Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2018

Vibrant Borough Seeks Vibrant Planning Officer

Do you want to be a Planning Officer and earn £25,951 – £27,668 per annum in West Lancashire which, according to WLBC “Lies at the heart of the North West of England, located within easy reach of major cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, as well as the wonderful countryside of both the Lake District and Peak District National Parks”? If you do, look no further than Derby Street Towers, who need you!

“The Borough has a wonderful mix of vibrant towns [yet to be identified] and picturesque villages and boasts some of the most attractive and productive countryside in the UK. The Borough has a growing economy, is home to a top-class University and is a desirable place to live but over 90% is designated as Green Belt, so the Planning Service of West Lancashire Borough Council plays a vital role in balancing the economic and social aspirations of our communities with protecting our environment for future generations.

“The team is currently reviewing its Local Plan in order to make the most of local development opportunities. As such, you will be responsible for providing professional assistance primarily in the Strategic Planning and Implementation Team, but also within other teams in the Development and Regeneration Directorate as required.

“Main duties will include preparing local planning policy and evidence base documents, implementing the Local Plan and other local planning policy documents and developing strategies and other initiatives in relation to the environment, leisure, tourism, transport, infrastructure planning, housing, regeneration and economic development.

“A planning qualification and planning experience, together with high level communication and negotiation skills, good organisational skills and knowledge of legislative and national policy requirements are essential for this role. If this is you, what are you waiting for? For an informal discussion about this role, please contact Peter Richards at WLBC”. But hurry, there are two candidates already 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2018

Can You Believe A Word They Tell You?

About us! The Tory Association claims it is run by its principal Officers and Executive Committee. The current Association Chairman is Bill Weingart. Further details of our officers are available here. But whoops, it claims Cllr David Westley – Aughton and Downholland and Conservative Group Leader and Association Chairman”. 

“The Association has branches throughout the constituency. Our current branch structure is as follows-Conservative Future; Lathom & Burscough; Newburgh; Ormskirk; Parbold; Patrons; Scarisbrick; West Lancs South (includes Aughton, Bickerstaffe and Halsall); Wrightington, Up Holland & Skelmersdale.

“Our Branches and Association as a whole have a thriving social, as well as, political life. You can take a look at our planned events here. We take our politics seriously, but we’re determined to have fun at the same time.

“Currently on the About Us page “Our Enthuse at Infusions nights bring together people who love debating and arguing about politics and current affairs. The club meets over a meal and a glass of wine each month through the winter. Well, it used to, but whoops, current events are Forum for the Future, and are held at Briars Hall , next one 26 April. Each night will include discussion of a topic provided by Conservative Central Office. Our feedback from this is sent back to them. We will have guest speakers linked to topics where applicable. Join like minded people for political debate about topical issues, this is the West Lancashire Conservatives-Conservative Policy Forum”.

Promoted [inaccurately] by Cllr David Westley on behalf of West Lancashire Conservatives, both at 72C New Court Way, Ormskirk. Oh dear!

NB West Lancashire Conservatives have changed the untrue claims and updated the website. WLR is always glad to assist them!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2018

Free Travel? Under 25? Why Not

Readers of a certain age will recall the appalling treatment the then Tory WLBC dished out to elderly and disabled residents in 2011 with the termination of the travel concession, often used with specialist provider Dial-a-Ride, and the introduction of the bus pass with no bus with the facility to take on board a wheelchair. And so we entered the WLBC era of social exclusion for the elderly and disabled.

On Thursday, the Labour Party announced a new policy to give free bus travel to people under 25. The City AM website reported that “The move, which would help 13 million young people save up to £1,000 a year and will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty, has been attacked for failing to take into account earnings while potentially costing taxpayers additional money.”

“Bus subsidies already run into the billions, costing each household £80 a year. Why on earth should 25 year old taxpayers on minimum wage subsidise 24 year-old bankers to nip between meetings and lunches in the City?”.

