Nine Days Of Silence

“WLBC invited Burscough Flooding Group for a meeting and then organised it without us being there. Their competence shines through yet again”.

Have you seen these people?

They are wanted by the Burscough Flooding Group. They flit around promising meetings and then disappear up their own backsides. But we pay them!

“Well, the ongoing farce into WLBC’s handling of flooding continues. In an attempt to have the many unanswered questions finally answered by WLBC in a meeting, Burscough Flooding Group were proposing to meet with them in August. The finer detail needed to be agreed because WLBC, just like the Local Lead Flood Authority, are reluctant to have meetings voice recorded. The reason, my best guess is they just don’t want any evidence left for them to be held to account at a later date.

“A date for the meeting was to be arranged in the week commencing 10th August. At 2.00am on the 11th August, my home was subjected to yet another flood with filthy black muddy water filling my entire home to a depth of 6”. At 7.10 am I was live on Radio Lancashire to Graham Liver who was kind enough to give me some air time. I am advised WLBC were contacted for comment, and though they had little to say about my home being devastated once more, they did go on to defend their Planning and Development Policy at length.

“In the near 5 weeks since then, although an assistant has made contact, none of the Upper Echelon have deemed my situation serious enough to make personal contact or even acknowledge my home has been flooded. Too busy having Leave again. In view of the fact that other Residents had expressed concerns, it was unclear whether a meeting would now be with, Burscough Flooding Group, the Residents, or just myself and so I sought clarity;

“Firstly, could you tell me what is the meeting related to, is it as previously discussed, issues to be resolved with Burscough Flooding Group, is it related to problems in Crabtree Lane or is it for some other purpose. Whilst I will be working every day trying to put my home back in a habitable, clean and healthy place to live, resolving the flooding issues must take priority. I will make time for anyone who is genuinely prepared to move things forward and help the Residents here.”

So here is the answer, NONE OF US!!!
“Dear Mr Webster, I have now arranged a meeting involving Mr Ian Gill, representatives from Lancashire County Council as the lead local flood authority, and representatives from United Utilities to discuss flooding in Burscough, especially on Crabtree Lane. This meeting is taking place on Monday 14 September and Mr Gill will come back to you following this meeting to advise you of what was discussed and the proposed way forward. Kind regards”.

“So, it would appear that WLBC, United Utilities and Lancashire County Council have no need of any eye witness accounts, or any ideas from anyone else who has put in time and research into the problem, nor do they ask about what measures are already being taken, they learned all they need to know from the comfort of an office desk. The sad thing is, and believe me it is sad for all the Residents here, they intend to come to some conclusions without having made any attempt to gather all the relevant facts, just like they did with the Jacobs’ Report. Could it be, they are running scared of meeting an old age pensioner armed with the truth, some relevant facts and some difficult questions”.

You can make your own minds. Posted for Bernie Webster, flooded in Crabtree Lane!


Seven Years And Counting

Holding West Lancashire Borough Council to account for a new 9 hole par 3 course and junior facilities at Beacon Park Golf Course. Landfill started on it in 2013. And soon it looked like this, picture courtesy of Google Earth.

But now in 2020 it looks like this, just last week, pictures on the ground.

       

So I asked “There are some leisure matters I wish to pursue, specifically relating to the Beacon Park Golf Course, which I visit as often as I can to keep abreast of the appalling state of the course and the out of control “developments” as they are described, on the land-filled former driving range and the supposed 9 Hole par 3 course and junior facilities.

“You will know the West Lancashire Borough Council Leisure Strategy 2015 – 2025 included a commitment for “plans to develop the leisure offer at the site and these include a new 9 hole par 3 course and junior facilities”. So will you confirm that commitment remains, and provide a timetable for completion of it, because it is currently sealed off by steel cage fencing with an instruction to keep out!

“As for the “state” of the 18 hole course itself my most recent visit to walk it was curtailed by the unusually poor state of the fairways and rough areas that were clearly neglected. Can you please confirm the current course maintenance staffing levels employed by Serco Leisure Operating Limited?

The Head of Wellbeing & Leisure Services, West Lancashire Borough Council writes “The West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust item on the Agenda of Corporate and Environmental Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 17th September 2020 was delivered in the form of a presentation rather than a report.

“The work to develop the 9 hole par 3 course and the junior facilities was initially delayed by poor weather in 2019 and, more recently, by the impact of the COVID19 pandemic. The target completion date for the work and the associated breach of condition notice is currently late summer 2021 [Taking us to 8 years and counting].

“There are currently two green-keepers who are employed to maintain the Golf Course. The Golf Course currently has 160 members”.

The follow-up to WLBC? “When was the proposed 9 Hole junior course last inspected by WLBC, by whom from WLBC, and is any such inspection report available to the public? Or is your reply to me based on Serco Leisure and or the Leisure Trust reporting to you?”

