Float On

Today there was a good news story today splashed (!) over the Wirral Globe website announcing Government funding for New Brighton’s Marine Lake transformation

Apparently the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) will be providing a grant for the princely sum of £38,594  to pay for ‘a floating ‘event platform’ to create ‘Animate Marine Lake New Brighton’.  So, basically a giant float. Which we’re sure we all agree that when it comes to planning and regeneration is a drop in the River Mersey.

Meanwhile on a macro planning level there was a further announcement today from MHCLG about Wirral Council today which whilst far more significant in the scheme of things found itself being announced in the rather more obscure Planning Resource website which can only be accessed via a pay wall.

Here we discovered that ‘ten local authorities have fallen below the government’s ‘special measures’ threshold for the proportion of application decisions made within the statutory timescales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)’.

And of those ten councils we’ll give you one guess as to which authority was the worst performing in the country :

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Which again we’re sure we can all agree that this doesn’t augur well for the ambitious developments we keep reading about the Local Plan ,Wirral Growth Company, and Wirral Waters (One), especially when it comes to these plans being realised any time soon.

But never mind there’ll always be plenty more artist’s impressions in the local press and a ‘floating event platform’ to keep the Wirral Council’s regeneration plans afloat in the public imagination.

 

Halliday Money : The Rising Son of York

smug-halliday

Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Halli-Halliday ?…

You may recall that we brought you the news of the appointment  and resignation of Brian Bailey, Wirral Council’s Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth  , a significant role which includes overseeing the production of Wirral’s non-existant Local Plan.

We’ll give you one guess as to his successor…

Good guess. But no, sorry it wasn’t Martin Liptrot . As you know some CCTV footage may have put paid to his meteoric – and  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies -assisted – rise through the Wirral Council ranks …

Have another go .Yes, that’s right, it the other one. Stewart Halliday, the rising son of York. The man who arrived with a chequered past from over the Pennines and the adventures of whom Wirral Leaks have chronicled for the past couple of years.

Here are a selection of Halliday’s (and our) greatest hits :

Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same

Reference Point

Happy Halliday

Secret Chamber

We may never know what Halliday did (or didn’t ) get up to in York but from the reaction we’ve received from contacts in City of York Council they’re not best pleased at the appointment :

After pocketing around £300k for 21 months ‘work’? as a consultant at Wirral …, he’s now been made a Director by this LA….
It stinks !!!!
Meanwhile as far as we can see not a peep from Wirral Council or its councillors , Wirral View or the local press on the prestigious and highly remunerated new appointment. Shall we await a big media splash or will the powers that be not want to cause any waves or muddy the (Wirral Waters) about their fishing in the shallow end of the local government talent pool? …
P1010373

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Twelve – A New Year Present from ‘The Prof’

Eric Gut

Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson – living off the fat of the land (Green Belt included)

‘A retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ Eric Robinson (Wirral Council CEO) on ‘The Prof’ and the people who pay his (over-inflated) salary

‘Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019’ – The Prof’

Who do we rely on for our information about Wirral’s Green Belt ladies and gentleman? – ‘The Prof’ or Stressed Eric and his equally overpaid QC (which you also pay for). IOHO the former is cheaper (but priceless) , more reliable and certainly unbiddable.

Gentlemen I thought you might like a small New Year present.

The Wirral Green Belt ‘resistance’ persuaded (Margaret) Greenwood in October
to ask  (Eric) Robinson (Wirral Council CEO)  what the hell is going on. He has just replied with an interesting letter. By accident it contains useful new information on numbers
and their approach to the local plan. They still fail to make clear the bloody
obvious fact that even in the worst case (12,000 houses target ) and using their
own brownfield figures we would only need ~413 acres of green belt not 4,900
acres. ie. just 8.4% of the GB parcel list they published. Using the 7,320
target, they claim they are pushing to the government, we would need just
1.7% of the published list (85 acres). To put all this in perspective the Hoylake
Golf Resort project would build houses on ~300 acres. It’s also clear they have
instructed their expensive QC not to use the flexibility inherent in the national
planning framework.
I have changed my mind about motivation. I now believe the council is happy
to release all the land , 4,900 acres, from the GB in one go …if they can get
away with it. Wirral would then be a bonanza area for developers for decades
to come …far beyond actual local plan requirements. In reality there are
accepted options for a phased release of land as future requirements become
clearer but this would cripple their plans. I believe they fear that government
ONS data will be discredited this year and my forecast of  a need for zero GB
land will be proved. If so they will get no significant GB land development unless
they release it now. See my analysis (below) for more.