Err…why should pensioners subsidise those young bankers too? If the proposal is to buy votes of the young it will probably sell the votes of the pensioners . We are all paying £80 a year bus subsidy, we might just as well keep it and pay for taxis instead!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 15, 2018

Councillor Fixit

On 9 April the Independent Cnty Cllr Paul Greenall asked the county to fix this disgraceful pothole  at Scarth Hill Lane, Aughton (already previously “fixed”, believe it or not). Cllr Fixit has succeeded, as these pics show . Probably the best county councillor this part of Aughton has ever had?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 13, 2018

Greenbelt Golf Course Looming For Bickerstaffe Ward Farm Land

Another challenge to the West Lancashire Green Belt is being made in Simonswood with a proposal for use of agricultural land as a golf academy. Notwithstanding the pitiful destruction of the Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC) driving range for a mad foot golf concept that is already years behind schedule and requiring serious remedial re-profiling, comes one with the same designer, Weller Designs, providing the landfill proposal .

The BPGC proposed development comprised the remodelling of approximately 12 hectares of the existing Beacon Park Golf Course. It involved the remodelling of the 5th, 6th, 13th and 14th holes and construction of temporary greens and tees with the importation of 55,000cubic meters of inert soil; remodelling of the golf range to provide perimeter mounding and improved targets with 35,000cubic meters of inert soil; formation of 9hole short course for junior golfers on 3.7ha land to be formed by importation of 65,000cubic metres of inert soil; remodelling of 1st and 2nd tee with 32,000cubic metres of inert soil. In all 187,000cubic metres were delivered by 23,375 HGVs. As we all know it is an affront of a description as a leisure facility, being dangerous, unusable, and locked up.

As long ago as 1 April 2004, in the Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2003/4, it was decided “Beacon Park Extreme Sports; That Cabinet be requested to consider (a) That any reference to Beacon Park be excluded from any feasibility study for an extreme Sports Park. (b) If a feasibility study is carried out it should only look at alternative sites. That no future action be taken in relation to the investigation into the potential of an Extreme Sports Park at the Beacon Park site or elsewhere in West Lancashire”. So in 2018 you might wonder how extreme a sport it would be to play academy styled 9Hole golf, or foot golf, at the landfill site extreme sports park created by the controversial partnership of the West Lancashire Community Leisure Ltd (WLCL), Serco Leisure Operating Services (SLOS) Ltd, and subcontracted to Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd.

As is widely known throughout West Lancashire since 2005 the contract for WLBC Leisure Services has been the responsibility of West Lancashire Community Leisure Ltd (WLCL) and sub contracted to Serco Leisure Operating Services (SLOS) Ltd. The exception has been for the Beacon Park Golf Course until 2013 after the financial failure of DCT Leisure. But Serco inherited 2011/0787/FUL, recommended and received on 13 July 2011 and “in pursuance of its powers under the above-mentioned Act and Order, West Lancashire Borough Council as Local Planning Authority, having considered your application, hereby grants permission for: Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course at Beacon Park Golf And Country Club, Beacon Lane, Dalton, Wigan” . We all know what happened there!

While WLBC was gradually allowing the destruction of the Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC) driving range and some land used for practice alongside the 18 hole course becoming an academy 9 hole junior course, all on the basis of the “economic viability community social hub” its planning officers were considering an application initially mooted in 2014 to create another golf academy a mere 12 miles or so away in Simonswood .

It was claimed that “There is no existing facility within the local area that currently compares with the proposed development. What is proposed is intended to fulfil a very pressing need both in the immediate area and more widely to extend the joys of golf to a greater number of people, to supply a much needed community facility, to improve golfing skills generally and importantly to provide a sporting, recreational, educational and healthy pastime”. It might seem odd that BPGC is WLBC owned and denigrated while this new description applies to a private application on fine agricultural land.

The new application underwent a pre-planning process numbered PRE/2014/0409/SIG that informed of its intention. It would need, according to the Transport Statement for N Langton Plant Hire  of Bridge Farm Dale Lane Simonswood Liverpool L33 3AU, Bickerstaffe Ward, 137,951cubic metres of landfill delivered by 17,244 HGVs. The response from WLBC was summarised as “The change of use of this site for a golf course/academy is considered to be inappropriate development in the green belt. Inappropriate development requires the demonstration of very special circumstances to justify the harm to the Green belt and the onus lies with the applicant to demonstrate such circumstances”. Simonswood Parish Council formally objected to it.

