Southport’s former MP is still on the campaign trail as a Sefton Borough Councillor for Dukes Ward; here he’s taking on the might of Sainsburys as the link below to a Liverpool Echo article details:-
Did you know that the new Highway Code is likely to say that a driver should leave 1.5m between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking and that the Police may well be encouraged to take drivers to task, even penalise them, for not adhering to this change?
The change is coming about because a small minority of drivers are putting cyclists at risk by passing far too close when overtaking. Most drivers pass well away from cyclists but some don’t care and pass cyclists in a very dangerous way. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences recently when cycling and oddly both were on Winifred Lane in Aughton, the latest one being a few days ago. This later time the vehicle was identifiable so I’ve contacted the firm (name not mentioned here) concerned asking them to speak to their driver:-
‘I was cycling on Winfred Lane in Aughton around 12.20 today when one of your vehicles nearly had me off my bike by passing far too close to me.
I could tell what was going to happen as the driver made little or no attempt to slow down as they tried to squeeze between me and a parked lorry on the other side of the road.
The new Highway Code says that vehicles should pass leaving 1.5m between them and a cyclist, I doubt there was 6 inches in this encounter! Can you please identify your driver and have words with them. I look forward to your reply.’
Here’s a link to a recent newspaper article about overtaking a cyclist and the changes coming to the Highway Code:-
The other big danger to cyclists are dogs. On the amusing side of things I’ve been told by owners ‘he does not like hats’, ‘he does not like cyclists’, ‘he does not like bright colours’ etc. etc. as though training their dog is something they’ve just never thought of. But joking aside passing a dog and dog walker when the dog is on one of those extendable leads is an art form as you have to try to guess what the dog will do i.e. which way it will run and how far. This is an issue you don’t even need to think about when a dog is on a traditional lead as they can’t move very far in any direction. The problem is most obvious on pedestrian and cycling ‘shared space’ routes
And before you ask yes I’ve been chased by a dog whilst cycling but fortunately, I managed to outpace it, so I’m yet to have an accident or be bitten by a dog whilst cycling. However, I have been bitten by one whilst a pedestrian. That ended up in court and the person responsible for the dog got a £300+ fine if I recall correctly. It happened a few years back in Thornton. My advice to anyone who has an unfortunate dog encounter is to report it to Sefton Council’s Dog Warden, that’s how my case got taken to court.
Oh and before you think I’m a dog hater, no I’m not. Chester, a friend’s Chocolate Lab’, is my best doggy chum and yes our family has in the past had a dog. To be honest the dog is never the problem it’s the owners who don’t train them whilst treating them like children who can do no wrong. Dogs are pack animals and need to know where they stand. If you treat them like they are the top dog that is how they will act making your and other folks lives a misery in the process often.
* Thanks to ukcyclelaws blogspot for the graphic above
The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below
A really positive article here which can only help our local seaside town – well done Liverpool Echo
But what else could help Southport develop its potential? Well, a bypass around Ormskirk would be a big boost as would regaining the once excellent rail link to Wigan and Manchester which has seen very poor services in recent times.
Remember Southport was built on the success of its railway connection to the east because Manchester business people came to live in the Town due to its once excellent and reliable trains to Manchester. Restoring reliable, comfortable, fast and regular trains on this line could work wonders for Southport. And reconnecting Southport to the north and Preston would be a welcome positive step as well and all it will take is the rebuilding of a short section of connecting track at Burscough.
The Liverpool City Region and indeed Sefton Council needs to stop looking at the Lancashire boundary, which surrounds most of Southport, as a no-go barrier and instead see it as an opportunity. For too long Southport has been held back by an invisible on the ground local government boundary. The transport solutions to help Southport develop are mostly in Lancashire and it’s not rocket science to see what they are!
Well, I mentioned in my review of 2018 that Bold Lane in Aughton had still not been resurfaced so imagine my surprise when I was out cycling in Aughton yesterday and my eyes fell upon this sign in Bold Lane:-
You can make out some of the poor surface in the shot below but the worst of it is further up the lane on both carriageways
Obviously, I’m glad that Lancashire County Council are finally getting around to resurfacing a lane that in recent times has been in pretty awful condition. However, I still wonder whether if the lane had been resurfaced a year ago (at least) Melling resident and Parish Councillor Alison Doyle would still be with us.
Notes:- My understanding is that a pothole in Bold Lane was a significant factor in the accident when Alison Doyle was killed whilst cycling with Sefton Velo Cycling Club.
Click on the photos to enlarge them
It’s always interesting to look back at a year just ending – lessons can always be learned from history (even very recent history) but that’s a piece of traditional advice many of our present-day politicians really seem to struggle with.
