Sefton Rights of Way – Any issues out there?

For my sins (can an atheist sin?) I am a member of this Group which meets on a 3 monthly basis to discuss and highlight issues with the Borough’s public footpath and bridleway network.

Footpath of Bridges Lane in Sefton Village

I represent both Maghull Town and Lydiate Parish Councils on the Group and am happy to take up issues with public rights of way in the two civil parishes and beyond. So if you have any comments to make please get in touch with me.

And whilst on the subject of walking I am presently reading a book by Stuart Maconie called ‘The Pie at Night’ – its all about what those of us Oop North do for fun! I was struck by some comments about the Ramblers Association now re-branded Ramblers. What I did not know was that it grew out of the Communist British Workers Sport Federation. Can I hear any Conservative members of Ramblers laughing at that surprising bit of history?

Lydiate – The 1965 award winning houses in Seafore Close

Lydiate’s 1965 Civic Trust Award winning Seafore Close

There is at least one other local Civic Trust Award winning development/building in Sefton Borough – Formby Swimming Pool (see 1st photo below) – but if there are others they are not presently not known to me. If you wish to let me know of others I would be pleased to hear from you.

Civic Trust Award Winning Formby Swimming Pool

The concrete plinth with the Civic Trust Award plaque affixed to it. You can see it as you enter Seafore Close from Southport Road Lydiate.

And here’s a closer look at the Award plaque:-

The houses are clearly of a unique design and I like them but the fact that they won a nationally prestigious award is what makes them an important part of Lydiate’s history.

I Googled the Civic Trust Award looking for details of the award but their web site does not seem to cover awards given so far back – 52 years! I realise that the timber and asbestos (wrong – see update below) construction will be what makes them unique but am looking for more detailed background to the award.

Here’s a link to the Civic Trust Award web site:-

www.civictrustawards.org.uk/

Civic Trust Awards started in 1959 but the Seafore Close, Lydiate award details are seemingly not presently accessible from the web site. On that basis I have twice recently sent enquiries to the web site for the details, but so far no one has come back to me as the site indicates will happen when enquiries are made.

I hope, therefore, to be able to update this posting when I do manage to track down the full award details. Of course, it could well be that folks out there, particularly people who may have lived in the properties, hold the award details and if so I would be delighted to hear from them.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

Update from Seafore Close resident Wendy Greener – They are not asbestos but made of a strong composite called, I think. Swedes board. They are a Swedish fabrication and this shows mostly in the drainage all being internal, no external guttering or pipes unless added later. This was designed for Sweden’s cold winters to prevent pipes freezing. The houses are surprisingly spacious, lots of light and very warm and soundproof. We have a B rating EPC. We also have a sunny garden down to the canal and wonderful views. I love my home.

Maghull – Station land development starts

Land behind Maghull Station. Looking towards Melling Lane with the station platform building visible on the right.

The land behind the Liverpool bound platform of Maghull Station, that is also backed onto by houses in Grange Park and Hurst Road, has been cleared seeming for development to start.

Planning permission was given quite some time ago for a small housing development after years of tussling between potential builders/land owners and Sefton Council’s Planning Dept.

I recall that a previous attempt to cut down trees on the site some 20 years ago led to environmental objections to the felling. But things have moved on, rightly or wrongly depending on your point of view, and it seems that the land will soon be a building site.

View from Station platform looking towards Hurst Road

Waste Recycling – UK is 10th across Europe

I picked this useful information up from a Waste Care newsletter and thought it worth sharing.

The United Kingdom and Italy tied for tenth place among the top-ranked municipal waste recyclers in Europe during 2015, figures published at the end of January by the European Union’s statistics body Eurostat suggest.

According to the figures, which are submitted on behalf of the EU’s 27 member states, as well as other European nations including Norway, Switzerland and Montenegro, the UK’s combined recycling and composting rate stood at 43.5% in 2015, down from 43.7% a year earlier.

Germany hung onto its spot at the top of the league table, with an overall recycling rate of 66.1% for 2015, a slight improvement on its previous performance, comfortably clear of the second top performing nation Austria, whose recycling rate stood at 56% for the year.

On average, EU member states recycled 45.2% of their municipal waste, the data suggests. Data outlining the amount of waste land filled per country has yet to be published.

Compared to its 2014 ranking, the UK dropped one place, largely due to an apparent surge in recycling in Slovenia – which leapt from a 36% recycling rate in 2014 to 54.1% in 2015.

Elsewhere the data also offers a breakdown of waste generated and treated per person, suggesting that across the continent in 2015 around 477kg of municipal waste was generated per person, an increase from the 474kg recorded in 2014 – the first such rise since 2007. Despite this increase, waste generation per person is down by 9% compared with its peak of 527kg per person in 2002.

With thanks to Waste Care for the lead to this posting.

Tribalism – I’m in the tribe so everything the tribal leaders do is OK by me

Politics is full of tribalism and the Labour Party wears its tribal loyalty like a badge of pride as an obvious example. I don’t think I will ever forget MP Andy Burnham making it clear that his party came first in a Labour Leadership hustings interview, only to be shouted down by one of his own (MP Liz Kendal) saying ‘Country first’.

