Liverpool Airport’s missing rail link

Departure board at Southport Station from back when you could get to Manchester Airport from our local seaside resort by train as well as from Liverpool.

A recent article on the Liverpool Echo website regarding the lack of a rail link to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, by Liam Thorpe, got me thinking again about this odd missing link in our local transport infrastructure. Here’s a link to the Echo article:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/after-anfield-new-rail-link-16614708

My angle on this goes back to the failed Merseytram project of some years back. At the time I was leader of Sefton Council so was involved in all the comings and goings as the project slid towards its demise when the last Labour Government in effect pulled the plug on funding Merseytram.

I raise Merseytram again now because I am utterly convinced that if the first line had been planned to go to the airport the local political wrangling which killed off the project would not have happened. If readers recall the first line was going to be built to Kirkby according to plans put forward Merseytravel yet most folk scratched their heads at this and said the first line needed to go to the airport. Well no tram/light railway lines were constructed on Merseyside at all and a lot of political fingers got burnt in the process of going nowhere.

So I’m not surprised that Liverpool Echo readers are saying to the paper what they were saying to the politicians some years back ‘build some form of rail/tram connection to John Lennon Airport’ and I agree with them now as I did in the Merseytram era.

Below is the only thing I have to remember Merseytram – a promotional bookmark:-

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.

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.