Maghull – It must now be 20 years+ of blooms in the shopping centre

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The other day I got to thinking about how long floral displays have been going on in and around The Square/Westway. Well it must be around 20 years or more.

It all started with a former Maghull Town & Sefton Borough Councillor by the name of Roy Connell. Forgive me if my memory is not fully correct but here goes.

Summer 2009 there were both hanging baskets & barrier planters

Roy realised that in some other parts of the Borough Sefton Council put up hanging baskets (outside the Strand in Bootle was one such place) and he asked for them to be erected in Maghull along Westway too. His request was eventually agreed to but Maghull Town Council wanted to join in too. What came out of this was a partnership between Sefton and Maghull Councils, brokered by former Town Clerk Barry Smith, whereby Sefton would pay for so many hanging baskets and Maghull Town Council would both pay for the extra ones they wanted (along part of Liverpool Road North & up Stafford Moreton Way) and they would do the watering of all of the baskets using their in-house parks/grounds maintenance team.

This carried on for a few years but then problems started to emerge with regard to the strength of the aged street light columns which had had two hanging baskets fixed to each one. We were told that some of the street lights were no longer safe to hold hanging baskets so those along Liverpool Road North and on Stafford Moreton way were removed. Subsequently, as a cost cutting move, Sefton stopped funding all hanging baskets across the Borough but for a while the Town Council kept going with the ones along Westway. But then the same issue arose with the strength of street lamps there too so after about 8 years or so they were no more. You can still see some of the brackets which the hanging baskets were suspended from as they’ve not been removed.

A circular prize winning flower planter on Maghull’s Westway.

I think it was around this time, about 12 years ago, that the Maghull in Bloom volunteers were established and I recall them attending a Maghull Town Council meeting (at the time I both lived in Maghull and was a Maghull councillor) asking for support. The Town Council agreed to fund MinB to the tune of £5,000 per year (reduced to £2000 in the past few years) and it also agreed to take on the watering of the summer planting along Westway which would from then on take the form of pavement planters and pedestrian barrier baskets as opposed to hanging baskets.

MinB volunteer’s hanging baskets at Treeview Court

Maghull in Bloom volunteers went on establish themselves as one of the Town’s most high profile voluntary groups with additional displays at Treeview Court (summer hanging baskets & year-round pavement planters), Deyes Lane shops (summer hanging baskets), Leeds Liverpool Canal (Planters at bridges & weekly canal towpath litter picking), The Fruit Meadows & flower beds/planters on KGV Park/outside Meadows Leisure Centre.

In 2019 Maghull Town Council passed the responsibility for watering the Westway summer displays onto the owners of the shopping centre London & Cambridge Properties and they completed the summer 2019 watering season. And that is pretty much the story of the blooms in Maghull shopping centre over the past 20+ years.

Maghull – Downed trees at Central Square – Why?

I must admit to being shocked when I saw the felled trees yesterday at the junction of Liverpool Road Noth/Westway as they were a useful screen to the car park and buildings behind them. This is the scene I happened upon:-

Of course, it could be that the reason for the felling has passed me by and others know what it’s all about; I just happened to walk up Liverpool Road Road North on Sunday afternoon and saw this scene.

Thinking back to my days as a Sefton Councillor representing Maghull my memory is that when the previous owners of the Square created the car park on the land at the side of the former HSBC Bank that the trees which have now been felled were deliberately left in place to provide screening. It may even be the case that this was all part of the planning application/approval for the site to become a car park.

I’m a fully paid up tree hugger so any trees being felled upsets me. I would love to know what the felling is all about and why it was considered necessary. Presently, I look upon the scene as environmental vandalism!

Maghull Square – What’s going on?

media.rightmove.co.uk/130k/129391/59420108/129391_13to14CentralSquareMaghullLPQ_DOC_02_0000.pdf

The link above to an on-line property brochure for Maghull Square is interesting although it must predate HSBC closing obviously.

