Scousers cheer Metro Mayor (but it’s not their own)

It’s been a little surreal over the last couple of days as Scousers have been piling onto social media to cheer along on Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor Andy Burnham! Yes you’ve read that right Scousers cheering a Manc’, when anything to do with Manchester is usually treated with utter distain probably because of football loyalties in the city of the Beatles where the main religion is indeed football be it red or blue.

But the Manc’ Mayor is actually all but a Scouser himself having been born in Aintree Village/Old Roan on Merseyside, so I guess that allows Liverpudlians to cheer him on even though he’s working for the enemy so to speak.

Personally, I’m no fan of Burham at all as I recall him, when in government, having a hand in NHS privatisation, something he seems to oppose these days. I also see him as a populist politician who will shift his ground to follow the crowd. However, presently he seems to be a bit of a hero in some folks minds because he’s been taking on Johnson’s Government when here on Merseyside/in Liverpool City Region Burham’s Labour colleagues are being accused of capitulating in the same Covid 19 Tier 3 lockdown fight in the very first round.

Steve Rotheram, the former Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, is the Liverpool City Region Mayor and he seems to find himself very much in Burnham’s shadow. Of course Burham is media savvy indeed he seems to be the darling of the media who rush to him for quotes on anything remotely to do with anything in Greater Manchester or even the North West of England. Poor Rotheram is clearly not so comfortable surrounded by the press and being out shone by Burnham must surely be getting him down.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that public health is the loser in the spat between northern leaders and Johnson’s Government over the detail of Covid 19 Tier 3 lockdown measures and the compensation which closing businesses will or won’t be getting. At the very time we need unity of purpose at all levels of governance we end up with a party political ding dong.

Interestingly, these issues have not just been exercising the minds of Labour Council Leaders, MP’s and Metro Mayors as plenty of Tory MP’s and Council Leaders in the north have also been picking a fight with Johnson and Sunak. Indeed, I hear that Labour allowed the northern Tories to have a good old go at Johnson’s lot before they joined in. It seems that Lancashire has gained a ‘better’ deal than Merseyside because they’ve been offered a better (better than what?) business compensation package and also their gyms will not have to close. The latter is very much a moot point because if gyms are seen by scientists as being Covid 19 spreaders then it’s debatable whether that aspect is part of a better deal or simply a bad decision. I know many folk think gyms are key to better mental health so them being open outweighs the negatives/challenges of them being open. I’m no scientist so am left wondering whether the trade-off’s are right or wrong and I guess that goes for many of us watching this most public of fallouts.

But what of Greater Manchester’s still to be done deal? What will Comrade Burnham ‘win’ for his own patch or, together with his Tory Lancashire colleagues, has he shown up how Merseyside’s Labour Leaders fell into line following the first Government punch?

More importantly, as this Covid 19 battle is seemingly going to last for a long time, through various phases have ‘lessons been learned’ (a favourite politician’s phrase) about putting public health first rather than political point scoring? Answers on a postcard……………….

River Alt – Everything drains into around these parts

Following all the heavy rain of recent days it’s sadly no surprise that the River Alt is struggling to to deal with all the water flowing into it from the land and other drainage brooks, streams and ditches. In turn this means flood alerts for parts of Maghull as the river water rises.

The first shot below was taken yesterday from the aqueduct which takes the Leeds Liverpool Canal over the Alt near to Aintree Village:-

Just back towards Melling there’s a runoff for the canal to keep it’s levels down and I could see it was in use. I’m guessing that this runoff also goes, eventually, into the River Alt.

The second shot below was also taken yesterday where the A59 (Northway) crosses the Alt in Maghull:-

Then we move on to today and the consequential flooding of Sefton Lane/Bridges Lane on the Maghull/Sefton Village boundary. Here the Alt flows under Bridges Lane and this is how it looks:-

At face value the river looks to be coping until you move a little further east along Bridge Lane to where Dovers Brook is crossed by Bridges Ln/Sefton Ln. It looks like this:-

The first shot is looking north with the adjacent houses on Sefton Lane* clearly visible. The second shot looks like the Dovers Brook has been halted by a stone wall but in fact it’s the bridge under Sefton Ln where the arch of it has been covered by the floodwaters. The houses here are being affected as is sadly often the case when Dovers Brook backs up.

My understanding is that the Alt being so high stops Dovers Brook from emptying into it, hence the backing up. Although there’s nothing new about this problem (I recall Sefton Ln flooding here when I was a lad living on the Lane in the 1960’s /1970’s) it’s all the more frustrating that after many years the problem has not been resolved. You have to feel for the residents of this isolated row of houses and elsewhere along Dovers Brook when it over-tops.

With more rain anticipated tomorrow, well I don’t need to say any more do I………

*Sefton Ln/Bridges Ln has already been closed during the present foul weather although it was passable this afternoon. However, this is what it looked like in December 2015 when the section of road between Dovers Brook and the River Alt was a river in itself:-

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

Aintree – Removal of Copy Lane Cheshire Lines railway bridge

I came across this photo (see below) on the Mersey Railways group of Facebook and it is credited to Phil Hughes:-

At this point the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway and the Liverpool – Ormskirk – Preston Line paralleled each other between Aintree and Old Roan Stations. The other line can be seen behind the crane removing the Cheshire Lines bridge.

