Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 2, 2018

Fateful Full Council 16 October 2013

Little did the Tory Deputy Mayor of WLBC Cllr Stephenson know that Item 32 of Full Council 16 October 2013, the West Lancashire Local Plan, would cause a major upheaval in the Halsall ward she lived in and represented then, and the ward she now represents but does not live in, Aughton Park, and seeks re-election to on 3 May.

On that fateful day there was a big public gathering to attend the Chamber, more than could be seated there, police attended and many people were refused attendance. At the request of a member the following Motion was moved and seconded “That this item be deferred so a proper venue and date can be set to enable Members of the Public to attend”. It was defeated, including a vote of Cllr Stephenson.

A further Motion to move the recommendation at 2.1 of the report was moved and seconded. At the request of a Member, before the vote was taken, the voting on the Motion was recorded. Cllr Stephenson voted for the motion. It was then RESOLVED: That the West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 Development Plan Document (DPD), as attached at Appendix A to the Council Report, and the accompanying Policies Map, be adopted, Parrs Lane included.

In the passing of time Stephenson defended her seat in Halsall and was defeated after an acrimonious period in the ward. Cue celebration parties, special cakes baked and enjoyed . Fate struck again when a vacancy occurred in 2017 in safe Tory Aughton Park ward and Stephenson was nominated and was eventually elected. Her record in Halsall makes sorry reading, especially as described in an open letter from residents shown here:

“Rarely have the residents of Halsall witnessed what they consider to be such disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour from someone elected to represent them. The collective group of people, the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall, are disappointed in your decision to vote for the Local Plan and not to speak publicly on their behalf. This was in complete contrast to many other Borough Ward Councillors who had listened to the opinions and wishes of the people who elected them, and stood up to represent them by speaking against the Adoption of the Local Plan.

“They spoke of how they, along with the public, believe it has been in part politically motivated regarding the designated sites for housing in Halsall and Burscough, in an attempt to safeguard the seats of the minority of Cabinet Councillors. They were therefore of the opinion that the Plan was fundamentally flawed, and disregarded the scaremongering tactics adopted by others, including members of Council Cabinet that should the Plan fail ‘Developer Armageddon’ would descend on the Borough. So for those reasons and many others, unlike you, they voted against it. Over the last two months, we along with others, consider you have avoided and fudged the issues that concern us, and that rather than speak for yourself have looked for guidance on how to reply to questions by Borough Cllr Westley, specifically at a public meeting.

“He, of course, is a member of the Borough Cabinet referred to above, so we wonder why we elected you to speak for us when you needed Westley’s advice. We also wonder why you refused outright to answer the question ‘how you intend to vote regarding the Local Plan.’ We ask, is this the correct conduct for our local Ward Councillor? We refer to your responses to individual residents, what we perceive to have been your crude and naïve attempts to salvage what remains of your political career at the most recent Parish Council meeting where you conversed with Mrs Wright, a resident of New Cut Lane. You apparently confirmed to her that you would now re-look at the situation as the information she gave you that the numbers/shortfall of housing could still be covered if New Cut Lane was withdrawn from the Local Plan and remain a safeguarded Plan B site.

Mrs Wright then spent hours drafting emails which contained facts and figures, to demonstrate this, which were sent to you, the Borough planning department, and ourselves. Mrs Wright believed you were now ready to show some backbone, and even at this late stage be prepared to stand up for Halsall. Her efforts were met with complicated responses from the Borough planning department, which a planning lawyer would have had difficulty deciphering, or as a planning officer from another borough commented, they are using “a forest to hide the tree.” And yet again there was no direct answer from you on that you would look to take this further.

Mrs Wright informed us of your concern at what a terrible time you have been having over this ‘situation’. Please understand how little sympathy the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall will offer you in your unfortunate situation. We can conclude that your attempt to regain any credibility well and truly failed based on last night’s Borough Council poor performance and your lack of support for us. As was witnessed by members of the public, your contemporaries and the press, your decision to say absolutely nothing on behalf of how the people of Halsall felt, like a slap in the face, as was your decision to vote to adopt the ‘Local Plan.’

We, the residents of Halsall, are today left wondering if we actually have anyone representing us as we require in the Borough Council. Unlike other members of Halsall Parish Council who have consistently supported us, we consider your best attempts do the complete opposite. In spite of your decision to vote for the Local Plan the Halsall Residents Action Group, on behalf of the residents of New Cut Lane and the rest of Halsall will continue to fight against it.

It is the collective opinion of the residents of New Cut Lane and elsewhere locally that you do not deserve to hold public office in any capacity, you do not represent their opinions and wishes, and therefore you should resign with immediate effect because they, and Halsall, deserve better.

The Halsall Residents Action Group.

Do voters of Aughton Park need this? Will they vote for it? Or will her “terrible time” repeat itself? She walked out of a WLBC Full Council meeting. She did not bother to take her Halsall Parish Council reserved seat . Her annual report was plagiarised from Downholland. Perhaps she might not have an Aughton Park seat soon?

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