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".

The Cases Of The Missing WLBC Planning Files

As Burscough’s flooding scandal rolls on

20 December 2019 Gavin Rattray (GR) asks Principal Planning Officer (PPO) at WLBC “I’m looking for some help and advice please. When looking at the documents on the planning website at the old application for 2016/0516/FUL Erection of 124 dwellings Land To The North Of Meadowbrook; I cannot find any objections from residents, BPC or BFG stored on the site. Please can you tell me where they can be found? Please can you tell me why they don’t seem to be kept with the rest of the application information in the same way as professionally produced reports?

“Please may I also have some questions answered about 2019/1182/ARM 267 dwellings on YTF, in anticipation of BFG making comments on drainage/flooding? Firstly I cannot find anything listed under the drainage statement/strategy/plan documents.

“Please can you tell me whether this is an oversight? And when will they be published? Please can you tell me when the 2019/1182/ARM application will be heard?

“The 6 houses in Lordsgate Lane, which were the result of a previous application on YTF, never met the original special drainage conditions for YTF, and the reason that happened was because no drainage details were published until after all the homes were constructed. The drainage conditions were delegated to the director. Please can you tell me if there any way WLBC can ensure, especially in light of the Lordsgate Lane YTF application, that the drainage conditions details are published in good time for us to comment and that neither the whole application nor just drainage are delegated but all heard by the planning committee?

“Finally, please can you tell me how WLBC normally ensures, again especially in light of the Lordsgate Lane YTF application, that building for this phase won’t go ahead until after planning committee have agreed that the drainage conditions can be met?”

PPO WLBC 6 January-WLBC Officer after a period of leave “I have checked the drainage information for the latest application 2019/1182/ARM and the drainage strategy and summary report along with the road and drainage layout are accessible. I do not know at this early stage when this application will be presented to Planning Committee. The earliest date is 20th February and after that it would be either 19th March or 23rd April.

“In terms of drainage conditions, if all the information submitted is found to be acceptable by the Lead Local Flood Authority and United Utilities without the need for a pre-commencement condition, this will be made clear in their consultation responses. If, however, further detailed information is still required, but the principle remains acceptable, then a condition may be requested by LLFA or UU.

“It is not a criminal offence for builders to commence work on a site prior to obtaining the necessary authorisation

 However, it is of course not a recommended course of action. Should this happen, the Council will have to assess the expediency of taking enforcement action at the time.

“With regards your email of 2nd January, I trust you will now be able to access the documents you require. However, for application 2016/0516/FUL only the original plan, documents and statutory consultation responses are now available to view. The Council only retains the neighbour responses online for a 12 month period after the decision of an application due to data protection legislation”.

7 January GR “WLBC maliciously stated in a public meeting (name, time and date are available if needed) that BFG wasn’t a proper flooding group. From that point on until 2019, neither LCC nor WLBC recognised BFG as a flood action group (FLAG); and we can only perceive BFG must have been classed as residents making neighbour responses and our planning comments deleted after 12 months. BFG was never informed that would happen.

“WLBC’s interpretation of data protection legislation means part of the scale of the flooding problems in Burscough is being hidden from residents, the planning committee and the planning inspectorate (example the Meadowbrook appeal) through removing planning comments from BFG and residents. UU, LCC and the EA, despite widespread problems here, haven’t had to plan or spend money on flood prevention.

“WLBC’s interpretation of data protection legislation, may also explain why residents have complained to BPC that the information they provided to WLBC about their flooding problems has sometimes been published by WLBC and then later lost and sometimes just lost. Because we work for BPC, please could BPC take up the above issues with WLBC?

“The Parish council may want to check to see if WLBC has also been deleting their own comments on previous YTF applications after 12 months also (and compare it with their treatment of information on other sites elsewhere)? Ps: Because WLBC’s actions, has skewed the YTF evidence base in favour of its own vested interest and its preferred developers, it won’t be institutionally able to recognise fault”.

