Community pony group loses land battle with Wirral Council

Wallasey Town Hall: Councillors claims managers kept campaigner in the dark over land plans

Wallasey Town Hall: Councillors claims managers kept campaigner in the dark over land plans

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

CAMPAIGNERS have lost their legal battle with the council to prevent land used for community stables for the past 40 years being sold-off for redevelopment.

A judge allowed the local authority to repossess ten acres of grazing land – worth around £5m - on Fernbank Farm in Moreton after a four-hour hearing at Birkenhead County Court.

However, the order was suspended for 12 months while a suitable alternative site for the Manor Drive stables is found.

Attending the hearing were representatives of Upton Park Pony Owner's Association, which has run the facility since the 1970s.

Moreton councillor Ian Lewis has campaigned to save the stables and was also present in court.

He claimed it was revealed during the hearing that evidence showed council officers had been instructed not to respond to letters, phone calls and emails from the pony association.

Councillor Lewis said: "On days like today, I am ashamed to be a councillor for an authority that is so dysfunctional and seemingly out of control.

“The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable.

"The association was promised, in writing, that a new lease would be negotiated while at the same time, officers were doing their utmost to prevent a new lease being agreed.

"Throughout the period, the association has continued to pay rent and maintain the site - yet nobody in the town hall had the decency or courtesy to discuss with them the plans that were being hatched.”

He continued: "Any trust that remained has been proved today to be misplaced and I would urge anyone dealing with Wirral Council to insist on any offers, agreements or promises received to be confirmed in writing.

"In the meantime, we look forward to the leader of the council keeping his promise to ensure an alternative site, that is, in his words, 'equivalent or better', being found.

“We will also do our utmost to prevent planning consent being given for development of this part of the flood plain."

The Globe put Cllr Lewis’s claims of managers "keeping the association in the dark" to the council.

In a statement, a spokesman responded: “As in all legal cases it’s important that the council protects the position of the taxpayer, in this case, as the landlord with regards to this potentially valuable land.

“We ourselves argued in court that Fernbank be allowed to remain on site for 12 months in order to assist them as far as possible.”

The spokesman added: “Local authorities across the country are having to review the assets they hold, and this decision forms part of Wirral Council’s strategy to dispose of assets it holds to help free up finances that can be used to protect frontline services.”

Comments (22)

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11:49am Fri 14 Feb 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Obviously the idiots have not been watching the news Ballacrain, they are to busy setting up golf tournaments, going on jollies to China, closing down community facilities and finding our money to pay off officers of ill repute.
Obviously the idiots have not been watching the news Ballacrain, they are to busy setting up golf tournaments, going on jollies to China, closing down community facilities and finding our money to pay off officers of ill repute. Llamedos 1
  • Score: 19

12:07pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Thepleb says...

As the cllr stated always get agreements in writing as their word is not to be believed, head of the council cllr Phil Davies witnessed by two control room officers and a more senior officer in the town hall 18/12/2013" four jobs will be retained and moved to the Councils call centre". 14/2/2014 nothing done no jobs retained in call centre, FOI request about this statement, answer returned "the council have no recorded data of this" cllr Davies either not consulted or has a selective memory, these people are not to be trusted.
As the cllr stated always get agreements in writing as their word is not to be believed, head of the council cllr Phil Davies witnessed by two control room officers and a more senior officer in the town hall 18/12/2013" four jobs will be retained and moved to the Councils call centre". 14/2/2014 nothing done no jobs retained in call centre, FOI request about this statement, answer returned "the council have no recorded data of this" cllr Davies either not consulted or has a selective memory, these people are not to be trusted. Thepleb
  • Score: 21

1:15pm Fri 14 Feb 14

JohnON says...

The eventual outcome of pretty-well every ill-thought out 'plan' this harebrained council comes up with is a foregone conclusion unless they're advised otherwise late in the day by the likes of the Police. The people who actually feed their collective trough never get a look in despite the bogus and carefully-worded 'consultations'.

