Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 21, 2018

The Comedy Of Errors

Letter writers ask “Are we watching, from our lofty seats in the gods, a well-rehearsed performance of Brexit by professional actors, with May and Barnier playing leading roles? As we watch, eating our ice cream and popcorn, the curtain is about to come down, after which will come the final act”.

And “Whatever position one adopts on Brexit, several important changes to the way this country is governed have emerged from Theresa May’s tenure. a) Manifesto commitments are now meaningless. Who will ever trust the Conservative Party manifesto again? b) Cabinet government has been abandoned. Mrs May has set a precedent for privately and publicly manoeuvring behind the backs of the public”. Even Statler and Waldorf think she’s a joke .

Retired MP Austin Mitchell writes “The curious thing about the long battle of Brexit is the dog that never barked. Rampant Remainers abused the Brexiteers and undermined Theresa May’s negotiating position with their campaign of fear, by forecasting disaster and by clamouring for another referendum to overrule the first.

“Yet at no stage did they indicate that anything was wrong with the organisation they didn’t want to Leave. Still less did any suggest changes which might make membership more acceptable – and none tried to persuade their mates in the EU to make any improvements to make staying in more comfortable. On the contrary. They admitted no faults, proposed no changes and viewed the EU as pristine perfection.

“Which it ain’t. So at this late stage we should look at the real EU, not the myths of preserving peace (with no mention of NATO), advancing to ever closer union (which no electorate will vote for) and boosting the economies of the converging countries (when the euro is actually increasing divergence).

“Departure from the EU isn’t leaving a happy band of brothers marching gaily to unity and prosperity. It’s leaving a protectionist club in which we pay heavily to be drained. The EU was created to advance the interest of France (by providing a protected market for its food) and the manufacturing strength of Germany (by a protected market keeping out competition).

“The result was a protectionist bloc which we joined because British governments felt that industry needed the cold shower of competition and union power was making the UK ungovernable. That produced a haste to get in, prompting Edward Heath to [lie through his back teeth] accept unfavourable terms.

“Mrs Thatcher got a rebate from our excessive contribution, but not enough, and part if that was then given back by Tony Blair. Fair contributions should be based on ability to pay measured by GDP, but ours produced a steady drain of jobs, money and economic demand. The charges are excessive (currently £11 billion), we pay more for our food (£10 a week for a family of four) and run a gaping trade deficit (£95 billion) because Germany insists on building up huge surpluses.

“All this was made worse by the euro. Far from being a machinery for redistribution to help the weaker economies, this has worked to ruin them because it’s a neoliberal device for disciplining the small economies, particularly the Club Med nations. It benefited Germany by holding its exchange rate down when it should go up to trade fairly. It forced deflation on the weaker economies, compelled (disastrously in Greece and Italy) to try to keep to German rates of inflation and levels of productivity by harsh financial discipline. Unemployment rose, particularly for young people. The result was increasing divergence, a rejection of Keynesian growth and a continent growing more slowly than other countries, even Britain under George “the editor”Osborne’s  idiotic deflation.

“There was no escape. We couldn’t trade with other economies, get food on the cheaper world market or give state aid to failing industries and redistribute growth by an effective regional policy. Instead we were forced to trade in a protectionist bloc weighted against us, accept whatever cheap labour came in from Eastern Europe and all without help from the EU whose grants are our own money back with their costs taken out.

“That’s the problem. Our political elite likes it as a bigger stage on which to strut. The vested interests want to keep their cosy status quo and business lacks the guts to seize an opportunity. Yet the Brexit vote was largely triggered by the effects of austerity and slower growth on our people. Staying in an unchanged EU would do nothing about either. It seems more likely to increase the alienation which caused the vote in the first place”.

Duty to co-operate with neighbouring local authorities is lauded by our Labour led West Lancashire Borough Council, to facilitate housing needs. Where is the Labour duty for those neighbouring local authorities to stop the Maghull boundary effect of discrimination for free off-peak rail travel for West Lancashire’s elderly and disabled residents?

