Maghull – Heavy rain reminds us of the potential peril of building on agricultural land locally

The recent heavy rain got me thinking about the soon to be built and vast urban extension to Maghull of @1700 houses. I went to have a look at the site on Sunday 23rd February. The photos below really speak for themselves as they start with the waterlogged site as I saw it followed by where the water eventually drains to i.e. Dovers Brook and the River Alt.

Maghull East Site from Ashworth Motorway junction 23 02 20

Maghull East Site from Poverty Lane 23 02 20

Dovers Brook at Sefton Lane looking north 23 02 20

Dovers Brook at Sefton Lane 23 02 20 – the bridge is all but lost under the floodwater.

River Alt 23 02 20 looking south from Bridges Lane.

Having lived locally for over 50 years I can’t say I’m surprised by this situation as our low-lying land has always been liable to flood after heavy rain. Of course climate change is making those floods more regular and at times worse than they have been in the past.

What has not, in my opinion, been effectively resolved is how the floodwater is dealt with as flooding of Sefton Lane is far from unusual each year these days. What worries me is how the local drainage network is going to cope after a vast area of presently agricultural land (the Maghull East Site) is put under concrete, brick and tarmac. The implications will not be just on that site, if the drainage issues are not fully addressed, but potentially to the west of it to the River Alt which takes a great deal of Maghull’s surface water run-off.

That the Maghull East Site site will be developed is a given as Sefton Council’s Local Plan has already designated it for building on but, and it’s a very big but, what guarantees are going to be put in place that this building will not make a presently unresolved flooding problem even worse?

Sefton Council and the developers of the land have to get this right otherwise those of us who fought against the vast site being designated for building will be reminding the powers that be that they were warned about the consequences.

My thanks to Andrew Blackburn for the lead to this posting

Climate Change & the Port of Liverpool

Daughter Jen and I attended a public meeting in Waterloo yesterday evening at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre organised by Friends of the Earth. The subject of the meeting and debate was The Port of Liverpool & The Climate Crisis.

The meeting took the form of a panel of speakers making initial statements and then them taking questions which had been submitted prior to the meeting, although there was also some interaction with the audience of I would guess @150 people.

(The acoustics were not great in the room so I may have missed some points that were made)

The panel was Paulette Lappin (Sefton Councillor for Ford Ward & Cabinet Member – Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services), Stu from Save Rimrose Valley Campaign, Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central, a representative of the Church Road & District Residents Assn, Craig from Friends of the Earth and the event was hosted/chaired by Dominic Browne, editor of Highways Magazine/ Transport Network.

Cllr. Lappin raised concerns about poor air quality associated with the area around the Port. She also said that Sefton Council was still pressing for a road tunnel to access it.

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Stu from Save Rimrose Valley Campaign was disappointed that Peel Ports & Highways England were not at the event.

Bill Esterson MP said he was against both a new road down the Rimrose Valley or the alternative Highways England solution of upgrading the A5036/Church Road. He wanted a tunnel but but not a road tunnel, a rail tunnel.

The Church Road & District speaker (my apols I did not catch his name) said his group represented concerned residents from Millers Bridge to Switch Island. He also said his group would be taking Sefton Council to court for its failings. He wants digital air pollution monitoring at all the schools around the A5036 corridor.

Craig the FofTE speaker said a Health Assessment for the proposed new road down the Rimrose Valley needs to be made. He also called for Highways England to be scrapped in favour of sustainable transport solutions. He was clearly incredulous that the Port had been expanded and then the transport links to it were being considered.

Other comments – Why was Steve Rotherham the Metro Mayor not at the event? – The response from some was that he was simply a figurehead but with little power. FofTE called on Rotherham to come out clearly against the 2 road schemes for accessing the Port.

Why did Sefton Council not apply for government money (in 2018?) to enable it to conduct detailed air monitoring? – This was clearly a big issue between the Church Road & District Group and Sefton Council, indeed it led to the host saying he was glad the two of them were at different ends of the table.

What had Merseytravel been doing as the Transport Committee for the City Region? Had they been assisting Highways England?

Rebecca Hanson (from the audience) called for the only digital monitor in the Port vicinity to be put on-line so that anyone could access it for real time air pollution information. My understanding is that the Sefton Cabinet Member undertook to try to get this done.

Has a detailed assessment been undertaken for the 3rd alternative i.e. a rail tunnel? The MP thought not.

Reference made to early reports and investigations via Sefton Council and the Port Access Group it chaired, going back to 2003, but of course the Climate Crisis had not been the massive issue then that it is now.

A chap from the audience asked about the long talked of HGV parking-up facility for the Port and where this had got to – no one seemed to know the answer to this.

