Last week, Sefton’s planning committee voted to reject the Sainsbury’s Planning Application for Crosby Village. This will be welcomed by many people in Crosby.
At the meeting, the Labour and Conservative members of the committee all voted against the plans while the Lib Dems mostly voted for the Sainsbury’s development, with one abstaining. It has been interesting listening to Lib Dem Councillors defending their decision to support Sainsbury’s plans.
They claim that they represent the silent majority and that majority are in favour of the plans. The Lib Dems also say that Sainsbury’s will take their £50million investment elsewhere and that Crosby will suffer from the lack of investment. And yet, 7,500 people signed petitions against these plans.
That is a lot of people for one petition and shows a real strength of feeling.
I have spoken to hundreds of people in Crosby over the last few months and I have to say I found a very clear majority view on this issue, a not so silent majority view for that matter. Over 80% of the people I spoke to, are against the current plans, with a much smaller number in favour. In fact many of those in favour would prefer a smaller store but are supporting the current plans out of fear that Sainsbury’s will leave the Village as it is.
Now that fear is very understandable and it is not helped when the Lib Dems tell people that Sainsbury’s will take their investment elsewhere. But the reality is rather different. Sainsbury’s own most of the property in Crosby Village so cannot afford to walk away.
Sainsbury’s insisted that the current plan was the only viable scheme and this approach put enormous pressure on the members of the planning committee. The views of the local community are very important in deciding the future for Crosby Village and I hope that Sainsbury’s will listen to the people and take on board the strength of feeling reflected by the decision.
I hope now that Sainsbury’s will come back with a smaller scheme that the majority of people in Crosby can support.
Also last week, I was invited to give out the prizes at Maghull High School. It was a real privilege to be asked and I really enjoyed the evening. Maghull High School has some amazingly talented young people and I was thrilled to meet so many outstanding performers.
The students have just achieved the school’s best ever GCSE results with an amazing 83% achieving 5 A*-C, one of the benchmarks of good performance for schools. Many outstanding achievements in sports and performing arts were also recognised last week and I left with a sense of just how good Maghull High School really is.
The Headteacher, Mr Anderson showed me the Newton Mathematics building and the wonderful 'Amadeus Suite', the new music facility. Together these projects cost over £1million funded by the last Labour government and spent on students at Maghull. In addition, July 2009 saw the opening of the dining room extension, 'The Orangery' furnished and part funded by the school’s PTFA, which goes to show how many people work incredibly hard for the school and for the students.
Lots of building projects were completed over the summer, most notably 'Studio One' the media suite and new retractable seating in the Arts Theatre. All of these cost a lot of money and of course the new government is making big cuts so it is going to get harder to pay for new buildings and new equipment.
Last week’s prize giving gave me the chance to congratulate staff, students, parents and governors at Maghull and at all the schools across Sefton Central. I am sure that the good work will continue in spite of the challenges of the tough new financial regime imposed by the government.