But here in the UK we have always had a sneaking admiration for those who at face value are a part of tribe but who are actually mavericks with a mind of their own. MP Ken Clarke is an obvious non-tribal Tory who will kick out when he thinks his party is in the wrong. Of course Jeremy Corbyn MP made a name for himself by not supporting the Labour Leader of the day when he was a back bencher. It’s ironic that he’s now whipped Labour Remain MP’s to vote for Brexit and that the vast majority of them actually followed him down a Brexit road they do not believe in! That’s taking tribal loyalty far to far in my book.

As a Liberal I take the view that if my Lib Dem party tries to push me a certain way then by instinct my reaction can easily be to refuse. Liberals are by their very nature very hard to whip as they are free thinking individuals who coalesce around a common broad agenda.

But with the advent of Trump and his supporters we start to see a whole new and hugely troubling tribalistic agenda that his supports are fully signed up to. They don’t check whether what he says is right or wrong, they simply back it. They don’t actually care if it is right or wrong/truth or lie, if he says something/anything they want to hear. They will seemingly follow him anywhere he goes like the unthinking have followed despots across the world before. This is of course the road to fascism!

We all like to belong to groups that think like us but we do ourselves a great disservice by blindly following the crowd or the tribe and we believe/support everything our chosen or given leaders tell us.

You can’t be a a Liberal without questioning most things you come across, its a burden at times when siting back and repeating the propaganda of a leader is a lot easier.

Just look at this way who does trump rant against? The media, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans etc. Who does he put in power? The powerful, the wealthy. people who disrespect our world environment, people who think like him.

Any leader who surrounds themselves with too many like thinking people is facing trouble as leaders need to be challenged by advisors not told they are wonderful.

As for Trump’s attacks on the media, yes of course some media outlets are utterly irresponsible. We saw it in the UK over Brexit – There was nothing some media outlets would not stop at to fuel prejudices that they had implanted in the minds of their readers over generations even though their ‘truth’ was obviously lies to anyone who looked behind the ranting headlines. BUT we are supposed to live in a free society with a free press. That means that the press can say things that are not true but they can be challenged by those who know the truth is being distorted. Trump only wants his ‘truth’ to be heard/printed not the ‘truth’ and that’s another step towards fascism.

Give tribalism the boot, it leads to despotism and fascism.

Great divides? Community boundaries – Mean a lot, mean a little?

I have often pondered on boundaries especially those associated with local government. What forms a boundary, why was it chosen and who chose it?

Here are two boundaries close to my Lydiate home. One is with Maghull and the other with Aughton:-

Maghull Brook - On the left Lydiate (and me) - on the right Maghull.

Maghull Brook – On the left Lydiate (and me) – on the right Maghull.

Sudell Brook - On the left Lydiate - on the right Aughton

Sudell Brook – On the left Lydiate – on the right Aughton

In both cases the boundary is obviously a stream and this can often be the case with local government boundaries where watercourses have been chosen to divide communities up.

The boundary between Maghull and Lydiate simply divides the two Civil Parishes of Lydiate and Maghull and the only real obvious difference this creates is the amount of Council tax or Precept that the residents of these two communities pay to either Lydiate Parish Council or Maghull Town Council. Both Civil Parishes are in Sefton Borough and both are a part of the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside.

The Lydiate – Aughton boundary is of far greater significance though as it is all but an invisible barrier rather than a boundary because Aughton Civil Parish is in West Lancashire Borough and the County of Lancashire. The world does not look any different on either side of Sudell Brook but in fact it is as the Sefton Borough – West Lancashire boundary has, since 1974, become a local government barrier. Why you can almost hear senior council officers saying ‘we are a Metropolitan Borough [Sefton] and they are just a County’ and of course the reverse will apply too. Sadly, whilst I may well be exaggerating here the reality is that since 1974, in local government terms, Sefton’s communities and those in West Lancashire have mainly planned for their futures in glorious isolation – a great divide indeed.

Considering the massive boundary between West Lancashire and Sefton you would think there would be a huge amount of cross-border co-operation and planning for the joint communities. You would think so but I assure you there is not.

I recall during my time as Leader of Sefton Council I went to Ormskirk to meet the Leader of West Lancs Council to try to kick-start closer working relationships but it seems that those who followed us have not developed things further. What sense does separate transport planning in the two Boroughs make? Environmental protection issues must be similar surely? Health issues surely do not stop at a stream do they? Why we even have an NHS Hospital Trust on split between Southport and Ormskirk either side of the great divide.

I recall when Sefton and West Councils were planning for building on the Green Belt and on the highest grade of agricultural land in England that I started to ask questions about how closely the two two planning departments were sharing and consulting each other. The answers I got were hardly an example of close cooperation in my eyes and I wondered if the contact was little more that phone calls with one side saying ‘we are doing X’, ‘well we are doing y’, ‘OK speak again next year maybe’.

The bottom line is that Merseyside and Lancashire are very different worlds in local government terms. Is this something that is hammered into local government officers from an early age akin to religious indoctrination? Whatever the case it is very much to the disadvantage of communities which are near to a significant local government boundary in my view.