How not to take the House with you – A guest posting by Bob Robinson

I read “Conservative Home” – for as the axiom hath it. “If you read only one newspaper, read the one published by the opposition”. A Fanzine, written by Tories – for Tories, “Conservative Home” often has me spluttering my cornflakes. But Andrew Gimpson’s piece following Prime Minister’s questions on the 9th September was remarkable – not only was he calling a spade, a spade but also he was calling a charlatan, a charlatan.

www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2020/09/andrew-gimsons-pmqs-sketch-johnson-starts-to-sound-like-the-boss-of-a-tractor-plant-in-minsk.html

“At the end of PMQs, Sir Desmond Swayne had asked the Speaker, on a point of order: “What remedy is there for those of us who enthusiastically support the Prime Minister but nevertheless want to restrain the Government’s ability to govern by order without debate?

Boris Johnson was sitting on the Treasury bench, smiled and nodded gently as the Speaker exploded with fury at the absent (Matt) Hancock. The Prime Minister’s demeanour was that of a schoolboy who finds it amusing that one of his chums is being given six of the best.

Johnson might have done better to look grave. For one of the problems from which he himself suffers just now is an inability to take the House into his confidence, and thereby carry MPs with him. He naturally expected Sir Keir Starmer would challenge him on the shocking admission the day before by Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, when asked about the Internal Market Bill: “Yes this does break international law in a very specific and limited way.

I suppose one might say Lewis was taking the House into his confidence, but not in such a way as to carry MPs with him. The Prime Minister seized the chance before facing Starmer to make a bald statement: “We expect everybody in this country to obey the law.

Starmer then ducked the argument about the rule of law. This was an odd decision, for it is a necessary argument. However preposterous the PM’s attempts to extricate himself from the appalling statement made by Lewis might have been, we wanted to know what they were.

This is something the Commons can do extremely well: expose ministers when they are talking nonsense”.

Andrew Gimson concluded:

“This is a Government that puts its arms round the people of this country,” Johnson said at a later stage of PMQs. Again, this sounded like a strange, faintly totalitarian, even creepy remark for a Tory Prime Minister to be making. We don’t want the Government to put its arms round us. We just want it to do various things reasonably well”.

Alex Ferguson was famed for scorching criticism of poor performance even by the Galactico’s in his team as David Beckham recalls. It was known as “hair-drying”

www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2057556/David-Beckham-Alex-Fergusons-hairdryer-secret-success.html

Boris would be well advised to ask not for whom the hair-dryer blows. It blows,,,,,,

For those who missed PMQ’s you catch up on the BBC’s “Match of the Day” Channel – BBC Parliament.

Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ & the ‘Bible’ of cycling infrastructure

In response to a previous posting about cycling infrastructure in Sefton Borough a Twitter responder (Clive Durdle) pointed me (and indeed Sefton Council) towards something called CROW. Yes, I wondered what it was too but after some Googling I realised it’s pretty much the ‘Bible’ for building cycle friendly/safe roads. And surprise, surprise (NOT) it’s a Dutch publication.

Here’s a blog posting about it:-

therantyhighwayman.blogspot.com/2019/07/crow-flow.html

And here’s a link to the publishers – by gum it’s not cheap!

crowplatform.com/product/design-manual-for-bicycle-traffic/

The new Alt JUnction

Of course, the obvious question is what manual were Sefton Council using when they designed the new junction in Maghull – A59/Northway-Liverpool Road South-Dover Road (The Alt Junction) – as I struggle to see how cycling through this brand new junction was considered at all! Frankly, I’ve yet to hear a good word about it from the pedestrians, cyclists or drivers whom I’ve spoken to. Yes, I realise it’s new and we generally don’t like change so we’re often sceptical about many new things, but this junction could start to become almost as unpopular as its much bigger brother just a few hundred yards away from it – I refer of course to the now infamous Switch Island ‘Home of traffic Accidents’.

The reason this new junction is important is because there are few crossing places across Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ otherwise known as the A59/Northway dual carriageway (and even fewer safe ones) for pedestrians and cyclists. These are they south to north:-

* South end of Maghull adjacent to River Alt – A good pedestrian/cyclist safe crossing with traffic lights.
* The Alt Junction – Brand new but in my view far from being cyclist friendly & it’s a long walk for pedestrians.
* Hall Ln Junction – Pedestrians have high-level bridge to cross but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly(steps).
* Damfield Ln Junction – Another high-level safe walking bridge but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly (steps again).
* Westway/Eastway Junction – A pedestrian subway which cyclists are discouraged/banned from using.**
* Dodds Ln Junc’ – A good pedestrian crossing with traffic lights separate to the non-traffic lighted junction.
* Kenyons Ln Junction – Traffic lighted but no pedestrian phase & lights often do not recognise waiting cyclists.
* Robins Island – Traffic island with no pedestrian crossing facilities or safe access onto cycle paths.

The distance between the most southerly A59 crossing and Robins Island is @2.25 miles the vast majority of which is through two highly populated suburban communities, except the Kenyons Ln – Robins Island section. What’s more a large proportion of community facilities – Town Hall, Leisure Centre, Library, Frank Hornby Museum, Police Station, Health Centre, Industrial Estate, Recycling Centre, Main Shopping Centre and Lydiate Village Centre – are all on the western side of it. Maghull’s 2 railway stations being on the east side together with 2 of the 3 local high schools*. My point being, there are many reasons why Maghull & Lydiate folk have to cross this busy major road each and every day and the crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are far from adequate.

