I am dismayed that the Government has decided to change planning rules and weaken the say of local communities under policies unveiled by Whitehall ministers in a Planning ‘White Paper’.
A new centralised planning quango will strip local communities of any say not just over airports, power stations and motorways, but also on incinerators, sewage plants and hazardous landfill sites. Its powers also include compulsory purchase of land.
The new unelected ‘planning commissioners’ will effectively be unsackable and unaccountable. The Government propose fixed eight year terms, and no ability for their removal on grounds of their decisions – giving a green light for the quangocrats to ignore public opinion. Controls will be weakened on out of town development, giving the dominant supermarkets even greater power over small shops and local high streets. However, I have an open mind on proposals to make it easier for households to build an extension – provided that neighbours are still given the opportunity to object if it affected their property or local amenity.
After ten years of Labour in office, the number of people who own their home is now falling. Labour’s regional planning red tape and Whitehall targets have snarled up the planning system, whilst restricting the say of local residents. Ever higher stamp duty and soaring council tax have made it harder for people in Wirral to get a foot on the first rung of the housing ladder.
Gordon Brown has shown his true control freak instincts by backing moves to strip local communities of their say over incinerators, rubbish dumps and sewage plants. Labour has sided with large developers, rather than the people. Yes, I agree the planning system needs reform and we need to build more homes, but the voice of local communities must be preserved and a democratic, accountable process must be maintained.
The outgoing Chairman of Wirral’s Health & Social Services Committee has welcomed new figures showing the deficit of the service has been cut to less than £500,000.
Cllr. Chris Blakeley said: “I was determined to tackle the chronic mismanagement of this vital service by the Council. A lack of political leadership in this service resulted in budget chaos and important services being cut back. By getting the finances of Social Services in better shape, we are now in a better position to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
“During my year I visited many of the Council’s care establishments and those that the Council contract out to. In all of them the dedication of the staff was was amazing. One of the proudest moments was to see the completion of Harvest Court in Moreton, a wonderful extra care facility.” (Chris pictured with Cllr Peter Johnson, Mayor of Wirral and Mary Bryce, Director of Care Services for Housing 21 at the official opening of Harvest Court).
Kathy Doran, Chief Executive of Wirral’s Primary Care Trust, has clashed with Cllr. Blakeley on several issues but, on hearing of his departure as Chairman, said: “I think we have had a very positive year under your Chairmanship of OSC. I look forward to future discussions with you. Please if you have any queries on health matters, do not hesitate to contact me. With every good wish for your new portfolio.”
Len Richards, Chief Executive of Wirral Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “I have enjoyed working with you over the last year, and i think we made a great deal of progress in understanding the issues. I think you will be missed on the OSC.”
Chris will be keeping an eye on health issues, particularly through his recent appointment to the Assembly of Governors Wirral Hospital Trust
IN A DEAL done behind closed doors the Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties have carved up the Councils ten Cabinet positions between them, each party taking five portfolios each. In order to stop effective scrutiny of their decision making process at Cabinet they have also snatched the 16 chairmanships of the Overview and Scrutiny and the quasi-judicial committees.
Councillor Chris Blakeley said: “This is the most hypocritical decision imaginable. In the run up to polling day the Lib Dem Leader urged Tory voters to switch to Lib Dem in order to stop Labour, then at the first chance he slides into bed with them.
The May 3rd poll onced again produced a hung council with Labour down one on 25 seats, the Lib Dems stay the same at 19 because on of their members resigned, the Conservatives remain at 21.
The Labour party needed an unquestioning partner as it prepares to slash another £30 to £48million of services.
Conservatives proposed a shared cabinet that reflected the electorate’s wishes.
Emergency services pictured today at Moreton Common
ARMY bomb disposal experts have successfully detonated the world war bomb that was discovered in Moreton this morning.
The bomb, discovered by workmen in Maryland Lane was moved to Moreton Common and was detonated with a controlled explosion just after 1pm.
Once the bomb was discovered, buildings were evacuated, including a childrens nursery and the Moreton Day Centre, and many roads immediately around Maryland Lane were closed off for the duration of the recovery and removal of the shell.
I would like to thank all the emergency services for the speedy, efficient and professional way they handled a very difficult situation.
Roads have now been reopened to the public.
At tonights Wirral Council Cabinet selection meeting the Labour group and the Liberal Democrats formed an alliance that took total contol of the Council.
Since the Council has been balanced the three political parties have each had roles on the Councils cabinet and each have chaired Overview and Scrutiny and Quasi Judicial Committees – However tonight that all changed with Labour and the Lib Dems carving up the cabinet and committee chairmanships between them.
Throughout last year the Lib Dems voted with Labour on all its proposals for cuts to Social Services. Now they have slipped into bed together, I wonder will they be saying yes to each other?
It’s a pity that the Liberal Democrats had not been honest with the electorate before the elections and told them, that if they voted for them they in effect would be voting for a Labour administration.
Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe will be available for a live webchat on the Merseyside Police website on Wednesday 16 May from 9.30am – 10.30am.
If you would like to take part in the web chat, you will have the opportunity to question the Chief Constable on issues that concern you about policing in Merseyside.
If you are unable to take part in the live discussion, you can submit your question before the chat. It will be placed in a queue for the Chief Constable to answer.
To ask your question or take part in the web chat, please visit http://www.merseyside.police.uk/forum
You can also take part in web chats with your local officers each month – please check the Merseyside Police website for details of dates and times. You can find a full schedule for the month ahead at: http://www.merseyside.police.uk/html/news/forum/index.htm
I am delighted that the council has added another weapon to its armoury in dealing with anti-social behaviour.
While we all recognise that most cases of anti-social behaviour stems from bad parenting up until know we have done nothing to tackle that very problem.
The appointment of Bobbie Crawford as parenting co-ordinator, is at long last, a major step in the right direction and we wish Bobbie well in her new role.
If you are a victim of anti-social behaviour or suffer with neighbours from hell, contact the Councils ‘Its your call’ hotline on 606 2020.