New Ferry,Old Tricks Part 2

Two years after the event here we have Wirral South MP Alison McGovern speaking in the House of Commons at a full adjournment debate and making the case for government funding to help the people of New Ferry following the devastation caused by an explosion.

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This is the response of Tory MP Jake Berry :

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Meanwhile as we can see below it would seem that it’s an ill explosion that blows no good with our old friends North West Construction UK Ltd getting the lion’s share of Wirral Council spend on the aftermath of the New Ferry disaster. Other interesting expenditure includes Bam Nuttall and Siemens Mobility Limited – but we’ll return to that another time.

WBC Spend

Consequently a victim of the New Ferry blast contacts us and with a mix of exasperation and desperation tells us:

Either Jake is misleading the public or Wirral Borough Council are misleading him!

Can you help us at all?  This is a disgrace devastated by the lies to the public making people think we are being helped. Help us. Please help us. This could happen to anyone they say lessons must be learnt from our devastation. Wirral Council are about to shaft us again we have fought for 2 years. 2 years they have treated us like something they have stood in.The money that the council told the government would go directly to the victims is not to be discussed with the victims but now earmarked for community groups. And the new council are not prepared to meet with us until the 200k has been discussed and allocated…

The recovered spend tells a story all of its own. This is money claimed back from victims who all received bills. They were never told this would ever have to be paid for. They helped one particular business but no one else. It’s all very distressing. We all needed help…

And so it would appear that we have the usual Wirral Council story of making a disaster out of a disaster.We can’t help feeling that if perhaps the explosion had been a couple of miles up the road in Birkenhead the response from Wirral Council would  have been very different in terms of expediency and being responsive to the needs of local people.  

Beyond The Green Belt Lies The Plight of ‘The Bombsite’

New Ferry Explosion Damage Map

Quite rightly it has been brought to our attention that whilst the Green Belt furore continues across Wirral there is a place on the peninsula that appears to have been all but forgotten. Yes, we’re talking about New Ferry or ‘The Bombsite’ as locals have taken to calling the area devastated by a gas blast in March 2017.

Several people have pointed us in the direction of an excellent analysis of the history of the disaster and current distressing situation. We recommend that if you’re interested and you should be – Wirral is not all about wildflower meadows, dingly dells and bluebell woods ,there are Brownfield sites that need just as much attention as your beloved Green Belt – you need to check out this excellent report which is based upon the presentation given to James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on 5th September 2018, as residents and traders met with him at Westminster. The aim of the presentation was to illustrate to the minister that the explosion had been massively understated and underfunded, and that since no government assistance had been received, the victims and the community have been left for 18 months with no hope for recovery, and that now government should step in and help.

The New Ferry / Port Sunlight explosion WAS of the scale that warranted government assistance, and the research conducted and presented in this report proves that.

Video made with PowerPoint. Please press pause on each slide to read the content.

What we particularly applaud is the fact that there are people out there who are committed to making where they live a better place and make the effort to bring to the attention the facts ,the reality and the lived experience of those directly affected by the blast to those who can make a difference. Whilst we understand that local Labour MP Alison McGovern has been particularly supportive of the plight of the people of New Ferry/Port Sunlight we have to ask whether the ruling Labour administration at Wirral Council could have done more to highlight the desperate situation or are their priorities more about distributing misinformation about the Green Belt to support proposals for a golf resort which is far,far away ,not only geographically but ideologically, from the the people of New Ferry who contributed to voting them into power. Just sayin’…

 

Green Belt Review

pip-grinch

Pip : Green Man or a threat to the Green Belt?

We are pleased to publish a letter from The Prof an extract from the introduction to his brilliantly researched Wirral Green Belt Review 2018 explaining why Wirral residents need to wake up and take action against threats to Wirral’s Green Belt. It would appear that there is a growing realisation that that threat lies closer to home and that the approved narrative from Wirral Council that the villains are the Peel Group and bullying bureaucrats from central Government simply doesn’t stack up – especially in the light of the proposals for the Hoylake Golf Resort.

So instead of bogus consultation meetings and political point scoring in the local newspapers Professor David Gregg (‘The Prof’)  is kindly providing facts and figures and a cogent argument as to why local activists need to be informed and get involved to protect the Green Belt. Although his analysis is about the impact of housing development at Poulton Lancelyn it serves as an excellent template for Green Belt activists . If anyone would like a free e copy of The Prof’s book get in touch with us :  Wirralleaks@gmail.com

Hello! Now the time scale for green belt site assessment against the national and local development criteria has been slashed to zero it is essential that local action groups make and submit their own analyses to the planning process.

