The ball’s in the back of the net!

Lydiate Parish Council announces the opening of their new facilities at Sandy Lane Playing Field.

Councillor John Bailey, Chair of the Parish Council said “Three years in the planning with lots of twists, turns, own goals and hat-tricks we are so grateful to the Parish Council staffing team and our funders Sefton Council, The Football Foundation and Sport England who have made this project a reality. Our new changing rooms and café will improve the facilities for residents and visitors who use Sandy Lane park”.

NEW CAFÉ – Callaghan Bites Grand opening 3rd September @3.30pm

Residents are invited to the opening of the new café/kiosk facilities on Friday 3rd September 2021. There will be free ice creams for the children and hot drinks for adults – please do join us to have a look around. Lydiate resident and former Liverpool and England international footballer Ian Callaghan will officially open the café /kiosk at 3.30 pm on Friday 3rd September and said, “I have lived in Lydiate for many years and am honoured the new café “Callys” has been named after me. My sporting days may be over but I still like to watch a good match and drink a good cup of coffee. I hope more people will use these excellent facilities. I hope to see as many of you as possible at Sandy Lane at 3.30 pm on Friday 3rd September to have a look around.”

During construction works but prior to new changing rooms being delivered.

Time for new Changers! Saturday 4th September @10am.

Lydiate Parish Councillor Ian Wilson who plays football at the site said, “I am overjoyed to see that separate football facilities are now available for women’s and youth teams. The refurbishment of the current changing rooms has significantly improved our facilities. These improvements together with the improved drainage on the site will result in Lydiate having some of the best facilities in the area”.

On Saturday 4th September 2021 at 10 am, Lydiate resident and former Everton and Ireland international footballer Kevin Sheedy will mark the beginning of the football season at Sandy Lane by officially opening our new sports changing rooms. Mr Sheedy said, “Football and sports are in our blood, the improvement in grassroots sports facilities from when I played in the ’80s to now is amazing. I am overwhelmed that the new changing rooms are named after me. I hope these new facilities will encourage more people in Lydiate to take up sports.”

Café opening 3.30 pm Friday 3rd September 2021.

Changing rooms official opening Saturday 4th September 2021.

As the project was taking shape with the new changing rooms in place.

Operation Close Pass Day – An uphill pedal

Photo from Cycling UK showing the likely change to the Highway Code for passing a cyclist.

I’ve posted about this national police operation day (on 21st April 2021) twice and those previous posts can be accessed via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/05/25/operation-close-pass-day-still-trying-to-get-lancs-mside-stats/

To say that I feel I’ve been cycling around in circles is putting it mildly as I’ve chased both Lancashire and Merseyside Police for their stats from the day this year.

LANCASHIRE POLICE – Sadly, it turns out that Lancashire Police did not participate at all! This is what Lancashire Road Safety Partnership told me on 25th May (coincidentally the same day I blogged about the matter) – ‘On 14th April for #OpClosePass we shared 2 sets of images on our multi agency social media channels covering blind spots and passing distances using the ‘safe pass mat’ we had made a couple of years ago. We did have activity planned with Lancashire Police but due to operational demand and covid restrictions we were unable to go ahead with this.’

MERSEYSIDE POLICE – It took me far longer to get a response from Merseyside but when it did appear (6th August) it was in quite some detail – ‘In terms of Safe Pass we did not have the bike to call up ‘close passes’ so it was more a case of using an unmarked car or spotter or patrolling to observe cyclists & cycle routes to try and spot anything. We did not keep a record but it was not particularly productive and do not recall any drivers reported issued or anything of note specific to close passes.

