Lydiate – Dog fouling of park surrounding Lydiate Village Centre site

A few weeks ago Lydiate Parish Council took a tough decision that it would very much rather have not made. It closed the open space around Lydiate Village Centre on Lambshear Lane at times the Village Centre itself is not open.

Lydiate Village Centre

The reason? Excessive dog fouling of the grassed area leading to young children being put in conflict with the fouled area. Not surprisingly the move has upset local dog walkers who do clear up after their dogs. As with many anti-social activities it is the actions of the few who care little for our communities that ends up compromising the activities of people who do care, in this case the vast majority of dog walkers.

The Parish Council is looking for a long-term way keeping the open space accessible 24 – 7 whilst being able to control the fouling in a way that does not put playing youngsters at risk.

Switch Island – That red Light jumping, why is it at such epic and dangerous proportions?

So why do drivers jump red lights? Is it attention seeking? Is it an alpha male issue? Is it inability to reasonably calculate travelling time? Is is just stupidity and not paying attention to the road? Is it simply being confused by a complicated junction?

Of course it is all of these and other factors too but for some reason the building of Brooms Cross Road and particularly its junction with Switch Island has really brought home to many of us how much red light jumping goes on and the consequences of it.

The Maghull Community Facebook Page records many of the incidents, the Champion newspaper has written on the problem too and a local MP has even raised the matter in Parliament. So it has certainly got our attention and no mistake.

Having campaigned for the new road to be built over a dozen year period or more I must say that I always had at the back of my mind that Switch Island was just going to be too complicated with another road added to it. Indeed, I recall talking to highway engineers about my wish to see a fly-over built connecting the M57 to the new road. I raised this both locally and at regional highway stakeholder events but it was very clear that the money to do this was simply not there.

I’m not going to say I told you so because that would be churlish and anyway the major objective of getting the road built was to try to address the appalling congestion on Lydiate Lane and/Green Lane in Thornton.

Of course red light jumping is not the fault of there being no fly-over but it is the cause of accidents at Switch Island. So you could say I suppose that hot-headed drivers who can’t take congestion red light jump to try to gain an advantage over other road users. In other words put a delay on the highway system and there will always be drivers who will not wait patiently in the queues – we see such behaviors all over our roads of course.

I missed my uncle’s funeral last December because of an horrendous traffic jam on the M6 in the infamous contraflow section where a lorry had broken down. We were sat there for a long long time and yes it is incredibly frustrating when you have an important appointment to make. So does this sort of incident turn those with a short fuse into dangerous drivers? I suppose it does.

But often a Switch Island you can see red light jumpers doing their thing when the road is clear. It’s as though they have no intention of stopping for the traffic lights unless they literally have no choice. It’s like gambling – ‘I can do it’, ‘I can beat that gap’ or ‘well I’m going too fast to stop now so lets go for it’.

Trouble is that the junction’s at Switch Island are big so it takes a few more seconds to cross them than at a normal set of traffic lights. Crossing say 6 lanes worth of road on a red light run is surely far more dangerous than crossing 1 or 2. And the junction of Brooms Cross Road and Brickwall Lane (the only midway junction on the new road) is also a very wide junction and I am seeing red light jumping there too.

It’s also possible that on the odd occasion the red light jumping at Switch Island is also a consequence of it being such a complicated junction – so many sets of lights, so many traffic signs, so much written on the lanes around the junction. Let’s face it first time users would usually be daunted by it and not know which lane to use. Factor in satnavs not giving clearly understandable instructions and it’s a heady brew indeed!

Oh and by the way I saw some chaps doing surveys in the middle of the island yesterday late morning. Could they be the consultants appointed by the Highways Agency?

The War against Labour-run Sefton Council’s Green Belt busting Local Plan has been lost but there were many local battles where Labour was bloodied.

This is what a recent letter said to those who had taken part in the Sefton Council Local Plan process:-

Dear Sir or Madam

Examination of the Local Plan for Sefton – Receipt of Inspector’s Report

The Council has received the Inspector’s Report into the examination of the Local Plan for Sefton. This is has now been published by the Council and is available at the following locations:

Online at www.sefton.gov.uk/localplan
At each of Sefton’s libraries
At the Planning Offices at Magdalen House, Bootle

Following receipt of the Inspector’s Report the Council now intends to adopt the Local Plan at its meeting of full Council on Thursday 20th April 2017 [6.30pm at Southport Town Hall].

The Council will notify people when the Local Plan is adopted. Following adoption the Local Plan will be used in the determination of planning applications in the borough

Kind Regards

Local Plan Team

In many ways it says so little after so many pitched battles between environmental and community campaigners on one side and Sefton Council, Sefton Labour, property owners and developers on the other. It was a long war and the environmental campaigners lost, although they gave Sefton Labour a number of bloody noses along the way.

