Campaign group forms to sink Tory-Lib Dem plans which threaten S

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with farmer Kevin Moores, Formby Parish Councillor Geoff Gaskin and members of the campaign team.
 
 
A campaign group has been set up to fight Tory-Lib Dem government plans to slash the funding for flood management which threatens homes throughout Formby and Sefton.
 
The Environment Agency has announced proposals to scale back pumping in the Lower Alt and Crossens catchment after its government funding was slashed.
 
But campaigners say the plans directly threaten homes through Formby, Hightown, Crosby, Thornton, Lydiate, Maghull, Aintree Village, Melling and parts of West Lancs.
 
Formby farmer Kevin Moores this week met with Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and other homeowners and landowners in the area to start a campaign group.
 
Kevin said: "If the Environment Agency carry out their threat and close any of the major pumping stations, there will be an increased risk of flooding which will affect everyone in the district, residents as well as the farming community.
 
"I first found out about these plans just 10 days ago after receiving a phone call from someone I know. This was a shock to me as it was the first I had heard of the issue. We had received nothing - no letters, no phone calls - nothing. And no-on else was informed either.
 
"I was astounded by this. We have a short consultation period until December 16 with only two meetings planned and virtually no-one was aware that these meetings were taking place.
 
"I went to the second meeting which was held in Halsall, only to come out feeling completely demoralised and patronised.
 
"I then met my MP Bill Esterson who had already voiced his opposition to these plans and he suggested getting some concerned people together to form a campaign group.
 
"We are now formulating a plan of action to oppose these plans which will affect everything, our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our crops, our livestock, everything will be at risk."
 
Bill Esterson said the Conservative-Liberal Democrats' cuts to the Environment Agency are directly threatening the future of communities throughout Sefton and West Lancs.
 
Bill said: "Since finding out about the plans to scale back the vital pumping activity which is at the core of flood defences for this part of the world, I have spoken to lots of people who will be directly affected. Each and every one of them is concerned.
 
"The Environment Agency say the alternative to continuing the pumping is to allow our agricultural land to become a flood plain. Not only are they saying this at a time when food prices are rocketing and we as a country should becoming more self sufficient, but they fail to take into account the large number of rural properties in this area which rely on septic tanks which would obviously lead to contamination of land as the water table rises.
 
"Then there is the fact that householders throughout Sefton and West Lancs who will find it impossible to get home insurance because they are directly at risk of flooding."
 
Bill and Peter Maguire from Formby Labour Action Team have launched an online e-petition to force a government re-think.
 
Peter said: "We've seen recently with the Hillsborough debate in parliament how successful e-petitions can be in making the government sit up and take notice, so if we can get enough people to log on and sign the petition we can make them see sense and push them into a u-turn.
 
"There's far too much at stake on this issue to allow the government's cuts to directly threaten thousands of homes and businesses here in Seton and West Lancashire and jeopardise historic communities up and down the coastline."
 
Bill said he was calling for a debate in parliament and had asked a series of parliamentary questions. The MP is also meeting the Environment Agency and had discussed the issues with neighbouring MPs. The campaign group will be arranging a series of public meetings and are hoping that the Environment Agency will attend those meetings to answer questions from residents and listen to the concerns of people across Sefton and West Lancashire.
 
Bill said: "Clearly not enough people know about these plans or the huge impact they will have on our communities here. So the campaign group will be arranging its first public meeting as soon as we can get a date from the Environment Agency. The public meeting will give residents the chance to hear the details of the plans and add their voices to the campaign.
 
"The formal Environment Agency consultation ends on December 16. I'm hoping we can get thousands of people to sign up to sink this government's plans once and for all."