Jim Sharpe RIP

My friend Jim Sharpe has sadly passed away in Aintree Hospital after a short illness unconnected with our present health crisis.

Jim will be known to many people across Sefton & West Lancashire for his ‘One Man and His Dog’ column in the Champion Newspaper.

I am not aware of many pictures of Jim as he was always stood beside the press photographer (usually Marin Snape who sadly passed on himself not so long ago) but here he is in 2014 caught on camera press notebook in hand with Cllr. Edie Pope of Lydiate Parish Council.

I blogged about Jim back in 2017 in a posting associated with him being interviewed by Maghull Radio. Here’s a link to it:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/20/maghull-an-unexpected-contributor-to-a-maghull-radio-show-about-local-journalist-jim-sharpe/

Looking back on that 2017 posting it seems to say pretty much it all about Jim as I knew him but here are a couple of addition anecdotes. Jim’s politics were very much of the right and mine are very much of the left and yet I recall him being delighted when I became leader of Sefton Council; I knew his congratulations were genuine and I very much appreciated them. Jim and I would still chat from time to time in recent years indeed he phoned me about a month ago saying he was bored and wanted to a chat with me. We talked for half an hour or so about politics, life, the lockdown, his boat* on the Norfolk Broads and former councillors & other community minded folk we had known over the years.

He also kept in touch with former councillors Andrew Blackburn and Dave (Mr Lydiate) Russell. Jim would dine with Dave & Pam Russell at their house from time to time.

I know that his neighbour’s had been doing his shopping for him during the lockdown and he’d told me how much he appreciated that help when we last spoke.

As I said in my 2017 posting Jim was a journalist of the old school. At his best he was the people’s eyes and ears on the shoulders of those in power on the council locally. But he also liked good news stories about his home town of Maghull which he’d lived in for the vast majority of his life apart from a few years in and around the Colchester area working in public relations for British Telecom.

I will miss Jim because he was a decent chap, a good journalist and he cared deeply for Maghull the town I lived in for 43 years. RIP Jim

* Jim told me some years ago that he was going to leave his boat ‘Manxman’ to the YMCA in Birkenhead because they’d done so much for him.

PS – My good friend Andrew Blackburn has dug out this photo of a Maghull Mayoral charity fundraising walk in 1994 and Jim is there with us with his dog of that time too. It was taken outside the Running Horses Pub in Lydiate – Thanks Andrew

Maghull – More on its challenging land drainage issues

My posting of a few days ago (see link below) regarding the consequences of heavy rain locally was picked up by our local Champion newspaper and in turn a resident contacted me with regard for the potential of flooding in the future associated with Whinney Brook/Dovers Brook.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/02/24/maghull-heavy-rain-reminds-us-of-the-potential-peril-of-building-on-agricultural-land-locally/

To explain I’ve taken a few photos of where 3 brooks/streams combine yards away from the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail on the western edge of the Town:-

Cheshire Lines Path crossing Dovers Brook & looking towards Meadway/ Old Racecourse Road

Footbridge across Dovers Brook where it is joined by Whinney Brook at the far corner of the Maghull High School site.

The confluence of Whinney Brook and Dovers Brook as seen from the blue bridge in the 2nd photo. Whinney Brook crosses Maghull east to west.

Another confluence just few yards further back up Dovers Brook – the stream on the left has come down from behind Fouracres.

The photos above were taken after the recent floodwaters had subsided on 29th February. There are of course other tributary streams joining Dovers Brook and eventually about two thirds of a mile north of the 1st photo Dovers Brook spills into the River Alt.

