Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

I was recently asked to assist a campaigner who is a part of the fight against Highways England’s plan to build a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ask was for me to help with obtaining a copy of a 2004 report on the options for transport access to the Port of Liverpool.

Rimrose Valley Country Park on a lovely Sunday morning. A Lone cyclist can be seen in the distance.

Firstly, I had to obtain a copy of the report and with a little help that was achieved.

The report is titled ‘PORT OF LIVERPOOL STRATEGIC TRANSPORT ACCESS STUDY Phase 3 Final Report’. It looked at 3 options for providing improved access to the Port of Liverpool and it comes down on the side of putting a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is of course the option now being pursued by Highways England and which is causing so much controversy and objections.

I think it fair to say that I’m a big supporter of Rimrose Valley Country Park and love cycling through it, so it could be said that my opinions are somewhat biased in favour of the campaign group Rimrose Valley Friends who are leading the fight against the new road. In other words I’m not claiming that this piece is of an independent nature.

The report summarises the work undertaken by a team of consultants, lead by FaberMaunsell, for the study’s steering group comprising: • Sefton Borough Council; • Liverpool City Council; • Highways Agency (now Highways England); • Strategic Rail Authority; • Merseytravel; and • Atlantic Gateway.

Three strategies emerged from this work:

• Strategy 1 (Modal Transfer, Mitigation And Management) – to maximise the benefits and improvements where major highway investment is considered either unacceptable or undeliverable. This strategy combines rail and public passenger transport initiatives with traffic management, environmental mitigation and policy and enforcement but no significant investment in highway infrastructure which would generate additional capacity.

• Strategy 2 (Highway – A5036(T) On Line Improvements) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with link and junction improvements principally on the A5036 (T) to improve capacity within the corridor and therefore reduce delay and congestion.

• Strategy 3 (Major Highway – Rimrose Valley) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with the construction of a new road through the Rimrose Valley from Switch Island to the Princess Way/Bridge Road roundabout to relieve the existing key routes of a significant proportion of the port-bound traffic.

Clearly, there’s a danger of reading a 15 year old report and thinking that all it looked at then (agree with its conclusions or not) is just as relevant now. The big issue is of course the climate change/crisis we are facing and the need to restrict/cease use of petrol and diesel engined vehicles. This is now a matter of public policy, as opposed it being an issue within scientific and environmental community as it was back in the early 2000’s. For me this very real green issue is, without considering any other matter, a clear reason to re-examine what the options should be to improve access to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the recent delay in constructing the new road, caused by the legal action taken to stop it, has created a time frame which could be used to conduct a reassessment, so there really is no excuse for pursuing a project that in effect predates our climate crisis.

All walking and cycling destinations from the main cycle path in the Country Park.

I don’t think I learned a great deal more than I knew already from re-reading the report (with 15 years between reads) but all the same it was useful to reacquaint myself with the detail. I hope the report is of use to the Rimrose Valley Friends in their campaign work.

I had another lovely cycle ride through Rimrose Valley on the 4th August.

Lydiate – Route of Sandy Lane – Moss Lane footpath identified

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is to the left where the corner fence post is

I’ve blogged a few times over the issues surrounding the route of this public footpath/public right of way and the fact that this matter came to light as a consequence of Lydiate Parish Council creating a fenced in dog-run area on its Sandy Lane Playing Field earlier this year.

Anyway, there was a site meeting a few days ago between Lydiate Parish Council and Sefton Council’s Rights of Way Officer, which I was unable to attend but now know the outcome of.

Firstly, the legal line of the public right of way is not affected by the fence of the dog enclosure. Investigations (by Sefton’s ROW Officer) have shown that the path (looking at it from the Sandy Ln end) runs to the east of the fencing, in an area of overgrown vegetation but as the path heads towards Moss Lane it straddles the edge of the mowed grass of Sandy Lane Park and the overgrown vegetation. I’m told there are some metal posts within the vegetation that appear to correspond with the eastern edge of the footpath.

The consequence of these findings is that the legal line of the path will need to be reinstated, which Sefton Council will lead on. The legal line has clearly not been used for some years and as a result some of the vegetation has become well established. I’m told it was agreed that setting out the footpath and a full assessment of the works required is difficult at the moment due to the growth of the vegetation and that the Parish Council remains happy for people to continue to use the edge of the park until the matter is resolved.

Footpath sign at Sandy Ln – There’s a similar one off Moss Ln

I understand that Sefton Council will review the required works in early autumn, with the Parish Council, and agree the extent of them. The Parish Council expressed a wish to try and keep some of the more established trees. Sefton will consider this where possible.

I’d like to thank Sefton’s ROW officer for his efforts to resolve this issue working with the Parish Council. It seems like a mutually agreeable way forward has now been found.

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is to the left where the corner fence post is.

How to object to fracking on Altcar Moss

If like me you want to oppose fracking on Altcar Moss then you can do so by using the website of Lancashire County Council (LCC) who will determine the planning application before it’s Planning Committee to either agree to or oppose the fracking.

