Bridges, bridges & more footbridges

I blogged a while back about Lydiate footpath No.5, which links Southport Road to Eagar Lane, as a bridge over a stream needed replacing. Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/07/01/lydiate-footpath-no-5/

Well, it took a bit longer but the new bridge is now in place. However, concerns have been raised that the step up to the bright blue bridge is too high at around 14 inches**. Lydiate Parish Cllr. Edie Pope* tells me that a Sefton Council officer agrees it’s too high a step so I’m guessing that an additional step will be added? Here’s Edie at the bridge:-

I’ve been wondering why the bridge is bright blue as not so far away a couple of footbridges on paths linking Lydiate, The River Alt and Ince Blundell have also just been replaced and they are a far more discrete brown colour – see below:-

No, I’m not asking for a repaint, just curious about why some footbridges are brown and some blue.

* A section of this footpath actually runs along the boundary of Cllr. Edie Pope’s Church View Farm and she tells me that at some point in the distant past before she owned the land the footpath seems to have been moved from one side of the stream to the other. This must be back in Lancashire County days i.e. well prior to local government reorganisation in 1974. This being the case, if the path had been on the other side of the stream, there would have been no need for a bridge.

** Many local footpath bridges have steps up to them and I have previously pondered on this, amongst other reasons, being a form of obstruction to deter motorcycles. Our historic footpath network in England has never been disability friendly so such steps usually don’t make the paths any more inaccessible. It’s only very modern public rights of way where disability has been/is catered for.

RIP Barry Griffiths & Ron Coffee

I’ve learned in recent days about the deaths of two former councillors that I served with.

Barry Griffiths was a Conservative member of Sefton Council until 2012 and I recall him being a very polite and good-humoured chap. During my time as Leader of Sefton Council (2004 – 2011) Barry was a senior member of the Tory Group on what was then a balanced council with no one party in overall control. As Leader I often felt a bit like a Circus Ringmaster as I tried to corral differing views into a common way forward. Often things were tense but I recall that on odd occasions Barry would take the trouble to come up to me and say a few encouraging words. I appreciated his kindness over what I suspect was a very wide political gap between us.

Ron Coffee was a Liberal Democrat member of Lydiate Parish Council in the late 1980s through to the early 1990s if memory serves correctly. I think he was on the council for around seven years having originally won his seat at a Parish Council by-election. Ron, who lived in Lydiate for many years, was a college lecturer by trade. My distinct recollection of him was that he had a deep interest in public transport and would often be found commenting on the performance of buses, trains and Merseytravel. My apologies for the poor quality photo of Ron.

RIP Barry and Ron

My Kirkby and Maghull/Hornby worlds have come together

The other day I received by post a booklet titled ‘Steaming Back To Kirkby Loco – Life on the Lines in the days of Steam – At Kirkby in Ashfield Loco Shed’. The booklet has been written and published this year by David Amos and Keith Murray. Here’s the front cover:-

As a Kirkby lad by birth (I lived there until I was 6) I found the booklet very interesting and informative. My understanding is that my Uncle Ken Calladine (on my Mother’s side of the family) was both an engine driver and he worked, at least for some of his working life, out of Kirkby Loco Shed*. He was born on Urban Road Kirkby, yards away from the railway.

I’ve resided on Merseyside since I was 10 and for 33 of those years, I lived in the town (Maghull) where world-famous toy maker Frank Hornby made his home. Some years ago now I became a trustee of the Maghull-based Frank Hornby Charitable Trust which runs the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre within Meadows Leisure Centre & Library in Maghull**.

A view of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre

So having mentioned Kirkby In Ashfield and Maghull, what’s the connection other than my living in both communities at some point in my life? Well, the connection was made by my reading the booklet referenced above because the authors talk about a certain class of steam locomotive which was based at Kirkby Loco Shed* – a Stanier Class 8F steam engine. The point is that I would have stood looking at that class of loco with my Grandad Walter Calladine at the level crossing on Urban Road Kirkby in the early 1960s. But what makes this interesting is that Hornby made a model engine of an 8F with the number 48073. That loco was based at Kirkby shed!

You may have guessed where this is going now? Well yes, I’ve just purchased a second hand Hornby 8F with the number 48073, which in due course will be loaned to the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre in Maghull. OK, it cost me a few Quid and I may have a bone to pick with David Amos and Keith Murray for them leading me to part with my hard-earned pension but actually, I’m rather delighted to have made another connection between Kirkby and Maghull. And here’s a photo of said model complete with its original packaging:-

And here’s a photo of a real fellow member of the 8F Class after it had a rather unfortunate accident at Kirkby Loco Shed in 1959!:-

* Kirkby-In-Ashfield Shed Codes – Sept 1938 to Sept 1955 – 16C, Oct 1955 to August 1963 – 16B, Sept 1963 to October 1966 – 16E

** The opening hours of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre reflect those of Maghull Library. The present days/hours (November 2021) are Monday to Wednesday & Friday 10am – 4.30pm, Thursday Closed, Saturday 10am – 1.30pm. Please note at the time I posted this blog piece the website of Sefton Council was still showing the restricted Covid Lockdown opening times for Maghull Library. We are trying to get them to update it.

