Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 30, 2016

How The Press Is Reporting The Trashing Of Democracy

It’s 10 December 2013 and the Westley claim of lies being told door to door is exposed in the brilliant Champion story by Danielle Thompson. She wrote about the “Westley slur on Aughton residents”. It’s been published repeatedly for what was, and still is, an insult to the integrity of a parish. weslur

“Residents are calling for Councillor David Westley to resign – after he called the two-year campaign to keep Parrs Lane in the greenbelt ‘a waste of time’ and alleged that door to door campaigners had told lies. After Colin Atkinson, chairman for the Aughton Residents Group (2012) raised the issue of the formulation of the neighbourhood plan to discuss the future of Aughton at public question time at the Aughton Parish Council meeting on Monday December 9, Lancashire County Councillor Westley, who represents Aughton and Downholland told Colin Atkinson that campaigners had wasted two years talking to the Borough Council.

He said “The campaign was a disaster, lies were told door to door and the campaign was a waste of time.” He then walked out of the meeting at Aughton Village Hall amid shouts that the campaigners had not lied, jeers, and calls for his resignation.

Colin Atkinson described Westley’s behaviour as childish and unprofessional – and said that he expects an apology from Councillor Westley for his ‘unwarranted’ remarks. He said “I attended a meeting about the formation of the neighbourhood plan under the Localism Act with Councillor Westley, Councillor O’Toole and Councillor Grant on Wednesday December 4 and they said that the matter was an issue to be raised with the Aughton Parish Council but tonight Aughton Parish Council asked Councillor Westley to advise on it. He took exception to me mentioning that it could be just four years until Parrs Lane could be built upon and I expect an apology for his unprofessional behaviour“.

Colin Atkinson was exposing this charlatan for what he was, pretending to have knowledge of planning and covering his lack of it with bluster and false accusations against anyone who disagreed with him. And as Colin Atkinson can now claim, Westley himself was wrong. Parrs Lane can legally be built on in one year less than the four years suggested. It was pure male bovine excrementalism, the Westley specialism, his MBE.

Moving on to August 26 2016 in The Advertiser trash1 and it is Sophie McCoid reporting on “Democracy trashed” as 150 homes plan goes ahead. Who better to interview than Westley MBE, bleating about the Conservative Group being bitterly disappointed despite it being a Conservative Local Plan in 2013? Westley MBE again, “The Conservatives took the very difficult decisions that were necessary to deliver a robust Local Plan” robust enough to allow a horse and cart to be driven right through it by the Wainhomes barrister trash2! And “The expectation was land being protected from development until at least 2027” so how did this “expectation” become lawful? As the Planning Director has said “Whilst the Council is, as previously stated, disappointed by the Inspectors decision, it does not consider the Inspector has erred on a point of law, and therefore considers that it has no valid grounds for an appeal to the High Court”.

Perhaps not, but a Judicial Review might be called by a resident. In which case Westley MBE might be appearing on oath. Now that would be a sellout?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 29, 2016

Council Accepts Aughton Planning Inquiry Decision As Lawful

Hopes in Aughton that the recent Parrs Lane planning inquiry decision might be challenged as unlawful have been dashed by the Director of Planning in a reply to Aughton Residents’ Group. Colin Atkinson sought answers on behalf of incensed residents.

John Harrison john-harrison replied “Firstly, you asked whether this appeal decision means the whole Local Plan is now void and will have to be subject of another full examination. The short answer is “no”. The Planning Inspector considered that the merits of the proposed development outweighed potential harm to the countryside and its being contrary to our Local Plan policy and consequently ruled in favour of the developer and against the Council’s original decision in a finely balanced judgment. The Inspector gave weight to the policies of the Local Plan in this decision (e.g. see paragraph123 of the appeal decision letter), and, in current and future planning decisions, the policies of the Local Plan will continue to have weight.