The LCC planning representations form is available via this link:-

lancashire-self.achieveservice.com/service/Development_Control_Have_Your_Say_Process?F.Name=jqTfXn9isB4&HideToolbar=1

The planning application number is LCC/2019/0037 and the site is ALTCAR MOSS WELLSITE, SUTTON’S LANE, GREAT ALTCAR. You’ll need to put this information on the generic form that the link takes you to

Lydiate Parish Council, of which I’m a member, has already objected to fracking on this site, which while it’s in Lancashire is situated between Formby, Ince Blundell and Lydiate.

My own submission to LCC via the link above is:- I have grave reservations about fracking taking place at this site, which whilst being in Lancashire is likely to also have detrimental effects on the surrounding Sefton Borough communities of Lydiate, Formby and Ince Blundell. Earth tremors are to be expected from this site if the other one in Lancashire at Preston new Road is anything to go by. I hope that LCC will stand firm against fracking so the political tide can be turned against further fossil fuel extraction.

Southport – Its Indoor Market – What goes around comes…….

In my latter days as a Sefton Councillor I opposed the rebuild of Southport Indoor Market, indeed my Lib Dem Council Group did too. It was pushed through via a Tory/Lab coalition on the then balanced council. We Lib’s said it was not a wise project and that we felt the rebuild would not be the economic success which was at that time being promoted. It seems our concerns were well placed.

The BBC has an article on its web site about the current situation of the market – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-49045174

I mentioned the rebuild of Southport Indoor Market a while back when Sefton Council bought Bootle Strand Shopping Center and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/29/sefton-council-will-it-be-buying-more-shopping-centers-in-the-borough/

Councils buying up retail buildings/shopping centers seems to be all the rage these days as they desperately try to combat the demise of high street retail and on an emotional level you can see what they are trying to do. However, from a public policy perspective the buying up of shopping centers, indoor markets etc. must be highly dubious and financially very risky.

I never thought that a rebuilt Indoor Market for Southport would be financially sustainable as a retail operation and sadly my fears seem to have been proved right. Likewise Sefton Council buying the Strand Shopping Centre never looked to me to be anything other than a risky short term fix to a complicated set of economic/regeneration challenges in Bootle.

I get that when retail is doing well the rents may well outstrip all the costs of being a property developer and that good returns can be made but the retail market is very much like a big dipper – big highs and big lows.

That property developers are backing off/delaying investing further in shopping centers (Maghull and Kirkby come to mind locally at present) and are willing to off load such retail developments onto local authorities is telling. If the experts can’t make the books balance satisfactorily how on earth are inexperienced councils going to do it? Yes, maybe councils are willing to simply break even but that is a dangerous approach in itself as decent profits are needed in the good years to help smooth out the bad years and the ongoing cost of maintenance.

My head still says that apart from in exceptional circumstances (Kirkby may well be such a circumstance) council’s should be very wary of thinking they can be successful property developers. The pages of Private Eye have been full of such failures for many years.

Lydiate – Improvements to towpath flow from controversial house building site

The building of houses at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road has proved to be hugely controversial not least because of access difficulties to the site through narrow residential roads.

The Turnbridge Road site in May of this year after construction had started

This site is also odd because whilst the access to it is via Maghull all the new properties will actually be in Lydiate as the Maghull Brook which runs at the end of Turnbridge is in fact the Maghull/Lydiate boundary.

Building on the site is now well advanced and this posting is not meant to be rehearsal of all the controversy to date (which I have blogged about before) but to give some welcome news about the adjacent Leeds Liverpool Canal Towpath.

I had heard from goodness knows what source back during the planning application stage that the Canal and Rivers Trust had made a bid for some planning gain money from the site (usually known as Section 106 money) to do up a section of their towpath through Lydiate. But I was unsure whether this bid had been successful so I raised the matter at Lydiate Parish Council’s meeting on 23rd July and our local Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon agreed to take up the query for me. Pat’s now come back to me to confirm that Sefton Planners have been given half of the money by the developer for the towpath works and the other half will be paid over when the 20th house is constructed on this site.

A section of towpath through Lydiate close to the Turnbridge Road development site.

So there it is at least some good news within what has been and still is a hugely disruptive building period for residents living in the Turnbridge Road, Green Lane Green Park Estate area. What I don’t presently know is the detail of when and how the Canal & River Trust intend to carry out the towpath upgrade after Sefton Council passes the money over to them. More news when I have it though……

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Kirkby – A visit to its Gallery

Ever heard of Kirkby Gallery in Knowsley Borough? Well it’s a great exhibition space presently housing an art display – Northern Stone and Peat Smoke by Anthony Ratcliffe. Here’s a couple of photos I took whilst visiting it recently:-

And in case you’re wondering where it is in Kirkby here’s a map:-

I went to the gallery with fellow Frank Hornby Trust trustee Les French as our Frank Hornby Heritage Center exhibition, within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Center, is likely to be loaning some items to Kirkby Gallery for their up and coming exhibition ‘Made on Merseyside’ which opens in September. I’ll expand more on that exhibition soon…….

Here’s a link to the Gallery and it’s present exhibition ‘Northern Stone and Peat Smoke’:-

www.knowsley.gov.uk/things-to-do/museums-and-galleries/exhibitions

I like that this great exhibition space does so much work with school children from Knowsley and beyond.