As I mentioned I have done this for site 1984 at Poulton Lancelyn. I have published and am now circulating this independent report to locals, councillors, Alison McGovern and various heritage, wildlife and countryside activist groups. On several key grounds the aim to ‘fill in’ the whole GB land area east of the M53 from Prenton, south to Raby Mere is very damaging and totally unjustified on the Council’s own criteria. Somebody has gone insane. My local group will be gearing up action over the next few weeks but I thought you might like to see the report now. I am providing e copies free to any local Wirral residents affected.

                                                                          The Prof.
INTRODUCTION

A Strategic Housing Land Availability Study is being undertaken by Wirral Council as part of the generation of the Core Strategy Local Plan to be submitted to the DCLG Secretary of State. Part of this process involves identifying sites within the Green Belt to be made ‘available’ by landowners and developers for housing development and their subsequent ‘release’. The NPPF of 2012 requires local authorities to boost housing supply and this has recently (March 2018) been reinforced by the Prime Minister in the new draft NPPF proposals. Fifteen councils were singled out for condemnation by the then Secretary of State for failing to define a Local Plan and deliver an adequate level of new housing. Wirral is one of these councils. Secretary Sajid Javid has recently said of Wirral

‘In the 13 years that have passed since the 2004 Act was introduced your council has failed to meet the deadlines set out in that timetable.’

The threatened consequence is direct government intervention in the housing development process. The last Local Plan was written in 2000. The policy on Green Belt in the draft 2018 NPPF remains essentially unchanged (3). However there will be increasing pressure to build on Green Belt land which is why the listing of ‘available’ sites for development in the Wirral is important. If a site is not on the list it will not be considered, given the long list of ‘available’ sites in total (~110). The aim of local resident groups at this stage should be to prevent and protest local site listing and then ‘release’ for development. The question of redefining the Green Belt and building on green belt land sites appears to have arisen because of ‘land banking’ by developers in other Wirral areas. Council leader Phil Davies informed Secretary Sajid Javid in an official letter (31.01.18) that

‘Planning permission is currently in place for 16,098 new homes including 2,577 on existing urban and previously developed sites and up to 13,521 dwellings at …Wirral Waters…
The Council’s current SHLAA to April 2017 shows potential for a further 4,531 dwellings, subject to viability…’

At an intended target rate of house building of around 800 per annum the above implies we have a 26 year supply in hand. In addition ~6,000 existing houses are claimed to be lying empty.

According to Cllr. Davies, progress on ‘housing led regeneration has been hindered’ by the cut back in Conservative central government funding. Given this background the pressure to release and build on Green Belt land must seem obscure to the ordinary Wirral resident (but read on). The unfortunate attitude of some local councillors appears to be that until a landowner or developer makes a planning application residents can go back to sleep. This presumably reflects a complacent view of current ‘national’ policy.

‘National policy states that Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances through the preparation or review of the Local Plan and that inappropriate development in the Green Belt should not be approved except in very special circumstances.’

But a new Local Plan is being written and ~110 Green Belt sites have been put forward by ‘landowners and developers’ including site 1984 ; GB parcel SPO42, adjacent to Colmore Avenue and Poulton Green Close and further south to a point near Lancelyn Farm. If all these Green Belt sites are ‘safe’ why have so many landowners put them forward formally, as available for development ? Is this simple land speculation or prior knowledge? Also, very special circumstances are with us: an alleged national shortage of ‘affordable’ housing and the government’s desire for some major political ‘virtue signaling’…

Un-Peeling the Truth

Even More Homes 001
Congratulations to Wirral Globe who’ve followed up the past two weeks’ bogus front page stories about the Green Belt to a bullshit story about brownfield sites.

This one is headlined ‘Even More New Homes Are Due’ and we are treated to a picture Cllr ‘Gorgeous ‘ George Davies. Joy was further unconfined to find that the lead letter in the Globe’s Mailbox was also credited to Wirral Council’s Cabinet member for housing. Although no doubt there will be a Wirral Council officer somewhere who actually penned the letter, proudly showing their partner (or more probably their mother) and saying : ” I wrote that!”  Bullshit peddling – what a way to earn a living!

Anyway we know it can’t have been written by Davies as the letter is titled : ‘ Truth behind our Local Plan’ and as we all know this casual racist and smear campaign organiser isn’t even on nodding terms, let alone being acquainted with the  ‘truth’.