My thoughts on the event –

Why hadn’t Sefton Council sent a councillor along who was a member of the Port Access Steering Group which it had chaired from the outset? Cllr. Lappin said she had not been a member of it.

Why was the Sefton Central MP there when the vast majority of issues are actually within the Bootle Constituency?

What did the event achieve? Well it clearly led to information sharing amongst those who attended it but whether it will have contributed to changing of minds in government or elsewhere is a different matter. I got the impression that all of us at the event were opposed to what Highways England is proposing (either road scheme) so there’s a danger we were talking to ourselves and not really exerting that influence that is so clearly needed on the real decision makers.

If I have anything wrong here please let me know and I will correct. As I said the acoustics were not great.

An economy which has to give welfare to those in work effectively subsidies rich corporate companies who refuse to pay their employees enough to live upon.

If you feel that our economy is failing the poorest in our society and underinvestinging in our vital public services then read on and have a look at the link below to a video from the Tax Justice Network:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcWr3Yad2WY&feature=youtu.be

If you think our economy reasonably and fairly distributes wealth, provides excellent public services and looks after those who are less fortunate then surely you’ll not have read this far. But if you hold such views and have got this far and even looked at the video you’ll probably be spitting feathers by now!

Now you may be not be surprised to learn that this old Social Liberal and former trade union officer thinks the video actually hits a very important nail squarely on the head.

The fault-line in our economy is oft pointed at as starting with Thatcherism and has been developed by every government since. To quote a phrase from the video we have been on ‘a race to the bottom’, in my view, for 40 years or more. In that time the poor in comparison with the super-rich have been progressively getting poorer as the economic gap has widened as a direct consequence of governmental policy.

I don’t expect you to agree with me if you have done well out of an economic system designed to do what it has done unless of course you have a social conscience as well as wealth that is.

What I like about the video is that it paints a picture which makes it very clear that our political classes across all the major parties have bought into the economic structures which have delivered the the state we are in. The capitalist model is now being run globally in an extreme form which only benefits massive corporations and our politicians, across the political spectrum, have made it happen. It’s no use jumping up and down about the evils of Thatcherism as many are prone to do when we have have been voting for alternative supposedly progressive parties which have effectively been delivering versions of the same thing!

What the video does not address though is that moving forward our capitalist system is going to have to change fundamentally to combat climate change and the our climate crisis. Investing in oil and coal for example will have to stop in favour of renewable energy and it will require governmental action to make this happen. Just look at Australia, a country literally on fire but which mines massive amounts of coal on which its economy is very much reliant and which is the direct cause of its present and indeed future environmental crisis!

In my view the economic/social model which works well is that used in differing ways across the Scandinavian countries.

Liberalism and socialism go their separate ways in two specific areas I might add. Liberals believe in individual freedom (with responsibilities of course) whilst socialists believe in the collective/authoritarian model with policy being decided centrally and handed down to people. We also promote very different economic models as Liberals will back individual freedom to invest and innovate whereas socialists will want to centralise economic policy controlling most if not all aspects of investment and innovation. What we seem to have under our present economic model is actually too much freedom to invest irresponsibly and against our wider environmental and social interests with too little governmental guidance and direction especially when it comes to the environment and the distribution of wealth.

If you are comfortably off you may well be spluttering into your coffee having got to the end of this posting!

My thanks to Stephen Hesketh for the lead to this posting.

Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

I was recently asked to assist a campaigner who is a part of the fight against Highways England’s plan to build a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ask was for me to help with obtaining a copy of a 2004 report on the options for transport access to the Port of Liverpool.

Rimrose Valley Country Park on a lovely Sunday morning. A Lone cyclist can be seen in the distance.

Firstly, I had to obtain a copy of the report and with a little help that was achieved.

The report is titled ‘PORT OF LIVERPOOL STRATEGIC TRANSPORT ACCESS STUDY Phase 3 Final Report’. It looked at 3 options for providing improved access to the Port of Liverpool and it comes down on the side of putting a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is of course the option now being pursued by Highways England and which is causing so much controversy and objections.

I think it fair to say that I’m a big supporter of Rimrose Valley Country Park and love cycling through it, so it could be said that my opinions are somewhat biased in favour of the campaign group Rimrose Valley Friends who are leading the fight against the new road. In other words I’m not claiming that this piece is of an independent nature.

The report summarises the work undertaken by a team of consultants, lead by FaberMaunsell, for the study’s steering group comprising: • Sefton Borough Council; • Liverpool City Council; • Highways Agency (now Highways England); • Strategic Rail Authority; • Merseytravel; and • Atlantic Gateway.