It’s seven years ago that the appalling discriminatory Tory decision to stop the miserable but useful £28 annual travel concession was made. It was fought against by Labour councillors. Where are they now? Running WLBC and behaving as though they had never heard of off peak rail travel concessions for elderly and disabled residents.

It’s simple enough to explain. The LCR authorities receive huge government grants to run LCR transport on buses, railways, and the ferries. LCR residents pay a small amount of council tax to subsidise Merseyrail, which also receives huge annual government provided grants, subsidies, from which it makes circa £14,000,000 annual profits that go to foreign shareholders. But, just like the gutless WLBC Tory party in its day, gutless WLBC Labour won’t stand up against boundary discrimination. It shames them all.

Merseyrail makes around 40p profit per passenger journey. Elderly and disabled residents have offered to pay that amount per off peak journey on production of their bus pass. A no cost deal,  that was refused by the Chairman of Merseytravel Liam Robinson  in a meeting with Rosie Cooper MP. Discrimination rules, OK?

Now, Rosie Cooper MP reports on the “Succesful Completion Of The Ormskirk Platform Upgrade And Track Remodelling” as the first phase of line closures on the Merseyrail network to prepare for the arrival of new ground-breaking trains were successfully completed on 10th November 2018. Upgrades to the platforms and remodelling of the track took place at Walton, Orrell Park, Aintree, Old Roan, Maghull, Town Green, Aughton Park and Ormskirk stations.

The Managing Director at Merseyrail Andy Heath is quoted “It’s fantastic news that the Ormskirk line is now ready for the new fleet of trains and we’re pleased that passengers now have their usual service restored when it was promised. A lot of work had gone into minimising disruption as much as possible while this work took place, and both high-quality rail replacement buses and our customer service staff were available to help keep everyone moving.

“This is the largest investment in the network since the 1970s and is vital to prepare it for the arrival of the new state-of-the-art trains in 2020 which includes pioneering sliding step technology which will result in unassisted access for all our passengers”.

MP Rosie Cooper said “My constituents will be very pleased that normal service will resume for those passengers using the Ormskirk line, following the completion of the platform upgrade work. This represents good progress in bringing new trains on to the network and the future extension of services to Skelmersdale which will be very welcome when they arrive”.

As announced by Merseytravel on Monday the successful completion of the Ormskirk work will now be followed by another 10 stages on both the Northern and Wirral lines, until their completion next June. The work will involve re-modelling a total of 100 platforms and realigning track at 58 stations. The new trains will be faster, safer, more comfortable than ever, and able to carry 50% more passengers. Getting you there safely is at the heart of what Merseyrail do. Your new trains will have extensive CCTV, the carriages will be open, light and bright and you can see right down the train. They will have wider aisles with better space for wheelchairs, bikes prams and luggage. These new trains will boost the regional economy by £70million every year, create around 1,000 new jobs, and make Merseyrail the most accessible rail network in the UK.

Isn’t it amazing, all this modernisation of tracks and trains, while the policy to discriminate is still from the political dark ages?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 19, 2018

WLBC Ignores Senior Golfers

When the original changes were proposed to the Beacon Park Golf Course before landfill income greed by Serco and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd was allowed, the term “gentle mounding” was included in some plans. The course legacy is now “Himalayas-like mounding” as excess landfill covers the driving range and the old practice field is now a 9Hole heap.

WLBC has ignored the wishes of the Beacon Park Golf Course senior members to leave the 18Hole course as it is and close the landfilled driving range. But WLBC has accepted a planning application 2018/1164/FUL to change the course considerably, leading to closure of the 1st hole and disruption to the course for at least 14 months.

The application states “Remodeling of driving range at Beacon Park Golf Centre to create a Foot Golf course, remodeling of 1st hole green, 2nd hole tees, creation of mounding and re-profiling of ground adjacent to 1st fairway, remodeling of ground between 1st and 18th holes and associated landscaping” .

