Sefton Council – Control of dogs via PSPO’s

You’ve a chance to have your say as Sefton Council reviews its Public Space Protection Orders:-

You can have your say on-line via the link below:-

yourseftonyoursay.sefton.gov.uk/corporate-resources/public-space-protection-order-for-dog-control/

Comments close on 14 April 2020

Authoritarianism – Why we should all be worried & better informed sceptics

Authoritarianism, in any form, is probably what us liberals try to fight against most of all. Indeed, it is one of the biggest fault lines in our left of centre politics as it splits liberals from socialists because socialists tend to lean towards it whilst Liberals abhor it.

And here we are, because of our present health crisis, in a government sponsored authoritarian state with our freedoms significantly curtailed for our own good. Yet despite us being in a form of lock-down the government which imposed this on us is said, in polls, to be reasonably popular. Do we like being told what to do and when we can do it or are the present restrictions on our lives an almost welcome comfort blanket to wrap ourselves in? And how do we know government is doing its best for us? Yes I know they keep telling us they’re doing all they can but is that really true? We, Jane and Joe Public, don’t have the facts so is it right we that we take the view that government is doing its best in difficult circumstances just because they tell us they are?

My view, as a Liberal, remains as it always has, don’t trust anyone with power – remember the adage ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. We have no sitting Parliament, the official opposition is all but missing in action, there’s no leader of the opposition, why even my own party has no elected leader in place! If ever there was a recipe for state sponsored authoritarianism this heady brew must be it!

And on another level I saw a social media posting the other day which made my blood run cold. It was asking folk whether they were flouting or complying with government instructions via you replying to with 1 of 4 answers. Firstly, who on earth would reply that they weren’t following advice? That would be a big invitation to be trolled would it not? But why do folks want such information? Just think about that for a moment…… Before answering any question ask yourself why you are being asked it.

My other worry is that the very journalists whom we are effectively relying on to hold government to account simply aren’t doing so, with a few notable exceptions of course. I’ve been impressed with Nick Cohen but there’s been too many easy ride media interviews for ministers. Surely ministers should be getting turned inside out via probing investigative journalism aimed at exposing any lies and misrepresentations. Now more than at any time we need tough impartial, well informed interviewers and journalists to make those taking the life and death decisions on our behalf feel the heat.

Don’t cheer a government, no matter what its colour, because it is governing in tough times, keep your foot on the back of its neck or it will do what is best for it rather than what’s best for you.

And to close, this from the BBC website about how we are being policed:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52101040

Quote from BBC article – ‘On Monday, Lord Sumption, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, told Radio 4’s World At One the actions of Derbyshire Police – which also included uploading drone footage of walkers to social media – had “shamed our policing traditions”.

“The tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform, they are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command,” he said.’

My thanks to Chris Reilly for provoking my liberal instincts into action……

Southport – When Patrick the fastest bowler in the world bounced into town

Sunny Southport’s Cricket Ground

My love of cricket will be known to people who drop into the blog-site and that one of my Nottinghamshire cricketing heroes is the legendary fast bowler Harold Larwood – we both originate from the same district of Notts, Kirkby-In-Ashfield. But being a Notts lad exiled on Merseyside my cricket watching has been Lancashire based via catching County Championship matches at Aigburth (Liverpool) and Birkdale (Southport) for many a year.

The other day, You Tube, suggested a video to me about Patrick Patterson, probably the fastest bowler of modern day cricket. I watched said video (linked below) which has more than a tinge of sadness about it as seemingly Patrick can’t really remember much about his playing days.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpT5TPUmeCQ&t=220s

And what’s all this got to do with Southport? Well Patrick played for Lancashire from 1984 to 1990 and from checking the LCCC website archives I identified that he played at Southport’s Trafalgar Road ground in August 1984 against Northants and in July 1987 against Warwickshire. I was at one of those matches, I may have been at both, but my memory is hazy as to whether I was there in 1984 & 1987. Chances are that I was there with my old chum Chris Reilly and probably other Bootle Inland Revenue colleagues as many of the male members of staff would often take a day off to watch the cricket when Lancs were playing locally.

But what my memory is very clear about is the bowling of Patrick at the ground on the occasion I saw him. I recall that he started his run-up outside the playing area i.e. beyond the boundary rope within the crowd. He bowled incredibly fast and with Trafalgar Road being a smallish ground when he bowled a bouncer which evaded batsman and keeper it could and easily did make the boundary for 4 byes/wides!

On a sunny day there’s nothing quite like watching County Championship Cricket at Trafalgar Road and it is a matter of some sadness and frustration that Lancashire seem reluctant to make it an annual fixture of recent seasons. Here’s a link to the matches that have been played at the ground, the last one being 2018:-

cricketarchive.com/Lancashire/Grounds/751_f.html

Note:- Click on the photos to enlarge them. Neither were taken when Patrick Paterson was playing I might add.

Libraries – Lost at an alarming rate but will we ever get them back?

This is former Aintree Ratepayer Councillor Terry Baldwin speaking at a meeting to try to save his local library in 2013.

Libraries have been lost at an alarming rate across the UK because of austerity which, I might add, was backed by all 3 major political parties in the 2010 General Election. So whichever party had won back then the consequences would have been as they turned out to be or even worse across most public services. Indeed, it has been argued that under Labour in the 2010 – 2015 Parliament the cuts would have been greater as they planned to make £1b more than the Coalition Government actually made. The Treasury/Institute of Fiscal Studies chart below illustrates my point:-

But for me one of the greatest losses in our communities has been the demise of libraries, indeed I put a great deal of effort into trying to save Sefton’s closing libraries along with many other community campaigners. The loss of Aintree Library caused me the most concern as until 2011 I had been a Borough Councillor for Aintree Village. Others of course will have felt just as keenly the loss of their local library be it in Churchtown, Ainsdale, Crosby (College Road), Birkdale, Litherland or Orrell as Sefton Borough lost 7 of its libraries to cost cutting by the Council.

