Southport and Sainsburys – A saga from which Southport’s Lord Street shopping center can only lose from surely?

Southport’s famous Lord Street shops

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/taking-long-new-sainsburys-store-16665281

Looking up – Some of Lord Street’s frontages are quite beautiful but empty shop units are a worry.

Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

I was recently asked to assist a campaigner who is a part of the fight against Highways England’s plan to build a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ask was for me to help with obtaining a copy of a 2004 report on the options for transport access to the Port of Liverpool.

Rimrose Valley Country Park on a lovely Sunday morning. A Lone cyclist can be seen in the distance.

Firstly, I had to obtain a copy of the report and with a little help that was achieved.

The report is titled ‘PORT OF LIVERPOOL STRATEGIC TRANSPORT ACCESS STUDY Phase 3 Final Report’. It looked at 3 options for providing improved access to the Port of Liverpool and it comes down on the side of putting a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is of course the option now being pursued by Highways England and which is causing so much controversy and objections.

I think it fair to say that I’m a big supporter of Rimrose Valley Country Park and love cycling through it, so it could be said that my opinions are somewhat biased in favour of the campaign group Rimrose Valley Friends who are leading the fight against the new road. In other words I’m not claiming that this piece is of an independent nature.

The report summarises the work undertaken by a team of consultants, lead by FaberMaunsell, for the study’s steering group comprising: • Sefton Borough Council; • Liverpool City Council; • Highways Agency (now Highways England); • Strategic Rail Authority; • Merseytravel; and • Atlantic Gateway.

Three strategies emerged from this work:

• Strategy 1 (Modal Transfer, Mitigation And Management) – to maximise the benefits and improvements where major highway investment is considered either unacceptable or undeliverable. This strategy combines rail and public passenger transport initiatives with traffic management, environmental mitigation and policy and enforcement but no significant investment in highway infrastructure which would generate additional capacity.

• Strategy 2 (Highway – A5036(T) On Line Improvements) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with link and junction improvements principally on the A5036 (T) to improve capacity within the corridor and therefore reduce delay and congestion.

• Strategy 3 (Major Highway – Rimrose Valley) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with the construction of a new road through the Rimrose Valley from Switch Island to the Princess Way/Bridge Road roundabout to relieve the existing key routes of a significant proportion of the port-bound traffic.

Clearly, there’s a danger of reading a 15 year old report and thinking that all it looked at then (agree with its conclusions or not) is just as relevant now. The big issue is of course the climate change/crisis we are facing and the need to restrict/cease use of petrol and diesel engined vehicles. This is now a matter of public policy, as opposed it being an issue within scientific and environmental community as it was back in the early 2000’s. For me this very real green issue is, without considering any other matter, a clear reason to re-examine what the options should be to improve access to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the recent delay in constructing the new road, caused by the legal action taken to stop it, has created a time frame which could be used to conduct a reassessment, so there really is no excuse for pursuing a project that in effect predates our climate crisis.

All walking and cycling destinations from the main cycle path in the Country Park.

I don’t think I learned a great deal more than I knew already from re-reading the report (with 15 years between reads) but all the same it was useful to reacquaint myself with the detail. I hope the report is of use to the Rimrose Valley Friends in their campaign work.

I had another lovely cycle ride through Rimrose Valley on the 4th August.

Whatever happened to the last LMS Class 503 ‘Wirral’ Unit?

The only surviving Class 503 ‘Wirral’ EMU was at the Electric Railway Museum in Coventry but that closed not so long ago meaning the rolling stock in the care of that museum had to found new homes. Merseyrail’s Class 503 now has a home at the former Hornby Factory in Margate of all places. The link below has the story :-

www.railadvent.co.uk/2018/06/class-503-train-arrives-alongside-steam-locomotive-bittern-at-former-hornby-site-in-margate.html

Quote from the article linked above:- The Class 503 trains were built in two batches. The first batch was built in 1938 by Met-Cam and BRC&W Co., their use was on the newly electrified route between Liverpool Central and the Wirral Peninsular or Rock Ferry via the Mersey Railway but run by the LMS. The second batch was built in 1956 to replace the original Mersey Railway stock. The one preserved today is from the earlier LMS stock, all were withdrawn from traffic in 1985.

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.

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