Harthill Lodge which may be threatened by development proposals

My last blog pointed out that on the planning department of the council’s own figures there is no need to build on green land in the city to meet either the government’s housing targets or the more important needs of people in the city.
However an item will go through the council next week which will take land, presumably for housing, in Harthill Road, Calderstones Park as well as the well-known project in Woolton to build on part of the Woolton Woods green space.
This is what I have said in a press release today. I hope that you approve. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will fight both proposals to the end but I suspect that local Labour councillors for the two wards will do what they are told by the Labour leadership.
Labour’s Green Space Land Grab
“Labour’s contempt for the City’s green spaces will become clear next Friday 4th September when two items will effectively recommend disposal of land for development”, according to Liberal Democrat Councillor, Richard Kemp.

The first of these is the well-known disposal at Woolton woods where 5% of land which was publicly gifted to the council and the people of Liverpool for parkland will be developed by an expansion of St Julie’s School.

The second of these is a proposal to move Beechley Riding for the Disabled to a new site at Clark Gardens in Woolton. Most of the costs of which will be met by sale of the land, which is part of Calderstones Park, for regeneration. Presumably housing as part of the partnership with Redrow Homes.

Cllr Kemp added, “Both of these proposals are bitterly resisted by local residents and are totally unnecessary. Figures released to me this week by the planning department reveals that we have land to build homes for at least 70,000 people over the next ten years. If that happens and we seriously tackle vacants and under occupancy there is no need to build on green space anywhere in Liverpool. Make no mistake this proposal is not about land or housing it is simply about money”

Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913

For the St Julies proposal Malcolm Kelly can be contacted on 07921 044619

For the Beechley proposals Andrew Makinson can be contacted on 07939 220336

For the sake of the Green Spaces of the City and what they mean to our children and grandchildren we must find a way of uniting and setting aside our differences ina joint campaign to tackle those that threaten our city.

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The proof from the council that we don’t need to build on parks


For the past three years I have claimed that there is no need to build on our parks and green spaces because there is already enough room in the city to build homes for 70,000+ people. I have always found it hard to justify this figure because I have always found it hard to get information from the council.
However I now have the information that I need and can say that on the council’s own figures I am right and we have plenty of room to build necessary accommodation without building on parks.
If you look at the information below you can see that we have:
Detailed planning permission for 11,596 homes
9,075 with outline planning permission
2,069 could be built on brownfield land in the next 5 years
13,226 could be built after 5 years.
If we ignore the Liverpool Waters scheme which looks unlikely to proceed now given the problems with China and the long term brown field developments there are 13,665 units highly likely to be built in the next 5 years. At the average occupation of 2.25 people per unit this would be space in the short term for 30,746 people. That would imply a growth rate in the city’s population of 5.5% or more than 1% every year. This also ignores the fact that we are building to very low densities and that more could be done by developers to improve things like acoustic quality and build to higher densities.
This is of course without taking stock of the large number of vacants which already exist in the city with up to 6,000 properties vacant for a medium to long period at any point in time.
So let’s be clear. Forget the nonsense which has been given to us by our Labour masters it is not Government dictat that forces the council to put green spaces and parks into potential development. It is the desire of the council to extract maximum value from its assets. In other words it is for monetary and not planning reasons.
Here’s the information from a senior member of the planning department. Slice it and dice it how you will we still need no more land. Our parks can and should be kept.

Dear Councillor Kemp

In response to your questions please see the information below.

1. Number of dwellings with Planning Permission as at April 15 is 20,671
2. Of which 9,075, as at April 15, are Outline Planning Permission (this is largely due to the Liverpool Waters permission),
3. 15,836 is number drawn from the SHLAA on Brownfield Land (not including any planning permissions at 1/2 above)

It should be noted that the figure for Brownfield land is not expressed as a range because the National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance require all local planning authorities to express their housing supply position as a single number.