What I don’t know is the date when the bridge was removed – 1960’s?

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Lydiate – More on that strange public footpath issue at Sandy Lane Park

Footpath sign at Sandy Ln – There’s a similar one off Moss Ln

I’ve blogged a couple of times recently about Lydiate Footpath No.14 which links Sandy Lane to Moss Lane.

To recap, its become an issue following Lydiate Parish Council creating a fenced dog-run area a few weeks back which means that footpath users effectively have to walk through the dog-run.

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is somewhere to the left where the corner fence post is

Attempts to define exactly where the public footpath is have come to nought (so far) as it’s not detailed on the deeds for Sandy Lane Park. This could mean that the path is actually on the neighbouring framer’s field and this angle is now being checked out by Sefton Council’s Footpath’s Officer who regulates public rights of way in the Borough.

Another strand to this odd story is that if the definitive route has not been recorded on any land deeds (which logically it should have been) then the back-stop is using a piece of law which allows Sefton Council to define the right of way route based on what has been used by the public for a 20 year period. It won’t take long for those familiar with the footpath to realise that the edge of Sandy Lane Park is what has been used as the footpath for many, many years. Certainly I’ve lived in Maghull & Lydiate since 1968 and I’ve never known the route of the path to be anywhere else. Here’s a link to the appropriate law provided via the Ramblers Association:-

www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/improve-the-path-network/how-to-claim-an-unrecorded-right-of-way.aspx

A few years back, when I was a Borough Councillor for Aintree Village, I helped with a campaign to gain a public right of way from Aintree Lane (at the side of Melling Road) through to the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath using this 20 year rule as the basis for the claim. That battle was won and I use that path regularly to gain access to the canal towpath when I’m cycling locally. Here’s a photo which includes a part of that path:-

The new public right of way is the path which turns off the towpath to the right in this photo

More news as things develop…….

The last photo is amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Aintree & Melling – Pen portraits of a community’s fallen heroes – 1914 – 1917

No sooner had I blogged about Lydiate’s fallen in World War 1 than Bill Honeyman got in touch to tell me about a similar project covering Aintree and Melling undertaken by two friends of mine Bill Borland and Peter Gill, what’s more Bill supplied me with a copy of their excellent booklet. Here’s a link to the Lydiate booklet blog:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/07/lydiate-and-its-great-war-1914-1918-a-lovely-remembrance-booklet/

The deaths of 81 servicemen from Aintree & Melling are attributed to the Great War

Many of the deaths are commemorated on memorials at St. Giles Church Aintree and St Thomas’ Church Melling including Henry Mattocks who died aged 21 on 13th October 1915. He worked at Melling Potteries and was a member of the Melling Brass Band. His name together with those of Michael May & Thomas Clark caught my attention because they all worked at in the now long gone Melling Pottery business. Some years ago when I was the leader of Sefton Council I was given a pamphlet-type book written by Irene Birch about her mother Bertha (Mattocks) Birch called A Melling Lassie “Pottery Days” Melling’s Scottish Heritage. In it on page 13 is an undated photo of Melling Pottery Band and I can’t help but wonder if Henry Mattocks is in that photo.

The vast majority of what we now know as Aintree Village was agricultural land back around the time of the Great War but I spotted a Richard Kirby who died aged just 19 on 14th November 1916. He was the son of Myles and Ellen Kirkby (nee Quick) of Aintree Lane. He died at the Somme and is buried at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, Montauban, France.

This booklet is another great addition to the local history of the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough. My congratulations to the authors and thanks to Bill Honeyman for providing me with a copy.

We will remember them

Maghull – The narrowest cyclepath/footway you can imagine – A59 – Northway

Cycling or indeed walking around Switch Island to go to say Aintree Village or ASDA from Maghull is a bit of a performance because you have to go around the island in an anti-clockwise direction and out of your way.

This huge vehicle junction where 3 dual carriageways, 1 single carriageway road and 2 motorways join has evolved over time rather than been planned or so it seems. It’s far from being pedestrian or cyclist friendly, indeed its a dangerous place altogether as the numerous weekly vehicle accidents prove. Highways England are you listening?

However, if you know your way around it you can just about survive walking, cycling or driving but one odd quirk of the planning of the pedestrian/cycling route is on the A59/Northway as you leave Maghull heading for Switch Island.

A cycle/pedestrian crossing was installed over both separate carriageways of the A59 some years back so that you are taken to a path alongside the northbound traffic flow. Trouble is this path is very narrow, yet it is supposed to be for pedestrians and cyclists. It is not possible for one cyclist and one pedestrian to pass each other without one standing aside.

I have raised this matter with Sefton Council and have noted that in recent weeks all kinds of spray painted makings have been placed along the path which seem to indicate that some work is going to take place. Not sure what the work is but I hope this completely inadequate path is going to be widened.

Here’s a shot of the crossing and a view towards Switch Island. The path in question runs alongside the northbound carriageway where you can see the dog walker. The narrowness of the path can also be seen:-

Click on the photo to enlarge it