COMMENTS ON THE LETTER FROM ERIC ROBINSON TO
MARGARET GREENWOOD MP (Dec. 2018)
I will try to confine my comments mainly to the issue of housing requirement projections and green belt land needs under Robinson’s various letter headings.
‘Lack of Clarity on Wirral’s Housing Needs’
Mr. Robinson gives a one page useful summary of the history and current status of this issue. Unfortunately there are misleading statements involved which need correcting as we go. Mr. Robinson begins with the 2016 SHMA by Lichfield Consultancy. He notes the range of forecasts provided (from among 13 scenarios) as 875 to 1,235 houses per annum. Readers may note that the lower figure is higher than the proposed 803 h/a proposed by the government. However several things must be noted.
The total numbers quoted refer to 18 years not a 15 year period.
These numbers are not based on the approved ‘standard method’ in several respects. Notably they include assumptions about council policy and economic impacts which play no part in the standard method.
They are based on out of date SNPP 2012 population/household data.
The high estimate of population growth from 3 is selected (10,140) although they acknowledge a long term migration scenario based on real history which predicts a population growth of just 66 over 18 years.
Large uplifts are made for assumptions concerning ‘pent up demand’ which depend on optimistic economic forecasts and a high household formation rate.
Also Robinson does not mention the Liverpool LEP job scenario which gives 188 h/a nor the actual recent housing delivery rate of 383 h/a which we can say reflects all factors in play. Six of the 13 scenarios cluster tightly around a rate of 470 h/a or 7,050 in 15 years compared with 875 to 1,235 reported. (This compares with numbers from 5,923 to 7,170 obtained using the standard method from the latest ONS population / household data by this author and the 7,320 obtained by the council).
Based on the raw demographic data in the 2016 SHMA, without doubtful economic uplifts, we would obtain 563 h/a. If we took the average of the two population figures they quote we obtain 284 h/a before uplifts. These yield 2,820 or 4,260 or 8,440 houses over 15 years. One wonders if anyone at the council has read the SHMA report of 2016. It cost us over fifty thousand pounds to produce but its many warnings and caveats were ignored.
The author has no argument with the current standard method as a demographic starting point. Most of the projections made in my own housing report used as a basis for green belt housing requirements, used the standard method. Robinson fails to mention this fact and speaks only of an ‘alternative’ method, seeking to dismiss this work. The real problem as Robinson acknowledges is the quality and instability of the ONS population and household data and I add, the unintelligent use of ‘trend analysis’. Our housing requirements fall from 2012 to 2014 to 2016 not because of the method but because the data is unstable and still suffering from reconciliation problems between the 2001 and 2011 censuses which the ONS acknowledges as a problem nationally. In our case the basic ‘natural’ internal population projections should be quite accurate and can be calculated mechanically. They show the population decline which has been the norm here for decades. Our local problem is that the mechanical application of the ONS trend rules to historical migration data leads to a massive, unrealistic over estimate of net migration into Wirral as my report explained. This was acknowledged also by Lichfield Consultants in the 2016 SMHA as I have repeatedly pointed out, but ‘magiced’ away by referencing the brain-free ONS ‘rules’.
Robinson notes a ‘retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ to. I assume this is me. This is very disingenuous and dismissive. I repeat, my appendix 1 and 2 tables showing the implications for green belt land requirements are based on the standard method and ONS data. I also provided forecasts based on variations of trend analysis to demonstrate how sensitive targets are to slight variations in assumptions and data. I also apply official government variant scenarios on migration and life expectancy scaled to the Wirral, to show the effects of recent events. These further reduce our future housing requirements. The council readily considered the 13 scenarios created in the 2016 SMHA Lichfield Consultancy report so surely ‘a retired professor in Bromborough’ can also legitimately explore and report half a dozen explanatory scenarios? What is the council afraid of? Could it be they fear the Wirral ‘general public’ being properly informed for once about their manipulations?
Robinson’s QC is correct in advising the council that they should prepare a local plan case based on the standard method, whenever that stabilises. However the issue of data is another matter. The ONS data bases are in disarray across the country. At some point this will be challenged by some, competent, well informed local authorities. Wirral should be prepared for this by looking closely at all the relevant local historical demographic data with emphasis on migration projections… as I have attempted to begin to do. I will continue to seek out independent (official) data, such as registered voters, which allows dependable population, migration and household trends to be estimated for use in the standard model: we cannot rely on ONS projections or ‘estimates’ between censuses. They are completely discredited …as the recent government panic reactions prove.
‘Wirral Waters’, etc & Green Belt Land Requirements
Robinson’s note provides additional, new information on council assumptions. He tells us that ‘any figure over about 406 houses per year (equivalent to 6,090 over 15 years) would trigger a need to consider land to be released from the Green Belt’. Let us use the council’s own numbers to see what this actually means. On the September 2018 ONS household projections and the standard method the council says we need 7,320 houses. This is about right. This means that we need 7,320 – 6090 = 1,230 house places on GB land. The average government NW density figure is 14.5 houses per acre so we would need just 84.8 acres of GB. But the local plan GB release land parcels amount to ~4,900 acres. This is 58 X the area actually needed to meet the housing target. However the council may be forced to accept the earlier 2014 ONS data based target of 12,045 houses. This means that 12,045 – 6090 = 5,995 house places on GB would be needed. But this is just 413 acres compared with the 4,900 acres up for release. The GB release area proposed is 11.9 X the area required in the council’s own worst case scenario.