Therefore in compiling the SHLAA we have to identify a single density assumption for each site. If there is no planning permission or lapsed planning permission, or a CFS submission to guide us as is this case, location is the first consideration and we use a simple suburban / city centre split and then a dwelling type split as follows:

* Suburban Houses – 36 dwgs/ha
* Suburban Mixed houses and flats – 53 dwgs/ha
* Flats (non-City Centre) – 100 dwgs/ha
* Flats (City Centre) – 165 dwgs/ha

It should also be noted that the majority of the brownfield sites will be subject to some constraints to their development and therefore in the SHLAA they are assessed and then placed in one of the three time period phases as shown here:

2,609 – 0-5 years
6,268 – 6-10 years
6,959 – 11+ years

Therefore in broad terms there are just under 11600 units with full permission that we would reasonably expect to complete in 5 years because someone has invested in securing a planning permission. Then a further 2600 units on brownfield land which we think are sufficiently free of constraints to come forward in the next five years. Of the remaining brownfield sites nearly 7000 units of potential capacity is so constrained that we consider it to unlikely to come forward in the next 10 years, and nearly 6300 will take between 6 and 10 years to come forward.

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Liverpool Council’s desecration of Walton Hall Park

Wallypark4       Wallypark3

WallyPark2         WallyPark1

We all know that the Council is hard up and must look for innovative solutions to raise more money and provider or maintain services right across the board. Our pars are no exception to these. But there are limits and that limit was certainly reached in Walton Hall Park over the weekend.
I haven’t got the full story because at the time of writing this the e-mails I sent to a senior officer and a senior councillor four hours ago asking, “What is going on?” has not been responded to. So this blog is limited to the facts that I do know.
1. A company has been given the opportunity to exploit Walton Hall Park by letting people attending EFC events park all over the Park
2. This has not been discussed with the local community
3. This has not been discussed with Friends of the Park
4. The Company is not based in the Walton area.
5. Yesterday they allowed parking not only on hard standing car parks but also on grassed areas.
6. These grassed area were being used by Children playing and enjoying the good weather.
7. When challenged both some staff directing the parking and some drivers were abusive and threatening.
8. Some of the grassed areas haven damaged by the parking
9. Some areas planted with bushes by the Friends of the Park have been ruined.
These are what I am trying to find out:
1. Who gave permission for this?
2. Why was the local community and Friends of the Park not consulted?
3. Who will pay for the damage to the park
4. Who will replant the areas planted and paid for by local people
5. Who decided that ‘free’ parks could be used for this purpose?
6. What tendering process was agreed to which arrived at the present operators?
7. Where will the profits from this go?
8. Why has all this happened before even the first meeting of the “Task and Finish” Group for Walton Hall Park has even had its first meeting.
The pictures I have seen and the accounts that I have heard show a breach of all normal democratic principles and an abuse of the statutes of the Park. It seems to me that at least 2 Park Bye-Laws have been broken and the operators concerned should be taken to court by the Council. If the council has given permission for the bye-laws to be ignored then the Cllr concerned should be removed from his or her permission.
The friends of Walton Hall Park and I WILL get to the bottom of this. We must if the same treatment is not going to be meted out to our other parks.
In the meantime I understand that the next home game will be on 12th September. I cannot be there because I am returning from holiday that day but I hope that all Friends of all Parks in Liverpool and others will join their Walton Hall Park mates to prevent this abuse on that occasion.
Think I am exaggerating? Just look at the pictures yourself!


Dear Richard,

As per my earlier email, I would like to provide clarification on the points you raise.

Since April 2103 Walton Sports Centre has been operated by Alt Valley Community Trust on a 30 year peppercorn lease and co-terminus concession agreement. The car park is a shared facility servicing Walton Sports Centre, the Liverpool County FA offices, the artificial turf pitch and a number of grass football pitches.

The City Council, through its Streetscene Service, is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the car park.

Prior to transfer the City Council, through its Sport and Recreation Service, managed match day parking at the facility. In this context vehicles were only allowed to park in dedicated car park bays located within the existing car park.

At the time of transfer AVCT took over the management and income retention of match day car parking until such time that the future of the Soccer Centre site was determined. No permission was given by LCC to AVCT to allow for cars to park outside of marked bays. This continues to be the case.