“Secondly, you asked how it is that the developers have been able “to determine which of the Plan B parrspic sites should be brought forward without any consideration / selection process by WLBC”. This matter – i.e. the workings of “Plan B”, as set out in Policy RS6 and paragraph 7.68 of the Local Plan – was considered by the Inspector in paragraphs 14-38 of his decision letter. The Inspector acknowledged that the Local Plan text “confirms that [in the event that safeguarded land were to be released for development] it would be the Council who would commence a review to determine which Plan B sites would be the most suitable for release” (paragraph 14 of the decision letter). The Inspector went on to conclude that the proposed development is contrary to Local Plan policy RS6. However, in the overall balance, this conflict with policy RS6 was outweighed by other considerations.

“Finally, you asked whether the Council will have the willingness to “appeal these decisions to the High Court”. Under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the local planning authority is only able to challenge a decision of this nature (i.e. the allowing of an appeal by the Planning Inspectorate) on the grounds that the Inspector has erred on a point of law. Whilst the Council is, as previously stated, disappointed by the Inspectors decision, it does not consider the Inspector has erred on a point of law, and therefore considers that it has no valid grounds for an appeal to the High Court”.

Residents simply do not believe this reply. It has been stated at the Aughton Parish Council that if Wainhomes and or Redrow won the appeal it would mean WLBC had an invalid Local Plan. The letter also does not answer fully the question of which Plan B sites should be brought forward, it merely comments on it. Just as the Altys Lane stitch-up was a local political necessity to save a Tory council vacancy so is this a national political favour for developers.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 28, 2016

A Great Opportunity To Prove Your Worth?

Conservative Cllr Greenall is bitching again. He tweets “I’m a reasonable person. So can someone, anyone, please tell my [sic] what function this grid derbygrid in my area satisfies?”

Yes Councillor, it’s a great opportunity to prove your worth to the community you serve, outside the council chamber rather than in it. While the so called Conservative “northern powerhouse” is apparently in fine fettle, places like Lancashire are being starved of central government funds causing extreme austerity. Blocked grids are not now a priority until they cause flooding and then all hell lets loose.

So, Councillor, go and find a sharp garden implement like a half moon edging tool and clear the grid yourself. Who knows, the electorate of West Lancashire (East) might just think you are worthy of election for what you do rather than what you say? Stop bitching about things not done, join Dad’s Army that used pikes and brooms dadsarmyparade and do it yourself! Instead of rushing for your camera, get fell in man!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 26, 2016

Save Our Services Lancashire

“We are a group of [unknown] Conservative Lancashire County Councillors lcc who are calling on County Council Leader Jennifer Mein and her Labour Party colleagues to halt the drastic cuts that they are making to services which matter to the people of Lancashire.

“So far County Councillor Mein and her Labour colleagues have slashed subsidies to bus routes which have had a devastating effect on some rural communities, and road safety funding has been heavily slashed too.

“Their next plan is to slash the number of Libraries and Young People’s Centres, further cutting off our communities and depriving those who most value these services. You can see the buildings proposed for closure.

“They are also planning to cut the Supporting People’s funding, which supports vulnerable people in our community. This supports Women’s Refuges and homeless shelters.

“County Councillors presented Councillor Mein with a plan to ensure some of these services could stay open, but she rejected it. It’s time to stand up and be counted. She and the Labour Party are playing politics with people’s lives. The people of Lancashire have had enough. Please add your name to our petition, which we will be presenting to County Councillor Mein and her Labour colleagues asking them to think again”.

No names of these Conservative councillors supplied, perhaps they are ashamed that it is their own party in government that has inflicted austerity on the county? Might they also petition Theresa May and her Conservative colleagues asking them to think again? In a news release Labour Deputy Leader Coun David Borrow said “The Tory group in Lancashire have got the cheek of the devil. At a time when the council is making cuts of £100m in 2016/17, with further cuts of over £200m by 2020/21 to pretend the council doesn’t need to make cuts is stuff and nonsense. Lancashire is between a rock and a hard place in seeking to protect the most vulnerable. It’s a pity the Tories don’t spend more time persuading the Government to provide the people of Lancashire with adequate resources. rather than pretending it’s all Labour’s fault”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 25, 2016

Local Aughton Park Scam?