Everything this council does has only one true objective: The continuance of their resident-funded gravy train.

The "surprise" freezing of the council tax demand landing on our doormats only weeks before the local election postcards start arriving is, of course, purely coincidental and not in any way designed to sway us.
The eventual outcome of pretty-well every ill-thought out 'plan' this harebrained council comes up with is a foregone conclusion unless they're advised otherwise late in the day by the likes of the Police. The people who actually feed their collective trough never get a look in despite the bogus and carefully-worded 'consultations'. Everything this council does has only one true objective: The continuance of their resident-funded gravy train. The "surprise" freezing of the council tax demand landing on our doormats only weeks before the local election postcards start arriving is, of course, purely coincidental and not in any way designed to sway us. JohnON
  • Score: 15

1:29pm Fri 14 Feb 14

hobroW says...

“The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable.

But they are completely unaccountable!!
“The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable. But they are completely unaccountable!! hobroW
  • Score: 15

2:38pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Joeblogg85 says...

This is another example of mistrust. I'm surprised Cllr Lewis is so upset. He knows full well how the Council works and given this Councils past record is it a surprise to anyone? I don't know the technicalities of whether this land is on a flood plain or not. However, I do know that Cllr Lewis is a conscientious person and I respect his efforts in relation to this matter. Finally, I suppose if ther is a £5M capital receipt on offer here, this was always going to be the outcome.
This is another example of mistrust. I'm surprised Cllr Lewis is so upset. He knows full well how the Council works and given this Councils past record is it a surprise to anyone? I don't know the technicalities of whether this land is on a flood plain or not. However, I do know that Cllr Lewis is a conscientious person and I respect his efforts in relation to this matter. Finally, I suppose if ther is a £5M capital receipt on offer here, this was always going to be the outcome. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 7

5:19pm Fri 14 Feb 14

water1lily says...

Nothing this Council does is a surprise and they always get away with it. For months I have been e-mailing Graham Burgess requesting details of the Councils Complaints Procedures after receiving a report into our complaints that took over a year and was delivered 8 months after the agreed timescale and is full of discrepancies and wasn't signed off by the Independant Person assigned. Despite Burgess saying he had asked David Jones from Complaints to forward details on 21 November 2013 and us making further requests to him on 10 January 2014 and 10 February 2014 nothing. If anyone can say if the council actually have a complaints procedure and can give us a link we would be grateful.
Nothing this Council does is a surprise and they always get away with it. For months I have been e-mailing Graham Burgess requesting details of the Councils Complaints Procedures after receiving a report into our complaints that took over a year and was delivered 8 months after the agreed timescale and is full of discrepancies and wasn't signed off by the Independant Person assigned. Despite Burgess saying he had asked David Jones from Complaints to forward details on 21 November 2013 and us making further requests to him on 10 January 2014 and 10 February 2014 nothing. If anyone can say if the council actually have a complaints procedure and can give us a link we would be grateful. water1lily
  • Score: 8

6:07pm Fri 14 Feb 14

bigfoot says...

hobroW wrote:
“The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable.

But they are completely unaccountable!!
The accountable person should be the one in charge of 'Neighbourhood and Community Engagement' who seem to have sat on their hands whilst trousering a handsome salary.
[quote][p][bold]hobroW[/bold] wrote: “The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable. But they are completely unaccountable!![/p][/quote]The accountable person should be the one in charge of 'Neighbourhood and Community Engagement' who seem to have sat on their hands whilst trousering a handsome salary. bigfoot
  • Score: 6

6:44pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Tautology says...

This is the same council that allowed the development of Ingleborough Field.
If their callous enough to pour concrete, over an expression of gratitude and honour for our fallen, what chance does a Donkey have?
This is the same council that allowed the development of Ingleborough Field. If their callous enough to pour concrete, over an expression of gratitude and honour for our fallen, what chance does a Donkey have? Tautology
  • Score: 9

6:47pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Tautology says...

