Halton Curve – Rail scheme given a further green light

Green light to the Halton Curve rail scheme by Liverpool City Region Authority.

There’s every chance that this one will be announced to death as every step towards the opening of this rail curve seems to be the last green light only for more to pop up as someone/some organisation needs to be seen to be giving the last green light, if you get my drift. The following is from Merseytravel in response to the Liverpool City Region Authority giving their green light on 15th April.

‘This will open up leisure and work opportunities by offering new connections between Liverpool, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Runcorn, Frodsham, Helsby, Chester and, in future, North Wales. Work is due to start on site in June 2017 and be completed by May 2018.

Approval of the business case unlocks the £10.4m allocated to the scheme through the Government’s Local Growth Fund (LGF). At today’s meeting, the CA also approved an additional £5.67m for the scheme to come from the City Region’s LGF pot. This is in recognition that the initial bid to Government in 2014 was based on a high level estimate at an early stage of scheme development.’

I think the extra £5.67 is local authority speak for we got the sums wrong or more likely Network Rail did?!

Merseyside taking control of its railway stations?

Well it seems so as the Liverpool City Region Authority recently agreed to the development of proposals that would see Merseyside take greater control of stations on the Merseyrail network– currently owned and strategically managed by Network Rail.

Aintree Station at night

Aintree Station at night

Proposals will consider how greater control of stations locally will help target investment, improving the experience for existing passengers and encouraging new users. They will also look at how allowing for better use of station facilities and land can support regeneration and economic development.

Mm, we will have to see the detail of this when it is worked up but at face value if this is taking local control from a national company (Network rail) then it could well be a positive move. However, as with many things the devil will be in the detail.

Hillside Station clearly showing its LMS history.

Hillside Station clearly showing its LMS history.

Liverpool City Region Councils prepared to pay so that HS2 reaches city?

Liverpool presses to part-fund HS2 extension

ResPublica* has drawn up a plan for the six authorities of the Liverpool city region, which would see them part-fund a £3bn extension of HS2 so that it would reach the city.

Financial Times ran this story today

* We [ResPublica] are an independent non-partisan think tank based in Westminster that seeks to establish a new economic, social and cultural settlement for the United Kingdom. Our interventions in public policy and public debate have been decisive, and our ideas have been adopted by politicians of all parties.

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for spotting this story via the LGiU

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus January 2016 – Posting 1 – The SuperPort implications

There’s some interesting, encouraging and indeed worrying information (or the lack of it) in this 47 page prospectus. I will cover the various aspects in 3 separate postings because they are all worth a mention in their own right.

The words Norther Powerhouse litter the document as they seem to every public sector paper from t’north these days. I assume this is to either keep or get George Osborne on side rather than the authors being enthusiastic about it?

The first thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Skelmersdale on page 12 not least because of the connection with the Liverpool SuperPort project. The relevant text says this:-

Skelmersdale in West Lancashire is closely linked to the Merseyside economy and is able to offer major sites for logistics and distribution companies keen to take advantage of the opportunities being generated by the opening of Liverpool SuperPort. This is supported by research commissioned by Peel Ports and the Liverpool City Region has highlighted the need to increase large market-attractive sites to take advantage of Atlantic Gateway opportunities.

rsz_1aintree__melling_sites

This is interesting not because it is new news but because it shows how far the tentacles of the SuperPort project spread. Readers will probably know that a huge piece of Green Belt/high grade agricultural land in Melling, next to the M57, is firmly on Peel Ports agenda for similar purposes and that Sefton Council has, for now, kicked the issue into the long grass.

rsz_photo0839

The problem will of course be how all the freight that lands in either or both of Melling and Skem actually gets to Seaforth Docks. Of course this will all have to happen in reverse too. The A5036 is the only road from the ends of the M57 and M58 motorways. Fools some years ago took up the rail connection and Highways England are now promoting a new road straight down the middle of Sefton’s Rimrose Valley Country Park as their preferred option to addresses the ‘need’ for a new freight route!

Never has so much Green Belt and green space been under more threat in Sefton, than via these proposals and of course Sefton Council’s own appalling Local Plan.

MP’s say ‘don’t force Metro Mayors on communities’

The Parliamentary Communities and Local Government Select Committee has told ministers they should refrain from imposing elected mayors on local areas as a condition of devolution.

The cross-party committee of MPs said regions who wanted “substantial devolved powers” but were not in favour of having a mayor “should be allowed to propose an equally strong alternative model of governance.”

The committee has also called for the role of residents to be more prominent in devolution, saying: “We have found a significant lack of public consultation and engagement at all stages in the devolution process.” [i.e. bugger all, not a sausage, less than nothing in the Liverpool City Region]

Elsewhere, the Guardian’s Susanna Rustin says that a push toward devolution highlights gender inequality which suggests none of the elected mayors will be women. She cites figures which show that despite 30% of England’s 18,000 councillors being women, just 14.6%, or one in seven, of 352 English local government leaders are female.

With thanks to John Dodd and the LGIU for the lead to this posting

Southport – Planning for a positive future

birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-british-lawnmower-museum-and-town.html

Above is a link to the blog site of my good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie Brown, please take a moment to click the link and read his posting. It is pure community politics to my mind.

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Click on the photo to enlarge it

There can be little doubt that the towns/boroughs surrounding Liverpool have not benefited from being a part of the Liverpool City Region. Indeed, my own view is that centralising power in Liverpool as both Tories and Labour are planning for, with a Metro Mayor, could well be the road to ruin for places like Southport St. Helens, Birkenhead, Maghull, Formby, Prescot etc.

Whilst Iain’s posting is all about what needs to be done to give Southport a bright future his fundamental concerns could well be about any of Liverpool’s satellite communities that sit outside of the Liverpool City Council boundary.

Centralising power and influence in Liverpool will just not work, except for Liverpool itself. Unlike the Greater Manchester communities, which mostly seem look towards Manchester, the same can’t be said of Merseyside. Southport has always seen its connections with Preston and Lancashire as being of great importance but it was wrenched away from such historical links by local government reorganisation in 1974. Much of Wirral Borough has historic connections with Chester and Cheshire but it too was forced into Merseyside.

Merseyside because of its odd geographic shape was never likely to be a runner as a viable unit of local government and the years that have passed since 1974 have only proved that theory correct. Sefton, itself a strange collection of diverse communities, realised this some years ago and it began a process of decentralisation. Bizarrely though Labour then slammed this process into reverse when its Bootle based party took control of the Council. What was their motivation to say ‘the Borough will work well as a one size fits all because we say it will’ not least because this approach had failed miserably when first tried?

Presently we are seeing the start of a process to take 1000’s of civil service jobs out of Netherton, St Helens and Bootle for them all to be centralised in Liverpool. Liverpool’s gain will be big losses for Sefton and St Helens Boroughs.

Make no mistake the Tories are wedded to cities being made more powerful at the expense of their surrounding towns and boroughs. What’s more Labour are pretty much behind this process, why else did the 6 Labour Council Leaders on Merseyside sign up to a 3rd rate devolution deal?

Towns surrounding big cities need investment, public and private, not dependency on the nearest City because that is the road to ruin except for the big cities of course.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/