Fire Station in Saughall Massie – The fight goes on

Following Wirral’s planning committee refusing the application for a fire station on Saughall Massie Road, the Fire Authority met yesterday to decide what to do next.   Along with my colleague Cllr Bruce Berry and Les Spencer, Chair of the Saughall Massie Village Conservation Area I attended the meeting.

One of the Labour members on the Authority called local residents ‘Snobs’ for opposing the first application and suggested that Saughall Massie residents are only interested in their house values and the Chair of the Authority said the way Wirral Council behaved was despicable, and he suggested that all those Councillors who spoke against this application and voted against should hang their heads in shame.   After they had finished insulting residents, Councillors and the Council, the Authority resolved to submit an amended planning application in the next few weeks, as well as considering an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, and consider requesting that the Council pays the costs.

Clearly we need to continue to oppose this attack on our green belt and the amenity of local residents, particularly those who are elderly and infirm who live in the nearby sheltered housing in Woodpecker Close and on Saughall Massie Road and to that end we have set up an online petition which can be accessed HERE   You can also help by clicking HERE and printing off a hard copy petition, collect as many signatures as you can and return it to me, Bruce or Steve at our home addresses. Alternatively you may want to return petitions to me, Steve and Bruce between 11am and 11:30am on Sunday 19th February when we will be outside the Willows Pub on Saughall Massie Road.

As soon as the planning application is submitted we will let people know.  In the meantime please sign the petition and ask your friends to do so to.  Sadly we have to fight this all over again.

 

My Comment on Council Planning Response to MFRS

STARTS

Commenting on the letter from Wirral Council Planning Department to MFRS architects, in response to a pre application meeting to discuss building a new Fire Station on Green Belt land in Saughall Massie, Moreton and Saughall Massie Councillor, Chris Blakeley said, “I am delighted that the Council response has said in essence that planning permission to build on the Green Belt at this location is unlikely to be granted.    The Council response can be seen by clicking HERE.

“In their written response the Council’s Planners have made it very clear that while possible, planning permission would be very difficult for MFRS to achieve on Green Belt as they have a brown field site already in Upton that they have said they can redevelop with Government money. So by their own admission MFRS, with Upton as an alternative will not be able to demonstrate the very special circumstances that will outweigh the harm that would be caused by a development on green belt land in Saughall Massie. And let’s not forget that for the last 18 months Upton Fire Station has provided West Wirral with adequate cover.

“Development of a fire station on Green Belt here in Saughall Massie is opposed by over 1200 local residents, the Saughall Massie Village Conservation Area Society and the Wirral Society, and now it looks like Wirral Planning Officers have given MFRS exactly the same message which is keep off our Green Belt.

“I believe that the Chief Fire Officer and the Fire Authority must think again and withdraw their unwanted and unnecessary plans to develop in Saughall Massie.”

ENDS

Say NO To Fire Station

Is there a price to pay?

This afternoon I have been looking through hundreds of emails between Officers of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) and Officers of Wirral Borough Council WBC) which have been released after an FOI request.

All the emails relate to the desire of MFRS to close Upton and West Kirby Fire Stations and build a new one, originally in Greasby, but now proposed on Green Belt/Urban Green Space in Saughall Massie.

Lots of interesting reading some suggesting land swaps between MFRS and WBC others talking of planning policy restrictions on the site WBC have offered and that MFRS want. Seems WBC acquired the land from MFRS for its new youth hub (The Hive) in Birkenhead, on what is described as a ‘peppercorn rent’.

I am beginning to wonder if there is a quid pro quo?

Has Wirral Labour Abandoned Council Green Belt Policies?

Last night I moved an amendment to a Labour Notice of Motion (NOM) on fire service cuts. I viewed my amendment as a ‘Friendly’ Addition to their NOM which I, and the Conservative Group were supporting.   The wording of my amendment is reproduced below and pointed out the opposition to a new fire station on Green Belt land in Saughall Massie and asked te Council to reaffirm its position in protecting the Green Belt, here and across wirral.

I was really very surprised when Wirral Labour voted against my amendment and in doing so refused to commit to protecting our very precious Green Belt.   What message does that send to greedy housing developers?

