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10th December 2011
£9.2m bill for 20mph zone PROJECT
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The Lancashire County Council proposal to implement 20mph schemes in residential areas and outside of all schools in Lancashire is budgeted to cost £9.2 million pounds.

The cost of maintaining the new signage is budgeted to add another £136,000 to the annual highway maintenance costs.

The target date for the completion of the project is 31st December 2013.

9th December 2011
Source: RNLI

Today marks the 125th anniversary of what is known to this day as the worst lifeboat disaster in history.

Lytham, St Annes & Southport lifeboats were launched to the German barque 'Mexico' in distress off Southport.

Thomas Clarkson, Lytham's coxswain, recalled: "There was a gale of wind blowing. The sea near Southport was very high &, shortly before getting to the ship, it was mountains high." The Lytham lifeboat, however, with great difficulty, rescued the 12 crew of the 'Mexico'.

Meanwhile, the Southport lifeboat was capsized by a heavy sea; 14 hands were lost, leaving only two survivors. The St Annes lifeboat was found the next day, upturned on the banks of the Ribble estuary, her entire crew of 13 tragically drowned.

1st December 2011
Gas Drilling Rig Stormed by Fracking Protesters AGAIN
Source: Frack Off Press Release

Early this morning, 8 people from the climate action network Rising Tide, scaled Cuadrilla Resources fracking rig in Hesketh Bank, Lancashire. They intend to occupy the site with hammocks and supplies for several days in order to halt the drilling.

Less than a month ago, when a report was released confirming fracking causes earthquakes, a separate group mounted an action against the same rig, highlighting local health and environmental concerns associated with fracking.

One of the activists, Sarah, a community worker from Bristol, explained: “Fracking is a desperate bid to suck the last, most difficult to reach fossil fuels out of the planet. It is a road to nowhere. The output of fracked wells quickly declines so more and more wells have to be drilled destroying vast swathes of our countryside.”

The last few months have seen numerous actions mounted against fracking in the UK, from Southport to London, resulting in a local victory in the Vale of Glamorgan, whose county council voted unanimously against fracking.

The activists suggested that the mounting action, controversy and urgency surrounding fracking indicates that it is set to become the “new Heathrow” in which “local communities united with people from all over the country against a fossil fuel giant, and won.”

Two activists have been arrested so far.

30th November 2011
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The Mere Brow Christmas food, crafts and gifts market at the Legh Arms pub on Saturday 10th December is proving to be a huge success with more local business wanting to be involved.

Kelvin Pye, organiser of the Mere Brow farmers market organiser stated “For the November market we had 22 farm and crafts businesses, now its looking like we will have 27 stalls and its going to be a squeeze to fit them in, but its great for the public with much more variety of food and crafts.”

As well as the returning producers of cheese, lamb, beef, smoked fish, olives, cakes, vegetables, chillis and home made pies, there will be new food exhibitors of curries, venison, jams, shellfish, fudge and Christmas wreaths. Mr Pye went on to say “I am particularly pleased we have a local shellfish business with cockles, crabs, Southport shrimps and a smelly soap and bath products stall for Christmas gifts and the Pampered Chef, for all cooking equipment.”

The market is open from 10am to 2.30 pm with two food hampers being given away in a free prize draw. Santa will be in attendance for the children along with face painting and donkey rides. There will be  hot BBQ  food and mulled wine, as well  as a 3 course farmers market lunch for £6.95 in the Legh Arms pub.

For enquiries telephone Kelvin on 01704 212734 or the Legh Arms on 01772 812359.

25th November 2011
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Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble, has welcomed the Environment Agency’s decision to extend the deadline for their consultation on flooding defences in the Northern Parishes to 31st January 2012.  Lorraine attributes the decision to pressure from local residents. 

 “Local pressure has made the Environment Agency listen to the legitimate concerns that we have about these plans, and extend this consultation.”

“I’m sure that the hostility at the Public Meeting I held on 11th November and in people’s responses to the consultation have made the Environment Agency concede defeat on the consultation date. But there is more to do - We’ve won the battle but not the war!”  ”

“I will be continuing to do everything I can to have this consultation withdrawn altogether and once again I would like to plead with everyone to fill in the consultation who hasn’t already done so!”

The Consultation can be viewed and filled in on: 

and local residents who would prefer a hard copy are encouraged to get in touch with Lorraine’s office on 020 7219 7217 or by emailing

17th November 2011
Fears for homes, jobs and farmland discussed
Source: Southport Visiter

Fears for homes, jobs and farmland were expressed following a meeting in Tarleton over Environment Agency plans to stop land drainage in the northern parishes.

More than 150 businessmen, growers and residents met at Huntapac last Friday to discuss the consultation plans.

The government agency has proposed scaling back pumping and increasing the use of natural flood plains in rural areas by 2015 due to funding cuts from Defra. A 12-week consultation over its proposals for the Lower Alt with Crossens catchment ends on December 16.

But many at the meeting, held by South Ribble MP Lorraine Fullbrook, felt the consultation document had not been publicised widely enough.

Click here to read the complete Southport Visiter article

17th November 2011
Planning permission refused for motocross at Leisure Lakes
Source: Southport Visiter

Planning councillors refused to give permission for motocross racing to continue at Leisure Lakes despite 127 riders turning up to the meeting to support the case.

Motocross organisers had applied to have racing at the site in Tarleton 28 days each year.

But West Lancashire Council planning officers had recommended the application be refused at last Thursday’s meeting.

They believed the scheme to be ‘inappropriate development in the Green Belt’. Committee members accepted the recommendations and threw out the scheme.

Click here to read the complete Southport Visiter article

16th November 2011
‘Sonar’ studies to start across county
Source: Lancashire Evening Post

The company behind plans to extract gas from under Lancashire are due to start ‘sonar’ studies of farmland in the county early next year.

Cuadrilla Resources, which is searching for gas reserves locked in shale at a site near Hesketh Bank, will have engineers carrying out searches on land across Wyre from February.

A spokesman said it was speaking with local landowners to secure access onto sites of interest. He said: “It is a feasibility study to look for areas where there is a large amount of shale to add to data we have already collected from our exploratory drilling.

“There will not be any work starting until the start of the year.”

7th November 2011
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Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble, which includes the villages of Tarleton, Banks, Hesketh Bank, Rufford, Mere Brow, Holmeswood and Solom, has announced that she will be holding a public meeting on Friday 11th November 2011 to discuss the Environment Agency proposals to stop land drainage in the Northern Parishes. 

The meeting will be held at Huntapac, Blackgate Lane, Tarleton at 7pm. 

The Environment Agency, Campaign for Rural England and representatives from the local Councils will be in attendance. 

Lorraine would like to invite all interested members of the public to attend the meeting and make their views about this proposal known.

Lorraine said: “Land drainage is a very important issue for the people who live and work in the Northern parishes and I have called this public meeting so that all interested parties can discuss this issue and local people can make their views known.”

To view the Environment Agency consultation, please click here

4th November 2011
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Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble, has signed the following letter about how the Coalition Government is delivering for Women:

Open Letter:

This Coalition Government is Delivering For Women

As Conservative MPs, we care passionately about the equal advancement of women, in both the political and the economic sense.

Women still lag behind men in both areas in Britain in the 21st Century. Far more women than men live in workless households. They own 17% less than men. Their incomes are 17% lower than men's in similar jobs. They are more likely to be in low paid work. They start businesses at half the rate men do. They have 14% less to live on in retirement and are relatively more dependent on means-tested benefits. Under Labour, far too many became trapped in 16 hour a week jobs, missing out on career progression. This is a scandal we plan to change.

With welfare reform, pensions reform, shared parental leave, financial support for part-time students, tax reform to lift hundreds of thousands of women out of income tax altogether and protection for the 80% female workforce which is the lowest paid during the public sector pay freeze, we aim to make working and saving pay for all the women of this country. Furthermore, under the Universal Credit, help with child care will start from the first hour of work.

In other important ways, this government has taken action. New rape crisis centres have opened; more money is being spent on women-focused international aid, helping girls to go to school. Sex worker jobs can no longer be advertised in Job Centres; the Bailey review has been commissioned, tackling the sexualisation of children. Parents have been enabled with more internet filters.

We don’t support all of this despite being Conservative. We support it because we are Conservative and believe in equality of opportunity for all.

Lorraine Fullbrook MP

2nd November 2011
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This morning nine people from the national anti-fracking network Frack Off have halted work at Cuadrilla Resources’ drilling site on Banks marsh.

They ran on to the fracking site early this morning and scaled the drilling rig using climbing equipment. They aim to sit on top of the drilling rig for as long as possible to stop the drilling.

