Monthly Archives: December 2018

Rainford Safeguarded Land, Removed From Green Belt, Not Allocated For Development, Sits Somewhere In Between!

From Rainford Action Group, Press Release 6 December 2018 “The next version of the Local Plan has been published today. This is the version that will be put before the planning inspector by St Helens Council. We wanted this version to be radically different to the last – and it is. The number of sites in Rainford earmarked for housing has been cut from six to one, I’ll repeat that, SIX to ONE. Another site close to Sandwash Close has been earmarked for an industrial unit.

“This is obviously a good result for the village. Even better news is the council is no longer stretching its plan over 30 years but 15 years. This means it is more realistic. The bad news is that the Rookery Lane/Higher Lane site has been earmarked for housing consisting of 259 houses in total. This is grade one agricultural land. Where farmers currently grow crops but, if plans go ahead, there will be housing expanding across that land in the future.  Can you spot the problem? Yep, the land floods! Badly!

“Our concern is this will be the thin end of the wedge. If planning permission is granted on that site, all the neighbouring fields could be threatened in the future. We’re going to take time now to look more closely at this plan and read the small print before making official comment. We suggest you do too”.

NB 12 December “Cllr Bowden, cabinet member balanced development, housing and economic opportunity, says the Local Plan will deliver affordable housing. Says the plan specifies a provision on 30% affordable housing. Says it is a “balanced” plan”.

And “Melanie Hale Development Control Manager at St Helens Council is now discussing the “safeguarded land”, land that cannot be developed in the Local Plan’s 15-year period. She says it is removed from the green belt, but not allocated for development, saying it sits “somewhere in-between”!

The Positives Of A Sovereign Brexit

This is the last of our articles from the business person who wants Brexit to bring our country back, a Sovereign Brexit.

“Dear Prime Minister

“So much for the specious arguments that a Sovereign Brexit would be problematic, and that your surrender deal is therefore necessary. But what about the positives for a Sovereign Brexit? I sometimes wonder what Downing Street’s  grasp of numbers is like. Do you have any true feel for what £39 billion, so insouciantly promised to the EU in return for illusory favours, could do for this country were we to spend it on ourselves, as we could if we opted for a Sovereign Brexit, rather than giving it away?

“For a start, were there any sector (including your much-loved auto sector), but let us say, for example, the agricultural or the fisheries sector , that indeed for some (unlikely) reason suffered during any years of further negotiations, then just a small fraction of this £39bn would be enough to keep those industries whole, for the (in the scheme of things) short period it took to get a free trade deal with the EU. We do not owe this £39bn to the EU. It’s possible that the EU could make an argument for us paying over a small fraction of that amount as one or another obligation, that we might eventually agree, but we certainly wouldn’t pay it any time soon, were the EU to keep on playing the sort of hardball with us that they have adopted so far as their negotiating posture; it would take them years, possibly decades, to establish legally that we owed the money.

“Regardless, there is no way that the UK would ever have to pay anything but a small fraction of the full sum. Don’t you think, Prime Minister, that the EU are rather keen to have that money? Do you not see that by ruling out a Sovereign Brexit, and by promising to pay the money before you have agreed a trade deal with the EU, you have taken two enormous bargaining chips off the table? Wouldn’t keeping that money in a Sovereign Brexit scenario make a huge positive impact for the UK?

“So, for a start, we’ll have that £39 billion (a sum that in your deal, as we pay it to the EU, will massively and worryingly increase this country’s debt – for no clear return). But a Sovereign Brexit will give us so much more than just that money; we’ll retain our ability to do free trade deals with that part of the global economy from which 90% of future global growth will be coming (you may know this as the ‘not the EU’ world. I hope you sometimes think about it?); we’ll keep our ability to unshackle our entrepreneurs from EU regulation (so that, as just one random example, we can regain the 12% of the global clinical trials industry that we used to have, until EU regulations in 2002 suddenly collapsed our share to around 2%); and above all, the clothing, food and other essentials that the people of the United Kingdom buy in the future being far cheaper as we move outside the protectionist barriers of the EU’s Customs Union and Internal Market .

