In Praise Of Flood Action Groups

“Groups are very much led by the community themselves. The National Flood Forum simply gives them the tools to ensure their success and sustainability. It supports the group to work in partnership with all the right professionals that are needed. Flood action groups are a model of community empowerment.

“We work with communities to empower them to reduce their flood risk and be in control. I have no doubt that the best results happen when people in Flood Action Groups are listened to, their ideas are valued and their local expertise and knowledge is acted upon as part of a partnership approach to reducing flood risk.

“Flooding is a complex issue with lots of agencies and authorities each having a different role to play, which is confusing and frustrating for people. In our experience the best way of making things happen locally is by communities working in partnership with those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies”.

Simple? We wish! As experiences in Burscough, Halsall, and Ormskirk show us, it’s anything but simple, the “local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” don’t want to know.

The most recent effort by Burscough Flooding Group to interact with “those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” had its usual ending. Burscough Flooding Group Secretary Gavin Gattray

having proved his expertise, local knowledge, and determination to solve the flood risk, was told by a condescending LCC Officer “I can’t provide you with a full training course in planning procedures and regulations in one email, however I will try to offer some help in terms of the general planning issues you raise. Firstly, you need to understand that Yew Tree Farm development has an approved masterplan and an outline permission, both of which have conditions attached to manage surface water drainage. These conditions are being applied to subsequent reserved matters applications. Once reserved matters are approved, there is usually no further opportunity to vary the drainage design details”.

What a good start in response to matters concerning 2019/0311/ARM and 2019/1182/ARM, for which Gavin Rattray had asked LCC “This is a follow up to my email to yourself and ***** on the 9th September below. It is important that you respond to it as soon as possible please; because it could impact on the information feeding into the current application at YTF. Without it BFG may not be able to adequately respond to planning application for the next phase of YTF 2019/1182/ARM. WLBC has set us a deadline of 31st January 2020”. So Burscough will suffer flood alerts, including severe flood warnings, because of more expansion of Yew Tree Farm!

And why the importance? Gavin Rattray wrote “As you must already know BFG provided the new information (attached) too late to change the drainage on the planning application referenced above and knowing from the LLFAs [Lead Local Flood Authority] own comments. The LLFA has approved the application on some sort of trust basis because the drainage conditions in 20190311ARM are considerably less onerous than the special conditions imposed by the masterplan for Yew Tree Farm (flawed as they are also). As were the surface water drainage conditions imposed on the previous six homes constructed on the end of Lordsgate Lane (also YTF land). With the benefit of the new information BFG have supplied. It looks like both were a mistake which may still be partly recoverable as the SUDS has not yet been built and 2015/0171/OUT hasn’t yet been approved.

“Please can LLFA kindly look at the evidence we have provided and stipulate to WLBC what it believes will be necessary to mitigate the increased downstream flood risk both developments are currently causing at Langley Brook and the suspected risk to Orrell Lane and Crabtree Lane? (This is due to the two new YTF developments currently being connected to an already flooding drainage system without attenuation).

“Now the LLFA is aware of design of the drainage system for 2019/0311/ARM and the very high downstream flooding risk due to the virtual abandonment of maintenance on parts of the Alt Crossens system, please can LLFA also ascertain what can be done in the longer term to improve the planned SUDS system to reduce the extra downstream flood risk to as low a value as possible in order to protect residents and farms and stipulate this to WLBC?”

Will it be enough? All this community empowerment (subject to partnerships with WLBC, LCC, UU) means nothing in Burscough.  Will YTF development that brings vast amounts of council tax to WLBC and LCC be made conditional on attenuation? Some hopes! Caveat emptor !

Ormskirk Station Shared Use Footpath & Cycleway

The footpath between Ormskirk bus and rail stations to be upgraded for cyclists.

WLBC states “We are pleased to announce that work will begin on Monday 20 January to upgrade the existing footpath between Ormskirk bus and rail stations to create a new shared use footpath and cycleway.

“This scheme has been proposed for a number of years and forms an essential part of the Council’s aspirations to encourage walking, cycling and greater use of public transport.

“The plans involve widening the existing path, providing new improved lighting, a new handrail and providing an entirely new surface from a sustainable, recycled material. The delivery of this scheme is being funded by developer contributions from developments at Edge Hill University, as well as some Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.

“The Council has been working on this path upgrade with support from Network Rail, Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Lancashire County Council and works are expected to last until the beginning of April. Whilst works are taking place the footpath will be closed to the public for safety. Alternative routes between the bus and rail stations will be available via Railway Road or Stanley Street.

“The scheme is the first stage of wider proposals to deliver a cycling route between Ormskirk train station and Edge Hill University with Lancashire County Council, to encourage students to travel to the University by public transport, cycling and walking and so help to reduce traffic associated with the University. The upgrade will also improve access to the town centre from the train station helping to support town centre businesses”.

Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council and portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration, said “I am pleased we are now in a position to deliver these exciting improvements which form part of wider proposals to improve walking and cycling provision in Ormskirk”.