Looking back towards Bridges Lane and Sefton Church from the confluence of Dovers Brook and the River Alt. This photo is from 2013

Having said that the problem, faced at times of heavy rain, is the long-standing one of the Alt being too high for Dovers Brook to empty into it, which in turn backs up Dovers Brook to flood. As I’ve said previously, there’s nothing new about this problem it’s just that we see it happening more often these days. The next photo shows what happens when things get really bad:-

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

The purpose of this posting has been to try to illustrate the problems on the western side of Maghull due to its low lying land and the drainage system that, other than in flood conditions, keeps in drained. The worry of the resident who contacted me most recently is that with future rainfall expected to more regular and even heavier will the Maghull area suffer bigger flooding events especially as more agricultural land is built upon (as part of Sefton Council’s Local Plan) which presently soaks up much of the rainwater.

Of course I’m no drainage engineer or climatologist but you won’t be surprised that I share such worries……..

Lydiate – Remembering the 96 and the 96 trees planted in memory of the fallen

Lydiate in Flower volunteers have recently been discussing how the part of Lambshear Lane Park where the 96 trees were planted by Lydiate Parish Council in memory of the fallen Liverpool fans at Hillsborough can be tidied up. I recalled the trees being planted and searched my back catalogue of blog postings. I found this from 2014:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/05/17/lydiate-parish-council-to-plant-96-trees-in-memory-of-hillsborough-victims/

I then went back to Dave Russell who as Chairperson of the Parish Council back in 2014 proposed that they be planted. Here’s what Dave had to say:-

‘The trees were planted in 2014 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. The trees were provided as whips, the groundsmen planted them without any occasion, as it was hoped to do something when we were satisfied that they had all taken. My idea was to involve the football teams who play on Sandy Lane, schools and the general community.’

Alas, by 2015 I was no longer on the Parish Council and this did not happen. It would be good to see something done.

We also planted an extension of the trees at Sandy Lane, people came and planted trees in memory of loved ones, it was agreed by the Council to call the area ‘The Jubilee Wood’, it would also be good if this area could be tidied, and perhaps its name erected?’

If anyone out there would like to get involved in any work that the LinF volunteers do with these 2 areas of the parks where the trees were planted please let me know. I’ll pass on the contcat details to LinF.

My thanks to Keith Jones for the lead to this posting

Maghull – Alan Charnock RIP

Having read in this week’s edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion that Alan Charnock had passed away my thoughts went back to 2012 when I nominated him for Maghull’s Civic Award. Here’s the nomination detail:-

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Nomination of Mr Alan R Charnock for Maghull’s Civic Award

Alan has been involved in helping to run Maghull & Lydiate Homewatch for many years and has been its Chairman/Leader/Coordinator for a long time. He cares about our community and always tries his best to help and support it.

If the Council chooses to honour Alan with its Civic Award it will also be saying a big thank you to the many volunteers who have worked alongside Alan over many years to try to make our community safer and raise awareness of the things that householders can do to make their homes more secure. Presently there are 4,618 households that are members of Homewatch across Maghull & Lydiate; a significant proportion of our local community.

Homewatch is a vital part in making Maghull a pleasant community where people want to come alive and we can be rightly proud of the work of our local group.

Under Alan’s Chairmanship Maghull & Lydiate Homewatch has thrived and unlike many other similar groups operating under Homewatch/Neighbourhood Watch banner they have consistently and regularly delivered Homewatch newsletters to as many local properties as they can year in year out.

Alan has often approached councillors for help and advice or sometimes funding to assist with a Homewatch project such as Smartwater protection for the homes of elderly residents.

By the time the Civic Award Committee meets to decide on this year’s award Alan will have retired as our Homewatch Chairman at his Association’s October AGM.

But Alan has been involved in other community issues as well. His long term friend John Johnson (himself a local C of E lay preacher, Scout Master and volunteer for Sefton based charity Autism Initiatives) tells me that:-

* Alan has previously fund raised for Guide Dogs for Blind in Maghull by organising raffles, sponsored walks etc. with at least 8 guide dogs being handed over. The former Everest Pub displayed photo’s of Alan’s endeavours for this charity.

* Alan successfully worked to try to resolve problems with the A59 underpass.

