Author Archives: westlancashirerecord

About westlancashirerecord

I am a pensioner. I was a strong supporter of the rights of elderly and disabled residents of West Lancashire to receive equal treatment from the old Tory WLBC that unfortunately did not agree, leading to the social exclusion of some immobile disabled residents. My personal suggestion of honouring the County Regiment led to us having probably the proudest day ever in West Lancashire, with the help of Cllr Adrian Owens who wrote "You will be pleased to learn that this evening the motion passed unanimously. Colonel Amlot from the Regiment was accorded a standing ovation and we look forward to a parade and march through Ormskirk next year. Thank you". After the Parade I wrote to Cllr Owens "I was reading through the emails we exchanged after I made the suggestion to honour our County Regiment. As you said today, we got there in the end, and what an end? This celebration of our Regiment was quite simply, as my original mail said, the greatest honour of all. To see all these young people who risk their lives for us was so moving. Little did I know what Council could do and how our residents would react to it all. Well, we should all be so proud of this great day. I know I am".

From The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Dear Gavin and Tess

“Thank you very much for getting in touch with the EFRA Committee; I am writing as the Committee’s staff lead on this inquiry to acknowledge your correspondence.

“The inquiry is ongoing and there will be future oral evidence sessions which will be available to view online. Issues similar to those you raise have also been discussed in several of the written evidence submissions we have received and published on the Committee website, and all will be borne in mind as the Committee continues to consider matters related to flooding.

“Thanks for your engagement with the inquiry and do let me know if I can be of any assistance, or there is any other information you think would be useful to the Committee.

“Best wishes, Jonathan”

Jonathan Finlay

That’s two people representing Burscough in its fight for flooding justice. Meanwhile, we read that “Around 600 people work for the West Lancashire Council, making us one of the borough’s biggest employers. The Council delivers a wide range of services for people living and working in West Lancashire including housing, planning, refuse and recycling collections, leisure, environmental health and economic development”. But nobody from the 600 apparently connects to their LCC counterparts to alleviate flooding of homes. We produce a copy of a letter from that spells out the impossibility of any return to normality for flooded residents of Burscough   The white flag is flying on flooding while the cash bag for council tax is overflowing from developments such as Yew Tree Farm that now causes much more flooding! It’s the new norm! Get used to it!

 

Strong On Flooding, Weak On Delivery?

Whenever homes flood through the ineptitude of those who should prevent it, and indeed most likely do prevent it in their own homes, we get the spotlight treatment. It’s as regular as night follows day. And it’s happened again. Because people who claim to be strong on flooding are weak on delivery.

Three years ago West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper was pleased that the Chief Executive of Ofwat, Cathryn Ross

has agreed to come and speak to local residents here in West Lancashire on some of the vital work they do and how they work with utility companies on investment plans to mitigate flooding risks. “I am delighted that the Chief Executive of Ofwat, Cathryn Ross has agreed to come and speak with us here in West Lancashire on some of the vital work they do and how they work with utility companies on investment plans to mitigate flooding risks. This meeting will give local residents a more high level, strategic look how national organisations can help us locally.

“Having such a high profile speaker will ensure we continue to shine the spotlight on the flooding and drainage issues we have here in West Lancashire. It’s easy to forget just how vulnerable we are when there hasn’t been a flooding incident for a while, but homes and businesses have been ravaged in recent years, notably the Boxing Day floods of 2015. We must continue to work all year round to build up our flood resilience, address the issues causing the flooding, from blocked gulleys to farm-field runoff to over development, and ensure we are doing all we can to protect homes and businesses in West Lancashire”.

15th September, 2020. Rosie Cooper MP Secures Gully Clearance On Crabtree Lane. West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has secured action from Lancashire County Council who have confirmed their inspection and clearance of highway drainage on Crabtree Lane, Burscough.

Following the August storms, many residents suffered flooding at their properties on Crabtree Lane, and contacted Rosie Cooper MP for her support in getting action from the responsible agencies.  

MP Rosie has written to all agencies involved with flooding including Lancashire County Council (who are both the Local Lead Flood Authority and the Local Highways Authority), West Lancashire Borough Council, United Utilities, Network Rail and the Environment Agency. She has also written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to highlight the issues at Crabtree Lane and call for action to resolve the problems.  

In pursuing the cases, LCC have responded to confirm they have now inspected the highway drainage on Crabtree Lane, identifying and clearing a blockage in the culvert near the properties, and everything is now running clear. Rosie commented “I am pleased that Lancashire County Council have come and inspected their drainage and in doing so found a blockage which they subsequently cleared to allow water to now flow freely through drains on Crabtree Lane.

