Wirral View’s Life Cycle Comes To An End

wirral-view-twister-010

As part of our parting shots we promise to get round to commenting on the demise (?) of the Hoylake Golf Resort and that journalistic milestone/tombstone formerly known as Wirral View.

However we leave it to our betters to get the first shots in and call upon ‘The Prof’ to comment on Wirral View’s reckless promotion of ‘healthy living’ on Wirral. As far as we’re concerned the only healthy living option would involve using any form of transportation to get off the hell off the insular peninsula as fast as you can…

Wirral View is continuing its irresponsible campaign to have us all embrace cycling…including riding to schools.

Top tips for the ride ahead

Exercise is good for us…but only in clean air. If you can get into the countryside, say to the Wirral Way or Leasowe embankment, go to it! But cycling east of the M53 is dangerous. Wirral View tells us ‘Wirral Council monitors air pollution as part of its commitment to clean air.’ This is so for nitrogen oxides, but highly dangerous particulate matter is measured at only one AURN site…in the middle of Victoria Park, far from major roads. On this basis it tell us it has not identified ‘any illegal air pollution levels.’ This is strictly true for annual average, current national exposure limits but not for WHO (World Health Organisation)  limits on particulate matter. The WHO say this of their own stricter, current limits

‘Annual PM concentrations are associated with all-cause mortality to a high degree of confidence. There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to PMs or to a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur.’

In other words: our Wirral average air pollution is (just) legal but you will put your health and that of your children at significant risk if you take exercise near any major, and many minor, roads on Wirral. Even the UK government has an aim to ensure that under 50% of the population will experience more than the WHO limit on PMs by 2025. Much of Wirral is above that limit. It’s your choice…

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

Death By Planning

As the Local Plan/Green Belt debacle continues to be played out in the local media. The latest instalment being the local Labour group advertisement feature wrapped around the Wirral Globe which has been deconstructed on Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces Facebook page.

However today we bring you ‘The Prof’s learned exploration as to why the issues surrounding the Local Plan and the Green Belt are so important.

Yes, it is lengthy but we think you owe it to you and you family to take some time out this Bank Holiday weekend to become better informed about the potential life threatening consequences of not protecting Wirral’s Green Belt.

COMMENTS ON THE WIRRAl LOCAL PLAN SUSTAINABILTY APPRAISAL AIR QUALITY & HEALTH IMPACTS : DEATH BY PLANNING?

1. Introduction

The scoping sustainability appraisal document on air quality and health gives a very limited, misleading and complacent assessment of issues in these areas which should in practice a have a significant impact on consideration of development options under the local plan.

A detailed analysis of the health impact of house building on the Green Belt parcels identified for potential release in the Local Plan adjacent to the M53 is in preparation. Specifically it considers the GB parcels east (downwind) of the M53 from Storeton, south past Junction 4, to Raby Mere and those GB parcels near Junction 5 at Eastham. The serious negative effects of air pollution on any future residents and the current residents downwind of the M53 are examined. This note is to give the council early warning, for the record, of the negative health implications of building in these areas and an outline of the formal objections which will therefore be raised if these parcels are proposed for release.

2. Scoping Report Context

The Scoping Report published by Wirral Council discusses ‘Air Quality’ in a very limited way. It does however note the NPPF imperatives such as

‘New and existing developments should be prevented from contributing to [residents], being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by, unacceptable levels of air pollution.’

Contrary to the complacent scoping report we will demonstrate from international and national studies and by analysing Wirral geographical health data, that building in the GB parcels identified will put residents at significant risk and cause real, unacceptable health deficits including reduced life expectancy. As traffic increases in coming years, the health impacts of pollutants such as PMs on Wirral will definitely increase, even if the unrealistic government aspirations for replacing diesel vehicles are met.

The scoping report mentions only one pollutant in detail, NO2, nitrogen dioxide. NO2 is allegedly monitored at 31 passive sites and levels are supposedly falling ‘gradually’. Particulate matter, now recognised as extremely dangerous, is mentioned in passing. It is monitored at only one automatic site on Wirral at Tranmere. International air quality standards, which are continually tightening, and the views, for example of the World Health Organisation on health damage, are not explored. We will do so below. In fact the serious health impacts of air pollution on Wirral are not discussed in the ‘Air Quality’ section nor the ‘Health’ section of the scoping report. Given that air pollution is now considered to be ‘the greatest environmental risk to public health’ in the UK (1, 2) this is concerning. We will look at evidence from the literature causally linking PM and NO2 levels to premature mortality, lower life expectancy, COPD, lung cancer, asthma, diabetes, dementia, stroke, heart attack, development deficits in children’s lungs and low birth weight. We will also present in summary, direct evidence of significant correlations between these diseases and PM levels across Wirral which are fully consistent with that extensive literature.

 

The 16 Green Belt Parcels Proposed for Release in the Local Plan Adjacent to the M53 at Storeton-Clatterbridge-Poulton Lancelyn

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The 11 Green Belt Parcels Adjacent to the M53 between Raby Mere and Eastham

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3. National & International Health Impact Evidence

A good starting source for reviewing the evidence is reference 3: the joint report on Air Quality from DEFRA – Public Health England – Local Government Association in 2017. The report concentrates on PMs and NO2. PM10 includes all particles smaller in diameter than 10 microns. PM2.5 includes all particles smaller than 2.5 microns. PM10 therefore includes the PM2.5 and PM0.1 fractions. Nationally the ratio of PM2.5 to PM10 released into the air is 0.75. Concentration ratios vary depending on local conditions. The smaller particles are considered most dangerous since they can be inhaled deep into the lungs and even pass directly into the blood stream. PMs are known to be carriers for carcinogenic materials and are now classed as carcinogenic agents.

