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MP slams Conservative and Independent councillors in Formby planning row

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson hit out at Formby Conservative and Independent councillors for their support of government planning rules, which led to the approval of 304 new homes in the town.

The MP said the opposition councillors were clearly against improvements in the roads and drainage that residents have been calling for and last week’s vote against the new homes was a reminder of their support for cuts in council services, like rubbish collections as well as care for the elderly and disabled people in Formby.

The MP said: "The Conservatives and the Independent Councillors are against better roads and against better drainage in Formby. They also want more cuts to services to the elderly and disabled as well as poorer quality bin collection, street cleaning and grass cutting. They clearly want expensive, executive housing in Formby, with no affordable homes to rent or buy for local people.

“Last week’s vote shows yet again that the Conservatives and Independents say one thing but do the opposite. Their own government changed the planning laws in favour of developers. Councils who reject planning applications from developers are likely to lose on appeal at great cost in legal fees and with no chance of insisting on better roads, drainage or affordable homes for local people. The money spent on legal fees means cuts to council services and when developers win on appeal they don’t have to stick to the conditions put on planning applications about roads, drainage or the number of affordable homes to be built. The choice for the planning committee was between homes for local people if the application went through or expensive executive housing if it was won on appeal. The choice was between road improvements for the people of Formby and better drainage if the application went through the committee or more traffic, poorer drainage and cuts to the bin collection and care for the elderly if the Conservatives and Independents had their way.

“Government planning rules mean that developers can build where they like and what they like. The Conservative Government has passed a developers charter that makes it far easier to build on the green belt but the houses they want are expensive, executive homes. The government has made clear that houses are going to be built at Liverpool Road and at Brackenway. The question is whether those homes can be for Formby people and whether there can be improvements in road and drainage infrastructure. Sadly, the Conservatives and Independents are siding with the government and with the developers. Labour members of the committee are siding with residents in Formby on homes and infrastructure and in minimising the impact of the disastrous cuts in council budgets that the Conservatives have inflicted over the last eight years.

"The Liverpool Road development includes substantial flood risk mitigation to deal with surface water run-off and road widening at the Liverpool Road roundabout to deal with traffic flow. If this application had been turned down by Sefton Council it would have led to a costly appeal. The Conservatives and Independents clearly want the council to spend money on planning appeals, scarce resources that should be being spent on services.

"The Independents claim to be opposed to development but what they are proposing is for developers to take their applications direct to the government where they would get passed without the extensive conditions that the council can impose, conditions that will improve drainage for surrounding properties and improve road layouts to deal with traffic issues.

"The Conservatives opened up the planning system so that more houses can be built but they don't want it in their own back yard. The Independents vote with the Tories on Sefton Council and both parties are entirely wrong to oppose important infrastructure, along with affordable homes."

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