Wirral's Green Belt for sale. A consultation process that is totally without merit.
Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
THE HOYLAKE GOLF RESORT:
How not to conduct a ‘consultation’ process.
In November 2015 Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (the Council) organised ‘Drop-in for update on golf resort plan’ sessions in Hoylake and in West Kirby.
Following the ‘drop in’ sessions, people could also complete the form online.
Members of the public were asked to complete a two sided A4 questionnaire.
Question 1. Why were members of the public only required to provide their postcodes on the questionnaire?
Question 2. Why were members of the public not required to record their signatures on the questionnaire?
Question 3. Why were members of the public not required to enter their names on the questionnaire?
Question 4. Why were members of the public not required to enter their addresses on the questionnaire?
Question 5. Why were members of the public not required to enter the date on the questionnaire?
Question 6. Why weren’t all Hoylake and West Kirby households provided with a leaflet informing them of the ‘drop in’ sessions?
Question 7. Why did Ray Squires, the Council's Director of Regeneration, issue a comment to the press on the responses received from members of the public, less than half of the way through the consultation process, when the end of the process is on 14 December?
Question 8. Why were Council Officers, at the 'drop in' sessions, totally unfamiliar with the requirements of the Aarhus Convention (the Convention on Access to Information, Public Partici[ation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters)?
Question 9. Why were Council Officers, at the 'drop in' sessions unable to answer many of the questions put to them about the Hoylake Golf Resort scheme?
The ‘consultation’ process is due to end (following online submissions) on 14 December 2015.
This process was completely flawed as a result of the fact that names, signatures, addresses and dates were not properly recorded.
The ‘consultation’ was also open to individuals supplying multiple copies, thus potentially skewing the results.
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has just shown how public authorities should NOT conduct a public consultation process.
IN 2004 Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council published its ‘Hoylake and West Kirby Masterplan’, intended to outline future proposals for Hoylake and West Kirby.
The Council says that 300 people attended a public meeting in Hoylake. One part of the Council’s ‘masterplan’ included proposals for a golf resort, to be built on Green Belt land. Out of the 300 people who attended the public meeting, the Council says that 48 people returned a questionnaire to the Council. Out of the 48 people who returned questionnaires, 3 people “strongly agreed” with proposals for a golf resort and 13 people “agreed” with proposals for a golf resort.
This wholly flawed consultation process, in which only 48 people returned questionnaires (some with sections completed), out of a local population of over 7,000 West Kirby residents and 6,000 Hoylake residents, was followed by the Council paying hundreds of thousands of pounds of public funds to consultants to develop a plan for a ‘Hoylake Golf Resort’.
Members of the public are legally entitled to participate in planning matters, early on, when all options are open and when their participation can be effective. The Council has an obligation to act in an open, transparent and fair manner, when dealing with environmental matters.
The Golf resort is to include a road linking Hoylake to Saughall Massie Road , a 250 bedroom hotel, car parking areas, luxury housing estates, a conference centre and a spa, on Green Belt land.
The Hoylake Municipal Golf Course (at present owned by the public) is to be relocated, further away from Hoylake, whilst the private golf resort takes possession of the existing municipal golf course.
Following the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds on payments to consultants, the Council is now, attempting to engineer a consultation exercise that will, belatedly, provide some support for its 285 acre Hoylake Golf Resort proposal.
The Council's financial calculations don't appear to make any sense at all. The Council says that the Golf Resort scheme is a £120 million development. This is somewhat concerning since the Council should, from a purely commercial perspective, be receiving several million GB pounds for each acre of green belt land it wishes to sell.
Architects fees, amounting to 10% of the overall development costs, would be £12 million. Architects fees are normally 'front-loaded' (paid in advance of the commencement of development work).
In Northern Ireland, a golf resort, similar to this one, proposed for Hoylake and West Kirby, was recently declared bankrupt with debts of £26 million. The precious green belt land around Hoylake and West Kirby is likely to become one sprawling housing estate if this golf resort fails to be a financial success, which is very possible.
If the publicly owned, Hoylake Municipal Golf Course, is sold to a private company, it is possible that any promised replacement, publicly owned, Hoylake Golf Course may never materialise.
Members of the public wanting to protect the Hoylake and West Kirby Green Belt, should do their best to object to the loss of Green Belt land.
Members of the public opposing the Hoylake Golf Resort scheme may like to consider sending emails and/or letters, Margaret Greenwood (theWirral West MP, c/o House of Commons, Westminster, London).
If members of the public want to know more about Golf Resorts, google the excellent, BBC documentary; ‘Dark Side of the Greens’, which you can still view on youtube.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has some excellent information about Green Belt land, accessible online.
A plan of the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort can be viewed by googling: Wirral.gov.uk/golfresort
then click on this link:
Drop-in for update on golf resort plan | www.wirral.gov.uk
3 Nov 2015 - Hoylake and West Kirby residents will have the chance to check on the progress of the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort during a series of drop-in ...
Dear Mr Rundle
Thank you for your email.
The Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations
cover recorded information held by a public body. The questions you have
asked are not for recorded information, and your enquiry therefore does
not constitute a valid request under the legislation.
Guidance on how to submit an enquiry can be found on the Information
Commissioner’s website at the following link
The Council website contains information regarding the proposed Hoylake
Golf Resort at the following link
Please note that the webpage contains a 'Common questions about the
Hoylake Golf Resort', which includes the following:
7. How can I make my views known or find out more information?
The main way to keep in touch for the latest information is via Wirral
Council’s website at www.wirral.gov.uk/golfresort or to email
Such questions and concerns as you have raised in your email should
therefore be directed to [email address].
Information Management Officer
Legal & Member Services
Transformation & Resources Department
Wallasey Town Hall
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