Labour’s Continuing Hypocrisy over Liverpool’s Green Spaces

japanese-garden

Japanese Garden- Calderstones Park

You may think that I am a little obsessed by the way Liverpool’s increasingly right wing Labour Party are behaving over the potential sale or disposal of part of our Parks. Well spotted – you are right. In all my 32 years as a councillor in Liverpool I have never seen anything as bizarre as the hokey-cokeying of Liverpool’s Labour councillors as they face the elections on May 7th. I know it’s rude to shout but I am going to anyway:
LIVERPOOL’S LABOUR COUNCILLORS (ALL OF THEM) HAVE HAD AT LEAST THREE OPPORTUNITIES TO ENSURE THAT NO PARKLAND OR GREEN SPACE BE SOLD OFF IN LIVERPOOL.
Let’s look at what they are saying in Sefton Park:
Chief Joker must be the Mayor who has now asked the potential developers to cut down less trees in their planned development of the Meadowlands. He is complaining that he is going to get less money for the land than he thought because they have already reduced the number of trees that they want to cut to just 27% of the trees. How on earth Mr Anderson thought that he was going to develop that site without cutting down loads of trees when we have two sites with trees every 12 yards is beyond me.
But the Mayor is not the only Labour politician dancing around this issue. After flatly refusing to support the demands of their constituents for more than 2 years to oppose the sale the deadly duo of Greenbank Labour councillors are telling us all that they are opposing the planning application. Well they would wouldn’t they?! Why are they safe? Because the planning committee which makes the decision is a free-standing delegated committee which acts in a quasi-judicial form. This means that when its Labour majority vote the plans though they can say with crocodile tears, “It’s not our fault, we did try and stop this.
Now let’s move North to WALTON HALL PARK:
There local councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Ann O’Byrne, is setting up and chairing an absolutely neutral ‘Community Engagement Group’ with a blank sheet of paper to consider what is happening with the Park. I am just assuming no-one believed most of the last sentence. Yes a CEG is being established and yes the CEG is being chaired by Ann O’Byrne but the rest is rubbish. Then CEG cannot be neutral with a political chair who is a supporter of the Mayor who has been pushing the development of the site for the use for a range of uses. She is hedging the development of the CEG around with all sorts of restrictions to ensure that the only people who will work on it are people she can control. Well done the Walton Hall Group who have exposed this nonsense and are refusing to have anything to do with it.
Let’s move back down South to the Calderstones Park area and see what Labour are saying there.
Next week they are having a public meeting (well some people have been invited to it) because they are concerned that I have been misleading local people and that parts of the Park (known as the Harthill Estate) are not really being prosed for sale after all!
Well let me remind them of three facts:
1. The Council has accepted a report from its officers regarding the local plan that includes the suggestion that those areas which are part of the Harthill Estate and the Green in Menlove Gardens are surplus to requirements because our population has shrunk – although it is rising again.
2. The Menlove Green was gifted to the council provided it be kept as green space in perpetuity. I have challenged the council to agree that this is the case (and I have seen the deed of transfer so know that it is true). They tell me that they will check with the Land Registry and come back to me. This was over a month ago and despite prodding them 3 times I have yet to have an affirmative response.
3. Beechley Riding Stables was told in the summer when they were only given a three year lease that they would have to move to another Park AND that the costs of new stables etc would be met from the sale of the land they currently occupy.
These are facts and although Labour will try and shilly-shally around on the basis that they need to have a development plan (true) and that the Plan must have a good supply of housing for 10 years (also true) it is not true that they need parkland to meet our legal needs. There is enough land available for Liverpool to provide accommodation for 76,000 people – more if they adopted a higher quality and denser development. In fact there would be a lot more accommodation available for long-term residents if they worked to restrict the excessive number of student flats that are being built. We have given outline planning approval for more than 6,600 properties on the North Docks and approved proposals but not plans for 2,500+ on the South Docks. There is planning approval extant for more than 1,300 homes on the former Garden Festival site etc., etc., etc!
So will you do something for me? If you hear a Labour Councillor claiming that they really want the Parks not to be developed and really want to ensure that they are maintained for future generations just ask them to support this resolution at the next Council Meeting.
Motion to Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council being conscious of the fact that there is an ample supply of land which could be developed in Liverpool in the lifetime of the next and at least one more Local Development Framework resolves to safeguard all Parks and publicly used green spaces in the City by withdrawing any implication that they are surplus to requirements and potentially available for development.
This will sort the true believers from those toying for your affections pre-election. I will vote for such a resolution – will there be just one Labour Councillor with the guts to take on the Mayor of Liverpool and the bulldozer faction and vote with me?

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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4 Responses to Labour’s Continuing Hypocrisy over Liverpool’s Green Spaces

  1. joedd says:

    The defense against the Dark Arts of Liverpool Labour Council is ”DON’T VOTE LABOUR” the power of the people is via the ballot box 2015/16. As for Ann O’Byrne chairing the CEG another example of how LCC like to manipulate and control.
    Mayor Anderson shouldn’t underestimate the public, technology has made voters more informed than ever……

  2. Jim Page says:

    Thank you once again Richard for clarifying the situation most succinctly. All we really ask for is the truth to be told, but obviously that is the most difficult thing to find in these pre-election times.
    Keep one with the dogged campaigning, you will win through in the end!

  3. Prof. Chucklebutty says:

    An excellent summary. In some recent evaluations by people commenting, it was shown that the arguments around raising income from higher council tax band properties and a shortage of such properties is also a fiction. The council tax raised from the housing in Sefton Pk Meadows would be negligible at around £63,000, which wouldn’t even pay for half a Ged Fitzgerald or a Jack Straw. It also showed that in a simple search of South Liverpool Properties, there were almost 300 on the market at the high band rate, so there is no shortage of such property. The sale of the meadows is expected to raise £10m which is £1m less, I believe than the Mayor spent purchasing Everton’s training ground. Now somehow, a multi million pound business paying millions of pounds a year to it’s employees (for that is what Everton Football Club is) is expecting the council to source land for them to re-locate their business, and the councillors cry well only Walton Hall Park is big enough. It is a shame they are not big enough to tell Everton to go find and purchase their own site. Has anybody asked why they need a new stadium? The idea that somehow we must keep this business (albeit one held in great affection by many in the city) within the city boundary is a poor argument when considering it will take away the free recreation space for one of the most deprived areas and replace it with a stadium few locals could afford to enter.

    As for Menlove Gardens, I could never afford to live there but the green is beautiful. Just because the people who live around it have a few bob, doesn’t mean that it should be taken from them. They pay their council tax and probably bought those properties because of the green, so selling it off is turning the away the very type of people they pretend they wish to attract. There is no need to build on any green space. It is a fiction. I am not a supporter of the Lib Dems, and may on occasion have been critical, but I am grateful you are there to make these points and raise the issues.

    I hope some of the Labour councillors will find the courage to put tribalism aside and stand up to the Mayor and for what is right. Because I am sure they know that the sale of these parks and green spaces, is wrong and they should not be included in the local plan as potential development sites.

    I still think Clegg is a……

    • Catherine says:

      Yes. Good points – especially about Everton. The football clubs are businesses, but the council clearly thinks their needs are more important than public amenities. They are clearly now putting time, effort and resources into the WHP proposal that could be better employed on something else (the £25k spent on the initial report is only the start).

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