Officers consulted have claimed “Subject to demonstrating the suitable disposal of removed spoil and paying particular attention to land-forming in the area creating the outlook from the clubhouse we are reasonably comfortable with the proposals shown on the submitted drawings. The area to the west of the clubhouse is perhaps the most sensitive in landscape terms and therefore we would encourage lower grading here to avoid the ‘man-made’ appearance in this locality – gentle mounding and profiling would be considered appropriate’. With respect to the type of application officers advised that the driving range area is considered to beyond the scope of a s.73A amendment and will therefore need a ‘full’ planning application as will the haul road mound as a new element. The driving range area will need to include the variations to mounding in the areas of proposed disposal. Officers provided a validation checklist which has been followed and the appropriate documents submitted with the application”.

There is one unusual feature of this application. A letter from the excellent course greenkeeper Billy Merritt suggests “the main aim is the ability to deliver an 18 hole course in the best possible playing condition throughout the year for Members and visitors alike”. He says “The new course designers are experienced and respected”, which is a major change from the landfill dumpers who went before to create what you see now, a monument to industrial grade groundwork failure.

It all envisages the “Creation of a Foot Golf course on the former driving range comprising lowering of the existing contours, creation of new foot/vehicular access, construction of steps and gates, installation of boundary fence; Construction of a new earth bund running alongside the 1st fairway on the footprint of the haul road and now forming part of the golf course with associated planting scheme; Remodelling of the 1st hole green and immediate environs; Remodelling of an area adjacent to the northern side of the 1st fairway utilising material from the re-profiling of the former driving range with associated planting scheme; Remodelling of an area on the western side of the 9th fairway utilising material from the reprofiling of the former driving range with associated planting scheme”.

“The applicant has liaised with the Golf Club committee and site management team on the proposed works and programme and intends to keep them, along with the members of the club and neighbours, full appraised of progress throughout. The applicant has also engaged with the head greenkeeper for the golf course on the proposed temporary changes to the course during the construction period and the design detail of the new remodelled 1st hole green and 2nd hole tees as well as the landscape mounding alongside the 1st fairway. His comments are submitted with the application”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 19, 2018

Serco Failing Young Golfers

While we read daily of the shambles created by Serco Leisure Operating Ltd at the Beacon Park Golf Course, planning disaster following planning disaster, yet another failure to provide useable golf facilities goes on almost unnoticed.

When Serco stripped the heart out of driving practice by destroying the old driving range in search of landfill royalty riches, they eventually placed some practice driving cages near the clubhouse. This encouraged one senior golfer to help junior golfers by teaching them driving skills. There was soon a small but enthusiastic group of juniors, who, it is hoped, might play on the new 9hole enterprise (heap!).

But the new cages were badly designed and placed, causing rebounding off the cages onto the wall and windows of the nearby clubhouse. Needless to say, the cages were closed. We last reported on it in October. There has been no progress since. This picture showing cages taped off was taken today. 

Nor, amazingly, is there a useable practice putting green, that too is closed . You’d think golf course operators would provide golf course facilities. Not a bit of it, Serco doesn’t do quality golf, it just does crap!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 19, 2018

Labour’s Common Sense New Plan

Today we discuss the second page of the Labour “Common Sense Plan” that explains the rate of development, ie that massive developments will not be taking place all at once, that the figure of 16,000 homes in the new plan incorporates the 4,700 in the existing Local Plan, and new development will equate to only around 400 homes per year across the whole Borough. Fair comment.

Labour asks “Why are we planning to facilitate the housing needs of other authorities” and this refers to the Duty to Co-Operate, a Conservative imposed legal requirement. But some authorities don’t want West Lancashire co-operation, and even think the 30 year plan is inappropriate. Knowsley Council , for example, whose response states “Thank you for consulting Knowsley Council on the Issues and Options for the West Lancashire Local Plan Review. We recognise that there are a number of Issues and Options Papers have been published as part of the consultation.

