I welcome today’s High Court judgement which will save part of Calderstones Park from being built on. I can only describe it as a victory of the People of Liverpool over the political elite that rules the Liverpool Town Hall.
Today’s judgement by the High Court effectively rules out any possibility of the Council selling the Harthill section of Calderstones Park to Redrow Homes. It has vindicated the approach which has been taken by the local Lib Dem team for 3.5 years and the excellent work done by the community group, LOGS, which has raised £40,000 to fight the Judicial Review and 53,000+ names on a petition against the development.
This whole episode has shown up the managerial and political elite of the City in an appalling light. They started the process by buying Beechley House for approximately £1,000, just six months after a speculator had bought it for £500,000.
They claimed that they started the process off because Beechley wanted and needed to move a claim which has been consistently rebutted by the Chair of the RDA.
They moved Calder Kids to a new venue for a sum which the Mayor stated would be about £1.6 million including lease charges when it would only have cost £100,000 to fully refurbish their existing premises.
They received a flawed report which indicated that it would cost £1.7 million to move Beechley Riding for the Disabled.
In fact, had the decision to sell to Redrow been proceeded with the Council would have LOST over £2,000,000.
The Mayor has allowed both the Council and the community to spend money on a Judicial Review when he told Beechley in September that he would not force them to move. This effectively destroyed the planning application.
I am sure that Merseyside Police will also be looking at the High Court decision with interest given their investigation into allegations that Liverpool Council deliberately allowed a weakened case to be given at the Public Enquiry in to the planning application by Redrow to build on the Allerton Priory site which is also part of the same South Liverpool green wedge.
But something good did come out of all this. The tremendous community spirit which has brought people together from all over S Liverpool and indeed the rest of Liverpool to fight these proposals. As we now turn to what happens in the Park now, I hope that they will continue to use all that enthusiasm to make improvements to the Park. We have already had more than 20 suggestions about what to do with the so-called ‘depot’ site ranging from a Bee farm to a nature school, from a Garden Centre to a new biodome to house an orchid collection to replace the one destroyed in the 80s by the Militant led Labour Council.
So, there are now 6 key questions which the Mayor of Liverpool must answer:
- Why did he continue with the cost of a Judicial Review when he had already said at the beginning of September that he would not move Beechley Riding for the Disabled against their wishes?
- How much has been spent on an unnecessary move by Calder Kids whose premises could have been out right for £100,000?
- Will he now give Beechley RDA the 25-year lease that they need to bid for grants?
- What does this mean for the Police investigation into whether or not the Council deliberately under performed in the public enquiry at Allerton Priory at the other end of the South Liverpool Green Wedge?
- Will he now sell Beechley House for residential development or develop it for flatted accommodation through the new Foundations Company?
- Will he work with local councillors and the community to establish a new park related use for the so-called depot site?
But for a few days let us rest. Let our campaigners have a break from their ceaseless toil to keep our Park safe for future generations to be the lungs and the heart of our community.