Current position

It is clear that on match days a number of cars park outside of specified car parking bays on footpaths, grass verges and raised traffic calming areas within the park. This is causing inconvenience to park users, restricted access and damage to land.

In response to concerns about these issues officers from the City Council carried out a site visit on 8 August 2015, the first Everton home game of the season and requested, in line with the existing arrangements, that cars should only be allowed to park in marked bays and that the car park should be closed once all parking bays were occupied. It was made clear that cars should not be parked on grass verges or any other grassed areas.

On Sunday 23 August it became clear that cars were still parking in unmarked bays including footpaths, grass verges etc. As a consequence a senior officer will be writing to the Chief Executive of AVCT advising that this practice must stop and the movement of traffic during the match day parking sessions be closely managed. This includes disallowing vehicles from accessing the car park once at full capacity. Officer from LCC are meeting with the Chief Executive of ACVCT to ensure these issues are resolved.

Yours sincerely, Ron.

Ron Odunaiya, Director of Community Services

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2 Weekends, 1.5 marches and One Marvellous City!!

Slavery1                slavery2

Chief Angus and I before the march        Some superb African dancing before the libation

I have just come back from the walk to commemorate Liverpool’s part in the infamous slave trade. It was a marvellous way to commemorate such terrible things.
We were led through Liverpool by the ferocious Kutumba drum band. I cannot begin to describe the enthusiasm with which these talented musicians carried their instruments, swayed and sashayed down Church Street to the Albert Dock through Liverpool 1 as if their lives depended on it.
Behind them came a motley collection of people. All races were represented, community leaders, civic dignitaries and most important of all members of the diaspora communities from the Caribbean and Africa whose ancestors were most affected by this.
Right through the march we heard nothing but lovely comments, applause and good will from all who saw us. People wanted to see what was going on and, at least in a superficial way wanted to know more and be involved.
This made me think of the previous weekend when a loathsome fascist group had threatened to destroy the harmony of our city with a ‘tooled up and masked’ march through the City. They came looking for trouble and if they couldn’t find it were prepared to start it. They were sorely disappointed. A handful of the ‘master race’ turned up and instead of causing havoc retreated to the left luggage office. How appropriate that this is where they cowered. Left luggage indeed pining for a past that never existed and no would want to try and recreate even if it had.
Of course there were two features which united these marches. And that is the movement of people round the world. Some moved in the past because they were treated as economic units. Some move today because of sheer desperation. They flee from tyranny, death, torture and starvation. Only a sub-human could describe these poor people as a ‘swarm’. They are no insects but people with the same hopes that you and I have. Let us not forget that slavery is not a thing of the past. People are bought and sold for money to be abused in squalid working conditions or brothels. The estimates for the value of this international trade vary between $20 billion and $70 billion.
In today’s slavery event we thought about the forcible removal of black men and women from their native country. From there they were moved largely to the Caribbean and the Americas. Their life was lower than that of the animals, humiliated, beaten and left to die when their usefulness had ended. But they never lost their dignity – they never lost their humanity.
But the people who tried to march through Liverpool last week have lost their humanity, if indeed they ever were human. Their views are ignorant and repulsive. They look on people from different cultures as being inferior because their way of life is a superior. These ill-educated thugs certainly do not represent my way of life, my culture and my country. They claim to be proud of their Country. So do I! I think our Country is one of the best in the world to live in/. I am not blind to its faults or its past. But I do feel that we have a reasonable view of democracy and community and respect for law that many others would love to see in their country.
I just wish that they and the other bigots from UKIP, the BNP and other blighted groups could have been in Liverpool today to see the reception that the walkers received. Liverpool was, as always, a tolerant and welcoming community. That is why the extreme right like UKIP and the BNP never have and never will flourish here.
We now need to think together of what we learnt today. We need to think of wat that means in terms of Macedonia and the desperation of the Syrian refugees risking the lives of themselves and their families in dingy ramshackle boats. Many of these people are brought through to Europe by paid traffickers because there is no proper system for dealing with them. In some cases they come from countries where there can be no system. In others because the wealthier countries such as ours have no understanding of the vitality and vigour that refugees and asylum seekers can bring to our Country.
I am not in favour of unrestricted immigration but I am in favour of our Country doing more. Some newspapers claim that the whole ‘swarm’ is seeking to descend on Britain. Not so. The preferred countries are places like Germany and the Nordic countries which already do proportionately more than we do.
Above all today’s event should remind us all that we are all of a common human heritage. In fact we are all descendants of Africans. Ironic isn’t it that humanity was born in the cradle of East Africa and from there spread to the whole world. Yet these descendants of Africans in National Action despite their own roots!
As an afterthought can I remind everyone that the Liverpool Commonwealth Association will be having its Inaugural General Meeting at 6.30 p.m. at Crawford House on 15th September? Here in a very practical way we seek to reunite those that live in Liverpool from our Commonwealth fellow countries in ways which will benefit both here and there. If you have an interest in these matters you will be welcomed.
Finally, my personal thanks to all those who made today such a great event. Led by the International Museum of Slavery and Chief Angus they gave the people of Liverpool the opportunity to show that not only do they live in a marvellous, diverse, multi-cultural city but also gave us the opportunity to show that they are very pleased so to do.

