SAVE SEFTON PARK MEADOWS

The campaign to stop Liverpool City Council selling off the meadows of Sefton Park


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Damning Secret Negotiations Revealed with Redrow Homes

We have been given access to new, previously secret emails from Liverpool City Council through a published Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which reveals the negotiations between Redrow Homes and the Council to try to sell off Sefton Park Meadows and secure planning approval for luxury housing before the recent local and mayoral elections.

The Council response has been published on the WhatDoTheyKnow website. The published Council response can be accessed at the link below.

What Do They Know Click on the link titled 448646 Delahunty att1 150716.pdf

Or go straight to documents.

Top level council officers, including Andy Wallace, a senior development manager, were trying to get a timetable for sale of Sefton Park Meadows and a revised planning application approved before Liverpool voters went to the ballot box, knowing that this would have been a major issue for local people. Redrow were threatening to withdraw from the sale if a timetable could not be agreed. The information shows that council officers struggled to get an accurate valuation on the Meadows – that would not be legally challenged- and were waiting until after the elections to start the negotiations again.

The WhatDoTheyKnow website published this information on 15 July 2016.  It covers email correspondence from 14 December 2014 to 30 March 2016.

What We Found Out:

1. Redrow / Liverpool City Council kept secret their negotiations all last year and early this year, despite repeated requests from Meadows campaigners for information on the sale and planning application. Local councillors were not kept informed despite similar requests.

2. Redrow’s offer valuation of £4 million for this significant heritage green space differs greatly from the £10 million promised by the Mayor of Liverpool.

3. Redrow’s land valuation method is in doubt and not agreed by the council. Their own valuation services confirm the complexity of the site and that accurate valuations will be costly to undertake.

4. ‘Radio silence’ since March 30th 2016. The negotiations were halted due to the forthcoming local elections in the knowledge that any sale would become politically toxic, despite Redrow threatening to withdraw their offer.

5. The Save Sefton Park Meadows campaign has been discussed at the highest Council levels. Their awareness of the huge public commitment to the Meadows shown by ‘ need to tone it down’ and ‘language too strong’ emails. Officers were very concerned over formal complaints about Mayor Joe Anderson’s intervention into the quasi-judicial planning process and sought internal legal advice to respond to the Save Sefton Park Meadows campaign.

6. Formal questioning by Cllr Richard Kemp last year to get negotiations out in the open were secretly discussed but his demands were ignored and no information was made public.

The Save Sefton Park Meadows campaign group now demands to know exactly where the proposed sale is up to. Transparency and accountability should be paramount in all Council matters, especially in the matter of parks and green spaces developments, which have such a high level of public interest in the city.

A new and important planning document – the draft Liverpool Local Plan – is scheduled for discussion at the Regeneration Committee meeting on 28 July. This will then be published for public consultation in August. The Strategic Green & Open Spaces Review Board Final Report (Chaired by Simon O’Brien) will also be out for public consultation a week or two after the draft Local Plan.

We will be providing links and ways for EVERYONE to comment on both of these as soon as we can.

 

 


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Steve Rotheram MP Declares Candidacy for Metro Mayor

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram has entered the race to become the Liverpool city region’s first elected Metro Mayor. See Liverpool Echo.

In the Echo report Steve Rotheram says “I will ensure we invest in our infrastructure, while protecting our green spaces – balancing the old with the new.” This points to a potential political difference with the current Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, who will go head to head against Steve Rotheram for the, as yet undecided, Labour Party nomination.

Steve Rotheram MP has secured the backing of St. Helens council leader Barrie Grunewald for his Metro Mayor bid.
The St. Helens council leader was considering standing for the nomination. Cllr Grunewald will now have a key role in running MP Steve Rotheram’s campaign.
Notable that Cllr Grunewald, Vice Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, says: “In the coming weeks as he (MP Steve Rotheram) announces his pledges and manifesto, I know Labour Party members will come to the same conclusion as me, they want a person who is open, who is transparent, who has vision and integrity, a campaigner who has a proven track record in taking on the establishment and getting success.
The newly created Metro Mayor role – due to be elected in May 2017 – is set to be one of the most powerful political roles outside London.
Will it give greater protection to the green space of Sefton Park Meadows?
Watch this space.


