Liverpool’s Trams – A fascinating historic film

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mWS5JZZEiA

If you have an interest in Liverpool in the 1950’s and the demise of its once very significant tramway network then you will want to view this YouTube film – see link above.

Liverpool Tram 869 (Not the last tram) in Crich tramway Village, Derbyshire. Photo from 2008

The filming was done by local man Alfred H Jacob.

Lydiate RC Church – Parking restrictions now in place

Double yellow lines now in place at Hall Lane/Southport Road junction to aid road safety.

The saga of the the type of parking restrictions outside Our Ladies Church in Southport Road Lydiate has been covered before on the is blog site and previous postings are available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/10/16/lydiate-rc-church-parking-restriction-compromise-seems-to-win-the-day/

The agreed solution is now in place which will hopefully improve road safety (driver views along Southport Road when exiting Hall Lane) whilst not compromising the activities of the church.

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

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.

Austerity as we think of it post the financial crash is far from being the whole story of the decline in council services

There is no doubt that austerity as either implemented by the Coalition Government (and then sadly pushed far, far harder by the present Tory Government) or indeed as outlined by Alistair Darling (his austerity would probably have been harsher than the Coalition’s some commentators say) on behalf of the Labour Party prior to the 2010 General election has had a huge impact on the ability of councils to deliver services.

But in fact there is a funding crisis that goes back much further than the financial crash of 2007 that has impacted on local authorities. That funding crisis is back in the headlines now but I recall it rearing its head almost every year that I was Sefton Borough Councillor during the budget setting process. In fact it was twofold i.e. children in care and care for the elderly.

Year on year senior council officers would present the need for extra money to be put into these two care budgets, often the amounts asked for, year in year out, would be have six 000,000’s behind them.

My point is that the elderly and children in care budgets have been eating further and further into council budgets for many, many years so austerity as far as local authorities are concerned did not start with the great financial crash but maybe 10 to 15 years prior to that.

And what made me think of this matter which must have been impacting on every local authority with responsibility for elderly/child care? Well two things really. The elderly care crisis is hitting the headlines yet again because politicians refuse to address it properly and have failed to do so for a least the last 20 years. And the other very local issue that made me think about it is the demise of public toilets and in particular the former award winning ones in Maghull.

Maghull's closed public toilets at the Square Shopping Centre.

Maghull’s closed public toilets at the Square Shopping Centre.

Public toilets have been in decline for a long time and the Maghull ones are an interesting and sad example not least because Sefton Council would once boast about them being award winners (Public Loo of the Year or some such award) back in the 1980’s. But since those days the Council’s focus, you could say its priority, has been slowly but surely moved towards funding the elderly and children in care.

What’s happened has been a creeping process whereby the amount of money each local authority has to spend on other services has got smaller and smaller as the budgets for elderly and children in care have got bigger. And this well before the consequences of austerity and the financial crash hit them via government grant cuts.

The thrust of government policy has in effect been to force local authorities to spend their money in these two key social care areas and on little else. Yes there’s no doubt that the austerity that followed the financial crash sped up this process beyond what anyone could have conceived but it had been a trend for a long time, one which was pursued by governments of all colours.

In reality local authorities (this does not include Town and Parish Councils – they don’t get an government grants) are now focused on delivering statutory services and have almost no money to deliver things that local people may want. Public toilets, for example, are a non-statutory service hence their demise across the UK.

Personally, I have thought that the funding of local authorities has been inappropriate for many years because they are in reality delivering two very different things i.e. local often non-statutory services for their communities and statutory services where they are in effect simply an agent delivering governmental/national services. The two got muddled up in the times of plenty and it did not seem to matter. However, in times of scarce money it is the local mainly non-statutory services that have been lost as the money has gone to prop up the statutory ones.

The former Aintree Library - closed by Sefton Council.

The former Aintree Library – closed by Sefton Council.

Sadly, it is more complex than that even because if you take the example of libraries they are a statutory service i.e. local authorities have to provide them. But the level to which they are provided is a different matter so Sefton Council was able to reduce it’s libraries from 13 to 6 without falling foul of the law not so long ago.

However you look at it local authorities are the fall-guys for austerity because governments of all colours over the past 20+ years have not funded statutory services, particularly adult/elderly social care, properly.

Maghull, Southport & Lydiate – cars for sale (by dealers) on the public highway

I have blogged about this a number of times in the past. The issue is car dealers selling car on the public highway which some residents oppose (I appreciate that some residents don’t oppose the activity I would add) and have complained about.

This is the Green Lane, Maghull site where cars are regularly for sale.

This is the Green Lane, Maghull site where cars are regularly for sale.

In Maghull the problem/issue manifests itself in the turning circle/dead end of the Green Lane Service Road where it faces Liverpool Road South.

In Lydiate it is on Southport Road at the Maghull/Lydiate boundary and in the entrance to Seafore Close just off Southport Road.

I understand that some roads in Southport are also affected by this issue.

My last relevant posting on this matter is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/21/maghull-lydiate-cars-for-sale-on-the-public-highway/

By way of an update I have been back in touch with Sefton Council to see what progress has been made and they have told me that they now have Merseyside Police on board with the enforcement of cars for sale on the public highway. I understand though that Sefton Council will continue to inspect roads where this activity leads to residents raising concerns about it.

Also, to give him his due credit Maghull & Lydiate Sefton Councillor John Sayers has been chasing this matter up as well and I appreciate his efforts. Not sure where John has had complaints from but I have been contacted over the years by residents of Liverpool Road South, Maghull (this goes back to when represented Maghull on the Council) and Southport Road, Lydiate.

I would now like to think that effective action will be taken, accepting of course that some residents may not want such action to stop commercial car sales on the public highway. However, based on the fact that I have been chasing this matter around for 9 years I am still not holding my breath. Certainly the past few days have shown that the situation remains unchanged in that cars are still for sale at least at two of the locations mentioned above.

PS. This issue has nothing to do with residents making private vehicle sales.