The literature on health impacts of air pollution is now vast and still accelerating in scope. The health implications for the UK are well described in ‘Health Matters: air pollution’ published in 2018, by Public Health England (4). Locally we also have an excellent report by the Wirral Intelligence Service (1). WBC cannot claim that there is a dearth of information on these matters. The PHE report concludes that

‘long term exposure to man-made air pollution in the UK has an annual effect equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths. Over 18 years a 1 microgram / m cubed reduction in fine PM air pollution could prevent 50,900 cases of CHD; 16,500 strokes; 9,300 cases of chronic asthma; 4,200 lung cancers.’

 

This gives an indication of the human health value of reducing PM levels since the gains continue to zero levels (3). We will see that Wirral PM levels vary from ~10 to ~16 micrograms / m cubed.

PHE notes that the cumulative disease burden to 2035 associated with PMs includes 348,878 CHD cases; 246,916 COPD cases; 273,767 diabetes cases; 173,886 low birth weight children; 133,356 asthma cases; 106,331 strokes; 44,290 lung cancers. Similar analysis for NO2 exposure yields: 573,363 cases of diabetes; 335,491 asthma cases; 102,545 low birth weight children; 86,617 cases of dementia (4).

The international evidence of harm is overwhelming (8, 9). In many large epidemiological studies air pollution impact has been quantified while taking into account potential co- variables such as lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, exercise), income / education, and measures of socio-demographic deprivation (5). In many studies gradient effects have also been identified. That is, disease prevalence has been shown to fall away as a function of distance from pollution sources such as major roads (6, 7, 23). There have been very large, both cross-sectional and longitudinal health studies (6 provides a 78 page review of the health evidence). Such studies constitute a smoking gun and settle the issue of causation.

PHE notes that the Environment Audit Committee of the HOC found evidence that the cost of these health impacts was likely to exceed £8 – £20 billion.

Since the Clean Air Act in 1956 many sources of PMs have been eliminated but now levels have almost stabilised. The easy sources have been tackled (see Figure A). Traffic sources are resistant to reduction as number of vehicles and traffic miles continue to increase. The government claims that eliminating diesel and / or petrol cars will solve the air pollution problem (10). This is untrue. Their own data shows that ~80% of PMs do not come from car exhausts but from bitumen, rubber, organic and other waste matter released by vehicle tyres from road surfaces. ‘Electric’ cars and trucks will still cause high levels of PMs. Eliminating diesel cars will however reduce NOx by ~40% but published diesel vehicle reduction targets to 2040 in the UK and Europe are widely considered to be wildly optimistic (11). Official data for sales growth in Alternative Fuel Vehicles and conventional petrol / diesel vehicles suggest AFVs will be only ~8.3% of new car sales by 2030 versus the government’s ‘ambition’ and ‘illustrative’, 30% to 70%. Note that Figure A also shows that since ~2005 PM pollution from industrial and commercial activities has sharply increased again.

Recommended maximum allowable levels of the various pollutants continue to fall as health evidence emerges. The World Health Organisation published a review of 2,200 studies in 2013 (6) concluding that

‘Annual PM concentrations are associated with all-cause mortality to a high degree of [statistical] confidence. There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to PM or to a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur.’

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The Air Quality report authors comment that

‘Negative health impacts have been found well below current EU & UK limits.’

Local authorities such as WBC cannot simply say, as they do, we meet the EU or UK legal limits so no further action is needed. The WHO will steadily reduce PM limits in future years

which are currently set at 10 micrograms / metre cubed average levels. In the ‘Clean Growth Strategy 2018’ (12) the government promises to

‘reduce PM levels in order to halve the number of people living in locations where concentrations of PM are above 10 micrograms / meter cubed by 2025.’

Much of the Wirral is above this limit currently and as vehicle numbers and miles travelled increase in the medium term PM levels will increase, not decrease (32). There was a small reduction in vehicle numbers growth during ‘austerity’ for a few years but growth has recovered. Traffic volume flow between J4 and J5 on the M53 is given in Figure B. From 2000 to 2016 traffic increased by 33.5% or 2.1% per annum on average. However before and after the ‘economic shock’ period, during which growth halted, traffic growth rate was ~2.9% per annum. We will show that building in the M53 eastern corridor GB parcels will expose many areas to PM levels well above 10 micrograms / m cubed and this will increase over time.

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The government promises new powers for targeted local action.

This should include not allowing building new housing in Green Belt areas and green spaces adjacent to identified PM and NO2 hotspots by major roads and motorways.

There is extensive literature evidence that significant health deficits are found at distances from motorways of 500 ms and more depending on the air pollutant and the diseases considered (6,7). If local authorities ignore the clear health impact evidence in the scientific literature and allow unnecessary house building in high risk areas they will be guilty of a failure in their duty of care to residents. In the case of Wirral, for the sake of certainty, we now present local evidence that air pollution is ubiquitous and that the prevalence of several diseases is strongly correlated with local PM air pollution levels.

 

4. Wirral Evidence on Pollution Levels

NO2 and PM measurements at many localities around the country have been used to calibrate government air pollution models by locality (13). These models take into account point (e.g. industrial) and line (road) sources of pollutants and topography. In the case of roads the key data are traffic flow volumes and traffic mix. The models also take into account prevailing wind directions and use well established spacial diffusion models to predict average concentration levels in one kilometre squares as defined on standard OS maps. This averaging means that pollution levels close to the source may be even higher because of gradient effects. Nevertheless the models give a reliable guide to pollution spread and general levels.

The Wirral pollution maps are given in Figure 1 for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The patterns are similar in that the highest pollution levels occur east of the M53 (14). This reflects degree of urbanisation and in particular Birkenhead but also major road distribution. The high pollution levels along the length of the A41 near the Mersey are clear as are the high levels adjacent to the M53 from Eastham to Moreton. In relation to the proposed local plan GB release parcels note the very high PM levels near M53 junction 5 (Eastham) and junction 4 (Clatterbridge). (Note: Junction 2 and the Moreton spur road is also a hotspot).