“You know very well, Prime Minister, how all of your allegedly neutral and objective advisers have ostentatiously ignored all of these benefits. You know they have failed to seriously review the many analyses that show that far from a Sovereign Brexit being negative for the British economy, it is likely instead to have a significant positive effect. You know that the insistence of your Treasury officials on publishing neither their models, nor the assumptions they put into those models, make an absolute nonsense of the credibility of those models and a mockery of the alleged impartiality of those officials. Please, Prime Minister: you are juggling with the future of this country. At the very least, you should be honest with the people of this country – both in acknowledging the above points, and in forcing your officials to own up to the way they have jammed their thumb onto one side of the scales of public opinion.

“Prime Minister, you are offering us a deal where you propose to break up the Union and hand Northern Ireland over to the EU. You intend to hand over money ahead of any trade deal, thus assuring that whatever is agreed in that deal will be even more horrendous than what you have come up with so far – Gibraltar threatened, our fisheries destroyed, our people deprived of their chance for the benefits of free trade and subjected to semi-permanent, quite likely perpetual, enshacklement to the EU. You have gone back on every single promise you made when the Conservative Party made you their leader, when you gave your Lancaster House speech, when you said “Brexit means Brexit”.

“The sorry band around you are desperate for your deal to go through because if we went for a Sovereign Brexit instead, they, and their enablers in the media and big businesses, would be exposed as the complete charlatans that they are, when a WTO terms Leave is implemented (the Leave that those 17.4 million voters expected to happen). This is why your myrmidons are fighting so hard, because all of them – your advisers, the civil servants involved, the Treasury forecasters, your small clique of Remain ministers, The Economist, the FT, the BBC, and on and on – would have no choice but permanently to disappear from public life once we implemented a Sovereign Brexit and all their egregious negative spinning and outrageous scare stories were proved as false as their original 2016 Project Fear was.

“You, however, Prime Minister , have a glorious chance to escape their fate, by doing one thing: you can still, now, and energised by Juncker’s utterly disrespectful behaviour to you in this past week, turn around to the European Union and say, finally “Fine. I understand you don’t want to do a deal. We’re now going to go full bore for a Sovereign-terms Brexit. Let’s sort out some administrative things like us allowing you to fly your planes over the UK, but other than that, let’s see each other in Geneva at the WTO. Do come back to us if you want to discuss some kind of Canada-plus deal, but otherwise, let’s all spend our time constructively in the next three months preparing for Britain’s Sovereign Exit from the EU.” For the sake of our country Prime Minister, please take this chance. Now”.

Labour Local Plan Facing Voters Opposition?

OWLs  are suggesting some future Labour disappointment linking the new Local Plan and the ballot box by stating Well residents certainly made their voice heard over the new local plan proposals during the consultation. It will take the verdict from the ballot box in May though to get the Labour council to listen”. People making representations to the WLBC are indicating many more than in 2012.  Not a happy scenario for the Labour council?

New Local Plan Letter

S.W writes by email to the Champion . Clearly the writer believes the Labour Party isn’t working for the good of West Lancashire residents. The letter refers to Cllr Gail Hodson who apparently doesn’t live in any of the areas affected by the new local plan as being hypocritical.

Strong stuff. More compelling perhaps is reference to “Extensive research? I think not. Nothing in the new plan has been researched”.

No thought for infrastructure or residents of borough? It’s a point of view we’ll hear more about?

Council Leader’s Christmas And New Year Message

Councillor Ian Moran , Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. He added “As Christmas is almost upon us I would ask people in West Lancashire to remember that while this is a joyful time for many, we should all spare a thought for those who may need a helping hand over the festive period.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Council staff for their hard work over the last 12 months. Our employees are among our greatest assets and they deserve praise for the commitment they show to working for the people of West Lancashire. I would also like to praise the work of people in voluntary sector organisations who give up their time to help others in the local community, some of whom can be very vulnerable.

“The authority adopted a new Council Plan  earlier this year and this exciting document  proves there are exciting times ahead for the whole borough. The Council is ambitious to ensure the conditions are in place for the people of West Lancashire to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Our Health and Wellbeing Strategy has been officially launched and staff involved in the strategy are working with partners to tackle the health inequalities that exist across the borough.