Tautology wrote:
This is the same council that allowed the development of Ingleborough Field.
If their callous enough to pour concrete, over an expression of gratitude and honour for our fallen, what chance does a Donkey have?
Correction: If "they're" callous... Must proof read...
[quote][p][bold]Tautology[/bold] wrote: This is the same council that allowed the development of Ingleborough Field. If their callous enough to pour concrete, over an expression of gratitude and honour for our fallen, what chance does a Donkey have?[/p][/quote]Correction: If "they're" callous... Must proof read... Tautology
  • Score: 2

7:05pm Fri 14 Feb 14

keen gardener says...

I am aware of an extremely pleasant golf course where the ponies could graze!

Enjoy your BMW Mr Burgess - as I said x months ago a 'leopard does not change its spots' and directions on issues such as these come from the top and are filtered down. What Mr Burgess perhaps has not considered is that the Council Tax Payers are at the 'top' and I for one am seriously considering cancelling my Council Tax DD to MBW as I am extremely unhappy with the decisions being made on how and where my £'s are being spent. BMW my a..e! How about a pony and 'trap' Mr Burgess?
I am aware of an extremely pleasant golf course where the ponies could graze! Enjoy your BMW Mr Burgess - as I said x months ago a 'leopard does not change its spots' and directions on issues such as these come from the top and are filtered down. What Mr Burgess perhaps has not considered is that the Council Tax Payers are at the 'top' and I for one am seriously considering cancelling my Council Tax DD to MBW as I am extremely unhappy with the decisions being made on how and where my £'s are being spent. BMW my a..e! How about a pony and 'trap' Mr Burgess? keen gardener
  • Score: 9

10:07am Sat 15 Feb 14

Growl Tiger says...

Note for Water1lily – the complaints procedure is also a stitch up.

Before I could take my case to the Local Ombudsman I had to go to Stage 3. My complaint wasn’t resolved by the Director in the department which caused the problem so it went to another senior officer in another department (allegedly impartial) who supported the view of his colleague. As the matter was still unresolved I complained again and it went to another senior officer (allegedly impartial) who also supported his colleagues.

The Officers concerned were David Green, David Taylor Smith and Ian Coleman. Where are these officers now? All were suspended for reasons still unexplained, all were found to have no case to answer and all went away with large amounts of council tax payers’ money. Meanwhile the problem they created still remains unresolved and Cllr Phil Davies refused to discuss the matter any further. Democracy, fairness, open & honesty – I think not.
Note for Water1lily – the complaints procedure is also a stitch up. Before I could take my case to the Local Ombudsman I had to go to Stage 3. My complaint wasn’t resolved by the Director in the department which caused the problem so it went to another senior officer in another department (allegedly impartial) who supported the view of his colleague. As the matter was still unresolved I complained again and it went to another senior officer (allegedly impartial) who also supported his colleagues. The Officers concerned were David Green, David Taylor Smith and Ian Coleman. Where are these officers now? All were suspended for reasons still unexplained, all were found to have no case to answer and all went away with large amounts of council tax payers’ money. Meanwhile the problem they created still remains unresolved and Cllr Phil Davies refused to discuss the matter any further. Democracy, fairness, open & honesty – I think not. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 8

12:20pm Sat 15 Feb 14

Mojo68 says...