All that, as they say, is history. However, my question is will we get any of the lost libraries (in a suitably modern form) back? Well we won’t be getting Birkdale or Aintree Libraries back in Sefton Borough as the sites both now have housing on them. Here are before and after shots of Aintree:-

Me outside the former Aintree Library

The same site in 2017 when the houses, now completed, were being erected.

Libraries are far more than places where books are kept and borrowed from and I say that as a hoarder of books. A library is a community meeting place, a hub for the community, a place where lonely and isolated people can meet others. Yes they provide IT access and they should all have coffee shops within them too, like at Liverpool Central Library. Their foundation was all about the joy of reading together with gaining knowledge and such worthy aims are still quite valid to my mind.

Readers of this blog-site will probably know that I found Sefton Council’s unwillingness to run libraries, that it could not afford to run, in innovative ways using volunteers most perplexing (and that’s being polite about it!); it was a though the Council saw volunteers as more trouble than they were worth. But other models of running libraries have been successfully established across the UK where councils did not use their dead hand to stop such innovation.

Such innovations have regularly gone though my mind as I’ve come across them and then recently on a visit to the north east I saw this in Tynemouth:-

What’s more it was directly opposite a flat we had rented for a week’s holiday. Wow I thought, that’s great a library to visit and explore. And then the cold light of reality struck me, it was a closed library although not obviously so until you got right up to it. As you can imagine my heart sank when I realised I’d witnessed another gone library. Then this appeared a couple of days later:-

North Tyneside Council mobile library

Well a mobile library is far better then no library at all but whilst any kind of library will make me smile there is a part of me which looks upon them in a similar way to a rail replacement bus, if you get my drift. And so I thought, well at least Tynemouth has a mobile library as some council’s have withdrawn them too and my mind, such as it is, wandered elsewhere.

Then almost by chance I saw a local newspaper in our flat called the News Guardian and in flicking through it and smiling at some of the local articles of the kind you only find in local newspapers:-

‘Man bites dog – dog to sue’
‘Council leader thinks new traffic island is fantastic’
‘MP has a cup of tea and a cake with with potholing club members’

(and yes I did make these headlines up for the avoidance of doubt)

my eyes fell upon this article:-

Well that’s innovation and a future for Tynemouth Library I thought and my spirits lifted until that is I thought back to the lack of library innovation back home in Sefton Borough of course!

Libraries are still worth saving and personally I’d like to see a new modern network of them being re-established….

Click on the photos and newspaper article to enlarge them

Maghull – That pond/grotto on the former Ashworth South Site

Not so long ago I had a good look around the Poppy Fields new housing site adjacent Maghull North Station.

I was particularly looking to see what had happened to the pond/grotto that had long been within the grounds of the former Moss Side Hospital/Ashworth South Hospital. I found it and took this shot through a building contractor’s fencing:-

I recall my old former Maghull Town Councillor colleagues John Sharman and Bill Chambers talking about it, as at the time they both worked at Ashworth Hospital. I refer of course to before the Ashworth South Site closed.

I then went searching for some background information about it and came across this in a Ecological Impact Assessment of the Ashworth South Site conducted by Atkins in May 2014 as part of the planning application process for the house building*.

‘Pond 3.4.5 A large pond is located within the woodland and is approximately 400 m2 in size and considered to have poor suitability to support great crested newts (HSI score 0.47, rated poor). At the time of the survey mallards were present in the pond as well as wrapped straw bales located within the pond which are understood to be a method of controlling pond algae. A stone built grotto approximately 10 metres long is connected to the pond (TN 29). The grotto has high bat roost potential and is a known bat roost (see 3.5.2 for more details). Peacock butterfly and moth species were recorded in the grotto at the time of the survey. No evidence of bats was recorded.’

* There had been a previous planning application process as the original intended use for the site was to have been for a new prison. Indeed, the access road into the site and the traffic island on School Lane were both constructed for the new prison. However, government changed its mind and decided to stop the prison construction with the site being sold off for the housing, which is presently being built.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Another isolation cycle ride – Lydiate, Maghull, Netherton circular

Farm access bridge over the former Cheshire Lines Railway between the former Lydiate and Sefton & Maghull Stations.

My exercise as we all try to keep safe is solo cycling around the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough and into West Lancs and South Sefton.

One of my recent rides (on a glorious Sunday morning) was from my Lydiate home down the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail from the site of the former Lydiate Station down to the site of the former Sefton and Maghull Station, then on via Old Racecourse Road to regain the path at Meadway. From there through Jubilee Woods to the new Brooms Cross Road and into Netherton joining the A5036 cycle path at Copy Lane and back into Maghull via Switch Island, the A59 (Northway) and local roads and lanes back home. It was 9.5 miles in total.

I took a few photos along the way and here they are:-

I spotted this sign on a tree right next to the farm bridge in the lead photo above. It seems to be part of a trail by Altside Scouts but I’ve not seen any of the others.

Looking north from a bridge over the River Alt. Sefton Church can be made out in the background.

I wonder what the back story is to this road nameplate just off the Northern Perimeter Road in Netherton?

Commemoration boulder at Switch Island

A closer look – It’s Maghull’s very own Cliff Mainey now living in retirement in Maghull’s Gainsborough Avenue.

The road works which have been driving local folk around the bend at the Alt in Maghull. Still more to be done as the junction is upgraded.

I hope I can keep going with my solo cycling around our local lanes, roads, tracks and cycle paths during health crisis. You never know I might detail more of my rides……….