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.

Maghull – We shouldn’t even be building on this land!

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it is to be covered with housing.

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/controversial-plans-build-841-homes-18569259

There’s every danger that you’ll be shouting back at me that I’m a broken record here especially if you agree with house building on Green Belt and on high grade agricultural land which feeds us. However, if you agree with me that building on such land is very wrong indeed then read on.

During my time as a Maghull Councillor I led the first campaign to save this land from development in the late 1990’s:-

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won back then but Labour did not fight for the land the 2nd time around.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – That fight to stop Green Belt building was won.

We won that battle but developers and planners always had their eye on it and when they came back for 2nd go as part of the Sefton Local Plan the now Labour-run council did not run a similar campaign and Sefton Council chose the land to be built on.

So now we are left arguing over the detail of how the land will be developed rather than this high grade agricultural land continuing to grow the food that we eat! What makes it even worse is that the chances are that the vast majority of the houses to be built won’t even meet the real local housing shortage anyway as it’s in the social housing sector where the need actually is.

I despair I really do. All I can say is that during my time as a Sefton Borough and Maghull Town Councillor I fought to keep this land from development along with many other local environmental campaigners such as Peter Greener and Pat O’Hanlon. Planning and land use policies in the UK are an utter mess and they have been for generations now. When are we going to wake up to climate change, global warming and real housing need in the social housing sector? When are we going to start to value the land that grows our food?

Memories of Sunny Southport

Having found these two videos – see links below – on You Tube about Southport, it’s history and how it was promoted in the 1970’s (both uploaded by Michael Dawson) I had to share them:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgLAZ90BXNQ

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6MyE-ptbK8

And how the seaside resort is presently promoted in Covid 19 times:-

www.visitsouthport.com/

What’s interesting is that clearly in the days of the former Southport Borough Council and indeed into the early days of Sefton Borough Council there was significant promotion of the famous seaside resort by or at least organised by the council. That this lead in the promotion of Southport has been all but lost via the changing priorities of the present Council and indeed austerity measures must surely have had a detrimental effect on the local economy.

I recall that during my time on Sefton Council (1999 – 2015) with 7 years of that period being as Council Leader one of my long-term concerns was that the Council was always under pressure to reduce spending on the promotion of Southport. So yes the issue well pre-dates modern-day austerity. And the reason for this pressure? The need to spend an ever greater proportion of the budget on adult social care and children in care. Now you can see why politicians of all parties had to put the elderly and children first but never the less the effect was an ever dwindling amount of money to promote our local seaside resort.

Now probably more than ever Southport needs to be promoted so this proud and historic seaside resort can return to prosperity returns after the pandemic.

Maghull – Cycling the A59 – Alt Junction to Switch Island

I mentioned recently my concerns as a cyclist (and those of pedestrians) about how the Alt junction has been reconstructed and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/26/maghull-a59-alt-junction-reconstruction/

Sefton Council had told me that two additional pieces of work were to be undertaken along with the junction ‘improvements’ to improve cycling access. So far with contractors having left site one has only been partially done and the other has not been done at all.

The major cycling work is to extend the cycle path/route which comes from Switch Island so that it reaches the Alt Junction. Clearly some works have been undertaken but a section over the River Alt bridge has been left just as it was, a narrow pavement – see photo below. Why?*

The other item is such a small change one wonders why it had not been sorted out years ago. It’s at the junction of Moorhey Road and the A59/Northway Service Road where a cycle route starts taking cyclists towards Switch Island. However, at the very start of it there’s no dropped kerb, which I’ve complained about before and been told by Sefton Council it would be attended to during the Alt junction ‘improvements’. So far, as you can see, the job remains outstanding:-

And yes, I’ve brought my concerns about both these matters to the attention of Sefton Council’s Highways Dept.

* After I wrote this posting but before publishing it I became aware of the plans to redevelop the former Motor Range site for an ALDI etc. so the curtailed works to the cycle path/track could possibly be associated with the changes required should that proposal gain planning permission? Just a thought.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – An Update

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The latest news from Rimrose Valley Friends is available via the link below:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/running-track-restoration-valleywatch-and-more/

Rimrose Valley Country Park

Maghull – ALDI are proposing to march into Town

The site for the proposed new ALDi store photographed whilst road works for the rebuilt Alt junction were still ongoing.

I was asked yesterday if I knew anything about ALDI opening up a store on the old car showroom site as you come into Maghull from Switch Island. I didn’t. But that was yesterday and today a resident living near to the proposed site for the new ALDI store got in touch to pass on the link to the ALDI consultation that is now doing the rounds – see that link below:-

aldiconsultation.co.uk/maghull/

It was only a few days ago that I raised concerns about the recently rebuilt junction adjacent to this site – my blog posting is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/26/maghull-a59-alt-junction-reconstruction/

Of course I knew nothing of proposals for this site when I penned that posting but I wonder how an additional business accessing the A59 right next to the new junction will work? The car showroom did not have many vehicle movements into and out of it whereas a busy retail food shop will.

Older Maghull residents will recall that the River Alt end of the site used to have a business selling sheds and greenhouses on it.

With thanks to Andrew Blackburn for the lead to this posting