Lancashire – Is it about to get an elected mayor?

Map of the Borough of West Lancashire.

Jim Hancock has the posting on his blog site – see link below:-

jimhancock.co.uk/big-changes-for-lancashire/

Jim, as ever, has an interesting and informative take on the long running saga about how Lancashire will be run in the future. It is to put it bluntly a dogs breakfast of a local governmental mess presently as I guess most will agree. Trouble is there’s been no consensus to agree how to sort out the mess which pre-dates John Prescot’s attempt resolve it as Deputy Prime Minister many years ago. Those with long memories will recall he wanted to split West Lancs and put half of it in Wigan Met Borough and half of it into Sefton Met Borough. It went nowhere and neither has any other plan it seems at least up until now?

My gripe with Jim, as those who know me will expect of me, is that he seems to back Metro Mayors and I can’t abide them. Jim says this ‘The success of the elected mayors in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region may finally have ended the squabbling in Lancashire over an elected mayor with a combined authority.’

Well Jim if having an elected mayor for the Liverpool City Region has been a success I would not like to see failure. Not enough devolved powers (I have often referred to the LCR deal as 3rd rate) and putting them in one persons hands is simply wrong to me. And just what has our elected mayor done that could not have been achieved without us having one?

But my other big gripe, which admittedly may not apply in Lancashire with it having no major cities, is that regional mayors operating from a big city have a detrimental effect on surrounding towns. Just ask Southport or Bootle or St. Helens or Birkenhead. A good example of my concern is the thousands civil service jobs being taken out of Bootle and centralised in Liverpool for HMRC. The jobs were put in Bootle for a very good reason in the 1960’s and 1970’s i.e to address an unemployment black spot and help the local economy. Taking them out reverses that piece of good work. And what has our City Region Mayor done to try to put a stop to this process?

Maybe as a Liberal I see the concentration of power in a single persons hands as fundamentally wrong but Tories and Socialists see otherwise? Maybe also as a Liberal I see true devolution of power very differently to the crumbs off the governmental table which is the present format of devolution. Frankly, no I don’t see Lancashire having an elected mayor being a big positive for a newly formatted local government structure in the county.

I like Jim’s commentary on politics in the North West of England and he’s often both well informed and right. However, we’ll have to agree to disagree that having an elected mayor in the Liverpool City Region has been a success. Indeed, I would go so far as to say it has been an abject failure for the majority of LCR – a bit like the present local government arrangements have been in Lancashire for a long time now.

If regional mayors are the solution you’re asking the wrong question.

Maghull & Formby Recycling Centres – Reopening via a pre-booking process

When Merseyside reopened it’s recycling Centres during our pandemic (4th May) some, including Sefton Meadows (Maghull) and Formby, did not open due to expected traffic congestion issues which would be caused by queuing traffic on busy roads.

At the time I wondered why Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA) had not brought in a pre-booking process for their recycling centres, where queuing traffic would be a problem, as just over the county boundary Lancashire County Council had done just that when it reopened it’s recycling centres. What’s more I know that Burscough Recycling Centre’s pre-booking process works very well because I tried it out having been unable to access a Merseyside facility due to the 2 nearest ones to me being closed and the next nearest having 2hr+ queues.

But as you may know Formby and Sefton Meadows Recycling Centres are now to reopen using, you’ve guessed it, a pre-booking process – see note below*

This has to be welcomed by residents who have been storing waste on their property which needs recycling but is not appropriate for the kerbside domestic recycling. Of course the other positive is that having all the recycling centres open means there should be less fly-tipping in the country lanes around Melling, Lunt Village, Ince Blundell etc. etc.

Fly-tipping in Longdale Lane Lunt from 2018

*The system will work like this according to the MRWA – ‘From Friday 19th June 2020, residents will be able to make bookings, online and also via a dedicated telephone line for time slots available week commencing Monday 22nd June. Booking slots will be released on a rolling weekly basis, once booking slots have been fully allocated, no further slots will be available for that day. When the resident completes and reserves an allocated booking slot they will receive a confirmation email.

The system will be administered by the Authority in partnership with our contractor Veolia, and each site will have a limited number of slots for each day. This allows for the site to be serviced – i.e. containers emptied etc. and also ensure that staff can monitor residents and implement and respect the social distancing rules. This servicing may cause some minor delays to booked appointments which may result in some minor queuing at the sites.

