And what did you do and how did you feel about lockdown?

The Good

When the roads were quiet and building sites closed the world seemed more peaceful and you could hear the birds singing – I enjoyed listening to the silence and the birds.

With traffic hardly moving our polluted world smelled cleaner – I enjoyed that cleaner air

People were out walking country lanes in significant numbers – I envisaged we had gone back to the 1950’s (NO not in a Brexiteer way!)

Cyclists everywhere, goodness me cycling took off with the combination of more free time and generally good weather – I participated but then I’ve been a fitness and leisure cyclist for quite a number of years.

The Bad

Isolated shielding people alone in their houses – I felt so sorry for them and tried to help where I could

Speeding traffic became a really big issue because although there were many less vehicles on our roads the speeds they were doing were frightening – I called on both Merseyside and Lancashire Police (via Twitter) to get a grip but I guess my pleas fell on deaf ears.

Doing DIY became a big challenge as everything had to be ordered on line and either picked up later or it was delivered days, often many days, later – I found this so frustrating when I wanted to get on with various household jobs.

I missed the English cricket season so much – I watched a couple of old games repeated on TV but spring and summer is cricket to me, oh how I missed thwack of willow on leather – until today that is.

‘The police have better things to do than’………

This is probably a phrase that many of us have used when we’ve heard about an incident which is either of no consequence to us or is one we regularly participate in but which is actually against some law or regulation.

So when we say it are we in reality saying ‘well I would break that law too’ or ‘that law should be abolished because I regularly break it’; is it actually simply an expression of our frustration or even selfishness? Let’s see what you think the Police ‘have better things to do than’ – here are 5 examples:-

Enforcing speed limits?
Stopping pavement parking by drivers?
Tackling cyclists who ride on pavements?
Prosecuting motorists with no Road Tax or insurance?
Fining people who break ‘lockdown’ rules?

I could go on, but I think you’ll have got my drift by now i.e. if we park on pavements we won’t want the police/local council to enforce the regulations on it will we? However, if we are a pedestrian/blind/disabled/or pushing a pram we probably will want them to. The same applies to the other ‘crimes’ I’ve listed and indeed potentially many that I’ve not.

In short we’ll often be affronted by the anti-social/criminal behaviours of others whilst conveniently ignoring our own less than community minded activities. Indeed, can we sit on both sides of the fence by for example grumbling about the vehicle on the pavement when we’ve had to step into the road to get around it whilst dumping our own car on any pavement available when we want to park close to the chippy, hairdressers, chemist etc. etc.? The answer, of course, is yes we can!

Oh and one final thing, why are many of the things we can react to in this way associated with travel and how we go about it?

Sefton Church – Grade I Listed building visited by thieves

A visit to the Maghull Community Facebook page earlier today brought me some sad news as I learned that St Helen’s Parish Church (known more as Sefton Church locally) had been visited by thieves who had stolen stone flags from a path at the rear of this historic Grade I Listed Building.

I’ve blogged about this magnificent church a number of times before, not least because I was once a choir boy there for about 3 years around 1970. The fact that I now consider myself to be an atheist does not take anything away from my regard for this historic church which, being in the village of Sefton, our present Borough is named after.

Theft from churches is nothing new of course as miscreants have been stealing lead from church roofs for as long as there have been churches. But never the less it always causes an outcry when it happens and when you add to the sad story that this is the only Grade I Listed Building in Sefton Borough it’s hardly surprising that locals are up in arms.

I consider this church a part of my personal history not least because I met some lovely people associated with it during my time in the choir. What’s more our daughter Jen studied the building during her university course and the church authorities were very helpful to her.

I wonder where the stone flags will turn up? If you’re getting some laid any time soon please think about where they may have come from. It would be nice if the thieves were caught but my guess is that’s probably unlikely. However, if the church needs to raise funds to get them replaced I for one am willing to chip in.

Covid 19 – Highlights of a (minority) lawless anti-social society

Me outside the old Maghull Police Station. This was once a real hub of community policing.

In any society there will always be a minority, possibly a significant one, which will not play by the rules set down by that society. Looking at the UK lockdown of recent months I’m wondering if our significant minority are wearing their non-conformist views on their sleeves? And I’m not taking about non-conformism here in the radical and Liberal sense of the word but more in the two fingers up to society as a whole way.

Let’s look at 3 pieces of potential evidence from the BBC website:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-53176717

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52370352

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52674192

We will do as we like, when we like and the rest of you can rot in hell, maybe one way of putting it.

From my perspective the the issue is clear. If as a society we decide to turn a blind eye to minor acts of non-compliance with laws (which we have in reality done) then we have started what amounts to a game where those willing to push at the boundaries will do so to see how far they can get.

The solution, as it has always been, is community policing where local Bobbies are well known and they know those in their community who are likely to be the cause of anti-social behavior and crime. And I’m talking about sufficient numbers of Bobbies and probably more significantly PCSO’s for there to be boots and cycles on the ground 24 hours a day, NOT Bobbies parading miles away and being sent out when there’s trouble.

Yes that means all kinds of laws which are presently being broken many times each day in most communities being enforced for the common good. Start with the little things and our society will end up respecting its own rules and those who are tempted to ignore those rules will think twice before doing so. Most law breaking and anti-social behaviour at a community level is done because those doing it know, almost for sure, that they will not be held to account.