As you can see, the Team were only able to dedicate a small part of the week on cyclists and close passes, which is a shame. We are planning to run a number of activities in September as part of the NPCC campaign aimed at vulnerable road users, including cyclists and horse riders. Earlier this year we provided cycle training to 40 x police officers and PCSOs with the aim of creating ‘cycle ambassadors’. These are officers who carry out their daily duties on a bike (as opposed to walking or driving). I have asked them to focus their attention on cycle lane obstructions (parked vehicles) and also meeting cyclist groups, provide free security marking and also offer safety advice. Two officers, in Southport and Liverpool have been issued with Go Pro cameras to record any close passes they observe while on patrol and feedback to drivers.’

So, to me, Lancashire is a disappointment with regard to #Operation Close Pass in 2021.

With Merseyside though the picture, whilst not wholly positive, is to me brighter and more positive towards the issues I’ve been trying to get information about.

Of course, things have moved on since I started banging on the doors of my two local police forces as only a few days ago the charity Cycling UK declared that Government is supporting all the major asks of the organisation in a rewriting of the Highway Code:-

www.cyclinguk.org/blog/campaign-win-cycling-uks-fight-improve-highway-code

So the landscape with regard to safer cycling is changing for the better, if slowly. The next test will be to how police forces across the UK react to this changing landscape and the dangerous driving which leads to cycling being far more unsafe than it needs to be. The speeding drivers who seem to have taken over our roads since ‘lockdown’ need to be brought back under some form of control as they are a danger to us all on the roads – pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, and indeed other drivers.

As with all my postings, if you think I’ve got something factually wrong please shout.

Maghull/Lydiate – Cycling the A59/Northway

This is a subject I’ve blogged about quite a few times previously. It’s one where progress is being made yet some confusion seems to surround it (as well as some significant gaps) so I’ve taken up a number of queries with Sefton Council once again. Here’s the current situation as I understand it to be:-

Starting at Switch Island the cycle path/track has been upgraded over almost all of the stretch to the traffic-lighted junction with Liverpool Road South (Alt Junction) yet odd things have clearly not been done. There’s a stretch of maybe 100 yards over the River Alt where the track/path has not been widened yet either side of this isolated stretch has been. Moving towards the Liverpool Road Sth junction there’s no signage showing cyclists how to safely cross L’pool Rd Sth to access the safe cycling route (or for drivers to be aware too) along the service road to reach Hall Lane junction.

When you reach the Hall Ln junction, having used the service road, again there’s no signage for cyclists to access the recently widened footpath/shared pedestrian/cycle space northwards towards the newly rebuilt Damfield Lane junction. Indeed, there are no signs to say that the widened path is indeed a shared pedestrian/cycling space.

Looking southwards towards Maghull Town Hall/Hall Lane junction with the new and widened shared space path.

There’s presently no cycle track/path north of the Damfield Ln junction to the Westway junction so we’ll leave that section out for now pending Sefton Council finding the resources to provide such.

North of the Westway junction there is a safe cycling route, again using the A59/Northway service road, to the Dodds Ln junction and beyond that but not as far as the Kenyons Ln junction so there’s another missing link. An aside here is that a traffic engineer tells me that they’ve tried to tweak the traffic lights at this junction so that the pressure pads better recognise cyclists.

Kenyons Ln junction

North of the Kenyons Ln junction, again there’s no safe cycle facility to the next junction at Robins Island, however, whether I like it or not (and I don’t) the agricultural land abutting this section of the A59/Northway (known locally as ‘Tyson’s Triangle’) is to have a new housing estate built upon it. However, the silver lining here is that it throws up the distinct possibility of Sefton Council being able to negotiate with the developers via what is termed a Section 106 agreement. It means the developer will need to pay for some local infrastructure improvements and I’ve thrown my two penneth in along the lines of some of that money being used to create a safe cycling route between Kenyons Ln and Robins Island. I’ve also asked Sefton Council to extend the cycle path, which is already in place north of Robins Island, back into Liverpool Road so that cyclists are no longer forced to use either the pavement or Robins Island. This is really a minor piece of work but it will make a significant difference for cyclists.

