Building on Green Belt does not provided much at all in terms of affordable housing

Well I’ve been singing that tune for a very long time now, with specific reference to the encroachment onto the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. The BBC has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45079648

My major objection to the vast amount of Green Belt being lost to housing in Sefton Borough, especially with regard to the Maghull & Lydiate area, was of course that the land is predominately high grade arable land that grows the food we eat. To sacrifice such land when only around 2% of England is made up of this level of land quality is utter madness to me.

But of course that very same land is also in Sefton’s Green Belt, so Maghull’s vast urban extension (see lead photo) which is down to be built to the east of the Town in due course means that both high quality food growing land and Green Belt will be lost for ever.

The large red area is the ‘Maghull East’ urban extension to the Town. The M58 Junction 1 is in grey – top right with Prescot Road running north to south on the far right of the map.

Of course I know that we have a housing crisis and I realise that Governments, Councils and many individuals are happy to sacrifice food growing high grade agricultural land to get what they see as much needed housing. But hang on a minute where is the housing crisis in reality? It’s mainly with the affordable housing and the social rented sector and it’s because of the lack of such housing that huge pressure is put on the rest of the housing market.

We are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

So what do we need? We need really affordable housing and social rented housing because the roots of our housing crisis are well planted within the right to buy legislation of the 1980’s. That the money raised from the sale of what were council houses was not used to build more social housing has substantially created the problems we are now living with. On that basis much of the house building required is affordable and social housing but it’s not! it’s more 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses for sale and we are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

Northern Fail trip up yet again as more trains are cancelled due to driver shortages

Are you sick of hearing of the shortcomings of Northern Fail because I am. Here’s the latest bit of bad news about the crisis riven provider of trains (sorry rail replacement buses) for northern England.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-45069160

MP’s like Tim Farron and Lisa Nandy have already called for Northern to be stripped of the right to continue to run the Northern franchise but whilst the Dept. for Transport and Chris Grayling ignore such pleas the situation keeps getting worse.

Yes the present situation is seemingly brought about by train drivers refusing to work on their rest days but why on earth should they if they don’t want to. Clearly Northern need more drivers so that there’s no need for rest day working to be a norm. But this situation should have been foreseen just like many of the problems associated with the May timetable changes that threw Northern into a spin. And as I’ve been saying for ages now, services on some Northern run lines, such as Southport – Wigan – Manchester & Ormskirk – Preston, have been bad for far too long now and the problems well predate the May timetable meltdown.

Time for DfT and Chris Grayling to listen to the likes of Tim Farron and Lisa Nandy and give Northern Fail the boot. A new start is needed for the lines affected by Northern’s inability to run trains regularly, on time and without the use of those damn rail replacement buses. It’s not too much to ask for is it?

Does the West of Lancashire Community Rail partnership serve a useful purpose?

I’ve been reading in RAIL magazine (issue 855 – June 20th – July 3rd) all about how CRP (Community Rail Partnerships) can deliver social benefits and many other things. And then I thought about the two lines covered by the West of Lancashire CRP and wondered what on earth does it do?

I found a link to it’s web site and you can see it here

www.communityraillancashire.co.uk/lines/west-of-lancashire/

It’s profile is low and frankly these two lines have many issues with cancelled trains, overcrowded trains (Southport Wigan Line), lack of Sunday services (Ormskirk – Preston Line) etc. etc. So how effective is the CRP at addressing these issues? Based on the fact that pretty much all the social media input and campaigning on the issues/problems raised above seems to emanate from SRTF (Southport Rail Transport Forum) and OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) I really do wonder what the CRP actually does and how it engages with the communities it serves?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Anyway, only the Ormskirk Preston Line is actually designated as a CRP line as defined by Government so the Southport – Wigan Line through West Lancs Borough can only be some form of informal CRP I guess.

I hear that Lancashire County Council are at best lukewarm over the potential to reopen the old station at Midge Hall on the Ormskirk – Preston Line despite the district council for the area being keen to press on with the reopening associated with major house building going on not so far away from the old station. Is this not the kind of project the CRP should be up and running with to develop the line?

And just what has the CRP done to address the lack of Sunday trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line? This has been a local transport issue needing to be resolved for a long time now, particularly with the huge number of students in and around Ormskirk at Edge Hill University.

Departure board at Southport Station.

Then we look at the loss of virtually all the trains on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line into Manchester Piccadilly Station, the vast majority of which now terminate at Manchester Victoria to the inconvenience of many Southport and West Lancs rail users. Just how has the CRP tried to influence this pressing issue?

Also, the Southport line was until recent times on the list to be electrified all be that some vague number of years down the line – no pun intended. The line has old trains which are run in an overcrowded way and with unreliability being the unfortunate watchword. And this well predates the May 2018 timetable meltdown by many years.

What I’m getting at here is that from my perspective the CRP is hardly high profile on any of these issues and the voluntary sector in the form of SRTF and OPSTA have seemingly had to take the lead in battling with our failed railway industry.

So I can I ask again what purpose does the West of Lancashire CRP serve?

Jeremy what would you do with him?

When Jeremy Corbyn got himself elected as Labour Leader my first thought was, at last Labour will become the socialist party that it should always have been. I also felt a little sorry for him as the right wing press and the right wing of his own party tried to undermine his leadership. Of course I’m no socialist and no supporter of the Labour Party but Labour moving to the left is where they belong to my mind.

Now don’t get me wrong Jez is a second division politician who got himself elected almost by default but he clearly has what one could call a cult-type following, which I have blogged about previously. That he is a second division politician has been born out though by his approach to the two big issues of our time.

Firstly, no leader of a progressive party could in any way back the right wing policy that is Brexit, yet he has done so whilst seemingly believing that there will be no job losses due to it! A detachment from realty is obvious as Brexit will lead to job losses and the poor will be made poorer. What kind of socialist or progressive stance is that?

Secondly, he’s got Labour up to it neck in antisemitism! How on earth has he managed to engineer a situation where such allegations can be made and why has he failed to address those most serious allegations of racism that are now being aimed at Labour, often from its own members. His cult devotees say it’s all a right wing conspiracy against Jez but really, saying that may comfort them but they must know it is a hole of the Labour leadership’s own digging.

Someone needs to take the shovel off Jez or he’ll soon dig another hole for Labour to fall into whilst the Tories continue to bumble on towards a most appalling Brexit for us all because they benefit from having no serious Official Opposition.

Gun Crime – It’s an almost everyday event these days

The Liverpool Echo has the latest gun crime ‘event’ on its web site (this time in Bootle) see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shots-fired-bootle-street-children-14971390

Worryingly, there is every danger that we will start to see gun crime incidents as normal every day events as the media relentlessly churn them out. Normalising may creep up on us when we should be treating each event as totally unacceptable in a civilised society.

Merseyrail Class 503 EMU ‘Wirral Units’ – Last one now in Margate

Here’s an interesting piece of news (see link below) from the Isle of Thanet News about the last surviving Merseyrail Class 503 EMU, which has now pitched up in Margate for storage in the former Hornby factory. The article also gives an informative potted history about the Class 503 EMU’s.

theisleofthanetnews.com/last-surviving-mersey-rail-class-503-train-arrives-at-locomotive-storage-in-margate/

My apologies as I do not know to whom the credit for the photo at the head of this posting is due. It was clearly taken at the former Electric Railway Museum in Coventry though, from which the 503 departed following its recent closure.