Residents of Aughton Park ward are receiving leaflets delivered to their homes by someone purporting to be a local councillor. The leaflet refers to the decision by the Planning Inspector to approve the development of 50 houses with a view for MORE to follow. Local residents of Aughton Park have often wondered who this mysterious person who allegedly represents them is. Well, she wants the residents to send the leaflet back to her with comments for the Planning Inspector who will no doubt be delighted to hear from her. And the leaflet is not to be returned to her home in Parbold, but to the West Lancashire Conservative Party. baileyparrs5   [click to enlarge]

This is, to put it mildly, an insult to residents of Aughton Park who are “represented” and I use the word loosely, by this part time “councillor” and I also use that word loosely.

The time for comments to the Planning Inspector if she had any concerns was at the Public Inquiry. Some local people DID so…Interested Persons: Aughton & Downholland Councillor O’Toole, Clerk to Aughton Parish Council Irene Roberts, Aughton Residents Group (ARG 2012) member Colin Atkinson, and Local resident Ian Forbes.

So who is she? Look no further than the official WLBC Entry shown below.

03/03/2016 – 26/08/2016
Attendance statistics for Councillor Susan Bailey
Statistic Count Percentage
Total expected attendances: 5
Present as expected: 1=20%
Apologies received: 2=50% of absences
Absent (incl. apologies): 4=80%

Perhaps the residents of Aughton, already the recipients of insults from other local councillors, might treat this intervention for what it is and be inclined to ask why we can’t be rid of 4 of the 5 useless councillors we have?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 25, 2016

Did We Ever Have A Chance Of Keeping Parrs Lane Green?

What a Coincidence? On August 15th 2016 “Wainhomes has won an appeal that will now allow for dozens of homes on green space at Barton in rural Preston. The Inspector found “that the proposed development would be contrary to the development plan in terms of its location and would result in moderate harm to the rural character and appearance of the area. Balanced against this is the contribution to the supply of housing of up to 72 new homes with 35 per cent of those affordable, to which I have given significant weight”.

And on August 19th 2016 “Wainhomes has won an appeal that will now allow for 150 homes on Parrs Lane in rural Aughton. parrspic The proposed development conflicts with LP Policies GN2, RS6 and EN2 (4). Yet still, the scheme would be a form of sustainable development that complies with LP Policies EN2, GN3 (3), IF3 (2) (ii) and GN3(2), and Framework paragraphs that include 32 and 118. Therefore, the appeal should be allowed”.

But this follows a national pattern. Following a public inquiry in April 2013, Wainhomes Developments has won planning approval to build 60 homes on a greenfield site in Rochdale. The site is to the south of Rochdale town centre next to Ginell Farm in Broad Lane to the north of the M62. The key issues considered by the inspector were the sustainability of the site, internal layout, site access, traffic calming and highway safety concerns. Broad Land Action Group, consisting of local residents, provided evidence against the development proposals at the inquiry. Wainhomes Developments was represented by QC Vincent Fraser of Kings Chambers. Expert evidence for Wainhomes Developments was provided by Amjid Khan, director of Royal Haskoning DHV, on highways and transport issues. Stephen Harris, associate director at Emery Planning Partnership, provided evidence on policy and master planning matters. Emery Planning Team pic Emery_Planning_team

And it doesn’t end there. In Par Cornwall government inspector Mike Fox released a report detailing his Wainhomes appeal findings. In it, Mr Fox described Wainhomes’ proposal as a “sustainable development” and concluded that the appeal should be allowed. He said there were “several material considerations” in its favour, claiming development would “meet community needs for affordable housing”, and deliver “short-term economic benefits” by providing construction jobs. He rejected the case made by solicitors acting on behalf of Imerys, who said the development could jeopardise future investment in the company’s Par docks operation, suggesting the company had failed to provide compelling evidence to back those claims up. Mr Fox added “I have also shown that the proposal would be acceptable in relation to the other aspects where some local residents have expressed concerns…such as the highway and access arrangements, flood risk, design, landscaping, and nature conservation”.