“However, I and local residents remain frustrated that this inspection and clearance is only done as a reaction to properties having been flooded. I have further written to Lancashire County Council asking when the last time they came to inspect, and to increase the frequency of their inspection schedule especially in areas of previous flooding.   

“Homes can not be allowed to flood while the drains outside their properties which could alleviate some of that pressure are blocked. I accept that this one drain won’t resolve all the flooding issues across Burscough or even across all the properties on Crabtree Lane, but at the very least it will afford some homes protection some of the time, or at least buy residents time to enact their flood defence measures.

“I continue to correspond with the agencies and specifically LCC and Network Rail about the management and maintenance of culverts running under the rail line, to ensure that these are operating effectively to add further flood alleviation to the area”.

Astute “flooded of Crabtree Lane” might look at what Rosie stated, that “LCC have found a blockage that they subsequently cleared” and assume liability by LCC for being flooded and make claims of compensation for the damage and costs involved in the partial ruination of their homes. A class action by the residents might bear fruit. Is there a “No win no fee” lawyer in Burscough or Ormskirk who could give an opinion?

You betcha!

West Lancashire Reports Increased Coronavirus Infections

The Ormskirk & Southport NHS Trust Hospitals reported 5 additional coronavirus infections today, that’s now 873 cases, and 763.7 infections per 100,000 of the population.

There were 137 new cases of coronavirus infections confirmed in Lancashire in the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. No coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in hospitals in Lancashire today.

Afternoon Ormskirk From County Councillor Nikki Hennessey

Lancashire Combined Fire Authority

“I am so proud to be appointed as the Vice Chairman of the Lancashire Combined Fire Authority. The Authority is responsible for providing an effective and efficient Fire and Rescue Service which provides maximum value for money for Lancashire. The Authority is legally required to enforce fire safety legislation and to reduce the risk of fire causing death, serious injury and property related losses to the community. It must also make provision for rescuing people in the event of road traffic collisions”.

The Humiliation Of The ICO And WLBC

We expect our readers all know about the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) Information Rights case that Gavin Rattray

won hands down against “The Information Commissioner (First Respondent) and West Lancashire Borough Council (Second Respondent) before Judge Anthony Snelson, Mr Pieter De Waal, and Mr Andrew Whetnall”?

The unanimous decision of the Tribunal was that: (1) The appeal is allowed. (2) The First Respondent’s decision that the Second Respondent correctly applied the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, reg 12(4)(b) is set aside and the Tribunal substitutes its own decision that reg 12(4)(b) was not correctly applied and the Second Respondent was not entitled to rely on that provision as entitling it to refuse the Appellant’s request for information dated 27 October 2017.

There is no doubt that the concerns raised by Mr Rattray are serious. He describes without challenge (supported by photographic and other evidence) consequences of heavy rainfall which frequently include blockage of highways and rights of way by standing water and the overflow into roads and gardens of raw sewage.

Gavin Rattray was declared “vexatious or ‘manifestly unreasonable’” by WLBC, which was a bit rich from people who couldn’t manage flood risks locally. But the big surprise during the case was when WLBC invoked the West Lancashire Record in its case against Gavin Rattray. As the judgement noted

“The Council also places reliance on an anonymous social media post dated 4 October 2018 by the West Lancashire Record entitled, “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Become Vexatious”. It is evident that the piece was composed by someone with knowledge of the request of 27 October 2017 and the subsequent response of the Council and adjudication of the Commissioner. It is deeply critical of the Council’s perceived failure to deal with the flooding problems in Burscough and its response to the request. It ends by ironically congratulating “the complainant” for the successful outcome conveyed in the Commissioner’s subsidiary finding that the Council was in breach of the freedom of information legislation by failing to respond within the statutory 20 working days period, adding, “you’ve proved that those bureaucrats ARE accountable!” Despite its title, however, the post does not advocate the presentation of further requests for information, vexatious or otherwise. If anything, its general tenor is that no good would come of doing so”.

There is a lesson here. It doesn’t just relate to flooding. As the case decision notes “We are troubled by the logic of the Council’s case, which it does not shrink from expressing in plain language, that the door must now be closed on any further request for information related to flooding risk in and around Burscough. That logic runs counter to the entire spirit of the freedom of information legislation. It seeks to deprive Mr Rattray and, by extension, other concerned individuals who might be seen as associated with him, apparently forever, of an important constitutional right to seek information in order to hold a public body to account on a matter of obvious public significance”.

Isn’t the dreadful case of the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill for private £millions, unknown but massive, royalty gain for Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd just as bad? As is stated by the Judge of this First-tier Tribunal “We reject the Council’s contention that Mr Rattray’s manner and tone in airing his concerns, through requests for information or otherwise, warrant the conclusion that the request under consideration is “manifestly unreasonable.” It is certainly true that he has complained vociferously that the Council has failed to live up to its responsibilities and has tried to minimise the problems to which he draws attention. He has also not hesitated to rehearse the history going back to 2012 and before but there is of itself nothing vexatious about that”.