Coronavirus Infections Slow Down In West Lancashire

The West Lancashire Ormskirk & Southport NHS Trust hospitals recorded 3 coronavirus infections today, bringing the total to 955, that’s 835.5 infections per 100,000 of the population.

218 people have tested positive for coronavirus across Lancashire during the last 24 hours, lower by almost 100 since yesterday. No new coronavirus deaths were recorded at hospital trusts in Lancashire in today’s figures from the NHS.

Outrageous Act Of Environmental Vandalism?

Mention “landfill” and Beacon Park Golf Course comes to mind. And mention “outrageous act of environmental vandalism” and BPGC remains in your mind!

A West Lancashire landfill plan was declared to be an “outrageous act of environmental vandalism” after a decision over whether to permit the controversial plan to build up a former landfill site, Parbold Hill Quarry, close to the famous West Lancashire beauty spot, was deferred after councillors demanded that they should see the location first-hand to judge the impact that it could have on the landscape.

Lancashire County Council’s development control committee was considering a proposal to import 200,000 tonnes of inert material into the Parbold Hill Quarry, which was land-filled more than 30 years ago.

Members were told that the site owner wanted to “reprofile” the plot, because of concerns that the way in which the land has settled over the past three decades was causing rainwater to “leach” through the buried household and commercial waste, and potentially pollute groundwater. Well, reprofiling with landfill equals landfill royalties! Think BPGC!

The meeting heard that the landfill design meant that run-off water was not being sufficiently captured, in spite of an element of pumping being deployed to dispose of it. However, the concerns of a total of 15 objectors, the maximum number of oral representations allowed, were read out to the committee, raising issues including safety, ecological impact and the vista from a viewing area on the A5209 looking out across the Douglas Valley and West Lancashire plain towards Liverpool.

A Mr. Sloan said that “to tip seven metres [of material] in the foreground is entirely unnecessary and an outrageous act of environmental vandalism”. And objector Dell Ellis added that “bulldozers will be moving around, buzzers bleeping where buzzards [once] hunted”.

Principal planning officer Jonathan Haine accepted that views would be affected for the 18-month duration of the works, which would generate 40 HGV movements every day. However, he said that there would be a maximum six-metre increase in height above current ground levels at the greenbelt site, which would limit the permanent impact on the outlook. The final landform would not obscure the existing long-distance views. You would probably lose some of the views across the Douglas Valley, but given the higher elevation of the viewpoint itself, the more extensive views towards North Wales and Merseyside would probably be retained” Mr Haine suggested.

Other objectors questioned the need for the work, with Mark Bolton, a local resident who happens to work in the landfill industry, describing as “highly irregular” the fact that all of the information submitted to the county council had been provided by the applicant, Maybrook Investments Limited, without any “final validation of the proposals from the Environment Agency”.

Another resident living in the shadow of the landfill also questioned how an existing crack in the structure would be affected by the addition of the new material. However, after almost two hours of presentations and just as the committee was poised to debate the merits of the proposal members suggested that they could only reach a decision if they visited the area in person.

County Hall’s head of planning Andrew Mullaney said that he did not feel that the lack of a site visit would result in members’ decision-making being in “any way prejudiced”. But West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper had written to the committee to state that taking a “desk-based decision would be unfair on [you] and the residents of Lancashire”.

Members agreed by a majority to request a site visit, which will have to take place on an individual, socially-distanced basis, with each member allocated a timeslot during which they will be walked around the location by a council officer. In normal times, site visits are undertaken by all members travelling to the area in question in a minibus and examining a location collectively.

Advice to residents, think Beacon Park Golf Course, think royalties, read about the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill on this website, and keep saying NO!

The Beacon Park Golf Course Beer Festival

It isn’t true, apparently, that Serco couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery

because they claim they did! It was back in 2013, when they had taken over the Beacon Park Golf Course and it soon started to resemble a landfill site. And still does, because it is!

It’s got worse ever since    , but they actually ran a weekend Beer Festival and you can guess what happened? Yes, members, especially the Seniors, loved the beer and soon forgot the state of the golf course. 

Serco described the event as a “treat for Real Ale and Cider enthusiasts”. And members are still claiming its the only event Serco got right! So, the lesson seems to be, don’t go for the golf, wait for a beer festival!

Coronavirus Infections Surge Continues In West Lancashire

The West Lancashire Ormskirk & Southport NHS Trust hospitals reported 10 new coronavirus infections today bringing the cumulative total to 952, that’s 832.9 per 100,000 of the population.

There have been 330 new coronavirus cases recorded in Lancashire in the last 24 hours, according to Public Health England. Sadly 2 people died having tested positive for coronavirus.

