Message from Wirral Green Space Alliance : Extraordinary Wirral Council Meeting 25th February

WGSA

URGENT!!
Please Help save Green Belt … Give One Hour
On Monday, February 25th, there will be an Extraordinary Council
Meeting in Wallasey Town Hall. It’s a FULL council meeting, to discuss and
vote upon threatened development in Wirral’s beautiful Green Belt.
WE URGE EVERY resident caring about the environment and their Green Belt
to attend this meeting from 5pm, to show opposition to unnecessary Council Plans to
release Green Belt for Development – of an unwanted Golf Resort and the wrong
number and type of Housing, built in the wrong places – in beautiful Green Belt
rather than areas requiring rejuvenation, being available and more suitable.
WE URGE EVERY Wirral resident to attend this meeting – it will affect YOU.
WE are: Wirral Green Space Alliance (WGSA), an alliance of 20 Wirral community and environmental groups – see list at end -who came together to fight the threat posed by the Group controlling the Council,arguing for a different, feasible and legal approach having shown that:
There IS another way.
Government is NOT “forcing” the Council to build a huge number of homes –
But Government does insist ALL Councils work out their own Local Need, and
then compare their own assessment of ‘Housing Need’ with that derived from the
‘Standard Formula’, citing any ‘exceptional circumstances’. Other Councils have
succeeded but Wirral won’t try, seeking higher income from Green Belt Housing.
In a recent letter to the Council, James Brokenshire (Secretary of State) also highlighted:

Wirral is one of just 11 councils (out of 338) to be in breach of the Act;
Wirral has “consistently failed” to meet key milestones on at least six occasions;
Wirral is not an area where there is high housing pressure; and
Wirral has made the least progress recently, of any council, in adopting a ‘Local Plan’.

Yet Wirral seems determined, despite recent warm words, to drive forward its policy, andhas appointed the country’s top property Barrister at £135,000 initially and Liverpool
University to discredit the Alliance’s alternative approach which, under ANY scenario, shows that releasing Green Belt is unnecessary. Clearly, the Council think their own Case is so weak as to need such an extreme and expensive defence.
But, we are unlikely to change the Council’s current approach without wider support,
starting with a peaceful show of wishes and determination by people standing together in significant number outside Wallasey Town Hall from 5pm on Monday, 25th February for just one hour whilst the Councillors assemble for this significant Meeting.
Such a peaceful show of ‘People Power’ was highly successful when the same Admin-
istration wished to close most of our local Libraries; and it might just convince enough of the ruling Party’s Councillors to vote against Green Belt release – all other Parties’ Councillors are committed to oppose the release and development of Wirral’s Green Belt.
Please don’t leave it to others, as they may be leaving it to you !!
There is ample car parking in the vicinity of the Town Hall.

For further information about this event or the non-political ‘Alliance’ of Groups working hard together to produce an alternative ‘Local Plan’ which doesn’t include loss of Wirral’s Green Belt, you are welcome to contact representatives of the Groups involved:

WGSA 20 current Member Groups:
The Wirral Society and CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Lancs)

Barnston Conservation Society

Caldy Society CAW (Conservation Areas Wirral)

Defend Wirral Green & Open Spaces (DWGOS)

Eastham Village Preservation Assoc.

Frankby Conservation Assoc. Greasby Community Assoc.

Heswall Society

Irby, Thurstaston & Pensby Amenity Society (ITPAS)

Mountwood & Bebington Assoc.

Saughall Massie Village Conservation Area Soc.

Stop Hoylake Golf Resort Action Group (SHGRAG) Storeton Residents Assoc.

Thornton Hough Community Trust

Wirral Barn Owl Trust

Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society

Wirral Ramblers

Graham Stevens (Statistician)

Prof. David Gregg (Statistician and Modeller)

Please help us with this next step and copy in your own Contacts.
Many thanks in anticipation.

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Local Plan Final Warning : Brokenshire Bites Back

 

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The phoney war of words between Westminster and Wirral Council over the Local Plan -and the potential impact on Wirral’s Green Belt – continues . The latest barrage comes from James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who is reported to have  issued a final warning to Wirral Council over housing plan failure 

Of course a press report can only tell you half the story even though both sides of the argument are represented. So we thought we’d publish a copy of the Brokenshire billet doux and you can make your own mind up as to which side of the kissing gate you’re on.

All we will say is that Wirral Council wanted to put Stewart Halliday in charge of all this!

Enough said!

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A Brokenshire System for Wirral’s Green Belt

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The above ‘leaked’ letter above sent to Wirral Council Conservative Group leader Ian Lewis by James Brokenshire MP,  the Secretary of State for Housing , Communities and Local Government is concerned with the local political debate about how housing need figures are calculated.