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Get Our City Mayoral Candidates to Save Trees and Greenspaces

The 2nd Liverpool Mayoral election will take place on Thurs May 5th, along with other local council elections.  This is another chance for us all to  challenge ALL Mayoral candidates on their commitment to Liverpool’s parks and greenspaces – and specifically to those under threat of development, like Sefton Park Meadows.

The Woodland Trust has started a campaign to  ask Mayoral candidates to state publicly if they support the protection of trees. Using their online tool, you can:

  • ask candidates how they intend to protect and restore woodland and plant more trees in Liverpool
  • download useful resources to help you speak up for trees, including a special election door hanger
  • ask if they support saving Sefton Park Meadows – and/or another greenspace near you – in the box for extra comments

PLEASE USE THIS TOOL TO RAISE TREES, GREENSPACES, AND SEFTON PARK MEADOWS AS AN ELECTION ISSUE!

Read our Facebook Page for up to date news and events on these elections.

Save the Meadows campaigners have already used this campaign to contact all Liverpool mayoral candidates.  So far we have had replies from:

  1. Cllr Richard Kemp, Lib Dems Mayoral candidate
  2. Cllr Tom Crone, Green Party Mayoral candidate
  3. Alan Hutchinson

ALL HAVE PLEDGED SUPPORT FOR TREES, SEFTON PARK MEADOWS, AND OTHER PARKS AND GREENSPACES UNDER THREAT.

We are awaiting reponses from the other candidates, including the Labour Party incumbent, Joe Anderson… Watch this space.

Cllr Kemp has also published a blog post stating that he has written to two Redrow Homes non- executive directors to ask them to ‘Move On or Move Out’ of the Meadows, and withdraw the site from development before the elections.

Use your voice at these elections to SAVE THE MEADOWS.  We may not get another chance at the ballot box!

Thank you


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Council’s 2004 Map recognise Meadows as Sefton Park

LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL’S OWN RECORDS in 2004-5 IDENTIFY SEFTON PARK MEADOWS AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF SEFTON PARK, NOT ‘INCIDENTAL SPACE’.
Within our highly urbanised living space, parks should provide oases of natural habitat, pleasure grounds and open areas with no time constraints. For those without gardens they can offer pleasant reminders of seasonal transition, for those with limited transport, a welcome change of scenery.’
A quote from the forward of Liverpool City Council’s 2005 ‘Park Strategy for Liverpool’. This same document also contains a number of maps clearly showing Sefton Park Meadows as being an integral part of Sefton Park.

In the Strategy,  Council ‘Plan 3: Liverpool’s EH (English Heritage) Registered Parks’ is dated April 2004 and clearly shows that at this time the Council considered Sefton Park Meadows to be part of Sefton Park, and not ‘incidental space’, as the Council have been trying to make out since March 2013.

English Heritage 2004 Sefton Park Map

2004 English Heritage Plan 3 of Grade II* listed Sefton Park, includes the Meadows

As we have previously posted here, Liverpool Council  has also issued sales details to prospective purchasers of the Meadows in December 2013  a map titled ‘Sefton Park – Part Land Registered’ (shown below),  along with a copy of the Land Registry Official copy of register of title referring to this map, which shows Sefton Park Meadows as an integral part of Sefton Park.

Land Registry map

Land Registry Map showing Part Title with Sefton Park Meadows

We have already brought the issue of Land Registry and official Sefton Park maps to the attention of English Heritage, now Historic England. With the discovery of these latest Council and English Heritage maps – which were not given to us under previous Freedom of Information requests  – we shall make further representations to them on this matter. Since December 2015, the Chair of the Meadows’ campaign has been trying to get written, legal clarification from Head of Planning David Hughes, on the definition of ‘Incidental Land’.  We are still pressing for this!


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Liverpool’s Mayoral Candidates

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has been confirmed as the Labour candidate for this year’s mayoral election.  He joins Tom Crone, Green Party, and Richard Kemp, Liberal Democrats to declare so far.

Liverpool Echo are running an online ‘straw poll’ for Joe Anderson. See here

We are still awaiting the final report of the Green and Open Spaces Review Report from Simon O’Brien. Campaign members attended the recent public meetings to challenge Simon and council planning head David Hughes over why the Meadows are not mentioned at all in the draft report, and that wneh questioned, Simon believes the Meadows, against all submitted evidence including Land Registry and Park bylaws documents, to be ‘ Incidental Land’.  Chair Ken Aspinall has repeatedly asked since December 2015, for a legal planning definition of this term from Head of Planning – and is still awaiting this!

