Liverpool – Do you want to zip to the library?

View from inside Liverpool Central Library’s domed glass roof to the outside viewing area.

Liverpool Business News has the story on its web site – see link below:-

lbndaily.co.uk/zip-world-changes-plans-enough/

When I first heard about a zip wire from the top of St Johns Beacon to the roof of Liverpool Central Library I thought it was akin to an April 1st story, a wind-up, a bit of leg pulling so to speak. But no it turned out to be a a real plan with a real planning application.

View of St. Johns Beacon from roof of Liverpool Central Library

Now call me old fashioned but what on earth have a zip wire and a library got in common? I’ve got nothing against zip wires what so ever but there’s a place for everything and a library is simply not such a place. The roof terrace of this particular library affords views across the City and an opportunity to view them in relative peace and quiet.

View towards Empire Theatre from roof of Liverpool Central Library

Sadly, I have spent far too many hours campaigning to save and protect libraries from closure; fights that were lost due to austerity and not a little political intransigence. Yes of course libraries need updating and Liverpool Central Library is an excellent example of such modernisation. However, the calmness of a library is what makes it so special particularly in our stressful and noisy society. Compromising that peace and quiet is just wrong in my view.

Another view over the City from Central Library’s roof

Lancashire – Still squabbling over local government changes

I’ve said before that the piecemeal reorganisation of what was once the huge county council (with numerous small district councils such as West Lancs Borough) area of Lancashire has ended up leaving a mess of everything that has not already become a unitary authority.

Former BBC and Liverpool Post reporter Political commentator and writer Nick Hancock debating with Sefton’s Cllr. Iain Brodie Browne.

Below, via the link, respected north west journalist Jim Hancock updates us on the tortuous ‘progress’ towards a resolution (scroll down to ‘Driver’s Umbrella’):-

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

Lancashire should have been sorted out as one whole package

The process of doing bits here and there over numerous years via different governments has led directly to this mess and muddle. I support the move to unitary authorities as in my view having a County, a District and often a Parish/Town Council too has not worked.

Power to the Parishes!

Getting rid of the muddle in the middle i.e. the District Councils is the right thing to do. However, it should be being done whilst devolving more powers and responsibilities to the network of Parish and Town Councils across the County (and set up new ones where they don’t presently exist) – of course that’s not being done!

Fracking – Has the threat of fracking on Altcar Moss really gone away?

Whilst at face value the announcement of Aurora Energy Resources that they are withdrawing their application (too Lancashire County Council) to be allowed to commence fracking in Great Altcar is excellent news, my feeling is that it would be premature to put out the bunting and celebrate victory.

The link below to drillordrop is very informative:-

drillordrop.com/2020/07/27/aurora-drops-altcar-moss-fracking-plans/

My understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong) is that Aurora have also indicated they may well be take legal action against the government’s fracking ban. That must surely mean that if they follow through with such legal action and are successful then they could well be back. Of course government could also relax it’s present ‘ban’ on fracking which has never looked to be a permanent policy position.

So yes another battle has been won by The Moss Alliance and other environmental campaign groups but I think it would be foolish to say that the war has been won.

My thanks to The Moss Alliance for all their hard work, work which Lydiate Parish Council was willing to back with financial assistance for legal advice and challenges.

Riding through Rimrose Valley

Walking and cycling destinations from Rimrose Valley County Park Country Park.

I really enjoy cycling through Rimrose Valley Country Park, as I did yesterday morning, but sadly it is under significant threat from a new road being built from one end of it to the other to service the Port of Liverpool. This is of course a subject I’ve covered on this blog site many times.

The reason I decided to highlight the environmental crisis which threatens this country park again is the two posters I came across during my bike ride. They are very much to the point:-

To me these posters are spot on. What’s more having declared a ‘climate change emergency’, as the UK did in May 2019, building yet more new roads is clearly very much in conflict with that resolution. New roads lead to increased traffic which in turn creates more air pollution.

And if you’re still not sure whether it’s worth fighting to save the Rimrose Valley have a look at this lovely video on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=174&v=hqIOLMB50gI&feature=emb_title

Merseyrail – Kirkby Line extension to Headbolt Lane takes shape

The Merseyrail half of Kirkby Station looking towards Liverpool.

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/major-step-forward-merseyrails-brand-18605983

Whilst long term plans to extend the Kirkby Line of Merseyrail through to Skelmersdale are still in the melting pot a short extension of the line within Kirkby to a 2nd station in that community at Headbolt Lane is very much on the cards as the Liverpool Echo article explains.

Maghull residents will immediately spot a likeness in the design of the proposed new Headbolt Lane Station to that of the newish Maghull North Station building – see photo below:-

Maghull North’s Station Building during construction in May 2018.

The extension to Headbolt Lane, which has been discussed for more years than I can recall, will leave just the Merseyside community of Rainford (the next station along the line) outside of the Merseyrail network. This is what the end of the Northern Line looks like at Kirkby:-

The present end of the line for trains from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

Presently, the line from Kirkby to Wigan is in the hands of Northern Rail due to the railway being split at Kirkby for many years now – in a similar way to the split at Ormskirk of the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor.

Let’s hope that the Headbolt Lane Station project now moves forward without delay.

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.