I was reminded today by a friend that on 17th Oct 2013, five years have flown by, I wrote on http://www.westlancashirerecord.com, since deleted by virtue of website space issues, that “John Hodson Spoke. Well Worth The Admission Fee”. I copy it below.
“The protestors to the adoption of the Local Plan who heard the debate were impressed that, in his speech, a Councillor for Scott ward John Hodson had shown a grasp of the situation that was outstanding, and more so by comparison with the dross of the majority party.
“He spoke about the National Planning Policy Framework and about Council’s flawed thinking behind it that was obviously designed to aid developers open up the Green Belt and greenfield sites for their profits. As Cllr Hodson put it, planning is not an obstruction to development, it’s more a question of lenders and the loss of confidence. It is a policy cynically dressed up as ‘Localism’ and that is the exact opposite to what the public understood it to be.
“He suggested that the Local Plan has been only partially produced under the NPPF and so is bound to be flawed. It’s not that it does not meet the test of Soundness under the NPPF, nor is it that it does not meet the test of Legal Compliance under the NPPF, but it is that it does not meet the test of the people who it is mostly going to affect, the residents of West Lancashire. Quite simply it is not the best Local Plan for West Lancashire.
“Cllr Hodson spoke of this Local Plan also letting down the people of Skelmersdale, that less than 50% of development, equivalent to just a few thousand population, is to take place in a Strategic Town Settlement which was originally designed for twice its current population of 45,000 in terms of infrastructure. What did this mean? It means less. Less attraction to potential employers, less attraction to investors, less attraction to major retailers, and less for the people of Skelmersdale New Town.
“But it also does mean more for some, and here we heard Cllr Hodson refer to what the Tories always want for their backers. More profit for greenfield landowners, more profit for developers who get to build where they want to, more safeguarding of the Political bases of certain elected members, the true ultimate NIMBYs.
“Cllr Hodson made an impassioned statement that we should be clear about the ownership of this Local Plan. He asked, does it belong to the People of Ormskirk? Does it belong to the people of Halsall? Does it belong to the people of Burscough? Does it belong to the people of Skelmersdale? Does it even belong to the people of West Lancashire? His answer was a firm No, it belongs ONLY to its creators and advocates, the Tories of West Lancashire and their National Cohorts in Government. Not to mention their land developer donors.
“For that reason, he said, “I am proud to say that I will be voting “Against” this Local Plan which is not worthy of the people of West Lancashire, and I request a recorded vote by name”.
“This contribution was worth the admission fee…my contribution to the hospitality enjoyed by the freeloaders in the Westley Arms”.
Now, about that admission fee! It was free, but it came at a cost of police presence to control the protestors. Just like September 2018. We didn’t threaten councillors, we protested against lack of democratic participation in the process. As did Cllr Hodson. He must now tell us what has changed since 2013. Why does Skelmersdale not own HIS local plan? It can’t be political, can it? Has the dross of the THEN majority party been draped around the NOW majority party? Probably!