“Our focus has been the review of the Strategic Development Options Paper, which we consider has most relevance to sub-regional and cross boundary issues of interest to Knowsley Council. We appreciate the need for West Lancashire to plan to meet its objectively assessed needs for new residential and employment development, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“We are generally supportive of the principle of West Lancashire growing in accordance with its identified needs and ambitions. As you will be aware, Knowsley Council adopted its Local Plan Core Strategy in January 2016. This Plan secures Knowsley’s ability to meet its own needs and demands for new housing and employment development up to 2028, without the need for assistance from neighbouring authorities. Therefore, given our current policy position, we do not require West Lancashire to meet any of Knowsley’s development needs.

“Notwithstanding this, we are looking forward to working with our Liverpool City Region partners, including West Lancashire, on finalising the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Market Assessment (SHELMA), and any subsequent work on disaggregating development needs identified in this assessment. We would strongly support the commentary at paragraph 3.2.11 of the Strategic Development Options Paper, which describes the intention to work with neighbouring authorities to finding the best solution to meeting any unmet needs and demands for the Liverpool City Region.

“We consider that that the SHELMA, and any subsequent work on disaggregation of unmet needs and demands, will need to be completed prior to us being able to express a preference for any of the Strategic Development Options proposed by West Lancashire.

“With respect to the options for Local Plan periods proposed at section 3.3.1 of the Strategic Development Options Paper, we note that the second option being considered is a plan period which runs to 2050. This is considered to be an extremely lengthy period, well beyond usual Local Plan timescales. Indeed, as this is beyond the period covered by the SHELMA (which covers the period to 2037), West Lancashire Council – may find it difficult to forecast in spatial planning terms need for housing and employment – development up to 2050.

“We appreciate that the NPPF requires local planning authorities to release sufficient land to meet longer-term development needs, when altering Green Belt boundaries, and that a longer plan period would provide more long term certainty. However, our recent – experience with the preparation of the Knowsley Local Plan, which included a plan period up to 2028, was that only one housing site was required to be safeguarded beyond the plan period, supplying three years’ worth of additional housing land. This approach was found by an Inspector to be an “appropriate” and “reasonable” response to the NPPF’s objectives.

“Given this, we consider that the option of a plan period up to 2050 has a high risk of being considered unacceptable. This is due to the lack of certainty regarding needs and demands for new housing and employment development so far into the future, and the subsequent difficulty in meeting the NPPF’s “exceptional circumstances” test to release land from the Green Belt.

“We look forward to continued involvement in the preparation of the West Lancashire Local Plan Review and its evidence base. We confirm that our central areas of interest remain strategic housing and employment issues, including planning for Gypsies and Travellers. This is in view of our priority to ensure any impacts on Knowsley’s communities, or on our shared housing and employment market areas, are addressed”.

Page 2 also mentions “Why develop on Green Belt land?”. Yes, why take 1.7% of our valuable greenbelt over 30 years? Why take ANY valuable local agriculture that makes significant contributions to food production? Who knows why? Well Labour says a 30-year plan is best placed to protect the green belt, close to infrastructure, close to the “settlements” of Skelmersdale and Ormskirk and also close to the motorway networks for sustainability! Of what!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 18, 2018

Avoid Shares In Government Contractor Serco, Investors Are Warned

Shares in most Government contractors are too risky for private investors, an analysis of the industry has warned. In a report prepared for The Mail on Sunday by research group Equity Development , several firms were highlighted as ‘best avoided’ by investors including public service contractor Serco that provides leisure services around the UK.

Equity Development compares companies’ share price performance with the health of their balance sheets to produce a Performance Analysis Score of up to 100. Serco scored less than 10 which defines them as ‘high risk’. Serco said in August its first half profit was ‘starting to grow’ despite a 9 per cent slide in contract revenue.

