Free parking/travel – putting transport in a climate change context

I often feel that this highly emotional subject actually hides a much bigger travel issue which involves us all and needs to be tackled if we are serious about climate change.

The bottom line is that use of petrol and diesel powered vehicles has to come to an end and the sooner the better. More of us need to walk or cycle shorter distances. Public transport, when it becomes OK to use it again, needs to be significantly extended as motor vehicles start to be used less often.

Parking of vehicles is a big issue, whether that be at hospitals (staff and visitors) or indeed anywhere else. Our streets are becoming choked with abandoned (I use that word deliberately) cars when they are not in use. We expect somewhere to park our cars wherever we go and when we can’t park legally/in a car park we abandon our cars on pavements, grass verges, in cycle lanes, across private/business accesses/driveways.

In short privately owned motor vehicles are our problem, not the solution to our travel difficulties.

Of course public transport has been run down over many years via cuts in subsidies and by people not using it. You can track it back to prior to the Beeching era as Beeching was in itself a reaction to the rise in road transport. Ironically the buses which were, with cars, seen to be the solution when railway lines closed have in themselves been pushed further and further to the sidelines as cars have taken over our roads.

We’ve designed/planned a society that has become reliant on the ownership of the private car with those who don’t have one being left to fend for themselves. We’ve invested countless Billions of £’s in a transport system which has. however inadvertently. encouraged the continual growth of the private car. We now face the prospect of trying to put all that into some form of what will most likely be a disorderly and unpopular reverse to try to save our planet. Imagine what the Daily Mail will say!

My view has long been that local public transport should either be free or with just a one-off daily charge for it’s use such as a £1 a day. But that in itself is only part of the solution as we need to significantly improve the bus network so that it’s clean, frequent, reliable, easily accessible and it works in harmony with our local rail networks. Bus, rail & trams are not rivals, they need to be integrated, efficient and cheap to use. We need to arrive at a point where car users say to themselves that running a car is too expensive and they’d rather read a book travelling to work on a train/bus than sit in traffic jams. And don’t scoff, this is all possible should be want it to be.

And yes I’m a car driver a pedestrian and a cyclist. I try to use my car as little as I can and I feel we need to find a way to make the use of cars more expensive the greater the mileage that is done. If you choose to work many miles away from where you live that journey has consequences for our environment. So surely that should mean you paying more per mile into public coffers than someone who has chosen to live much closer to their place of work and does much less mileage. Of course if you live close to your place of work there should be rewards in the system especially if you use public transport, walk or cycle. Putting it simply the taxation system should reward walkers, cyclists and public transport users.

Everton Weekes RIP

The passing on this great cricketer only days before the the West Indies and England met in a Test Match at Southampton (yesterday) led to a tribute by the players, in the form of a minutes silence and the wearing of black armbands.

He was truly a great player and Wikipedia has a page which tells his life story very well:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everton_Weekes

I love the bit about how he gained the forename Everton and the amusing comment by Jim Laker about if his Dad had supported a different football team:-

Weekes was named by his father after English football team Everton (when Weekes told English cricketer Jim Laker this, Laker reportedly replied “It was a good thing your father wasn’t a West Bromwich Albion fan.”)

Here’s the BBC’s tribute to him:-

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/53258007

and a video tribute via You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeaU6K7aSiA

RIP Everton Weekes, the man connected to Liverpool via his dad naming him after Everton Football Club.

And what did you do and how did you feel about lockdown?

The Good

When the roads were quiet and building sites closed the world seemed more peaceful and you could hear the birds singing – I enjoyed listening to the silence and the birds.

With traffic hardly moving our polluted world smelled cleaner – I enjoyed that cleaner air

People were out walking country lanes in significant numbers – I envisaged we had gone back to the 1950’s (NO not in a Brexiteer way!)

Cyclists everywhere, goodness me cycling took off with the combination of more free time and generally good weather – I participated but then I’ve been a fitness and leisure cyclist for quite a number of years.

The Bad

Isolated shielding people alone in their houses – I felt so sorry for them and tried to help where I could

Speeding traffic became a really big issue because although there were many less vehicles on our roads the speeds they were doing were frightening – I called on both Merseyside and Lancashire Police (via Twitter) to get a grip but I guess my pleas fell on deaf ears.

Doing DIY became a big challenge as everything had to be ordered on line and either picked up later or it was delivered days, often many days, later – I found this so frustrating when I wanted to get on with various household jobs.

I missed the English cricket season so much – I watched a couple of old games repeated on TV but spring and summer is cricket to me, oh how I missed thwack of willow on leather – until today that is.

Liverpool and it’s beautiful North Western Hotel

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/lime-streets-forgotten-hotel-one-18332914

I’ve previously blogged about the architect of the North Western Hotel, Liverpool’s very own Alfred Waterhouse, back in March 2019 – Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/25/liverpool-alfred-waterhouse-the-citys-very-own-world-famous-architect/

Let’s hope that the present refurbishment is finished and that this iconic listed Liverpool building has many more years in front of it.

‘The police have better things to do than’………

This is probably a phrase that many of us have used when we’ve heard about an incident which is either of no consequence to us or is one we regularly participate in but which is actually against some law or regulation.

So when we say it are we in reality saying ‘well I would break that law too’ or ‘that law should be abolished because I regularly break it’; is it actually simply an expression of our frustration or even selfishness? Let’s see what you think the Police ‘have better things to do than’ – here are 5 examples:-

Enforcing speed limits?
Stopping pavement parking by drivers?
Tackling cyclists who ride on pavements?
Prosecuting motorists with no Road Tax or insurance?
Fining people who break ‘lockdown’ rules?

I could go on, but I think you’ll have got my drift by now i.e. if we park on pavements we won’t want the police/local council to enforce the regulations on it will we? However, if we are a pedestrian/blind/disabled/or pushing a pram we probably will want them to. The same applies to the other ‘crimes’ I’ve listed and indeed potentially many that I’ve not.

In short we’ll often be affronted by the anti-social/criminal behaviours of others whilst conveniently ignoring our own less than community minded activities. Indeed, can we sit on both sides of the fence by for example grumbling about the vehicle on the pavement when we’ve had to step into the road to get around it whilst dumping our own car on any pavement available when we want to park close to the chippy, hairdressers, chemist etc. etc.? The answer, of course, is yes we can!

Oh and one final thing, why are many of the things we can react to in this way associated with travel and how we go about it?

Sefton Church – Grade I Listed building visited by thieves

A visit to the Maghull Community Facebook page earlier today brought me some sad news as I learned that St Helen’s Parish Church (known more as Sefton Church locally) had been visited by thieves who had stolen stone flags from a path at the rear of this historic Grade I Listed Building.

I’ve blogged about this magnificent church a number of times before, not least because I was once a choir boy there for about 3 years around 1970. The fact that I now consider myself to be an atheist does not take anything away from my regard for this historic church which, being in the village of Sefton, our present Borough is named after.

Theft from churches is nothing new of course as miscreants have been stealing lead from church roofs for as long as there have been churches. But never the less it always causes an outcry when it happens and when you add to the sad story that this is the only Grade I Listed Building in Sefton Borough it’s hardly surprising that locals are up in arms.

I consider this church a part of my personal history not least because I met some lovely people associated with it during my time in the choir. What’s more our daughter Jen studied the building during her university course and the church authorities were very helpful to her.

I wonder where the stone flags will turn up? If you’re getting some laid any time soon please think about where they may have come from. It would be nice if the thieves were caught but my guess is that’s probably unlikely. However, if the church needs to raise funds to get them replaced I for one am willing to chip in.