Southport – Its Indoor Market – What goes around comes…….

In my latter days as a Sefton Councillor I opposed the rebuild of Southport Indoor Market, indeed my Lib Dem Council Group did too. It was pushed through via a Tory/Lab coalition on the then balanced council. We Lib’s said it was not a wise project and that we felt the rebuild would not be the economic success which was at that time being promoted. It seems our concerns were well placed.

The BBC has an article on its web site about the current situation of the market – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-49045174

I mentioned the rebuild of Southport Indoor Market a while back when Sefton Council bought Bootle Strand Shopping Center and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/29/sefton-council-will-it-be-buying-more-shopping-centers-in-the-borough/

Councils buying up retail buildings/shopping centers seems to be all the rage these days as they desperately try to combat the demise of high street retail and on an emotional level you can see what they are trying to do. However, from a public policy perspective the buying up of shopping centers, indoor markets etc. must be highly dubious and financially very risky.

I never thought that a rebuilt Indoor Market for Southport would be financially sustainable as a retail operation and sadly my fears seem to have been proved right. Likewise Sefton Council buying the Strand Shopping Centre never looked to me to be anything other than a risky short term fix to a complicated set of economic/regeneration challenges in Bootle.

I get that when retail is doing well the rents may well outstrip all the costs of being a property developer and that good returns can be made but the retail market is very much like a big dipper – big highs and big lows.

That property developers are backing off/delaying investing further in shopping centers (Maghull and Kirkby come to mind locally at present) and are willing to off load such retail developments onto local authorities is telling. If the experts can’t make the books balance satisfactorily how on earth are inexperienced councils going to do it? Yes, maybe councils are willing to simply break even but that is a dangerous approach in itself as decent profits are needed in the good years to help smooth out the bad years and the ongoing cost of maintenance.

My head still says that apart from in exceptional circumstances (Kirkby may well be such a circumstance) council’s should be very wary of thinking they can be successful property developers. The pages of Private Eye have been full of such failures for many years.

Bootle – Pugh lambasts Council over yet more money public being thrown at Strand Shopping Center

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

Following the recent news that Sefton Council intends to throw another £3m+ of public money at the Strand Shopping Center in Bootle the Leader of the opposition on the Council, Cllr. John Pugh has this to say:-

“Having burdened us with £32 M pounds of debt buying the asset, Sefton Council wants to spend another £3.I million pounds this year on their new toy to enable councillors to play “shops”.

The council should concentrate on its day job and stop pretending it’s a player in the risky retail market.

The fact that a year after the purchase of the Strand, it’s having to fix the roof shows how far its out of its depth.

We were told extensive checks were made prior to purchase. Looking at the roof might have been a good idea!

This is embarrassing for the council and wasting the money of hard-pressed, council tax payers.”

Bootle – Sefton Council to spend another £3.15m on Strand Shopping Center

Rear view of Bootle New Strand shopping centre

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/sefton-council-revealed-plans-spend-14791514

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

So on top of an alleged £32.5m purchase price, financed via a loan, Sefton Council is now going to spend another £3.15m on this shopping center. And we all thought Sefton Council was short of a few bob! Not short of money for pet Bootle projects it seems.

Just when are communities like Formby, Maghull etc. going to see this level of investment in their retail facilities from Sefton Council? Maghull Square for example is down at heal and never seems to get the upgrade that it needs to smarten up its tired 1960’s exterior.

I ask these questions yet again. Why buy a Bootle shopping center but not shopping centers elsewhere in the Borough of Sefton? Why is Bootle’s shopping center a bigger priority than those elsewhere? You could also ask why a cash strapped Council thinks investing public money in shopping centers is such a high priority in any circumstances?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Bootle – A branch of UK Men’s Shed Association in The Strand Shopping Centre

Well this caught my eye in Bootle Strand Shopping Centre the other day, not least because I’m a man and I have a couple of sheds. So what’s this organisation all about? An internet search revealed this:-

Project Introduction

Bootle tool shed was set up to meet the needs of the ever growing group of 50+ men who live/work/visit in the Bootle area, (although our target group is older men we welcome any age or gender to get involved). There have been a number of studies done in recent years on the effects of social isolation on this group in particular, and these studies show the need for social groups to be set up around a common interest and that’s what we aim to do here, men generally find it more difficult to re-engage with those around them when they retire/are made redundant or if a marriage/relationship breaks down, or if they even become widowed.

We want to provide a place that offers friendly comfortable surroundings where people can come and get involved in number of activities including woodwork, DIY, furniture repair, painting, model making, or whatever the group or individual wants to do, it’s more about the inclusion than the activity, it’s this that improves the health and well being of our members.