Equity Development said investors should consider shorting Serco. You can imagine the panic in local councils like West Lancashire if Serco, paid circa £million a year for our leisure services, goes the way of Carillion.

Most recent “growth” provided by Serco includes the illegal new 9Hole junior golf course, now under a requirement to remove 16,000 additional cubic metres of landfill material for its breach of an approved planning condition, and the illegal proposed foot golf course covering the old driving range, now subject to the Breach of Condition Notice already served for which Serco Leisure Operating Ltd is automatically convicted.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 18, 2018

Labours “Claim” Evidenced Here

In response to our “West Lancashire New Local Plan-Explained By Labour”, Cllr John Hodson  whose concern for matters of planning principle is widely known, has written about an “Explanatory Memorandum To The Town And Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 No. 1244″. WLR wouldn’t normally publish this amount of legals, but with the proposed plan affecting so many residents in greenbelt areas, which we oppose, it seems we should let people know which hymm sheet Cllr Hodson and his Labour planners are singing from, perhaps ?

Dry stuff, but relevant to the local plan, its purpose is to make amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (“the 2012 Regulations”) in consequence of some of the changes introduced by the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”).

The instrument prescribes the time period for review of certain local development documents. The instrument also makes consequential amendments to the 2012 Regulations as a result of changes introduced by sections 9 and 10 of the 2017 Act. Finally, the instrument amends the 2012 Regulations to remove the requirement for development plan documents submitted to the Secretary of State under section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) to be submitted both in paper form and electronically.

In the Legislative Context, the 2012 Regulations make provision in relation to the local planning regime established by the 2004 Act, amended by the Localism Act 2011 and modified by the Housing and Planning Act 2016. They set out the procedure to be followed by local planning authorities (“authorities”) in relation to the preparation of local plans and supplementary planning documents, including in relation to consultation with interested persons and bodies and the documents which must be made available at each stage.

The 2012 Regulations have been amended by the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016. This instrument makes amendments to the 2012 Regulations to implement various provisions of the 2017 Act, including the power to prescribe the time period for review of local development documents (section 12 of the Act) and to prescribe the meaning of “corresponding document” and “corresponding joint development plan document” in relation to the Secretary of State’s power to direct joint plan-making (section 9). The territorial application of this instrument is England.

The Policy background, the “What is being done and why” review sets a period of five years within which an authority should undertake an assessment of whether its development plan documents, and its Statement of Community Involvement remain up to date. This will help ensure that plans are kept up to date.

Where an authority reviews a document but decides not to update it, they must publish their reasons. In the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’1, published in February 2017, the Government stated its intention to set out in regulations a requirement for local development documents to be reviewed at least once every five years (paragraph 1.8). These regulations set the interval as five years from the date of adoption and apply this requirement to development plan documents and statements of community involvement.

There is already a policy expectation, set through the National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”) 2 (paragraph 153) and Planning Practice Guidance3, paragraph 008 Reference ID: 12-008-20140306 that authorities should regularly review their plans to respond flexibly to changing circumstances (paragraph 1.3). Moving this policy expectation into legislation will strengthen existing expectations, ensuring that all areas have up-to-date plans in place which address the needs of the local community and accurately reflect changes to local circumstances.

Currently there is no expectation that authorities must review their Statements of Community Involvement at set periods. These statements are prepared by the authority and lay out how they will involve the local community, organisations and other interested parties in the preparation of local development documents and determining planning applications. Requiring authorities to regularly review their Statements of Community Involvement will ensure that authorities have a clear and relevant strategy for engaging the local community throughout the planning process.

The proposed changes build on the report published in March 2016 by the Local Plans Expert Group (“LPEG”), a group commissioned by the Government to recommend measures or reforms that may be helpful in ensuring the efficient and effective production of Local Plans, and the subsequent consultation within the Housing White Paper published in February 2017. We held engagement meetings with key stakeholders regarding the proposals to set an expectation of reviews every 5 years from adoption.