The action is aimed at highlighting what the protestors believe is the hypocrisy behind the ‘Shale Gas Environmental Summit’ starting today in London: a conference sponsored by a host of companies involved in the oil and gas industry and to counter the PR offensive of the shale gas industry and bring public attention to the harm fracking has been linked to.

Colin Eastman, one of the climbers, said, “Conventional fossil fuels have begun to run out and the system is moving towards more extreme forms of energy like fracking, tar sands, and deep water drilling. The move towards ‘extreme energy’ is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, sucking the last most difficult to reach fossil fuels from the planet at a time when we should be rapidly reducing our consumption altogether and looking for sustainable alternatives. In the UK fracking for shale gas is planned alongside, not instead of, extraction of conventional fossil fuels like coal.”

2nd November 2011
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Cuadrilla Resources, the British company exploring for natural shale gas on Banks Marsh, has today released the findings of the report that was commissioned following unusual seismic activity near Poulton-le-Fylde in April and May 2011.

“The Geo-mechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity” confirms that there is little risk of future seismic events reoccurring in the Bowland Basin but proposes a series of mitigation measures in case of any future seismic activity. This report which fulfils a commitment made by Cuadrilla to be fully open with the community about all findings, is the most comprehensive scientific study ever undertaken on the geology of the Bowland Basin.

Cuadrilla intends to seek a peer review of the report and commits to publishing that review.

The report concludes:

  • It is highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well did trigger a number of minor seismic events.
  • None of the events recorded, including one in April of 2.3 and one in May of 1.5 on the Richter scale, had any structural impact on the surface above.
  • The seismic events were due to an unusual combination of geology at the well site coupled with the pressure exerted by water injection as part of operations.
  • This combination of geological factors was extremely rare and would be unlikely to occur together again at future well sites.
  • If these factors were to combine again in the future local geology limits seismic events to around magnitude 3 on the Richter scale as a “worst-case scenario”.
  • Cuadrilla’s water injection operations take place very far below the earth’s surface which significantly reduces the likelihood of a seismic event of less than 3 on the Richter scale having any impact at all on the surface.

Using the findings, the report sets out an early detection system which Cuadrilla can use to monitor seismic activity and implement a series of steps to prevent the escalation of any future seismicity. Very similar systems are in place in the Netherlands and Germany. The purpose of this system is to ensure that any seismic activity trigged by the hydraulic fracturing process, however unlikely, can be managed to prevent any impact to people and property.

Mark Miller, Chief Executive of Cuadrilla Resources, commenting on the release of the report said:

“We unequivocally accept the findings of this independent report and are pleased that the report concludes that there is no threat to people or property in the local area from our operations.

We are ready to put in place the early detection system that has been proposed in the report so that we can provide additional confidence and security to the local community.

Cuadrilla is working with the relevant local and national authorities to implement the report’s recommendations so we may safely resume our operations.”

The report has been submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS), the latter acting in their capacity as advisers to DECC.  The report’s authors and Cuadrilla are in regular contact with government officials to provide further clarification on various technical aspects of the report.

The report was commissioned by Cuadrilla Resources in consultation with the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  The study was carried out by a European team of independent seismic experts, all leading authorities on the subject, directed by Dr Hans de Pater.

28th October 2011
Source: Press Release

Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble, has today called for a meeting with Ministers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss controversial Environment Agency plans to stop land drainage in the Lower Alt and Crossens catchment which includes Banks, Rufford, Hesketh Bank, Tarleton, Sollom and Mere Brow.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, Lorraine warns of the devastating effects that flooding would have to some of the largest growing and export of food crop areas in the country, should the proposals be accepted.

Speaking today, Lorraine said: “I’m appalled at these proposals to stop land drainage in the Lower Alt and Crossens basin. Plans to cut money spent on flood risk management in one of the largest growing areas in the country are totally irresponsible.” “I have requested a meeting with the Minister so that they are aware of all the facts and the devastating effect this would have on this area, the local economy and people’s livelihoods on the Northern parishes.”

“These proposals, originally made by Labour, to prioritise protecting urban over rural areas are short-sighted. I want the Environment Agency to drop these proposals and continue with their duty of care to the people who live and work in the Northern parishes, which have been an essential part of the local economy for years.”

“I think this consultation should be dropped altogether but I will be making a submission and urge local residents to get fully engaged with the consultation process. These proposals if passed could have a detrimental effect not only on farmers but on the entire area.”

25th October 2011
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The Northern Parishes of West Lancashire have arranged for a Public Meeting to be held from 6:30pm at “Our Lady Help of Christians” Church, Hesketh Lane, Tarleton on Friday 4th November.

Cuadrilla Resources, the company presently granted an exploration licence in the area and Mr Simon Glover A.I.Mech.E, M.ENG, B.Sc, the Vice-President Europe of Altus Well Experts Inc, an Independent Industry Expert to give independent comment, will be on hand to answer the queries or concerns of members of the Public. The event will be chaired by BBC North West Presenter, Dave Guest.

View More Local Events

22nd October 2011
"Pumpkin King" takes 1st and 2nd place aT MERE BROW COMPETITION
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2011 Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition winner
Mark O'Hanlon managed to retain the title of Pumpkin King taking both the first and second place at the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin competition held today at Windmill Animal Farm. Maurice Bond took the third place in the annual event which raises funds for the North West Air Ambulance.

For more information please visit

17th October 2011
Source: Blackpool Gazette

CONTROVERSIAL gas drilling DID cause Fylde coast earthquakes.

And now energy chiefs have sent a stark warning to shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources – stop the tremors or we will shut you down.

It comes as the company this week held urgent talks with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to consider a report into the risk of earthquakes associated with fracking – the process used to extract shale gas from deep beneath the Fylde coast.

The meetings followed the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) conclusion two recent earth tremors felt nearby were most likely to have been caused by fracking.

CLICK HERE for the complete Blackpool Gazette article

17th October 2011
Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) UPDATE
Reported by: Angela Cropper Estuary Against Fracking had a good turnout of local residents at their first community event held at Banks Leisure Centre on Friday night. Members of Friends of the Earth, Frack Off, The Green Party and Transition Southport also attended.

A short film 'Fracking Hell' by The Ecologist Film Unit was shown throughout the evening. REAF and Friends of the Earth members were available to answer questions on the consequences of shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Information boards and leaflets provided additional information relating to the fracking industry.

Doreen Stopforth, local resident and REAF member said "We were very pleased with the turn out to our first event. We are planning more outreach events in future to help raise awareness locally"

REAF invite you to drop in to our next Information and Film night on Wednesday 26th October, between 7.30pm–9.30 pm Tarleton Bowling Club, Sutton Lane, Tarleton. For more local events, attractions and activities visit the events page

13th October 2011
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The portfolio holder for Highways and Transport Mr Tim Ashton has agreed the Green Lane Link under the Local Transport Plan(LTP). County Councillor Malcolm Barron expressed his delight.

The Green Lane Link will connect the A565 with Taylors Meanygate which services the agricultural packhouses which provide our supermarkets with produce.

West Lancashire is the No1 provider of salads in the country and the Link will provide the sort of infrastructure that the horticultural industry needs to survive.

Hopefully many accidents will be avoided and lives spared by the inclusion of a roundabout  on the A565 Southport New Rd and the instances of HGVs trundling through the villages of Tarleton, Hesketh Banks and Banks should be greatly reduced.

County Councillor Malcolm Barron said "I appreciate the help given to me by the Parish Councils.  Hesketh Bank and Tarleton Parish Councils sent excellent letters in support of the link to the County commissioners who allocated funding to the LTP."

"I am also grateful to the officers who worked extremely hard in scrutinising the 400 submissions for funding and to those officers who provided me with the facts and figures required."

"Much evidence was provided by Mr William Hunter of Huntapac, Maurice Fletcher and many other growers, the CLA and our Borough Councillors (especially Rosie Evans) and our MP Lorraine Fullbrook this wonderful result would not have been achieved."

" I chaired the first public meeting promoting the Green lane Link in 1999 we had an attendance of 110 with 99% in favour. Since then there has been a great deal of publicity in favour of the link and also positive reporting of meetings with then Shadow Conservative Ministers Theresa May and Tim Yeo chaired by our now MP Mrs Lorraine Fullbrook".

The Link will cost approx £2 million and after preliminary work, construction should hopefully start in 2015.

12th October 2011
Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) UPDATE
Reported by: Angela Cropper

Friends of the Earth Exec Director Andy Atkins meets with REAF Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins met with local residents and members of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) in Hesketh Bank on Wednesday 5th October. After the meeting Andy travelled to Banks to see the Cuadrilla drill site.

