Op­po­si­tion ‘sham­bles’ in Lo­cal Plan de­bate

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page -

THE op­po­si­tion Con­ser­va­tive group was branded “sham­bolic” as it failed in a bid to halt the coun­cil’s Lo­cal Plan pro­pos­als.

The Tories raised the pro­posal, which maps out the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the bor­ough un­til 2050, at a full coun­cil meet­ing last Thurs­day in a mo­tion call­ing for it to be scrapped.

But the Labour group rub­bished the sug­ges­tion, say­ing there was no choice but to carry out a re­view un­der rules set by the Gov­ern­ment.

In­stead, Cllr John Hod­son warned, those op­pos­ing the pro­pos­als must come up with al­ter­na­tives rather than sim­ply ask­ing or all plans to be scrapped.

The mo­tion, sub­mit­ted by Cllr Ed­ward Pope on be­half of the Con­ser­va­tives, called for the coun­cil to re­con­sider the Lo­cal Plan, say­ing there was a need for “dras­tic ac­tion”.

One of the key aims of the plan is to help sup­port the case for a train sta­tion to be built in Skelmers­dale, al­though Cllr Pope ques­tioned whether there was de­mand for this, a sug­ges­tion which was force­fully re­jected by Skelmers­dale North councillor Neil Furey.

Cllr Pope also pointed to­wards the con­ges­tion in Burscough and Tar­leton as rea­sons to fight fur­ther de­vel­op­ment.

He said: “The cur­rent Lo­cal Plan stood up to scru­tiny. This pro­posal is a de­vel­oper’s dream. It’s say­ing ‘come to West Lan­cashire and pick a site’.

“This is a plan for Skem and should be con­signed to the scrap heap be­fore con­sul­ta­tion has fin­ished.

Cllr Adrian Owens, the leader of the Our West Lan­cashire group, said he would sup­port the mo­tion, say­ing that ask­ing cabi­net to think again is ‘clearly the right thing to do’.

Re­spond­ing to the crit­i­cism, Cllr Hod­son, who is port­fo­lio holder for plan­ning, la­belled the re­sponses “sham­bolic” be­fore giv­ing a de­tailed re­but­tal list­ing six oc­ca­sions over the past two years where the Lo­cal Plan pro­pos­als were for­mally dis­cussed and ac­cus­ing the op­po­si­tion of feign­ing ig­no­rance.

“There’s ei­ther a cloud of am­ne­sia about what’s taken place over the last two years, a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to mis­lead the pub­lic, or a fail­ure to read the doc­u­ments.”

He said that there was no choice but to re­view the Lo­cal Plan and ar­gued the coun­cil was be­ing sen­si­ble by plan­ning fur­ther ahead to at­tract more in­vest­ment to the bor­ough and main­tain more con­trol over its fu­ture.

Cllr Hod­son added that he would happy to at­tend any in­vi­ta­tion to dis­cuss the pro­pos­als with con­cerned groups, such as par­ish coun­cils.

Ul­ti­mately, a ma­jor­ity voted against the mo­tion and the con­sul­ta­tion will con­tinue as planned.

Any one want­ing to give their feed­back con the plan can do so on­line or by book­ing an ap­point­ment at a con­sul­ta­tion event – de­tails at west­lancs.gov.uk

Coun­cil­lors de­bate the pro­posed Lo­cal Plan at a full coun­cil meet­ing in Orm­skirk. Cllr John Hod­son, in­set, de­fended the plan

Cllr Ed­ward Pope

Cllr Adrian Owens

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