It is therefore puzzling that the Scoping Report tells us (2.6) that :

‘No hotspots are associated with the Boroughs motorway junctions, nor the toll point of the Kingsway Tunnel, suggesting that the presence of significant strategic road network infrastructure does not currently give rise to notable air quality concerns.’

This is simply untrue. In fact the official air quality models show us pollution levels near the mentioned junctions as high as in the worst polluted areas of Birkenhead. An increase in traffic flows on roads feeding the junctions such as J4, resulting from large numbers of new houses on the GB parcels east of the M53 from Storeton south to Poulton Lancelyn would create a high air pollution nightmare. The roads are already congested at peak times twice a day and are generally very busy. J4 is also already a notorious traffic accident hotspot.

5. Preliminary Wirral Evidence for Air Pollution Health Impacts

Detailed analyses are currently underway exploring the links between the prevalence of several important disease classes across the Wirral and the levels of pollutants such as PMs and NOx . Disease data is available from several official sources at the level of political wards and constituencies. Pollutant exposure levels by ward are calculated from the models of Figure 1 by taking all the kilometre squares in a ward and the location of housing and calculating ward exposure averages. This procedure gives a score in the range of 1 to 4 for pollutant level. Disease prevalence is then plotted against pollution level and simple linear models fitted. In all cases significant correlations were found. These include:

Wirral Life Expectancy by ward versus PM10 (Figure 2) Wirral Mortality Rates (DSRs) versus PM10 (Figure 3)

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Wirral Prevalence of Constrictive – Obstructive Pulmonary Disease versus PM10 (Figure 4). COPD Prevalence versus Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for closely similar PM10 level wards (Figure 4A)

Wirral Lung Cancer Mortality Rates versus PM10 (Figure 5). Lung cancer versus IMD for closely similar PM10 level wards (Figure 5 A)

Wirral Low Birth Weight Rates versus PM10 (Figure 6)

Analyses are also underway for dementia, diabetes, asthma, Coronary Heart Disease and stroke prevalence. Preliminary work also shows clear correlations with PMs and NO2.

We report the findings below for a selection of diseases. The ongoing analyses are currently addressing the issue of possible co-variables. Many published studies have already dealt with this issue and showed that even after lifestyle (smoking / alcohol / exercise) and so- called deprivation measures (income / service access) are included air pollution impacts are clearly significant (5, 6, 23). The intention here is to demonstrate this with Wirral health data. On the Wirral we can note immediately that smoking prevalence and intensity has been falling for many years yet diseases commonly associated with smoking in the public mind are rising. What is rising on Wirral are vehicle numbers and total miles travelled. We will also show later that constrictive obstructive lung disease (COPD) prevalence, while strongly correlated with PM level, is only weakly correlated with the Wirral ward level Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The same is true for prevalence of low birth weight children.

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It appears that the official habit of simply blaming disease on bad ‘lifestyle choices’ among the poor underclass may be overstated, or indeed a case of ‘blaming the victim’. High air pollution levels for example generally correlate with poor urban housing locations. As more major international multi-factor studies emerge, blaming the victims is becoming harder. To a first approximation, in a country like Britain, we are all air pollution victims now. Similar analyses examining other variables are being prepared for the other disease classes and will be published as soon as possible.

 

The intention of the detailed analyses will be to quantify the actual disease loading due to current variations of air pollution across the Wirral and to predict future loadings as traffic increases in general and in proposed areas of green belt development. Such increases impact both new residents in areas adjacent to the M53 but also current downwind residents. There is extensive evidence, accepted by government, and local authorities, that open fields, hedgerows and trees near motorways and major roads significantly reduce the levels of some air pollutants (15, 16). It is notable that WBC itself is promoting the growing of hedges for this purpose to protect schools (17) and that the Scoping Report talks of pollution mitigation ‘through green infrastructure provision’ (2.10).

On this ‘official’ logic it is surely wise to preserve not destroy, Wirral green spaces and existing green belt buffers near major roads and motorways.

Removing these green ‘shelterbelts’ by building on them reduces the protection of nearby, current residents and exposes new housing residents to high pollution levels (as is the case in all the GB parcels being considered for release east of the M53).

For now we will simply note some basic disease / air pollution correlations. Figure 2 shows Wirral life expectancy versus ward average PM10 levels. There is a clear correlation here with life expectancy at PM level 1 being around 87 years and PM level 4 around 75 years. This should not be surprising since Reference 1 tells us that : ‘reducing PM by 10 micrograms / m cubed would extend lifespan by three times more than eliminating passive smoking’.

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The Air Quality Strategy for the UK in 2007 noted : ‘PM in the UK would be expected to reduce life expectancy averaged over the whole population by 7 – 8 months’. DEFRA tells us NO2 exposure alone ‘reduces UK life expectancy on average by ~5 months’. But of course excess deaths are concentrated in urban area sub-populations. People here are losing years of life.

In the worst cases the WHO note an average life deficit of ~ 20 months related to PMs.

Figure 3 shows Mortality, age standardised death rates, for the Wirral versus PMs and a linear best fit model (h1). The correlation coefficient is quite high at 0.69. We can say that 48%, roughly half the variability in Wirral mortality rate, is accounted for by PM level differences (while noting there may be several interacting variables in play here. See below).

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Now we examine briefly, particular diseases. Figure 4 shows a best fit linear relationship between constrictive –obstructive pulmonary disease prevalence and PM10 level by Wirral ward (h3). The correlation coefficient is moderately high at 0.73. Taken literally this would imply that 53% of the variation in COPD prevalence is explained by PM variation.