In the letter Cllr Davies tries to take on ‘The Prof’ and refute the claims made in the latter’s correspondence  (which we believe was the last to be printed in last week’s Globe and not given the prominence that Davies’ response gets) . We’d already previously published Professor Gregg’s letter here –  Summer Shorts : The Heat is On 2 – Quo Bono?

Let’s face it it was never going to be a meeting of minds was it?  Especially when ,unlike a supermarket trolley,  Cllr Davies doesn’t even have a mind of his own.

Nevertheless,seemingly displaying some rare insight that challenging ‘The Prof’ on facts is a dangerous game to play Davies resorts to the time-honoured tactic of ‘ner,ner,ner,ner,ner’ and tells him (and Globe readers) :

What the seemingly well-informed Prof Gregg doesn’t know is that since the earlier exchange of letters, Wirral Water’s owners Peel Group have been in touch with the Government directly , and to Wirral Council’s surprise and frustration ,have informed the new secretary of state they only intend to build 2,700 new homes at Wirral Waters over 15-year lifetime of the Local Plan

Surely anyone who reads Wirral Leaks must know that the Peel Group have been taking the piss (and public money and public property) for years. The contempt with which they hold Wirral Council (and us) is there for all to see. The thing is the former deserve it – we don’t!

Surprisingly it was left to Wirral South MP Alison McGovern to criticise Peel Group for “insufficient progress” in the press. Whither Frank Field and Angela Eagle now ? – especially the former who has consistently wet his knickers talking about all the wonderful things that are just about to happen in his Birkenhead constituency “tomorrow…next week… a month later… maybe next year… we need a five year action plan… these things take time…perhaps another 37 years ? …….meanwhile I’ve just conned money out of Wirral Council to open another foodbank. Hurrah for me, me ME!”

However what you won’t read on the front page of Wirral Globe or Wirral View (can anyone tell the difference these days?) is news from a ‘Wallasey Town Hall insider’ detailing some interesting developments involving a recent Wirral Council appointment and their intimate connection to……Peel Group.

We’ll be un-Peeling that forbidden fruit tomorrow…

Birkenhead MP’s Brexit Bitchfest Backfires

Birkenhead MP Frank Field ,  having moved an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal ) Bill earlier this week must be grateful that the local TV media chose a clip of Wirral South MP Alison McGovern’s contribution to the House of Commons Brexit debate for their news bulletin rather than his latest waspish display of self-aggrandizing disrespect for others. Therefore we’d particularly like to thank Old Queen TV  for posting the above footage.

Field’s innocuous amendment read : ” The UK ceases to belong to the European Union on 30 March 2019″ and  we can say one thing about Frankenfield and that he united the House during the debate  – united that is in their distaste of his sly jibes.

The most spectacular putdown was of fellow Labour MP Hilary Benn which drew gasps from benches on both sides of the House. Sitting behind Frankenfield David Lammy looks simply aghast……and who wouldn’t be as Field snipes at Benn : ” I’ve always bought my houses, I’ve never inherited them……”  . On being corrected by Benn he apologised and withdrew the comment. However the snooty, sarky tone of his statement , part Lady Bracknell/part Lily Savage, continued unabated.  

The thing is with Frankenfield is that locally he is so used to saying what he likes to who he likes – and being gifted a platform to do it – that it comes as a bit of a surprise when someone dares to challenge him on the facts.

However there were several other comments Frankenfield made during his speech which led to us sit here scratching our heads with our mouths agape. The full transcript of the debate can read here

 

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Bitchfest 018

We’re confused as to what Frankenfield is trying to say in these statements . However it  should be noted that overall 51.7% of the voters of Wirral voted to remain in the  EU Referendum , whilst  his own constituency  voted 51.7% to leave .

 

 

Election Selection : Week 8

Red Braces

Labour groupies Cllr Chris Meaden and Cllr Janette Williamson admire Frankenfield’s red braces and his homage to 1980’s wankers, sorry, bankers and the glory days of Thatcherism. Pic courtesy of Wirral Globe 

We don’t know how you feel but this has seemed to be the longest 8 weeks of our lives. At last we can get back to moaning about the weather and Wirral Council.

Our interest in national politics only extends to how it affects the local political landscape. By which we mean Frank Field  – obvs. For as we know Frankenfield is the de facto political leader on Wirral. Let’s face it –  McGovern , Eagle and Greenwood are mere also-rans in Wirral’s political stakes.

With Merseyside totally in the red  when it comes to local politics – from the Metro Mayor and his cabinet to all council leaders and constituency MPs and the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy there is an unprecedented concentration of  power invested in one party. Whilst that is the democratic right of the people, it scares us to death, not only because it suggests there is no effective opposition but primarily that some of the people who wield power are just so bloody awful.