At Bootle tool shed we want to try to encourage a mix of generations as studies have shown that the skill sharing of these mixed age groups is a great benefit to all, but this will be done on a sessional basis so those that want to get involved can and those that don’t have warning to steer clear, we are always open to suggestions for new activities and if we have the space and budget we will endeavor to see that it happens so please don’t be shy to suggest anything after all this is your space.

We run on a committee model like most other members of UK Men’s sheds association so if you feel like putting yourself forward for a role on our committee feel free to get in touch, we like to get involved with other community groups whether this is us building a bench for a seating area at the local community centre, or if you are a local group and you want us to build you some garden planters and the likes again just ask.

So now you know. Quite an eye opener.

A review of 2017 – The meanderings of a Liberal Blogger

12 months in 12 blog postings – click on each link to read the posting

January – Loss of my dear friend ‘Uncle Albert’:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/01/11/goodbye-uncle-albert/

February – Not being the Tory Party:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/02/22/is-labour-just-an-alternative-tory-party-for-those-who-consider-themselves-to-be-working-class/

March – Developing land north of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/24/lydiate-land-north-of-turnbridge-road-our-response-to-planning-application-for-34-dwellings/

April – Maghull’s parks, their maintenance and money

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/04/06/maghull-land-money-maintaining-old-hall-park/

May – Buying the Strand Shopping Centre in secretive deal

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/05/03/bootle-sefton-council-buys-back-the-strand-shopping-centre-for-how-much-thoughso-it-seems/

June – Bugger Moderation!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/06/20/moderation-bugger-that-for-a-lark-im-too-angry-about-whats-happening-to-the-uk/

July – Youth Coffee Bar gone, CAB gone – Labour’s regressive policies!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/07/29/maghull-youth-coffee-bar-gone-cab-gone-retired-bowlers-given-huge-price-hike-long-established-cricket-club-with-nowhere-to-play-just-whats-the-town-council-up-to/

August – Those who take land out of Green Belt then protest about its development!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/08/19/maghulls-vast-urban-extension-labour-blasts-development-on-land-their-local-plan-identified-for-development-you-could-not-make-this-up/

September – Rimrose Valley Country Park and the Sefton Council’s part in it’s demise

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/09/30/rimrose-valley-what-does-sefton-council-want-and-that-could-well-be-a-very-different-answer-to-what-it-says-it-wants/

October – Police move into Maghull TH but at what a cost!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/17/maghull-the-math-behind-the-police-station-move-to-maghull-town-hall/

November – Ex Southport MP John Pugh wins Sefton Council seat by an electoral landslide

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/11/03/southport-john-pugh-takes-55-of-votes-cast-to-win-dukes-ward-by-election/

December – Maghull North Station progress

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/12/19/maghull-north-station-construction-progress-over-4-months/

So another year comes to a close. Not a good one, indeed another poor one as the UK slips further into the Brexit mire or is that jumps over the Brexit cliff? Either way no good will come of it but a lot of bad most certainly will.

Personally I lost more good friends in 2017 which is always sad yet in looking back at my posting about ‘Uncle Albert’ I can only feel that whilst I lost him I gained so much from knowing him.

As for 2018 the omens are not good and they will remain poor so long as Jeremy Corbyn remains wedded to Teresa May’s Brexit.

Scrambler bikes – The menace that is never far away

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/man-arrested-after-pedestrian-hit-14063772

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

And here we see the sad consequences of irresponsible scrambler bike riding.

It’s far from being a new problem though, indeed it goes back 25 years or more at least. In my years as a councillor one consistent complaint that has come my way, especially in the summer months, has been the menace of scrambler bikes on the Cheshire Line Path/Trans Pennine Trail, on The Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path and on Jubilee Woods between Maghull and Sefton Village.

But now they are all over our roads and one was even driven through Bootle Strand Shopping Centre not so long ago!

In my experience the Police are quick to react to information about where the bikes are being stored because seizing them at such places is far safer than trying to catch them when they are being driven at speed.

I recall one occasion when a sharp eyed resident spotted a van that regularly parked up near the River Alt on Bridges Lane and from which scrambler bikes were unloaded. The boy and girls in blue dealt with that one.

My advice is always tell the police when you see a scrambler bike being driven erratically as it helps them put together a picture of where they appearing. Even better if you know of where any of them are being stored, please ring Crime Stoppers.

It’s so sad that an innocent pedestrian has been run down by an irresponsible scrambler bike driver.