Why is it that these critical facts have not been explained to the public? I suggest that it is intended to muddy the waters. If 4,900 acres of GB land are released in this local plan ‘because the council is being forced to by the government…we have no choice’, developers (and the council) can relax and cherry pick the (up to) 413 acres actually needed, for maximum profit and convenience all round: perhaps over the full 15 years plan period. But this leaves ~4,487 acres of released GB permanently available for building, beyond the highest local plan requirements, if all the currently proposed GB land parcels are released.
Wirral would become from now on, the ultimate free for all target area for developers and speculators in the northwest. No doubt that is the plan, unless it is stopped.
If we wish to preserve Wirral in anything like its present form, the public must object loudly in the final public consultation on the Local Plan in 2019 if more than the absolute maximum said to be necessary, 413 acres of GB land, is put forward for release.
The release of 4,900 acres in one ‘apocalypse now’, is totally unjustified on the council’s own data and worst case assumptions.
It may be by mid 2019 that a revised standard methodology and an ONS data challenge will show an even smaller GB area is actually needed than 413 acres. I will continue to look into this. I suggest that when the dust settles we will find a demographic housing need of less than 3,000 houses. However the other side of the equation is how much land is available outside current green belt. Current council claims on this also need to be looked at very carefully. Robinson quotes a number of 6,090 house places available on non-GB land. Let us examine this against published brown field sites (as surveyed by the council), the contentious Peel/Wirral Waters numbers and actual empty house refurbishment.
Earlier this year the council said it had identified 2,400 places on 91 ‘brown field’ sites. This would leave 6,090 – 2,400 = 3,690 other identified places on non-GB sites. What are these? What about the Peel plans? Robinson spends considerable space in his letter attacking the Peel position, which continues the council stance taken throughout 2018. Peel were identified to the public as the villains of the piece. Robinson rejects Peel’s ‘higher scenario’ offer which presumably is the 13,571 dwellings with outline planning permission. However Peel made it clear to the government and in a public letter in 2018, that this figure only ever applied to the full 30 year Wirral Waters project span. The ‘medium scenario’ offer was 6,450 dwellings subject to council financial support on infrastructure, etc. Robinson does not mention the minimum delivery offer from Peel of 2,900 dwellings which appears to come with few strings attached (see below). One would think that urgent negotiations would now be under way with Peel and it appears Robinson’s ‘leading’ QC has sent a letter to elicit, after several years of discussion, a detailed development schedule.
N.B. From Robinson’s letter the position appears to be that the council will take the hardest interpretation of the NPPF rules in putting forward non-GB land availability and other matters in the local plan. One could see this as a cautious, conservative approach but there has been much discussion nationally about NPPF interpretation and implicit flexibility on ‘availability’, ‘deliverability’, ‘viability’, etc. If the council is not intending to seek out this flexibility and use it, by so directing their expensive QC, Wirral residents might reasonably assume that it simply wants to release as much Green Belt land as possible by hiding behind alleged ‘harsh Conservative government’ rules and ‘unreliable development partners’. Residents might wonder why. See above.
Let us return now to the numbers game. The unidentified 3,690 places on non-GB land implied by Robinson can be compared with the lower, deliverable Peel offer of 2,900 dwellings. Using this leaves 3,690 – 2,900 = 790 houses or ~53 houses per annum. Despite the negative bluster perhaps Robinson actually expects Peel to deliver their minimum offer at least. The other 790 houses may come from empty house recovery. Data supplied by a councillor suggested there were ~4,000 (> 6 months) empty houses on Wirral in 2017. In recent years the average house recovery rate (by the council) was ~238 h/a (based on their own data). So recovery of ~53 h/y or higher should be quite feasible in future.
In my local plan submission I included two tables showing the impact of various brown field options on GB requirements. I can now update these using the new council data from Robinson, for the readers’ interest. We keep the 2,400 brown field council data and the 790 houses inferred from recovery, in total 3,190. Suppose now the council comes to an accommodation with Peel on their ‘medium scenario’. This would replace 2,900 with 6,450 giving in total 9,640 dwellings. If we allowed double the inferred empty house recovery rate we have 53 x 2 = 106 p/a. This still only 44% of the actual recent rate. In this case we would have in total 9,640 + 790 = 10,430 places on brown field sites. Green Belt land needed in the worst (target) case becomes 12,045 – 10,340 = 1,705 dwelling places or ~118 acres compared with proposed 4,900 acres of parcel release.
Now it is accepted that local plans will be regularly reviewed and evolve over time as Robinson tells us in his letter. At worst then, we start with a stated need for ~413 acres of GB land over 15 years. But assuming a modest level of competence in the council and good will between Peel and the council, the ‘medium scenario’, deliverable in say 5 or 10 years time, implies only ~118 acres of GB is needed in total. I would assume that a ‘leading’ QC would be able to elegantly mount the appropriate arguments about land release phasing.
However the council points to a need for only 7,320 houses during the plan period based on the most recent 2016 ONS projections and the standard method. If this becomes accepted again, or this is forced upon the government by evidence presented by a number of councils with competence and backbones, or by independent analysts, the Peel ‘medium scenario’ tells us that total brown field places would be 10,430 and so NO Green Belt at all is needed to meet the local plan, as I argued clearly in my local plan submissions in September 2018. It is probable that it will soon emerge that the ONS demographic projection system is broken and the local authority level ONS data generally is unreliable for important decision making. However we should not rely passively on this scandal breaking.
If the council genuinely wishes to protect our Green belt as it repeatedly states, it should prioritise three actions:
Stop playing political games and negotiate urgently with Peel Holdings.