I was one of the environmental campaigners and yes I am still angry. Angry because much of the land that has been taken out of Green Belt protection around the Borough is amongst the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. To build anything on the land that grows our food is utter madness to me.

But we all remember the heady days of the start of the Local plan process when both Labour and the Lib Dems in Sefton pledged to defend the Green Belt. The Lib Dems did that but Labour, who by then had a majority on the Council, bailed out and started to vote for building on the Green Belt.

The bloody nose was that they lost 4 seats on the Council because of their say one thing, do another approach to this matter. But sadly despite such losses Labour have got their way and what was previously Green Belt land in some parts of the Borough will be designated for building on following the final vote on 20th April.

And yes I know that housing is required but no I am not at all sure that the kind of housing we need will actually get built even though we are chucking away for ever the highest grade of agricultural land. Will there be accessible homes for the elderly, will there be starter homes for young people to get on the housing ladder, will there be social housing for rent?

What do I fear? That the majority of new homes will be 3 and 4 bedroomed properties for the well off which will price out those who need housing.

Sad, yes you bet I am but you know what we have learned is that if there were any ‘green’ credentials locally within the Labour Party there certainly aren’t any more.

Wheres Ya Bin (lorry)? – Try looking at Maghull Town Hall

Now this is an odd story and I am not sure that I have all nuances of it, but here goes anyway with corrections and updates as they come to my or indeed your attention.

The story seems to start about 3 weeks back when the sign below started to appear in the car park of Maghull Town Hall on a Tuesday morning:-

The car parking at Meadows Leisure Leisure Centre and Maghull Town Hall can be rather tight at times, with there being more cars trying to park than there are spaces available. This space shortage leads to cars having to be parked half on/half off the access roads and this in turn narrows the access roads so that getting around the joint site can be a real pain if not impossible at really bad times.

This last Tuesday morning there were indeed cars parked half on/half off the access road but you would have expected there to be spaces just around the corner in front of and just past the Town Hall. However, the sign above was in effect cutting the amount of spaces available there in half.

But what was the event last Tuesday morning from 8am to 1pm and indeed, so it seems, every Tuesday morning now that causes half the car parking spaces to be closed? You will be surprised by the answer.

The following photos show why:-

Half of the Town Hall car park had been turned into a bin lorry parking area, although clearly some car drivers felt the need to use the closed to cars area – because there was nowhere else to park?

Former local councillor Cliff Mainey picked up on this rather odd situation and he tells me that the same thing may well be happening on the Monday mornings when the green bins are collected in the Maghull area.

Cliff’s view is that there is no need to turn the much in demand parking spaces at the Town Hall into a bin lorry park as just up the road, literally yards away, is the Maghull Salt Depot which like the bin lorries is run by Sefton Council. So why has Sefton Council asked Maghull Town Council to use the Town Hall car park to gather their bin lorries on a Tuesday and also possibly a Monday morning?

The car park has been there for years and the bins have also been emptied for years without the need to consider use of the Town Hall car park.

On the wider front the intention of both Maghull Town Council & Sefton Council when the Leisure Centre was opened in 2010 was to run the Town Hall and Leisure Centre as one seamless community facility despite the two buildings being under differing ownership. That aim seems to be slipping for reasons I can’t understand. Why connecting doors were even built into the project so that Leisure Centre users could easily park in the larger Town Hall car park and simply walk through the buildings to gain access to the Library and/or Fitness Suite. Oddly these connecting doors are locked at times – what’s that all about?

It will be interesting to see what happens now that Cliff has in effect said that using the car park to park bin lorries is not a sensible use of scarce parking places.

Maghull – Land, money & maintaining Old Hall Park

Ive seen a couple of threads on the Maghull Community facebook Page recently raising concerns about the poor standard of maintenance of Old Hall Park and thought a full review of the issues leading up this unfortunate state of affairs was required.

Old Hall Park

Firstly, when Old Hall Park was created following the demolition of the former Old Hall High School Buildings (originally it had been Maghull Grammar School) the park was laid out and run by Sefton Council. Of course houses were also built on around one third of the site at the same time. This became Sefton Council’s only park in Maghull, all the others being run by Maghull Town Council. In fact Sefton did and still does own one other small grassed/wooded amenity area called Bobby’s Wood, which is at the junction of Liverpool Road South and Northway down at the Woodend area of the Town.

Maghull Town Council then hatched a plan. It thought that all the parks/green spaces in the Town would be better maintained to the same standard and by its own local maintenance team, rather these two areas being maintained by the Borough Council’s separate contractors. Negotiations took place and it was agreed that Old Hall Park and Bobbies Wood would in future both be maintained by Maghull Town Council, this was something like 10 years ago if memory serves.

Things remained like this until Maghull Town Council made a policy decision, not that long ago, to hand the two pieces of land back to the Borough Council – this was when the standard of maintenance started to fall.

But there is another back story to this and surprise, surprise it involves money!

