS, as she is often referred to by those who kicked her out of office in Halsall. She voted for the Local Plan that brings us now to the High Court. Anyway, we have our latest News from DS here  [click to enlarge] and there will be more about DS in the weeks to come.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 24, 2017

Empty HMOs?

While evidence is accruing that the numbers of empty rooms in local student houses is growing, in a case pertinent to the vexed question of HMOs a lettings agent that claimed that it was unaware a property was a house in multiple occupation has lost its appeal over a £20,000 fine. In January this year Altavon Property Management Ltd  and the landlord of the property, Adrian Simion, 30, had been found guilty at Luton Magistrates court of a series of management regulations breaches relating to the safety and running of houses in multiple occupation.

Neither defendant had attended the initial hearing and had both been convicted in their absence. Altavon was fined £20,000 and Simion was fined £7,000. Altavon appealed against both conviction and sentence, but this was dismissed at the Crown Court.

Luton Council reported that Recorder Bridge had stated that anyone taking money for renting properties must comply with the law. He also said that whilst Altavon had made requests to inspect the property, when these were deflected by the occupants, the company made inadequate attempts to exercise their responsibilities and insist upon access.

As for Altavons claim that they were unaware that it was an HMO as they had let it out to a single person, Recorder Bridge found that this was no excuse as it was their responsibility, as agents, to be aware of what was going on at the property.

The appeal was dismissed and the fine remained in place. Luton’s application for costs of £932.07 was granted in full. Patrick Odling-Smee, Director of Housing at Luton Council, said “We are delighted the Recorder has upheld the original decision and dismissed the appeal. This was a significant case for the council. Not only was the accommodation being run as an unlicensed HMO, with all the attendant safety concerns, but in this instance there were particular concerns around the vulnerability of tenants. The findings of the appeal court send out a strong message to everyone that, together with our partners, we will do all we can to uphold the law and protect anyone who is exploited when it is not adhered to. The old adage that, to be ignorant of the law is no defence, has been justifiably proven to be the case in this instance”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 22, 2017

Tree Vandalism?

 Probably? [click to enlarge]

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