A Royal Wedding and an FA Cup Final – A good time to bury fracking bad news

Click on the photo to above to enlarge it

Fracking is a hugely controversial environmental issue. What’s more its happening on Sefton Borough’s doorstep and this proposed relaxation of planning rules is clearly aimed at smoothing the process of getting it started across the UK.

Of course Fracking is also a vision of the past because its a fossil fuel and not sustainable energy. The more we use fossil fuels the faster we accelerate global warming and make the lives of future generations more difficult.

But of course we all know all this so the big issue here was to bury the matter whilst eyes were turned on a royal wedding and the FA Cup Final. Some things never change and Governments of all colours do it because it works and we are easily distracted form the really important things.

With thanks to Cliff Mainey and Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Melling – Work starts on the M58 Motorway Junction

Monday the 5th February saw work starting on land clearance prior to full construction works to make the present ‘Ashworth’ junction (Junction 1) of the M58 a full two-sided junction.

My old Council colleague Cliff Mainey will be pleased as he launched the campaign to get this work done quite some years ago.

The work yesterday seemed to be tree clearance, ironically trees that would have been planted when the the M58 was built (around 1980) and when Giddygate Lane was diverted and made an Access Only gated road. The photo below was taken on Monday from Giddygate Lane looking back towards the motorway junction through the trees:-

Giddygate Lane is now to be diverted a second time to facilitate the full motorway junction which should have been built back in 1980. Informed opinion says that the half-junction was a financial saving in 1980 or more appropriately (with the benefit of of hindsight) a big error of judgement which is costing a lot more to correct now.

Melling – That soon to be corrected M58 motorway junction by Ashworth Hospital

As I have posted about previously that weird Junction 1 on the M58 which you can only access to travel east or exit from the east is finally to be made a full junction.

I recall my old Sefton Councillor chum and former Mayor of the Borough, Cliff Mainey, banging on about the need for this work to be done at least 10 years ago. A previous posting of mine about this matter is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/06/30/m58-junction-1-ashworth-junction-planning-application-made/

Yesterday Sefton Council, who are pursuing the project on behalf of Highways England, held an information session at Meadows Leisure Centre in Maghull so I popped along to learn more about it.

I learned that the project has a cost benefit ration of around 9 to 1 i.e. for every £1 invested in the project it should return about £9 into the local economy. If memory serves this was similar to the CBR of Brooms Cross Road which was constructed recently.

I understand that Sefton Council finally took the plunge and started to lobby seriously for the project about 4 years ago.

So what seems to have been a money saving (why else would it have been left a one sided junction?) half-done job at Junction 1 is finally to be corrected. Clearly money was not saved @1980ish when the Motorway was being built as it is having to be spent now. Oh and Cliff you were right and they finally listened to you.

Click on the graphic above to enlarge it

Merseyrail – Who pays industrial action costs? You may be surprised by the answer from the RMT union

Readers of this blog site will know that I have been keeping a close eye on the industrial dispute between the RMT union and Merseyrail/Merseytravel which has been caused by Merseytravel’s decision to confirm an order for new trains that are intended to be run without train guards.

One issue which I have not covered so far is who pays for the strikes. What I mean is who pays financial compensation to Merseyrail (the private sector train operating company) because they are unable to run a full train service on strike days? Here’s an explanation from the RMT union. My understanding is that Merseyrail agrees that this is the case but if I have it wrong please let me know.

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

RMT Press Office:

Merseyside tax payers and passengers to foot bill for Merseyrail revenue loss during Guard strikes.

RAIL UNION RMT today exposes documents which reveal that Merseyside tax payers and passengers are to foot the bill for revenue loss as a result of strike action on Merseyrail over plans to remove Guards from trains.

Dutch state owned operator Merseyrail will not lose a penny thanks to a deal signed with Liverpool politicians.

Instead, astonishingly, a clause in the agreement between Merseyrail and the controlling transport authority Merseytravel has shown that Merseyrail – which is which is also owned by Corporate giant SERCO – are protected from any revenue loss caused by industrial action.

The “Force Majeure” clause in the agreement says:

“The Operator shall not be responsible for any failure to perform its obligations …. to the extent that, such failure is caused by or is due to any Force Majeure Event…

“and such an event includes

“any strike or other industrial action by any or all of the employees of the Operator.”

The latest revelation in what is fast becoming a Merseytravel new trains’ scandal comes on top of the news that the profit share agreement signed by Merseytravel means Merseyrail are taking up to a quarter of all passenger fares in profits while not paying a penny for the new trains.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“First, we learn that Liverpool’s politicians signed a deal with Merseyrail that allows the company to skim a quarter of passenger fares in profit whilst paying nothing for new trains and instead getting rid of train guards.”

“Now we find out that another part of the deal they have signed is that Merseyrail are protected from any losses as a result of industrial action and instead hard pressed Merseyside tax payers and passengers will have to pay for Merseyrail’s war on our Guards.”

“There is a growing stench of scandal surrounding the new Merseyrail trains in which the fare payer loses out, the taxpayer lose money, passengers lose the protection of train guards, guards lose their jobs and the only winner is Dutch owned Merseyrail”

“We are calling for an immediate inquiry into this whole murky deal”

Ends

Notes
The Force Majeure clause is Clause 5.4 and can be found on pages 55 – 57 of the agreement.

So lets get this straight, Merseytravel the Labour-run public sector body orders trains without guards which causes this dispute. Then public money is used to compensate Merseyrail, the private sector train operating company, who will lose business due to the industrial action. So that’s how public money is spent then?……

With thanks to Cliff Mainey for the lead to this posting.