Accept the standard method but challenge the ONS population and household projections for Wirral. Among other things: consult other councils with similar misleading data problems and organise resistance; jointly commission a formal critique of the ONS automatic trend rules and data stability e.g. from the Royal Statistical Society; seek independent (but official) data to establish actual Wirral net migration trends as these dominate, unrealistically, all the government projections.

Present a phased local plan to the full extent the ‘rules’ allow, emphasising the national failings and problems with the ONS data and projection methods: the clear aim being to limit the release of GB land to the minimum necessary at any given time and NOT the reverse, which appears to be the current policy.
‘Green belt and urban sprawl’
The council does have an obligation to properly assess all available alternatives. It may choose to assess all GB parcels put forward as available for development. But to be clear: it is not obliged to release any GB land in excess of that needed to make up any shortfall from available brown field sites. We have shown that even with the worst case target using the government standard method and data, only ~ 8.4% of the council proposed GB release list would be needed. On the forecast based on the 2016 ONS data, argued (we are assured) by the council, to the government, only ~1.7% of the GB release list would be needed.
The letter gives some hints as to how the ~8% might be selected. Such sites ‘are either physically enclosed by the wider urban area or would not reduce the physical separation between existing Settlement Areas…which means their impact on urban sprawl would be much less when compared with other parts of the GB.’ These are weasel words which local activists need to look at carefully in each case. Note particularly Robinson’s comments on Irby, Thingwall, Pensby, Heswall and parts of Barnston and Gayton. Since these are all part of SA7 one gets the impression anything goes here. However the local plan background documents also discuss the attraction (in the minds of council planners) of creating a hard (neat) green belt boundary at the M53 by ‘filling in’ the whole area of high quality farm land to its east side from Storeton down to Poulton Hall and again at Eastham. Nobody living here can feel relaxed with such openly declared, Big Brother thinking. However Robinson tries to reassure us by saying ‘some of these sites may [still] be found unsuitable for other reasons, which would need to be demonstrated on the basis of technical evidence.’ However in the Infrastructure section of his letter we learn that as yet no assessments have been made in several key areas: transport, strategic flood risk, agriculture, biodiversity and sustainability. The council ‘will be commissioning a series of technical and environmental studies…’ but ‘specialist consultants’ have yet to be appointed as 2018 ends. We are told that at least the council is talking to education and health service providers. Let us hope so.
The author, given that we are now ‘Borough of Culture 2019’, notes there is no mention of assessing the impact of GB housing estates on our rich historical heritage on Wirral. To take just one example, powerful evidence now exists that the great Battle of Brunanburh, the equal of Hastings in defining English history, took place in the area between Storeton Village / Higher Bebington and Poulton Hall with the centre near Clatterbridge. Most of this land area is east of the M53 and it is all on the GB release list. Already, even before general GB release, the building of 27 luxury homes has been approved (on appeal) on GB land next to historic Storeton Hall, which will be converted into luxury apartments. It is widely believed, based on known commercial links and clear conflicts of interest, that the council made only a limp wristed attempt to stop this development at the appeal. This is the future of Wirral GB, chopped up quietly, piece by piece, unless the government and council are challenged strongly on all matters discussed earlier and on the basis of hard evidence. Much more could be said about misleading council behaviour. Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