PPO WLBC 7 January “In terms of the removal of correspondence from older applications, anything that is marked as neighbour rep is removed after 12 months of the decision (12 months is used as this is the time period for submitting an appeal on a planning application). Comments from the Flood Group are recorded as neighbour reps as it is not a statutory consultee. However, the comments are not deleted from the file and are still retained by the Council. The Council has taken the decision to cease publishing neighbour reps after this time – there is no requirement to publish them at all. However, if you wish to view any previous comments then they can be “re-published” for a limited time”.

GR 7 January “Wasn’t WLBC aware that BFG were formed at the request of the parish council and work for them? May I ask one last question, do WLBC delete parish council and councillors comments after 12 months also”.

PPO WLBC 7 January “Yes, I think the Parish Council responses are also taken off after 12 months”.

GR 7 January “That doesn’t by itself explain why residents, BPC and BFG planning comments are removed. In an effort to understand, please can I see the relevant part of the Council’s document retention procedure? Can I ask was the procedure published where users of the planning portal might have been able to find it?”

PPO WLBC 7 January “I will have to refer your email to the Planning Support team and/or the Development, Heritage and Environment Manager as I have not been party to the document retention procedure. I will liaise with them and either they or I will get back to you later in the week”. NB Nobody “got back” yet!

GR Conclusion

“It’s an appalling policy. It means that regardless of the planning decision you must somehow register an interest. How could someone like me, not resident in Burscough but with an interest in local planning decisions, trust a case file while researching for precedent?”.

Other cases of missing files include the Aughton Pet Crematorium including many protestors’ comments,  and the Beacon Park Golf Course.

Pensioners Will Pay The BBC Money To Burn

Under the terms of the the BBC Charter 

the broadcaster is required to publish the names and salaries of all senior executives paid more than £150,000 from licence fee revenue. £450,000-£454,999 is the annual salary “earned” by the BBC Director-General, Lord Tony Hall. Mr K MacQuarrie receives £325,000 and Ms F Unsworth receives £340,000. 

While the BBC wants to hit 3.7million pensioners for licence fees, under their new rules only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence. a presenter has disclosed she “won” £400,000 in her pay equal row.

Sarah Montague

“won” the £400,000 payout in her “stressful” fight against BBC gender discrimination. The journalist, a former host of Radio 4’s Today, who now presents The World at One said she also received “an apology from the BBC for paying me unequally for so many years”. The settlement is the latest in the BBC’s dispute with female members of staff with as many as 120 bringing forward equal pay cases.

In a statement on Twitter, the presenter said that she felt she had ‘no option’ but to talk about her pay after reports surfaced about the size of the payment she received from the BBC. “When I discovered the disparity in my pay and conditions, I was advised that rectifying it all could run into the millions” she said. “I chose not to seek such sums from the BBC but I did want some recognition that they had underpaid me. Last year after a long period of stressful negotiations, I accepted a settlement of £400,000 subject to tax and an apology from the BBC for paying me unequally for so many years”.

Ms Montague, who now presents Radio 4’s The World at One, received the payment following the BBC’s internal investigation into unequal pay. She was reportedly ‘incandescent with rage’ after discovering that she was paid almost five times less than John Humphrys, her Today co-host for 18 years.

The presenter lodged a complaint when it emerged that she “only took home £133,000” compared to Mr Humphrys, who earned between £600,000 and £649,000. According to recent BBC figures, Ms Montague now “earns” more than £240,000 in her new role. Are “earn and “paid” the same thing?

The broadcaster said that BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 live, and a number of local radio stations would all have been at risk unless pensioners paid the licence fee. So what? If these services are uneconomical why force pensioners to subsidize them? Why not close them down?

Doesn’t it occur to the bloated BBC to drop what is paid to men to what was being paid to women? Isn’t that equality? Wouldn’t ordering restraint on salaries for all senior staff be demonstrative of equality within the whole of the BBC economy? 

