Ray Hughes moves out of Lydiate

Many Lydiate folk will know Ray from his many years as a Sefton Borough councillor for Park ward in the 1980’s and 1990’s and also from his time on Lydiate Parish Council.

I thought it apt to mark Ray and indeed his lovely wife Hazel (also a former Lydiate Parish Councillor) leaving Lydiate to live in West Lancashire.

I was talking the other day to my old chum Andrew Blackburn who also knew Ray well from his councillor days and he reminded me of the ‘Ray Hughes Point’. What he meant was that Ray was always finding things to point at for photos of casework items he was working on. They could be pot-holes, broken street signs and just about anything else a local councillor could be asked to help sort out. I recall that Ray would often get ribbed for his pointing in photos.

Seriously though Ray was a good local councillor who seemed to know a huge number of people. His phone would ring day in day out because he was such a well known local councillor. A true Pavement Politics councillor if I ever saw one…

Well all the best Ray and indeed Hazel, you certainly did your bit for the community in Lydiate and Maghull.

Melling – There’s a price to pay for democracy but surely its better than co-option?

I read with interest the article on the front page of this week’s Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper regarding the cost of holding a by-election to fill a vacancy on Melling Parish Council.

There can be little doubt that this particular vacancy came out of unusual circumstances i.e. a Labour candidate who had won one of the 11 seats from this May’s full parish council elections decided not to take up the seat they had won on Melling PC. I wonder what changed their mind? According to the paper the winning candidate has not said why he did not take up the seat and the local Labour Party (Sefton Central Constituency) has not commented either.

The thrust of the article was the cost of holding the by-election – some £5,000 – which the parish council involved will have to pay for. The alternative way of filling a vacancy on a parish council is to co-opt a new member if no one calls for an election to be held and this is a matter I have blogged about previously. Here’s a link to my most recent relevant blog about co-options:-

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

My understanding is that the ensuing by-election (held last week) was won by an independent who defeated a different Labour candidate.

So there you have it. I still come down on the side of a by-election each time there’s a vacancy on a parish council because it is the best way forward for our democracy. Co-option, whilst being perfectly legal, is something for me from another era when maybe it was deemed to be OK for those who have been elected to select someone else to join them on a parish council. We would not accept sitting MP’s selecting another MP to fill a vacancy in Parliament so why is it OK for this to happen at the first tier of local democracy – our parish councils?

And by the way, it is not always the case that a by-election takes place on a parish council when an election has been called for because if only one candidate puts themselves forward they will be elected unopposed. Clearly in this case two people wanted to be on the parish council so a by-election took place. I celebrate that because the alternative, say the two potential candidates being interviewed by the already elected council to fill the vacancy, does not sit comfortably with me.

Are cyclists really the scourge of our streets? Of course not, the Ch5 show was just prejudice and entertainment

A cyclists on the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Aintree Village

The Channel 5 entertainment show of last night was all about the evil of cyclists – yes that’s right the people who have gone carbon neutral to try to help save the planet and who generally are fitter and healthier than many vehicle drivers too I bet.

Here’s a take on the programme from The Guardian web site by Rebecca Nicholson :-

www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jul/09/cyclists-scourge-of-the-streets-review-a-road-rage-rant-dressed-in-lycra

That some cyclists ride in stupid and irresponsible ways is a given; why they probably drive vehicles with the same lack of respect for all around them too. And yes I grumble about grown adults riding on pavements, jumping red lights and not stopping at Zebra crossings as well. Only the other night – it was 10.15pm – in Maghull and I was sat at a set of traffic lights in my car (you see cyclists are drivers too) on the dual carriageway A59 when a youngish chap wearing a black T shirt and shorts rode his bike past me down the wrong carriageway. A deliberate attention seeking act no doubt. But as I say drivers of vehicles can be just as bad.

Me in my cycling gear

We used to be a nation of cyclists but after World War 2 we fell out of love with cycling and head over heels in love with driving cars. This shift, which has led to air pollution that is killing us and huge obesity problems is now on the turn again. You could say that what comes around goes around as cycling is once again becoming a mass participation mode of transport and a way to get and stay fit.

I’ve been a regular cyclist now for around 4 years having spent a good 30+ years when I hardly ever peddled at all. I can’t understand why I stopped cycling as I love it and feel much better both mentally and physically for getting back in the saddle. I mostly cycle for enjoymnet and fitness although at times I find my bike can get me into places where car parking is hard to find to do a bit of shopping.

Yes I have encounters with vehicles and I’ve blogged about them previously; there are some very bad drivers out there. But the real problem is the lack of cycling infrastructure, another issue I have commented on before – cycle lanes that finish in the oddest and sometimes the most dangerous of places, the lack of safe cycling routes from logical point to point places and even such simple things as no dropped kerbs such as right outside the brand new Maghull North Station. I could go on but you get my drift……

As a young lad living in Rochdale between the ages of 6 and 10 in the 1960’s I cycled all over the place and as a mature chap in his 60’s I’m now doing the same thing. Cycling, like modern tramway systems in urban areas is the future of sustainable transportation.

30 years of the Trans Pennine Trail

This was the state of the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail through Great Altcar Civil Parish in the winter of 2017 – it’s not got any better.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=niTXh9NLJg0

The video accessible via the link above is worth watching.

I recall the original efforts to establish the Cheshire Lines Path (which forms all of the Trans Pennine Path through West Lancashire and part of it through Sefton) led by the Rev. Smout from Aughton. It’s so sad that the parts of the West Lancs section, particularly through Great Altcar, are in such poor condition.

Maureen Fearn – 90 and still going strong

My friend and former fellow Sefton Borough councillor Maureen Fearn celebrated her 90th birthday today and we had a little party in Prezzo Southport to mark the occasion.

Maureen is 2nd from the left.

I blogged about Maureen (and her Brother-in-Law Ronnie) a while back and here’s a link back to that previous posting from March 2016 as they were both retiring from Sefton Council:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/03/26/tribute-to-ronnie-and-maureen-fearn-on-their-retirement-from-sefton-council/

Maureen was first elected to the old Southport Borough Council in 1971 and as noted in my previous posting she retired from Sefton Borough Council in May 2016. Over the years she has spent many hours fundraising for the Mayor of Sefton’s charity and she still does.

If we are all as fit and active as Maureen at the age of 90 life will be good indeed.

Happy Birthday Maureen

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Sefton Council – Draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update 2019

The draft report, which is available for comment, is on Sefton Council’s website – see link below:-

www.sefton.gov.uk/shma

This is the general comment I have made in response to the draft assessment:-

I remain concerned that Sefton is not targeting sufficient social housing, single level housing for the elderly/those with disabilities and 1 and 2 bedroomed properties in general both social housing and the ordinary housing market.

At the same time the Council is pursuing building on Green Belt/high grade agricultural land whilst not achieving sufficient housing in the categories I have mentioned above. It is bad enough losing high grade agricultural land to development but doing so whilst not addressing actual housing need in the Borough is particularity upsetting.

I remain far from convinced that building more 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed properties for the normal housing market will in any meaningful way meet actual housing need.

If you wish to comment you can do so by e-mailing this address:-

local.plan@sefton.gov.uk