Wirral Waters and That Sinking Feeling

FOOD BANK and 500 apartments for Seacombe

As previewed last week in Place North West  Council’s prime chronicler of  all things Wirral Waters/Wirral Waters One/Whatever last night’s  Planning Committee approved plans for 500 apartments :

A reserved matters application for Wirral Waters One, a 500-home project at East Float Dock in Peel’s Wirral Waters will be considered at planning committee next Thursday, with a recommendation for approval.

Along with an application for 430,000 sq ft of offices in a mixed-use creative industries quarter at Vittoria Studios East, the scheme was submitted in May for reserved matters, the two applications meeting the condition set at the granting of outline consent in 2012 over the phasing of development.

The apartment scheme is proposed by Peel Land & Property and Legacy, a company founded by footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora. The JV said in October that it intends to start work on the Glenn Howells Architects-designed scheme next summer. Comprising a mix of 256 one-bedroom and 280 two-bedroom apartments, 20% of the scheme will be classed as affordable dwellings.

Turley’s planning statement said that is design terms, “the building façades utilise a mix of materials including corrugated sheet cladding and a pre-cast construction which will provide identity and character. Bold colours will complement the existing maritime environment.”

The project is funded by Aviva and also counts the council as a partner, Wirral having agreed a business case for the project at a cabinet meeting on 1 October.

Wirral Waters Apartments Set For Approval

As you can see on the webcast below Planning Committee Chair and serial liar Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  (what could possibly go wrong? ) seems to be conceding that any idea that Wirral Waters is about business development has been thrown into the River Mersey with the International Trade Centre. It’s all about investment opportunities for second home owners now – but as we’ve asked before who is going to live in these so called ‘luxury’ apartments ?

Wirral Waters Planning Committee

The day after all this was approved it was announced that Chief council officer quits £115,000 post after just a few months . The Chief Officer in question being Brian Bailey , who is someone we brought to your attention when he was appointed in our  Peel, Pillow Talk & Forked Tongues post. We are left wondering whether Bailey’s decision to quit has anything to do with developments (or non-developments) or he’s been in touch with his old mucker from Blackburn & Darwen Council and former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess? – ” What’s that you say Bri, Foulkesy is chair of the Planning Committee and  George Davies is the Cabinet member responsible all this ? They and their protector Frank Field were my undoing . My advice would be to get out before they’re out to get you!”

We also ask ourselves whether there could be another clue in the Place North West Wirral Waters promo :

No major issues with the proposal are highlighted by statutory consultees, with the only potential sticking point being a notification from the council’s housing officer that depending on level of occupation, some apartments could fall below the threshold of the Nationally Described Space Standards, although Wirral has in any case not yet adopted NDSS.

So basically can we deduce that Wirral Waters is to be reduced to rabbit hutches offering high yield returns for rich investors – if they can get anyone to live in them!

 

 

 

Last Train to Pipsville

IMG_2324

All you trainspotters out there will be aware there’s a ‘mock up’ of the new type of train that is coming to Merseyside that can be seen at Pacific Road tramsheds.
It is actually made of wood and rumoured to have cost a cool £1 million.  It’s not known whether Merseytravel considered consulting the travelling public of Merseyside whether would rather have their over-inflated fares spent on securing guards on trains or on an oversized boy’s toy.