Bootle – As seen by an article in the Liverpool Post

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

I found the article (linked below) by Joshi Herrmann in the Post very interesting.

www.livpost.co.uk/p/bootle-retains-optimistic-air?r=bhrt5&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=

I spent my whole working life in what used to be called Bootle’s ‘Mini-Whitehall’ i.e. the collection of 1960s office blocks full of civil servants. Those jobs were brought to Bootle throughout the 1970s and into the 80s as part of what some called ‘Exit London’. The idea was to bring decent jobs into a deprived area whilst saving government the high costs of buildings and employing people in the southeast. It always struck me as a good policy but now my former employer HMRC is upping sticks and moving into central Liverpool and abandoning Bootle. I have long struggled with the new policy direction as to me it seems to simply overturn a good idea with a poor one and Bootle has clearly lost out, not least with the spending power of civil servants in the likes of The Strand.

Bootle Town Hall

My other issue is the lack of political competition in Bootle as everyone knows that a Labour MP will be returned together with a collection of Labour councillors. To my mind, this breeds electoral stagnation and I think places like Bootle would benefit from a proportional electoral system (wouldn’t we all) maybe even more so than other communities. New ideas outside of a Labour Party which has always seemed to me to be rooted in political battles of the past may emerge, you never know.

I’d like to see Bootle do well, I really would but I also fear it’s a community where the far-right may try to exploit the poverty.

3 Sefton Libraries on just 3 or 2 day a week opening – 3 on 6 day opening

Maghull Library has been on a 2 day week as a consequence of Covid Lockdown for quite some time now and I’d been assuming, always a dangerous thing, that it would soon be opening up 6 days per week. However, a recent enquiry seems to indicate that increased hours/days may not presently be on Sefton Council’s agenda. Anecdotal evidence indicates, I might add, that staff shortage may be the reason for keeping it to 2-day opening.

Time to try and get to the bottom of this me thinks so I’ve approached 2 Sefton Councillors asking them both to try to find out what’s going on.

Maghull Library is within Meadows Leisure Centre and has been since the centre was opened in 2009, although sadly Sefton Council has steadily been reducing the size of this library in favour of other activities. It’s now, I guess, less than half the size it started out at just 11 years ago. Interestingly, Meadows Leisure Centre itself is now opening, according to Sefton Council’s website, at these times –

Monday to Friday 6:30am – 10.00pm
Saturday and Sunday 8:00am – 5:00pm

Whist Maghull Library only opens on a Tuesday and Friday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

A check on the opening hours of the other Sefton Borough libraries reveals this:-

Bootle –
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm

Crosby
Monday 10am-4:30pm
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Thursday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm
Saturday 10am-1:30pm

Netherton –
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm

Formby –
Monday 10am-4:30pm
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Thursday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm
Saturday 10am-1:30pm

Southport –
Monday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Tuesday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Wednesday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Thursday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Friday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Saturday – 10.00am-2.00pm

I’m not sure what’s going on here as personally, I’d expect there to be reasonably common opening hours across all of Sefton’s libraries. Clearly, 3 libraries, (Bootle 3 days and Netherton/Maghull 2 days) are bearing the brunt of whatever problems Sefton Council are facing but I fear the short opening hours could well have further-reaching consequences. Firstly, what about vital access to IT equipment which those who are job seeking and/or on benefits use our libraries for as the cost of having broadband at home is beyond their budgets. Surely the 3 libraries in the Borough on 3 and 2 day opening only cause problems for them which if they live in Crosby, Formby or Southport they don’t face. A postcode lottery you might say?

My other concern is the viability of these 3 short-hours libraries because reducing them to just 3 or even 2-day opening is akin to reducing the number of buses on a route or trains on a railway line; you get to the point where folks just stop using them and try to find other ways around the lack of availability. In my view Sefton Council needs to get the 3 short-hours libraries back up to similar opening hours as the 3 that are already running 6 days per week and this needs to happen sooner rather than later.

As always, if I’ve got any facts wrong in this posting please let me know and I’ll try to put things right.

Lydiate’s 1994 Centenary

Lydiate Parish Council celebrated its centenary back in 1994 and a civic service was organised to mark the milestone. Parish Councils were created via Gladstone’s 1894 Act of Parliament, Lydiate is one of the original 1894 Civil Parishes.*

Above is the front cover of the pamphlet produced for the event. I recall many of the names on the Parish Council back then as I was, back in 1994, a neighbouring Maghull Town** Councillor. Some of the members from 1994 still live in Lydiate whilst others have sadly passed on or have left Lydiate***.

I’ve not scanned the whole pamphlet into this posting (the order of service has been omitted) but here are the other pages which may be of interest:-

Please click on each scanned page of the pamphlet to enlarge it for reading.

* More Parish Councils have been created since then. Locally, Hightown PC and Formby PC are later additions to Sefton Borough’s present list of 10 such councils. Oddly, one Parish Council in the Borough (Netherton) was abolished quite some years back.

** Parish and Town Councils are exactly the same in terms of powers and functions, the only difference being that a Town Council elects a Mayor and a Parish Council a Chairperson.

*** I’ve lost contact with my old friends Ray and Hazel Hughes; Ray being PC Chairperson at the time of the Centenary. They moved to either Haskayne or Halsall within the past couple of years. If anyone has their contact details please contact me via e-mail – t3robertson@gmail.com

Note – A copy of the 1994 pamphlet was given to me recently by Peter Gibson – Thank you Peter.