This judicial decision can only encourage the plebs, the unwilling slaves to the decision makers, not to accept what is forced on us. How often have I, and Rosie Cooper acting for me, been told by WLBC that in the case of the WLBC owned Beacon Park Golf Course “information was provided directly to the Leisure Trust by (the corrupt) DCT and was not shared with the Council” and “In relation to the contract the Council was not part of the legal arrangements between DCT and Oaklands and does not have a copy of the contract”, the last occasion being 6th August 2020. It’s not that we deserve better than this, it is that WLBC should guarantee us there has been no corruption involved in the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill development.

West Lancashire Coronavirus Report

The county remains in serious threat of coronavirus as there were 124 newly-recorded cases of infections in Lancashire today, according to figures published by Public Health England. No coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in hospitals in Lancashire.

West Lancashire Ormskirk & Southport NHS Trust hospitals recorded 1 new case of infection. The total is now 868, that’s 759.4 cases per 100,000 of the population.

And Even More Of What Burscough Is Telling EFRAC About Flooding

To Mr Finlay from Gavin Rattray. Jonathan Finlay Committee Specialist, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, House of Commons.

“Thank you for your email. The additional information we have might be more than you ever want to read. Therefore, I attached files which hopefully will be of interest to the committee.

“There was John Crawford’s letter to West Lancashire Borough Council regarding their Strategic Flood Risk Assessments (SFRA). This is essential reading.

file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/I%20Gill%20response%20v2%20sfra%202020.pdf

“John, who is fortunately very persistent, has been trying to get WLBC to update its SFRA for many years as it is not fit for purpose. Its main problems are that WLBC didn’t undertake a sequential test for its strategic development site at Yew Tree Farm and it doesn’t contain the detail of Burscough’s surface water flooding problems. This enables developers which produce their own site SFRA’s when required to, to ignore the surface water flood risks by instead referencing the WLBC SFRA for surface water flooding issues. They developers do of course include a caveat within their SFRA saying that they can’t be held responsible if WLBC’s SFRA is inaccurate. John Crawford is not a member of Burscough Flooding Group but we share important information on flooding.

“Another fundamental Burscough flooding issue is as follows: Burscough drains to the Alt Crossens network which is low lying land which is almost entirely dependent on drains and a pumping system. The Environment Agency has allowed the construction of a small weir across the Boathouse sluice, which is Burscough’s main drain, without any documentation or consultation. The weir was put in place by the Martin Mere wetland centre and has since contributed to the flooding of valuable grade 1 farmland, nearby dwellings, Martin Mere’s own buildings and is continuously inhibiting the flow of water from the urban area contributing to flooding.

“It is hard to fathom why the EA do not get involved and bring their design expertise to ensure that Martin Mere manages its water to meet its very important needs; without its weir contributing to so much regular flooding and economic damage. The EA has partially withdrawn from much of the maintenance of the Alt Crossens network and from enforcement of maintenance by riparian owners adding to the flooding problems outlined above.

“I appreciate your offer of help and any influence the committee bring to a reduction in Burscough’s flooding problems would be greatly appreciated. However, I know that may be impracticable. If you wish to know anything more, want to see evidence or wish to speak to BFG then please get in touch and we will help in any way we can.

“Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group”.

What Burscough Is Telling EFRAC About Flooding

To the EFRAC Committee and Innes Thomson, from Tess Reddington

“I write in support of Gavin Rattray’s communication. I was Burscough Parish Council Clerk from 2012 to December 2017 and I was responsible for recommending the setting up of an independent group to investigate flooding issues and to create an evidence based account.

“In the years before the group was formed, occasionally, councillors and members of the public would make comments like “I don’t understand why the council are allowing building on here because it always floods”. Or “x always floods in heavy rain and we end up with sewage coming up”. Those sorts of comments related to various parts of Burscough, and sometimes they were from farmers, who understood the land and the drainage systems well, or from residents whose own homes were affected. When I looked deeper I could see no significant official record of flooding and therefore no reason to restrict development or to seek investment in infrastructure. The official records and the anecdotal evidence didn’t match, and that caused me concern.

“The more I looked and asked questions, the stranger it seemed. Two occasions in particular come to mind: Firstly, I was passed a WLBC commissioned report dated 2010 that provided an account of Burscough’s drainage issues which seemed to concur with the anecdotal evidence. It was passed to me by someone who had just joined his department. He said he had found it on a shelf, and I doubt he knew it was not in the public domain. This report was not referred to in the 2012 local plan and I couldn’t find any reference to it anywhere.