Further rumours that  Merseytravel are planning to rustle up interest in the exhibit by hosting a special Halloween  ‘ghost train horrorshow’ featuring an imposing life size figure of Wirral Council’s Lead Investment Manager Martin Liptrot standing on the train with his arms folded and giving his best death stare are as yet unconfirmed.

We also noticed that the destination on the front of the train was West Kirby which is appropriate for Liptrot and his friend,neighbour,comrade and benefactor , Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies . Both are season ticket holders on the West Kirby gravy train who try to not look out of the window as they pass through Birkenhead North!

Talking of tramsheds we note that there has been resurrection of the ideas of  streetcars in Birkenhead which were first mooted five years ago when the fantasy that was Wirral Waters was first floated. Now that that fantasy has sunk to the bottom of the Mersey along with Stella Shiu ,her prize winning marrows and the International Trade Centre and rebranded as Wirral Waters One,  the idea of transportation by streetcar been resurrected by Green councillor Pat Cleary in an upcoming Wirral Council Notice of Motion to be debated next week titled , ‘Sustainable Transport For Wirral Waters ‘. Dare we suggest the title should have been ‘ A Streetcar Named Desire To Have Some Coordinated Infrastructure Planning Between Partner Agencies For Once’?…

 

Desire

 

 

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

Peel, Pip and Porkies

We are aware that  Save Wirral’s Green Belt is a Conservative Party initiative and consequently considering their track record on political opportunism we can only hope it can be differentiated with Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces   as I’m sure we can all agree Wirral’s Green Belt transcends party political point scoring.

However ,having said all that ,we feel compelled to bring you a copy of the letter that was sent to Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies from Richard Mawdsley from the Peel Group that was published on Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces Facebook page and was distributed at Monday’s Extraordinary Council meeting. As we can see the nameplate of Tory  Cllr Chris Blakeley is in the background of the screenshot and therefore we have to be cognizant of possible political motivations. Nevertheless we think the letter is of immense interest and deserves wider coverage as it is highly instructive about the relationship between Peel Group and Wirral Council in general and ‘Power Boy Pip’ in particular.

We mentioned yesterday that attendees who attend Mr Mawdsley’s talk about ‘Wirral Waters’ on September 28 make specific reference to the letter below.

The letter’s most pertinent quotes have been usefully annotated but this comment from Mawdsley to Pip is the most telling :

Given the way you have conducted yourself in recent months , and the very misleading public statements you have made , we ask that you stop this campaign of misinformation and be honest with the people of Wirral and correct the misleading information you are distributing

So basically what you’re saying Mr Mawdsley, in that mealymouthed way you people have , is that  Pip is a big fat liar . Tell us something we don’t know! And it’s not just about Wirral Waters or the Green Belt or Wirralgate . Lying is like breathing to Pip and his ilk. Asking him to be honest is like asking Lance Armstrong to confirm he took performance enhancing drugs or President Bill Clinton whether he’d has sex with Monica Lewinsky or whether Pip himself had heard the Wirralgate tape …Wirralgate – Louder Than Bombs

Mawdsley

Mawdsley 2

NHS & Green Belt Supporters : Dates For Your Diary

September calendar

 

We understand that things are getting back to what passes for ‘normal’ on Wirral with it persisting down with rain and the kids going back to school.

So as the nights draw in we thought we’d share with you some information sent to us by readers about upcoming events that might interest you.

Dear friends of the NHS

The stealthy but rapid pace of health cuts and privatisation HERE in Wirral has quickened further during recent months.

We guarantee that very few Wirral councillors – let alone the general public – have any idea what is meant by “integrated care” or “accountable care” or “place-based care”. (Or how closely these terms resemble those used in the American health system. How long before Wirral has ‘managed care’ or ‘health maintenance’?)

But that – changing names along the way – is exactly what the Council leadership and the local NHS (the CCG) are implementing. The previous term they used (the ‘STP’) was too easily translated into Plain English as “slash, trash and privatise”.

This is a crisis of huge proportions. You or someone you know will have been affected by delays or shortages or rationing of services (GP appointments, hospital treatments, ambulance times). Things will get worse. Unless we do something about it.

We don’t like labelling everything a crisis but this truly is. If the Council won’t tell the public what is happening then we certainly will.