Concerns over ‘fracking’ – the process of exploiting natural shale gas under extremely high pressure to force rocks apart – have been gathering pace ever since drilling firm Cuadrilla Resources’ fracking operations were suspended in May this year following a second earthquake in the area.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “I share the same concerns as people who live here – shale gas is neither clean nor proven to be safe, and drilling it will cause climate-changing emissions and could pollute water supplies. “We don’t need risky fracking or a dash for gas – we already have plenty of green energy solutions that we know are safe and will work, like the wind, the waves and the sun.”

“The Government should get on with developing the UK’s huge green energy potential – making better use of our energy will stabilise fuel bills long term and create thousands of skilled jobs in Lancashire and throughout the UK.”

Local resident and REAF member Doreen Stopforth added: “Andy’s visit shows just how important this issue is on a national and international scale. Fracking is a dangerous unproven technology which will put the whole of the Ribble Estuary at risk of environmental disaster.” 

REAF have accepted an invitation to join with Friends of the Earth on this important issue and have been invited to a meeting next week at County Hall, Preston with Tony Bosworth the Senior Climate Campaigner.

Members of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) have also been invited to travel to the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool next week, to join up with the Co-operative who are hosting an information evening on shale gas drilling and screening of the film Gasland, the Academy Award nominated documentary about fracking in the US.

REAF will have an information stand at the event and Banks resident Eve McNamara will be speaking during the evening along with Co-op representatives.  The Co-op earlier this year commissioned a report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at Manchester University Tyndall Report, which recommended fracking should be halted pending further research into its impact. The Co-operative have called upon the government to hold a moratorium on shale gas extraction in the UK.

REAF are also holding our own Drop In Information and film nights at -

  • Banks Leisure Centre, Greaves Hall Ave, Banks - Friday 14th October,  8pm–10 pm
  • Tarleton Bowling Club, Sutton Lane, Tarleton  - Wednesday 26th October, 7.30pm–9.30 pm

For more local events, attractions and activities visit the events page

11th October 2011
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A brand new farmers market will be springing up on the car park of the Legh Arms at Mere Brow. The first market will be held on Saturday, November 12, from 10.00 to 14.30pm and thereafter on the second Saturday of the month.

There will be a veritable feast of produce from local farmers on display including: Lancashire cheeses, fresh meats, home made pies, herbs and chillis, fresh fish and various craft stands. The farmers’ market is free to visitors and two tasty food hampers will be given away on the day.

Children's attractions will include donkey rides by local Halsall's Donkey and face painting plus a slap-up BBQ selling local bacon and bangers.

Organiser and local businessman, Kelvin Pye, who runs the two Southport town and country fairs at Stanley High School, explained: “The Riverside used to organise a popular farmers’ market but it suddenly stopped. Some of my regular farmers’ market customers asked me to start one up again and I thought: ‘Why not ?’

I approached Ged Consett the licensee of The Legh Arms, who is a personal friend of mine, and he welcomed us with open Arms !” Attractions for the Christmas special farmers market on Saturday, December 10. will include Christmas gifts and crafts, donkey rides with Santa and hot roast chestnuts on the BBQ.

The Legh Arms will be open all day for food and drink with a special farmers’ market menu.

For enquiries contact Kelvin 01704 212734 or The Legh Arms on 01772 812359.

6th October 2011
COUNCIL support FOR CHINESE LANTERN review motion
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LANCASHIRE County Council is supporting calls for a government review into the sale of Chinese lanterns.

A notice of motion backing farmers' groups, fire services and the coastguard in urging the government to examine the issue has received all-party support at a meeting of the Full Council.

County Councillor Malcolm Barron, who represents rural West Lancashire North, presented the motion. He said: "These flying lanterns were first brought to my attention by a resident whose wife runs a riding school where some straw in the stable yard caught fire when one of these lanterns landed.

"Fortunately there were people on hand to put out the blaze but the consequences could have been very serious.

"I've also been told by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service that they've attended four incidents and received reports of another four fires caused by these flying lanterns."

The authority is to write to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, adding its voice to concerns already raised by the National Farmers' Union, the Coastguard and Fire Services across the country.

The lanterns, made of paper, wire and a block of solid fuel like a barbecue lighter, are widely sold for as little as £1 each and can travel for many miles before falling back to earth.

Popular at family celebrations and music festivals, it is estimated that their growing popularity now sees around 200,000 released in the UK every year.

Farmers have reported incidents of cattle suffering a painful death after swallowing sharp pieces of wire from lanterns which have been incorporated into bales of hay.

Calls to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are now in the hundreds every year, as people mistake them for distress flares or even report them as UFOs.

County Councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, added: "These lanterns can be very pretty but there's already too high a price being paid by farmers, both in terms of cost and the suffering caused to their livestock.

"As a county with an important rural economy it's vital that Lancashire's voice is foremost in raising these concerns.

"We want the government to look more closely at this issue as these lanterns are clearly causing a financial drain on public services and the rural economy.

"You can buy these lanterns for just a pound in Lancashire but now is the time to find out their true cost to the country and take steps to regulate their sale."

3rd October 2011
Source: Formby Times

ALTERNATIVE proposals which would bring parts of West Lancashire into Southport have been put forward for review.

The plan is to create a new Southport constituency which would include Hesketh with Becconsall, Tarleton and North Meols.

This would mean Formby would not be split; the town would be in a constituency with Aughton and Ormskirk.

The proposals, put forward by Liberal Democrat councillors at Southport Area Committee last week, were passed by a majority who agreed to write to the Boundary Commission.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Simon Shaw said he was optimistic that the Boundary Commission would listen to their alternative proposal.

He said: “I would hope they would be very pleased that we have come up with a constructive alternative.

“You are not going to get anywhere if you say; this is terrible. You have to have an alternative proposal that knits together. The attraction for Southport is that there are historical ties to Lancashire. I have lived in Southport all my life and I am proud to call myself a Lancastrian.”

Cllr Iain Brodie Browne said: “I am not without hope. The same proposal was made [to split Formby] in the 1980’s and that was overturned.”

The Area Committee also resolved to write to all parish councils asking them to support thir plans.

But Cllr Iain Ashcroft, Vice Chairman of Hesketh with Becconsall Parish Council said: “I don’t know whether it would work at all and I don’t know whether our MP would be too happy about that.

“Things have been settled for a long time-if it isn’t broke why fix it.”

Conservative councillors voted against the proposal, accusing the Liberal Democrats of springing the decision on them.

Aindsale councillor Terry Jones said: “The Lib Dems threw it at us at the last minute. They could have called in an emergency meeting but they didn’t.

“We have attended some meetings and have still got plenty of meetings all over the North West. We will make a decision based on what is best for the residents.”

Southport MP John Pugh said: “The proposals are far more disruptive than everybody imagined.

“There are people on the fringes who already regard themselves in the Southport community. The Boundary Commission will be put under severe pressure from all parties and in all areas.”

There will be a public hearing on the changes at the Radisson Blu hotel, Liverpool on October 20 and 21.

21st September 2011
Co-Op warning over new gas field
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On the day (Wednesday 21 September) that Cuadrilla Resources announced its shale gas reserves estimates for its Bowland shale site in Lancashire, The Co-operative pointed out that shale gas extraction risks diverting investment away from the UK ’s renewable energy targets. These targets are forecast to provide £100billion worth of investment opportunities and up to half a million jobs by 2020.

The Government must not be seduced by a new Lancashire gas field and should still impose an immediate moratorium on extraction from shale formations until all the ecological implications are fully understood.

That is the view of The Co-operative, which earlier this year commissioned a report from the internationally respected Tyndall Centre, part of The University of Manchester, on the impacts of shale gas and as a result believes that shale gas extraction represents a significant risk of groundwater contamination, brings new greenhouse gases into play and diverts much needed investment from renewable sources of energy and the jobs this would create and support..

Earlier this year, the Government’s Energy and Climate Change Committee report on shale gas ruled out a moratorium, but seemingly ignored apparent gaps in the regulation of the shale gas industry and failed to call for better evaluation of the pollution risks it poses.

A shale gas rig with the potential to contaminate groundwater is unlikely to be required to undertake a formal Environmental Impact Assessment whereas developers building a medium sized wind farm or hydro-electric power plant of 5MW most likely would. Furthermore, shale gas extraction sites appear unlikely to be required to obtain an Environmental Permit, as would be required for a biomass power station.

Moreover, the exploitation of gas shales is bringing new greenhouse gas sources into play and even a mid-range extraction scenario could see carbon dioxide levels rise globally by some 5 parts per million by 2050. This will further reduce any slim possibility of maintaining global temperature change, at or below 2oC, and thereby increasing the risk of entering a period of ‘dangerous climate change’.

