Lydiate – Cyclists and the Kenyons Lane/A59 traffic lights

A fellow cyclist recently raised this junction with me as they were concerned that the detection wires under the tarmac on the Coronation Road side of the junction may not be picking up approaching cycles.

Oddly a similar thought had crossed my mind a while back as I had an encounter with these traffic lights where they did not change to green when I expected them to. I had all but forgotten about this incident but when approached it came back to mind.

The resident has raised their concerns with Sefton Council Highway Dept. and shared the exchanges with me. It seems that if a cycle is ridden too close to the edge of the road the bike may not be recognised and the advice is that cyclists use the middle of the eastbound carriageway when approaching the lights as this should lead to a bike being detected. So now you cyclists know but let me know if problems persist.

Oh, and by the way, it is not recommended for cyclists to ride near to the kerb anyway as these links illustrate:-

www.britishcycling.org.uk/membership/article/20140102-Road-safety-tips-for-members-0

www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/10-tips-for-safer-city-riding-47029/

Sefton Highways tell us that the advice given in the links above has been endorsed by Chris Boardman who’s currently working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester to improve Cycling Safety Standards.

With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Bold Lane, Aughton – It’s still in very poor condition despite that seemingly contributing towards a cyclist’s death back in August

Melling residents will recall with great sadness the recent death of one of their Parish Councillors – Alison Doyle – in a cycling accident on Aughton’s Bold Lane back in August.

I raise the matter again as yesterday I cycled up Bold Lane due to my alternative and usual route via Sandy Lane being closed for roadworks. I virtually never cycle up Bold Lane because the surface of the road, north of the Sandy Lane junction, is very poor as I’ve mentioned in previous postings going back to February of this year.

Sadly, if anything the surface has deteriorated even more and a section of it is breaking up badly. The odd patch repair has been done but clearly some major resurfacing of say a hundred yards or so is urgently required. What I can’t get my head around is why Lancashire County Council has not done the work even if only in memory of Cllr. Doyle’s death.

I stopped to take some photos of the flowers at the side of the road where the accident took place:-

While I was stopped another cyclist came along and we talked about the condition of the road surface. We agreed that Lancs County Council really does need to get on with the resurfacing because not only had that terrible accident taken place due of a pothole but the surface had been marked out for repairs months ago but little has actually happened and the markings have now been all but worn/washed away.

I’ve raised the matter with Lancashire County Council hoping that they will get this road surface sorted before we have another serious accident.

Alison was a member of Sefton Velo Cycling Club.

The lead photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

The trouble with Parish Councils

This posting follows my reading a very interesting piece by Joanie Willett titled ‘Parish Councils are a vital space for participatory democracy – but they are in crisis’ on LSE web site – here’s a link to the article:-

blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/parish-councils-engagement/

Having continuously been a Parish Councillor since September 1985, firstly on Maghull Town Council (until 2015) and then on Lydiate Parish Council (to date) plus having been a Sefton Borough Councillor with Parish Councils in my wards this is a subject close to my heart. As well as being a member of 2 Parish Councils I’ve had varying degrees of interaction with the other 8 parishes in Sefton Borough – Melling, Aintree Village, Sefton, Thornton, Ince Blundell, Formby (which I had a small hand in setting up), Hightown and Little Altcar.

The interesting thing about this list of 10 Parish Councils within Sefton Borough is that they probably in their own way pretty much represent the wide range of Parish and Town Councils nationally in that Maghull is one of the largest in England, Lydiate, Formby and Aintree Village are medium sized with the other 6 being much smaller to differing degrees. When I talk about size I am particularly referring to the precept (amount of council tax) they charge and the services they are involved in delivering.

My view is that for parish councils (and I do take the trouble to seek out Parish Council noticeboards all over England) to continue to thrive they need to move with the times. Having been set up by Gladstone in 1894 I sometimes wonder whether some are still stuck in that era. Modern communities demand services being delivered to them and who better to deliver some of those services than your very local parish council, should you have one of course. Yes I know some parish councils are reluctant to take on powers and responsibilities but it is in my view the future. Parks, gardens, children’s play areas are an obvious thing they could/should be running in their communities but how about youth facilities, community halls/village halls, public toilets, street cleaning/litter picking etc. etc. Surely such essential community services are better managed and delivered at a very local level aren’t they? Of course there are parish councils across England delivering such services already and more.

But they need regular 4 yearly elections too not just have enough nominations so as not to have to hold an election. The churn of elections is good, it brings in new people, new ideas, helps things move along with the times. Oh and co-options for vacancies caused by resignations etc. need to be put a stop to as I’ve mentioned in a previous posting of not so long ago. Here’s that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/18/co-options-onto-parish-councils/

Too many parish councils are below the radar with the same usually well meaning people on them for generations. Goodness me I was on Maghull Town Council (a Town Council is exactly the same as a Parish Council other than it has a Mayor rather than a Chairperson) for 30 years and I faced many elections in that time period. But, and I kid you not, there will be some parish councillors who have never faced the electorate because they were co-opted onto their parish council and at each 4 yearly round of elections there will have been just enough nominations (or sadly in some case too few) for there to be no need of an election. This in my view is not healthy democracy.

But don’t let my grumbling about parish councils mislead you, I love them in all their quirky and diverse ways. No two parish councils are alike because whilst they exist under the same legislation they have each grown or ventured in they own ways. Borough, District and County Councils (whomever controls them politically) are creatures that are 95% (at least) the same as each other because they deliver statutory services on behalf of government. Parish Councils don’t deliver statutory services unless of course something has been devolved to them by a big brother Council. They don’t get government grants either. They are truly free to do what they think their community wants and needs and to raise money from the Council tax payers to do that work. Many simply see their role as being the voice of their community and they seek no other role, others do all kinds of things to try to better their communities.