With this data we can make a rough check of the scale of impact on COPD of other possible ‘causative’ variables as we can identify several wards where PM levels are very similar (~3.2 to 3.3). The main official measure which purports to capture the level of deprivation in a population is the Index of Multiple Deprivation. This is a weighted sum of several inputs such as income, access to housing & services, education, health and crime exposure. Health includes ‘lifestyle’ items such as smoking and alcohol prevalence. We might therefore expect IMD to correlate with disease measures such as COPD. IMD is usually adduced to explain various diseases under the short hand terms, ‘poverty’ and ‘lifestyle choices’.

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In Figure 4 A we plot COPD versus IMD for wards with very similar PM levels. A linear fit gives a small positive relationship between COPD and IMD. The correlation coefficient is 0.11 so the slope is uncertain and IMD ‘explains’ very little COPD variation.

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This is notable since other data suggests a strong relationship between smoking prevalence and IMD on Wirral. The intercept implies that even at zero IMD, COPD would be ~2% for this

set of wards. All we can say at this stage is that COPD is strongly related to PM levels but that other variables may also be in play.

Figure 5 plots lung cancer mortality rates (SMRs) versus PM10 levels across Wirral (h4). The scatter band is wide but a significant relationship emerges from a linear best fit. The correlation coefficient is moderate at 0.63. Taken at face value PM level accounts for ~40% of the variation in lung cancer. This is interesting since lung cancer is the canonical disease linked with smoking and high smoking prevalence these days correlates with low income. IMD should capture the low income effect and the direct ‘health’ deprivation / lifestyle effect. We noted earlier a sub-set of wards with very similar PM levels but a scatter of COPD levels. In Figure 5 A we plot lung cancer mortality versus IMD for these wards. There is a positive correlation and the correlation coefficient is again modest at 0.6.

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This implies that IMD ‘explains’ ~ 36% of the variation in lung cancer mortality in this data. We can tentatively conclude that PM air pollution and smoking variation contribute about the same amount to lung cancer mortality locally. Given the strenuous legal and social efforts to reduce smoking dependence over recent decades it seems air pollution deserves the same state attention. We noted that smoking prevalence and intensity is falling on Wirral and across the UK. However fossil fuel vehicle numbers and vehicle miles travelled are increasing and will continue to do so for decades. The proportion of disease like lung cancer due to air pollutants such as PMs will increase over time. Combating this will be very difficult for future governments in existing built up areas. However two actions would be both easy to implement and totally effective :

1. Do not allow building of new housing, whether luxury or social homes, next to motorways and do not destroy green spaces and green belt protective zones.

 

2. If a council chooses to allow such building it should be required by law to WARN prospective buyers and existing residents downwind of the health dangers involved.

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The government tells us they ‘aspire’ to build 300,000 new homes each year with many on green belt land. By following the above rules hundreds of thousands of families per annum can be protected from dangerous exposure to air pollutants. The real ‘need’ numbers are probably less than 160,000 houses per annum but there is still a huge accessible, potential saving in human distress, national disease burden and cost to the NHS.

The diseases examined so far express themselves mainly in adults. In fact the coronary heart disease, strokes and dementia impacts of PMs largely strike older people. Living in a polluted area can increase dementia risk by up to 40% (23). But we should be equally concerned about the health impacts of air pollution on children and the developing foetus.

There is very worrying evidence that living in high PM areas not only causes acute and chronic asthma but stunts lung development in children permanently (21). ‘Pronounced deficits’ in lung function has been found in 18 year olds who grew up within 500 ms of a motorway. Reference 21 notes

‘the new study found reduced lung growth in [young] people who lived by motorways in otherwise open spaces with relatively clean air.’

It should be noted that this major pioneering study took place in Southern California and only 3.9% of traffic there is diesel powered. In the UK the proportion is 45.9%. Even if the UK government clean air strategy succeeded it would not remove the problem (10, 11).

California state law now prohibits new schools being sited within 500 ft of a highway.

These lung stunting results have recently been confirmed in the UK (22). Of even greater concern is the recent work showing directly that fine PMs can penetrate the placenta of pregnant women (19). Fine PMs are carriers for a range of carcinogenic compounds. What is certain is that the literature proves a strong correlation between low birth weight in babies and PM levels in the air (18). Low birth weight correlates significantly with later childhood problems including cognitive deficits (20). These results should be viewed with alarm by all current and prospective parents and cause UK politicians to put immediate, severe constraints on house or school building near motorways and major roads.

It is of some interest then to see if LBW is connected to air pollution on Wirral. Figure 6 plots low birth weight prevalence for Wirral wards versus PM levels (h5). The correlation is strong at 0.71. This implies that ~50% of LBW variation on Wirral is explained by PM levels. There is also a suggestion in the data that the negative effect of PM accelerates at higher PM levels. We may safely infer that the associated physical and cognitive deficits in children living near major roads and motorways, demonstrated conclusively in national and international pollution-health studies, also apply to Wirral.

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6. Wirral Local Plan : Planning Implications of the Health Deficit Evidence

We have examined a summary of the national and international evidence for the many negative impacts on new and existing residents of building housing estates in the vicinity of motorways and major roads and the positive health value of preserving green buffer zones and green spaces in general. The problem is recognised by government to the extent that Highways England is experimenting with giant poly-tunnels to cover motorways (24).

We also demonstrated by statistical analysis of Wirral health and pollution data, very similar and significant negative health impacts for several disease classes. The evidence for impacts on vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children and older people is particularly concerning.

We also noted possibly two dozen Green Belt Parcels listed in the initial Local Plan for consideration for release from the green belt for major housing developments, lying adjacent to the M53 motorway. The parcels east of the M53 from Storeton, through Brakenwood (junction 4) and Poulton to Raby Mere and the parcels adjacent to junction 5 at Eastham, are downwind from the motorway and particularly vulnerable to additional pollution impacts. The official government air quality models show levels implying serious health effects.