Since 2007, The Co-operative Bank has ring-fenced £400m specifically to fund renewable energy projects and recently announced its intention to extend this lending to £1bn for the sector by 2013 as part of the Co-operative Group’s Ethical Operating Plan.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative said: “On the face of it new natural gas finds appear to be good news, but the Government must not be seduced by this without considering all the impacts of shale gas extraction.

“That is why we are calling for a moratorium on any further exploitation of shale gas which will allow the wider environmental concerns to be fully exposed and addressed.”

21st September 2011
Source: Blackpool Gazette

Cuadrilla Resources today revealed there is around 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under Lancashire – an amount it believes is enough to create a staggering 1,700 jobs locally over the next decade.

And the controversial company’s CEO Mark Miller has said, if Cuadrilla decide to press ahead with commercial drilling, the operation could be up and running by 2013.

Mr Miller said: “The amount of gas is a very sizeable number. It has our interest to the point where we feel we can start to think about what it will look like going forward and developing this. “We’ve not made that decision yet but it is a large number.”

The company hopes 400 wells could be created in Lancashire over the next nine years – rising to 800 wells over the next 16 years if the operation is particularly successful.

And local councils are also set to benefit, with the company anticipating £120 million will be paid in business rates over the next 30 years with the whole UK set to reap a tax benefit of £5 to 6 billion.

Click here for the full Blackpool Gazette article

20th September 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media Follow Hubmaker Media on Facebook

REAF - Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

It was with dismay that we read the public notice from Hesketh Bank Parish Council regarding their ‘concerns over anti-fracking leaflets’ that was published on both their website and reported on the Hesketh Bank and Tarleton Village website [See NEWS 16th September].

We are a group of local’s from along the Ribble Estuary who wish to inform people of the possible consequences of Shale Gas Drilling by the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in this country and encourage them to join us and other groups/politicians nationally in asking the government to hold a moratorium on Shale Gas Drilling and ask that all drilling is stopped until this happens.

Ribble Estuary Against Fracking are very concerned about the allegations made in the Parish Council notice, although we are not named directly it is obvious to local people that they are referring to our group.

REAF were not approached by the Parish Council before they published the article but since being made aware of it we have spoken to a Councillor and have assured him that we have not printed/delivered any leaflets with the Council details on them. We have asked that their letter be removed from the Parish Council website and have said that we will investigate this incident further as we wish to clear up this misunderstanding with the Parish Council as quickly as possible.

REAF did give leaflets out in Banks, Hesketh Bank and Tarleton in the run up to the advertised ‘Gasland’ film screening and ‘Camp Frack’ but these were only printed on one side.

We would like to clearly state that the REAF group have not published or sanctioned any leaflets which have information regarding Hesketh Bank Parish Council on the reverse.

We have not removed any notices from official notice boards nor have we portrayed information knowing it to be untrue.

We understand and share the concerns of the Parish Council and feel that this may have been done maliciously to cause problems between us. As far as we are aware no one from either Tarleton or Banks received leaflets with Tarleton or North Meols Parish details on them.

We are trying to ascertain where and how many of the leaflets with the Parish Council details were given out in Hesketh Bank. If you received one of the leaflets printed on both sides, would you please contact the editor of the Hesketh Bank and Tarleton website

Angela Cropper, Hesketh Lane, Tarleton     Eve McNamara, Fleetwood Crescent, Banks

20th September 2011
Protestors march on Cuadrilla site
Source: Southport Visiter

ABOUT 140 anti-fracking campaigners took to the streets in a protest march close to the Cuadrilla site in Banks. Cuadrilla started exploratory drilling for shale gas below ground off Marsh Road last month.

Residents and campaigners spent last weekend at Manor Farm in Hesketh Bank where they set up camp and held workshops. Click here for the full Southport Visiter Article

16th September 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media Follow Hubmaker Media on Facebook

Hesketh with Becconsall Parish Council today expressed concerns about leaflets being circulated and distanced themselves from an "Anti Fracking" Group.

Leaflets distributed by the protestors have apparantly contained information which suggests the Parish Council is supporting their activities.

A statement issued today by the Parish Council on their website said "The Parish Council are deeply concerned that notices, apparently from the local “Anti-Fracking” activist group, are being circulated locally with details of Hesketh with Becconsall Parish Council on the reverse giving the impression that the Parish Council are supporting the work of this group. The actual Parish Council details are copies of the official notices recently stolen from the Council’s official village notice boards.

The Parish Council recognise Cuadrilla as a legitimate company, carrying out exploratory drilling and testing for hydro-carbons, operating under a Government Licence and with Planning Consent from Lancashire County Council. The Parish Council did not object to the Planning Application and do not have any Resolved views regarding the operations of Cuadrilla. As such they do not have any association with, or support the various anti-fracking groups carrying out activities in the area. The Parish Council do recognise the rights of any group to independently promote their views or opinions as they think fit"

It is an offence to interfere with or remove any notice from an official notice board of a statutory body or to portray information knowing it to be untrue."

15th September 2011
New motocross plan for Leisure Lakes site
Source: Ormskirk Advertiser

NEW proposals for motocross racing at Leisure Lakes could soon be back on the agenda.

The site has attracted a lot of controversy as residents complained to the council about the noise. A government planning inspector banned the activities at Leisure Lakes earlier this year. But Leisure Lakes MX Ltd has been running motocross racing at the site all through the summer after reaching an agreement with West Lancashire Council.

Now the organisers have submitted a planning application to the council to get that agreement cemented in place. Click here for the complete Ormskirk Advertiser article

8th September 2011
Source: Ormskirk Advertiser

PART of West Lancs could fall in to Southport’s parliamentary constituency if the town’s MP sees his plan for boundary changes become a reality.

MP John Pugh called on a commission which is expected to change Southport’s electoral boundaries on Monday to add Banks and Hesketh Bank to the resort’s constituency.

With the initial announcement from the Parliamentary Boundary Commission days away Dr John Pugh wants to expand eastwards into Lancashire.

Because of the reduction in the number of MPs, the present Southport constituency is too small to stay as it is and must increase to at least 72,800 electors. At the moment it has 67,800 registered voters.

Conservative MP Lorraine Fullbrook said what Dr Pugh wanted was “totally irrelevant”. Mrs Fullbrook said: “He can wish for the stars, but the commission will make their proposals on September 12 and I suspect there will not be much we will be able to change. “For John Pugh to ask for parts of my constituency is irrelevant.” And she added the people of Banks and Hesketh Bank would prefer to stay in a rural constituency rather than be absorbed by Southport.

Click here for the complete Ormskirk Advertiser article

1st August 2011
MP to hold village "SUMMER SURGERIES"
Source: Lorraine Fullbrook MP

Lorraine Fullbrook, MP for the South Ribble Constituency, is taking her summer surgeries around local towns and villages from Monday 8th of August.

Following the success of last year’s initiative Lorraine will be repeating her roving advice sessions. She is inviting her constituents to come and visit her to discuss any problems they are currently experiencing.  This is in addition to the regular fortnightly surgeries she currently holds.

Lorraine will be visiting Penwortham, Leyland, Banks, Eccleston, Tarleton, Longton, Croston and Rufford throughout the week.

Lorraine will be in Tarleton on Monday 8th August at Tarleton Bowling Club at 10 a.m. and later that day will be in Banks at 1 p.m.; later in the week, on Friday 12 August, Lorraine will be at the Hesketh Arms in Rufford

Lorraine said:

'There is no need to book, just pop in and have a quick chat with me about your thoughts and concerns.'

For further information please contact Lorraine's office on 0207 219 7217 or email

1st August 2011
Source: Lesley Graham

I am writing to express my concern over the forthcoming movement of equipment to the Banks site and the start of operations on August 15th. Several people have expressed their concerns and are interested in holding a meeting. Please email me if you would like to participate.

Lesley Graham.

27th July 2011
Source: Cuadrilla Resources

Dear residents,

As you are already aware, Cuadrilla holds several temporary planning permits to explore for shale gas in Lancashire and has been preparing its site near Banks over the past few months in order to begin drilling operations.

As part of our commitment to keep residents informed about our operations, I am writing to let you know that the drilling rig and other site equipment will begin to move from the our Singleton site to the Banks site on 1st August 2011.

The move will take around 12 days to complete, with operations expected to begin on/around 15th August.

Once a routine has been established on the site, we will be holding site visits for residents throughout September. During these visits, a member of the technical team will be on-hand to answer any questions you may have and to explain what we do in detail.

