Covid 19 stats at a more local level?

I’ve been getting a little frustrated with seeing, via the media, Covid 19 stats that are only broken down by council areas.

Sefton Council Logo

In my local case the council area is Sefton which is a geographically large/long Borough with numerous diverse and in some cases unconnected communities except that they sit within a creation of the Local Government Boundary Commission.

Let’s be honest Bootle, Southport and Lydiate, for example, hardly have much in common, so being told that in Sefton Borough the number of positive cases is ‘X’ in any particular week is almost meaningless.

But then a helpful Liverpool Echo journalist, Joe Thomas, pointed me towards a web site with more detailed Covid 19 information at Post Code level. Here’s a link to it:-

www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=47574f7a6e454dc6a42c5f6912ed7076

My understanding is that the information you can gain from the web site is not bang up to date – Joe’s Tweet to me explains ‘Hi Tony, this link will take you to a map that has a more detailed breakdown. The figures are a few days behind my latest tweet [yesterday] but give a good indication of local case clusters’

Now as the figures are presently low for Sefton as a whole you won’t get much in the way of more detailed information about its communities and let’s hope it stays that way as we don’t want to see our Borough’s neighbourhoods getting a mention. However, as Preston is this week an area with greater lockdown measures you can, if you look at that community, see how the information is presented with Preston City Center having 11 cases 27th July – 2nd August.

The only directly neighbouring area to Sefton that I could spot on the map (look for the blue shaded areas) when I looked was Rufford & Banks with 6 cases in the same period 27th July – 2nd August.

My thanks to Joe for the lead to this posting…….

Note:- It seems that 2 or less case are not recorded on this data base unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

Pavements r 4 Pedestrians

I’ve never quite understood the habit of the many drivers who park their vehicles on pavements, then again I find adults riding cycles on pavements troubling too.

Below there’s a link to a Liverpool Echo article about the problem which seems to be getting worse almost daily:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/harsher-punishments-selfish-drivers-welcomed-18685079

When I stop for a coffee at the CoOp in Town Green on one of my regular cycle rides I often observe drivers pulling straight off Town Green Lane and onto a small piece of land at the side of the shop where there are cycle racks. If it’s a large car (and there are a lot them in leafy Aughton) the vehicle often can end up overhanging/blocking the pavement. Do the drivers realise this, do they care? What’s more the CoOp does have a large car park!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some drivers seem to pull two wheels onto the pavement when stopping as a matter of course. Even if the road is quite wide they still do it, even if the pavement is quite narrow they still do it! It’s a habit which needs challenging and if Merseyside Police are going to start to do so all well and good – Sadly Town Green is in Lancashire so unless Lancs police adopt a similar policy………

The really, really bad practice is putting all of a vehicle on the pavement/cycle track/shared pedestrian-cycle path so that pedestrians or indeed cyclists are blocked and sometimes forced into the road. Such acts of selfishness surely have to be deliberate rather than thoughtless. We can only assume such drivers have no members of their family who are blind, no members of their family who push prams and that they are are completely at ease with putting other lives lives at risk.

Oh and while Merseyside police are at it I hope they also start to tackle pavement cyclists as they are a danger to pedestrians; as I always say pavements r 4 pedestrians except where they have been designated as shared space with cyclists of course.

For the benefit of doubt I am a pedestrian, cyclist and driver. And no I can’t say hand on heart that I’m a perfect driver, cyclist or pedestrian but I don’t mind my failings being pointed out to me by the police or frustrated pedestrians.

It really is time that we all adopted the this approach – PAVEMENTS R 4 PEDESTRIANS and that all police forces took steps to enforce it.

Merseyrail – Kirkby Line extension to Headbolt Lane takes shape

The Merseyrail half of Kirkby Station looking towards Liverpool.

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/major-step-forward-merseyrails-brand-18605983

Whilst long term plans to extend the Kirkby Line of Merseyrail through to Skelmersdale are still in the melting pot a short extension of the line within Kirkby to a 2nd station in that community at Headbolt Lane is very much on the cards as the Liverpool Echo article explains.

Maghull residents will immediately spot a likeness in the design of the proposed new Headbolt Lane Station to that of the newish Maghull North Station building – see photo below:-

Maghull North’s Station Building during construction in May 2018.