So the land is worth around £5 million, I wonder what price has been placed on the land that The Lyndale School sits on? Julia Hassall already admitted it would be seen as an asset and sold off. I'm sure a deal has already been struck with a buyer and plans for countless houses are just waiting to be submitted. The more I read about this council the more my blood boils and if one of them uses the phrase "open and transparent" to me I will not be responsible for my actions!!
Ok so if i'm understanding this correctly in 12 months time the council get their land back to then sell off. The report says 10 acres, that's a lot of land. Is there anywhere else of the Wirral that has that amount of space for them to relocate to? I can't think of anywhere. So what happens then?
So the land is worth around £5 million, I wonder what price has been placed on the land that The Lyndale School sits on? Julia Hassall already admitted it would be seen as an asset and sold off. I'm sure a deal has already been struck with a buyer and plans for countless houses are just waiting to be submitted. The more I read about this council the more my blood boils and if one of them uses the phrase "open and transparent" to me I will not be responsible for my actions!! Ok so if i'm understanding this correctly in 12 months time the council get their land back to then sell off. The report says 10 acres, that's a lot of land. Is there anywhere else of the Wirral that has that amount of space for them to relocate to? I can't think of anywhere. So what happens then? Mojo68
  • Score: 7

12:39pm Sat 15 Feb 14

hobroW says...

the engineering firm went into liquidation so why its name cannot be mentioned I do not know as it has no legal persona anymore. The interesting question is when the car was parked there? for what durations?

certainly that BIG file was outrageous and incomprehensible as to how it was shepherded through the grants process. Its errors and the ridiculous and published council defence are exploded at nigelhobro@wordpress
.com
the engineering firm went into liquidation so why its name cannot be mentioned I do not know as it has no legal persona anymore. The interesting question is when the car was parked there? for what durations? certainly that BIG file was outrageous and incomprehensible as to how it was shepherded through the grants process. Its errors and the ridiculous and published council defence are exploded at nigelhobro@wordpress .com hobroW
  • Score: 5

6:40pm Sat 15 Feb 14

Positive thinker says...

Your correct with the name of the company,what shocks me is the
fact that no legal action has been taken I never use to take these
blogs serious I held the view that most people taking part were letting there
imaginations run wild.As time has past and what is unfolding the only people
with the wild imaginations are the shy stairs at WBC,Invest Wirral,Wirral Biz
I am sure I've probably left someone out however I think I named the main
candidates
Your correct with the name of the company,what shocks me is the fact that no legal action has been taken I never use to take these blogs serious I held the view that most people taking part were letting there imaginations run wild.As time has past and what is unfolding the only people with the wild imaginations are the shy stairs at WBC,Invest Wirral,Wirral Biz I am sure I've probably left someone out however I think I named the main candidates Positive thinker
  • Score: 6

9:29am Sun 16 Feb 14

hobroW says...

I hope you took opportunity to read nigelhobro@wordpress
.com PT, and welcome to the fold of sober critics of WBC. If imaginations have run wild it is that, starved deliberately of facts people naturally turn to conjecture assuming concealment means BAD.

I never imagined that 2.5 years ago my revelation of plain and detailed facts would have embroiled me in such a tenacious defence of truth. What has become apparent to me is that WBC is indeed an inward looking, incestuous organization where officers think career and pension first and truth last. As citizens we ought to do our part in smashing this culture and to bring wayward officers to justice wiould be a good sign of progress.

My "David's" life was seriously upset and you would be furious to lose £40k and lots of hard work unpaid and then be treated as cavalierly as he/she was by council officials. And still the bad advice given him by a WBC agent remains unpunished adding insult to injury. Why? The fall of that agent drags down the incompetent officers who were supposed to supervise them.
I hope you took opportunity to read nigelhobro@wordpress .com PT, and welcome to the fold of sober critics of WBC. If imaginations have run wild it is that, starved deliberately of facts people naturally turn to conjecture assuming concealment means BAD. I never imagined that 2.5 years ago my revelation of plain and detailed facts would have embroiled me in such a tenacious defence of truth. What has become apparent to me is that WBC is indeed an inward looking, incestuous organization where officers think career and pension first and truth last. As citizens we ought to do our part in smashing this culture and to bring wayward officers to justice wiould be a good sign of progress. My "David's" life was seriously upset and you would be furious to lose £40k and lots of hard work unpaid and then be treated as cavalierly as he/she was by council officials. And still the bad advice given him by a WBC agent remains unpunished adding insult to injury. Why? The fall of that agent drags down the incompetent officers who were supposed to supervise them. hobroW
  • Score: 4

3:26pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Wirral_Man says...