Should you wish to arrange a site visit or discuss any other Cuadrilla-related matter further, please call the Freephone Information Line on 0800 170 1115.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Miller
Chief Executive
Cuadrilla Resources

20th July 2011
OFT Doorstep Selling Campaign 2011
Source: Lancashire Trading Standards

The Office of Fair Trading 2011 campaign begins this week and is aimed at awareness and empowering people, particularly the over 70's and their friends and family, carers and medical professionals in relation to doorstep selling.

Areas specifically highlighted are maintenance and property repairs, garden repairs given the increase of these incidents in the summer months. The campaign will also raise awareness of buying mobility aids, encouraging people to shop around before making a decision. For more information see

Local issues:

Reports of doorstep callers offering to tarmac drives have been received in the past month from Ormskirk, Chorley, Thornton Cleveleys and Colne areas of Lancashire, including one instance where work was carried out without the permission of the householder. If you need any house maintenance work carrying out, use the Safe Trader Scheme to find a trader,

Roof Coating
Reports from Lytham St Annes and Accrington have been received in relation to doorstep sellers offering to coat your roof, making it waterproof and retain heat. The sale was linked in with reducing fuel bills and the availability of a government grant for the work was implied. No government grants are available for any roof paint/ coating, in general, roof coatings are purely cosmetic, be very wary of claims made.

As always, Trading Standards advice is never to do business on the doorstep.

Refer any complaints to Lancashire Trading Standards Service, Room D21, County Hall, Preston, Lancs PR1 3NU via Consumer Direct tel 08454 040506

27th June 2011
Source: Lancashire Constabulary

METAL thieves have been targeted by police as part of a week-long campaign. The operation, codenamed Operation Starling, has seen officers from Lancashire Constabulary carrying out visits to scrap yards and metal dealers and doing roadside stop-checks of vehicles suspected to be involved in the transportation of meta.

The activity, which took place between Monday 20 June and Friday 24 June, has been supported by a number of other agencies including The Environment Agency, British Transport Police, VOSA, HM Revenue and Customs and The Department for Work and Pensions.

Between April 2010 and March 2011, there were 3,014 metal theft crimes in Lancashire. This is a 48.3 per cent increase - or an extra 1,456 crimes - from the 1,558 reported between April 2009 and March 2010.

Click here for the full Lancashire Constabulary article

14th June 2011
Source: Southport Visiter

ORGANISERS of controversial motocross racing at Leisure Lakes are taking their battle back to West Lancashire Council.

A government inspector banned motorbiking at the track, run by Leisure Lakes MX Ltd, with effect from last weekend.

He was called in after Leisure Lakes appealed against a West Lancashire Council enforcement notice against a breach of planning control relating to motorbike racing. Now Leisure Lakes MX Ltd is planning to apply to West Lancashire Council for permission to continue their activities.

Paul Smith, from the operator, said: “We intend to submit a retrospective planning application that includes the agreement over the noise issue that was agreed in court in March of this year, and address the second inspector’s objection, we have already made arrangements to move the containers.

“We are confident that we can reach agreement with West Lancashire Council’s planning department.”

West Lancashire Council took planning enforcement action in 2007 and 2008. Cllr Martin Forshaw, cabinet member for planning, said the authority had received more complaints about Leisure Lakes over the last four years than any other site.

Some residents welcomed the motocross ban, but parents of youngsters who use the site started a campaign to save it.

“Two petitions have been set up, one for the uses and supporters of the facility at Leisure Lakes which is nearing 2,000 signatures, and one is from local residents who support us.

“They believe that the total closure is a step to far, and are quite happy for Leisure Lakes MX Ltd to run the track under the conditions agreed in March.

“We appreciate noise is an issue, but we had agreed on days, times and engine sizes that were of concern with West Lancashire Council in court in March.”

13th June 2011
Source: Peter West

Dear all,

I am posting this ‘open letter’ to ask if anyone in the local community can help me with the following enquiry.

I am interested in obtaining information relating to two businesses that my grandfather (George West) ran in Southport.

Firstly, he ran a Gentleman’s Hairdressing (barbers) shop in Churchtown in the years leading up to his retirement in the early 1960s.  I think it was located on the west side of Botanic Road, just south of Manor Road.  Secondly, prior to that, he ran a newsagent’s shop in Southport, which I believe was on Kensington Road, and served commuters (presumably using St Luke’s train station) for Manchester, Wigan and Preston.

  • I am interested in finding out more about these two businesses he ran; for example:
  • The dates between which he ran these two businesses.
  • The precise addresses of these businesses.
  • Any photographs of these shops taken at the time

Would anyone who could help me find answers to the above questions and indeed any other details relating to these two businesses, please contact me at  pjcwest (at)

In addition, I would be grateful to learn of alternative lines of enquiry that I could pursue.  Therefore, I would also welcome suggestions regarding other people or organisations that I could contact and records that I could investigate.

Yours sincerely,
Mr Peter West

9th June 2011
Source: Ormskirk Advertiser

David Cameron’s boundary review – aimed at cutting the number of MPs in Parliament by 50 – is set to see four Tory stronghold wards absorbed from South Ribble.

The electoral map in 2015 will see 12,500 registered voters in the Northern Parishes – Tarleton, Rufford, Meols and Hesketh-with-Becconsall – absorbed into West Lancs for the first time.

Six thousand voters in Parbold and Wrightington are expected to move out of the constituency into South Ribble.

Andrew Cheetham, Conservative councillor in Tarleton, added: “I think we would all welcome the chance to finally cement a place in a clearly defined area. It’s quite frustrating that we’re between two authorities.

“We’re represented in Parliament by South Ribble but governed locally by West Lancs Borough Council.

“We do feel a little bit unloved and it makes total sense to be incorporated within a West Lancs constituency.”

The new seats will be announced in September.

Click here for the full Ormskirk Advertiser article

8th June 2011
Cuadrilla thank localS for attending Information Day
Source: Caudrilla Resources

Cuadrilla is delighted that so many local people took the time to attend the Public Information Day held in Hesketh Bank on Monday and would like to offer its thanks to residents.

During the event, six members of Cuadrilla’s technical team were on hand to discuss in detail the company’s operations and to address any issues raised. Among the 100 locals were county, district and parish councillors who all took the time to chat with Cuadrilla, including CEO, Mark Miller.

The aim of the Information Day was to inform locals about shale gas exploration and to provide the opportunity for the team to personally address the questions raised by locals. Of the feedback forms returned, over 83 per cent of residents left the event feeling more informed about Cuadrilla’s operations.

Speaking about the Public Information Day, Mark Miller, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: "The event was a great way to speak to residents and learn first-hand which issues are of interest. As a company, we have come away with a better understanding of the surrounding communities."

"Some of the attendees wanted to seek assurances that the company is taking all the appropriate measures to protect the environment during our operations as well as finding out more about the geology of the Bowland Basin.

Others were interested in the technology and techniques used during the exploration of shale gas and the potential benefits it could bring to the local economy and the UK’s energy mix.

Most importantly though, we are all happy that most people left the event feeling more informed about our operations and we are committed to ensuring this is maintained."

If you missed the event you can download a pdf of the information boards used at the information day

4th June 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media / Cuadrilla Resources

In response to a direct request we made about the make up of the fracking fluid, Cuadrilla have provided the following information:

Cuadrilla Resources: Fracing Fluid compositionThe fracing fluids used by Cuadrilla is 99.75% composed of fresh water and sand. This water and sand combination is supplemented with microscopic amounts of everyday chemicals typically found in people’s homes: Polyacrylamide friction reducers (00.075%), commonly used in cosmetics and facial creams, Hydrochloric acid (00.125%), frequently found in swimming pools and drinking water wells, Biocide (00.005%), used on rare occasions when the water provided from the local supplier needs to be further purified.

The actual combination of materials we use depends on the specific circumstances we encounter, but we take robust and proven precautionary measures to ensure that none of them can re-appear at the surface or contaminate the aquifer in any way.

Upon returning to the surface, they are stored in steel tanks and at no point come in contact with the ground. In the unlikely event that any liquid was spilt on the surface, seepage at ground level is prevented by the installation of an impermeable membrane on land at and surrounding the well site.

Cuadrilla have also provided a video demonstrating hydraulic fracturing. Click here to view.

Cuadrilla management and staff will be on hand to discuss the processs this coming Monday, 4pm - 8pm at All Saints Church Hall, Station Road, Hesketh Bank.

2nd June 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media

Cuadrilla - local confidence rocked by fracking company errors

Amongst all the concerns raised by the recent earthquakes and the suggestion that they may be linked to the gas shale 'Fracking' process, Hesketh Bank residents are finding some amusement in Cuadrilla's insistence that their gas drilling site is in Becconsall. The drill site is not in Becconsall; it is not even in Hesketh Bank but off Marsh Road in Banks.

The sign at the site entrance on Marsh Road has caused further distraction with the incorrect spelling of Cuadrilla.