Firstly, all communities in Sefton Borough pay the same levels of Council tax, but some don’t benefit from a full range of services. The stand out one is maintenance of parks and gardens. For example Aintree Village only has one park (Harrow Drive Park) which is maintained by Aintree Village Parish Council, who raise a separate amount of Council tax (called a precept) to pay for that work. However, the good folks of Aintree pay the same amount of Council tax to Sefton Council as say Formby where all the parks are maintained by the Borough Council. You are probably getting my drift here but in case you’re not the fact is that Aintree Village Council tax payers are in effect paying their Parish Council who do the maintenance of their only park but they are also paying the Borough Council who don’t do any parks maintenance for for them. They are paying twice for the same job in reality.

That situation is mirrored in Lydiate and Maghull. In Lydiate all their parks and gardens are maintained by their Parish Council, none are maintained by Sefton Council. And so we get to Maghull where the vast majority of it’s parks and gardens are maintained by Maghull Town Council with just Old Hall Park and Bobby’s Wood being maintained by the Borough Council. So Lydiate and Maghull Council tax payers are, like their Aintree Village chums, in effect paying twice for the work to be done – Once to their Parish/Town Council and again to Sefton Council.

The solution that seems obvious to most who look into this is that Sefton Council should charge a lower amount of Council tax in Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village but for reasons I can’t quite fully recall this has never happened. But an alternative solution was put in place in the years following the formation of Sefton Council in 1974. It was called ‘Double Rating’ payments and it led to a formula being constructed which paid money to the Parish Councils who maintained their own parks and gardens.

When a Maghull and Sefton Councillor I looked at this deal and decided it was poor and did not reflect the real costs. I set about renegotiating it and eventually it was significantly improved (around 2007 I think?) to reflect what Sefton would be paying to its contractors if it was doing the work. All was fine then for a few years.

But trouble came with the financial crisis with the Borough Council being hit by massive cuts to its grant from government to run local services. As one of many cuts to its services the Borough Council then decided to stop paying the ‘Double Rating payments to the parish councils. So in effect Aintree Village, Lydiate and Maghull are back to where they were in 1974 i.e. paying twice for parks and gardens maintenance. A very unjust situation in my book.

What happened next was that Maghull Town Council said to Sefton Council if you will not pay us the Double rating we are handing back your parks and you can maintain them. Trouble is the Borough Council’s maintenance standards are low because they are running out of money so residents of Maghull who use Old Hall Park and Bobby’s Wood are not only paying twice for their green space to maintained they are suffering the far lower maintenance standards that are now common across the Borough.

And yes Maghull is the highest rate of Council tax in Sefton (it always has been since 1974) not least now because its Town Council is having to find more money to replace the Double Rating payments that it used to get. An every which way but lose situation you could call it.

I understand, please correct me if I am wrong here, that Maghull Town Council is looking at the possibility of taking over Old Hall Park and Bobby’s Wood once again so to improve the maintenance standards.

I hope this rather lengthy explanation is of use to those interested in this matter.

Lydiate – Its Listed Buildings

I recently came across a list provided by Lydiate Parish Council detailing the Listed Buildings within the Civil Parish and thought it worthy of sharing.

All the listings are grade II with the last two below being grade II*. The date after the grading is when the building was actually listed. I’ve added photos where I have them in my collection.

Barn to Lydiate House Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Barn and former stable – lintel inscribed 1611

Carriage House at Lydiate House Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Carriage house – probably early 18th century

Church House Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Farmhouse – 17th century

Church of Our Lady Southport Road II 17-01-1986 Catholic church – 1854/5

Church of St Thomas Church Lane II 11-10-1968 Church – 1839/41

St. Thomas Church

Church View Cottages Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Two houses – 17th century

Cross (approx 10m north of Church of Our Lady) Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Cross – upper part medieval, lower part a 19th century restoration

Lydiate Bridge Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Bridge over canal – c.1770

Looking through Pilling Lane canal bridge at boats moored outside Mersey Motor Boat Club.

Lydiate Hill Bridge Approx 40m from Southport Road II 17-01-1986 Bridge over canal – c.1770

Lydiate Hill (also known as Billy’s Bridge) Bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Meadow View Farmhouse Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Farmhouse – datestone inscribed 1753

Remains of Lydiate Hall Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Remains of Hall – 15th & 16th century, with 19th century additions

Rose Hill Pygon’s Hill Lane II 17-01-1986 House – 18th century

Scotch Piper Public House Southport Road II* 11-10-1968 Public house – said to date from 1320 but probably 16th century

The Scotch Piper. Recently re-thatched after a serious fire.

St Katherine’s Chapel (Lydiate Abbey) Southport Road II* 11-10-1968 Ruined chapel – late 15th or early 16th century

St Catherine’s also known as Lydiate Abbey

I hope this posting helps fill in some gaps about Lydiate’s history, I know it has filled in some of my own.