Maghull Town Council Sefton Local Plan survey – residents’ messa

 Lynn Gatherer, Emma Skelly and Patrick McKinley

Maghull residents have made their views about Sefton's Local Plan clear - the plan is "inappropriate without considerable amendment".

Labour Councillors on Maghull Town Council carried out the "largest exercise in participative democracy" in the council's long history.

The survey was designed to be an apolitical exercise aimed at objectively gauging people's views on the future of the town. 

Liberal Democrat town councillors refused to get involved in gathering views on the plan which will be the blue print for the evolution of the town over the next 15 years.

However, when the findings were discussed by a full town council meeting last week, it was passed unanimously.

The findings make up Maghull Town Council's formal response to Sefton Council's Local Plan consultation.

Summary conclusions of the survey show:

•      A majority of those surveyed were opposed to the plan in Maghull (53%).
•      6% were unreservedly in favour of the plan.
•      15% were neutral but still identified key requirements expected.
•      25% were in favour but had reservations.

Those who were in completely opposed and those in favour with reservations, had a variety of concerns, including:

•       Lack of Amenities and infrastructure (largest area of concern) such as clear plans for schools, medical facilities, road access, transport (bus services and train access) all must be expanded prior to development.
•       Many people reported that they believe it is impossible to sufficiently address these concerns through mitigation because of the arterial road infrastructure and other issues.
•        Building on green belt was the second major area of concern, it was viewed as unacceptable when it was felt there were alternatives limiting the build to existing green space sites such as the hospital and prison area.
•       The plan is grossly disproportionate and too big for Maghull. It will affect its sense of place.
•       There are serious issues with drainage, flooding and sewage removal, an issue that is already a serious problem.
•       Some expressed a need for affordable housing and social housing being included.
•       Green spaces must be provided in the proposed building area.
•       Further stretching of police resources.
•       Increased suburban sprawl.
•       Sufficient empty homes in Maghull at present.
•       Houses in Maghull may not go to Sefton residents and therefore may not fulfil the needs of local people.
•       Small bridges will cause traffic problems and lead to roads becoming gridlocked.

The councillors' report on the survey draws an overall conclusion which states: "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."

And the councillors' recommendation based on the findings are:

•      Based on the evidence from the survey, Maghull Town Council’s recommendation is that Sefton MBC planning officers reconsider the plan for Maghull to address the concerns of our residents.
•      We recognise that Sefton MBC must have a local plan. The survey has indicated that residents believe the plan for Maghull is too big and disproportionate. However, we would welcome the opportunity to work with Sefton MBC to address this, and other concerns of residents.

Maghull Town Council's Labour leader, Cllr Patrick McKinley, thanked everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

Cllr McKinley said: "Sefton's Local Plan is hugely important for Maghull. It is fundamentally the blueprint for the development of our town for the next 15 years.

"The findings of the survey are clear. People in Maghull do not think the Local Plan is appropriate in its current draft and we as representatives of the people will do all we can to work collaboratively with Sefton Council to address the concerns of the residents.

"Among the concerns raised, people are anxious about the impact of the planned development on the local infrastructure and the very character of our town.

"While there was also concern raised about the lack of affordable housing for the young people from Maghull to move in to.

"My colleagues on the town council would like to thank all those who completed the survey and I would like to thank all of the town councillors who spent many days and weeks compiling this survey. All of their efforts are very much appreciated."

Cllr Maurice Byrne said it was vital that all residents were given the chance to formulate Maghull Town Council's official response to Sefton's Local Plan.

Cllr Byrne said: "Because the Local Plan has huge repercussions for this community, my Labour colleagues and I wanted to make sure that the views of the people of Maghull are heard.

"Unfortunately the Liberal Democrats refused to get involved in the survey. They’d rather try and govern people rather than listen to them and represent them.

"While we wanted to listen to the people of Maghull, the Liberal Democrats wanted to gag them, preferring to jump on another  political bandwagon

"They wanted to shut the people of Maghull out of deciding how Maghull develops. It is the Liberal Democrats who, together with their government partners the Conservatives, who have made changes to planning law and therefore created a developers' charter.

"Meanwhile, Labour has put the people of Maghull at the front and centre of developing our response. We are basing our recommendations to Sefton Council's consultation on evidence, not on the opinions of armchair Liberal Democrat activists That is why we carried out this survey."

Maghull Town Council will be holding a public meeting to present  the survey's findings on Thursday, October 17 starting at 7pm at Maghull Town Hall. The meeting is open to Maghull residents only.