Section 33A of the 2004 Act, introduced by section 110 of the Localism Act 2011 places authorities under a “duty to cooperate” with neighbouring authorities and other bodies when preparing development plan documents. The NPPF states (para 153) that each authority should produce a local plan for its area but authorities should work collaboratively to ensure that strategic priorities across local boundaries are properly coordinated. This includes working together to meet development needs which cannot wholly be met within their own areas.

Authorities can also choose to produce joint local development documents. The NPPF encourages such joint plan-making. The number of authorities that have opted to produce joint plans is, however, fairly limited. In its report to the Government in March 2016 LPEG’s recommendation 12 said “The Government should make clear that, where authorities in a Housing Market Area (“HMA”) have failed to reach sufficient agreement on meeting and distributing housing needs by March 2017, the Government will use powers to make Regulations to direct the preparation of a Joint Local Plan for the HMA (or a suitable geography such as transport corridors) within a prescribed timetable. Legislation may be necessary to this effect. Guidance would also be necessary…to guide the governance arrangements for such plans”.

The 2004 Act empowers the Secretary of State to modify a local development document that he thinks is unsatisfactory; or to “call in” a document that an authority is preparing for the Secretary of State’s own consideration; or prepare a development plan document that an authority is failing to prepare itself; or ask the Mayor of London or a combined authority to prepare the documents instead.

The 2017 Act amended the 2004 Act, giving the Secretary of State powers to direct a group of neighbouring authorities to prepare plans jointly, either as individual authorities working together on a joint development plan document or as a joint committee. The Secretary of State will be able to direct the area and subject matter of the document that is to be jointly prepared, and the timetable for its production. The Secretary of State may modify or withdraw such a direction by notice in writing to the authorities to which it was given. If an independent examination was being undertaken in respect of a joint development plan document to which the direction related it must be suspended as a consequence of the direction.

A period of 3 months is allowed for an authority to whom the direction applied to request that the Secretary of State withdraw or modify the direction. The Secretary of State may, before the end of that period, if requested to do so by an authority to which the direction applied make a further direction that (a) the examination into the joint plan is resumed in relation to (i) any corresponding document prepared by an authority to which the direction applied, or (ii) any corresponding joint development plan document prepared by two or more authorities to which the direction applied, and (b) any step taken for the purposes of the suspended examination has effect for the purposes of the resumed examination. This instrument prescribes the meaning of ‘corresponding document’ and ‘corresponding joint development plan document’ in relation to joint local plans prepared under direction by the Secretary of State.

A joined-up plan making process where authorities work together, and where key decisions are taken together, will provide communities with certainty, clarity and a plan for delivering the housing and other development and infrastructure they need. As well as this the Government indicated at the Commons Committee stage of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2017, the power related to joint planning is likely to be used only rarely and in reality be deployed after detailed consideration of the individual case, and used where agreement between authorities is remote.

The Housing White Paper clarified the Government’s position on Local Plan interventions, and indicated authorities would have an opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances before action was taken. Joint plans prepared following a direction by the Secretary of State will be subject to the same legal requirement to consult the public (including parish councils and designated neighbourhood forums) and other interested parties. Representations must be taken into account.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 18, 2018

No Vassal State For Me Thank You

The Conservative Party Chairman has been accused of peddling “nonsense” to grassroots Tories in a conference call intended to win support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal . Brandon Lewis told local Conservative Association chairmen that the proposed deal contained a “very, very high legal bar” requiring the EU to agree a trade deal before there was any need for a Northern Ireland backstop.

Article 184 of the Withdrawal Agreement says the EU must use its “best endeavours” to agree a trade deal before the end of the transition period, but lawyers and Brexit-supporting MPs have argued that the phrase is legally worthless.

We would hand over £39 billion of taxpayer’s money with nothing guaranteed in return. Under the proposal the UK would agree a financial settlement with the EU of c.£39 billion, made up of various elements, including continued EU budget contributions during the transition period (up to December 2020), contributions to unfunded EU commitments and EU pensions. Despite offering this vast sum of British taxpayer’s money the United Kingdom is not guaranteed any future trading arrangements, which are still to be negotiated.