All this evidence bears no relation to the Wirral Council Sustainability Assessment, Scoping Report in which all is apparently well on the Wirral. To be fair this simply reflects recent WBC documents on air quality (25). WBC sleeps on, apparently unperturbed by wider responses to this health crisis. Curiously this includes the new Air Quality Task Force, just set up for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority of which Wirral is a part (26). Mayor Rotherham seems clear enough :

‘Poor air quality is a national public health crisis which is shortening the lives of people across our city region…’

WBC should also note the European Court of Justice action which threatens to impose huge fines on six nations including the UK. The northwest is one danger area identified (27). We can also draw WBC attention to the latest NICE Guidance recommendations on local housing and facilities planning (28) in relation to the M53 green belt parcels:

‘When Plan Making consider

  •   Minimising the exposure of vulnerable groups to air pollution by not siting buildings (such as schools, nurseries and care homes) in areas where pollution levels will be high
  •   Siting living accommodations away from roadsides
  •   Avoiding the creation of street and building configurations that encourage pollution tobuild up where people spend time
  •   Including landscape features such as trees and vegetation in open spaces or as‘green’ walls…
  •   Siting and designing new facilities and new estates to reduce the need for motorisedtravel.WBC should also consult ‘Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment’ (29) on the issue of the ‘suitability of sites and broad locations for development’ and consider :
  •   Physical limitations or problems such as access, ground conditions, flood risk, hazardous risks and pollution or contamination.
  •   Environmental / amenity impacts experienced by would be occupiers and neighbouring areas.
  •   Potential impacts including the effects upon landscape features, nature and heritage conservation.

The extensive evidence presented above indicates the need for an independent, formal evaluation of the air quality health impact of the proposed developments on Wirral. The Institute of Air Quality Management & Environmental Protection’ provides detailed instructions for LAs (30) on what should be taken into account including

  •   The background and future baseline air quality
  •   The presence of a heavily trafficked road, with emissions that could give rise tosufficiently high concentrations of pollutants that would cause unacceptably high exposure for users of the new development.The author is working on these issues. It is also clear that it is necessary to investigate the exposure of new residents of a development to existing pollution sources but also to assess the impact of the new development on existing residents. We have shown that housing east of the M53 would both expose new residents to unacceptable air pollution but also remove the green buffer zone currently giving some protection to existing residents downwind.The new NPPF / guidance (31) is also very clear:
    ‘The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment.’ This is to be achieved by:

    ‘preventing both new and existing development from contributing to, or being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by, unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability.’

    ‘Opportunities to improve air quality or mitigate impacts should be identified such as…green infrastructure provision and enhancement. So far as is possible these opportunities should be considered at the plan-making stage, to ensure a strategic approach and limit the need for issues to be reconsidered when determining individual applications. ’

    The Wirral Local Plan must consider properly the health and environment impacts of building on the 50 sites earmarked for release from the Green Belt in the draft Local Plan.

    Specifically, on the evidence, building on the GB parcels we have identified east of the M53 will not provide opportunities to ‘improve air quality’ for new or existing residents nor ‘mitigate impacts’ nor ‘enhance green infrastructure’.

    It will definitely kill people.

    We note from WBC Air Quality documents (25) that

    ‘By being involved in conceptual stages of local planning policy and proposed development before formal planning applications are made, Environmental Health can help scrutinise initial plans…’

    ‘We want all of our residents to have a good quality of life in clean and safe environments.’

    ‘To use the planning system, in accordance with guidance, to effectively promote air quality.’

The latter statement is a ‘key priority’ for the coming year. The current creation of the Local Plan provides a wonderful opportunity for WBC to deliver on all this positive rhetoric and protect current and future Wirral residents. Let us hope that these statements are true. Alas, the report concludes with

‘The principle challenges and barriers to achieving the above mentioned air quality priorities will be maximising the opportunities of the resources we have to maximise influence on air quality in the Borough.’

The author would welcome a coherent interpretation of this.

Professor D P Gregg (retired) Poulton Lancelyn April 2019

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Dear Eric – Open Letter : Wirral Housing Needs to 2033

Eric Gut

Mr. Eric Robinson, CE
Wirral Council, PO BOX 290
Brighton St., Wallasey CH27 9FQ 23.09.18

Dear Mr. Robinson

OPEN LETTER: WIRRAL HOUSING NEEDS TO 2033

As you have no doubt heard the government has updated the national and local population and household projections for the next 25 years (ONS website September 21st 2018). In the case of Wirral both the population growth and the household numbers growth have halved based on 2016 data. However you apply the numbers (for example by referencing back to your Litchfield Consultants report of 2016) the result is effectively the same. Instead of 12,000 houses over the fifteen year plan only ~5,900 are needed. Any attempts to ‘uplift’ this number based on now mythical economic growth scenarios, or affordability factors, or the later release of ‘pent up’ demand in certain age groups, will not be credible in the light of recent government economic forecasts. Indeed the credibility of the government housing needs methodology will now come under close scrutiny. I should also tell you that the latest population forecast growth to 2033 relies entirely on a large net migration into Wirral which your own consultants questioned in 2016. I expect the newly released numbers to be further challenged and actual Wirral future housing needs forecasts will be lower still (~4,400 based on current trends).
The housing implications are obvious. Some weeks ago I submitted an analysis to the public consultation which was also widely published. I enclose a copy. It works through several housing scenarios using brown field, Peel offers and empty house recovery assumptions for the 12,000 houses target and for that target simply scaled down by the changed population forecast (i.e. 7,100 houses). You can see that very little of your 4,900 acres proposed GB parcel release plan would be required. This land could support 71,000 houses. With the new government household growth forecasts the 15 year plan period housing needs drop to ~5,900. The effects of this are shown in the second document enclosed. Under most scenarios NO green belt land needs be used at all to meet housing needs. At most it would be a few percent of your 4,900 acre GB parcel release plan. The ‘plan’ is totally spurious and unjustified by the ‘official’ data.
In these circumstances I suggest the public consultation should be halted until the council makes the new housing need numbers clear to all Wirral residents and compares them honestly with your GB release plan proposals which in principle could accommodate 71,000 houses. It is not good enough for David Ball to tell public consultation meetings that the numbers will be looked at in camera, by a council appointed ‘expert’, ‘some time’ in the future. Alternatively the GB release plan could be withdrawn now before formal challenges to it emerge.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

(Claremont Defenders Group)

 

The Great Green Belt Deception : Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Statistics

We proudly present a message from ‘The Prof’ along with his measured analysis of the newly released data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the significant impact it should have the Green Belt debate. Spoiler alert : NO GREEN BELT IS NEEDED TO MEET HOUSING DEMAND!  