It would be remiss of us not to disclose the part Ormskirk resident Barrie French played in all this activity. In exchanges with a WLBC Officer he wrote “Good news on the start date, can you provide me with your health and safety policy? My main concern is how you are going to direct the public to and from the old pathway while the work is in progress, are you going to direct the public up St. Helens road or Station Road and will the signs be before going into bus station and sign posted to which road to use when they get to Derby Street bridge where there is no zebra crossing ether end and the footpaths ether side of the bridge are just wide enough for one? Can I suggest that a temporary crossing is formed, or a lollipop type person is employed to help people cross the busiest road in Ormskirk. Also have you informed Edgehill University of this work and posters sent prior to work starting?”

Further exchanges led to this response to Mr French from the WLBC Officer “I agree that given how narrow the Derby Street bridge is it would unsuitable to direct pedestrians onto it. As such we are proposing a diversion on Derby Street, Stanley Street and Moor Street to link back to the bus station. This route involves using entirely adopted highway, and is considered the primary access between the bus and rail stations. A lot of Edge Hill students already use this option as a safe alternative to the pathway we will be closing.

You will note from the plan below,

we are proposing that people cross on Derby Street after the Stanley Street junction where cars tend to be going slower and there is more visibility (this also avoids crossing the busier A570) and then utilising the formal crossing at the top of Stanley Street before going to Moor Street”.

Well done Barrie French!

WLBC Head Of Finance, Procurement And Commercial Services

The Head of Finance, Procurement and Commercial Services is, currently as listed in “Management of the Council”, Marc Taylor.

Today “Published: Thursday 16 January 2020”, there is listed under current vacancies on the WLBC that same job. It seems WLBC has lost its fourth senior manager within weeks.  “We are seeking to appoint a new Head of Finance, Procurement and Commercial Services to join our new senior management team and make a real difference”. 

Whoever this newcomer will be cannot exceed the performance of Marc Taylor, whose efficiency and readiness to provide information has been exemplary, as this author knows.

What is it about WLBC Derby Street that is leaving us with a virtual clear out of the top brass?

Welcome To Active WestLancs

It was interesting to see Councillor Yvonne Gagen

WLBC Cabinet member for leisure, say to the Champion “Make 2020 the year you make your health a priority. Active West Lancs can help you to achieve your goal, so take a look at the website and find the activities that are right for you”.

Active West Lancs’

is a partnership commissioned by Lancashire County Council to deliver a three year programme to improve health and wellbeing across the borough.

The four partners involved are West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancs School Sports Partnership, West Lancs CVS Community Food Growing, and West Lancs Community Leisure Trust, ie Serco!

Today. What’s on offer

Within its myriad options is that of Active Golf, which is “a brand new initiative for you to be referred into by your GP or medical practitioner. Active West Lancs will be holding weekly golf sessions on Fridays, 10am – 2pm at Beacon Golf Club, Upholland WN8 7RU. 

Equipment can be borrowed on the day, no previous golf experience needed! So if you fancy some fresh air, meeting new people and socialising, then have a chat with your GP and if you meet the criteria, then you can be referred. NB Unlike our other programmes, this is GP referral only! Not that this offer is real golf, more a surreal experience!

It would be interesting to see what IS on offer at the Beacon Park Landfill Course

It is, usually, an 18 Hole Golf Course, but not as originally designed. Its blurb states, today “Welcome to Beacon Park Golf Centre located in the heart of West Lancashire, where you can play a round of golf on our “superb” 18 Hole course. Whether you are a budding pro or a beginner golfer our course will certainly provide an enjoyable experience”. Unusual rather than enjoyable? To reach the current first tee is an exercise, for unfit golfers, in dragging your feet though a sea of mud, as the course is”reprofiled” by Serco!

What’s more on our 19th hole we also have a cafe where you can grab a coffee, bacon sandwich or enjoy much deserved glass or two after your game.

Clubs and Societies. Beacon Park Golf and Country Club is the ideal venue for golf societies. Golf Day Packages are available to all societies and clubs. Beacon Park Golf Club. Registered Golf Club at the Centre. For more information, please contact the centre directly on 01695 625551. 

7 Day Forever Fit Annual Membership
Beacon Park Golf £185.00 12 Month Membership
60+ Only, Proof of Age Required
Unlimited use of the 18 hole golf course any day of the week.

7 Day Adult Rolling Direct Debit
Beacon Park Golf £57.50 Monthly Direct Debit Membership
Unlimited use of the 18 hole golf course any day of the week.
[Equates to an annual fee of £690]

South Ribble Greenbelt Land Saved From Wainhomes

An important victory for safeguarded land will bring satisfaction to residents everywhere fighting developers who want the easy option of building on greenbelt land. This, below, is land on Chain House Lane, South Ribble. Pic from Lancashire Post.