In Praise Of Flood Action Groups

“Groups are very much led by the community themselves. The National Flood Forum simply gives them the tools to ensure their success and sustainability. It supports the group to work in partnership with all the right professionals that are needed. Flood action groups are a model of community empowerment.

“We work with communities to empower them to reduce their flood risk and be in control. I have no doubt that the best results happen when people in Flood Action Groups are listened to, their ideas are valued and their local expertise and knowledge is acted upon as part of a partnership approach to reducing flood risk.

“Flooding is a complex issue with lots of agencies and authorities each having a different role to play, which is confusing and frustrating for people. In our experience the best way of making things happen locally is by communities working in partnership with those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies”.

Simple? We wish! As experiences in Burscough, Halsall, and Ormskirk show us, it’s anything but simple, the “local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” don’t want to know.

The most recent effort by Burscough Flooding Group to interact with “those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” had its usual ending. Burscough Flooding Group Secretary Gavin Gattray

having proved his expertise, local knowledge, and determination to solve the flood risk, was told by a condescending LCC Officer “I can’t provide you with a full training course in planning procedures and regulations in one email, however I will try to offer some help in terms of the general planning issues you raise. Firstly, you need to understand that Yew Tree Farm development has an approved masterplan and an outline permission, both of which have conditions attached to manage surface water drainage. These conditions are being applied to subsequent reserved matters applications. Once reserved matters are approved, there is usually no further opportunity to vary the drainage design details”.

What a good start in response to matters concerning 2019/0311/ARM and 2019/1182/ARM, for which Gavin Rattray had asked LCC “This is a follow up to my email to yourself and ***** on the 9th September below. It is important that you respond to it as soon as possible please; because it could impact on the information feeding into the current application at YTF. Without it BFG may not be able to adequately respond to planning application for the next phase of YTF 2019/1182/ARM. WLBC has set us a deadline of 31st January 2020”. So Burscough will suffer flood alerts, including severe flood warnings, because of more expansion of Yew Tree Farm!

And why the importance? Gavin Rattray wrote “As you must already know BFG provided the new information (attached) too late to change the drainage on the planning application referenced above and knowing from the LLFAs [Lead Local Flood Authority] own comments. The LLFA has approved the application on some sort of trust basis because the drainage conditions in 20190311ARM are considerably less onerous than the special conditions imposed by the masterplan for Yew Tree Farm (flawed as they are also). As were the surface water drainage conditions imposed on the previous six homes constructed on the end of Lordsgate Lane (also YTF land). With the benefit of the new information BFG have supplied. It looks like both were a mistake which may still be partly recoverable as the SUDS has not yet been built and 2015/0171/OUT hasn’t yet been approved.

“Please can LLFA kindly look at the evidence we have provided and stipulate to WLBC what it believes will be necessary to mitigate the increased downstream flood risk both developments are currently causing at Langley Brook and the suspected risk to Orrell Lane and Crabtree Lane? (This is due to the two new YTF developments currently being connected to an already flooding drainage system without attenuation).

“Now the LLFA is aware of design of the drainage system for 2019/0311/ARM and the very high downstream flooding risk due to the virtual abandonment of maintenance on parts of the Alt Crossens system, please can LLFA also ascertain what can be done in the longer term to improve the planned SUDS system to reduce the extra downstream flood risk to as low a value as possible in order to protect residents and farms and stipulate this to WLBC?”

Will it be enough? All this community empowerment (subject to partnerships with WLBC, LCC, UU) means nothing in Burscough.  Will YTF development that brings vast amounts of council tax to WLBC and LCC be made conditional on attenuation? Some hopes! Caveat emptor !

Ormskirk Station Shared Use Footpath & Cycleway

The footpath between Ormskirk bus and rail stations to be upgraded for cyclists.

WLBC states “We are pleased to announce that work will begin on Monday 20 January to upgrade the existing footpath between Ormskirk bus and rail stations to create a new shared use footpath and cycleway.