Gents….the new ONS population / household growth forecasts for Wirral have just halved. (Still too high though). This means that Green Belt land requirements should be slashed even further than I suggested a few weeks ago. With a bit of the brown field already identified and a bit of Wirral Waters and a bit of refurbished empty housing NO Green Belt land release is needed.

The  council should objectively inform the public of the new numbers, halt the consultation and scrap their crazy 4,900 acre Green Belt release plan immediately. If they don’t we should ask why not?

Has too much money already changed hands? See the needs analysis attached . Click here :  WirralHousingTABLESEPT18 2
Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 12.53.39

 

Statistics 2

The Wirral Council Playbooks

The Prime of the Right Honourable Frank Field

 

Field pointing

Frankenfield doing what he does best – telling everyone what to do. The Miss Jean Brodie of British politics :   “…flattening their scorn underneath the chariot wheels of her superiority”

Following the revelation about the forthcoming free school forming part of ”The Frank Field Education Trust’ chain, we were left wondering about the ideological foundations behind the development .We were thinking it has the whiff of ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ‘ about it ( ” Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life” ) Coincidentally there is an extremely prescient blog post dating back to 2010 titled ‘The Prime of Miss Frank Field’ which we would like to recommend but as this is a family blog we’ll leave you to Google as it’s strictly parental advisory!

Fortunately we can turn to Professor Gregg ( ‘The Prof’)  for a much more eloquent exploration of the drive and motivation behind the creation of a ‘Neo-Victorian Moral Utopia’ which is derived from Frank’s own works.

Frank’s Brave New World : The Role of Education 

So Frank Field is trying again to impose his model of society on Wirral, this time through the education system. Perhaps it would be wise to look at that his ideological foundations before we applaud this initiative. The best way to do that is to consider his literary master work, ‘Neighbours From Hell’ which is highly recommended.

‘The natural authority that society requires for its proper functioning is being overrun by the storm troopers of nihilistic behaviour. It is becoming ever more necessary for that authority which is fundamental to the operation of a free society, and which was once freely accepted, to be imposed’

‘Moral and civic duties provide the very foundations upon which civilised life is built
and are a proper area for legislative prescription and if necessary sanctions’

Readers may already begin to detect a small disconnect here between a free society and the imposition of Frank’s views on morality and enforced authority. We must also understand that when Frank talks of ‘Frankian’ intervention he is thinking big. For example

‘Tackling the breakdown of the common decencies culture requires an effort equal
to that which is mobilised for war …Just as wars are too important to be left to
generals, so parenting is too vital to society’s wellbeing to be left to parents unaided’

Generals of course are experienced, often competent, experts. Frank, as an obviously experienced expert in parenting, is going to rebuild the education system in his own image.
But Frank lives alone in his high tower, unmarried and childless, from which he looks down on the rest of us in righteous judgement as we struggle below to do the best for our families, however inadequately. Frank believes lack of a family gives him a godlike objectivity!

Teaching the elements of good parenting and indeed citizenship in schools is a sensible innovation so long as unnecessary and ill-founded ideological baggage is not built into the package. As we read on consider whether such baggage could ever be excluded under Frank’s model and influence. The imposition of new authority is to come via ‘citizen contracts’ and pseudo-religious ceremonies covering all aspects of our lives.

‘The new citizen contract would spell out for the first time the duties society places on
citizens by linking them to benefit entitlements’

‘The celebration and registration of the birth of a citizen, the signing of pupil’s school contracts, the contracts for drawing income support, housing benefit, incapacity benefit and the like, and the celebratory contract for citizens as they reach the state retirement age, will each offer the community the opportunity to teach through the registrar, priest, teacher, trade union official or benefit clerk, what the duties and rights of citizenship involve’

These teaching agents he calls ‘enforcement officers’. Just to be clear what Frank means by teaching he also says

‘…new boundaries need to be drawn… Benefits provide such a boundary as between
them they provide a universal coverage for those most likely to commit antisocial
behaviour’
Frank has told us that antisocial behaviour and bad parenting are phenomena of the undeserving poor in the underclass but also that he is not ‘poor bashing’. Yet it is the poorest who will experience Frank’s benefit sanctions for behaviour he disapproves of. Remember that in his Birkenhead, 55% of adults depend on out of work benefits, never mind those on working tax credits and the rest. So we will combat hunger and re-programme the undeserving poor using benefit sanctions if necessary…er, but won’t that increase their hunger? Won’t they need Foodbanks? Didn’t Frank condemn the Coalition and Conservative governments for making benefit sanctions and cuts?

The well off, who do not need benefits, are outside such sanctions but in Frank’s Utopia they would still suffer the indignity of being lectured about their responsibilities to the
state as Frank sees them, by his approved agents: priests, politicians and minor state ‘enforcement officers’. How will such sanctions be enforced in Frank’s Neo-Victorian
Moral Utopia?

‘The agency deciding what action should follow a repeated failure to meet a [citizen’s] contract should be the police and only the police. Once the police have the required evidence to levy a sanction, and then lodge that decision, the sanction should automatically come in to operation on the appropriate benefit.’

