An Open Letter

to the WLBC Chief Operating Officer and Council Leader

is circulating in the borough, as crucial planning applications will be considered this week using the virtual meeting system of the Planning Committee, that will take place on Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 7.00 PM. A Skype meeting request will be sent to individual Members of the Planning Committee. The meeting will also be available to view for members of the public via Webcast on the Council’s website.

The open letter is to Chief Operating Officer Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey and Council Leader Ian Moran, and refers to the planning application for the second phase of Yew Tree Farm (YTF) for 267 homes (2020/0293/CON and 2019/1182/ARM), for the Burscough Flooding Group found that 2020/0293/CON was going to be determined in such a way that can, at best, be described as not transparent or, at worst, be described as completely illegal.

Chief amongst local concerns are that Burscough Flooding Group’s (BFG) representations can’t be meaningfully considered, because the decision makers, United Utilities (UU), West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) and Lancashire County (LCC), have all publicly stated that they will not accept drainage/flooding evidence from BFG, which might suggest that the Local Government Ethical Standards in public life are no longer a feature that West Lancashire residents can expect to benefit from.

In addition to the above, at least two of the decision makers have very clear vested financial interests, council tax income, in 2019/1182/ARM going ahead and, as you know 2020/0293/CON could determine the outcome of 2019/1182/ARM.

Of equal concern is that, although it seems totally inappropriate to delegate decisions to predetermined bodies with vested financial interests, BFG believe this method of decision making has now become WLBC’s normal operating procedure and this sort of thing could have been going on indefinitely. Perhaps, it is suggested, this approach explains why BFG’s input to planning applications has not been considered and why so many sites that have come forward in Burscough now cause flooding.

So the very reasonable and legal expectations of the BFG are a request that those addressed in the open letter investigate BFG’s concerns with particular regard being given to the following questions. Is WLBC, by failing to meaningfully take into account representations received, carrying out 2020/0293/CON and 2019/1182/ARM in an unlawful manner? Is WLBC, by making decisions on 2020/0293/CON behind closed doors without public oversight, acting in violation of the Local Government Act 1972? Has a culture of secrecy and lack of transparency in WLBC created an environment which allows developmental corruption to flourish?

Astute readers will recognise what is going on from widely spread public articles about the Burscough sewage and surface water problems. Putting it together with absentee councillors escaping expulsion by dubious timelines, and how the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill for royalties planning permissions openly involved huge scale VAT fraudsters, including an admission by a senior officer that one of them attended a meeting and his name remains historically on a planning permission to this day, should we despair about how low standards are? Probably!

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