Stunning Act Of Volunteering For The Burscough Community

In a quite stunning act of community spirit the man whose Burscough home was flooded and badly damaged some weeks ago has completed the job he started by clearing a public footpath of weeds.

He writes “Good news for ramblers and those who wish to walk from Burscough Bridge Railway Station through to Martin Mere, enjoying the peace and tranquility through one of a few relatively unspoiled locations left in Burscough”.

The full length of the footpath from the railway station was cut back today to complete the work by local man Bernie Webster who cleared most of the path last week. Ramblers and pedestrians can now walk the full length of this Public Right of Way without getting soaked by wet weeds or stung by nettles. You can see the yellow line drawn on the google map. 
And he adds “Please enjoy your walk through here. It was not possible to pick litter at the same time, so if you get chance, take a small carrier bag with you and pick up just a bit of litter on the way, and eventually it should all get cleared”. He might have added “Don’t drop your litter here or anywhere else for others to pick up” but he didn’t! Instead he simply said “Please take pride in Burscough, if the residents can’t show they care, then how can we encourage the Authorities to up their game?”

Our West Lancashire Calls For Pagoda Fresh Public Consultation

Controversial plans to demolish the ‘pagoda’

at Wheatsheaf Walk in Ormskirk are on hold after the demolition costs reported to councillors were found to be a gross underestimate. Revised costs have not been quantified but could be double the original estimate of “no more than £10,000”.

Council Independents Our West Lancashire have renewed their call for an effective and meaningful public consultation over the demolition plans saying there is now adequate time to do so. In June, all 6 Labour councillors on the Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committee, none of whom represented Ormskirk, ruled out a full public consultation on the demolition proposals, overruling opposition councillors in a narrow 6-5 vote.

Our West Lancashire Knowsley ward spokesman, Neil Pye

himself a former Labour councillor for Birch Green, Skelmersdale. said “In the summer, the Skelmersdale-centric Labour Group pushed the demolition decision through in the face of a public outcry. The council’s previous consultation was so poor at engaging the public that only 28 responses were made, yet hundreds commented on OWL’s social media when the demolition announcement was made.

This fresh delay gives the council plenty of time to organise an effective and engaging public consultation that will provide the updated costs of including the pagoda demolition in the Wheatsheaf Walk improvement scheme. We need to be sure that money spent in our town centres is spent wisely and people should be given their say on this”. 

But at what cost of another consultation? Throwing good money after bad? WLBC should just forget the whole idea.

The Beacon Park Golf Course 9Hole Promises

The farce of the 9Hole Junior golf course goes on. While the site is fenced off and has been since the contractors appeared after the legal notice was served on Serco Leisure Operating Ltd, it is apparent no further work will now happen.

So we have asked the WLBC Chief Operating Officer “There is no sign of any work on the new 9 Hole Course, it’s overgrown and doesn’t begin to resemble a golf course, and the Footgolf Course seems to consist of a mud heap. Would you be kind enough to confirm the dates by which both developments will be in public use?”.

Serco had proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and had agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period.

The surplus income share is based on 1/3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, and Serco Leisure Operating Limited. 5.2 The income share for West Lancashire Community Leisure will be used to support their outreach for community development work providing access for community groups and schools towards events and activities.

5.3 The proposal includes investment into the golf course and facilities, reshaping of the landform to enhance existing golf holes and practice facilities and create a new 9 hole short course. Remodelled driving range outfield and target greens. Provision to enhance internal facilities in the golf club house and entrance area. The work is to be phased in over two years 2013-15 and has an estimated investment/enhancement value for the golf course of approximately £500,000.

It won’t happen, not after planning permission was awarded in 2011. It’s a complete hoax, as we have exposed, a landfill ripoff and VAT avoidance scheme. And if the course reverts back to WLBC, the council parks and gardens staff will have to do the work of green and fairway maintenance. Double funding by taxpayers for a privatised, outsourced, leisure facility! It’s criminal!

Beacon Park Golf Course Misrepresented As A Golf Course!

We recently showed the glossy

produced by Serco Business also known as Serco Leisure Operating Ltd that runs the West Lancashire Borough Council leisure facilities, currently including the Beacon Park Golf Course. It was the occasion of the Annual report to the council. 

But as is well known the Beacon Park Golf Course is a landfill site, has been for seven years, with Serco Leisure Operating Ltd under a formal and legal obligation to restore the course. Sadly, now almost two years on, that hasn’t happened. So here is a picture that is factual.

No writeup needed, just look at the picture that an honest company would, and should, have shown. Serco admit to “commencing a re-profiling of the previous works in April 2019”. The legal notice was issued in 2018. They are in breach of it. WLBC does nothing about it. Believe it or not the reprofiling included a 9Hole junior course and a Footgolf course. We will believe them when we see them! Our future pictures will show the state of affairs that WLBC tolerates from Serco.