Last night I attended a meeting in Mossley Hill ward called by Cllr Tina Gould and Paul Childs. The meeting was about the half baked decision to site a school on Jericho Lane. About 50 local people were there and were very angry for two reasons:
1. That the land that is proposed for development is zoned as open space and is used as playing fields
2. The proposal is dangerous. Anyone from South Liverpool knows that Jericho Lane is heavily used by traffic going into the City Centre. The road cannot be widened because a new railway bridge would cost more than a new school. 950 girls coming from all over the city would make the Lane even more dangerous because of the number of cars and foot passengers. The Lane will also be made more difficult when eventually 1,300 new properties are built on the former Garden Festival site.
Because one of the key objections related to Green Space we asked their opinion about the sale of part of Sefton Park as well. They were incensed by the idea of selling off part of the Park. My e-mails have been buzzing today with reaction to what Labour councillor Malcolm Kennedy said this morning. He believes, apparently that there are very few people objecting to the sale of the land. If he really thinks that then he and Joe Anderson are in for a big shock! He should know better. Although Cllr Kennedy represents a North Liverpool Ward he lives in Aigburth just round the corner from Jericho Lane.
Jericho Lane, the Meadowlands, Allerton and Kirkby golf courses are all threatened with building and we have been here before. In the 80s we fought off proposals to sell Allerton Golf Course – we will do so again. In the 80s and 90s we fought off proposals to sell the Meadowlands – we shall do so again.
Let’s look at some facts. There is enough brown field land in Liverpool to build accommodation for up to 70,000 people. That would mean an increase in population of just under 20%. If we were to get that many people living in the city we would need every single piece of green land for the recreation, leisure and health of our residents.
Selling off our green spaces will have two effects:
1. It will encourage people to move out of not move into the city. People choose to live in Liverpool because large parts of it are a very green and pleasant space. Take the green away and the very people you need to safeguard our future will move out.
2. It will have the same effect on jobs. One of the key reasons that firms relocate into an area is the existence of pleasant working areas for their staff.
So why have the Labour Party been in favour of so much concreting and building? You’d almost think that they owned shares in companies that stand to benefit from these proposals. The reality is because they think that South Liverpool is too good! They regularly point out that S Liverpool has far more parks and greens spaces than North Liverpool. They are right but the way to rectify this problem is not to build on land in the South but improve land and park spaces in the North.
We have already heard conflicting reasons for the sale of the Meadowlands. It started off being a plan to put more money into Section Park including the building of a permanent ‘stage’ but we have already spent £13 million on the Park and the money for the stage has already been committed. So the situation couldn’t be clearer – they just want the cash to spend on their own schemes.
We know that the finances of Liverpool are in a poor way and have almost always voted with Labour on the solutions to the problems. But we cannot damage the long-term future heritage of our city to meet short needs. Once the land is built upon it will under concrete for the next 200 years – effectively it is gone for good.
Next week my Liberal Democrat colleagues will be announcing some proposals for what we can do within the Council to fight Labour’s ill conceived plans. We have already called in the Meadowlands decision for scrutiny. We will let people know when the scrutiny committee will be. But we do not think that this should be a party politically led campaign for our green spaces. Last night we helped establish one new group to fight proposals. That group will not be led by Liberal Democrats. Already a group has been established to fight the Meadowlands proposals and the golfers of Allerton and Kirkby have been sharpening their woods and irons!
Our city now needs everyone who is concerned with the environment to work together to fight off the announced proposals and others that are clearly coming our way with the publication of another land grab strategy only on Thursday. We will work with anyone who cares for our green environment so that our children and grandchildren can indeed live in a green, pleasant and sustainable city.