Memories of Sunny Southport

Having found these two videos – see links below – on You Tube about Southport, it’s history and how it was promoted in the 1970’s (both uploaded by Michael Dawson) I had to share them:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgLAZ90BXNQ

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6MyE-ptbK8

And how the seaside resort is presently promoted in Covid 19 times:-

www.visitsouthport.com/

What’s interesting is that clearly in the days of the former Southport Borough Council and indeed into the early days of Sefton Borough Council there was significant promotion of the famous seaside resort by or at least organised by the council. That this lead in the promotion of Southport has been all but lost via the changing priorities of the present Council and indeed austerity measures must surely have had a detrimental effect on the local economy.

I recall that during my time on Sefton Council (1999 – 2015) with 7 years of that period being as Council Leader one of my long-term concerns was that the Council was always under pressure to reduce spending on the promotion of Southport. So yes the issue well pre-dates modern-day austerity. And the reason for this pressure? The need to spend an ever greater proportion of the budget on adult social care and children in care. Now you can see why politicians of all parties had to put the elderly and children first but never the less the effect was an ever dwindling amount of money to promote our local seaside resort.

Now probably more than ever Southport needs to be promoted so this proud and historic seaside resort can return to prosperity returns after the pandemic.

Maghull & Formby Recycling Centres – Reopening via a pre-booking process

When Merseyside reopened it’s recycling Centres during our pandemic (4th May) some, including Sefton Meadows (Maghull) and Formby, did not open due to expected traffic congestion issues which would be caused by queuing traffic on busy roads.

At the time I wondered why Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA) had not brought in a pre-booking process for their recycling centres, where queuing traffic would be a problem, as just over the county boundary Lancashire County Council had done just that when it reopened it’s recycling centres. What’s more I know that Burscough Recycling Centre’s pre-booking process works very well because I tried it out having been unable to access a Merseyside facility due to the 2 nearest ones to me being closed and the next nearest having 2hr+ queues.

But as you may know Formby and Sefton Meadows Recycling Centres are now to reopen using, you’ve guessed it, a pre-booking process – see note below*

This has to be welcomed by residents who have been storing waste on their property which needs recycling but is not appropriate for the kerbside domestic recycling. Of course the other positive is that having all the recycling centres open means there should be less fly-tipping in the country lanes around Melling, Lunt Village, Ince Blundell etc. etc.

Fly-tipping in Longdale Lane Lunt from 2018

*The system will work like this according to the MRWA – ‘From Friday 19th June 2020, residents will be able to make bookings, online and also via a dedicated telephone line for time slots available week commencing Monday 22nd June. Booking slots will be released on a rolling weekly basis, once booking slots have been fully allocated, no further slots will be available for that day. When the resident completes and reserves an allocated booking slot they will receive a confirmation email.

The system will be administered by the Authority in partnership with our contractor Veolia, and each site will have a limited number of slots for each day. This allows for the site to be serviced – i.e. containers emptied etc. and also ensure that staff can monitor residents and implement and respect the social distancing rules. This servicing may cause some minor delays to booked appointments which may result in some minor queuing at the sites.

Cars and vans other commercial vehicles including large trailers will not be allowed to access the sites during this trial period and therefore the Permit Line will remain suspended. The Authority continues to develop plans on how these types of vehicles can be readmitted to sites in the near future.

The Authority will implement a clear communications campaign starting on Friday 12th June to ensure that residents are aware of the new trial, with support from officers at Sefton Council. This will be delivered via social media, websites and using local media. The Authority’s contractor Veolia will also be able to cross promote the trial booking system at other sites (via temporary signage) located in Sefton that are already open to the public.

It’s proposed that the trial will go live on 22nd June.’

This is all I know at present I might add.

Maghull – Cycling the A59 – Alt Junction to Switch Island

I mentioned recently my concerns as a cyclist (and those of pedestrians) about how the Alt junction has been reconstructed and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/26/maghull-a59-alt-junction-reconstruction/

Sefton Council had told me that two additional pieces of work were to be undertaken along with the junction ‘improvements’ to improve cycling access. So far with contractors having left site one has only been partially done and the other has not been done at all.

The major cycling work is to extend the cycle path/route which comes from Switch Island so that it reaches the Alt Junction. Clearly some works have been undertaken but a section over the River Alt bridge has been left just as it was, a narrow pavement – see photo below. Why?*

The other item is such a small change one wonders why it had not been sorted out years ago. It’s at the junction of Moorhey Road and the A59/Northway Service Road where a cycle route starts taking cyclists towards Switch Island. However, at the very start of it there’s no dropped kerb, which I’ve complained about before and been told by Sefton Council it would be attended to during the Alt junction ‘improvements’. So far, as you can see, the job remains outstanding:-

And yes, I’ve brought my concerns about both these matters to the attention of Sefton Council’s Highways Dept.