Three strategies emerged from this work:

• Strategy 1 (Modal Transfer, Mitigation And Management) – to maximise the benefits and improvements where major highway investment is considered either unacceptable or undeliverable. This strategy combines rail and public passenger transport initiatives with traffic management, environmental mitigation and policy and enforcement but no significant investment in highway infrastructure which would generate additional capacity.

• Strategy 2 (Highway – A5036(T) On Line Improvements) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with link and junction improvements principally on the A5036 (T) to improve capacity within the corridor and therefore reduce delay and congestion.

• Strategy 3 (Major Highway – Rimrose Valley) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with the construction of a new road through the Rimrose Valley from Switch Island to the Princess Way/Bridge Road roundabout to relieve the existing key routes of a significant proportion of the port-bound traffic.

Clearly, there’s a danger of reading a 15 year old report and thinking that all it looked at then (agree with its conclusions or not) is just as relevant now. The big issue is of course the climate change/crisis we are facing and the need to restrict/cease use of petrol and diesel engined vehicles. This is now a matter of public policy, as opposed it being an issue within scientific and environmental community as it was back in the early 2000’s. For me this very real green issue is, without considering any other matter, a clear reason to re-examine what the options should be to improve access to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the recent delay in constructing the new road, caused by the legal action taken to stop it, has created a time frame which could be used to conduct a reassessment, so there really is no excuse for pursuing a project that in effect predates our climate crisis.

All walking and cycling destinations from the main cycle path in the Country Park.

I don’t think I learned a great deal more than I knew already from re-reading the report (with 15 years between reads) but all the same it was useful to reacquaint myself with the detail. I hope the report is of use to the Rimrose Valley Friends in their campaign work.

I had another lovely cycle ride through Rimrose Valley on the 4th August.

A cyclist’s life can be a trying one!

Cycling is now pretty much mainstream activity for commuting, leisure, fitness etc. and with us staring down the barrel of environmental disaster called climate change it is set to become an activity that the vast majority of us are going to have to engage with because it’s carbon neutral.

But unlike places like Holland our cycle networks are at best poor or absolutely bloody inadequate would probably be a better description. Of course I’ve highlighted such problems on this blog site previously and I’ve also commented on the tussle between vehicle drivers and cyclists too. On this latter subject just try to get your head around this:-

twitter.com/buejcoll/status/1125118323048505345

Frankly the ‘accident’ looks more like premeditated attempted murder to me and how the cyclist survived is close to miraculous. One can only hope the car driver is permanently off the road.

Bad drivers make bad cyclists in my experience, if they jump red lights when driving they are highly likely to do the same when riding. I know some drivers get upset with cyclists because they slow them down, some will even overtake cyclists far too closely and dangerously in frustration. They curse the cyclist when often they are actually the problem but as I say a poor cyclist is probably a poor driver too.

And returning to safe cycle routes, there’s one on Gorsey Lane in Netherton and here’s a photo of it together with a misleading sign:-

I’m actually stood with my bike at what seems to be the end of the Bus/Taxi/cycle lane but in reality the cycle lane continues as part of a widened shared pavement space with pedestrians, so why does the sign say end of cycle route Sefton Council?

Thanks to CJ for the lead to this posting.

Stop Press:- Only 30 minutes after posting this I was out on my bike (8.50am) and at the junction of Liverpool Road North and Granville Ave in Maghull a white van all but knocked me off the road! The driver overtook me on the junction and then pulled in half on the pavement right in front of me. How I managed to stop I don’t know. When I questioned him his response was to tell me to ‘get off the road’. I realised things could get out of hand so left it to return to the row of shops he seemed to be delivering to later. Sadly, having called at all the shops in the row (10am) I’ve not been able to identify his company. If only I’d got his registration number, this was clearly a dangerous driving Police matter in my opinion but he’s got away with it.

Climate Change is actually a far BIGGER challenge then Brexit

Whilst our mainly 2nd division political leaders grapple with Brexit a far bigger issue is being kicked further down the road because climate change will destroy the lives of millions if it is not addressed very firmly and very soon.

There is every danger that because our weak Parliamentary politicos talk of nothing but Brexit (other than Jez Corbyn who avoids all hard subjects) that it becomes the biggest political challenge – It’s NOT!

I was dragged out of watching the sad Little Englander world of Brexit by my old friend Phil Holden who sent me a link to a very interesting piece on the economics of climate change or more precisely how we will pay for trying to beat it before it kills us. Here’s that link to a blog posting by Paul De Grauwe:-

escoriallaan.blogspot.com/2018/12/who-should-pay-for-cost-of-climate.html

OK, the thrust of the blog posting was more about how we pay for saving the earth than about the desperate need to save it. And maybe we won’t save it all as we will continue to argue about who should pay……………..!