Perhaps the Wainhomes real winner is Emery Planning Director Stephen Harris BSc (Hons) MRTPI. Mr Harris has experience of an extensive range of planning matters in locations across the country including Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall as well as the practice’s core base in the North West of England and North Wales. Housing, including housing land supply assessments and retail proposals are particular specialisms. His work includes preparation of pre-application advice and reports incorporating development briefs, the assessment of development sites and their potential, preparation of planning application submissions, co-ordination of development teams of other professionals; liaising and negotiating with planning authorities and giving expert evidence at Public Inquiries and development plan Inquiries. Well, he certainly did that in West Lancashire! For the Appellant Paul Tucker Queens Counsel. Instructed by Stephen Harris Director, Emery Planning Partnership.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 24, 2016

Labour Statement On Parrs Lane

The Leader of the West Lancashire Borough Council Cllr Ian Moran, and Cllr John Hodson johnhod Planning Portfolio Holder, have spoken about Parrs Lane in Aughton.

“The Labour Group shares the absolute and utter disappointment of the residents of Aughton and West Lancashire following the decision by the Government’s Planning Inspector to allow the Parrs Lane appeal, as the loophole in the Tory Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) allows them to do within the provisions of paragraph 49.

“Given that the adopted Local Plan was put in place by the previous Tory administration under a Tory-led Coalition Government the blame for this lies squarely with the Conservatives at West Lancashire and at Government levels.

“Crocodile tears from Cllrs Westley and O’Toole offer scant comfort to the residents of Aughton and West Lancashire, it is now left to the Labour Administration to clear up the mess and try to redress the issues in the next forthcoming Local Plan which is due to start in September and looking to be completed in 2020”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 24, 2016

Commercial Confidentiality, Public Services, And Meaningful Scrutiny

Hiding behind “commercial confidentiality” isn’t acceptable for public services funded with taxpayers’ money and they should be open to meaningful scrutiny says our MP Rosie Cooper. Although she was speaking about West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group she could equally be speaking about Serco and West Lancashire Borough Council whose cosy relationship for leisure services is a source of concern to council tax payers.

As long ago as a Council meeting held 14 April 2010 a Motion to report about Income At Leisure Facilities was denied- Motion Included On The Agenda At The Request Of Councillor Cotterill: Consideration was given to the following motion included on the agenda at the request of Councillor Cotterill: “That the Council Secretary and Solicitor be asked to report on the appropriate and effectiveness of management and governance arrangements for the Council’s leisure facilities.” Following a vote, the Mayor G M Roberts declared the motion to be LOST.

Now, Rosie writes “The Department of Health and the National Audit Office are scrutinising the actions of West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in responding to queries over its management of the procurement process for local community and urgent care services. In recent months, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has raised serious concerns over the CCG’s decision to tender community and some urgent care services to two private companies and two out of area NHS trusts. In doing so they have rejected Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, the current service provider. rosiehospital

“One of Rosie’s major concerns is the lack of openness and transparency in the process. Even using Freedom of Information requests, West Lancashire CCG have sought to hide behind ‘commercial confidentiality’ to avoid answering questions. Rosie raised her concerns with the Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee and with the Department of Health.

“In response the Public Accounts Committee have requested the National Audit Office investigate the use of ‘commercial confidentiality’ by West Lancashire to refuse publishing any meaningful information. The committee chair stated in further correspondence ‘the concerns you raise have similarities with the issues identified in the National Audit Office’s recent investigation into the collapse of UnitingCare Partnership contract’

“Whilst the health minister replied saying he considered a response by West Lancashire CCG to the MP to be ‘unintentionally discourteous’ the minister also wrote that for the general public trying access information on primary care, such as an up to date list of GPs in the local area, was ‘mind-bogglingly opaque’. He continued that the Department of Health will take the issues up directly with the bodies responsible”.