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Calm down, calm down, calm down. There won’t be an SDP Mach II!


Lots of people in the Lib Dems are talking about what we should do after the Labour leadership election, especially if Corbyn wins. Many of them are very excited about the prospect. I am not so sure and not so keen! My understanding is that it is all so long ago that only about 5% of our Party were either Liberals or Social Democrats. I suspect I speak for the few us around now who were front line activists then. The split in Labour was energising but in many ways depressing. We spent many wasted hours in meetings with people who did not really either understand or care about what we were talking about.

A comedian characterised a Liverpool man about a decade ago as having a moustache and saying, “calm down, calm down, calm down”. That is precisely what I am saying today. In Liverpool we have lived through two extremes.

1. Three of Liverpool’s seven Labour MPs (the none-Labour MP was David Alton) joined the SDP. Frankly they were largely useless. Their ideas about how to be a politician and an activist were very different from ours. Hardly surprising as they had spent most of their lives in another tribe. None of them effectively engaged with us or tried to understand what we meant and did by way of community activism. This was not true of all the defectors. I had and have nothing but admiration for people like Shirley Williams, Bill Rogers and Bob McLennan. Not only did most of the big name defectors disappear quickly but also so did most of the people who poured into the SDP.

Of course some really good people came; stayed and joined the merged Party. These include people locally like Norman Mills, Flu Clucas and Barbara and Harry Collinge. Most did not stay. The people who stuck were those who were instinctively liberal. Those that did not were the opposite!

2. We experienced left wing extremism in full force with the Militant tendency. Many of the people who have joined the Labour Party in the past weeks were the type who joined Militant. People who did not understand the complexity of dealing with long-term issues and trends often outside the control of politicians. Those people will not go away in the short-term and will pour onto the streets in parts of Liverpool and similar cities. They will shore up the Labour vote in large parts of the city but scare off the vote in the areas that are the target seats in both local and parliamentary terms for us.

I believe that deserters will be a slow burn. Most will try and stay in and make the new situation work. After 18 months of dreadful and introverted meetings they will quit. As Militant did none-Corbynites will be excoriated as class traitors and Tories! Some of them will come to us. Some might establish a new party but many of the more capable people will just disappear from politics.

Of particular interest will be those 8% of members who seem to be backing Liz Kendall. I really cannot see how any politician of honour who supported Kendall can stay in the Party that will be morphed into existence soon after Corbyn gets his hands on power. But in many ways it is now irrelevant who becomes the Leader. Labour Parties at levels with the exception of the Parliamentary Labour Party will be dominated by inward looking disputes. In the Parliamentary Party the Corbyn faction will be in such a small minority that it is hard to see how they will function with most capable politicians (flip flop Burnham being an exception) saying that they would not join the shadow cabinet. Stand by for a shadow cabinet of none-entities who will remorselessly picked off by the Press and Tories.

I am basing this prediction on hind sight. I base my view on how Lib Dems should react should react on practical experience.

