WINTER IS COMING – A guest posting by Bob Robinson

“They think it’s all over” – the crowds have flocked to beaches and beauty spots. Pubs and restaurants have reopened albeit with social distancing and face masks – Life is slowly getting back to normal. Come September, children will go back to school. The Government’s strategy is to engineer an economic and a public health recovery and deliver Brexit – a massive economic restructuring exercise. Punchy three-word injunctions, a time honoured oratorial stand-by are back in vogue. I use 3WI’s myself – as you may have noticed this includes the title of my piece. 3WI’s ring a bell.

I just heard a bell ring. One of London’s best kept secrets is Gresham College – situated at Baynard’s Inn on High Holborn, close to Hatton Garden. Gresham College was founded in 1597, It has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years. They invite distinguished academics, who all share the ability to explain complex issues.. A recent speaker was Sir Chris Witty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK Government’s Chief Medical Adviser, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Unlike his appearances next to the Prime Minister in Downing Street, Professor Witty was given an hour and a half to explain the context and challenges of COVID. He is blessed with the talent of making things you know are complicated and iterative intelligible. He does justice to the scale of the challenge. In addition to speaking about the current pandemic, he drew on the experience of previous pandemics, In particular, he spoke of pandemics that have occurred (a)in a number of waves and that (b) the number of infections in the second and third waves were often greater than that of the first. Spanish Flu killed more people in the United States in the second wave in two months in 1918 than the first wave in 1917. A harsh reality may be about to dawn on us that “it’s not over until it’s over”.

Having set the scene Chris Witty deployed his “Game of Thrones” 3WI – “Winter is Coming”. He drew attention to the facts that diagnosis and isolation will be more difficult. We already appreciate that multi- generational families and those with poor quality homes or no homes face greater difficulties in coping with COVID. The NHS and all other health systems are always under greater pressure in the winter. He also drew attention to the increased risks associated with age and the correlation between age/obesity and death.

But the key 3WI message I drew was that in addition to COVID is “Complacency Can Kill”

You can see Professor Witty’s lecture and read his supporting documents here:

www.gresham.ac.uk/about/
www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/covid-19
s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/content.gresham.ac.uk/data/binary/3292/2020-04-30_Whitty_t.pdf

Can I urge you to watch, learn and inwardly digest?

Lancashire – Still squabbling over local government changes

I’ve said before that the piecemeal reorganisation of what was once the huge county council (with numerous small district councils such as West Lancs Borough) area of Lancashire has ended up leaving a mess of everything that has not already become a unitary authority.

Former BBC and Liverpool Post reporter Political commentator and writer Nick Hancock debating with Sefton’s Cllr. Iain Brodie Browne.

Below, via the link, respected north west journalist Jim Hancock updates us on the tortuous ‘progress’ towards a resolution (scroll down to ‘Driver’s Umbrella’):-

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

Lancashire should have been sorted out as one whole package

The process of doing bits here and there over numerous years via different governments has led directly to this mess and muddle. I support the move to unitary authorities as in my view having a County, a District and often a Parish/Town Council too has not worked.

Power to the Parishes!

Getting rid of the muddle in the middle i.e. the District Councils is the right thing to do. However, it should be being done whilst devolving more powers and responsibilities to the network of Parish and Town Councils across the County (and set up new ones where they don’t presently exist) – of course that’s not being done!

Covid 19 stats at a more local level?

I’ve been getting a little frustrated with seeing, via the media, Covid 19 stats that are only broken down by council areas.

Sefton Council Logo

In my local case the council area is Sefton which is a geographically large/long Borough with numerous diverse and in some cases unconnected communities except that they sit within a creation of the Local Government Boundary Commission.

Let’s be honest Bootle, Southport and Lydiate, for example, hardly have much in common, so being told that in Sefton Borough the number of positive cases is ‘X’ in any particular week is almost meaningless.

But then a helpful Liverpool Echo journalist, Joe Thomas, pointed me towards a web site with more detailed Covid 19 information at Post Code level. Here’s a link to it:-

www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=47574f7a6e454dc6a42c5f6912ed7076

My understanding is that the information you can gain from the web site is not bang up to date – Joe’s Tweet to me explains ‘Hi Tony, this link will take you to a map that has a more detailed breakdown. The figures are a few days behind my latest tweet [yesterday] but give a good indication of local case clusters’

Now as the figures are presently low for Sefton as a whole you won’t get much in the way of more detailed information about its communities and let’s hope it stays that way as we don’t want to see our Borough’s neighbourhoods getting a mention. However, as Preston is this week an area with greater lockdown measures you can, if you look at that community, see how the information is presented with Preston City Center having 11 cases 27th July – 2nd August.

The only directly neighbouring area to Sefton that I could spot on the map (look for the blue shaded areas) when I looked was Rufford & Banks with 6 cases in the same period 27th July – 2nd August.

My thanks to Joe for the lead to this posting…….

Note:- It seems that 2 or less case are not recorded on this data base unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

Cycling – Nothing for Sefton’s East Parishes again

Me in my cycling gear looking grumpy over the lack of investment in Sefton’s cycling infrastructure.

Being a regular cyclist I often talk about the deficiencies in the cycling network in Sefton Borough’s East Parishes – Aintree Village, Melling, Lydiate, Maghull & Sefton/Lunt Villages – so when I came across the article linked below my eyes light up, if only just a little. And by just a little I mean that’s related to the the small amount of money on the table – £2m will fund very little in terms of safe cycling. Have a look at the article:-

lbndaily.co.uk/work-begins-mersey-pop-walking-cycling-routes/

Yes you’ve probably picked up on the very same issue that I did i.e. nothing for the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough what so ever! To save you going back to the article this is what it says will be done in Sefton Borough:-

Sefton: Cycle route through Southport town centre, segregated cycle route from Bootle town centre to Liverpool city centre.

And you know just relatively small investments in the cycling network in the East Parishes would bring some benefits. I blogged about a few of these not so long ago in the Maghull, Melling & Lydiate area:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/03/maghull-lydiate-melling-simple-cycling-fixes-for-sefton-council-to-undertake/

When will Sefton Council invest in the Cycling infrastructure of the East Parishes to sort out the simple missing links that are already sat there never mind getting down to serious cycle facility investment in the forgotten part of our Borough? Yes I know a new cycle path is being built from the M58 ‘Ashworth’ junction in Melling to Kirkby and there’s also been a recent ‘half hearted’ attempt to bring a cycle path into Maghull along the A59 from Switch Island but that’s about it for the East Parishes of the Borough.

Glad I got that off my chest…….

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

Riding through Rimrose Valley

Walking and cycling destinations from Rimrose Valley County Park Country Park.

I really enjoy cycling through Rimrose Valley Country Park, as I did yesterday morning, but sadly it is under significant threat from a new road being built from one end of it to the other to service the Port of Liverpool. This is of course a subject I’ve covered on this blog site many times.

The reason I decided to highlight the environmental crisis which threatens this country park again is the two posters I came across during my bike ride. They are very much to the point:-

To me these posters are spot on. What’s more having declared a ‘climate change emergency’, as the UK did in May 2019, building yet more new roads is clearly very much in conflict with that resolution. New roads lead to increased traffic which in turn creates more air pollution.

And if you’re still not sure whether it’s worth fighting to save the Rimrose Valley have a look at this lovely video on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=174&v=hqIOLMB50gI&feature=emb_title