Rosie said “Clearly, it is not just me and the residents of West Lancashire who believe the CCG has been vague in their responses to legitimate questions about the decisions they are taking on the future of vital local health services. Ultimately these are public services funded with taxpayers’ money and they should be open to meaningful scrutiny. Hiding behind ‘commercial confidentiality’ isn’t acceptable. This just protects the bidders for the contracts. It is the CCG’s duty to protect health service users first and foremost. And if they won’t, I will”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 24, 2016

Wainhomes Becomes The De Facto Planning Authority For West Lancashire?

So far as planning matters in Aughton are concerned and especially the Parrs Lane area the developer Wainhomes is now de facto our planning authority, shortly to be joined by Redrow. Even as we residents of the area contemplate the disaster inflicted on the top class agricultural land here we learn “the [Wainhomes] appeal scheme conflicts with LP Policies GN2, RS6 and EN2 (4). Yet still, the scheme would be a form of sustainable development that complies with LP Policies EN2, GN3 (3), IF3 (2) (ii) and GN3(2), and Framework paragraphs that include 32 and 118. Therefore, the appeal should be allowed”.

So in effect the Wainhomes conflictions are offset by its argument for sustainable development. Why didn’t WLBC planning officers know that? Why didn’t the local Tory administration know that?

Colin Atkinson of the Aughton Residents Group asks WLBC “Where does this leave the WLBC Local Plan as it my understanding that the Inspector has agreed with the Developers that it is ‘unsound’ in its current form and I get the impression that the inevitability is that the Redrow appeal is also likely to be allowed? Can you give your thoughts/opinion on the following…Does this mean that the whole Local Plan is now void and will have to be subject of another full examination? How is it that the Developers have been able to determine which of the Plan B sites should be brought forward without any consideration / selection process by WLBC? Will WLBC just ‘rollover’ and conform to these decisions or have the willingness to appeal these decisions to the High Court?”

But that well known local expert, the Andy Capp plandycapp of planning and currently leading the same Tory party to political oblivion, Cllr D Westley, is reported to have said “The Conservative Group is bitterly disappointed with the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow on appeal one of the two Applications that had been refused by the Council’s Planning Committee. We took the very difficult decisions that were necessary to deliver a robust Local Plan. They believed that they were acting in the best interests of the residents of West Lancashire and were ensuring the Borough would be protected from rogue developments.

“The Local Plan which was approved by the Planning Inspector after a lengthy public hearing designated the Parrs Lane Site as Safeguard Land. The expectation was Land being protected from development until at least 2027.

“I am satisfied that the Council Officers put up a very robust defence of the Committee’s decision but the Inspector allowed the Appeal as he was not convinced that there was a five year Supply of Housing Land and that the release of the Parrs Lane Site was required to make up the perceived shortfall.”

He neglected to say he accused decent and honest Aughton residents of lying door to door and wasting time simply because they were petitioning against the development his party supported against a development in Altys Lane. weslur 

The Inspector has said “No development for which outline planning permission has hereby been granted shall be started within any phase until full details of the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale (hereinafter called the “reserved matters”) in respect of that phase have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. All development shall be carried out in accordance with the “Reserved Matters” details approved. Application for approval of reserved matters for Phase 1 shall be made not later than the expiration of 18 months beginning with the date of this permission and not later than 5 years for subsequent phases. The development must be begun not later than the expiration of two years from the final approval of reserved matters, or in the case of approval on different dates, the final approval of the last such reserved matter to be approved”.

How strange that the Inspector didn’t give WLBC notice that he would allow the claim only IF WLBC failed to meet its target in 2017? Why the hurry? Oh, that’s simple enough, political donations = political obligations?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 23, 2016

Wainhomes Are Coming

Recent attempts to name some roads on the new Parrs Lane estate stalled until the Inquiry was decided, but they have re-appeared in the rush to have the names of the local dignitaries who voted for the Local Plan engraved forever in the [bad] memory.   The beautiful rustic style brick reflects our once rustic way of life. lentonlight

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