I’m keen on devolution of powers to the lowest level of government commensurate with delivering quality cost effective services so I want to see parish councils saying we can do that in our community, whatever that may be that their particular community requires or thinks can be delivered better by their very local council.

There are great opportunities out there for parish councils to grasp and in many communities that grasping is happening with dynamic parish councils leading the way but in others little is happening other than a monthly grumble meeting about troubles in their community and how the District, Borough or County Council is not solving these troubles. The best solutions are nearly always the ones delivered by the people closest to the challenge/problem and often that will be a parish council. Oh if only more parish councils had the confidence and ambition to really lead their communities they could then seriously call themselves the level of democracy closest and most in touch with their community.

My thanks to Cllr. Bill Honeyman for making me aware of the LSE paper mentioned above.

Sefton Council – What happens if you don’t pay your Council tax

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/people-merseyside-facing-prison-not-15329840

Recalling my 16 years as a Sefton Councillor (1999 to 2015) my recollection is that Sefton has always been pretty good at collecting Council tax i.e. it collects more than many other councils. And it’s clear from this Echo article that the Council is willing to chase up Council tax debt through the courts.

Sefton Council Logo

Council tax is a poor and unfair and regressive tax because it is based on the value of land/property rather than the ability to pay. A poor person can end up living in a large house with high Council tax with the person next door paying the same amount of Council tax whilst being wealthy. We need a new form of Local Income tax to re-balance such a badly targeted tax to pay for council services.

But, until we get a fairer tax system to fund councils, my experience of talking to Sefton residents is that they expect all householders to pay their way as they do. So my guess is that there’s little sympathy out there for those who don’t pay, although there well may be for those who are trapped in larger properties on low incomes and who can’t pay.

Lydiate – Notes from a Small Parish

Yes I know, I could not help but pinch the title of Bill Byrson’s excellent book but it felt appropriate to me anyway.

I’ve not updated on the activities of the Parish Council for a while but as we have just had our October meeting here goes with a few notes:-

* We donated £73 to the WW1 Lydiate Project to help them produce 100 additional printed booklets on their work. Here’s a link to this primary schools based project:-

madcos.org.uk/project/ww1-lydiate/

By the way have you seen/read ‘Great War Britain – Liverpool – Remembering 1914-18’ by Lydiate historian Pam Russell? May well be worth tracking a copy down – it was published this year. The copy below was for sale in Liverpool Central Library:-

* After the Brexit carry on it will hardly be surprising if Lydiate folk look upon another referendum with a skeptical eye but there is going to another very local one early next year. It will just be for Lydiate voters and it will be regarding whether the community accepts the Neighbourhood Plan which the Parish Council has put together. I’ve blogged about these plans many times before – watch out for a polling card popping through your letter box.

* We have put £500 to one side, in effect pledged it, to the Moss Alliance to help pay for their legal costs against fracking. My previous posting on this matter is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/tag/the-moss-alliance/

Sandy Lane Changing Rooms building

* The Parish Council continues to look for ways to improve the changing room facilities and indeed the old tennis courts at Sandy Lane Playing Field. I’ve mentioned this a number of times previously. Suffice to say that the project may now take the form of a small extension to the present building but with a far more substantial project to provide modern changing rooms and a multi use games area (MUGA) to follow. It all depends on funding and grants and it could take a while to bring this project forward.

* It looks like funding to help with the lighting of the Christmas Tree (actually its a holly tree) on the Village Green will no longer be provided by Sefton Council after Christmas 2019. There’s a challenge for Christmas 2020 and beyond….

Maghull – So how will its vast urban extension measure up car usage wise?

M58 and the vast Maghull East Urban Extension Site

The BBC has an interesting article on its web site about car dependency which is built-in to modern housing estates – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45956792

Having read the piece above, by Roger Harrabin, I immediately thought of the vast urban extension which is planned for the Maghull East site because surely it will become yet another one to add to the list of almost complete car dependency will it not?

I’ve mainly opposed the building of Maghull’s urban extension on environmental and food supply grounds because the land which it is to swallow up is pretty much all of the highest grades of agricultural land that grows our food. However, the piece on the BBC web site raises an altogether different perspective but one which is clearly related to environmental issues too.

Should we be building vast new communities in 2018 and beyond which are effectively car dependent? Surely not. Yes I know Maghull has just had its 2nd railway station constructed in the same geographical area but as its car park is already full before a brick is laid for Maghull’s urban extension will the new home owners simply drive to wherever they work? Well yes in the main that’s exactly what they will do. For that not to be the case the new 1600 houses would need an intensive circular bus services (not one that lasts for just a short period after the houses are built) on at least a 15 minute frequency that matches the train times. Is such an intensive bus service going to be brought in and maintained for years to come with environmentally friendly electric buses? I bet it’s not.

But seriously it is such considerations that need to be built into the planning process of all significant house building projects if we are serious about reducing car dependence and the environmental pollution that goes with it not to mention the hours we all spend in traffic jams.

Taking this train of thought a stage further (and train is the important word here) we will in the not too distant future need Merseyrail to operate on say a 5 minute frequency (as opposed to its 15 one presently). We will also need many more electric circular buses serving Maghull’s 2 railway stations – only then will we be able to turn the tide against the car which we all have become servants to because we are really crap at designing communities in which we can work, live and play without each needing to have an expensive polluting tin can to get us about.

And no I’m not having a go at local politicians for this state of affairs, it’s a problem brought about by successive governments of all colours failing to integrate housing, planning, environmental and transportation policy in a coherent way as we stare down the gun barrel of global warming. Oh and this conundrum is being faced by virtually every urban community.