The extension to Headbolt Lane, which has been discussed for more years than I can recall, will leave just the Merseyside community of Rainford (the next station along the line) outside of the Merseyrail network. This is what the end of the Northern Line looks like at Kirkby:-

The present end of the line for trains from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

Presently, the line from Kirkby to Wigan is in the hands of Northern Rail due to the railway being split at Kirkby for many years now – in a similar way to the split at Ormskirk of the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor.

Let’s hope that the Headbolt Lane Station project now moves forward without delay.

Liverpool and it’s beautiful North Western Hotel

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/lime-streets-forgotten-hotel-one-18332914

I’ve previously blogged about the architect of the North Western Hotel, Liverpool’s very own Alfred Waterhouse, back in March 2019 – Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/25/liverpool-alfred-waterhouse-the-citys-very-own-world-famous-architect/

Let’s hope that the present refurbishment is finished and that this iconic listed Liverpool building has many more years in front of it.

Sefton Council – Going bust?

Sefton Council Logo

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-council-faces-27m-black-18487709

Bootle Town Hall

For as long as anyone involved in local politics can probably remember local authorities have shouted from the roof tops at every government of every colour that they don’t understand them and the pressures they are under. Usually and indeed during every one of my 15 years as a Sefton Borough councillor the underlying cause of this shouting was associated with the ever spiraling cost of adult social care and children in care. This time the causes are very different but like the ever present and rising costs of social care the effect will be similar across many if not all local authorities. Indeed, this has led the Local Government Association to to say that local authorities will go bust, which if I recall correctly, is actually illegal as they are not permitted to run deficit budgets.

The underlying problem is that local authorities for the most part are actually just agents for the delivery of government prescribed services. They have many statutory duties to do this that and the other although the level/standard to which they do these functions is often not prescribed so one local authority will major on one thing but another will put more effort into another etc. etc.

There’s surprisingly little room for maneuver and that’s why party political changes within local authorities only see changes at the margins, over 90% of the policies/spending won’t and don’t change with differing political council leaderships.

But returning to Sefton, that most odd of virtually all local authorities from a geographical perspective, is it doing the best that it can during the pandemic? Well that’s a difficult question to answer as like all one-party states and governments it will only tell you what it wants to tell you and what it has no choice but to tell you. But here are my thoughts.

Sefton is far too centralised with virtually everything being controlled and directed from Bootle Town Hall via a small political elite in the every bottom corner of this vast Borough. It has dismantled all the previous community related infrastructure for delivery of services to the extent that it has gone back to a ‘one size fits all’ at best. You could say a typical old socialist model of local government.

The buying of Bootle Strand Shopping Centre for a huge amount of money a couple of years back was not only a financial risk to the whole Borough and it’s Council tax payers (should the deal go wrong) but it also defined where the local authority’s priorities were i.e. Bootle, Bootle and Bootle. There are significant fears that this particular chicken could be coming home to roost soon as the value of that retail property falls.

Sefton is slow to react and ponderous and it’s always had a tendency to be so. I suppose this relates very much to its centralised nature and to me it has often seemed unwilling to innovate in a meaningful way. When it did innovate it was at a community level but as I say that level has been all but snuffed out.

I don’t don’t doubt that Sefton, like many local authorities, is in very deep financial trouble as a consequence of the pandemic on top of austerity. Whether it could have been in even a slightly better position if it were run differently is the question no one can really answer. Having said that those of us who are advocates of decentralised and more transparent local government may well say it probably could be better placed if only at the margins.

That the slow moving and ponderous oil tanker which is Sefton Council will continue and will survive one way or another is all but a given. However, with its finances badly holed at the waterline and it being permanently moored at Bootle Docks it will also continue to fail to deliver the kind of modern day services its diverse communities require, except that is for its generally much appreciated domestic waste and recycling doorstep collections.

Ainsdale Pinewoods Fire – Hard to believe how stupid some folk are

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/flames-rage-woods-after-idiot-18302679

That a campfire would even be lit in the first place in these lovely pinewoods beggars belief. That it would be left to cause this damage is criminal damage to an important eco-system.