Southport and Chesire Lines Extension Railway

This fascinating railway which succumbed to closure well before the infamous Mr Beeching decimated our railway network was probably one that should never have been built.

Between Aintree Central and Southport it only served isolated rural communities and the reality is that it never reached anywhere near the business targets the promoters had hoped for.

Much of the track is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail long distance footpath with the part through the sand dunes in Ainsdale and Southport being a coastal road carrying hundreds of vehicles every day.

I shall probably return to this unique joint railway in the future but for now here is shot of a ticket from Aintree Central to Ainsdale.

rsz_aintree_to_ainsdale_ticket

Sumner Road car park, Formby – Why no decision by Formby’s own councillors about the proposed parking charges?

Today I spoke to a Formby resident who was more than a little angry about parking charges being proposed by Sefton Council for this particular car park. It presently has ‘Limited waiting’ for 2 hours between the hours of 09.00 – 18.0, Monday – Saturday.

Her concern was that charges may well have a detrimental effect on local business and shops, the very thing that continues to worry me about a parallel situation Maghull’s main shopping centre where charges have already been brought in (all be it by a private developer) and which I have posted about previously on this site.

But her concern was in many ways far more fundamental than that; she wanted to know why Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors or indeed Formby Parish Council were not making the decision about whether to impose parking charges or not. As someone who is committed to decentralising decision making to the lowest grass roots level possible I obviously agree with her. So let’s have a look at this particular situation.

Sefton has a Cabinet style of governance. Until Labour gained a majority that Cabinet was all-party and as far as I can recall there was usually a councillor from Formby on it. Now Labour has control all of the Cabinet members come from the Bootle Constituency! Does that mean that Formby’s 6 councillors don’t have a say? Well, yes and no, you see 3 of Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors are from the Labour Group on the Council so they can protest within the Labour Group about these charges. But will they be listened to? Your guess is as good as mine but bearing in mind that the Bootle Labour faction has far more councillors than the Sefton Central Labour faction then my feeling is that their voices, should they choose to use them, will go unheard.

The problem with Sefton these days is that all power has been centralised in Bootle and the Labour councillors from the Sefton Central area are simply there to toe the Bootle Labour line.

Meols Cop Station – Vandalism destroys the work of volunteers

I met by old chum Cllr. David Sumner last Wednesday at a Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting and because we are both interested in railways he told me the sad story of the recent vandalism on the station which is maintained and indeed has been considerably improved by the work of a volunteer group led by David, his wife Pat and Dr Jim Ford.

Cllr. David Sumner

Cllr. David Sumner

Meols Cop is an odd station because whilst it is in Merseyside it is not really much loved by our Integrated Transport Authority Merseytravel. The trains calling at the station are all those of Northern Rail on the Southport – Wigan line.

It seems that a few days ago someone or a group of people simply trashed the station plants and the planters they were in causing a huge amount of damage. I wonder how they would feel if we turned up at their house and trashed their garden.

Knowing David and his fellow volunteers they will try to pull things together again but why should their efforts, on behalf of us all, be ruined by thugs? Stations being adopted by volunteer groups are now the norm; just look at Maghull on the Liverpool Ormskirk Line. There volunteers have transformed the station and won many awards in recent years.

Good luck to the Friends of Meols Cop Station.

Have a look at this link for more information about the Friends of Meols Cop Station:-

http://www.southport.gb.com/southport/news_list/Friends_Of_Meols_Cop_Station-51448953.htm

Access to Southport from the east – Ormskirk/M58 Motorway

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

This is very much a long standing problem which not only has frustrations because of the poor nature of the main road from Southport to Ormskirk (for the volume of traffic it has to take at times) but which also has health implications due to the split site nature of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals.

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5489&pageid=29612

The web address above is a report by Lancashire County Council which, amongst other transportation matters, covers the Southport access problems from the east.

Sadly, this is a problem which has be talked about for years yet no progress has been made. Of course it links to the need to reconnect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk – Preston railway lines so that after years of the two working in complete isolation we can once again get a train from Southport to Ormskirk.

Regular readers will know I am a firm supporter and indeed member of OPSTA – Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Association – which campaigns for the reopening of the Burscough Curves amongst other local rail improvements.

One day access to Southport from the east will become a problem that is solved rather than just talked about and it is important if Southport is to continue to develop as a shopping and seaside town. This access problem is holding Southport back but the solution is not in Sefton but in West Lancashire.

Pilling Lane Canal Access, Lydiate

I have posted about this problem before. In brief the steps up to the road from the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath to Pilling Lane have been out of use for a long time and local walkers are getting very frustrated. So much so that every time the Canal and River Trust rebuilds the fence that is supposed to stop pedestrians using the steps it is broken down by determined folk wanting access.

I took this shot of the steps during the last snow to hit Lydiate

I took this shot of the steps during the last snow to hit Lydiate

The issue is that the steps are sinking and are unsafe due to subsidence so you can understand whey the Trust does not want people not to use them. However, with repairs being as far away as October (or later) and the steps having been closed for months on end already it is hardly surprising that folks are taking things into their own hands even if that is putting themselves in danger of injury.

But yesterday I got a call from a Lydiate resident who had been walking past the bridge when he saw Canal and River Trust workers there. He stopped and asked them when the repairs would be done and was told next year! Lydiate Parish Council had been told, as I have previously reported, that repairs were scheduled for October. And that was not the end of it because the resident also asked the workers why they had not built a temporary set of steps, only to be told that such would have been quite possible. Possible, why then was I refused my request for this to be done months ago?

Lydiate Parish Council Clerk Barbara Kennan is now back on the case to try to get to the bottom of things.

Leeds Liverpool Canal in Bootle – An engineering gem

Living by the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Lydiate leads me to take an interest in this great waterway which meanders its way through the Sefton Borough communities of Bootle, Litherland, Netherton, Aintree Village, Melling, Maghull and Lydiate.

The Litherland Road canal bridge down in Bootle is a fascinating example of Victorian civic pride with its huge cast metal plaque detailing its building and opening together with a cast representation of the former Bootle-cum-Linacre Corporation’s coat of arms.

rsz_litherland_rd_bridge

rsz_litherland_road_plaque

rsz_bootle_coat_of_arms

You can imagine what a sight this bridge would have been when it was constructed in 1888 and how proud the civic leaders would have been of it. A closer look leads you to realise that it would once have had ornamental lights on top of the sandstone parapet wall at a number of locations. Rusting wrought iron lamp stands are all that remain now though.

An engineering gem right in the heart of what was very much industrial Bootle but is referred to as Bootle Village.