Nodding Donkeys to Village Halls – Pacer Trains to have a new future?

A Pacer at Preston Station

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48434379

I had a laugh when I read this BBC website article (see link above) about the coming end of the hugely unpopular ‘Pacer’ trains and that they could have a potential future use as village halls, cafes etc.

Of course the obvious question is why, as it’s often commented upon within railway circles about what bad condition many of these old diesel units are actually in. And why this class of old train? Many classes of old railway stock are being replaced at present due to them being life expired, for example Merseyrail (which gets a mention in the article) is replacing all it’s Class 507/508 rolling stock from 2020 – are they to be suggested for reuse as public buildings too?

I wonder if the former MP for Southport (John Pugh) would like an old Pacer for a garden shed as he (quite rightly) campaigned along with many others for Pacers to be taken out of service?:-) See link below from a 2014 posting of mine:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/09/30/nodding-donkeys-in-southport-well-class-142-pacers-anyway-but-dont-tell-john-pugh-mp/

Inside a down at heel Pacer

With thanks to Lydiate photographer Keith Page for the lead to this posting. Keith also links the future of these unloved trains to our lack of public toilets in communities up and down the land:-)

Southport – Sainsburys’ Meols Cop development troubles

Cllr. John Pugh

Southport’s former MP is still on the campaign trail as a Sefton Borough Councillor for Dukes Ward; here he’s taking on the might of Sainsburys as the link below to a Liverpool Echo article details:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/controversial-sainsburys-store-ever-built-15632011

Southport – Betting on a bright future for our local seaside town

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seven-reasons-2019-could-southports-15593282

A really positive article here which can only help our local seaside town – well done Liverpool Echo

Sunset -As seen from the end of Southport Pier

But what else could help Southport develop its potential? Well, a bypass around Ormskirk would be a big boost as would regaining the once excellent rail link to Wigan and Manchester which has seen very poor services in recent times.

Remember Southport was built on the success of its railway connection to the east because Manchester business people came to live in the Town due to its once excellent and reliable trains to Manchester. Restoring reliable, comfortable, fast and regular trains on this line could work wonders for Southport. And reconnecting Southport to the north and Preston would be a welcome positive step as well and all it will take is the rebuilding of a short section of connecting track at Burscough.

Departure board at Southport Station.

The Liverpool City Region and indeed Sefton Council needs to stop looking at the Lancashire boundary, which surrounds most of Southport, as a no-go barrier and instead see it as an opportunity. For too long Southport has been held back by an invisible on the ground local government boundary. The transport solutions to help Southport develop are mostly in Lancashire and it’s not rocket science to see what they are!

Maghull/Lydiate – HOUSING DEVELOPMENT – “IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO !”

The vast Maghull East development site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Cllr. John Pugh is the Opposition Leader on Sefton Council. This is his press release following a Sefton Council Planning Committee ‘wobble’ regarding housing development sites in the Borough last week:-

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The decision last week by Sefton council to delay giving the final go-ahead to housing development in Southport could give hope to Maghull and Lydiate residents facing massive housing expansion in the area.

A combination of people power and sound argument at last Wednesday’s planning committee prevented the usual rubber stamping of a planned housing development on farmland in Bankfield Lane Northern Southport.

According to the Sefton Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr John Pugh, this represents a watershed moment.

“Until now the ruling party [Labour] has pushed all plans through, claiming that the government requires it and their hands are tied. Incursion into the green belt has been driven by housing target numbers with little regard to sustainability. However developers last week had no good answers when residents brought up the issue of drainage and flooding key issues in Maghull and Lydiate – and Sefton’s planning committee for once wobbled.”

“Its time now for Sefton to follow West Lancs and review its local plans. The huge numbers of dwellings supposedly needed are based on dubious projections from consultants’ reports.Those reports are a developer’s charter , a builder’s dream but not a sustainable blueprint for our future communities. Sefton’s plans are no longer consistent with the government’s recently released 25 year plan and have to be changed. The government now is insisting that development should result in “Net Environmental Gain “ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/693158/25-year-environment-plan.pdf

Last week Sefton wobbled. This week campaigners for the greenbelt and a more sustainable approach need to scale up their efforts to persuade.”