But it’s not all bad news – with a hung parliament and with fox-hunting enthusiast Theresa May now experiencing what it’s like to be hunted by the ruthless and privileged ( i.e her own party) it would appear that there could be another general election on the horizon (*sighs* all round at Leaky Towers).

This of course would mean another bumper pay day for Wirral Council’s Returning Officer Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson who as we know must be struggling on his £180K + salary which is supplemented by the bumper pay outs amounting to tens of thousands of pounds he receives for declaring the seemingly never ending round of elections.

Hey Eric – any more thoughts on donating your bonus to supporting local charities or foodbanks or the New Ferry explosion fundraising efforts like a former Wirral Council Chief Executive used to do?

No – thought not!

 

The Lights Are On But No One Is Home

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They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Following on from our ‘Where Your Money Goes’ report and anticipating tonight’s planned protests at Wallasey Town Hall about Wirral Council’s proposals to introduce parking charges the length and breadth of the borough we discuss further worrying developments when it comes to the council’s questionable income generating measures.
We have been contacted by a concerned citizen about correspondence they received from the council which they describe as ‘frightening’ :
I have just received a letter from the council asking me to verify that I do live on my own and thus still qualify for the single person allowance.
Fair enough, I have no problem with this, indeed, it even smacks of efficiency. However I note these two bullet points on the letter:
  • We will shortly be performing further and more detailed checks on household residency in order to validate claims for Council Tax Single Person Discount.
  • These residency checks will be performed in collaboration with an external agency.
What the hell does this mean? I notice that alongside the Wirral Council logo is another one for ‘northgate public services’.
Are we to have these civil police marching around our properties sniffing bed sheets and checking for extra shoes under the bed?
I am 60 and very active, but I would not like to open my door to these people if I was a frail 85 year old widower. This is really alarming.
How will these checks be carried out, what right have these people to enter my flat and if I refuse them entry! What then?
It’s like a Stalinist police state..!
Our correspondent should count themselves lucky they don’t own an empty property. There’s no Council Tax Single Person Discount there – owners have to a 100% Council Tax on an empty property if it’s been unoccupied for 6 months.  What if they can’t sell it in these desperate times ? Once again we can’t help thinking this has nothing to do with bringing empty properties back into use or about tackling homelessness. We don’t understand how Wirral Council can charge someone for services they don’t receive as there’s no-one living at the property!
Meanwhile it comes to something when two Labour MPs  ( Alison McGovern and Margaret Greenwood) speak out against the council’s car parking proposals whilst the two most prominent and headline grabbing Wirral MPs ( Angela Eagle and Frank Field) keep schtum.
We can’t help wondering with some of their punitive proposals as to whether the current Labour administration at Wallasey Town Hall have a death wish or they’ve grown so arrogant and complacent that they can impose any draconian measure on the people of Wirral – the people they’re meant to serve! Now we know that Wirral Council have made some wayward moves over recent years but some of their recent decisions are simply inexplicable! –  It really does seem to us to be a case of the lights are on but no one is home !
We have to say , as worthy as they are ,we’re getting a tad frustrated with the protests and petitions . Once again we invoke the words ‘Judicial Review’ to test the legality of Wirral Council’s actions. We think that this is where people need to get organised and direct their energies if the these proposals get the go ahead.
We suggest the grounds for ‘Judicial Review’ are set out succinctly in correspondence sent from regular Wirral Leaks correspondent Dr Robert B Smith to Eric Robinson and Cllr Phil Davies Wirral Council  CEO and ‘leader’ respectively and a response Dr Smith received from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) .

Dear Mr Robinson, Dear Cllr Phil Davies,

Please forward my email to any new councillors.

Nothing has changed since 2015 regarding the legislation prohibiting using parking charges to raise revenue leading to the defeat at Fort Perch Rock in 2015 regarding questionable budget options. From the DCLG: –

Operational Guidance, and legislation, is clear that local authorities should never use parking charges to raise revenue. Where there is surplus income local authorities must ensure that any revenue not used for enforcement is used for legitimate purposes as prescribed in Section 55 (as amended) of the RTRA 1984, and that its main use is to improve, by whatever means, transport provision in the area so that road users benefit.

Another important aspect of the function of the Monitoring Officer related to legal compliance is clearly stated by the DCLG viz.,

All local authorities have a Monitoring Officer, and it is their role to ensure that the authority complies with legislation in its operation.

I paste the reply I received from the DCLG in full, below, for those with short memories.