“Bridge Farm Golf Academy Dale Lane, Simonswood. Transport Statement Final Report for: N Langton Plant Hire October 2016. Bridge Farm Golf Academy Proposed Golf Practice Range, Nine Hole Par 3 Course and Adventure Golf Course. Incorporating a Water Harvesting Scheme for Irrigation, Significant Planting and Greatly Increased Biodiversity. At Bridge Farm Dale Lane, Simonswood Kirkby L33 3AU Planning Statement Version 1 2nd November 2016 Compiled by David Weller” [see above].

This document sets out the relevant planning policies for this application and then goes on to assess how the application complies with policy. 1.2 Relevant policies are taken from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and from the West Lancashire Local Plan. Further guidance has also been taken from the pre application advice issued to the applicant (reference PRE/2014/0409/SIG. 1.1.3 This Planning Statement should be read in conjunction with the submitted Design and Access Statement and accompanying plans and consultant reports.

The proposed practice ground, par 3 course and Adventure Golf Course will attract beginners and families wanting to try golf for the first time as well as attract existing golfers wishing to develop their game. A facility such as this encourages sporting activity and healthiness and provides a viable business opportunity with the additional economic and employment benefit this brings with it. A facility such as this will provide a social hub in the community providing a place where people of all ages can meet up.

But perhaps the ultimate explanation of how and why this development should not proceed is contained in a letter from the CPRE “The site is at the boundary of the West Lancashire Green Belt and as such should be granted the protection of Policy EN2: Preserving and Enhancing West Lancashire’s Natural Environment, particularly sections 4- Land Resources and 6- Landscape Character.

“It is adjacent to the boundary of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough at Kirkby. It forms part of the Western edge of the upland mosses of Simonswood, Bickerstaff and Whitemoss mosses which collectively create a totally different landscape character to that of the adjoining urban area of Kirkby.

The green belt of West Lancashire is contiguous with that of St Helens and provides an essential separation of the urban area of Greater Liverpool from that of Greater Manchester. It is of regional as well as local importance.

“This green belt should be preserved and developments such as this proposal not be permitted to intrude.Neither the green metal cladding on the proposed buildings nor the high boundary fences are shown on the photomontages of the proposed development.

“The application contains an assessment that the arable pasture is graded 2 or 3a agricultural land . Our view is that with good husbandry it could be restored to Grade 1 MAFF classification. The existing pond is first shown on historic maps in 1709. The historic survey erroneously assumes that the pond is retained, though the redesigned scheme destroys the pond and replaces it with two attenuation ponds elsewhere on the site. The Ecological Assessment (4.2) reports that the pond is used for fishing and provides a good habitat for invertebrates and amphibians, noting the presence of frogs and considers it a “Valued Ecological Receptor of District Value as do the shrubs, tree, and boundary hedges”. The wild life that relies on the existing pond cannot be expected to thrive in attenuation ponds. Such ponds provide food sources for bats. There are bats in the wider area and we consider the submitted bat survey inadequate. The land raising will adversely affect the retained trees.

“The land raising and modeling by importation of 133,110 cu meters of “inert soil approved by the Environment Agency” to raise the land to form the many facilities of the proposed Golf Academy gives us great concern for two reasons:
a) This large quantity would seem to be based on the fill material necessary to achieve the final design contours of the proposed landform. In practice some 20-30 % more will be needed to form higher mounds to allow for compaction during the construction phase and long term settlement so that the proposed design contours for rainwater run off are achieved in the long term.
b) The Environment Agency does not approve or apparently monitor the composition of inert soil. The Environment Agency, when it considers it appropriate, “for engineering and other purposes” issues Waste Management Licenses. These authorise the disposal or deposit of controlled waste in or on land provided it does not cause pollution, harm to health or serious detriment to local amenity. The authorised waste is typically demolition material; ungraded rubble, brick, stone, concrete and other waste of various size.

“Our observation of similar “improvements” at the golf driving range and practice field at the Beacon Park is that large lumps of stone and concrete quickly appear on the surface as the thin layer of replaced fine topsoil washes into the fill. 

“Once implemented this development will be irreversible for the site cannot be economically restored to pasture land in the event of the Golf Academy being unsuccessful. We note that the Long Term Business Plan, section 3.4 of the Environmental Statement is very brief. It does not include forecasts of costs, numbers of users or proposed charges. There is no justification for either the number ofcar parking spaces to be provided or the long proposed opening hours of the Golfing Academy.