So the police are to become the only enforcement arm of Frank’s Moral Renewal Jihad. The involvement of the police in controlling benefit provision surely makes Frank’s fundamental political attitudes and intentions only too plain. What would come next we might wonder? Well Frank tells us in the third element of his final solution, which is to combat the voices of ‘nihilism’ in the interests of protecting his idea of a ‘free society’. But do not worry dear reader, since

‘In no way is Neighbours From Hell advocating some kind of thought police…At no point is the aim of NFH to open a window into the minds, thoughts or beliefs of voters… The attempt of critics to occupy the high ground is misplaced for although the new politics is different it is most definitely not about invading the private as opposed to trying to influence what goes on in the public domain’

Yes, in Frank’s ‘1984’ Utopia you are free to think what you like …in private. However

‘We enter a different domain when these private views are expressed in public …Private opinions are usually made public with one objective. They are offered in the hope or determination to change the views of other people. Once such opinions are made regularly in a concerted way in public the guardians of our public space have a responsibility to consider the impact on the public peace…If the new politics can be said to be about anything it is how to challenge the private views and values which are impacting so adversely on public conduct’

So, what do we have? Replacing parents with Frank’s educational storm troopers; Imposing citizen’s contracts; Using the police to enforce Frank’s social sanctions; suppressing free speech if it disagrees with Frank’s ideology. Considering all these views, do we really want Frank imposing his model of a moral and social utopia on our local schools? We could just invite in the Taliban or Boko Haram instead.

Professor D Gregg

Green Belt Grief : They’re Not Happy Bunnies at Claremont Farm

Claremont Farm 089

The ongoing Wirral Council Green Belt briefings have had the fortuitous effect of bringing some knowledgeable people together . Following a meeting held at Hulme Hall a local barrister raised the issue of motorway proximity and health risks.

As is his wont our good friend Professor Gregg ( ‘The Prof ‘ ) has done some further research on this issue and specific issues in relation to Claremont Farm which we’d like to share with you . Firstly  consider the following  information taken from the Claremont Farm Facebook page :

It is very sad to think that this particular part of our farm in the photo could be taken away for development and housing!

We must first make it clear that we do not own the land, we are tenant farmers and we have been farming here since 1906……and we are categorically against any building on Claremont and our precious Wirral Green Belt.

The Pimbley’s have a 100 year lease or 4 generations Agricultural Tenancy Agreement, which myself and my brother currently hold and we are the last generation to automatically receive the right to farm at Claremont. After us, who knows what will happen.
The farm shop is also not ours, we have the right to run it for 30 years but then have to give it back, even though we have paid (with some help from our landlord and some Rural Development Funding) for the building to be built.
The Farm and the Farm Shop are owned by the Trustees of the Poulton Hall Estate of which the Llancelyn Green family make up the majority and who Fisher German land agents manage our farm & shop. If the Trust had no desire to develop, there would be no issue.

This part of the farm is integral to our Farm and taking it away brings the viability of the whole of Claremont under speculation.
We rotate our Home Grown Vegetables around this particular land as it’s the closest land available to the shop, so we are not having to travel long distances every morning during harvest. It’s also important that winter educational visits/welly walks can access these vegetables and enable the children to see these vegetables growing first hand.
This part of the farm is also integral to our Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme agreement, which works on a points basis, many of our points are gained in this area of land from infield trees & ponds, field corners, grass buffer strips, hedgerow management etc etc If we lose this land we will no longer have sufficient points to stay in the agreement and will also lose the right to offer 70 FREE school visits every year to the local school groups.

There is a reason Bebington was voted the most desirable postcode in the UK to live and the Wirral is know for it’s green spaces, to take that away unnecessarily would be a travesty.
Do we need to mention the obvious traffic issue and that it is already at capacity on Brimstage Road and the Clatterbridge roundabout……and nothing is more frustrating than knowing that there are many more brown field and suitable areas where houses could be built but for political reasons, mismanagement and greed, these are not being utilised.

We will back any campaign to save our green belt and to push the council to use the areas already marked for housing first and foremost.
There are groups, such as the Claremont Defenders who we wish to distance ourselves from though and even though people may use our name they may not have our best interests at heart.

Any further questions about this particular land at Claremont can be directed to J.Mellis of Fisher German (https://www.fishergerman.co.uk/offices/chester)

Let us hope the Council make the correct choice, not to allow unneccessary building on our Green Belt

If you want to write a letter against development please write to localplan@wirral.gov.uk

‘The Prof’ provides the following information that Claremont Farm and others living in the surrounding area would do well to heed…

Wirral residents are now aware that the main thrust of the great council Green Belt Sell Off for housing development is focused on a wide strip of land just east of the M53 from Prenton in the north to Raby Mere in the south. This huge area is currently farm land. Protests have so far focused on the harmful impact on current residents. The quality of life of current residents will be badly impacted by these unnecessary developments.However it is emerging that those who buy the new homes on this land adjacent to the M53 will also be put at hazard in terms of health risks.

Several large scale clinical research studies over the last decade show that proximity to motorways causes significantly increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, dementia and reduced lung function in children. What is compelling in all this research is the demonstration of gradient effects:the nearer to the road, the greater the health damage recorded. It looks as though living within 500 metres of a motorway presents significant risks. In the land under threat, two areas already border the danger zone. Poulton Royd Drive to Colmore Avenue at Poulton Lancelyn lies just under 500 mts. from the M53. Blakely Road houses at Raby Mere are just on the boundary of safety. Any housing development west of these sites will expose purchasers to serious risks.

The new NICE Guidance requires Local Plans to ‘site living accommodation away from roadsides.”minimise risk to vulnerable groups to air pollution by not siting buildings in areas where pollution levels will be high.”avoid the creation of street and building configurations (such as deep street canyons) that encourage pollution to build up where people spend time.’The land south of junction 4 and east of the M53  is low lying where pollution can and does accumulate in light winds.