A resident quipped "For a Company that is trying to reassure us that the controversial fracking process is safe in their hands, it would be much more encouraging if they could read a map and spell their own name correctly".

On a more serious note, local farmers have expressed worries about the impact the fracking may have on their borehole water supplies and local environmentalists are pressing for disclosure on the 'rock dissolving' chemicals used in the process. (We have asked Cuadrilla about these two specific points but they have not yet responded).

Questions are also being raised about how the already poor water pressure in the area may be put under severe pressure as significant amounts of water are required to extract shale gas.

Added to the issues arising from the two earthquakes in the vicinity of Cuadrilla's Fylde operation, the 'Information Day' at All Saints Church Hall next week may prove to be quite an event.

Have your say on the Letters Page

1st June 2011
Second Tremor Shakes Local Confidence In Gas Drilling
Source: The Independent

Residents of Lancashire, somewhat unsurprisingly, do not want to live in an earthquake zone. The idea then that the recent rise in seismic activity may be linked to the beginning of "fracking" in the area has prompted concern.

"Links between gas fracking, which is cracking up the underground structure, and the quake need looking at," demanded Alistair Parker, from the market town of Poulton, where an earthquake struck in early April. "We only have their word for the extent of the effects they are creating."

Despite the suspension of operations at the Singleton site, Cuadrilla Resources, the company behind the exploration for shale gas on the Fylde Coast, has confirmed that it plans to start drilling near Hesketh Bank.

Click Here for the complete Independent article

31st May 2011
Source: BBC News

Shale gas test drilling in Lancashire has been suspended following an earthquake on the Fylde coast.

Cuadrilla, the firm behind the tests, said drilling had been suspended as a precaution after the 1.5 magnitude tremor - the second in two months.

It will now examine the data collected by the British Geological Survey (BGS) before deciding whether to resume.

Click Here for the complete BBC News article

31st May 2011
BBC Domesday Reloaded
Source: Hubmaker Media

The BBC is asking the people of Britain to take a walk down memory lane back to 1986 – when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, mullets were the craze, Maradona's "Hand of God" destroyed a nation's World Cup dreams, the first Japanese car manufacturing plant opened in the UK and the ZX Spectrum was the game console of choice.

One of the most comprehensive digital time capsules has been unearthed through BBC Domesday Reloaded, providing a rarely-seen snapshot of what local areas looked like 25 years ago. The public is being asked to explore and, more importantly, update previously unseen images and articles from their local area by going onto the dedicated Domesday website.

The campaign, led by BBC Learning, runs throughout the summer of 2011 and invites you to participate by updating local photos and text which were submitted in 1986.

To Participate in BBC Domesday Reloaded The map on the website is divided into D-blocks and you can find yours by typing in your postcode.

When you click on your local D-block you may find photos and text from 1986, but please note not all D-blocks had submissions.

If there are photos and text on your local or neighbouring D-blocks we would like you to add your 2011 updates.

27th May 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media

Cuadrilla Resources has announced that it will hold an Public Information Open Day on the 6th June at All Saints Church Hall, Station Road, Hesketh Bank (See Events Page for more details).

Members of the Cuadrilla technical team will be available to answer any questions residents may have about Shale Gas and the controversial Fracking process.

A recent MP's report has rejected a moratorium on shale gas exploration despite claims that there is evidence of environmental dangers. France recently agreed a moratorium on new shale gas projects (potentially with a view to a complete ban), and similar steps have been taken in several US states, after widespread reports of shale gas wells leading to contamination and dangers to homeowners.

The 'fracking' process is where underground shale rock is hydraulically fractured using a mix of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals which are released underground in high pressure bursts to free the trapped gas which then flows to the surface where it is collected.

The much publicised 'burning tap' where gas is claimed to have entered the water supply as a result of fracking activity has been a high profile PR problem for the industry but campaigners in the US say the biggest fear is that the mystery slurry could get into the water supply.

And there have been troubling safety incidents. In late April 2011 a big company, Chesapeake Energy, suspended its fracking in Pennsylvania after one of its natural-gas wells blew out and spilled toxic drilling fluid into a nearby creek.

From the The Economist 11th May 2011: "Activists and scientists reckon that if the process is safe, the companies should come clean. “If they’ve got nothing to hide, why is the industry so paranoid about disclosing their chemicals?” asks Steve Torbit, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain region. They may have to. The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the process. In 2009, House Democrats proposed legislation that would force the industry to disclose the chemicals it uses in fracking. Several states, including Texas and Colorado, have similar legislation pending.

In the meantime public concerns are growing. Late last month 200 people packed a Bureau of Land Management hearing in Golden, Colorado. Dave Cesark, an executive at Mesa Energy Partners LLC, tried to reassure, saying that fracking chemicals constitute “just a drop in the bucket”: only 0.5% of the total fluids, including water, that the company uses to drill natural gas. The crowd did not, strangely enough, find that entirely reassuring. Some producers will grumble that any regulation of fracking is an unwarranted constraint on their business. But if natural gas is not produced cleanly, it will not prove to be so cheap, either. Full disclosure is a price worth paying."

Cuadrilla Resources point out that "United Utilities has publicly said our activities pose no threat at all to its water supply" and that "All the activity is taking place thousands of feet below the level of the local aquifer; and the site itself is protected by an impermeable membrane to guard against any on-surface spills."

With the rig due on site mid June, this phase of the operation is to explore how much gas there is and how easy it is to extract. Cuardrilla will need to get further approval to set up permanent facilities on the Hesketh Bank site.

26th May 2011
Source: Ormskirk Advertiser

Riccadonna Produce, run by the Edge family, has “with regret” withdrawn an appeal against the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA) to revoke its licence, while strongly denying the investigation’s findings.

The GLA investigation claimed abuses including Physical and mental mistreatment, Debt bondage and payments below the minimum wage. Along with issuing inaccurate wage slips and breaking safety rules, Riccadonna was given 166 penalty points by the GLA. 30 points is the fail mark.

This is the second time Riccadonna has had a licence revoked; the first was in September 2009.

Click here for the complete Ormskirk Advertiser Article

25th May 2011
Source: Lancashire Trading Standards

Bank Charges
Scam Lancashire residents have been receiving unsolicited telephone calls from a business alleging to be able to retrieve bank charges for a fee of £200.

The resident is informed they are due a refund of bank charges of over £3,000 and advised to go to their local shop and obtain an Ucash voucher/moneygram for £200 which a representative from the business will be round to collect later in the day.

Inheritance Scam
Lancashire residents have received a letter alleging to be from an employee at a Hong Kong bank stating a relative (surname the same as the recipient) has recently died leaving an inheritance of around $6.8 million. The resident is asked to keep the matter a secret and to contact the writer who will share the inheritance. The letter is post marked in this country with a second class stamp affixed.

General advice is to never enter into any negotiation with these style of scams and never give money up front. If you are owed monies, for example for bank charges or for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) deal direct with your bank.

Such practices can also be reported to Action Fraud, telephone 0300 1232040, website Refer any complaints to Lancashire Trading Standards Service, Room D21, County Hall, Preston, Lancs PR1 0LD via Consumer Direct tel 08454 040506.

19th May 2011
Source: Southport Visiter

Parents and riders – some of whom are not from the area – are starting a campaign to keep motorbiking at Leisure Lakes.

One of the parents, Rebecca McArdle, said: “We are launching a campaign and we have been on the radio this week. Leisure Lakes is a family and they look after me and my four-year-old son Jacob like we’re one of their own. They give a lot of advice on what bikes to buy and Jacob is now on his third bike since Christmas.”

Andrew Thornton said: “My son Alex lives for motocross. If we had to curtail our weekends at the track because we were travelling further to a different track, it would break his heart."

"As a health and safety manager for a large manufacturing company, I can state with good authority that the track at Leisure Lakes is one of the safest and best run tracks that I have visited.”

Cllr Andrew Cheetham, Tarleton Parish Council chairman, said: "I have every sympathy for both sides, but where were all these supporters when the public inquiry was on?"

"Leisure Lakes is a wonderful facility for the community, but leisure facilities should not be provided at the expense of people’s quality of life."

Click here for the complete Southport Visiter article

17th May 2011
Leisure Lakes Motocross track ordered to close
Source: BBC News

The Leisure Lakes motocross track has been ordered to close by WLBC planning inspectors.

The Leisure Lakes track attracted 33 complaints from people living nearby over a four-year period, mainly about the noise.

West Lancashire Council took action against the unauthorised use of the land and the disturbances to residents. At a public inquiry, planning inspector John Braithwaite said the noise was "irritating and impossible to ignore".