“Golf driving ranges in both West Lancashire and Knowsley have closed in recent years and although the applicant’s aspirations are worthy such a development should not be permitted in the West Lancashire Green Belt but may be more appropriate elsewhere in Knowsley and Greater Liverpool on existing developed land. There are no “very special circumstances” that justify any departure from the approved WLBC local plan”.

The question for WLBC is, why would the destruction and possible demise of its own, that is tax payer owned, “community leisure hub” in Skelmersdale be the catalyst for a private leisure hub in another WLBC ward of Bickerstaffe?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 13, 2018

Remember The Bright Young Tories?

Not too long ago some young Tory members fought seats in West Lancashire. Edward McCarthy was the most persistent, fighting against traditional and long serving opponents. He was never the chosen man, never thanked with a safe seat, like Aughton Park for instance. Another young Tory candidate, Thomas Burton, disappeared. But he’s still supporting the party, as this picture shows , canvassing for them in Liverpool. That’s optimism for you!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 12, 2018

The Latest Independent Voice

Ian Davis is the Independent Voice for OWLs “Standing Up For Derby Ward”, and he wants to be re-elected . He was elected at the end of June last year and has achieved much for the ward. His established action list of ward problems seems unique. Of 47 items he’s completed 16 so far. Some are ongoing, road repairs and flooding are endless. By comparison with councillors in some wards Ian Davis is unusually active. He’s asking for another 4 years to work in the ward, and he mentions the problems areas of the ward might face if discussions held by Labour/Conservatives behind closed doors lead to a proposal to build in some areas .  

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 12, 2018

A Foul Attack On Burscoughnians

Flooded residents of Burscough are to face a period of re-education in how not to flood their homes !

Reading the Champion today  you might wonder what residents of Burscough have done to earn a rebuke from United Utilities that “…the majority of the flooding causes relating to UU assets in the Burscough area relate to operational causes such as blockages caused by inappropriate items being discharged into the sewer network such as wipes, fats/oils/grease and food debris. Therefore United Utilities is currently developing an approach specific to Burscough to raise awareness amongst customers about what should not be discharged into the sewer network to help reduce the number of blockages occurring”.

Note the last sentence, “…to help reduce the number of blockages occurring”. It will not stop them altogether, so what will UU do then, increase the sewage capacity, which is the problem anyway?

As Gavin Rattray of the Burscough Flooding Group says “Despite the Champion being supplied with the information and proof by Burscough Flooding Group it didn’t mention that United Utilities chief executive Steven Mogford had said the foul sewer flooding problems that residents in Gower Gardens (adjacent to the area pictured in the article) were suffering from, was due to UU having insufficient drainage capacity and that problem wouldn’t even be considered for expenditure until the 2020-2025 period. Yet within weeks of OFWAT beginning an investigation into whether UU were deliberately under-recording sewer flooding, LCC and UU jointly dug up large parts of the area around Gower Gardens and rerouted the network to increase the capacity in that area. Great picture, awful problem, awful article”.

Meanwhile UU will continue to charge all residents of West Lancashire for its services while all residents of West Lancashire won’t receive full value for those charges. Just ask UU why its profits rise year on year while its “investment” programmes are tied to five year cycles providing five years of crap in customers’ homes! Reading about “UU having confirmed a number of actions it was taking to find a long term solution to the flooding issues experienced in the Burscough and Halsall catchment areas” will seem like more of the same for longer. Never mind, all you residents of Burscough, listen to UU teacher as he tells you what you can flush into his inadequate sewers!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 11, 2018

Kirrelly For Aughton & Downholland?

Steve Kirrelly  seen at the public meeting in Aughton tonight is the Labour candidate for Aughton & Downholland where he takes on the veteran Tory David O’Toole, whose ward party faces the loss of its main success in recent years, the Local Plan that is now derided by Aughtonians who fought against it. Mr Kirrelly will be prominent in coming weeks with his calling card .

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 11, 2018

OWL Council Newcomer?

Meet OWL Kate Mitchell , a candidate for the Knowsley ward in May. Brought up in Maghull and now living in Ormskirk, she cares deeply about animal welfare and is an active member of a local resident group. She mentions her independence of political parties and would be responsive to local electors . She wants those who hold similar views and have similar values to vote for her .

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