If some people want to come over to the Lib Dems we should not welcome them with open arms. We should ask ourselves two related questions. Are WE sorry that they have been in another party because we failed to attract them? Will THEY fit into our Party in a constructive and empathetic way?

If the answer is yes to both – let them in. If no to both do not. Not all defectors are worth having.

Whatever happens the Lib Dems are gaining strength. We should be confident enough in our own principles to watch whilst the Labour Party implodes but not depend on it as a way forward.

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Merseyside Police Commissioner Elections an outrageous waste of money


In a letter to Communities Secretary Greg Clark I have challenged him to clarify two key questions:
1. Will the Government be wasting £1.25 or £2.5 million on a none job. These being the costs next year of the election which is the smaller figure if held on the same day as the local elections and the higher figure if held by itself as last time.

2. Will the election be for a none-existent job? If the Government approves a Manchester style package which is due to be submitted to them by Merseyside Leaders on 4th September then the position of Police Commissioner will disappear probably just 12 months later.
I also ask for clarification on the role of the policing of Halton if the deal goes ahead as Halton is policed by the Cheshire Police force.
I have warned Greg Clark, “I have no doubt at all that the people of the Liverpool City Region would prefer this money to be spent on policing not politicians and bureaucracy. I also know that they would be outraged at the spending of this amount of money for a one year post which can only be described as a total waste of money”.

The full text of my letter to Communities Secretary Greg Clark is appended below

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
07885 626913

Rt Hon Greg Clark,
Secretary of State for DCLG
2, Marsham Street,
London SW1P 4DF
19th August 2015
Dear Greg,

Re: Police Commissioner Elections – Merseyside

I have been asked to contact you after a meeting last night when Liberal Democrats from across Merseyside met to consider whether or not we intended to fight this election next year. We have decided that we will fight but have two key questions to ask you:

1. Is it your intention to waste £1.25 million or £2.5 million on next year’s election? At the moment we do not know when the election will be held. If it is on the same day as the local elections they will cost the £1.25 million figure. If they are free standing as they were last time with no other elections they will cost £2.5 million. We say wasted because we firmly believe that this is a none-job with no public support. We saw this at the first elections and subsequent by-elections when turnout was derisory. The second question arises because not only do we and local people think it a none job it might soon become a none-existent job!

2. What thoughts have you given to the situation will arise if you agree a devolution package which the City Region leaders have agreed to submit on 4th September on the Manchester model. The Manchester model includes the removal of the position of Police Commissioner. We could then be spending a lot of money for a job that will disappear one year after the election.

I have no doubt at all that the people of the Liverpool City Region would prefer this money to be spent on policing not politicians and bureaucracy. I also know that they would be outraged at the spending of this amount of money for a one year post which can only be described as a total waste of money.

There is, of course a 3rd question for you to answer. In Greater Manchester the Combined Authority is coterminous with the Police Authority. In the Liverpool City Region it is not. Halton is policed by Cheshire. Will the City region remit for policing then not extend to Halton or will policing be reorganised to allow for the changed devolved circumstances?

This is not a mess of your making but it is nevertheless a mess.

We look forward to receiving your answers.

Yours sincerely,
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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Is Tony Blair the Ozymandias of the Labour Party?


Does this picture remind you of Tony Blair?!

As I listened to Tony Blair talking with disdain about the Party that he once led a poem came into my mind:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

The first thing that occurred to me was the “sneer of cold command”. That was clearly what we could see on his face as spoke yesterday about Labour’s future. But to be fair to him it was the same sneer as he used for years when he was actually the Leader. Mr Blair really did not like his Party and although he controlled it for years and was, in many ways, their most successful leader many in the Party did not like him in return.
The second thing was the phrase, “boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away. In reality that is what will be left of the Labour Party not immediately after the election of a new Leader but certainly that is what the end result will be over the next two or three years. As my good friend Lord Roger Roberts said yesterday the need for the reduced number of Lib Dem Parliamentarians to challenge the Tories for this Parliament will be huge as Labour member will fight Labour member.
How can someone say that a Party which will have almost 600,000 people voting in its leadership election can die and struggle? Well it’s easy really because you will have two Parties.
Firstly, half of the 300,000 people who will vote are not Party members. This is a very strange position to be in. Affiliated ‘members’ and supporters will have half the votes whilst those full members will provide the other half. Even there you see a most peculiar position. One third of those people who are full members were not full members on May 7th. So only one third of the electorate will come from those who strained and struggled to try and get a Labour Government earlier this year.
Secondly you will clearly have the Parliamentary Labour Party against almost everyone else. Will Mr Corbyn be able to find:A credible shadow Chancellor to promote a corbynomics policy that doesn’t add up?

