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?