“I never got to the bottom of why it had not been presented as evidence, and who was aware of its existence; and secondly, I discovered that the S19 report of 2012 hardly mentioned flooding in Burscough when yet again, anecdotally, flooding had occurred in a number of properties and certainly, in my view, would have deserved recording.

“Subsequently, I reported to the Parish Council that I couldn’t make any further progress; that it appeared there was a difference between what the lead flood authority held to be the correct account, and what we understood to be the case locally, but at that time, I didn’t have a body of evidence, collected in the right way with which to argue my case. The job of gathering evidence was significant and something that I didn’t have either the time or the expertise to complete. I thought at that time that if we could gather good evidence, the various statutory bodies involved would welcome it and would act on it.

“So the Burscough Flood Group was formed with a very positive feeling that here was a problem that could be solved, that we could all work together, and that community action would be welcomed in that it would likely provide evidence that could be used to lever in investment and action by UU and others, and that it may help to limit development in areas at high risk of flooding.

“If I can be of further assistance, I shall be pleased to contribute. Tess Reddington”.

Damning stuff!

The Ongoing Farce Of WLBC’s Handling Of Local Flooding Continues

Today we bring you the latest news about flooded out residents, including pensioners, of Burscough.

You may safely assume after reading it that West Lancashire Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, and Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs), the people who prepare and maintain a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas, coordinating views and activity with other local bodies and communities through public consultation and scrutiny and delivery planning are incompetent.
Our local flood victim, and we used the word advisedly because victimisation for being flooded out of your home is what these official buffoons practice, made an attempt to have the many unanswered questions finally dealt with by WLBC in a meeting. He relates how the Burscough Flood Group was proposing to meet with them in August. “The finer detail needed to be agreed because WLBC, just like the Local Lead Flood Authority, are reluctant to have meetings voice recorded. The reason, given a best guess, is they just don’t want any evidence left for them to be held to account at a later date.

“A date for the meeting was to be arranged in the week commencing 10th August. At 2.00am on the 11th August, my home was subjected to yet another flood with filthy black muddy water filling my entire home to a depth of 6”.
“At 7.10 am I was live on Radio Lancashire to Graham Liver who was kind enough to give me some air time. I am advised WLBC were contacted for comment, and though they had little to say about my home being devastated once more, they did go on to defend their Planning and Development Policy at length.

“In the near 5 weeks since then, although an assistant has made contact, none of the Upper Echelon has deemed my situation serious enough to make personal contact or even acknowledge my home has been flooded. Too busy having leave again!

“In view of the fact that other Residents had expressed concerns, it was unclear whether a meeting would now be with, Burscough Flood Group, the Residents, or just me, and so I sought clarity. “Firstly, could you tell me what is the meeting related to, is it as previously discussed, issues to be resolved with Burscough Flood Group, is it related to problems in Crabtree Lane or is it for some other purpose“?

“Whilst I will be working every day trying to put my home back in a habitable, clean and healthy place to live, resolving the flooding issues must take priority. I will make time for anyone who is genuinely prepared to move things forward and help the residents here”. So here is the answer, Help For NONE OF US!!! 

From WLBC “Dear Mr Webster “I have now arranged a meeting involving Mr Ian Gill, representatives from Lancashire County Council as the lead local flood authority, and representatives from United Utilities to discuss flooding in Burscough, especially on Crabtree Lane.

“This meeting is taking place on Monday 14 September and Mr Gill will come back to you following this meeting to advise you of what was discussed and the proposed way forward. Kind regards”.

So, it would appear that WLBC, United Utilities and Lancashire County Council have no need of any eye witness accounts, or any ideas from anyone else who has put in time and research into the problem, nor do they ask about what measures are already being taken, they learned all they need to know from the comfort of an office chair.

“The sad thing is, and believe me it is sad for all the residents here, they intend to come to some conclusions without having made any attempt to gather all the relevant facts, just like they did with the Jacobs’ Report. Could it be, they are running scared of meeting an old age pensioner

armed with the truth, some relevant facts and some difficult questions? You make your mind up. But read what follows.

So then, let us go back to 5 August 2020 and we read, from Mr Gill by email that says “Hello Mr Webster I can assure you that I am not intending to ‘brush off’ your concerns and questions, and I do appreciate the issues that you face. I responded to your last email as the Head of Service to ensure that you received a response that reflected both planning and drainage matters that lie within my service area. I have offered to meet with you to discuss these matters further if you wish, and that offer remains open although I appreciate the difficulties that we are faced with at the present time”. I hope that this is helpful. Regards Ian. Ian Gill Head of Growth and Development Services”.

It is worth showing Mr Gill at work, shown far right in the photograph below, with the great and the good at a launch of “The Skelmersdale Story” back in 2016. We wait to see what he will produce for anyone in 2020.