So let’s look back at the past 12 months via 12 Sefton Focus postings – each month has a link back to my original posting. It’s my personal take on 2018:-
January – A celebration of everything Hornby:-
Well, I had to start this review with the TV programme which put Maghull firmly on the map. I refer of course to the Town being a part of one of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys celebrating the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident – Toy maker Frank Hornby:-
February – Pavement Politics:-
We Libs are known for our ‘pavement politics’ so it’s no surprise that in February I was going on about pot-holes! Sadly, as we shall see later, a pot-holed/poorly maintained road which I mentioned back in Feb’ ended up being a contributory factor to a cyclist’s death later in the year.
March – Youth and CAB make way for Police:-
The move of Maghull’s Police Station from Westway into Maghull Town Hall, facilitated by Labour-run Maghull Town Council, made my blood boil because a successful CAB help point (still not replaced when we were told it would be) and a unique youth facility (a Youth Coffee Bar run by local young people) were both lost to make way for the boys and girls in blue.
April – Oh for decent services on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line:-
Railways have always been of great interest to me and I’ve been a member of OPSTA for many years now. Their campaigning to bring about a decent train service from Southport to Wigan and Manchester has been long-running and as I type it still is. This was the state of things back in April BEFORE the complete melt-down of the May timetable changes. Note – I think it fair to say that Merseytravel have now upped their game a little regarding services on this line but the reliability of it (It’s run by Northern Trains) is still very poor indeed.
May – Did Merseytram burn Merseytravel’s fingers?:-
In May I mused about the lack of significant public transportation developments across the Liverpool City Region and pondered on whether the failed Merseytram project burnt Merrsytravel’s fingers too hard.
June – Canal Breach in Melling:-
The Leeds Liverpool Canal breached in the Waddicar part of Melling during June, stopping the many pleasure boats that use the canal during the summer season. The canal was closed for quite a few weeks whilst repairs were undertaken by the canal and River Trust.
July – How accessible is the new Maghull North Station?:-
I penned this posting a few weeks after the new station was opened. The level accessible route into the station has now been provided although there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists off School Lane.
August – The sad death of a local Councillor and cyclist:-
The August posting links directly back to the one I highlighted in February i.e. the fatal accident involving Melling Parish Councillor Alion Doyle who was cycling on one of the lanes in Aughton which I raised concerns about back then. A stretch of this lane, maybe a 100 yards or so, is still in terrible condition this December and I have raised this with Lancashire County Council. Such a sad loss of life. RIP Allison Doyle.
September – The battle against fracking:-
Being an environmental campaigner the battle against Fracking is important to me as it is to many others. This month’s chosen posting is about Lydiate Parish Council gaining information from the volunteer campaigners against fracking. And yes, Lydiate PC did subsequently agree to put £500 to one side to help the volunteer Moss Alliance with their legal costs.
October – Building on high-grade agricultural land, which feeds us, is the politics of the madhouse:-
Another environmental campaign that I feel passionately about. That governments and councils (of any political colour) can allow building on the highest grades of agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, is utterly mad to me – a subject I have blogged about many, many times…..
November – Ormskirk to Preston Line – The worst performing in the UK?:-
As the year dragged on for the poor long-suffering passengers of Northern Rail questions began to be asked about whether the line from Ormskirk to Preston could possibly be the worst performing in the UK. The question was taken up by BBC News with particular reference to a whole week without a single train running on the line. Performance can only improve in 2019, it just could not get any worse.
December – The battle to try to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from Highways England’s plans for a new road:-
And to close 2018 a subject I have oft-blogged about, the campaign to try to stop Highway’s England building a new road to the Port of Liverpool through Rimrose Valley Country Park. There have been many angles which I have reported on but the bizarre tangle Sefton Council’s Tory Group have got themselves into takes a lot of beating.
In what can only be seen as a surprise move last year Sefton Council splashed out over £30m of public money to buy The Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, a move that shocked many in these times of austerity for local authorities.
But it seems that buying shopping centres is quite the fashion for local councils these days as the article below details from the BBC website:-
I’m the first to say that I’m highly sceptical of such moves by cash-strapped councils – it’s a massive gamble that could go horribly wrong. I had not realised that Wigan Council had purchased The Galleries but having walked around it’s all but deserted upper floor before Christmas you really do wonder what that council can do to bring back the lost retail outlets.
Of course, Sefton Council’s previous big move into retail property development was to take on the rebuild and running of Southport Indoor Market a few years back. This was another hugely controversial investment which I and others on the Council at the time opposed.
But as Sefton and indeed other councils are now firmly into retail property development will this mean other shopping centres locally will be snapped up at lowish prices using borrowed public money? Makes you wonder, especially when private sector owners seem to struggle to find the resources to upgrade down at heel shopping centres such as Maghull Square.
I’m not advocating that Sefton buys up more retail property, because I think it has too much risk attached to it, but if the Council’s Labour rulers really do think that acquiring shopping centres is the next big thing for municipal socialism why stop at Southport Market and Bootle Strand?
Thanks to both Roy Connell and Keith Page for the leads to this posting