“This scheme has been proposed for a number of years and forms an essential part of the Council’s aspirations to encourage walking, cycling and greater use of public transport.

“The plans involve widening the existing path, providing new improved lighting, a new handrail and providing an entirely new surface from a sustainable, recycled material. The delivery of this scheme is being funded by developer contributions from developments at Edge Hill University, as well as some Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.

“The Council has been working on this path upgrade with support from Network Rail, Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Lancashire County Council and works are expected to last until the beginning of April. Whilst works are taking place the footpath will be closed to the public for safety. Alternative routes between the bus and rail stations will be available via Railway Road or Stanley Street.

“The scheme is the first stage of wider proposals to deliver a cycling route between Ormskirk train station and Edge Hill University with Lancashire County Council, to encourage students to travel to the University by public transport, cycling and walking and so help to reduce traffic associated with the University. The upgrade will also improve access to the town centre from the train station helping to support town centre businesses”.

Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council and portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration, said “I am pleased we are now in a position to deliver these exciting improvements which form part of wider proposals to improve walking and cycling provision in Ormskirk”.

It would be remiss of us not to disclose the part Ormskirk resident Barrie French played in all this activity. In exchanges with a WLBC Officer he wrote “Good news on the start date, can you provide me with your health and safety policy? My main concern is how you are going to direct the public to and from the old pathway while the work is in progress, are you going to direct the public up St. Helens road or Station Road and will the signs be before going into bus station and sign posted to which road to use when they get to Derby Street bridge where there is no zebra crossing ether end and the footpaths ether side of the bridge are just wide enough for one? Can I suggest that a temporary crossing is formed, or a lollipop type person is employed to help people cross the busiest road in Ormskirk. Also have you informed Edgehill University of this work and posters sent prior to work starting?”

Further exchanges led to this response to Mr French from the WLBC Officer “I agree that given how narrow the Derby Street bridge is it would unsuitable to direct pedestrians onto it. As such we are proposing a diversion on Derby Street, Stanley Street and Moor Street to link back to the bus station. This route involves using entirely adopted highway, and is considered the primary access between the bus and rail stations. A lot of Edge Hill students already use this option as a safe alternative to the pathway we will be closing.

You will note from the plan below,

we are proposing that people cross on Derby Street after the Stanley Street junction where cars tend to be going slower and there is more visibility (this also avoids crossing the busier A570) and then utilising the formal crossing at the top of Stanley Street before going to Moor Street”.

Well done Barrie French!

WLBC Head Of Finance, Procurement And Commercial Services

The Head of Finance, Procurement and Commercial Services is, currently as listed in “Management of the Council”, Marc Taylor.

Today “Published: Thursday 16 January 2020”, there is listed under current vacancies on the WLBC that same job. It seems WLBC has lost its fourth senior manager within weeks.  “We are seeking to appoint a new Head of Finance, Procurement and Commercial Services to join our new senior management team and make a real difference”. 

Whoever this newcomer will be cannot exceed the performance of Marc Taylor, whose efficiency and readiness to provide information has been exemplary, as this author knows.

What is it about WLBC Derby Street that is leaving us with a virtual clear out of the top brass?

Welcome To Active WestLancs

It was interesting to see Councillor Yvonne Gagen

WLBC Cabinet member for leisure, say to the Champion “Make 2020 the year you make your health a priority. Active West Lancs can help you to achieve your goal, so take a look at the website and find the activities that are right for you”.

Active West Lancs’

is a partnership commissioned by Lancashire County Council to deliver a three year programme to improve health and wellbeing across the borough.

The four partners involved are West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancs School Sports Partnership, West Lancs CVS Community Food Growing, and West Lancs Community Leisure Trust, ie Serco!

Today. What’s on offer

Within its myriad options is that of Active Golf, which is “a brand new initiative for you to be referred into by your GP or medical practitioner. Active West Lancs will be holding weekly golf sessions on Fridays, 10am – 2pm at Beacon Golf Club, Upholland WN8 7RU. 