* After I wrote this posting but before publishing it I became aware of the plans to redevelop the former Motor Range site for an ALDI etc. so the curtailed works to the cycle path/track could possibly be associated with the changes required should that proposal gain planning permission? Just a thought.

Maghull – A59 Alt Junction Reconstruction

A couple of locals had mentioned to me that they thought this new junction was, in the eyes of a motorist too messy to navigate and in the eyes of a pedestrian a long walk, so I thought I’d cycle through it to see for myself.

I firstly approached it from Liverpool Road South and stopped to try to work out where a cyclist should be to cross over to Dover Road. I worked it out but had my reservations about it being a safe cycle route. I then attempted it from the Dover Road side trying to get to Liverpool Road South. I gave up thinking it was too dangerous and followed the pedestrian route which, as I’d been told, is indeed a long walk.

What strikes me about this junction is that it has been designed for vehicles but sadly pedestrians and particularly cyclists seem to have been very much an after thought. How on earth in 2020 can you design a new junction without incorporating a safe cycle route through it?

The A59 is already a Berlin-type wall right through Maghull and Lydiate and the addition of this new junction has sadly, in my view, only made this situation worse.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Maghull/Lydiate/Melling – Simple cycling fixes for Sefton Council to undertake

It’s a given that the UK’s cycling network is well behind many European countries and that we seem to struggle to catch up. Major investment is required and whilst some progress is being made the pace is painfully slow.

But sometimes you know there are fixes that are easily done but which get overlooked. Here’s the obvious ones for me around Maghull, Lydiate & Melling:-

* Junction of Moorhey Road & Northway, Maghull – a dropped kerb for access to the cycle path along Northway towards Switch Island.

Just a dropped kerb and a bit of tarmac required at junction of Moorhey Rd and the Northway Service Road.

* Robins Island, Lydiate – add a small length of cycle path from Liverpool Road around the corner to the long established cycle path northwards along the A59.

Around the corner just out of shot is the present start of the cycle track. Start it in Liverpool Road where there’s presently just a narrow pavement.

* School Lane, Maghull – a dropped kerb is needed to access the new cycle path to Park Lane along side the new Maghull North Station.

A simple dropped kerb is all that is needed here on School Lane.

* Park Lane, Maghull – exiting the new cycle path from the station direction and turning right into Park Lane can be dangerous as cyclists vision is obscured by the railway over-bridge and the curvature of Park Lane. Whilst the speed limit is only 20mph on Park Lane in reality speeds can be well over 40mph. Sleeping policemen required on the approach to the bridge me thinks.

View at Park Ln end of cycle track. Cyclists can’t see speeding vehicles & they can’t see cyclists.

* Junction of Prescot Road and School Lane Melling – the new cycle path/track down to this junction from the Ashworth M58 Motorway junction finishes abruptly just before the junction as the new and still being constructed cycle path to Kirkby switches to the other side of Prescot Road. But what about the cyclists turning the corner into Prescot Road to head north? The present layout actually means that cyclists should join the road just before the junction! All that’s required is a few yards of cycle track around the junction corner.

Cycle path ends and the implication is to go on the road. A few yards of additional cycle track around in to Prescot Road would solve the problem.

What’s more I’m sure that there are many more simple cycling fixes across Sefton Borough, Merseyside and indeed the whole UK that would help tip the balance of cycling safely in favour of those of us on 2 wheels. It’s not always that grand schemes need to be the goal. And that reminds me that a similar problem applies to our railway infrastructure – simple fixes like reconnecting the Burscough Curves have been overlooked for 40 years or more.

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Prescot and district coal mining

Coming from a coal mining family (both by grandads were miners and two of uncles as well) I’ve long taken an interest in it and not so long ago I picked up a fascinating Knowsley Council information sheet (in Kirkby Gallery) about mining in the Prescot area.

It seems that mining in the area commenced as early as 1510 but the first solid evidence comes from a court roll in 1552.

Prescot was above some very rich coal seams that were near the surface so easy to access. Seemingly a new shaft was sunk each year but each one had to be abandoned after it became flooded and this meant mining in winter was not really a possibility. This problem was not of course unique to the Prescot area and it was the invention of the steam pump which made year round coal mining possible. Whiston Mine had one of the first such pumps from 1719.

The coal dug was going to the nearby port of Liverpool but when the Sankey Canal was opened in 1757 everything changed as collieries further away from the port could now more easily get their coal to Liverpool. This led over time to the demise of pits at Prescot Manor (mid 1800’s), Whiston (1897) & Halsnead (1900). Interestingly Halsnead was effectively reopened during the First World War but under the name of Cronton Colliery – it was finally closed by the National Coal Board in 1984.

The scans of the information sheet which forms the basis of this posting are at the head of and below:-

Click on the scanned document to enlarge for reading