Amendment to NOM 5: Merseyside Fire and Rescue Funding

Proposedby Councillor Chris Blakeley

Secondedby Councillor Bruce Berry

Leave all and add after the final paragraph:

Council notes that at its meeting on 30th June Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority approved the merger of Upton and West Kirby fire stations at a new station on green belt land on Saughall Massie Road.

However Council also acknowledges the overwhelming public opposition to the proposal by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority for a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie, as demonstrated by:

-       The 200 people who attended a public meeting arranged by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, and a further 270 who were unable to gain admission to the venue.

-       The opposition of the Saughall Massie Village Area Conservation Society and the Wirral Society

-       The 1,030 people who have, so far, signed a petition against the proposal

Therefore Council impresses upon Cabinet:

(1) To maintain protection of Wirral’s Green Belt, as set by agreed policies and stop inappropriate development.

(2) To ask officers to continue to work co-operatively with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in identifying and facilitating a more suitable brown field site for operational purposes and to maintain the amenity of the local people.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service – Consultation? Sadly Not!!

The ‘So Called’ 12 week consultation into the closure of West Kirby and Upton Fire Stations with a new station being proposed on Green Belt land in Saughall Massie is now closed.

I say ‘so called’ simply because it was clear by his words, and actions that the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) had no intention of listening to local people’s objections and in fact point blank refused to hold a second meeting in Saughall Massie after over 200 people were locked out of the first meeting because in his words, “he did not believe he would hear anything different.”  Well, because of his intransigence we will never know will we……….

What’s next.   The CFO will take a report to the Fire Authority in June.    My prediction is that while he will state that there is a level of opposition, he will recommend that the proposal to build on the Green Belt moves forward to the planning application stage.

It’s clear from election literature that the Labour Party in Wirral support this proposal and as the Fire Authority has 16 Labour Members out of the 18, therefore its no wonder that local people believe this is a ‘Done Deal.’ However you can be assured that me and my colleagues, Cllr Steve Williams and Cllr Bruce Berry will support local residents in opposing this proposal.

Its my intention to attend the Fire Authority meeting that will consider this matter, which is a meeting held in public and if given an opportunity to do so I will represent the views of all those opposed to this unwarranted attack on our Green Belt.

All The Fun of The Fair

I never nicked any coconuts gov - honest!

This afternoon along with my colleague Cllr Steve Williams I attended my first School Summer Fair of the season at Foxfield School in Douglas Drive.    The weather was overcast but very warm and the event was really well attended.   It had all the usual stalls, raffle, auction and a baerbecue for burgers and hot dogs.     One of the most popular attractions was throwing cold wet sponges at Andre Baird, the Headteacher, well done Andre! 

I was delighted that the Mersey Tunnels Police attended bringing along one of their Landrovers for the kids to get an idea of what the Tunnel Police do, (Merseytravel have a very special relationship with Foxfield).   Merseyside Fire and REscue Service als came along and you can imagine their Fire Appliance was a real draw for the youngsters, and the mums, dads and grandparents.      

Sadly I did not win anything in the raffle (well I have not had a call yet?) but I did bid successfully for a bottle of Champagne.   Set myself a top bid of £8, but got sucked into the bidding war and ended up paying £11, still great value.

Hopefully the event will have raised lots of money for the school and I would like to put on record my thanks to all those people who organised the event, all the local businesses that supported  it by donating raffle prizes as well as auction items, and of course everyone who attended making the day the success that it was.    Next Saturday its on to Christchurch School Summer Fair, follwed the following FRiday with Lingham Primary School………

Song and Dance!

Last night, along with colleagues, Cllr Steve Williams and Cllr Simon Mountney I attended the opening of the first of four youth hubs in Wirral, one in each constituency.   

Last nights saw the opening of the Wallasey Hub, located at Merseyside Fire and Rescue’s (MFRS) Community Fire Station in Mill Lane, and was attended by many representatives from the Council, Merseyside Police, MFRS, etc.  The hub was officially opened by the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Alan Jennings and was followed by a celebration of singing and dancing.    All in all a great facility that will hopefully attract a lot of youngsters.     Read more about the Youth Hubs by clicking HERE