Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 14, 2018

Cllr Owens “Labour Resorting To Smearing Me” Claim

While the row about the Cabinet Local Plan  meeting rumbles on, a particular matter that would be a major factor in any planned development, the underground large gas mains pipelines that run under much of the land indicated for development in Bickerstaffe, was apparently excluded from consultation documentation.

Also not apparent is the clear WLBC circumvention of the “Appeal Ref: APP/P2365/W/15/3132596 Land to the north west of Parrs Lane, Aughton, Lancashire, that “This decision supersedes that issued on 9 December 2016 which was quashed by order of the High Court”. Council can demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites. Relevant policies in the Local Plan are not out of date in terms of paragraph 49 of the NPPF or for any other reason. Under these circumstances the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in paragraph 14 of the NPPF does not apply. Material considerations do not provide a justification for granting planning permission. For the above reasons and taking account of other matters raised I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed”. These considerations should continue to apply even for the duration of the current Local Plan and beyond.

Meanwhile, Councillor Adrian Owens has said “Labour are resorting to completely untrue smears about me and completely distorting the meeting. We have placed a video of the meeting on our Facebook Page and people can form their own opinion. In the meantime, OWL councillors will be pursuing the questions from residents that went unanswered in the coming days with council officers”.

A Bickerstaffe resident Ian Rigby who posed questions of the councillors said “It was clear that the events of Tuesday evening only arose out of the anger felt at the cabinet’s disregard of the concerns raised, even when confirmed by their officers. It is another nail in the coffin of our democratic process when we have elected members failing to take seriously the concerns of those that elected them”.

OWLs claim “Council can’t answer resident questions over Local Plan Consultation as local police called to Meeting . Labour resort to complete fabrications to distract attention from the fact that they can’t answer resident questions about new local plan consultation.

“West Lancashire Labour have resorted to complete fabrication say Council Independents to distract attention from the fact that they failed to properly address legitimate questions from residents about the forthcoming local plan consultation at Tuesday’s Cabinet Meeting. They then compounded matters by calling the police when many of the 150 or so residents  present reacted angrily to the council Leader shutting down discussion on the matter.

Our West Lancashire Councillor Ian Davis said “I was appalled at the attitude of senior cabinet members. Residents asked how a proper consultation could be held when the newspaper the Council intends to use isn’t circulated in areas such as Bickerstaffe and Appley Bridge where significant housing developments are proposed, no answer was forthcoming. Residents asked how the councillors could put the draft local plan out to consultation when they hadn’t seen many of the evidence papers that supposedly support the council’s thinking, again no answer was forthcoming and the same when residents asked why the consultation document makes no mention of the underground large gas mains pipelines that run under much of the land indicated for development in Bickerstaffe”.

No doubt there will be repercussions within WLBC of the claims and counter claims of who was responsible for the shambolic meeting and the management of it. We are left wondering why a highly paid Chief Executive and her senior managers lost it. We should be told.


  1. Labour doesn’t need to ‘resort to smearing’ Adrian Owens as he is self incriminating in his failure to condemn the appalling behaviour of some people in the Council Chamber at the Cabinet meeting. Surprisingly, the OWLs have handily posted more scenes from the night clearly showing the degree of intentional disruption and intimidation that elected members & Officers were subjected to. If this is how the OWLs would determine the future of the Borough of West Lancs, then God help us all. He should condemn instead of smirking and laughing at those Officers and members who were subjected to what you can see for yourself on the video.

    • Is it the case that the OWL video only identifies OWL members or supporters who allegedly behaved appallingly, and there are no independent members of the public who went along to vent their anger and opposition to what the cabinet might decide? Not being there, as I was in 2013 when WLBC called police before the meeting started, I’m aware that the video is shown in good faith as proof of the activity, not as proof of intentional intimidation as you assume? In 2013 the protest was good humoured but intense, yet bitter comments made by elected members inflamed emotions, You have the benefit of attending both events. Isn’t the only conclusion one of mismanagement and complacency by allowing so many into the chamber?

  2. During the course of the meeting in was blatantly obvious that Adrian Owens was encouraging people when they became disruptive and he was laughing at the antics of some of the people who were the worst behaved. Of course he will deny this but I was personally abused by people when leaving the building. It is also true that whilst we were outside of the Chamber waiting for things to calm down Ian Moran and myself were having a very good natured conversation with someone who had obviously been fed a lot of misinformation and who seemed grateful for some of the information we shared. The issue of whether we should have carried on with the Cabinet Meeting in the Cabinet Room as per normal, we decided that probably only around 15-20 members of the public could have fitted in that room and that this in itself would only frustrate people – so as a concession we agreed to hold the meeting in the main Chamber and although our normal place names were taken through it was difficult for people to see them due to the design of the chamber seat shelves. You only need to look at some of the disgraceful comments on the OWL facebook page which are accompanied by further encouragement by the administrator to know who was behind the bad behaviour.