Please come to our PUBLIC MEETING on THURSDAY 27th at 7.00pm in BIRKENHEAD Town Hall.

Speakers will include our longstanding supporter Dr Alex Scott-Samuel and Wirral insiders who will reveal the local and national dimensions of the scandal.

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

All Wirral councillors will be invited.

Please spread the word to family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

 

Our second  upcoming event came with the following message :

Green belt campaigners may be interested in this talk.

Richard (Mawdsley’s ) light is hidden under a bushel; here’s more about him: http://www.wirralchamber.co.uk/Press-and-PR/Strategic-Partner-Interviews-/Richard-Mawdsley-Development-Director-at-Wirral-Waters/ (BTW the word ‘affordable’ does not appear on that page.)

And, as you know, his employer is often in the news: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/peel-told-put-roof-over-14906451and even: https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/tag/peel-group/

There are other interesting items in the news: http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=211 and https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-biggest-company-youve-never-heard-of-lifting-the-lid-on-peel-group-the-property-firm-owned-by-8890201.html

Cheers

There’s a ‘Friday Talk’ at the Parish Centre , St Saviours Church, Oxton titled ‘Wirral Waters’  where the speaker is the aforementioned Richard Mawdsley from the Peel Group on FRIDAY 28 SEPTEMBER at 8.00pm (no attendance before 7.45pm) . 

If we were a member  our question to Mr Mawdsley  would be “Is Wirral Waters still a thing? Or is it a ramshackle ,opportunistic ,ad hoc series of developments reliant on public monies?… 

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’…

The Art of Artifice

Mural 2 034

Our thanks go to one of our readers who has sent us some eye-popping pop art. At first we thought to ourselves :  “Here’s someone with too much times on their hands and a penchant for pulp fiction. Quick! Press the ‘Block’ button .” However they went on to explain that the above collage was specially created to commemorate the appointment of  Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies to Arts Council England. Although we’d all be be forgiven for thinking the appointment was to the Arse Council knowing as we do that the nearest that Pip gets to culture is licking the lid of the yoghurt pot ( now there’s an image to haunt you for the rest of the day).

Our featured artist who goes by the name of Toulouse Le Plot further explained that their kids helped them with ‘the muriel’ as a) it was the school holidays b) it was never too early to teach your kids about local politics and yet be creative at the same time.

However back to the latest Pip appointment. His  place on the organisation’s North area council follows a visit to Wirral by its chief Darren ‘Hooray’ Henley, who inevitably described Wirral as a ‘creative hub for the entire region’.

Yes , Tristram  – whatever you say sweetheart. Our Hugo then went into luvvie-overdrive:

“As I stood in Birkenhead looking across the River Mersey to Liverpool’s impressive skyline with its stunning mix of old and new architecture, I was reminded of a recent visit to New York.Just as the Wirral look across the water towards Liverpool, so Brooklyn stares out across the East River towards Manhattan.The latter has traditionally been thought of as being the glitzier of the two areas, with its towering skyscrapers dominating the landscape and looking down on the other less successful parts of the city. But for me, it’s Brooklyn, on the other side of the river, where one of New York’s more exciting stories has unfolded over recent years. Following a sustained and well thought out programme of investment, it’s now a hotbed of creativity, with artists, designers and techies making this formerly rundown neighbourhood an exciting and vibrant place to live and work.Derelict buildings have been brought back to life.They’re now thriving creative communities, home to a network of makers who imagine, invent and build everything from traditional craft products to high end computer software.

As I stood in Birkenhead, it struck me that Brooklyn is a model for the Wirral…”

Read full story here :  Arts appointment for council ‘leader’

Has Rupert been drinking in the Brew Dog bar with Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ?-  ” Mine’s a pint of ‘Desperate Illusion’ what are you having old chap? I thoroughly recommend  ‘Mersey Mirage’ created by local artisan brewers Chimera & Artifice’ . Don’t worry dear boy we can put it on expenses…”

Did Giles and Eric independently come up with the ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ tagline? Or is it a case of deluded minds think alike?

As he seems to be so enamoured of the place no doubt Sebastian is eyeing up a penthouse suite in one of the thousands and thousands of luxury apartments that Peel Group are currently building on Wirral Waters. Perhaps when Sebastian moves in we can make a house-warming gift of a limited edition signed print of our commemorative collage . As a mash up of the local art and political scene we’re sure Tarquin will give the picture pride of place in his pop up art gallery .