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August 14, 2012 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson


Congratulations to Sefton Council on sorting out the complex legal issues surrounding the Thornton Relief Road. 

The road will link Switch Island and Southport Road and according to some people it has been under consideration for up to 80 years.

Hopefully the road will help ease congestion and will help jobs and the economy of Sefton. The construction of the road will certainly give a much needed boost to the construction industry which has been hit hard as a result of the speed of the cuts in government contracts. 

The road itself was initially delayed by the coalition government and the work done by Sefton Council officers and councillors has made a big difference in making sure that the road happens. We need the boost that the road will give and perhaps the government can reinstate the Building Schools for the Future project which it also cut when the Tories and Lib Dems joined forces two years ago.

Residents in Formby were invited to view plans to build up to 300 houses next to the Formby Bypass. This includes land which regularly floods and if the houses were built, hundreds more cars would be added to the roads in Formby, which are already busy at rush hour especially. 

The developers admitted to me that they are taking advantage of new rules brought in by the Tory-Lib Dem government. The rules form part of the National Planning Policy Framework and allow developers to build on land including green belt if a council does not have a Local Plan. 

Developers want to make money and will target areas where they can make the most money. Many developers have close relationships with government ministers or give money to the Conservative Party. It is clear that the new rules have given developers a big opportunity.

This piece of land is in green belt and so far I have seen nothing from the developers which shows that they can deal with the flooding without making things worse for existing residents. I have also seen nothing to suggest that the roads won’t be more clogged. Residents also are very worried that once a developer gains a toe-hold on green belt in Sefton, there will be little to stop other developers building where they want to. 

Rest assured along with many residents, councillors and parish councillors, I will be challenging proposals for building at Formby or elsewhere in our green belt. I am not against development as we need affordable homes for many people in Sefton but they have to be in the right place.

My family and I have enjoyed the Olympic Games and have celebrated the huge success of many British athletes. The question is how do we make sure that we build on this success? Both so that our athletes succeed again in Brazil in four years' time and also so that more people take part in sport and other activities. 

The more active we are, the healthier we are and the more people are engaged in productive activity, the less opportunity for anti-social or criminal activity. I also think that having successful athletes gives us a boost as a country and inspires the next generation. The last Labour government had a very successful School Sports Partnership and many of our High Schools and our Primary Schools made the most of the facilities and coaching available. 

Sadly this too was cut by the Tories and Lib Dems when they formed the government. As a result fewer young people are taking part in sport than was the case two years ago. We need that partnership to be reinstated, not just to gain Olympic medals but also so many young people can take part or try sport. 

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