19 Feb 2018

Victoria Lodge Hotel Tranmere: Call for Compulsory Purchase

I've sent the letter below to the head of Regeneration at Wirral
Council. It calls on the council to compulsory purchase the Victoria
Lodge Hotel site on Victoria Road in Tranmere and sets out the reasons why.

For the past five years this site has caused nothing but trouble and the
problems are mounting. This is exactly the kind of situation where local
authorities need to intervene.

FAO: David Ball
Head of Regeneration and Planning
Wirral Council
Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED


Re: Victoria Lodge Hotel, Victoria Road, Tranmere

Dear David,

As you know, there has been widespread and growing concern about the
Victoria Lodge site for more than five years since it ceased to operate
as a public house. Apart from being an eye-sore, it is a persistent
magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour. The site is regularly
fly-tipped and vandalised. It has been set on fire on several occasions.
There is persistent drug dealing in the vicinity. The police, fire
service and council employees have all given many hours of publicly
funded time dealing with the many issues associated with the site.

In contrast, the behaviour of the site owners has left much to be
desired. The Lodge has never been properly secured. The owners have been
reactive rather than proactive in looking after the property. The
promised planning application to redevelop the site has never
materialised. Private approaches to purchase the site have been
rejected. They have recently indicated that redeveloping the site is not
a priority.

The overall situation has been exacerbated by Magenta Livings closure of
the car park opposite the Lodge. This has turned a public asset into a

My patience and the patience of local residents has run out. We are all
sick and tired of the disregard for the local community and the daily
problems the site brings. We see no prospect of an end to this
situation. The house next door to the Lodge has been empty and boarded
up for two years. How many more homes will suffer this fate?

The time has come to accept that Wirral Council needs to take the
appropriate steps to address this blight on the local community. It is
clearly in the public interest that Wirral Council use its compulsory
purchase powers to acquire the site and secure its long term future. As
you know, the government has recently updated and simplified its
guidance to local authorities on the compulsory purchase process. Now is
the time to act on that guidance.

Consideration should also be given to the future of the car park site
opposite the Lodge.

We therefore ask that you set in motion the necessary steps to acquire
the Victoria Lodge site with a view to its timely redevelopment/reuse
for the benefit of local residents and the wider community of Birkenhead.

We look forward to your response.

With best regards

Pat Cleary
Green Party councillor
Birkenhead and Tranmere

and 36 local residents.

23 Jan 2018

Merseyside Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels

At yesterday's meeting of the Merseyside Pension Fund (MPF) Committee it was unanimously agreed that the fund would take practical steps to reduce its investments in fossil fuels.
This is something I have been pressing for ever since I was appointed to the pensions committee almost three years ago. While it is some way from the full divestment I and the Green Party would like to see, it nevertheless means that millions of pounds will be divested out of fossil fuel companies.

In practical terms, what has been agreed will impact of the fund's investment in passive equities. MPF currently invests over £1.1 billion in UK and US tracker indices. These track the overall stock market and make no allowance for the carbon intensity of these investment.

Now, an initial one-third of these passive investments (circa £370 million) will be moved into low-carbon index trackers. The time scale for this is the next four to five months. The carbon intensity of these investment funds is expected to reduce by 50-70%.

Furthermore, this is just the start. The head of the pension fund has clearly indicated that he wants to see more steps in this direction and measures to further reduce carbon risk in both active as well as passive investments in the future. That is certainly something I will be pressing for.

My understanding is that Merseyside is only the second local authority pension fund to date to actively implement measures to reduce its carbon risk. It is also by far the largest to do so. Hopefully this is just the beginning and other local authority schemes will take similar, urgent steps to reduce the clear risk that holding high carbon assets poses for members of pension schemes. In particular, I am hopeful the MPF's pooling arrangements with Manchester and West Yorkshire will encourage those funds to take a leaf out of Merseyside's book.

This of course is merely part of a global divestment push that has seen many private sector schemes publicly divest from fossil fuels. Just this week, Lloyds of London announced it would no longer invest in coal companies.

The writing is on the wall for fossil fuels. I am delighted and proud that MPF has taken a lead on this and to have played an active role in its implementation.

You can read the detail of what has been agreed under item 9 "Management of carbon risk" via this link.

You can watch the relevant part of the committee debate courtesy of John Brace's video link.