Posted by: John Brace | 25 March 2018

Why has Minister Sajid Javid requested a “team of experts” to intervene at Wirral Council after Wirral Council’s repeated delays in producing a Local Plan?

Why has Minister Sajid Javid requested a “team of experts” to intervene at Wirral Council after Wirral Council’s repeated delays in producing a Local Plan?


Photo 4 - Cllr Phil Davies answering questions Birkenhead Constituency Committee 1st March 2018

Cllr Phil Davies answering questions at the Birkenhead Constituency Committee 1st March 2018

Edited 27.3.2018 14:32 An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated one of the other three councils facing intervention was Castlerock, this has now been corrected to Castle Point.

The latest in an exchange of letters between the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP (Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government) and Cllr Phil Davies (Leader of Wirral Council) has been published.

Wirral Council’s failure to produce a Local Plan (which are their policies by which planning applications are decided) has led to intervention. Out of the fifteen local government bodies that the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP wrote to initially (which included locally Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) only three (Wirral Council, Castle Point Borough Council and Thanet District Council) have caused enough concern to warrant intervention.

Councillors on Wirral Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed Wirral Council’s response to the first letter at a special public meeting (held behind locked doors in the Cabinet Briefing Room at Wallasey Town Hall) on the 7th December 2017. Video of that meeting can be watched below followed by the text of the letter to Cllr Phil Davies dated 23rd March 2018.

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Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) 7th December 2017 Part 1 of 2

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Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) 7th December 2017 Part 2 of 2

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
4th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Tel: 0303 444 3450

23rd March 2018

Councillor Phil Davies
Leader of Wirral Council

Dear Councillor Davies


Following your Council’s persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place, on 16 November 2017, I expressed concerns about the lack of progress your authority has made on plan-making. The housing White Paper set out that intervention in Local Plans will be prioritised where:

  • the least progress in plan-making has been made

  • policies in plans had not been kept up to date

  • there was higher housing pressure; and

  • intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating Local Plan production

We also made clear that decisions on intervention will be informed by the wider planning context in each area (specifically, the extent to which authorities are working cooperatively to put strategic plans in place, and the potential impact that not having a plan has on neighbourhood planning activity). I gave you the opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances by 31 January 2018, which, in your view, justifies the failure to produce a Local Plan under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 regime.

I have considered carefully the submission accompanying your letter of 29 January 2018. There has been a consistent failure to produce a Local Plan since the last Plan was adopted in 2000. The Council has failed to meet milestones in published Local Development Schemes at least six times since 2004.

Your Council’s argument to justify this failure is that you are enabling development, your plan-making was delayed by the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies, that you will form part of the Single Spatial Plan for the Liverpool City Region and that Government’s withdrawal of certain funding delayed your plan. These do not appear to be exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are not unique to Wirral. Other
Councils are members of Combined Authorities and are producing Local Plans alongside strategic plans, and all areas were affected by changes to regional planning.

Enabling development in the short-term without a plan is not a justification for failure to produce a plan as this undermines the plan-led system and many other councils have prepared a Local Plan from their existing budgets.

In terms of our intervention criteria your Council has failed to make progress on plan-making, the policies for the area are therefore not up to date. This is not an area of high housing pressure. The Council has recently proposed a revised publication date of September 2019 a delay of some further 18 months. There are no exceptional circumstances to justify why your Council has made such little progress over the years so I consider plan production can be accelerated, as there is currently no justification for the length of time your Council are proposing to take on further evidence gathering.

Having considered your representations and the Government’s policy set out in the November 2017 Written Ministerial Statement and housing White Paper I have decided to continue with the intervention process. This will involve a team of experts, led by the Chief Planner, providing me with further advice on next steps. My officials will be in contact with your officers to discuss the next steps.

My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting the Combined Authority for the Liverpool City Region to prepare a Local Plan for Wirral and on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.



