WIRRAL: Call for more green spaces in the borough
A newly elected Labour councillor says he wants more green spaces in his borough, despite claims greenbelt land is under threat.
Cllr Dave Brennan, who was elected to Wirral Council in the Liscard ward after the May 6 local elections, said having more green space rather than less is crucial for tackling climate change.
Cllr Brennan’s comments come after an election campaign in which parties in opposition to Labour, which does not have a majority on Wirral Council but is the largest party, claimed Labour was leaving the borough’s cherished greenbelt at risk.
Speaking to the LDRS last month, Conservative councillor Tom Anderson, now leader of the Tory group on the council, said developers and landowners will “chance their arm” with greenbelt land until the council has a Local Plan in place.
The Tory councillor attacked Labour’s “dither and delay” and said every day a Local Plan, a document which will spell out where in the borough homes will be built, is not in place is another day the borough’s greenbelt is at risk.
However, Labour put out a blueprint for a Local Plan during the campaign, which committed the party to a plan which ensured all housing development would be on brownfield sites, with the greenbelt protected.
Speaking to the LDRS, Cllr Brennan went even further and said: “Our greenbelt and green spaces provide a fantastic amenity for the whole of the Wirral, enjoyed by all our communities.
“We also need more green spaces, not less, if we are to combat man made climate change.”
But Cllr Brennan thought it was possible to protect the greenbelt while solving the housing shortage in the borough.
The Liscard member added: “Housing is a huge issue for our young people and we need more affordable homes and social housing to meet their needs. The Local Plan will be central to that.”
As well as protecting the greenbelt, Cllr Brennan wanted to turn around his ward’s declining town centre.
He added: “A key priority in Liscard is our town centre. Years of gradual decline have been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need to develop a compelling retail offer in Liscard which once again makes the town centre the focal point for our community.
“I am proud that the council has consulted the community widely on the development of a masterplan for Liscard town centre. The most effective regeneration is community-led.
“The regeneration we have seen in New Brighton to our north and, now, the huge regeneration of Birkenhead underway to our south gives me confidence that we will be able to deliver the transformation that our town centre needs.”
Despite a difficult night for Wirral Labour in this year’s local elections, in which the party lost three seats to the Green Party and gained just one, three other new Labour councillors were elected.
Cllr Helen Collinson, elected in Leasowe and Moreton East after Labour’s Anita Leech stood down, had clear themes that she wanted to work on as a new councillor.
The Labour member said: “My number one priority is to work with young people, local agencies such as the Hive Outreach, Contactabus team, housing landlords and the Wirral Development Trust and police.
“[This will] help residents feel safe and provide new opportunities for the youth to keep them off the streets and engaged in activities that improve their employment chances as well contributing positively to their neighbourhood.”
Cllr Collinson also had an environmental goal she wanted to work on.
The Leasowe and Moreton East member said she wanted to make the ward greener, one way of doing this was by planting seeds, bulbs and trees.
Cllr Collinson added: “[I will] work closely with Moreton in Bloom who have worked tirelessly to improve the look and feel of the town while extending this work into the local streets where residents have expressed their desire to fill green spaces with planters, flowers and create roadside beauty spots.”
Labour’s only gain on the night came in Rock Ferry, where Cllr Clare O’Hagan won the seat following the death of former Independent councillor Bill Davies.
Cllr O’Hagan’s focus was on inequality and anti-social behaviour.
The Rock Ferry councillor said: “Regeneration brings economic benefits and jobs to the borough and our residents will benefit directly from the local plan.
“Reducing inequality is central to every aspect of Labour’s workstream, not just regeneration. Every committee should ask ‘what does this do to reduce inequality’ when considering every new policy.
“We have one in three children living in poverty in our ward, so that has to be a priority. Other common complaints are crime, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping so I want more resources to deal with those issues in Rock Ferry.
“Amenities for young people are sorely missing so I want to do something about that, as well as improving the physical environment for us all to enjoy.”
Labour’s fourth new councillor elected on the night was Cllr Paul Martin, who succeeds former council leader Pat Hackett in New Brighton.
Cllr Martin was keen to back the work of Rockpoint Leisure, a company regenerating New Brighton’s Victoria Quarter with a pub, a restaurant, a record store and artwork among other things.
The Labour councillor said: “I have been a vocal supporter of the regeneration work in New Brighton. Most notably in Victoria Road, where Dan Davies and his team have created a vibrant, cosmopolitan and welcoming feel to a small area with bags of potential.
“As a local resident, I want to see our independent businesses thrive in their local area. They are our real wealth creators – embedded in the community as opposed to funnelling profits offshore.
“And through my work I want to be a port of call for residents that struggle to make ends meet. Those whose lives have been turned upside down by austerity, covid and insecure employment.
“Everyone in New Brighton is a part of what makes this seaside town unique. I hope that during my time serving the ward I can help as many people as possible.”
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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