“Another important initiative showing the Council’s ambitions around health is our proposal to have new health and well-being centres in Ormskirk and Skelmersdale. We are hoping to go out to consultation on this earlier in the New Year.

“West Lancashire Borough Council is ambitious for the economy. Progress is being made on the exciting project to create a new Skelmersdale town centre. The Council is working well with St. Modwen  and Homes England on this hugely important regeneration project which will benefit not only the people of Skelmersdale but the whole of West Lancashire. We are looking forward to building work starting on site in 2019.

“The Council is also working with businesses and communities across the borough to promote and enhance West Lancashire, including through the Ormskirk Town Centre Management Group, the Skelmersdale Place Board and the Skelmersdale Ambassadors. More than 100 businesses have attended Ambassadors events. As well as the new town centre project for Skelmersdale the Council is leading a fabulous scheme on Skelmersdale’s green oasis, Tawd Valley Park , which shows one of the authority’s other key priorities which is to be ambitious for the environment. A number of partners are involved in this scheme, including Groundwork and West Lancs CVS, and work is progressing on the Masterplan, with a community orchard being planted and excavation works starting on the new fishing pond.

“In 2019 the Council will face financial challenges, like many other local authorities across the UK. The Council manages its budgets effectively to ensure the authority provides excellent value for money, and in previous years we have made savings while minimising any effects on services, but now these options are more difficult to find.

“But overall the future looks very bright right across the Borough. The Council will continue to be ambitious for the borough, ambitious for its people, businesses and places and continue to strive towards achieving the goals in the Council Plan as it aims to make West Lancashire an even better place to live, work and do business”.

Australian Trade Rules, By Tony Abbott

It’s pretty hard for Britain’s friends, here in Australia , to make sense of the mess that’s being made of Brexit. The referendum result was perhaps the biggest-ever vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, its past and its future. But the British establishment doesn’t seem to share that confidence and instead looks desperate to cut a deal, even if that means staying under the rule of Brussels. Looking at this from abroad, it’s baffling: the country that did the most to bring democracy into the modern world might yet throw away the chance to take charge of its own destiny.

Let’s get one thing straight. A negotiation that you’re not prepared to walk away from is not a negotiation, it’s surrender. It’s all give and no get. When David Cameron tried to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership, he was sent packing because Brussels judged (rightly) that he’d never actually back leaving. And since then, Brussels has made no real concessions to Theresa May because it judges (rightly, it seems) that she’s desperate for whatever deal she can get.

The EU’s palpable desire to punish Britain for leaving vindicates the Brexit project. Its position now is that there’s only one ‘deal’ on offer, whereby the UK retains all of the burdens of EU membership but with no say in setting the rules. The EU seems to think that Britain will go along with this because it’s terrified of no deal. Or, to put it another way, terrified of the prospect of its own independence.

But even after two years of fear-mongering and vacillation, it’s not too late for robust leadership to deliver the Brexit that people voted for. It’s time for Britain to announce what it will do if the EU can’t make an acceptable offer by March 29 next year and how it would handle no deal. Freed from EU rules, Britain would automatically revert to world trade, using rules agreed by the World Trade Organisation . It works pretty well for Australia. So why on earth would it not work just as well for the world’s fifth-largest economy?

A world trade Brexit lets Britain set its own rules. It can say, right now, that it will not impose any tariff or quota on European produce and would recognise all EU product standards. That means no border controls for goods coming from Europe to Britain. You don’t need to negotiate this, just do it. If Europe knows what’s in its own best interests, it would fully reciprocate in order to maintain entirely free trade and full mutual recognition of standards right across Europe.

Next, the UK should declare that Europeans already living here should have the right to remain permanently and, of course, become British citizens if they wish. This should be a unilateral offer. Again, you don’t need a deal. You don’t need Barnier’s permission. If Europe knows what’s best for itself, it would likewise allow Britons to stay where they are.

Third, there should continue to be free movement of people from Europe into Britain but with a few conditions. Only for work, not welfare. And with a foreign worker’s tax on the employer, to make sure anyone coming in would not be displacing British workers.

