Southport – Its Victorian legacy has not been fully understood by modern custodians

Place North West has an interesting and thought provoking article on its website – see link below:-

In my view Southport suffers from two distinct and unique disadvantages. Firstly, of being at one far end of a Metropolitan Borough (Sefton) whilst being mostly surrounded by a County (Lancashire) it no longer (since 1974) has any significant political connections with. Secondly, of having some very poor road and rail connections to the east and north of it.

If you start from the premise that the modern custodians have failed then I feel the disadvantages which have been put in their way are very much the cause. What’s more they’ve not been self-created disadvantages but very much imposed ones from Beeching’s railway cut backs of the 1960’s, the lack of an Ormskirk road by-pass, and the reorganisation of local government in 1974. The fact that none of theses significant downsides for Sunny Southport have been successfully addressed is the ongoing challenge which the present day custodians can’t crack – although that’s not for the want of trying.

I’ve commented on this so tough to crack conundrum previously:-

My view is that Southport has been failed but the causes of that failure are very much external to the Town.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Southport – Planning for a positive future

Above is a link to the blog site of my good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie Brown, please take a moment to click the link and read his posting. It is pure community politics to my mind.

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Click on the photo to enlarge it

There can be little doubt that the towns/boroughs surrounding Liverpool have not benefited from being a part of the Liverpool City Region. Indeed, my own view is that centralising power in Liverpool as both Tories and Labour are planning for, with a Metro Mayor, could well be the road to ruin for places like Southport St. Helens, Birkenhead, Maghull, Formby, Prescot etc.

Whilst Iain’s posting is all about what needs to be done to give Southport a bright future his fundamental concerns could well be about any of Liverpool’s satellite communities that sit outside of the Liverpool City Council boundary.

Centralising power and influence in Liverpool will just not work, except for Liverpool itself. Unlike the Greater Manchester communities, which mostly seem look towards Manchester, the same can’t be said of Merseyside. Southport has always seen its connections with Preston and Lancashire as being of great importance but it was wrenched away from such historical links by local government reorganisation in 1974. Much of Wirral Borough has historic connections with Chester and Cheshire but it too was forced into Merseyside.

Merseyside because of its odd geographic shape was never likely to be a runner as a viable unit of local government and the years that have passed since 1974 have only proved that theory correct. Sefton, itself a strange collection of diverse communities, realised this some years ago and it began a process of decentralisation. Bizarrely though Labour then slammed this process into reverse when its Bootle based party took control of the Council. What was their motivation to say ‘the Borough will work well as a one size fits all because we say it will’ not least because this approach had failed miserably when first tried?

Presently we are seeing the start of a process to take 1000’s of civil service jobs out of Netherton, St Helens and Bootle for them all to be centralised in Liverpool. Liverpool’s gain will be big losses for Sefton and St Helens Boroughs.

Make no mistake the Tories are wedded to cities being made more powerful at the expense of their surrounding towns and boroughs. What’s more Labour are pretty much behind this process, why else did the 6 Labour Council Leaders on Merseyside sign up to a 3rd rate devolution deal?

Towns surrounding big cities need investment, public and private, not dependency on the nearest City because that is the road to ruin except for the big cities of course.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Southport – New Bootle MP joins debate about how and when it will leave Sefton

Yes, I know he is not the MP for Bootle yet but I did laugh at the phrase ‘battling’ in terms of what the Echo/Southport Visiter thinks Peter Dowd has to do to win Bootle. Of course Bootle is the ultimate safe seat so the people of Bootle will get Peter as their MP as indeed they would whomever the Labour party put up for election. Battling my foot, the only battle Peter had to fight was the one to gain the Labour nomination!


But why is the new MP for Bootle so concerned about Southport all of a sudden? As Leader of Sefton Council he and his all Bootle Constituency Cabinet have been telling Southport and indeed the residents of the Sefton Central Constituency what is good for them for a few years now.

To me as someone who does not reside in Bootle or Southport (I live in Lydiate) I would say that local government in Sefton is broken and change is required. But I don’t want my community to be run from Bootle (or even worse Liverpool if Joe Anderson gets his hands on power as Mayor of Merseyside) any more than the good folk of Southport.

Suspect this one has a long way to go yet, after all Sefton as a Borough has been utterly unhappy with its lot ever since it was set up in 1974 by the Tories infamous local government reorganisation.

My recent posting on this matter refers:-

Sefton Borough – 40 years old and still unloved

The Borough of SEFTON is 40 years old in 2014 having been created by some dark and mysterious force (The Boundary Commission) in 1974 for reasons no one can quite get their heads around.

Joking aside Sefton is an odd place geographically speaking, a glance at a local government boundary map shows this only too well. The basic criticism of Sefton is that it brought together many communities which had virtually no shared community of interest!

Many Southport folk have never wanted to be in it and have always resented losing their old County Borough status. What’s more the vast majority of Southport’s hinterland and historically connected villages etc. to the north and east of the Town have been in a different county (Lancashire) since 1974!

This wall art is on a former railway now pedestrian tunnel behind Bootle's New Strand Shopping Centre. Sadly it has gained a little unwanted graffiti.

This wall art is on a former railway, now pedestrian, tunnel behind Bootle’s New Strand Shopping Centre. Sadly it has gained a little unwanted graffiti.

Bootle also resented losing its former proud local government status but found itself between the devil and deep blue sea. They either went with Sefton or got subsumed into Liverpool. The latter being their worst nightmare!

As for the communities in the middle of the Borough they were the make-weights between the two big Sefton towns of Southport and Bootle.

No, Sefton has never been loved and those who created it will never have felt appreciated. All you can say is that Sefton is an amalgamation of disparate and diverse communities that sit to the north of Liverpool.

And I say all this having been Council Leader for 7 years when my aim was to try to make the Borough work as well as possible despite all the difficulties. I would like to think that I helped to bring in a decentralised approach to running Sefton but sadly most of that has now been undone since Bootle Labour gained control of the Council in 2012.

A muted and mumbled ‘happy birthday’ from a small section of Sefton’s residents is probably the best that anyone can muster.

The photo above is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-