Rimrose Valley Country Park – An idyllic oasis

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

With the potential threat of a road being driven straight through this country park I thought it was time to have a really good look at it. I had been previously but not for any length of time. I was not to be disappointed.

I set off on my cycle from our Lydiate home last Saturday morning quite early on a bright and sunny day. Joining the foot and cycle paths that lead into the County Park at Edge Lane I found my way via this footpath network through into what is a linear open space. It is in fact surrounded by the built up areas of Crosby, Netherton, Thornton and Litherland and ends in Seaforth half a mile from the Container Terminal.

Rimrose in the foreground and its threat in the background

You can see why Highways England have been eyeing up the land to get a new road through to the docks but what on earth will it do to this lovely oasis if they get the go ahead? I remain very much opposed to that plan but we will find out very soon what is going to happen.

What I found early on a Saturday morning was friendly dog walkers, fellow cyclists and a lovely ride through urban countryside. What’s more a very tame squirrel joined me for 30 yards or more running alongside my bike. I assume he was wondering if I had some food.

The Seaforth end of the Country Park which joins the A5036 Princess Way

Surely there can be little, if any, doubt that a road driven through the Rimrose Valley can only have negative consequences for our environment.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Highways England’s announcement delayed.

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

My understanding was that Highways England (previously known as the Highways Agency) were due to announce their preferred solution to increasing the capacity of the A5036 otherwise known as Dunningsbridge Road/ Church Road in Netherton on 8th August.

Of course the big fear amongst environmental campaigners is that they will plump to build a new road through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ‘need’ for the increased road capacity is due to the Liverpool 2 River Berth being constructed at Seaforth by Peel Ports, a subject I have posted about many times before.

But news reached me yesterday via an e-mail from Rimrose Valley Friends, who are trying to protect the Country Park, that the announcement has been delayed until September. We are told that this follows a Highways England meeting with Mersey Mayor Steve Rotherham.

The significance of the delay/deferment is not presently known.

Here’s a couple of links to pages on the Rimrose Valley Friends web site about the expected announcement:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-due-080817/#

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-delayed/

Maghull – So what would we do if there was a plan to remove pedestrian bridges in Maghull as is planned just down the road in Netherton on the A5036?

This is one of those postings that I have been meaning to get around to for a while now because the issue was raised with me following the Champion newspaper article mentioned below. And no, before I start, I don’t have any inside information to say the Maghull footbridges are under threat.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/would-you-prefer-cross-road-12619143

Firstly, the Liverpool Echo has the story of a proposal from Highways England (Previously known as the Highways Agency) to remove the pedestrian bridge over the A5036 adjacent to the the Park Lane/A5036 junction in Netherton – see link above.

The Aintree & Maghull Champion also covered this story in its edition of 8th February. A quote from Highways England in that articles says ‘Pedestrians & cyclists tell us they prefer road level crossings to bridges and underpasses’.

The Netherton footbridge is of a similar construction to the two pedestrian bridges on Northway in Maghull at the Hall Lane/A59 & Damfield Lane/A59 junctions but there is a difference. The difference is that the footbridges and indeed the Maghull A59 subway at The Square are controlled by Sefton Council not Highways England.

A59 footbridge at Damfield Lane, Maghull

The question I was asked was would it be reasonable to assume that Sefton Council may come up with similar removal proposals for Maghull’s two bridges in due course?

There’s no doubt that these bridges are a product of their time and modern bridges of this nature would be constructed differently to take account of disability access regulations – the steps on the ramps come to mind. What’s more the steps in the middle of the Damfield Lane bridge are extremely steep and I know some folks avoid using them. But the Maghull footbridges clearly serve a useful purpose as does the one at Park Lane Netherton because people do use them.

Steep middle steps to Damfield Lane/A59 footbridge.

Interacting with traffic on these busy fast flowing roads is dangerous so being able to use a footbridge strikes me as a sensible option for pedestrians. And let’s not forget that pedestrians/cyclists are the most important and most vulnerable things on our roads.

The Hall Lane/A59 junction is of course infamous for red jumping by northbound vehicle drivers, that’s why it has long had a red light camera on it. But surely, if there was no footbridge here, then the worry would be red light jumping vehicles and pedestrians colliding with horrible consequences.

The concern expressed to me was that at some point Sefton Council may say to Maghull folk ‘hey your footbridges over Northway are life expired and we want to put in Toucan crossings instead’ as Highways England have just done in Netherton. Frankly, I would have both footbridges and Toucan crossings as to me pedestrians/cyclists are king and Maghull is already badly split in two by the A59’s tarmac and steel barrier.