My view is our society has lost respect for itself because we’ve adopted, almost by accident, an every man or woman for themselves attitude.

Here on Merseyside we almost got there in terms of community policing of the kind first advocated by John Alderson the former Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall in the early 1980’s. His at times one person battle to establish community policing was rejected by fellow police officers and ignored by government but eventually the Penny dropped and it became the goal of most police forces. On Merseyside we had specific officers and PCSO’s allocated to particular communities/local government electoral wards although the numbers were not high enough for it to work really well. However, it did work and just needed building on. Sadly it was abandoned on the high altar of austerity and probably because there was a feeling within the police that community policing was soft/not real policing. No fast cars, no drug busts, no big career opportunities in an organisation where getting up the slippery pole has always seemingly been the most important thing.

So we unlearned all the lessons we learned from taking Bobbies out of communities for a 2nd time. We did it first in the 1960’s and 1970’s as police officers were withdrawn from many communities into brand new central police stations in bigger towns and cities. John Alderson could see how that had failed communities so he tried to bring back community policing in the 1980’s. He eventually won the argument but we went and did it all over again in the 2000’s!

I wonder how long it will be before we adopt real community policing again? You never know there could well be promotions in it for police men and women keen for advancement who advocate it!

And there you have it that’s my potentially too simplistic reason for the state that we are in with anti-social behavior and crime and it’s an opinion I’m firmly stuck with. Covid 19 has brought out the best in most of us but the worst in others of that I’m also sure.

Oh and by the way I hope it goes without saying (but I fear it does not) that all community Bobbies in fact all police officers need to be recruited on the basis that don’t hold racist or homophobic views.

Maghull – Remember when the Green Ln canal bridge had wire stretched across it?

Barge at Green Lane (Methodist Turn Bridge), Maghull

Quite some years ago (I can’t recall just when) whilst I was living in Liverpool Road North Maghull I got a call to tell me that someone had stretched wire across the Green Lane canal swing bridge. An unbelievable act of stupidity but fortunately it was spotted before a pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle encountered it unawares.

My recollection is that it did make the local press though (and the Police were involved) so if anyone has more detail I would be interested to see it. I guess it was 1980’s/1990’s. And what you may ask brought this all back to mind many years later? The link below to Cycling UK is the reason:-

www.cyclinguk.org/news/piano-wire-article-not-intended-be-taken-seriously-says-national-newspaper

The photo at the head of this posting is from far more recent times but it was exactly where the barrier is in this photo that the wire had been stretched across the road/bridge about 2ft or 3ft off the ground. We can only speculate on the damage it was expected/intended to cause by those responsible for putting it there.

So having seen such a thing having been done in the Town I called home for 43 years I’m sure you can understand why I find talk of it in a national newspaper, even suggested in satire, very worrying indeed.

What was the WW2 propaganda phrase ‘Careless Talk Cost Lives’!

Maghull & Formby Recycling Centres – Reopening via a pre-booking process

When Merseyside reopened it’s recycling Centres during our pandemic (4th May) some, including Sefton Meadows (Maghull) and Formby, did not open due to expected traffic congestion issues which would be caused by queuing traffic on busy roads.

At the time I wondered why Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA) had not brought in a pre-booking process for their recycling centres, where queuing traffic would be a problem, as just over the county boundary Lancashire County Council had done just that when it reopened it’s recycling centres. What’s more I know that Burscough Recycling Centre’s pre-booking process works very well because I tried it out having been unable to access a Merseyside facility due to the 2 nearest ones to me being closed and the next nearest having 2hr+ queues.

But as you may know Formby and Sefton Meadows Recycling Centres are now to reopen using, you’ve guessed it, a pre-booking process – see note below*

This has to be welcomed by residents who have been storing waste on their property which needs recycling but is not appropriate for the kerbside domestic recycling. Of course the other positive is that having all the recycling centres open means there should be less fly-tipping in the country lanes around Melling, Lunt Village, Ince Blundell etc. etc.

Fly-tipping in Longdale Lane Lunt from 2018

*The system will work like this according to the MRWA – ‘From Friday 19th June 2020, residents will be able to make bookings, online and also via a dedicated telephone line for time slots available week commencing Monday 22nd June. Booking slots will be released on a rolling weekly basis, once booking slots have been fully allocated, no further slots will be available for that day. When the resident completes and reserves an allocated booking slot they will receive a confirmation email.

The system will be administered by the Authority in partnership with our contractor Veolia, and each site will have a limited number of slots for each day. This allows for the site to be serviced – i.e. containers emptied etc. and also ensure that staff can monitor residents and implement and respect the social distancing rules. This servicing may cause some minor delays to booked appointments which may result in some minor queuing at the sites.

Cars and vans other commercial vehicles including large trailers will not be allowed to access the sites during this trial period and therefore the Permit Line will remain suspended. The Authority continues to develop plans on how these types of vehicles can be readmitted to sites in the near future.

The Authority will implement a clear communications campaign starting on Friday 12th June to ensure that residents are aware of the new trial, with support from officers at Sefton Council. This will be delivered via social media, websites and using local media. The Authority’s contractor Veolia will also be able to cross promote the trial booking system at other sites (via temporary signage) located in Sefton that are already open to the public.

It’s proposed that the trial will go live on 22nd June.’

This is all I know at present I might add.