Will the Formby Neighbourhood Plan Pass its Final Inspection?

Finally, after six years in preparation, Formby and Little Altcar Parish Councils have submitted the Formby Neighbourhood Plan to Sefton Council.

Neighbourhood Plan Title Page

Six years is a very long time but presumably, the plan is the very best the two Parish Councils can produce?

So it's disappointing to note that the Sefton Council reception seems to raise some doubts. I've highlighted them in bold.

The Sefton document starts by setting out the Parish Councils'  purposes. Almost immediately they add some notes of concern. You can read them in the following extract. 

3.1 The Formby Neighbourhood Plan sets out a shared vision for Formby and Little Altcar Parishes. The whole of both Parishes were designated as a neighbourhood area’ for the purposes of preparing a neighbourhood plan and approved by Cabinet Member on 12th September 2013. The plan contains policies on the following areas

 General Policies
 Housing
 Working and shopping
 Getting around
 Community, leisure and wellbeing
 Environment, sustainability and design
 Flooding

3.2 Consultation on the draft plan (known as Regulation 14 Consultation) was undertaken by the Parish Council between 31st October 2016 and 12th December 2016. The Parish Council took account of comments received during this period in the submitted plan.

3.3 There are some concerns about some of the submitted documents and whether they fulfil some of the basic conditions. 

In particular:

 The Neighbourhood Plan needs have regard to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan and the Basic Conditions Statement repeatedly refer to the 2012 NPPF that has since been superseded.

The Neighbourhood Plan includes some policies that are contrary to strategic policies in the Local Plan, this includes a radical change to the affordable housing policy.

 The consultation framework is required to show people’s comments from the reg.14 consultation, what they said and how they have been considered. Whilst all comments are either summarised or included verbatim, it has not been shown how resident’s comments or the comments of other bodies have been considered, the statement simply says what they said.

3.4 The Neighbourhood Plan steering group did not accept the offer of advice from Sefton Council before submitting the plan.

3.5 It is up to the Examiner to decide whether the policies and content of the plan meet the basic conditions. The Council will make comments at the reg.16 stage.

(Source: Sefton Council: Report from Chief Officer Planning to Cabinet Officer Building and Planning Control for decision)

In my view, the most significant comment is item 3.4. It raises a number of questions.

  • Did both Parish Councils agree to 'disagree' with the Sefton Council advice?
  • Why did the Parish Councils reject the advice from the highly experienced Council officers?
  • Is there a conflict of views on some or all of the issues involved between Sefton Council and the two Parishes?
    • What are those?
    • Is this difference of views related to legal interpretations over the relative powers of Parish Councils and District Councils?
    • Has it to do with the Green Belt redesignation and the new housing developments, which have received official inspectors approval, thus confirming the status of the Local Plan?

Then there's the matter of the 2012 NPPF policy (National Planning Policy Framework)? Why have the Parish Councils not acted, after all, there's a seven-year gap between that change and now?

It is a remarkable passage of time, why have the Parish Councils not make the necessary adaptations?

Finally, on the question of the representation and response to the public views generated during the consultations is likely to compromise the whole plan. It is supposed to be a shared, collective and agreed public policy - not simply the Parish Councils policy.

Sefton Council closes in 3.5, with two observations:

  • A comment about the function of the Official Inspector, It's difficult not to draw the conclusion that the plan could be failed at this stage.
  • Sefton Council has also highlighted they will make comments at the 'Reg 16' stage of the process, could there more potential issues for the viability of the Plan? 

If you want to read more about the Neighbourhood Plan process I advise you to visit the Formby Parish Council website. There's a dedicated section with access to the various reports but following the plan through the Formby Parish Council minutes of meetings is more difficult. At one stage I noticed a reference to the near completion of the plan sometime in 2017, apparently, it just required some relatively small updates.

It seems to have taken over two years to make those additions and of course, the late submission date means that the current membership of both Councils is due for re-election, retirement or replacement, in the May elections. 

It begs the questions, why so long, what of the notion of electoral accountability, what has it all cost, what happens it the whole plan fails, who will be to blame?

To read the full report on the Sefton Council website follow the link: http://modgov.sefton.gov.uk/moderngov/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=56436&Opt=0



Time For Action


Are you a volunteer? Do you want to make a difference where you live? Have you got an idea to improve Formby?

Now is the 'time for action'
. Every Town and Parish Council across England and locally here in Formby will be up for election this May. There are 15 seats (elected members) on Formby Parish Council and 7 seats available on Little Altcar Parish Council. Not one of the existing Councillors has a right to stay unchallenged.

In my view, if you can't name your local Parish Councillor then you should choose someone else. They've had 4 years in office, it's 4 years of governing local life at the most immediate level.

If you don't know them by name or action by now they've failed you and it's time for new potentially more active and imaginative replacements.

Why not you?

Here's a recent Twitter from Lydiate Parish Council seeking new volunteers from within their community. Both our local Councils should be doing the same. The elections are in May and any resident can stand. It costs nothing all you need is ten signatures of support from your neighbours.

