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.

Liverpool City Council – Has no one been reading ‘Kilfoyleonpolitics’?

Liverpool Town Hall

The really surprising thing for me about the damming independent ‘Caller’ report into the workings of Liverpool City Council, is that if Labour’s leaders nationally had taken the time to read Peter Kilfoyle’s blog site Kilfoleonpolitics then they would have known long ago about much of this whole sorry mess. Of course, they may well have read it but decided to brush his concerns under the carpet? If they did it was a big error of judgement.

Here’s a link to Kilfoyleonpolitics:-

kilfoyleonpolitics.wordpress.com/2021/03/13/worse-and-worse/

And here’s the Caller report:-

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/972756/Liverpool_Best_Value_inspection_report.pdf

And finally here’s a link to the blogsite of Cllr. Richard Kemp the leader of the opposition on Liverpool City Council:-

richardkemp.wordpress.com/2021/03/24/the-damning-report-that-shows-liverpool-to-be-the-worst-council-in-england/

Apart from no one seemingly taking any notice of Peter Kilfoyle the former Labour MP for Walton (and Kinnock’s man in Liverpool during the Militant era) where was the regional media in uncovering this growing fiasco?

OK, to put my comments in context I’m am of course an opponent of Labour as that party has always been too right-wing (yes you read that right) for this old Social Liberal of the left. On that basis, I’m hardly going to be seen as a reliable commentary source about a council-run by my political opponents and I guess that’s the problem Richard Kemp has run into too; the ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’ response. The trouble is he was right just as Peter Kilfoyle has been. In other words, all this could have been unearthed a few years back but no one was listening or maybe was willing to listen.

What is consultation actually all about?

I think it fair to say that the public sector is generally poor at genuine consultation (partly because proper consultation costs too much) and it often is simply engaged in what is no more than information sharing (telling folks what is going to be done) and box ticking. So telling folk what is going to be done to their community, neighbourhood etc. is often dressed up as ‘consultation’ when in reality the comments made may well be (politely) ignored/rejected.

I recall a ‘consultation’ event being held at Maghull Town Hall a few years back about the then proposed building of what is now the newish Maghull North Station. That consultation was, at face Value, useful but I got the distinct impression that there were always going to be good reasons not to take forward suggestions which were made by attendees at that event. I blogged about it at the time – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/14/maghull-consultation-response-on-towns-2nd-and-new-railway-station/

My somewhat cynical response was ‘and it does make you wonder whether Merseytravel and their partners (Network Rail & Merseyrail) really do want to hear alternative views at all. Seems some things are sadly set in stone.’ If you look back at the suggestions which I noted were made whilst I was at the event

* The draft design of the station is too boxy and bland – Don’t want to end up as nondescript as Aintree Station when it was modernised.
* Will some of the circular buses be diverted there because the bus access along narrow roads is poor to the present Maghull Station?
* Can there be a memorial included to reflect the historic Moss Side Hospital that was on the site before? This refers to the pioneering work done there during and after the First World War into shell shock.
* Can the old Maghull Station be renamed Maghull Hornby to differentiate it from Maghull North?
* Can Maghull North name be changed to say Maghull Moss Side for example?

you could say that only one was actually followed up on – the memorial and an excellent memorial it is too. The others were rejected (or not even taken seriously?) it seems and there may well have been others I did not hear about.

So why start banging on about ‘consultation’ now Robertson?

Well my good friend Roy Connell, once a fellow Sefton Borough and Maghull Town Councillor, has public sector consultation buzzing around his head presently.

In his case it involves consultation by office of the Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner regarding the amount of extra precept (an addition to our Council tax bills) it wants to charge in the financial year 2020/2021. Roy’s view, if I’ve understood him correctly, is the consultation has in effect been all but tokenistic. 2072 people expressed a view on the matter via either being telephoned directly or through them commenting on the matter via the survey (no, like you I didn’t know about it) on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website. When you consider that Merseyside has a population of approximately 1.4m then a couple of thousand taking part in a survey/consultation is a very small percentage.

We live in a representative democracy where we elect people to make significant decisions about our country, region and community. The idea being that if those decisions displease us we can kick out the representatives who made them. But we seem to have developed, at least in recent years, a desire to consult folk over decisions about public policy. At face value this is a great idea but in reality aren’t the consultations rather meaningless if the vast majority of folk know nothing of them or if those being surveyed may not be taken much notice of unless they say things which fit with the policy direction being consulted on?