On the wider point of the A59 cutting Maghull in half, this is a serious issue. To my mind the free flowing of traffic along Northway has been achieved at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. I have even heard folk call Northway – Maghull’s Berlin Wall.

I recall, some 10 years ago, that a gap in the central reservation crash barriers was closed up where the A59 crosses the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This means that those using the footpath out of the end of Avondale Avenue and up the steps onto Northway, which is used to connect with the path on the other side of the A59 that runs through St. Andrew’s Churchyard, has been made far more difficult unless you are prepared to hurdle central reservation crash barriers. My point being that the hurdling is done every day especially by school children! In other words the route is still being used but as well as having to look out for traffic you have to get over the barriers too. Clearly the interests of Maghull folk wanting to get from one side of the A59 to the other came secondary here to other highway priorities.

Underpass/Subway at the Northway/Eastway/Westway junction in Maghull.

It will be interesting to see whether when the two Maghull A59 footbridges become life expired Sefton Council follows suit with Highways England and proposes removal but that’s a challenge that has yet to be put before us and possibly it never will be?

With thanks to Keith for the lead to this posting

Rimrose Valley Friends – An Update on their campaigning

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/huge-thanks-to-our-leaflet-volunteers-15000-homes-covered/

Always happy to give publicity to Rimrose Valley Friends and their campaigns – have a look at the link above which takes you to their web site.

Port of Liverpool – The two road only options on the table

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/port-traffic-route-headache-option-12556835

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

This is a matter which I have been blogging about for a long time now and I still feel angry about it.

A classic cart before the horse situation if ever I saw one. The new Liverpool 2 River Berth catering for massive Post Panamax container ships is planned, constructed and completed before any serious thought is given as to how the increased freight is going to get to and from it. You really could not make this up as a planning absurdity but that’s pretty much what has happened.

Liverpool 2's massive new container cranes

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

The A5036 route that links the Port of Liverpool at Seaforth with the motorway network at Switch Island is presently the only/major corridor for freight moving to and from the Port. It’s congested, at busy times the capacity is insufficient to cope with the traffic wanting to use it and there are already big concerns about air pollution from the diesel powered HGV’s that thunder up and down it. What’s more the A5036 is hemmed in by residential areas along significant parts of it.

As I have said before there are two options on the table from Highways England, either increase the capacity of the A5036 or build a new road right down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park! As if either option is credible and the plans seem to pit residents who live around the A5036 against residents who live either side of the Rimrose Valley.

And what has Sefton Council been doing? And where’s on earth is Network Rail? Between the two of them the best you can say is hiding behind the sofa!

Why has making new rail connections with the port seemingly been forgotten? Where’s the community leadership from Sefton Council?

This is indeed a dogs breakfast of a mess and the people left to pick up the pieces (and the air pollution) are the residents living in Netherton, Litherland, Crosby and Seaforth.

The present consultation on a road only solution needs to be brought to an end and only reconsidered when every possible rail freight possibility has been put in place.

A5036/Rimrose Valley – formal road consultation about to start

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Here’s what Highways England are up to over the highly contentious project to provide increased road capacity to Liverpool 2/Seaforth Docks – see link to and extract from the Highways England web site below:-

roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a5036-port-of-liverpool-access/

Progress report

We have been working hard to complete our economic and environmental assessments.

We have used our findings from these assessments, as well as the feedback received during the public awareness exhibitions in February 2016, to develop the options which we will consult on shortly.

The options are:

option A – upgrading the existing A5036 road with junction improvements
option B – a new dual carriageway bypass through the Rimrose Valley

What next?

We will be launching the 6 week public consultation on the shortlisted options in January 2017. During the consultation period, we’d like to hear your views on the options. The consultation will help us further refine options and select the best performing option to take forward to the next stage of design. This will be your opportunity to tell us what you think of the proposals, what works, what concerns you may have, and give us any local or specialist knowledge.

Links to the consultation documents, as well as details explaining how to respond, will be available here from 16 January 2017.

Once the consultation has closed in February 2017, we will analyse all responses and compile them into a consultation report summarising the feedback received. We will then refine the option designs, incorporating the comments provided where practicable and complete our assessment work.

We will then announce the preferred route option for the A5036 Port of Liverpool Access scheme in spring 2017.

This of course follows hot on the heels of SCAR (Sefton Communities Against Roadbuilding) being launched. My recent posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/12/09/launch-of-scar-to-fight-road-building-plans-to-access-port-of-liverpool/

I don’t think there are surprises in the latest Highways England announcement but it is clearly going to ratchet up community concerns in Litherland, Netherton and Seaforth about this most controversial of issues.