It’s reported that objectors are celebrating after planning permission for 100 new homes in Whitestake was rejected. South Ribble Borough Council hailed it an ‘enormous victory for residents’ following its successful defence of a planning committee decision to refuse permission.

The Wainhomes application for land at Chain House Lane, Whitestake, was refused in June because the application site is allocated as safeguarded land under the current South Ribble Local Plan.

In addition, the proposal, due to its nature, scale and permanency, was deemed unnecessary because the council can demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of deliverable housing land elsewhere in the borough. An independent planning appeal led by a Government inspector ruled in favour of the council when it announced its decision on December 13.

It agreed with the council’s original decision to refuse planning permission, and the appeal was dismissed, much to the delight of residents local to Chain House Lane, many of whom had strongly objected to the application earlier in the year.

The public inquiry in November set out to establish whether the council could demonstrate that it had a five-year supply of deliverable housing land and whether the proposed development would prejudice the council’s ability to manage the comprehensive development of the wider site within which the appeal site is located.

The inquiry was set up following an appeal from Wainhomes.

Councillor Caleb Tomlinson, chair of the council’s planning committee, said: “This is an enormous victory for residents and the council’s planning officers. The Planning Inspectorate’s decision will be a significant one for South Ribble Borough Council and neighbouring councils, and we are very pleased to have shown throughout this process that we have observed the relevant planning laws and guidance every step of the way and, in doing so, we arrived at the correct conclusion, which was refusal.

Councillor Bill Evans

Cabinet Member for planning, regeneration and City Deal at South Ribble Council, said “I am delighted chiefly for the residents whose strong opposition to the planning application in the spring and summer of 2019 and later, at the planning appeal, has meant that the deliberations remained thorough, thoughtful and considerate throughout” and he added “The Local Plan is currently being reviewed and everyone is welcome to respond to the current consultation which lasts until Friday 14 February 2020.

“The documents can be viewed online at

The USA Is Ready To Rock With The UK On 01 Feb, The EU Isn’t

From Facts4EU

Yesterday the US Ambassador to the Court of St James, Ambassador Woody Johnson, made it perfectly and very publicly clear that the United States is ready to start formal trade talks the moment the UK leaves the EU. Unfortunately, unlike the US, the EU will not be ready.

Ambassador Johnson confirmed that the USA is ready to start agreeing new trade arrangements with the UK in two weeks’ time, on 01 February, the day after the United Kingdom exits the EU. How is it possible that the EU is not ready to start trade talks after all this time? [Who cares!]

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

EU-UK trade talks – the current position and the extra EU delays.On 01 February, (first day after Brexit), the EU will NOT be ready to negotiate. When drafted, the Commission’s proposed mandate needs to be discussed by the EU27 governments. The EU will not be ready to negotiate trade with the UK until March, which will be three years and nine months after the UK voted to leave the EU.

This is just three months before the notice period to extend the end of the Transition Period expires. It is just nine months before the UK will leave the EU and trade independently. On the other hand, the USA is ready to start.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s former chief of staff Clara Martínez Alberola

has just become the EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator, working with Barnier. She only started work one week ago, on Monday 06 January. In the 1980s Ms Martinez Alberola attended the College of Europe in Brussels, as well as the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Aged 56, she has only ever worked as a technocrat for the EU.

Once the Commission has produced its “negotiating mandate”, it then has to propose this to the EU27 governments for approval. It is expected that there will be some disagreements. Some governments will insist on prioritising certain issues, such as full access to British waters, whereas others will care far more about the bulk of the trading arrangements between the EU and the UK.

We expect this to be discussed at the General Affairs Council on 25 February although no agenda has yet been produced. Barnier himself “hopes” that the final mandate will be agreed by the end of Feb/early March. Only then can the first negotiating meetings with the UK’s team be planned.

We are where we are. And countries like the US are champing at the bit, whereas the EU donkey is plodding along at its own pace. This in itself shows how the British people chose the right course back in 2016?

Deadline For Police Funding Survey

You know about the annual Lancashire police precept, it’s never enough

The pic above represents a police car flashing light. Do you ever see one? Often? Never?

PCC Grunshaw asks you to **Have your say**Due to the General Election there is a delay in the confirmation of the level of central government funding for policing and cost pressures remain. How much would you be willing to pay to support @LancsPolice in 2020/2021?

The survey asks “How much would you be willing to pay to support policing in Lancashire in 2020/2021? Freeze – no increase on 2019/20. This would mean Lancashire has less money to spend on policing. Increase by up to 7.7p per week, £4.01 per year for a Band D property. This equates to 1.99% and would raise an extra £1.783m for policing. Increase by up to 19.4p per week, £10.07 per year for a Band D property. This equates to 5% and would raise an extra £4.479m for policing.

The deadline for completing this survey is 9am, Friday 17th January. There is always a poor response overall, but PCC Grunshaw merely wants a majority in favour. He likes his 5%, but there is a time when some might say, enough is enough. Policing should be funded by central taxation, equally paid by all?