Tomorrow, 17th February, I will be attending a demo against the callous decision to allow Redrow Homes to build on part of the South Liverpool green wedge.
Before I go into the details of this I just want to comment on the role of politicians in issues such as this. I have been contacted this week by a community who are seriously concerned that their community led green space campaign has been hijacked by a political party (not the Lib Dems) and used as a political football. In the case of Calderstones Park I, as the local councillor, helped establish the group that became LOGS and then went to the first two meetings. I didn’t go to another one unless I was specifically asked because I believed it was important that there were two parallel campaigns.
The community campaign would have been weaker if there had been had political interference and involvement. The community group led one type of campaign and the Lib Dems ran another. Of course, we talked to each other, we found out information for each other and turned up to each other’s events but they were two separate campaigns which built on the strengths of a binary approach.
I hope that will be replicated in Save Allerton Priory and other green space campaigns. I have already met the Priory people and found things out for them and they have made suggestions for things that my colleagues and I could do. Similar requests will be made to councillors and parliamentarians from other Parties. By doing this the campaign group will be apolitical and not party political.
Turning to the campaign itself there are three big questions that need answering:
- Did the Council deliberately throw the enquiry? In the Calderstones Park Judicial Review the Judge made clear that he was seriously concerned that the Council had not provided the planning committee with information that they should have had to make a balanced and informed decision. A suggestion has been made, which is being investigated by the Police, that the Council failed to give all the evidence to the public enquiry that they should have done.
- Why did barristers for the council agree a joint statement on Housing Numbers with the barrister for Redrow which the barrister for the community did not have access to? This statement was effectively given after the closure of the public enquiry and in a way that could not be challenged by the community.
- What are the implications of the Council considering an appeal against the Judge’s decision in the Calderstones Park Judicial Review? Quite apart from my concern that this might reopen Labour’s campaign to build on the land despite the Mayors assurance (given 3 times) that this will not happen, we have to ask what they are seeking to do in the rest of the Green wedge.
In some ways this last question is the most important of all. If the Council can weaken its own green wedge policy it raises the opportunities to sell off or allow development on other parts of the wedge. We already have a planning application in for Woolton Manor which in in the green wedge where this policy is being brushed aside by the planning officer. What might be next? Perhaps it will be the Dowsefield Lane green space which is the subject of much rumour.
So, we need to be ever vigilant and ever fighting. I was criticised last week in a Tweet for always turning up at every green space demo in the City. Well that’s what I have done in all the time I have been on the Council. Green spaces are so important for our physical and mental health. Let’s also remember we have recently had a devastating report in the dangers of the heavily polluted air which so many of our children have to inhale. In these days of increased pressure and increased pollution we need to treasure our green spaces.
So, if you have a green space which you want to fight for come along to Allerton Priory tomorrow (it’s the Woolton Road entrance). In turn we will all come to your demos and support your campaigns.
As the 3 Musketeers used to say, “one for all and all for one!”
The Demo will take place at 12.00 at the Woolton Road entrance to the Allerton Priory site on 17rth February. You can keep in touch with the ongoing campaign at the Save Allerton Priory Facebook site.