The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above
Its always difficult to know where to start and what to leave out of a review of a year just past but here goes with 5 memorable issues for me in 2015.
Loss of the 311 Bus – Thanks Arriva! – This was a big issue for Lydiate in particular and it now means that Lydiate folk can only get to Ormskirk, if they don’t have a car, by getting the 231 bus to Maghull station and then a train to our local market town.
I worked alongside local residents during the summer who raised a petition to try to save the 311 but Arriva were not for turning to quote the Iron Lady and the bus was lost at the end of August. By the way the Bus Deregulation Act that brought in private company control of most bus routes was a Thatcher era move.
Boxing Day Floods – Well they are fresh in memory and the subject of recent postings on this blog site so just to say that I hope those affected by them are recovering from them.
Building on Green Belt & high grade agricultural land – Sadly, Sefton Council continued in 2015 to plough ahead with its proposals to concrete over vast swathes of land especially in the East Parishes part of the Borough. They are looking to allow massive urban extensions to be built around Maghull and Lydiate together with other significant Green Belt building sites being identified across the Borough.
As 2015 closed a planning inspector was reviewing Sefton’s Local Plan which details the Labour-run Council’s environmental destruction. So frustrating that few local decision makers seem to value our exceptionally high grade agricultural land which grows the food that we eat. Where will our children grow their food?
Maghull’s Stafford Moreton Youth Centre & former Maghull Library sites – This must surely be a candidate for farce of the year as it tangled Labour up in knots all of their own making. To recap, Labour-run Sefton Council put the side by side sites out for sale by tender. When the bids came in the Council’s all-Labour Cabinet took the highest bid. Labour back bench councillors protested (well after the horse had bolted) saying they wanted a pause in the process to see what the community wanted to do with the site or words to that effect. Their Labour Cabinet bosses said no we are selling it, tough. But the day before the Cabinet confirmed its original decision Labour back benchers launched a community consultation via the Champion Newspaper! The consultation lasted less than 24 hours and was pointless anyway as their Labour bosses were determined to sell the site. Later we found that Netto are likely to build a supermarket on the site. What a carry on.
But then as December crept up on us all too quickly I was told that a former local chap called Henry Stafford Moreton had either donated the land and or money to have the Stafford Moreton Youth Centre built in the 1960’s. This being the case (and I am trying to verify it) then surely our Labour councillors should not be selling the land off and stuffing the money in Sefton Council’s back pocket but they should be investing the proceeds of the sale of the Youth Centre part of the site in youth facilities in Maghull. 2016 will determine whether or not Henry Stafford Moreton’s donation of land or money (assuming that it did indeed happen) will be wisely reinvested in Maghull’s youth or otherwise. Watch this space.
The demise of Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar – In August it shut its doors and I am not aware of them reopening. How sad and how ironic that later in 2015 we encountered the sale of Stafford Moreton Youth Centre for a Netto to be built. Youth facilities have certainly taken a bashing in Maghull.
When Nickie Smith had to pack in helping to run the the Maghull Town Hall Coffee Bar earlier this year she did so because she realised that Maghull Council’s heart was no longer in project. In all my wildest dreams I did not see Labour’s disinterest in youth facilities coming when they took control of Maghull Town Council in 2011. Ironically, the facility had previously been visited by Burscough Parish Council and Knowsley Parish Council (both Labour -run) as they wanted to see what it was all about and because they also had an interest in youth facilities like the then Lib Dem-run Maghull Town Council.
Well that’s probably enough grumbling about 2015 and let’s hope that 2016 holds better hopes out for our environment, our young people and local transport amongst other things.
Another aspect of the recent flooding which I covered in my Radio Merseyside interview yesterday is the barmy quest of Sefton Council, via its Local Plan, to build thousands of new 3 and 4 bedroom houses on land which will potentially cause more flooding for local communities like Maghull & Lydiate.
Not only is all the earmarked land high grade agricultural on which we grow our food (and of course its Green Belt) but it will also in my view have a further negative effect on drainage issues around Maghull, Lydiate, Formby and elsewhere in the low lying Borough of Sefton.
I wonder what notice of such concerns the Planning Inspector, who is presently reviewing Sefton’s draft Local Plan, will take of such concerns. Was the inspector out and about in flooded Maghull & Lydiate on Boxing Day taking the inability of the local watercourses to cope into account? Will Sefton Council sober up and realise their mad plan to concrete over vast swathes of land could well make future flooding events even worse?