Watch this space…


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Have Your Say On Greenspaces Interim Report

Further to the launch of the city council’s Green and Open spaces Interim report, chaired and written by Simon O’Brien, 2 public meetings have been held with one more to go at the end of January. Meadows campaigners attended the 2nd meeting in the Dingle on Thurs 21st Jan and, with other attendees, pushed for this report to be more widely publicised to encourage more comment and scrutiny of its recommendations. (See previous post for implications for the Meadows).

The council has now put out the following email newsletter.  Use this to make your comments about how you feel parks, greenspaces and public open spaces should be managed and protected.

Fom Liverpool council:

As you probably know, the Interim Report from the Mayoral Green Spaces Review Board is now available. It outlines the extensive survey, consultation and research work undertaken by the Board and makes a series of recommendations from the Board to be presented to the Mayor and Liverpool Council.

However, this is not the final document and you are invited to let the Board know your views on the Interim Report and submit comments, questions or ideas. This is your opportunity to make your views known. The responses can be as individuals and/or as representation by Friends or other groups.

The link for the report and  for comments is here Report & Comments 

Many people have already attended the public meetings that have been held to discuss the report and have already provided useful feedback in the discussions. But if you haven’t been, you cannot be sure that your views have been represented!

The final public meeting is on Thursday 28th January at ‘The Black E’, Great George Street (5pm – 8pm) and all are welcome to attend. To ensure a place, please book by email  greenandopenspaces@liverpool.gov.uk or call 0151 233 7045.

Liverpool Parks Friends Forum Chair, Mark Boardman, said “This series of consultation events are critical to the future of Liverpool’s Parks and Green Spaces, in refining the recommendations of the Interim Report.”

The outcome of the meetings, comments and discussions will contribute towards the Final Report, which is scheduled for publication at the end of March. After this it will be presented to the Mayor and Council as the primary consultation document for the future of parks. Now is your chance to have your say!”

Please share this link with friends and family who may be interested to contribute – the wider the consultation process is, the more value it has.

PS The Meadows campaign has also been asked by Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE) to publicise its Just Giving fundraising campaign for a legal challenge to the Lime Street development application.  Linked to Merseyside Civic Society, SAVE believes this project has important implications in terms of challenging the council’s lack of respect for heritage and planning principles. A good background piece on this in Liverpool Confidential is also worth a look.

Thanks!

 


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New Interim Greenspaces and Open Spaces Report Published

No mention of Sefton Park Meadows

Chair  and report author Simon O’Brien states  the Meadows ‘ are a funny one… and incidental land’ in his Radio Merseyside interview on Tues 8th Dec. 

(08mins:20 – Mayor interview, 01 hr:07mins:17  Simon O’Brien interview with input from the Chair of the Save Sefton Park Meadows campaign group.)

The Council has finally published its Interim Report on Green and Open Spaces based on the work of the Green and Open Spaces Review Board, chaired by O’Brien. Mayor Anderson set up this Review Board last Autumn – see previous posts. Over 900 green and open space sites have been visited  and extensive research undertaken across a range of themes.

We were shocked then that in his launch interview on R Merseyside and in a  Liverpool Echo article,  Simon O’Brien, when  asked by Meadows campaign chair Ken Aspinall why no mention was made of Sefton Park Meadows anywhere, despite its huge local, national and international profile, he stated that he thought the Meadows position  is ‘ a funny one’.  He went on to say that to him, it is ‘incidental land’ and not part of Sefton Park. The Report does recommend the protection of parks and greenbelt from housing development but he has clearly put the Meadows outside of this call.

This rings massive alarm bells as the suggestion throughout his report is that incidental land, unlike public parks and greenbelt, is still open for sale.  See our Facebook site for a full definition of what O’Brien calls ‘ incidental land’  and why we have consistently proved that the Meadows in no way fits this council definition – used to justify their original Notice to Sell and Redrow invitation.

We will be taking some time to read and digest this Interim Report.  More updates will be added as we do.  We will also be meeting on Wed 16th Dec 730pm  to discuss the Report and our response.  Please contact us if you would like to join the discussion, or send your comments through our Facebook page.

Please read the Interim Report.  The Council and Simon O’Brien are running three meetings  in January 2016 for the public to comment and places are limited to 100 at each venue. Contact melanie.wilson@liverpool.gov.uk

The fight to Save Sefton Park Meadows continues..

 

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