Former Councillor Brian Rimmer RIP

Former Sefton Council Norwood ward Councillor Brian Rimmer has died I am sad to have to report.

I first met Brian when he was Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Sefton Council around 1987. I went to see him to seek his help in trying to negotiate a better deal for Maghull Town Council, or more precisely for Maghull’s Council tax payers, over the rebate of over-paid Council Tax. This problem, called Double Rating, actually affected all the Civil Parishes in Sefton Borough where the local parish council maintained the parks and gardens i.e. Maghull, Aintree Village, Melling and Lydiate.

I went into Brian’s Southport Town Hall office (which strangely became my office when I became a Sefton Councillor in 1999 and then Lib Dem Leader on the Council in 2002) and realised I was talking to a no nonsense chap who wanted me to come to the point about what I wanted and why I wanted it. I spluttered out my wishes, he said he would do what he could and I was sent on my way thinking that Brian was a tough man to do business with and had I made a mess of my attempt to get him onside. Not long afterwards he got in touch, told me he had negotiated a better deal and was I happy? Happy, I was absolutely delighted.

My good friend and former Southport MP (now back on the Council as leader of the opposition) Cllr. John Pugh said in a Tweet today:- Sad to hear of passing of former councillor (43 years) and Mayor, Brian Rimmer – a warm and generous soul and friend who lived for his community and family

And former Sefton Councillor Roy Connell told me of his working as Brian’s Deputy Spokesman on Sefton Council’s former Social Services Committee and how he enjoyed working with a councillor who gave the officers of the Council a hard time especially if he thought they were looking for an easy life.

Brian was certainly a one-off but he was more than capable of negotiating political alliances when he felt that residents of the Borough could benefit from them.

RIP Brian Rimmer

Sefton Council’s opposition leader on Southport’s loss of rail services

Southport Station

Cllr. John Pugh the Lib Dem Leader of the opposition on Sefton Council and former MP for Southport has hit out at the loss of trains between Southport and Manchester Airport which have been proposed [in the May 2018 timetable] by Northern Trains and Network Rail.

TOWN HAS BEEN LET DOWN

Rail services to Manchester Piccadilly- the university and business sector are being pared back to two to three a day trains- there and back- with the train to Manchester Airport doomed. That’s the result of the new timetables just announced on March 21st by Northern Rail and agreed with Network Rail.

The Southport line to Wigan and Manchester is on schedule to be the only place in the north to LOSE services under Northern Powerhouse plans

Former MP, Cllr. John Pugh stated, “It is hard not feel angry with the way we have been treated and strung along. We have had warm words from Rail Ministers and the Secretary of State for Transport but the downward spiral in our services and connectivity continues just the same.

I have no confidence that Sefton Council or the Merseyside City Region has even broken sweat to fight our corner

We don’t need any more patronising waffle from the government, rail companies or anyone else. The fact is that we are being strung out to dry- a corner of the north that needs to finds its own voice.

We cannot quietly stand by and let our connections with the business quarter of Manchester and the airport just wither.

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Editors View:- John is obviously right and I share his skepticism about what the Liverpool City Region and its Transport arm Merseytravel have been doing or indeed not doing to both keep the present level of service on the line and promote Southport’s trains to Wigan, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. I go back to the first draft of the first ever Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy where the line did not even get a mention! At the time I was a Sefton Councillor and I pushed the Council to demand that the line be included. That Long Term Rail Strategy has now been updated (October 2017) and surprise surprise the line hardly gets a mention at all again. Must we conclude that rail connectivity for Southport (which is in the Liverpool City Region) to the east and the north of the Town is of no interest to the powers that be? Sadly I think we must!