Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

Towpath north of Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal through Lydiate leaves a lot to be desired; a subject I’ve blogged about before I might add. Here’s a couple of links back to previous postings in October 2015 and June 2019 :-

October 2015 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/22/lydiate-leeds-liverpool-canal-bank-collapse/

June 2019 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/29/lydiate-improvemnets-to-tow-path-flow-from-controversial-house-building-site/

The worst section of towpath is probably that which is north of Lollies Bridge (Southport Road Bridge) up to and past Lydiate Hill Bridge (also known as Billy’s Bridge) where the land and fields adjacent to it is higher. This causes water run-off onto the towpath with muddy almost impassable conditions at times especially after heavy periods of rain.

Lollies Bridge

View from Billy’s Bridge looking back towards Lollies Bridge.

Canal bank collapse just south of Lydiate Hill Bridge – Photo 2015

Ok, now to try to put all this in context of what Lydiate Parish Council is trying to do in 2021. If you’ve read the links above you’ll know that some planning gain money (otherwise known as Section 106 money) from the housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road (the new estate is known as Rosehill Gardens) has been allocated to the Canal & River Trust to upgrade the towpath along the section of it which is adjacent to the new housing i.e. the Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate section. The money amounts to £67,000 I understand. These works are yet to be undertaken I might add.

The recent intervention by Lydiate Parish Council has been along the lines of saying to the C&RT that whilst money to upgrade the towpath is obviously welcome there are actually worse parts, far worse parts, of the towpath through Lydiate which could do with attention and can we discuss how this can be achieved either using the S106 money or other funding sources. The response of the C&RT has been that the S106 money can only be spent on the defined section of canal towpath as detailed in the planning permission.

The Trust do however acknowledge though that the towpath elsewhere through Lydiate Parish Council’s area is in poor condition and that it can become impassable during inclement weather. They also say they’d be happy to work with the Parish Council to help identify improvements and priorities for the canal in such locations.

As readers may know the C&RT is a charity (similar to the National Trust – I’m a member of both I might add) and it is reliant on securing funding via developments (such as Rosehill Gardens) to try to improve the condition of the towpath surface or through bidding for funding via local and national schemes and initiatives. They seem to be happy to work with LPC to try to improve the canal towpath but clearly this means significant extra resources will need to be identified. At a very rough back of a fag packet type guess I’m thinking that to do up the whole of the towpath through Lydiate Parish could involve say £250,000+ and presently there’s just £67,000 in the pot for one already defined section of it, which is partly in Maghull.

There’s some good news however as the canal bank collapse (pictured above in 2015) is, we are told by the Trust, scheduled to be repaired in the next financial year – 2021/2022 assuming scarce maintenance resources do not have to be redirected to more urgent works.

The Parish Council is going to discuss the matter again at its February Zoom meeting to see if ways forward can be identified with regard to the bad sections of towpath.

I’ll update further as things hopefully develop…….

And a look back to the days when pedestrians and cyclists were unwelcome on our canal towpath – notice as seen at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

4 thoughts on “Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

  1. Phil Holden says:

    It has been very wet indeed and usage patterns have changed in the year of the lockdowns. The wear on Vardre ‘mountain’ is scary. It’s not practicable to keep all footpaths easily passable all year. We have plenty of local walks in Wales that we don’t attempt when it’s been wet, never mind the mountains. I agree it’s one thing to put your boots and gaiters on and wade through mud but another to try to get your bike through it. The towpaths have advantages as cycle paths – flat and away from motor traffic – but they weren’t designed for it and are very narrow for a shared space with walkers. As you note the costs of repairing and upgrading towpaths are significant. A quarter of a mill for Lydiate multiplied up along the length of canal paths near cities, towns and villages adds up to real money and to the cost/benefit question against other spending needs.
    That said I’m all in favour of towns and parishes being able to allocate resources they’ve got to making improvements to local amenities as they see fit. But personally I wouldn’t expect the towpaths to necessarily be in good condition with the weather we’ve had. After all many golf courses have been flooded despite investment in drainage and good maintenance.
    No easy answers then but one would hope government and local authorities would be thinking hard and working together on improving cycling and walking routes. One would also hope that the actions you are taking in Lydiate fit in to some broader strategy.
    One might hope in vain I suspect, but it springs eternal and all that

    • Interesting points Phil. At L’pool City Region level I think there is a developing walking and cycling strategy and I also hear that Sefton Council is engaged in something similar. Sadly,, like most governance in the UK different tiers of government are not pushed to work together and parish councils are always excluded or at best not included in what the ‘big boys and girls’ are doing. The other problem is that big organisations like big high profile projects and they always ignore the simple straight forward improvements which could make a big difference. Sorry, I’ve seen too much of how the public sector works to be hopeful!

      • Phil Holden says:

        And that closing comment of yours comes from a supporter of the public sector…. imagine what a sceptic might think…
        But that’s a typically cheap shot. The real issue is how to get the public sector and these various bodies to work individually and together as well as we need them to, for everyone’s benefit.
        I’m sure you are right that more power or influence closer to the ground would help. Maybe parish councils in an area should be given the ability to ‘instruct upwards’ in some circumstances? At least it would change the game

        • Yes Phil the public sector from my experience as a council leader (2004-20011) often looked more like rivals than partners. I guess that’s why Blair’s Government tried to make/force the public sector cooperate more. I seem to recall he made such cooperation mandatory and auditable. That led to public sector bodies falling over themselves to look that they were on board so to speak. It amused me at the time as you would think such cooperation should be automatic but in reality the public sector is very much in its own silos and I fear it’s getting worse. It acts to me like rival private sector companies at time!

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