The UK will remain a ‘rule taker’ over large areas of EU law. The UK will continue to be bound by EU laws in vital areas such as social policy, environmental policy and employment policy, i.e will obey EU laws, but have no further influence over how they are drafted. We will thus become a ‘rule taker’ and will have surrendered our sovereignty in these critical areas.

No exit from a ‘backstop’ Customs Union. The agreement establishes a ‘joint committee’ which will oversee the UK’s ability to proceed to a future trade relationship. If this relationship cannot be agreed by both parties the UK will enter a so called ‘backstop’ Customs Union with the EU, despite many public assurances to the contrary and directly at variance with the Conservative Party’s 2017 General Election manifesto. We could only subsequently leave the Customs Union with the agreement of the EU. While we remain in a Customs Union we would be unable to strike international trade deals without the EU’s permission.

The Agreement creates internal borders within the UK. Northern Ireland would become a ‘rule taker’ in further areas such as goods, agricultural products and VAT compared to the rest of the UK. This threatens the internal integrity of the United Kingdom and is completely unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party on whom the Conservative Party now rely for a majority in the House of Commons. 5. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain in control of the agreement and large areas of EU law directly effective in the UK. The ECJ will remain as the final arbiter of the agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to.

In summary, the combination of these measures means the United Kingdom will have not left the European Union but will instead be ‘half in and half out’ . This will mean that we will become a ‘vassal state’ many of whose laws will have been created abroad and over which we have no influence. This is completely against the spirit of the referendum in which 17.4 million UK citizens voted to leave the European Union.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 16, 2018

Serco Beacon Park 9Hole Golf Course Shambles Laid Bare

Today we report once again on the abysmal performance of Serco Ltd and Serco Leisure Operating Ltd for what might be described loosely as their “management of developments”, also known as landfill dumping for private profit, on the Beacon Park Golf Course, which can only reflect badly on West Lancashire Borough Council. This report relates to the 9hole “Junior Academy” pie in the sky landfill royalty scandal.

A company, Aardvark EM Ltd  has been employed to submit a “Supporting statement to the S73A application for the variation of Condition 1 of Planning App. Ref.2016/0040/FUL (Superseding Permission 2011/9787/FUL). To vary the location, site and cross section plans submitted with the original application to regularise the as built land levels, landscaping and development layout of the nine hole short course.

They state “West Lancashire Borough Council as the Local Planning authority (LPA) has recently re-assessed the development that has taken place at Beacon Park Golf Centre following the completion of importation of material to the site to complete part of the works approved under planning permission 2016/0040/FUL (which supersedes permission 2011/0787/FUL). As a result, the LPA considers that several breaches of planning controls exist on the site including the placement of approx. 16,000 additional cubic metres of material  on the 9 hole golf course resulting in land levels which exceed those shown on the approved plans listed under Condition 1 of planning permission 2016/0040/FUL (Plans 1115.11 & 1115.15). [NB I received this response under Freedom of Information Act. “Thank you for your email of 26th July 2017 in which you made the following request for information; a) confirm by independent professional assessment that the existing uncompleted 9Hole short course referred to does not exceed the permitted 168mAOD (average height) of all its mounds and ridges and b) will West Lancashire Borough Council disclose the latest expected date for the 9Hole short course completion and use by the public?” and “In response, I can confirm that a survey of the site has confirmed that the mounds and ridges of the 9 hole short hole course does not exceed 168m AOD. Weather permitting, the plan is still to open in spring / summer 2018, but as it involves the grass growing and being appropriately treated and conditioned this could change. The Council will endeavour to keep everyone informed of any changes, should there be any”. Yours sincerely, John Harrison DipEnvP, MRTPI”]

“This statement undertakes a review of the environmental considerations and potential effects of the development from the change in land levels to help inform the LPA’s determination of the application. The change in land levels still fulfils the principle of the original scheme as consented such that the golf course continues to provide a facility of outdoor sport and recreational value to the community and the regularising the development will ensure the retention of its existing value to the benefit of the community.