Dr Robert B Smith

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email dated 20 July to Greg Clark concerning proposed pay and display parking in New Brighton. I work in the team in DCLG working on high streets and town centres and have been asked to reply on his behalf.

Parking is vital to modern high streets and town centres, which is why we are encouraging all local authorities to consider the impact of parking policies on the health of town centres and to adjust their policies accordingly. We want to make sure local authorities operate fair and reasonable parking strategies that are not an unnecessary disincentive to motorists who visit our high streets and town centres.

Operational Guidance, and legislation, is clear that local authorities should never use parking charges to raise revenue. Where there is surplus income local authorities must ensure that any revenue not used for enforcement is used for legitimate purposes as prescribed in Section 55 (as amended) of the RTRA 1984, and that its main use is to improve, by whatever means, transport provision in the area so that road users benefit.

I am sorry that you feel that the Wirral Borough Council is not supporting the recovery of New Brighton, Wallasey. Parking is ultimately the responsibility of local authorities; it is for them to determine what is best for their own area. You are correct therefore, to raise this issue with your MP, as Ministers have no remit to intervene in a local authorities day to day affairs, except where specific provision has been made in an Act of Parliament. All local authorities have a Monitoring Officer, and it is their role to ensure that the authority complies with legislation in its operation.

You will be interested to know that the Department for Communities and Local Government has published new statutory guidance that ensures local residents and firms can petition to initiate a formal review of parking policies in their area from the council, with Councillors then voting on the action to be taken. This guidance describes in more detail a new mechanism to use petitions to give local residents, community groups and businesses the ability to challenge parking policies, and advises local authorities on best practice. The full guidance can be found at http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-challenge-parking-policies

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Clarke

Town Centres, High Streets and Coastal Team

This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both of Us

FFvsJC

There was a gathering of Labour activists (not to be confused with leaks activists) who gathered today to worship at the altar of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at West Kirby Methodist Church .

Now although we have Margaret Greenwood as the Labour MP for West Wirral (and about whom we hear good reports from her constituents ) we don’t usually associate West Kirby as a Labour stronghold when it comes to local politics.

We would have thought Corbyn would have found a more conducive environment for his grassroots message in Birkenhead  – Wirral’s and one of the UK’s – safest seats. Especially when Birkenhead would certainly have been a more convenient stopping off point before he hotfooted over to Liverpool for a £45 a head fundraising dinner.

We can only surmise that local political heavyweight Birkenhead MP Frank Field wasn’t having any manifestation of  Corbynmania on “his” patch.

Oh how we relish the fact that Field nominated Corbyn as a Labour leader allegedly  to promote “debate” within the party only to see his sly machinations blow up in his face when Jezza delivered the knockout blow and got elected as leader. We think it is significant that Corbynistas have recently described Field as “core negative” when it comes to the Labour leader and which is best exemplified by Frankenfield’s tetchy, arrogant display of contempt for the people who voted for him when discussing the inexorable rise of Corbyn on TV.

https://number10duckworthstreet.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/frank-fields-arrogantly-admits-his-constituents-views-count-for-nothing-and-its-not-his-job-to-speak-up-for-them/comment-page-1/

To add insult to injury Corbyn is backing the “Remain” campaign in the EU referendum which must rub Europhobe Frankenfield up the wrong way something rotten – and we absolutely love it here at Leaky Towers ! . This may also explain Field’s curious absence from today’s publicity shots showing Corbyn and Labour’s  local election candidates . As we can see there’s Wallasey MP Ange and there’s the aforementioned Marge but it’s a no show from “core negative” Frankenfield and allegedly “hostile” Wirral South MP Alison McGormless!.

Corbyn Labour

 

There are several questions that spring to mind perusing  this picture  – including how did Wednesday Addams get in there – but we’re particularly wondering how Frankenfield feels about the disloyalty shown by Wirral Council “leader”  Power Boy Pip Davies by his obsequious appearance in this apparent show of local solidarity. We must say it must be worrying for Frankenfield that Pip is showing worrying signs of having a mind of his own and exhibited by such acts of defiance as signing that letter to The Times  from North West council leaders supporting the  campaign to remain in the the EU . It’s just a shame for him that he didn’t stand up to Field sooner and he wouldn’t be up to his neck in the Wirralgate scandal !.

No wonder Corbyn looks pensive in this picture – does he know what he’s actually backing here or is his PR guy Seumas Milne as remiss/ignorant/complicit when it comes to the worrying issues highlighted in local social media as his local equivalent Martin Liptrot(sky) ?.