Equipment can be borrowed on the day, no previous golf experience needed! So if you fancy some fresh air, meeting new people and socialising, then have a chat with your GP and if you meet the criteria, then you can be referred. NB Unlike our other programmes, this is GP referral only! Not that this offer is real golf, more a surreal experience!

It would be interesting to see what IS on offer at the Beacon Park Landfill Course

It is, usually, an 18 Hole Golf Course, but not as originally designed. Its blurb states, today “Welcome to Beacon Park Golf Centre located in the heart of West Lancashire, where you can play a round of golf on our “superb” 18 Hole course. Whether you are a budding pro or a beginner golfer our course will certainly provide an enjoyable experience”. Unusual rather than enjoyable? To reach the current first tee is an exercise, for unfit golfers, in dragging your feet though a sea of mud, as the course is”reprofiled” by Serco!

What’s more on our 19th hole we also have a cafe where you can grab a coffee, bacon sandwich or enjoy much deserved glass or two after your game.

Clubs and Societies. Beacon Park Golf and Country Club is the ideal venue for golf societies. Golf Day Packages are available to all societies and clubs. Beacon Park Golf Club. Registered Golf Club at the Centre. For more information, please contact the centre directly on 01695 625551. 

7 Day Forever Fit Annual Membership
Beacon Park Golf £185.00 12 Month Membership
60+ Only, Proof of Age Required
Unlimited use of the 18 hole golf course any day of the week.

7 Day Adult Rolling Direct Debit
Beacon Park Golf £57.50 Monthly Direct Debit Membership
Unlimited use of the 18 hole golf course any day of the week.
[Equates to an annual fee of £690]

South Ribble Greenbelt Land Saved From Wainhomes

An important victory for safeguarded land will bring satisfaction to residents everywhere fighting developers who want the easy option of building on greenbelt land. This, below, is land on Chain House Lane, South Ribble. Pic from Lancashire Post.

It’s reported that objectors are celebrating after planning permission for 100 new homes in Whitestake was rejected. South Ribble Borough Council hailed it an ‘enormous victory for residents’ following its successful defence of a planning committee decision to refuse permission.

The Wainhomes application for land at Chain House Lane, Whitestake, was refused in June because the application site is allocated as safeguarded land under the current South Ribble Local Plan.

In addition, the proposal, due to its nature, scale and permanency, was deemed unnecessary because the council can demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of deliverable housing land elsewhere in the borough. An independent planning appeal led by a Government inspector ruled in favour of the council when it announced its decision on December 13.

It agreed with the council’s original decision to refuse planning permission, and the appeal was dismissed, much to the delight of residents local to Chain House Lane, many of whom had strongly objected to the application earlier in the year.

The public inquiry in November set out to establish whether the council could demonstrate that it had a five-year supply of deliverable housing land and whether the proposed development would prejudice the council’s ability to manage the comprehensive development of the wider site within which the appeal site is located.

The inquiry was set up following an appeal from Wainhomes.

Councillor Caleb Tomlinson, chair of the council’s planning committee, said: “This is an enormous victory for residents and the council’s planning officers. The Planning Inspectorate’s decision will be a significant one for South Ribble Borough Council and neighbouring councils, and we are very pleased to have shown throughout this process that we have observed the relevant planning laws and guidance every step of the way and, in doing so, we arrived at the correct conclusion, which was refusal.

Councillor Bill Evans

Cabinet Member for planning, regeneration and City Deal at South Ribble Council, said “I am delighted chiefly for the residents whose strong opposition to the planning application in the spring and summer of 2019 and later, at the planning appeal, has meant that the deliberations remained thorough, thoughtful and considerate throughout” and he added “The Local Plan is currently being reviewed and everyone is welcome to respond to the current consultation which lasts until Friday 14 February 2020.

“The documents can be viewed online at