Fourth, no ‘divorce bill’ whatsoever should be paid to Brussels. The UK government would assume the EU’s property and liabilities in Britain, and the EU would assume Britain’s share of these in Europe. If Britain was getting its fair share, these would balance out; and if Britain wasn’t getting its fair share, it’s the EU that should be paying Britain.

Finally, there’s no need on Britain’s part for a hard border with Ireland. Britain wouldn’t be imposing tariffs on European goods, so there’s no money to collect. The UK has exactly the same product standards as the Republic, so let’s not pretend you need to check for problems we all know don’t exist. Some changes may be needed but technology allows for smart borders. There was never any need for a Cold War-style Checkpoint Charlie. Irish citizens, of course, have the right to live and work in the UK in an agreement that long predates EU membership.

Of course, the EU might not like this British leap for independence. It might hit out with tariffs and impose burdens on Britain as it does on the US but WTO rules put a cap on any retaliatory action. The worst it can get? We’re talking levies of an average 4 or 5 per cent. Which would
be more than offset by a post-Brexit devaluation of the pound (which would have the added bonus of making British goods more competitive everywhere).

UK officialdom assumes that a deal is vital, which is why so little thought has been put into how Britain might just walk away. Instead, officials have concocted lurid scenarios featuring runs on the pound, gridlock at ports, grounded aircraft, hoarding of medicines and flights of investment. It’s been the pre-referendum Project Fear campaign on steroids. And let’s not forget how employment, investment and economic growth ticked up after the referendum.

As a former prime minister of Australia and a lifelong friend of your country, I would say this: Britain has nothing to lose except the shackles  that the EU imposes on it. After the courage shown by its citizens in the referendum, it would be a tragedy if political leaders go wobbly now. Britain’s future has always been global, rather than just with Europe. Like so many of Britain’s admirers, I want to see this great country seize this chance and make the most of it.


The Irish Border and the Backstop – a Hoax

The latest part of our open letter to the Prime Minister written by a businessperson who backed Leave at the referendum covers “The Irish Border and the Backstop – a Hoax” .

He writes “On the Backstop, and its claimed urgency and importance, the trick is to look at your language, where one finds your people always using the passive mood – a classic giveaway. You say you are worried about a hard border “being imposed” (passive mood). You do not offer a noun in front of the verb, to show who it is, exactly, that is predicted to be going to do this “imposing”. That’s because, in fact, nobody wants to, nor do they intend to, impose such a border. You have said that Britain will never impose a hard border. The EU has said that it will never impose a hard border. The Irish have said that they will never impose a hard border. The Revenue of the UK has said that imposing a hard border will in all circumstances be entirely unnecessary.

“Talk of a hard border is nonsense, and you know it. Plan after plan has been published showing how the Irish border question can easily be dealt with, away from the border. To assert that this issue might bring back the IRA, that there will be one disaster or another if we don’t have the Backstop, is irresponsible. Which brings us back to what many aver, that the Backstop is just a cover for implementing some promise you made to the auto industry in 2016, that we would be in some form of Customs Union with the EU – precisely the thing that 17.4 million people voted against.

“(And by the way, could you please get your people to stop briefing the credulous media as to how the EU don’t like the Backstop? To believe that – if indeed you do – would be a colossal, monumental piece of self-delusion. The EU love this Backstop, created as it is without an exit clause, with the EU entirely in control as to when – if ever – the backstop is removed.

“And Leo Varadkar is of course – and rightly – terrified of a Sovereign Brexit because the Irish economy would, unlike the UK’s economy, drastically contract as soon as we stopped buying Irish agricultural products and started buying cheaper, alternative produce from New Zealand and Argentina, were the EU to fail immediately to agree a free trade deal with the UK.)

“As constituted in your proposed deal, the Backstop turns Britain into a permanent, shackled vassal state of the EU, subject to all its laws, on which we’d have no say; gradually reduced to a pathetic vestigial outcropping of the EU, with German goods and French produce increasingly defined under EU laws as the only sources that we will be allowed to accept. If the EU wishes – and why should they not? – that Backstop would be for good. Our manufacturing, already half destroyed by our membership of the EU, would continue to shrink, and our farmers and fishers would continue to be at a disadvantage – forever”.

Who The Hell Does Blair Think He Is?