So there you have it. The goodish news is that I’ve been able to engage in a dialogue with some of the traffic/highway engineers at Sefton Council to discuss these issues and I’m pleased to say that we seem to be on a similar agenda. Indeed, I was delighted when one of the engineers told me that he is a fellow cyclist so he clearly understands things from a cyclist’s perspective.

I don’t know how long it will be before there’s a clearly built and signed cycle track/path alongside the whole of the A59/Northway corridor from Switch Island to the West Lancashire boundary, which is just north of Robins Island, but I’m more hopeful than I have been for a long time that the campaign to have it constructed is making slow if steady progress.

More news when I have it.

Tony Devine RIP

Lydiate Parish Councillor Tony Devine at Sandy Lane Playing Field- Photo early 2000’s

Tony Devine was a stalwart of the community in Lydiate where he had lived for many a year.

A retired teacher, he spent a considerable number of years as a Lydiate Parish Councillor serving as Vice Chairman. After he decided to leave the council he continued to serve the community as a leading light within Lydiate Bowls Federation.

Lydiate Parish Councillors back in the late 1990’s when Tony was on the Council – Robbie Fenton, Pat Foster and Tony

I first got to know Tony in The SDP/Liberal Alliance days. I recall his house being used during a by-election on polling day but whether that was in the Alliance days or later when the parties merged to form the Liberal Democrats I’m not sure.

I last saw Tony out walking the lanes of Aughton with his lovely wife Dot back in the spring whilst I was out cycling. I stopped, we had a chat and I recall thinking back then that Tony looked well, so you can imagine how surprised I was to be told that he was very seriously ill only two or three weeks ago. Moving on it really shook me when I was told that sadly Tony had died.

A good and decent man who cared about his community.

RIP Tony Devine

Perch Rock – A Seashaken House

New Brighton & Perch Rock Lighthouse

For some reason, I’ve long had a fascination with lighthouses and have read a number of books about them and how/why they were constructed. Most recently I’ve been reading a book by Tom Nancollas called Sea Shakenhouses – A Lighthouse History from Eddystone to Fastnet (published in 2018) – and a great read it has been too.

Perch Rock Lighthouse

The fourth’ rock lighthouse’ Tom covers in his book is my local one, Perch Rock in New Brighton. ‘Built between 1827 & 1830, it is the fourth-oldest rock lighthouse to survive’. However, the others ‘have lost most of their original fittings, making Perch Rock the only lighthouse tower to retain its simple, late-Georgian interior. This rarity value is enhanced by its intactness. Unlike other lighthouses, the Perch Rock was hardly updated during its working life. Its conversion to automatic operation in the 1920s as low-key Many towers suffered from their conversion to electrical or diesel power and subsequent automation and de-manning, their nineteenth-century interiors mostly gone as a result. The fact that it was decommissioned and sealed before it could be tampered with makes this tower fascinating.’

I could go on as the story of this rock lighthouse and its relationship with New Brighton is both interesting and scandalous in equal measure. I encourage readers who want to know more to get hold of a copy of this excellent book.

Please click on the photos, which are my own, to enlarge them.

Birkenhead – It’s rather lovely Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

I recently visited this art gallery and museum with daughter Jen and a fine place it is too. Sadly, due to austerity and money troubles for Wirral Council, it’s had more than a few threats to its continued existence but thankfully it is safe for now. Here’s a link to its website:-

williamsonartgallery.org/

I took quite a few photos of the exhibits and here are my personal favourites:-

Trams at Woodside by George Anthony Butler 1927 – 2010 – Painted in 1988

Winter Twilight by James Thomas Watts 1853 – 1930 – Purchased 1913

A beautiful display of pottery. The wooden and glass case is as beautiful as the exhibits

There are some cracking lasrge scale ship models such as these Mersey Ferries

An interesting former Birkenhead Corporation ferry poster

Well worth a visit I’d say. Can’t really understand why it’s taken me all these years to have my first visit, but glad we went.