“The following relevant planning history references the whole of Beacon Park Golf Centre as the creation of the short nine hole course formed part of a wider remodelling scheme that was the basis of the 2011 and 2016 applications; • 2016/0040/FUL GRANTED – Variation of Condition No.7 imposed on planning permission 2011/0787/FUL to read: ‘The development shall take place in accordance with the Coal Mining Risk Assessment Addendum Report produced by WSP dated November 2015’. • 2011/0787/FUL GRANTED – Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course. • 2011/0051/SCR NOT EIA DEVELOPMENT – Screening Opinion – Improvements to golf and country club including remodelling of 5th, 6th, 13th and 14th holes and formation of junior academy practice course”.

“Officers advised that the variations to the 9-hole could be dealt with as a s73A minor amendment if that is to be submitted separately and a validation checklist detailing the information that will be required to validate the application was provided. The opportunity has been taken in this S.73 application to reconsider the drainage strategy of the site, there are clear issues with drainage in relation to the stand of trees in an area that collects water resulting in water-logging in addition to rutting on the slope leading up from the 1st tee  and the clubhouse. Proposals seeking to address these concerns and proposed remedial works are detailed within the drainage strategy assessment submitted with this application.

“The environmental effects of the proposed scheme from the change in levels will be similar if not improved in nature to the consented scheme 2016/0040/FUL as previously assessed by the determining authority and consultees as being acceptable. Once the measures to minimise effects are put in place, there will be no significant impacts likely to result. This application therefore seeks to clarify that in changing the finished as built land levels, there would be no net increase in environmental impact arising from the creation of a Par 3 nine hole golf course”.

Mr Soames CEO states in his company Strategic Report “Serco has deep expertise: overlaid on our private sector techniques, drive and energy is a public service ethos that means that we can help deliver government services efficiently, but in a way that recognises the need for public accountability and trust”…but not, apparently, the need for public accountability of the landfill royalties Serco has accrued from the Beacon Park Golf Course.

We can only hope that this application is brought before the WLBC Planning Committee and receives the full, called-in examination the Beacon Park Golf Course leisure facility deserves, and that Serco Leisure Operating Ltd is barred from any involvement in the further mis-management of the facility.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 16, 2018

The West Lancashire New Local Plan-Explained By Labour

Readers will be aware of the Labour glossy leaflets popping through doors, all to “Dispel some of the myths and misinformation around the proposed preferred options in the New Local Plan”. They have been the cause of anger, disbelief, peddling of myths, mainly because of the 30 year plan.

Page 1 is used by Labour to pin the blame on the Conservative Government and claims the 30 year plan approach will place West Lancashire Council in line with the Government National Planning Policy Framework which requires planning authorities to plan strategically for a minimum 15 year period. And, they claim, it is now mandatory to review a Local Plan every five years. 

We, residents and taxpayers, know all about the Labour viewpoint on leaving the council open to the whim of developers that result in less, if there is a less than none, consideration for infrastructure, sustainability or the wider impact on Local Authorities, just ask residents of Burscough!

In this first page of the Labour Glossy there is reference to the “Conservatives peddling the myth of a light touch review and that the current Local Plan is delivering enough houses for our needs” which Labour claims is factually incorrect. As Labour puts it “There is no such thing in Planning as a light touch review, a review is a review!”. They may be right, and in 2013 there was no “light touch” from the Tory Plan that spawned outright hostility to it.

 Well, the Local Government Association offers the use of the Planning Advisory Service to LAs and it claims that PAS Support means “Getting planning right is important for councils. It allows them to manage development, ensuring that the best possible outcomes are delivered for places. It requires political and technical leadership and engaged communities”, something we will discuss when we look at page 2 of the Labour glossy.

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