That question was asked today by journalist Dominic Lawson . The article mentions “a recent poll that showed only 2% of the British population to have a “very favourable” opinion of Tony Blair[ that much?]. It is, wrote Lawson, the sort of approval rating a mass-murderer might be expected to get, which happens to be how many members of his own party described him in the wake of the Iraq war.

“Blair has been back on the airwaves over the last few days insisting the people must be made to vote again, after having got it wrong in the EU referendum. This is an interesting evolution of his position in 2004, when just days after he promised a referendum on the proposed EU Constitution (later to be renamed the Lisbon Treaty) journalistic pressure forced him to categorically state that the people mustn’t be asked to vote again and again”. Blair told the Guardian 

“If the British people vote no, they vote no. You can’t then start bringing it back until they vote yes”. If the British people vote no in this referendum, that is their verdict. That is absolutely clear”.

Has he changed his mind, or was he doing what he always did best, lying again? Or perhaps he is just simply deranged as he feels “a renewed sense of mission”, for which God help us all!

The UK’s Exports To The EU

This is the second part of the letter from a businessperson who backed Leave at the referendum but who thinks there is a small “Remainer” clique of advisers in Downing Street who have concocted, with the Prime Minister, a vassal state deal with the EU.

“Dear Prime Minister , it is not credible to assert any long-term or even short-term disruption (By the French).

“Let’s turn to the second set of scare stories running against a Sovereign Brexit. We keep being warned about “lorry parks in Kent”. The idea is that Calais will  somehow impose restrictions on us, so that we won’t be able to get our goods speedily into France and through to the rest of the EU. Of course, we send just 6% of the UK’s exports through Calais, and those exports can swiftly be diverted to go through other ports, were Calais were to seek to prevent the easy flow of UK goods into Europe.

“But we needn’t particularly worry about anything like that happening, because every local official from Calais, and the Pas de Calais region , has said that this will not happen.

“It would take an edict from President Macron, an edict that would be entirely illegal, whether in EU law or in the WTO agreement, to impose such a blockade (Indeed, if you really were to believe, and I for one don’t think you do, that Macron would truly seek to impose an illegal blockade, then it would be utterly abject of you, and unworthy of the Prime Minister of our sovereign nation, to bow to a perception of a threat of this sort).

“In any event, let us assume that the worst happens and that Macron does indeed seek some way of blocking British exports into the EU. The French did that once before, when they for a while diverted Japanese VCRs to Poitiers, so that EU manufacturers could win in the VCR market.

“They were very swiftly brought to court by the WTO and made to stop. Japanese VCRs continued to dominate the world (and the EU) market. France has never tried that trick again. And what would be the result for the French, were they to try it on us? Well, within a couple of weeks, as their just-in-time-systems were affected, thousands of French and German auto workers, possibly tens of thousands, in the unlikely event that the French were successful for more than a few days, would be thrown out of work, as French and German car manufacturing plants had to shut down.

“Do you really think Prime Minister that this would be allowed to happen? Or is your assertion, that somehow the EU would inflict such a monstrous act of self-harm upon itself, just a stance that you are pretending to believe in, so as to insist on this foolish deal that you and the EU are trying to impose upon the British people?”

It’s Not Too Late To Stop The Preferred Options Paper

Veterans of the opposition to the current Local Plan that included Parrs Lane , the Aughton Residents Group 2012, have commented to the Champion, below.

“Firstly I would like to thank the Champion for its coverage of the Local Plan Review Preferred Options Paper. In addition to specific articles you have also included many letters addressing the concerns of residents. It was telling that the only letters supporting the proposals were from Labour Councillors, one of whom is actually the wife of the very Councillor behind the plan.

“It is clear that many people are worried about the significant problems that the proposals would bring, but I fear many more think that it won’t effect them. Unfortunately they are mistaken. If you currently find it difficult to access medical services, struggle to get your children into schools etc or find traffic congestion and pollution unacceptable, imagine what it will be like with around a 30% increase in population, houses and vehicles .

“The formal consultation period has closed but it is not too late to stop the plans progressing. Contact your own councillors and let them know your views. Hopefully all parties will pull together for the good of West Lancashire and stop our Borough being ruined”.

Dave on behalf of the Aughton Residents Group