Ignoring the way that this is being forced through so that the land can be sold - This land is pancake flat flood plain with already far, far too many houses on it that already suffer from flooding problems as the ground is soaking wet - based on the experience of residents of the South East currently sounds like a really great place to build yet more houses!

As an aside I wonder how long the New Ferry Butterfly park as got as this is now owned by the council :(
Ignoring the way that this is being forced through so that the land can be sold - This land is pancake flat flood plain with already far, far too many houses on it that already suffer from flooding problems as the ground is soaking wet - based on the experience of residents of the South East currently sounds like a really great place to build yet more houses! As an aside I wonder how long the New Ferry Butterfly park as got as this is now owned by the council :( Wirral_Man
  • Score: 4

4:08pm Tue 18 Feb 14

PaulCa says...

I knew an old man years ago who helped the local milkman on his round in this area when he was a young boy.

OK, this little, mundane fact doesn't add much to the debate, until I tell you he used to help load the milk crates onto a BOAT.
I knew an old man years ago who helped the local milkman on his round in this area when he was a young boy. OK, this little, mundane fact doesn't add much to the debate, until I tell you he used to help load the milk crates onto a BOAT. PaulCa
  • Score: 6

5:32pm Tue 18 Feb 14

hobroW says...

PaulCa wrote:
I knew an old man years ago who helped the local milkman on his round in this area when he was a young boy.

OK, this little, mundane fact doesn't add much to the debate, until I tell you he used to help load the milk crates onto a BOAT.
hee hee hee

what a great contribution. It was a proper Milk float then?
[quote][p][bold]PaulCa[/bold] wrote: I knew an old man years ago who helped the local milkman on his round in this area when he was a young boy. OK, this little, mundane fact doesn't add much to the debate, until I tell you he used to help load the milk crates onto a BOAT.[/p][/quote]hee hee hee what a great contribution. It was a proper Milk float then? hobroW
  • Score: 4

10:14am Wed 19 Feb 14

water1lily says...

But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse.
But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse. water1lily
  • Score: 3

4:19pm Wed 19 Feb 14

keen gardener says...

But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse.

My sentiments exactly BUT what can be done about it?
But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse. My sentiments exactly BUT what can be done about it? keen gardener
  • Score: 2

7:13am Thu 20 Feb 14

yesandorno says...

if you can afford a pony you can afford to buy your own land to keep it on.
if you can afford a pony you can afford to buy your own land to keep it on. yesandorno
  • Score: 0

9:25am Thu 20 Feb 14

hobroW says...

keen gardener wrote:
But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse.

My sentiments exactly BUT what can be done about it?
I am doing something about it by persistence and hammering away for nearly three years. The central govt report is expected end March and by continuing to puit the spotlight on this it makes it difficult to sweep under the carpet for the circle of those interested or who know of it widens such that it cannot be held within the compass of a complicit cabal.

Time was on the complacent side firstly but time now operates against them. It did not erode myself and Mr Griffiths but may erode the complacent
[quote][p][bold]keen gardener[/bold] wrote: But it's not their money it's always the Wirral council tax payer who foots the bill for the Council's incompetance and they'd rather sweep it all under the carpet than admit to mistakes and worse. My sentiments exactly BUT what can be done about it?[/p][/quote]I am doing something about it by persistence and hammering away for nearly three years. The central govt report is expected end March and by continuing to puit the spotlight on this it makes it difficult to sweep under the carpet for the circle of those interested or who know of it widens such that it cannot be held within the compass of a complicit cabal. Time was on the complacent side firstly but time now operates against them. It did not erode myself and Mr Griffiths but may erode the complacent hobroW
  • Score: 2

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