Maghull Town Council Labour Councillors said last week's public meeting to discuss the findings of the Maghull Town Council Survey into the Sefton Local Plan was an "excellent example of local democracy".
Labour Councillors gave a presentation into the findings of the town council's Local Plan survey at Maghull Town Hall.
The survey, which has been described by Labour leader Cllr Patrick McKinley as the town council's "largest exercise in participative democracy", found that the majority of people in Maghull were opposed to the current draft of Sefton's Local Plan.
The Tory-Lib Dem Government is forcing all local authorities throughout the country to draw up plans which outline how their communities will evolve in the coming years. Controversially, the Government has set new housing targets on local councils which must be met in the Local Plan.
Cllr Maurice Byrne gave the presentation on the findings of the survey to the public meeting.
Residents heard that on the back of the views of Maghull residents, the formal Maghull Town Council response to Sefton's Local Plan is: "In the light of the evidence shown in this representative survey, the Local Plan as proposed for Maghull, is considered by the majority of Maghull residents to be inappropriate without considerable amendment."
Cllr Byrne told the meeting: "We carried out this survey with the express aim of ensuring that on the Local Plan, Maghull Town Council wasn't just listening to those with the loudest voices. As Maghull Town Council Councillors we are listening to everyone from Maghull on this issue. We have wanted to give everyone the opportunity to give us their views.
"So we set about carrying out the survey with the intention of getting views from every town council ward in Maghull. And that is just what we have done.
"Looking at the Local Plan, it appears that Maghull has got the biggest lump of new proposed new build in Sefton.
"But we do need to be aware that if the plan doesn't identify enough new houses, as has happened in North Devon and elsewhere, then the Government's Planning Inspector will come in and impose housing on us. Sefton would then have to re-submit a plan at a cost in excess of £300,000.
"But crucially, Sefton has to listen to local communities when drawing the Local Plan, and that is exactly what the consultation period has allowed Maghull Town Council to do. By carrying out this survey, we have asked the people of Maghull what they want from the Local Plan and the people of Maghull have told us - and it isn't the draft of the plan that we have in front of us at the moment.
"This whole survey exercise that Maghull Town Council Labour Group has been an excellent example of local democracy. It's just a shame that the Liberal Democrats didn't want to join Labour Councillors on the council in giving the people of Maghull the chance to have their voices heard."
The survey result shows that people of Maghull are opposed to the current draft of the Local Plan. Among the issues raised is the concern that the number of houses in the Local Plan to be built in Maghull is far greater than the housing need in Maghull. The percentage of housing being built in Maghull is over 20%, while the need is 12%.
According to the survey, residents felt Maghull is shouldering a disproportionate amount of building compared to elsewhere in the borough.
Maghull Town Council leader Cllr Patrick McKinley chaired the meeting.
Cllr McKinley said: "I am really pleased with how this whole process has been carried out.
"We've carried out a mammoth survey to gauge the views of the people of Maghull on an issue that is the biggest issue that our community will face for the next 15 years.
"Our survey sample was huge and the returns do show that people have some very real concerns about the Local Plan in its current draft.
"As I explained in the meeting, the town council has now requested meetings with Sefton Council's Planning Officers who are responsible for the Local Plan, so that we can go through the views expressed by the people of Maghull in the survey and see what action can be taken.
"It is much more beneficial to be involved in negotiations over the plan rather than isolating ourselves from the decision making. Better to be involved and in the tent looking out, rather than outside trying to look in.
"The people of Maghull have spoken, it is our responsibility as elected members of this community to act in accordance with the wishes of the residents."