Liverpool – An ongoing political crisis via 3 blog sites

Liverpool Town Hall

What to do with Liverpool City Council? A question many have asked for many a year as it seems to be one of those councils that lives and breathes crisis and pretty much has done throughout living memory.

Here’s former BBC North West journalist Jim Hancock’s take on things:-

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

Another blogger with plenty to say about Liverpool City Council is former Walton Labour MP and Neil Kinnock’s man in Liverpool during the Militant era, Peter Kilfoyle. His blog site is accessible via this link:-

kilfoyleonpolitics.wordpress.com/

Then there’s veteran Liverpool Lib Dem councillor Richard Kemp who has lived through pretty much every Liverpool City Council crisis from the inside since goodness knows when:-

richardkemp.wordpress.com/

If you follow these 3 blogs you’ll probably come to a reasonable perspective on how local government works or indeed does not work in Liverpool – enjoy……….

Maghull – An insight into its long closed Cheshire Lines railway & station

Maghull presently has two railway stations both on the Merseyrail Northern Line to Ormskirk but it once had what was then the town’s second station on the former Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway which ran from Aintree Central Station to Southport Lord Street Station. The station closed on 7th January 1952.

I’ve blogged about this long lost station, which was actually called ‘Sefton & Maghull’, previously and here’s the most relevant link back to one of my postings:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/11/22/sefton-maghull-station-cheshire-lines-southport-extension-railway/

I return to the subject of this station now because of some historic photographs from the 1960’s which have been passed onto me by the family of former British Rail employee Neil Reston. Here they are:-

This shot is noted as being taken on 28th February 1960. It looks southwards in the direction of Aintree. It will have been taken from the road over- bridge.

This shot of roughly the same area was taken in 2017

This shot also looks south and it’s noted as being taken in March 1960. It looks to have been taken from Cabin Lane which is between Lydiate and Sefton & Maghull Stations so the shot looks towards Sefton & Maghull. The occupation bridge in the shot, which still stands, as a continuation of Bells Lane where it turns sharply right to become Altcar Lane. My thanks to Alan Bolton for correctly identifying the location. This posting has been updated to take this into account.

Here’s a shot looking south from Cabin Lane as it looks now:-

This shot is taken from the bridge parapet which carried Sefton Lane over the railway. It’s looking north in the direction of the next station on the line Lydiate. It’s dated 28th February 1960.

This final shot is also looking north and the track has been removed. It’s dated March 1960.

The present view of the former trackbed looking north, replicating the final photo, is this:-

The telegraph poles are all that remain.

My posting about Lydiate Station using photos from the same collection and taken at the same times is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/12/14/lydiate-remembering-its-long-lost-railway-station/

Aughton – A railway over 50+ years, with a little help from my friends

I often cycle along Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane in Aughton on my daily rides and as I peddle under its railway bridge I sometimes wonder about the days before the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor was severed at Ormskirk.

And then out of the blue I was recently offered some old railway photos by the Maghull family of a Mr Reston who used to work for British Railways and who had sadly passed on. As a lifelong railway enthusiast I was of course delighted to accept the offer and I’ve been working my way through them. Most of the locations, across northern England & Scotland, are noted but some are not and I came across 3 1960’s black and white shots which at first glance looked to have been taken at the Butchers Lane railway bridge in Aughton. Closer examination however proved this thought to be wrong.

I needed help so I put the photos on the Mersey Railways Facebook Group and I asked fellow Committee members of OSPTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) for such help. After a suggestion that the photo could have been taken in Burscough it was finally narrowed down to the Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane railway bridge just a little further north from my own original thought of Butchers Lane. It was great to see fellow railway enthusiasts pitching in to help me out and the location was cracked by them.

So here are the 3 photos:-

Two southbound trains (heading towards Liverpool) and one northbound (heading towards Ormskirk) but what’s really amazing about the information provided is that it’s not just the location which was identified. One helper from the Mersey Railways FB Group was actually able to pin point an exact train from 1965. It’s one of the southbound trains headed by the diesel locomotive. I’m told that it’s a returning empty stock for the 1965 Grand National (a special) at Mickering Lane, the first bridge south of Town Green. The loco is No.D210 ‘Empress of Britain’ with the stock of 1X66, a Birmingham excursion. It’s returning to Aintree from servicing at Lostock Hall shed. Also, that the buffer stops in the shot were the end of the siding that ran behind Town Green signal box and the signal is Town Green outer home. I’m truly taken aback by the detail of this information and delighted too.

And just to bring things up to date here’s a couple of shots taken by me around 2.20pm on 3rd December, yesterday, from roughly the same position as the three 1965 photo were taken:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them