* Alan is a life Governor of the RNLI

I think that to present him with Maghull’s Civic Award in his retiring year from Homewatch would be a fitting tribute to someone who really does fit into the ‘Mr Maghull’ category for his hard work and dedication to our community.

Cllr. Tony Robertson
1st October 2012

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History tells us that Alan did indeed win the Civic Award that year and his name is on the honours board in the Council Chamber of Maghull Town Hall.

I also recall Alan, as does Keith Page, from his Friday evening visits with a group of friends to the Derby Arms Pub where we often had a laugh and a joke with him about many things. And talking of pubs Alan would regularly have a meal at the Stanley Arms and I know how the staff there looked after him especially in his latter years when he was far from well.

RIP Alan, ‘a quiet guy who just got on with what he had to do and was respected in the community’ to quote his friend John Johnson who gave me background information in 2012 that I included in the Civic Award nomination.

Lydiate – Wrong person identified over pavement parking

I covered a story that first saw the light of day in the Liverpool Echo recently about the problems that parking vehicles on pavements causes for those with disabilities etc. The matter was also covered in the Aintree & Maghull Champion. Here’s a link my blog on the matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/01/lydiate-maghull-pavement-parking-and-people-with-disabilities-dont-mix/

Since all this publicity and the fact that the person who originally raised the issue was said to live in Lydiate folks have seemingly jumped to the wrong conclusion i.e. they have assumed it was raised by former Lydiate Parish Councillor Tony Fenton who’s a well know local wheelchair user – IT WAS NOT. And before anyone asks who then?, I have absolutely no idea.

Time for NHS to step up & provide state of the art facilities for Maghull & District

My media release to the Champion newspaper following yet another NHS letdown statement in the Aintree & Maghull edition of the paper dated 11th October 2017

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The former Lib Dem Leader of Sefton Council Tony Robertson, who now sits on Lydiate Parish Council, has stepped into the debate about a Health and Wellbeing Centre that is being proposed for the Town.

Tony says he is angry that after numerous failed attempts to upgrade local NHS facilities little if anything has changed at all. He sights the fact that when Meadows Leisure Centre was being planned it was designed to incorporate a GP practice which would have had on-site health, fitness and wellbeing facilities provided by the Leisure Centre. Sadly the NHS walked away from that opportunity and Maghull Library moved into the space the NHS could have had.

“But it does not end’ there says Tony “When Lydiate Village Centre was being planned the NHS was invited to become a partner with Lydiate Parish Council to deliver health services from the Centre. Again the NHS decided not to take up the opportunity.”

“And to put the tin lid on it the Champion has recently been asked to run an article saying that the Health and Wellbeing facility that looked like it may be coming to the Town is now only a vague possibility. This is deja vu for me because when I was given the green light a few years back from a senior Sefton Council Officer to the effect that the NHS were going to rebuild Maghull Health Centre and provide a Walk-In facility within the new building the NHS said ‘oh no we are not’ and they walked away. The Champion was asked to print a retraction back then!”

“Only recently I backed Independent Cllr. Matt Gannon in his attempt to get an NHS Walk-In facility back on track for Maghull. Matt was right to try to get this long promised but never delivered facility back in the mind of the NHS service commissioners.”

“I said at the time Sefton Council backed the opening of the Litherland Town Hall NHS Walk-In facility many years ago that I would support it on the basis that a similar facility was also subsequently provided for Sefton’s East Parishes (Maghull, Melling, Lydiate, Aintree Village & Sefton and Lunt Villages) – we are still waiting 10 years or more on!”

“Too many promises have been made, too many opportunities have been missed and my view is that those who plan for the location of NHS facilities in Sefton, be they the former Primary Care Trusts or the present Clinical Commissioning Groups, have let this part of the Borough down badly. It’s time to put that right rather than keep telling us that the answer is always NO!”

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My statement published by the newspaper in its edition of 7th November 2017.