He ruled the track was an inappropriate use of land in the Green Belt and had a "serious adverse impact" on neighbouring properties. The council had initially refused planning permission for the track, but the operator appealed. Enforcement action was begun by the council in October 2008 but quashed in June 2009.

However, the council was able to successfully challenge this in the High Court and a judge ruled the original planning application should be re-determined. Leisure Lakes has until 4 June to cease operations at the site, and two months to remove the track and fencing.

The company was also given nine months to restore the land to its condition prior to use as a racetrack.

BBC News Report

11th May 2011
Stolen tankers found in Mere Brow
Source: Elesmere Port Pioneer

DETECTIVES have arrested two men after the theft of three oil tankers from Ellesmere Port worth more than £300,000.

Between 6.15pm on Tuesday, May 3 and 1.45am on Wednesday, thieves stole three articulated lorries from an industrial unit on North Road, Ellesmere Port.

All three lorries were tankers laden with nearly £150,000 worth of diesel, bound for various locations throughout the UK.

Two of the tankers were recovered by police the following morning at Mere Brow, Preston.

Extensive enquiries led by officers from Ellesmere Port CID led to the recovery of the three tractor units and the third tanker in Widnes, Warrington and Skelmersdale. All the stolen vehicles have now been returned.

Two men aged 25 and 52 from Tarleton, Lancashire, have been arrested in relation to the incident and following interview, have been granted bail until June 30.

Click here for the full Elesmere Port Pioneer artilce

5th April 2011
Grand Theatre of Lemmings leap into action
Source: Hubmaker Media

Mere Brow Village Hall is inviting the community to come and witness the descent of man in the performance Grand Theatre of Lemmings – The Descent of Man on Thursday 7 April at 7.30pm.

The show, commissioned by five rural touring networks including Lancashire’s own rural touring network Spot On, takes a sideways look at the future of the human race using a giant book of illustrations.

Working in collaboration with French improvisational musician Samuel Gardes, The Descent of Man is a terrifically surreal and comic descent into controlled chaos.

Sue Robinson from Spot On said: “The Grand Theatre of Lemmings is a fun night out for all, with film, animation, songs and live music. It combines the surrealism of traditional English humour with the surrealism of French physical theatre.”

To book tickets tel 01772 813516

More Local Events

1st April 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media

Rufford Tip ClosureResidents of the West Lancashire "Northern Parishes" of Tarleton, Hesketh Bank, Banks and Rufford will fail to see the funny side of Lanacshire County Council's April Fools Day closure of Rufford Recycling Centre.

The closure of the Rufford Facility leaves all residents facing an additional 10 miles added to their journey each time they visit the next nearest facility located at the far side of Burscough.

Local landowners fear an escalation in fly tipping which is already a big problem in the area and residents have complained that the closure is a further erosion of rural services.

Conservative councillors protested loudly when the then Labour administration first muted that Rufford Tip might be included in a list of sites threatened with closure but then caused an outcry by agreeing to shut the site only 12 months after taking control of the Council. Lancashire County Councillor Malcolm Barron said at the time [News Archive 11/01/2007] "Residents in his area were horrified at the proposal. If the centre is closed they would have to travel to Burscough which is heavily congested and the exit from Abbey Lane very dangerous."

Future plans for the Rufford site have not been announced but staff are hoping to be redeployed at other recyling sites around the County.

29th March 2011
Source: Lancashire Evening Post

When police are called to deal with anti-social nuisance affecting innocent residents, it is usually a gang of hooded youths causing the trouble.

But neighbours on one street are being terrorised by ‘yobs’ of a different kind – a bunch of boisterous chickens.

Wildlife specialists from Lancashire Police were called to Aveling Drive in Banks, after residents said the problem was getting out of control.

Mark Thomas, the force’s wildlife officer, said it began around three years ago when someone dumped three young chicks on a patch of land close to homes in the built-up area.

Since then, the flock has multiplied and some 40 chickens are running amok in the street.

Click here for the complete Lancashire Evening Post Article

19th March 2011
Source: Lancashire Constabulary

POLICE in West Lancashire are investigating two high value burglaries at houses in Banks and Tarleton that took place within a week of each other.

The first burglary happened at a property on Charnleys Lane in Banks March 7th. The offenders have broken in through the kitchen window at the rear of the house and ransacked every room in the house.

Using two suitcases they found in the house, the offenders have proceeded to take a large amount of property including iPods, mobile phones, computers, cameras and jewellery totalling approximately £7,000.

They also took the spare keys to the owners BMW, although the car was not taken.

Just four days later, on March 11th, a house on Hesketh Lane in Tarleton was broken into, again at the rear of the house, through the conservatory. The offenders again searched the whole house and stole jewellery, computers and clothing worth over £30,000.

The owners Audi A5 was also stolen from the address but was recovered a short time later in the Sefton area by police.

DC Paul Mulrooney from the West Lancashire Target Team said: "Due to similarities between the two burglaries we do believe that they could be linked and we are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward and contact police.

"In particular I would appeal to anyone who lives in these areas to think back and see if they can remember seeing anything at all suspicious in the areas over the past ten days or so. If anyone thinks they have seen anything at all that could help us then I would urge them to come forward."

Anyone with any information can contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

15th March 2011
Open Letter to MR Cameron & MR Pickles
Source: WLBC Cllr Dr David Vickers

Monday, 14 March 2011

Dear Mr Cameron and Mr Pickles,

Fine as the concepts of ‘Big Society’ and ‘Localism’ are, unfortunately, they will not be allowed to succeed. As with the ‘Poll Tax’ under Margaret Thatcher both these concepts will be rendered unworkable by council officers, and in some cases elected councillors, who have a vested interest in seeing them fail. It would need, therefore, not just fine words and the Localism Bill to make it work, but a root and branch review and reform of local councils, especially the planning departments and processes.

Over the years planning has become so complex and more of a social engineering process that it has passed out of the comprehension of most elected members sitting on planning committees. This has passed the power to planning officers who can manipulate the system to meet required political ends.  Officers accept evidence to be true only if comes from the ‘statutory consultees’ and evidence from local residents is rejected as ‘misinformation’. Objections to an application are dismissed as ‘not a valid planning consideration’, but a favourite ploy if the verdict is going against an application that has been recommended for approval is that the council would not be able to defend an appeal. I have not seen this ‘consideration’ in any of the PPS documents as a valid planning consideration.

The planning committee process itself is a shambles with the chairman and opposition spokesman being briefed by the planning officers. These then in turn ‘brief’ their members at a pre committee meeting meeting, this is like briefing a jury before a trial and, surely, introduces an element of ‘predetermination’ as a ‘view’ is taken on the applications under consideration and this ‘view’ is rarely changed during the hearing. Some councils allow members of the public to speak in objection to an application, but do not let them speak in support. They are normally restricted to 3 minutes and to one or two speakers, at the chairman’s discretion, they are allowed to answer questions, but not ask them. Ward councillors may be allowed to speak for 5 minutes, but may not answer questions or challenge information put forward by the officers or members. It can be seen from this that in the case of a quite complex application it is not possible to cover the issues in the case as fully as necessary.

It may make the issues clearer if I gave some examples of recent planning applications that went through our local planning committee.

  1. Application; 34 houses with a mix of 20 open market houses and 14 ‘affordable houses’. The site was a derelict agricultural ‘pack-house’ situated in a village with quite poor road links for heavy goods vehicles. It took the applicant 7 years, and an appeal, to get planning permission. Every obstacle was put in his way even though the village residents and parish council approved of the scheme. It was claimed that he ‘had not done enough to find tenants’. The cost to the applicant was over £350,000 in business tax alone over that period.