Cars and vans other commercial vehicles including large trailers will not be allowed to access the sites during this trial period and therefore the Permit Line will remain suspended. The Authority continues to develop plans on how these types of vehicles can be readmitted to sites in the near future.

The Authority will implement a clear communications campaign starting on Friday 12th June to ensure that residents are aware of the new trial, with support from officers at Sefton Council. This will be delivered via social media, websites and using local media. The Authority’s contractor Veolia will also be able to cross promote the trial booking system at other sites (via temporary signage) located in Sefton that are already open to the public.

It’s proposed that the trial will go live on 22nd June.’

This is all I know at present I might add.

A cycle ride of contrasts – Spurriers Lane – Outlet Lane – Melling & Simonswood

I’m still cycling during our health crisis although always on my own and not stopping at cafes etc. anymore….

A lane I cycle now and again is Spurriers Lane/Outlet Lane which joins Prescot Road at the Animal Sanctuary in Melling (Merseyside) and then goes through to Simonswood Civil Parish (Lancashire) to join Simonswood Lane. It’s single track lane for its whole length but traffic is light to non-existent virtually all the time.

Sadly, and probably because of the remote nature of the lane it is often a site for fly-tipping. Sights such as this are far from unusual sadly:-

What is it about fly-tippers using their junk to block steams at the side of such lanes? They love tipping in water for some bizarre reason! As you can see this is basically domestic rubbish that simply needed taking to the nearby Sefton Meadows Recycling Centre. I despair I really do.

The lane also has what is turning out to be a near permanent flood (close to Hesketh Farm) which I have nick-named ‘Simonswood Swimming Pool’:-

I’ll give Lancashire County Council a nudge as it’s been like this for quite some time now and is clearly an obstacle for pedestrians and cyclists.

Only yards away from this flooded part of Outlet Lane there’s a sharp left turn and in the distance there are quite a few old brick built buildings which are well spaced out. I’ve often wondered what purpose they serve or used to serve:-

They clearly have flat roofs and a gander at an Ordnance Survey map shows them to geometrically spaced with connecting tracks – around 8 of them and the nearest noted building to them is Basford Farm. Just out of curiosity does anyone know what the buildings were erected for?

When I reach Simonswood Lane I usually turn left and head towards Royal Oak where there’s a crossroads with Cunscough Lane. Royal Oak is part of Bickerstaffe Civil Parish. To reach Royal Oak you have to cycle over the M58 Motorway:-

From single track road to motorway within a few yards. In fact Spurriers Lane/Outlet lane effectively parallels the Motorway. the photo is looking towards Skelmersdale.

This was just a part of my circular route from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simonswood, Bickerstaffe & Aughton Civil Parishes – around 10+ miles to keep the old legs turning and to get a bit of fresh air in these troubled times.

Click on the photos to enlarge them although the first one is probably frightening enough without enlargement!

Downholland – Eagar Lane/Greens Lane resurfacing outside Lavender Barns

Back in August 2019 I called on Lancashire County Council to resurface the stretch of Eagar Lane/Greens Lane outside Lavender Barns just yards into Lancashire from Lydiate, and I blogged about the state of the lane – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/15/greens-lane-downholland/

If I recall correctly that prompted more patch repairs but the message must have got home to LCC (maybe others raised the matter with them too?) as a couple of days ago they did a significant resurfacing job:-

Editor’s note – ‘Thanks for that LCC, much appreciated, but sadly there’s another very poor stretch of Greens Lane which has deteriorated significantly of recent months. It’s around the entrance to the 2nd fishery, past Green’s House and near to the row of houses further into Downholland Civil Parish. I’ll pop a note on your website about it.’

Aughton – A traffic cone per year?

There’s been a broken gully grid in Formby Lane, just east of the junction with Clieves Hill Lane and outside of Broad Oak Farm, for as long as I can remember and it’s had a traffic cone placed by it to warn road users (particularly cyclists) of the hazard.

But I’m beginning to think that another traffic cone is added for each year the problem has existed as it’s now got 3 around it.

Time to raise the issue with Lancashire County Council me thinks before the traffic cone family expands further in 2021, 2022 etc. etc. 🙂

Update 08 02 20 – Two of the traffic cones have been removed

Update 04 03 20 – Back up to two traffic cones!

So is Skem’ to get linked to Merseyrail? It’s still a wait and see

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1960’s progress!

The Liverpool Echo has the latest in what is clearly going to be a very long saga with at present an uncertain outcome – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/skelmersdale-could-finally-merseyrail-station-17549470