As this debate is particularly pertinent to Wirral’s Green Belt issues we thought we’d call upon ‘The Prof’ for comment. Regardless of where you stand on the housing needs debate it’s hard to disagree with his assessment of the people who are supposed to be running the show. Whisper it – they don’t know what they’re bloody doing!

Gents…an interesting letter. We have the usual disingenuous crap from government. The government housing need figure is the MINIMUM a council must meet or suffer a sanction even if the number is crazy. 

That is the situation we have here. Brokenshire mentions ‘availability’ 
but not the first key planning test, ‘suitability’. That is defined by several 
things including the need to protect current residents and the new development 
residents from air pollution effects.
As I told you many of the proposed local plan sites imply serious health risks if built on. Policy also requires the preservation of green belt / spaces except in exceptional circumstances. 
He also fails to mention the last test , ‘viability’. This means that the houses 
must be affordable to customers while giving the developers / builders an 
acceptable profit level. If sites are generally not ‘viable’ it makes no sense 
to sanction local councils where this occurs. We are in the hands of idiots
at central and local level. 
                                                                                   The Prof. 

Green Belt – Keep calm and listen to ‘The Prof’

Nobody knows

‘The Great Wirral Green Belt Debacle’ shows no sign of abating with Wirral Council and central government playing pass the parcel (of land) and continuing to dispute statistical information which is being used to influence Wirral’s future housing needs . Read more  here

It all gives the impression that politicians and public officials don’t know what they’re doing or that the continuing threat to Wirral’s Green Belt is borne of  ignorance of the facts or from questionable political/financial motives.

Thankfully we have ‘The Prof’ on hand to waft the smoke away from the mirrors . Here’s his take on the latest developments and a copy of a letter he’s written to James Brokenshire ,the  Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

This council never seems to learn. Having cried wolf on the green belt issue before it now does it again, helped along by our crazy central government. Let’s look at the facts, one more time, and leave out the Mickey Mouse stuff. The council says it has identified 91 sites which could host 2,400 houses. Peel Holdings have confirmed to the council that they CAN deliver a minimum of 2,900 houses in the local plan period and up to 6,450 houses subject to assistance with infrastructure costs. At the current rate of recovery (by the council themselves) 3,570 empty houses could be brought back into use over the plan period. This gives us 8,870 to 12,420 houses available on brown field sites. But the 803 houses per annum 2017 government target requires a total of 12,045 houses. So at best WE STILL need NO green belt land. At worst we need GB land for 3,175 houses. But the council plan aims to release 4,900 acres : sufficient at normal densities for 71,000 houses. So AT WORST we would need just 4.5% of the green belt the council wants to release for housing development to their speculator friends.That is 220 acres, NOT 4,900 acres. Yet again Wirral residents are being treated with contempt by this council. If the council decide to release the 50 sites in their green belt plan do not be fooled into thinking it has anything to do with central government. It is to do with council politics and greed. How much longer will Wirral voters put up  with this perfidious mob?

Dear Minister

I am a retired professor of mathematical modelling who has been looking
closely at the old and new housing needs methodology. The new methodology has the merit of simplicity and consistency which I understood was your aim.
I can though, understand your frustration that it gives far lower UK housing needs numbers than you hoped for, for policy reasons. However despite the lobbying you have no doubt received from disappointed developers and house builders the basic methodology may not be at fault. I trust the formal statistical review now underway will look closely at the ONS population projections used.
As you are aware something went badly awry between the 2001 and 2011 censuses resulting in large apparent population discontinuities in many locations.
The ‘corrections’ then made, left ‘fingerprints’ on the historical data later used to make the population projections for the standard method. In my own area of Merseyside this has caused havoc! The forecasts have been very unstable as we moved forward from 2012 to 2014 to 2016.
More importantly, to take my own Wirral LA as an example, the projected net migration into Wirral is at least 3X greater than actually experienced in the recent decade, based on several other ONS data sources and independent local time series such as voter registrations.
Since the Wirral internal, natural population is falling this ‘mythical’ migration greatly inflates the ONS population projections and consequently housing needs. Instead of 800 houses per annum (on the old methodology) and perhaps 440 (on the new) , a more likely number is in the range zero to 200 if we also consider your official, ONS low migration scenarios.
This excludes the need to replace local demolitions and the effects of changing housing mix needs. Now I am sure that in many other local authorities  across the country the census problem has worked in the opposite direction, underestimating actual population growth and transfers between authorities. In conclusion, the UK population projections are suspect and ideally should be checked, local authority by local authority, tedious though this is. We shall be doing this in detail for Wirral to provide statistical evidence for any future investigations by your housing inspectors into local planning intentions. I hope this note is of help.
Best wishes,
Professor D P Gregg (retired)

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.

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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’…