Wheres Ya Bin (lorry)? – Try looking at Maghull Town Hall

Now this is an odd story and I am not sure that I have all nuances of it, but here goes anyway with corrections and updates as they come to my or indeed your attention.

The story seems to start about 3 weeks back when the sign below started to appear in the car park of Maghull Town Hall on a Tuesday morning:-

The car parking at Meadows Leisure Leisure Centre and Maghull Town Hall can be rather tight at times, with there being more cars trying to park than there are spaces available. This space shortage leads to cars having to be parked half on/half off the access roads and this in turn narrows the access roads so that getting around the joint site can be a real pain if not impossible at really bad times.

This last Tuesday morning there were indeed cars parked half on/half off the access road but you would have expected there to be spaces just around the corner in front of and just past the Town Hall. However, the sign above was in effect cutting the amount of spaces available there in half.

But what was the event last Tuesday morning from 8am to 1pm and indeed, so it seems, every Tuesday morning now that causes half the car parking spaces to be closed? You will be surprised by the answer.

The following photos show why:-

Half of the Town Hall car park had been turned into a bin lorry parking area, although clearly some car drivers felt the need to use the closed to cars area – because there was nowhere else to park?

Former local councillor Cliff Mainey picked up on this rather odd situation and he tells me that the same thing may well be happening on the Monday mornings when the green bins are collected in the Maghull area.

Cliff’s view is that there is no need to turn the much in demand parking spaces at the Town Hall into a bin lorry park as just up the road, literally yards away, is the Maghull Salt Depot which like the bin lorries is run by Sefton Council. So why has Sefton Council asked Maghull Town Council to use the Town Hall car park to gather their bin lorries on a Tuesday and also possibly a Monday morning?

The car park has been there for years and the bins have also been emptied for years without the need to consider use of the Town Hall car park.

On the wider front the intention of both Maghull Town Council & Sefton Council when the Leisure Centre was opened in 2010 was to run the Town Hall and Leisure Centre as one seamless community facility despite the two buildings being under differing ownership. That aim seems to be slipping for reasons I can’t understand. Why connecting doors were even built into the project so that Leisure Centre users could easily park in the larger Town Hall car park and simply walk through the buildings to gain access to the Library and/or Fitness Suite. Oddly these connecting doors are locked at times – what’s that all about?

It will be interesting to see what happens now that Cliff has in effect said that using the car park to park bin lorries is not a sensible use of scarce parking places.

Maghull – Stafford Moreton Youth Centre demolished

My previous posting about the the demolition of this and the old Maghull Library refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/06/09/maghull-old-library-and-youth-centre-are-demolished/

Maghull's former Stafford Moreton Youth  Centre boarded up.

Maghull’s former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre boarded up.

The Youth Centre was a 1960’s building named after a prominent local councillor called Henry Stafford Moreton, indeed the adjacent Stafford Moreton Way is also named after him of course.

I did not know him as my time in local politics (starting in 1980) coincided roughly with him retiring from it. I do know his nephew Chris Bayliss though and Chris’s Uncle Frank Bayliss was also a local councillor during my early years on the council.

Many Maghull folk will have memories of attending the Youth Centre although I am not one of them. For some reason, despite the fact I came to live in Maghull in 1968 at the age of 10, I never set foot in the place as a youngster although I don’t know why.

I became aware of it though in my years as a Maghull councillor with various of my councillor friends being members of the Management Committee. Phil Watterson and Andrew Blackburn, Merrick Stott, and Cliff Mainey come to mind but I am sure there were others.

The Youth Centre bobbed along although the opening of the Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall some 20 years ago, which became very popular, must have had an effect on the numbers of youngsters attending it. I also recall that Stafford Moreton YC had a local group for youngsters with disabilities meeting there each week for many years.

Then the recession hit us and Stafford Moreton was slated for closure, this must have been late 2010 or early 2011. Indeed, you may recall that Labour led a march around the Maghull to try to stop the closure from happening, which is quite ironic based on what actually happened later on.

My view was that the Youth Coffee Bar, a specifically developed (by young people) modern youth facility in Maghull Town Hall, could have been used more often and Stafford Moreton’s groups moved there but the powers that be seemed more concerned with just closing things down.

Youth facilities across Sefton Borough continued to decline with the Youth Coffee Bar being a beacon of hope in Maghull because the Town Council funded it rather than Sefton Borough Council.

Of course Labour then took control of Sefton Council and what did they subsequently do? They closed down Stafford Moreton Youth Club which they had marched young people around the streets of Maghull to stop the closure of!

And it has stood there rather forlornly for a number of years awaiting someone to buy the land. Readers who are close to local issues will recall that at the very time Labour-run Sefton Council was meeting to sell the Youth Centre and Old Library land to the highest bidder (which turned out to be Netto) Maghull’s Labour Party commenced a sham consultation exercise about the future of the site in community use via the Champion newspaper! Yes, you could not make it up but it happened. Of course the consultation was was never heard of again as it was just a Labour publicity stunt.

Stafford Moreton Youth Centre gone - June 2016

Stafford Moreton Youth Centre gone – June 2016

So here it is being demolished for a supermarket to take its place. What’s even more sad is that Labour has recently also shut the doors on the Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall for the last time. Now which political party marched youngsters around Maghull to fight for local youth facilities? Oh yes, that’s right, the one that closed them all down!