Prevailing westerly winds blow fumes towards the current housing but it disperses in the open fields.New housing nearer the M53 won’t be so lucky. Similar risks relate to areas at Brookhurst Avenue and near junction 5 and Eastham. Allowing, indeed encouraging, house building close to the M53, given the clear medical evidence, amounts to criminal negligence. This material was brought to my attention by a local lawyer.

By the way the situation at ‘Claremont’, land parcel SP042 A,  is interesting.The council intends to redefine all the land there which is currently green belt. This covers the farm buildings & shop, the near field, Poulton Royd house and the gardens of the large houses along Poulton Royd Drive. The owners are not happy!

Lancelyn Green Estates has given permission for the council to release SP040 (south of Brimstage Road, and north of the farm) for development.This was a foolish tactical mistake since the detailed council plan just released lists options’ involving ALL of the Lancelyn Green land from Brimstage Road south to Raby Mere SP040 – SP046 and other land besides. I tried to warn Scirard LG about this some time ago but alas…The locals who know are not happy bunnies.  He needs to withdraw consent to parcel SP040 otherwise all the dominoes may fall…

Muckspreading Over Wirral’s Green Belt

Muckspreading

© Copyright Peter McDermott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

There seems to be no end to the acres and acres of ‘news’ about the so-called threat to Wirral’s Green Belt. The verdant verbiage of  Wirral’s ping pong politicians has been the equivalent to midsummer muckspreading and similarly stinks to high heaven.

Consequently we’d like to give the final word to ‘The Prof’ on the matter. Whilst we appreciate the factual analysis he brings to the alleged threat to the Green Belt we concur wholeheartedly with his assessment of the cynical games that are being played which amount to nothing more than a distraction during the dog days of summer.

Is there no limit to the dishonesty and stupidity of the council?

Having talked to the Wirral Society I was pointed to the issue of
how much land was needed to meet the official 12,000 houses
strategic target. I did a few sums you might like.
Area of Green Belt (GB) land on the published council ‘release’ map
is ~7.6 square miles and 4864 acres.
(Calculated using the NLS online mapping tools and 25 inch OS maps.)
Housing density on ‘previously undeveloped land’ in NW England is
22 – 49 dwellings per hectare, average 36 dph = 14.57 dwellings per acre.
(Data from DCLG Land Use Statistics (England) 2010.)
There is room on the GB release plan for 14.57 x 4864 = 70,870 dwellings.
The official government / council 15 year housing target is 12,000.
The GB land targeted for release is 5.9 X that actually needed.
Is the council incapable of doing simple planning calculations?
Or is the huge area of GB threatened part of a cunning political plan?
Imagine the cabinet conversation earlier this year.
‘I know, let’s scare the hell out of residents by threatening far more GB 
land than we need. Stir the sheep up! Then after the Consultation we say:
look we listened to you…we have saved 5 / 6 of your  GB land under threat! 
Vote for us!’
Of course it’s worse than this. The 800 houses a year official housing target is not based on what has actually happened on the Wirral in the last decade but on fantasies which assume economic growth and migration unprecedented in our history at a time of great economic uncertainty and as life expectancy increase falls drastically. A more realistic housing target is ~200 hpy. So  the official housing target is 4 X that probably needed. This suggests that overall the GB release plan is targeting ~24 X more land than is needed.Of course the council (and government) accept that considerable brownfield land is also available and should be used first.
The only Green Belt crisis is that created by local and central government 
politicians for their various political and selfish ends…not for our well being. 
Surely it is time to stand up to these foul people once and for all. 
                                                                                 The Prof.

 

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’…

Stressed Eric’s Vision : A Big Yellow Taxi Driving All Over The Green Belt

37511361_10160588909610134_6977641016253743104_n

We’ll leave the final words on putative plans to ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ and proudly preview  ‘The Prof”s perfect riposte to the Cllr George Davies letter published in this week’s Wirral Globe . Let’s hope ‘The Prof’ gets equal prominence in next week’s publication.

TRUE LIES

George Davies’ Globe letter in response to mine demonstrates finally the degree to which Wirral residents have been let down by this council…and previous councils. The 20,620 sites with planning permission for building clearly EXPLICIT in Phil Davies letter to the Housing Minister in 31.01.18 were a mirage. The list of villains is increasing! First we had the ‘wicked government’ referred to by George Davies attacking our Green Belt and now the ‘wicked’  Peel Group who, to the ‘surprise and frustration’ of the council, have pointed out to the government that actually they only ever intended to build on 2,700 of the 13,521 sites under their control with planning permission. Have our naive council been stitched up by the developers or is somebody lying? Either way, Wirral residents are being poorly served. In his final thrust George Davies yet again conflates the issue of the council’s LEGAL, statutory duty to produce a Local Plan (some 18 year late) with the Green Belt issue. I repeat : we are being softened up for some hard decisions forced upon residents by decades of council incompetence and neglect. I have written and circulated an independent analysis of Green Belt sites in my own neighbourhood using the criteria defined by the council itself and and I urge local action groups to do the same in their areas and lobby local councillors as we are doing. A copy of my analyses has been sent to the Wirral Council Heritage Officer for the record. I would be happy to supply copies to any Green Belt activist groups via the Globe.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

With all this all talk of housing developments and artist’s impressions and threats to the Green Belt going on and with Wirral Council’s CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ‘s soon to be legendary comment that ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ ringing in our ears we’re minded once again to recall the lyrics to the song
‘Big Yellow Taxi’:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique ( Hoylake Golf Resort?)
and a swinging hot spot ( The Townhouse ?)
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum ( finally a use for Birkenhead Town Hall?)
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em (a new income stream for the cash strapped council?)

 

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…