  • A credible shadow Foreign Secretary to promote the numerous lost causes but no commitment to Europe that Corbyn has espoused over the years?
    A credible shadow Business Secretary when Corbyn’s industrial aims as stated so far are to bring dinosaur industries and nationalise existing industries which would cost an absolute fortune?
    A shadow Defence Secretary when he will fight no overseas wars and scrap Trident. This latter being a policy which I hope the Lib Dems will adopt but which the Labour Parliamentary Party has resolutely failed to support

And so on and so forth!
So there is no doubt that civil war will break out in the Labour Party if Corbyn wins. There is also a good chance that it will if he loses so big will the Corbyn group appear to be. I see long hours of meetings in cold church halls with Constituency Labour Parties passing policy motions and holding their MPs to account. This will be so like the Militant period that I fully understand why Corbyn is getting little support in Liverpool their former stronghold.
In fact I was very much in agreement with Joe Anderson the Labour Mayor of Liverpool when he told the Liverpool Echo last month that if there were a none of the above column on the Labour Leader’s ballot paper he would put his cross against it. He has later modified his opinion and is supporting Burnham. My analysis is one firebrand (whose authenticity but not policies I admire) Copper and Burnham as the former aristocrats of the Party who seem to be shifting principles and polices as they tack to the head winds of Corbyn; and Liz Kendall who has some reasonable analysis of why Labour did so badly.
So will there be an SDP style walk out from the Labour Party as there was in the 80s? I have no idea but if there is it will not come quickly. Frankly I do not see how any supporter of Liz Kendall could stay in a Corbyn led Party which has committed itself to such extremist views. There is always the argument that you achieve more by staying in and fighting but they will be in such a small minority that their input will be meaningless. Liz Kendall might be able to work with flip-flop Burnham and patrician Cooper but Corbyn? That is a stretch of the imagination too far.
Personally I hope that there will not be a walk out and the emergence of a new Party which will then inevitably be linked to or competitive for the so called middle ground in politics. I lived through the SDP split and negotiated with them locally. Some of them like Shirley Williams nationally and Flo Clucas locally were people who had real integrity and created with us a new Party which was stronger than both the old Liberal Party and SDP. But many of the people who joined the SDP were transient blow-ins who either wanted to defend their position or saw a quick way to find one. They didn’t last long in the harsh world or third party politics!
So I want to see the Liberal Democrats getting on with doing what we are already doing. Rebuilding with new energy and determination and winning back confidence in the electors and by so doing wining back seats. We won another council seat in Wales last night which by my tally is 9 seats gained since the General Election with 2 losses. Our vote has been up well in almost every ward that we have fought. This tallies with our own door knocking in Church and Woolton Wards where there is a clear air of disquiet with Labour both locally and nationally at the 1,000+ doors we have knocked at in the last 6 weeks.
I am proud of the work being done by our new Leader, Tim Farron, in tackling some of the difficult issues in society. Two stick out to me. His visit to Calais and his determination that refuges should be treated as real people and not as pests to be swatted shows his and our liberal intentions to the full. His determination that mental illness will be at the forefront of our health service campaigning shows that we are prepared to deal with issues that the others find difficulty.
So as Lord Roger Roberts commented this week the work of our parliamentarians in the Commons and Lords, our MLAs and our councillors will be vital in this Parliament. Whilst the Labour Party fights itself we will fight for the people of Britain. While they promote the same medley of unworkable policies that helped produce the financial crisis we will promote credible policies that challenge the Tories.
The way ahead for the Liberal Democrats is not easy but at least for us it is clear!

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