Melling – Is preparatory work starting on the ‘Ashworth’ Motorway junction?

Is this sign, which has been on display for a while now, an indication that the long-promised works are about to start on making the M58 Junction 1 a full junction? Having said that it’s only closing Giddygate Lane for 3 days from tomorrow:-

And only yards away was this scene! How on earth did that car get down into the farmer’s field and why?

Aughton – Littering of Clieves Hill and the A59

The other day whilst on a cycle ride I stopped at the top of Clieves Hill to catch my breath and fell into conversation with a West Lancs Council street cleansing chap who was emptying the bins and picking up litter.

View from Clieves Hill towards the Sefton Coast.

The first thing to say is that he was doing a great job but as I had seen the extent of the littering up there previously I asked him how often the area was litter picked and the bins emptied. Expecting to hear him say something like weekly I was surprised when he said virtually every day!

He went on to tell me about the littering and the behaviour of a minority of folk who drive up Clieves Hill for the view. Sadly, he recounted that chucking food waste and packaging out of car doors was a regular thing despite there being a couple of bins to use. He also indicated that people in flashy expensive cars were often the worst behaved. But what really struck me was when he said that these anti-social people even do it when he’s there and that he has to challenge them to get out of the car to pick their rubbish up.

But if that was not enough he then went on to tell me that when he is litter picking the nearby A59 the odd driver will blow their horn to gain his attention and then a window comes down and rubbish is chucked out for him to clear up!

I can’t tell you how a felt for that poor chap doing his bit to keep our countryside tidy and litter free whilst others deliberately do just the opposite.

Cycle Routes – They are generally poor

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46179270

As a cyclist, I find this article interesting and to the point. I’ve commented before along the similar lines by highlighting local cycle route inadequacies which I have encountered.

Often segregated cycle routes do not have logical ends and are in effect bits and pieces between destinations. The route from Switch Island to Ormskirk along the busy A59 is an example. From Switch Island to the Maghull boundary there’s a brand new cycle path but it stops well short of Liverpool Road South. Yes, I know that Sefton Council intends to address this but really it should have been done in tandem with Highways England doing the first stretch.

But then moving north through Maghull & Lydiate a safe cycle route has yet to be sorted out. It’s either the busy dual carriageway or pavement for cyclists.

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

Then at Robins Island, a cycle path appears again, on both sides of the A59. Generally, it is in good condition but parts of it are not – patches of grass, poorly completed surface repairs & tree roots make the later stages of these cycle lanes poor. But then as you climb into Aughton the cycle route peters out altogether just like through Maghull & Lydiate. This makes the last mile or so into Ormskirk a cycling challenge.

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

I could illustrate other problem routes where cycling facilities in Sefton and West Lancashire are inadequate but will settle for just one. The Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail. This former railway track is in very poor condition through West Lancs because since it was created there has not been the regular maintenance that is clearly required. Some of the route is now really only suitable for mountain bikes and a once wide path where cyclists could pass each other is presently very narrow in places.

There is much to do to make our cycling routes safe, logical and well maintained.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

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.