    • Well, it seems your forgone conclusion that OWLs were entirely to blame cannot be denied even though some Labour supporters did so on Labour West Lancashire, as I have mentioned, to defy your view. As I am an opponent of any party that wants to build one single house on a piece of valuable agricultural inheritance I am bound to say I wish your greenbelt policy total failure. I hope you can live with that, I know I can.

  3. No, I am not saying that the OWLs are entirely to blame but its funny isn’t it that wherever Adrian Owens distributes his malign influence in order to continue his personal vendetta, others get swept in. The option not to build on any agricultural land is simply not available either in West Lancs or nationally and to try and pull the drawbridge up now is to deprive the next generation of having the benefit of becoming home owners like our generation. So, to coin a phrase, I hope you can live with that, I know I can.

    • Well, as I said, I wish any intent to build on greenbelt to fail. And why should there be a presumption that future home owners take precedent over future farmers? You call it depriving the next generation of becoming home owners like OUR generation. I want it to be that the next generation of farmers will have the chance to be farmers, also like OUR generation of farmers. Houses on concrete, crops on agricultural land. You have said “The option NOT to build on any agricultural land is simply not available”. That’s what you can live with. I know I can’t. Who will feed the generation of home owners on Parrs Lane when it happens?

  4. It is not an option because if you fail to keep your Local Plan updated every 5 years, the Government will let developers come in and virtually allow them to build as many as they want, where they want. Under the current Local Plan West Lancs is 90.5% Greenbelt, under the new proposals that would reduce by less than 2% over 30 years, so there would still be 88% Greenbelt left for other purposes.

    • In 2013 I, along with 50 or so opponents of green belt development, heard you give a speech in opposition to the then proposed Tory Local Plan, in which you expounded the attractions of developing Skelmersdale to its full potential, with its land and its roads and its ease of development of affordable housing. What went wrong? Now, we hear of the need to expand housing development all over the green belt. Never mind that it is only less than 2% over 30 years, and the fact that developers who buy expensive fields then build expensive houses on them, and it’s 2% less agricultural land. Are you happy to contribute to the loss of tenancies and jobs in agriculture? Aren’t you now complicit in bringing those old Tory plans into being?

  5. Absolutely not, and I have not changed my approach whatsoever. The issues and challenges which Skelmersdale faces are massive, too big for a Borough Council the size of West Lancs to fund through normal means. The options being considered are a structured way of addressing those issues, i.e. when you read the AMR (Annual Monitoring Report) you see things like year 6 schoolchildren in Skelmersdale have the highest levels of obesity in Europe. That is just one of many, so we are taking a strategic approach hence the 30 year Plan. Most of the development will take place in and around Skelmersdale with the rest being distributed across the Borough in accordance with the settlement hierarchical approach which in turn you are required to use to ultimately gain approval from the Planning Inspector at examination stage.The proposals would attract sufficient funding to provide things like the proposed Skelmersdale Rail Station ( incidentally supported by Liverpool City Region) environment improvements, affordable housing and much more besides in the form of community benefits. This is a highly complex process which will take years to plan and execute, again, hence the 2050 dateline. My main disagreement with the 2012-27 Local Plan was the types of houses, in the locations where they were and the concerns over infrastructure. The policy elements of the LP were and still are very good with West Lancs having one of the best quality LP’s in terms of policies good for the environment and I pay tribute to my predecessor Martin Forshaw who was a very able and competent Portfolio Holder. The existing LP has been undermined somewhat by the introduction of the NPPF and its subsequent revisions, all designed to give developers the upper hand and take decision making away from being locally based. Coupled with the emergence of City Regions, in our case the nearest geographically based one being Liverpool City region, has led to the need for a revision. I am happy to expand on all of this if you would like me to so that you can do a thread on it? It is important that people understand the context of the current planning environment we have to operate within.

    • This is all very interesting, but far beyond comments, more like a party political statement. With the best will in the world these complex issues written about above will solve nothing. Nor do they address smearing of political opponents. By all means write your thread and I will publish it. But let us be clear. In the period leading up to the 2013 Tory Local Plan opponents of it were accused of telling lies door to door, and others had their protest placards ploughed into the fields of Burscough. Don’t ever forget the opposition to that plan. Don’t ever forget how we were told we would be confused by three options. And equally, now, don’t impose on us the notion that you need over 30 years for your new plans when there are 9 years left on the current one. I hear that your upcoming method of public consultation will repeat the Champion Wraparound favoured by the last party. In this day and age surely you should be utilising the WLBC website for your policies far more than is done already. Not just official notices but a responsive thread that you are asking for here.

  6. Give me your suggestions for greater distribution of details for consultation and I will do my utmost to make it happen. Yes, it is highly complex and thus should be treated with degree of respect so far not demonstrated. I pledge to give any information on the process that I can. Period.

    • In the case of party political threads you will need to email them to me for vetting and editing. They should be precise and factual, informative, not libellous, respectful, and limited to local issues that would be affected by the proposed new Local Plan.

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