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  1. I often dwell upon my memories of past and long gone days of local politics and remember those far off times when the ‘Old Money’ elected Councillors, those that bloody had it and didn’t need anymore, were in a twisted sort of way, a lot better than the mob that we seem to elect nowadays who’ve been allowed get some money and then go onto infest all the tiers of the entire political spectrum right across our Country. Say what you like, those rich bastards from the past were a lot cheaper to maintain than the New Labour Blairites who’ve grown accustomed to drinking Moet Instead of Brown Ale.
    As much as I despised the Old Money lot, you’ve gotta say that they were better at handling public money than the new breed who’ve become New Money who all appear to do nigh on anything to create more and hang onto what they’ve got, even if it means buggaring up the little bits that the people have and destroying a Council.
    Like Northampton, like Wirral and like so many essentially bankrupt public bodies up and down the Country, these gimme, gimme and give me bloody more sorts are the New Money tribe who have not done their jobs because they’re incapable of doing it.
    Whether it’s this issue of a Local Plan, that lets face it ain’t such a hard and difficult task, or outsourcing everything and gifting us all LOBO loans that my bloody distant descendants will be servicing, they buggar it all up. Every bloody time!
    The outcome of all this? No heads will roll. Nobody will be sanctioned. Lessons will be learned, the tossers who orchestrated the mess will be let off their leash and allowed to do it all over again and not one voice of objection will be heard for fear of being branded a troublesome fool whos to unintelligent to fully understand that borrowing millions that you can’t repay is a good and sound economic strategy.

    • Hi Bobby could not agree more with your comments, the sooner Mr Javid sends in the inspectors and gets rid of the labour group smoke and mirrors and artists impressions the better for the residents and ratepayers of Wirral.

      • Hello Jon. My warmest regards to you.

    • Thanks for your comment bobby47.

      You left out that the starting gun for the elections has been fired, as Wirral Council are asking for nominations for candidates to be councillors in 23 of 66 seats.

      Of course, the election period will now be used as an excuse not to do much for the next couple of months I suppose!

  2. This team of experts may need a briefing in Management jargon busting before they can get going. That’ll give the IT people some extra time to destroy any backups of backups of backups and to get some more industrial paper shredders from Office World.

    • Cllr George Davies expressed his displeasure at the intervention by the minister at this morning’s meeting of the Cabinet.

  3. We need to build ten of thousands of new houses up and down the country, so we leave it to the councils to come up with them, of course the councils don’t have the money for new homes, and no one is investing in the area.
    So you have councils coming up with hair brain systems on how to make money or get people to move into the area and build homes, set up a business, employ people etc etc and what do we get in Wirral a bloody golf course!
    But it doesn’t matter who they send here, the Clowns will still be in power.

  4. Another question that should be asked is why does Jeremy Cotbyn and the rest of the Labour opposition allow Wirral Council to masquerade as a Council in the name of the party when they are so clearly incapable and corrupt to run any local authority.
    They merely stumble from disaster to scandal deeply mired in actions that discredit the Labour Party on an ever increasing momentum of Greed, Deceit, Corruption, Misinformation, and subterfuge. To the point that ordinary people normally Labour Supporters welcome the Conservatives Party to send in all the necessary inspectors with haste.

    • Well the legal requirement for local councils (such as Wirral Council) to have a Local Plan (determining their planning policies) happened under the last Labour government. This also gave ministers the power to introduce regulations, that then happened under the later Coalition government to for example for those councils that hadn’t complied with their obligations for ministers to send people in to take control or even speed up the process (at that council’s expense) as has happened now to Wirral Council.

      The argument made by Cllr George Davies at the Cabinet meeting on Monday morning was that local people (through their local councillors) should have control of the process.

      Wirral Council is still going to be paying for it, whether they do it themselves or if outsiders are sent in.

      However production of a Local Plan has stages that are done by the local Council and stages that are done by the government.

      There are also stages of public consultation when the public get to have their say etc.