If I had a £1 for every time someone has asked me where Home Bargains are moving to I really would be retiring on a good pension. This seems to be an issue that people really want an answer to.

From this brochure it looks like one of the new units that is presently being built in the left hand corner of the Square. BUT persistent rumours say that this is no longer the case and that Home Bargains are going to the new retail building under construction on the site of the old Maghull Library/Stafford Moreton Youth Centre. And others are even speculating on Home Bargains not moving at all but just expanding into the former HSBC unit next door since that bank recently pulled out of Maghull.

Which option is right? Well as the staff who work in Home Bargains Maghull branch don’t seem to know then it seems the guessing game will be doing the rounds for a while yet.

What’s also interesting in the on-line brochure is the cost of a retail unit in the Square. Goodness me these figures must be well out of reach for many a small business. They may not be out of line with other similar retail areas but where does a small business get that sort of money each year?

I recall when the Square had many independent business in the 60’s and 70’s but now it is dominated by regional and national outfits. Times they are a changing.

With thanks to John for the lead to this story

Maghull’s Public Toilets – Is Maghull Town Council about to ride in to save them?

There has been much debate, especially on Maghull’s Facebook community pages about the state of and indeed future of the public toilet block in Maghull’s Leighton Avenue which serves the Town’s shopping centre.

I have mentioned these toilets many times before on this blog site, toilets which were once award winning in the 1980’s but that have sadly been in a steady decline ever since.

They have in fact been closed recently due to vandalism and this was the scene on 29th December – They were very firmly locked up:-

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When I was a member of Maghull Town Council and I could see the decline in the toilets and wanted to do something about it. Indeed, I made a proposal to the Council on 24th July 2013 – it read ‘To support an MTC [Maghull Town Council] capital investment in Maghull’s rather down at heel public toilets in Leighton Avenue, with the aim of working up a project in partnership with Sefton Council to restore these public toilets to their previous award winning condition’.

And here we are some 3 and half years later and Maghull’s public toilets are even more run down, vandalised and sadly closed.

These toilets were not looking good back in 2012

These toilets were not looking good back in 2012

There’s a danger here that I just shout ‘I told you so and you did nothing’ but that would be churlish. Yes, of course I am disappointed that nothing happened following my putting down a resolution for the Town Council to take action BUT three and a half years on it just could be that that the Town Council is about to step in.

Word is that Maghull Town Council has meetings planned for January 2017 with Sefton Borough Council and London & Cambridge Properties (they own the shopping centre) with a view to the Town Council potentially taking a part or even a lead in the issue of toilet provision for Maghull’s shopping centre.

Watch this space……………..

Maghull – Work actually starting to revamp Square shopping centre!

This is Maghull Square in the 1970's but the buildings are still as was in 2016. It was built in the 1960's. Photographer unknown.

This is Maghull Square in the 1970’s but the buildings are still as was in 2016. It was built in the 1960’s. Photographer unknown.

I suppose shock is the first word that comes to mind after years and years of promises, planning applications and false dawns it seems the latest owners of the Square are starting work on it. My last posting on this subject dated 7th September this year refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/09/07/maghull-big-changes-at-the-square-shopping-centre/

Work has indeed already started and a shop unit is opening this week, I am told, to promote the work that is planned. It looks like the works will take until next April.

How it will impact on shoppers, businesses and the car parks I don’t yet know.

Maghull Square in more recent times

Goodness me I hope this is going to be a big impact job as Maghull’s down at heel shopping centre desperately needs it. It looks the same now as when it was built in the 1960’s! It’s only been the efforts of the Maghull in Bloom volunteers that have kept it looking almost decent in recent years.

Contractor's machinery at the rear of the Square 31st October.

Contractor’s machinery at the rear of the Square 31st October.

I wonder if the new owners have twigged how cheesed off locals are with their declining shopping centre? But if they monitor Facebook they must know that expectations are high and patience is getting very low indeed. Let’s hope for some positive outcomes!