Will the Council apologise for threatening us over Harthill being part of the Park?

My Lib Dem colleagues and I were threatened with legal action by the Council because we refused to back down over their claim that the Harthill section was not part of the Park. Now that a High Court judge has agreed with us will the Council apologise?

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the great victory by LOGS in the High Court last week, I have expanded my questions. I have written to a senior officer at the council today asking for responses to a series of questions about how we got to this point and what happens now.

On a personal level I would like an apology from the Council for the advert that they put in saying that the Lib Dems and I were erroneously claiming that Harthill was a part of the Park. Of course, the people of Liverpool agreed with me. Now just as importantly, a High Court Judge has agreed with us. Tellingly he said at one stage in his decision:

“I therefore disagree with the bald statement “the application site does not form part of Calderstones Park, nor does its reference in schedule 8.3 of the UDP connote any policy status”.

Will we get an apology? I doubt it but that is not the most important thing anyway. Our main purposes must be to get a lease for the Disabled Riding Stables and for the Miniature Railway; to work out a future connected with park use for the so-called depot site and to look at better use of the woodlands and nature trail.

Here is my letter to the Council Officers. I will, of course, publish the reply.

Next Steps for Calderstones Park

You will be aware that I wrote to the Mayor on Friday following the loss by the Council of the JR against its decisions relating to Calderstones Park. You may not be aware that the Mayor has a policy of never replying to my e-mails or letters in spite of the fact that I am the Leader of the largest opposition Party!

I know that when we last spoke you had received no instructions from the Mayor as to how to proceed either in respect of the JR decision or perhaps more importantly in light of the fact that he had already decided, and said so publicly, that Beechley RDA should not move. I now believe that we need to move forward together as a council and united as a community.

So, I wish to test the water to find out more about two things. How did we get to this point? In order that we do not make the same mistakes and what do we do now? To enable everyone to move forward as quickly as possible.

So, I am posing some questions to the Council in both categories and look forward to both hearing from you in regard to this but also discussing the matter with you.

Questions about the Past:

  1. Was the decision to say that the area of Harthill was not part of the Park originally an officer suggestion or a political one?  I believe we must know this because it is absolutely clear to me that the officers have responded to unreasonable political pressure throughout the whole of the proceedings.
  • The Judge made abundantly clear at a number of points in his decision that he believed that this land is clearly part of a Park. In particular he says,

“I therefore disagree with the bald statement “the application site does not form part of Calderstones Park, nor does its reference in schedule 8.3 of the UDP connote any policy status”.

Whose decision was it to send out a letter to me as Lib Dem Leader in 2016 saying that we were being erroneous in saying that the Harthill part of the land and threatening action against us.? Whose decision was it to pay for an advert in the Echo (attached) which said the same thing?

How much did the advert cost?

  • Will the Council now apologise to me, the Liberal Democrats who were continually attacked and the campaigners for the Park now that we have a clear understanding from the remarks of the Judge that it was the council that was erroneous in not accepting that the land was part of the Park?
  • Why did the Council continue with the cost of a Judicial Review when the Mayor had already said at the beginning of September, repeated in Council, that he would not move Beechley Riding for the Disabled against their wishes?
  • Calder Kids

How much has been spent on the clearly unnecessary move by Calder Kids?

What commitments have been made for ongoing revenue support for Calder Kids?

What estimates were made of the costs of refurbishing their premises?

At what meeting of the Cabinet were the capital and revenue costs of moving Calder Kids agreed. Where are those minutes printed?

Did Calder Kids submit a business plan or a grant application to the Council prior to its relocation?

What performance measures have been included in the ‘contract’ with Calder Kids to ensure that this facility is fully utilised to meet the needs of its client group?

  • 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?

Questions for the future

  • Beechley Riding for the Disabled

Will the Council now give Beechley RDA the 25-year lease that they need to bid for grants?

What area of land will be given to them?

What will the access points be through to the paddock etc?

  • Beechley House

Will the Council now sell Beechley House for residential development or develop it for flatted accommodation through the new Foundations Company?

  • So-called, ‘depot site’

Will the Council work with the local councillors and community to establish a new park related use for the so-called depot site?

  1. Miniature Railway

Will the Council give a 25-year lease to the Miniature Railway so that they can apply for grants?

Will the Council give to them or to Beechley RDA the lease on the vacated Calder Kids building?

I know that some of these are complex questions but others are not. In particular you will be aware that I have been asking for 3 months for details of the decision-making process by which Calder Kids was moved and the revenue and capital implications for doing so.

Above all I think we need to move forward quickly on the RDA lease. They could start moving forward even if no final lease had been signed but a clear intent was made by the Council to give one.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Kemp sig

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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