FPC Councillor Attendance Records 2018-2019

The latest available attendance record of Formby Parish Council members as recorded on the FPC website are set out below. (Comment: In my experience, this is a patchy performance for a Council of this size.)



Full Council


Derek Baxter



Maria Bennett



Roy Broadbent



Dawn Brodie



Denise Dutton

Ceased due to lack of attendance.



Mavis Hearn



Dave Irving



Robert McCann



Siobhan Mulrooney

Newly elected May 2018



Gemma Peace



Bernie Prescott



Tony Price



Frank Stinner



Paul Wiencke



Liz Williams





FPC Attendance Record SnapshotAttendance at Full Council Meetings is by ‘Summons’, in other words, is a legal requirement, non-attendance leads to removal from the Council after a vote.

There are several sub-committees, generally, members are appointed to these at the AGM of the Council, members would normally be expected to attend.

Council members are not restricted in the number of sub-committees they become members of and are entitled to attend others with speaking rights but without a right to vote.

All the minutes of sub-committees can be amended, corrected or rejected in the subsequent full Council meetings. (Model Standing Orders NALC, every Council has to adopt and abide by standing orders).


Hospital chief’s praise for staff after the busiest start to the year 

A hospital chief executive has spoken of his pride in staff after their busiest start to a year ever.

Silas Nicholls

Christmas and New Year saw record attendances at A&E at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals. Twenty extra patients were seen each day compared to 2017, an increase of 16%.

Despite this staff treated, admitted or transferred 89.3% of patients within four hours of arriving in A&E – a near 10% improvement on the previous year. Patients also waited much less time for transfer into the hospital from an ambulance.

Overall patients now spend two hours less on average in A&E than they did last year.

Chief Executive Silas Nicholls said:

“This is my first winter at the Trust and I’m hugely proud of how staff have risen to the challenge.

“The £1.25m improving Southport A&E and more than £1m invested in additional clinical staff has certainly helped improve our performance. But it’s the hard work, commitment and dedication of staff to the care and well-being of local people that have made the biggest difference.

He added:

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the past week to make space for everyone who needs care. I want to apologise to anyone whose experience while staying with us has been affected by how busy we are.

“Staff are working incredibly hard to keep all patients safe and cared for. Patients and visitors have a part to play too. Help them to help you keep up their fantastic work.”

  • Wash your hands regularly and use the gel dispensers. Norovirus has been a significant issue for the NHS this winter. If you have suffered diarrhoea or vomiting, please don’t visit the hospitals until 48 hours have passed since the last symptoms
  • If you’re a patient, get up and keep mobile, have a shower and put on normal clothing – they’re all things you can do to help you feel better and begin your recovery
  • Help get your loved one’s things ready to help with a trouble-free discharge. For example, bring in their clothes and get things ready at home for them – get the heating on, shopping in and so on
  • Keep A&E free for people with serious injuries or illness, or life-threatening emergencies. If you are unsure of where to go for medical advice or treatment and it is not an emergency NHS111 can help direct you to the most appropriate place for your care.




Formby Council Worker Dies in the Great War.

At the going down of the Sun
I first wrote about Hector McLellan in August 2014, I had been looking through the early minutes of Formby Parish/Urban District Council and the story jumped off the page.

Mr Hector McLellan was a young housing officer working for Formby Urban District Council when World War I started. He promptly joined up to fight. As a result, local Council members met to consider the consequences.

Special meeting on Thursday 13th August 1914 at Council Office at 8 pm

The Council members met shortly afterwards to agree the following.

That the Council do pay each employee in their service on an actuarial basis the difference between the pay received from the Army and that received from the Council whilst on active service and that their position be open for them on their return from such service.

Moved by Cllr Bolton
Sec by Cllr Porter
And resolved unanimously:

That in the case of Mr H McLellan the assistant collector he be paid seven shillings (7/-) per week after the 25th instant and to Messrs Aindow and Brooks the difference between the amounts received through the Army and that of £1-1-0 per week paid by the Council.

(Source: Blog Entry August 8 2014)

The special reference to Hector McLellan arose out of the fact that his widowed Mother was utterly dependent on his salary and she was penalised because of his act of volunteering.

His name is on the War Memorial in the Formby Memorial garden and on the Roll of Honour Memorial in the Swimming Pool grounds Since then I have thought little about his story but entirely by accident, I stumbled on the final sad chapter to his life, while looking for a story for the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day blog post.

Ormskirk Advertiser - Thursday 14 November 1918

Hector McLellan


The death in action is reported of Sergeant Hector McLellan, Royal Fusiliers, whilst engaged in one of the great battles in France on October 25th.

Prior to the war, Sergeant McLellan was assistant clerk of the Formby Urban District Council and had been in the employ of that authority since leaving school.

As a member of the 7th Liverpool Territorials, he was mobilised at the outbreak of war and was given his corporal's stripes on the first day of hostilities.

Subsequently transferred to the Royal Fusiliers, he proceeded to Italy, and was in General Plumer's command, seeing much fighting there, and later in Belgium.

Next time you're in the village take a minute or two to find his name. Now, you'll have a small glimpse into his personal life and public service and death in the service of the Nation so close to the end of hostilities.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.