Posted by: westlancashirerecord | July 6, 2017

Has Action Man Altered The Dodgy Local Plan?

The outcome of the court decision yesterday on the Wainhomes development application for the Prescot Road/Parrs Lane agricultural land is due to a number of events both local and national. The developers rely on the Government planning policies and perceived housing shortages, the defendants of the land rely on local passion and the continuation of its primary use, growing crops, and council house building achievements too.

What is clear now is the stark difference between the party that receives donations from developers and the party that doesn’t, a clear divide between those who will allow developers to decide local planning matters and those who won’t, guided by “Action Man” Labour Cllr John Hodson   [on the left of the picture].

It was he, and his Labour Borough Cabinet, who decided to make a stand and challenge the understandably risk averse planning officers, most of whom would have been schooled by the old Tory policy that ignored local democracy and played politics for all it was worth. After all, we were told by the then Planning Cabinet Member  that three options, including Altys Lane, were too many for us to understand. But what we DID understand was the forthcoming Derby Ward by-election in the Tory ward.

Who among us could ever forget what we published in October 2013, that Lord Derby’s agent had sent out a very interesting letter to councillors about the Local Development Framework strategic options selection process, which the Tories have been trying to manipulate for short political gain, the key sentence being “[The Estate] wishes to draw to the attention of Cabinet members that, in its view, the document does not accurately reflect the comments made by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee which recommended that the document should seek comments on the merits of the Ormskirk Site”.

This was a reference to the Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting held on 3rd February, which carried the following resolution “That in relation to the decision of Cabinet the Committee does not ask for a different decision. That, when considering the Options document at Cabinet on 15 March 2011 in respect of Preferred Options B and C, Cabinet be requested to indicate that views may also be given, through the consultation process, on the rejected Option A”.

Option A stayed rejected, a Tory won the by-election, and ultimately the Local Plan became what it was, an Aughton developers’ paradise. But now it isn’t, not yet. And what we must always remember is the cacophony of objections by the Tory opposition to the costs of legal action, opposition fought by Cllr Hodson and his Cabinet and the Labour Group. Aughton’s residents can now feel the process has moved to a more level playing field, all we ever asked for.

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