We all know we should be walking and cycling more to help us to be fitter/healthier and of course to save the planet but the way Maghull & Lydiate has been set up/planned in effect encourages vehicle use simply because of the lack of safe/accessible crossing facilities associated with it’s very own ‘Berlin Wall’.

On that basis why has the most recently rebuilt junction on ‘The Wall’ been built with cycling facilities all but excluded? Has Sefton Council got a copy of CROW and if so is it simply gaining dust on a shelf in some out of the way storeroom?

* The local primary schools are split 4 on the east side, 5 on the west

** The pedestrian only subway looks like this:-

It could be adapted for pedestrians and cyclists like this one in York:-

I would be interested to hear what others think about shared space subways in cycling unfriendly Maghull, Sefton Borough or elsewhere.

Government to Act on Pavement parking?

Readers of this blog site won’t be surprised that I’m very much in favour of tackling the scourge of pavement parking although I also think such a move needs to go hand in hand with tackling cycles being ridden on pavements too, other than by small children.

The link below is to the Government’s consultation on the matter:-

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking

My most recent blog/rant on the matter is available via the link blow:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/08/03/pavements-r-4-pedestrians/

But and it’s a BIG but even if the law/guidance is changed will Councils and/or the Police actually enforce? History seems to indicate they won’t as the powers that be do little or nothing now with the regulations they can use as far as I can see. Just think how much trouble would it actually be for a passing police vehicle/council enforcement officer, not already on an urgent call of course, to stop and ticket vehicles parked on pavements or even to tackle anti-social bike riding on them? I appreciate that the present regulations may fall between the Police and Councils but surely if they wanted to sort this out they could have done without Government issuing new regulations/passing new laws?

Well anyway you have the link to the Government consultation so let Government know how you feel.

Merseyrail and face mask compliance

That the knotty issue of non-compliance with with face covering on public transport was brought to my attention the other day and with particular reference to Merseyrail.

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

I must admit that I had wrongly assumed that Merseyrail’s security staff would be empowered to tackle non-compliance because they’re not.

I asked Merseyrail about this and they replied ‘we are unable to enforce the face covering rule, but continue to educate all of our passengers on the matter. We also work with British Transport Police, who are able to issue fines for those who break the rule‘ they went on to say ‘Legally we are not able to issue fixed penalty notices to those passengers not wearing a face covering, but please be assured, as a responsible operator, we are doing all we can to keep our passengers safe’.

It strikes me that Merseyrail (and this probably means every other rail franchise operator in the UK?) have been placed between a rock and a hard place. By that I mean that they and their passengers have been told that all passengers must wear face coverings but in reality there’s going to be little or no challenging of those who refuse to comply, unless that is British Transport Police are involved.

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

The issue for me is that compliance needs to seen to be enforced so that confidence is given to those who are more vulnerable to Covid 19. Clearly, such folk are not going to travel via Merseyrail if they can’t be confident their journey will be safe. So surely that means that non-compliance being in effect tolerated (whilst actually being illegal) leads to less people travelling on Merseyrail thereby it needing more public funds to keep it going during the pandemic.

What an odd carry on…….

Pavements r 4 Pedestrians

I’ve never quite understood the habit of the many drivers who park their vehicles on pavements, then again I find adults riding cycles on pavements troubling too.

Below there’s a link to a Liverpool Echo article about the problem which seems to be getting worse almost daily:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/harsher-punishments-selfish-drivers-welcomed-18685079

When I stop for a coffee at the CoOp in Town Green on one of my regular cycle rides I often observe drivers pulling straight off Town Green Lane and onto a small piece of land at the side of the shop where there are cycle racks. If it’s a large car (and there are a lot them in leafy Aughton) the vehicle often can end up overhanging/blocking the pavement. Do the drivers realise this, do they care? What’s more the CoOp does have a large car park!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some drivers seem to pull two wheels onto the pavement when stopping as a matter of course. Even if the road is quite wide they still do it, even if the pavement is quite narrow they still do it! It’s a habit which needs challenging and if Merseyside Police are going to start to do so all well and good – Sadly Town Green is in Lancashire so unless Lancs police adopt a similar policy………

The really, really bad practice is putting all of a vehicle on the pavement/cycle track/shared pedestrian-cycle path so that pedestrians or indeed cyclists are blocked and sometimes forced into the road. Such acts of selfishness surely have to be deliberate rather than thoughtless. We can only assume such drivers have no members of their family who are blind, no members of their family who push prams and that they are are completely at ease with putting other lives lives at risk.

Oh and while Merseyside police are at it I hope they also start to tackle pavement cyclists as they are a danger to pedestrians; as I always say pavements r 4 pedestrians except where they have been designated as shared space with cyclists of course.

For the benefit of doubt I am a pedestrian, cyclist and driver. And no I can’t say hand on heart that I’m a perfect driver, cyclist or pedestrian but I don’t mind my failings being pointed out to me by the police or frustrated pedestrians.

It really is time that we all adopted the this approach – PAVEMENTS R 4 PEDESTRIANS and that all police forces took steps to enforce it.

Lydiate – Coppull Road innovations – Books & dog fouling

Well these additions to the street scene are interesting:-

Both can be found in Lydiate’s Coppull Road, a road I cycle down regularly but I had not spotted them. However, local resident Jan Page did spy them and tipped me off.

The shot of the book swap ‘little library’ is a pleasure to look at especially for me as someone who spent many hours trying to save (sadly unsuccessfully) 7 of Sefton’s branch libraries from closure not so long ago.

The ‘bag it – bin it’ anti-dog fouling facility is also great to see, although at the same time you realise the frustration that leads to this course of action having to be taken. If only all dog owners cleared up after their animals!

With thanks to Jan Page for the lead to this posting