  2. Application; 31 ‘social’ houses with a mix of 25 bungalows and 6 flats. The site was an agricultural holding, with its own agricultural number. It had glasshouses on the site which were not derelict until a few weeks before the application was lodged when some of the glasshouses and two irrigation pits were demolished and filled in. The rest of the glasshouses continue in use. The village is classed as being in a flood risk 3 zone. Under the provisions  of PPS25, development and flood risk, development should only be allowed to meet a local need and more suitable sites are not available. This site is situated at the lowest point of the village. The development is supposed to meet the needs purely of the village though it was admitted at the meeting that it would exceed the needs of the village and was really to meet the needs of the borough. This, in itself, indicated that it did not meet the requirements of PPS25. This was ignored. The Water Company raised no objections regarding connecting into the antiquated sewers. This was standard practice for them as they have never raised an objection, for whatever reason. The information given by local residents that the sewers in that part of the village regularly flood was ignored. This was ‘misinformation’! The plans called for surface water run-off to be directed into a ditch at the side of the site. This was agreed by the Environment Agency even though the ditch did not go anywhere. The culvert that it went into collapsed several years ago. Local information, again, was classed as ‘misinformation’ though officers from the Environment Agency have not been to look at the site. The developer is having difficulty in achieving visibility splays for the access. They are being allowed to narrow a section of one of the busiest roads through the village.  We carried out an experiment on a quiet Saturday lunchtime. We coned off the part of the road that was to be narrowed and parked a car, quite legally, opposite the narrowed section and stood back and waited to see what would happen. It was chaos. In 50 minutes 255 cars, two buses and a tractor were counted travelling in both direction on the road. During the week and during certain seasons that road is used by HGV, buses, agricultural vehicles and cars. There is a primary school 50 metres from the access road. The highways Dept at LCC state that the narrowing will not cause any problem or increased risk to the children. The evidence, both verbal and photographic, produced by the local residents was dismissed as ‘misinformation’. Only one member of the public and a representative of the parish council were allowed to speak for 3 minutes each. Two other members of the public were stopped from speaking as ‘they did not live in the vicinity’ even though one was a school governor at the nearby school. Only 4 members of the committee were aware of the issues inherent in this application and it was duly passed in spite of over 300 objections. The old ploy of ‘not being able to defend an appeal’ was used to great effect. The decision was political in that the council had just been slated by the Audit Commission for not meeting its ‘affordable housing target’. Another possible reason for approval is down to you two really in that the new incentive scheme comes into effect on the 1st April and as this application has been delegated to the chief planning officer it is probable that it will not be approved until after that date so the council will benefit from the grants. I do not think that you intended these grants to cause inappropriate development.

  3. Local Development Framework; our council, along with many others are in the process of developing their local development framework, which seems a little premature as we do not know how the ‘Localism Bill’ will affect it. In fact the officers do not believe the bill will affect it at all. During the consultation period our village, under auspices of the parish council, formed a working group to respond with our view of what the village needed in the way of improvements to infrastructure, services, employment and housing over the next 15 years. This was totally rejected on the grounds of flood risk, we are classed as a flood risk 3 zone, remember, and we wanted to take about two hectares of greenbelt land. A word about the flood risk would not go amiss here; the village is regarded as being in a flood risk 3a zone because if we did not have any sea defences we would be liable to flooding from the sea in a 1 in 1,000 year event. That is if we were hit by a 2.2m storm surge, the normal tide being 4m. This is in line with national guidelines for the formulation of strategic flood risk assessments. The fact that we have a considerable acreage of saltmarsh, an 8m high bank and about 2km of moss between the shoreline and the village, and this area has not been flooded from the sea in 16,000 years is not taken into account. Unless, of course, the officers want a planning application to be agreed.

This village, like many others in the same position, are communities; the type of communities that you are trying to foster with your ‘Big Society’, but these communities are being gradually killed off due to inappropriate development, and lack of development, for political reasons.
To make your ideas work you will need to do the following (and I am sure other will be able to add to the suggestions)

  • Simplify the planning process; it is far too complex and has degenerated into a social engineering process with planning officers in total control.
  • Give local people a greater say in the process; after all they are the ones with ‘local knowledge.
  • Make committee meetings fairer by ensuring members understand planning issues, caucus meetings, and briefings, before the main meetings are outlawed and local ward council are allowed to take a full part in the debate ensuring that ‘evidence’ can be properly challenged.
  • Allow strategic flood risk assessments be formulated on local conditions rather than a national template.
  • Give local people more control over green belt land.

I am writing this letter because I believe in the ‘Big Society’; we are making it work in the village, and the Localism Bill and would not like to see them fail for a little thought at this time.

Yours sincerely on behalf of the community and village of Banks, West Lancs.

Cllr Dr David Vickers
North Meols Ward Councillor
West Lancs Borough Council
cllr.vickers (at)


10th March 2011
Source: Press Release

Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble has raised the issue of anti social behaviour in the House of Commons.

Lorraine is supportive of the tough stance that the Government has taken on this important issue so far, which blights villages like Tarleton, Banks, Hesketh Bank and Rufford.   Lorraine asked Ministers about plans the Government has to assist the police in tackling anti social behaviour.   In response, James Brokenshire MP, Minister for Crime Prevention, outlined proposals to reduce bureaucracy and costs for the police and the launch of the consultation for reforming the toolkit for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Lorraine also raised the importance of engaging young people early in order to prevent anti-social behaviour and was pleased with the response from the Minister who outlined plans to intervene early through the early intervention grant, which will support activities for young people. 

Lorraine said: “The problems caused by anti-social behaviour ruin neighbourhoods in local communities across the country.  I am pleased that since its formation in May, this Government have shown that they are willing to take a tough approach to anti-social behaviour and not just accept it as a bit of a nuisance.  Anti-social behaviour is a crime and a pre-cursor to more serious offending which is why we need to intervene early to stop young people living a life of crime and blighting the lives of others living around them.  The early intervention grant and proposals for a national citizen service will encourage young people to choose to be a real part of their communities rather than tormenting them.”

“The Government’s radical reforms on policing give people a real say on how crime is fought in their local area.  For the first time, local people in South Ribble will get the chance to elect someone to hold their local police force to account, through the website local people can see where crimes are committed in their neighbourhood and I also urge local people to fill in the Government’s consultation on anti-social behaviour.”

19th February 2011
Source: Lancashire Trading Standards

Lancashire residents have contacted Trading Standards to report a council tax refund scam.

Residents have received a phone call allegedly from their local District Council telling them they are entitled to a refund of their council tax and a payment of £7000 can be paid into their account. The caller requests confirmation of the consumer’s name and address and then asks for bank account details to transfer the money. The caller than asks for £100 fee to process the refund.

Trading Standards have confirmed that the caller is not calling on behalf of their district Council and advise that consumers should not give out bank details to unverified callers.

Anyone who has given out their bank details to a caller like this should contact their bank immediately. Anyone who thinks they might be eligible for a refund should contact their local council directly on a verified phone number. If you are entitled to a refund on your council tax you should never be asked to pay a fee to receive a refund.

21st January 2011
Source: Southport Visiter

Proposals to develop Green Belt land in Banks have moved a step closer to reality.

Up to 100 homes could be built in the southern part of the village as part of West Lancashire Borough Council’s core strategy.

The Northern Parishes, which includes Tarleton, Hesketh Bank, Mere Brow, Rufford and Banks, are already set for 240 houses as part of the scheme.

The Council hope to build 4,500 homes and develop 87 hectares of business land in West Lancashire between 2012-2027. Most of this will be in and around Skelmersdale, but some of the development will have to go on protected Green Belt land.

At a Cabinet meeting to narrow down potential locations on Tuesday night, members rejected south east Ormskirk as a possible site. This left two options remaining: setting most of the remaining development in Burscough, or spreading it around a number of sites. The latter scheme would see up to 100 houses built in southern Banks.

The Council are set to consult with the public later in the year before reaching a decision as to which option is chosen.

Cllr David Vickers supported the prospect of houses being built in Banks, but was frustrated at the limited number of new homes proposed. He said: “The option still leaves us 200 houses short of what we’d like. “The regeneration of Banks is dependent on seeing new development. “No development at all is just not on – it would kill the village. “For the village to thrive we need it to evolve and if you look at the borough, Banks is the only place that can evolve if you look at the shape of the village.”

Development to the north, west and east of Banks was ruled out during research into possible sites for development because of flooding risks.

21st January 2011
Source: Hubmaker Media

A new "Phase III" Children's Centre is opening in Hesketh Bank in early 2011 to offer support and services for families with children 0-5 and children up to age 11 with additional needs.

Located alongside Hesketh with Becconsall All Saints Primary School on Shore Road , the new centre will help and support the communities of Hesketh Bank, Tarleton, Banks, Mere Brow, Holmeswood and Rufford by linking in with other local services in order to help children to reach their full potential.

Phase III Children's Centres offer communities an information point and link with existing pre-school providers, health and education professionals and community groups to support 0-5 year olds or parents, carers and children with additional needs up to the age of 11 to provide services and support within the community.

The official opening event is on the morning of the 28th January. Parents and Carers are very welcome to drop in and view the facility between 2 and 4 pm.

Staff at the centre have already consulted with local groups and parents with a view to launching a programme of events and activities that will begin soon.

21st January 2011
Body of teenage girl found in woodS AT BANKS
Source: Liverpool Echo

The body of a teenage girl was found in woodland off the A565 Dual carriageway at Banks.

A passer-by alerted police after discovering the body in woods near Gravel Lane, Banks, at around 10am yesterday.

An investigation is under way, but Lancashire Police say they are not treating the death as suspicious. The family have been notified, but police are not releasing any more information until they carried out a formal identification.

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