Cycling and crossing Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’

The new (ish) cyclist unfriendly Alt Junction in Maghull

Maghull is very flat so you’d expect it to be perfect to cycle around and yet the busy A59/Northway cuts Maghull in half. I’ve always said it’s akin to the Town’s own Berlin Wall when it comes to cycling and even to some extent walking. I have of course blogged about this matter many times before and called upon Sefton Council to improve the lot of cyclists wanting to cross and cycle safely along Maghull’s great divide. Here’s a link to a previous posting of mine on this matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/03/maghull-lydiates-berlin-wall-the-bible-of-cycling-infrastructure/

I was and for that matter still am unimpressed with the new(ish) Alt junction as, in my opinion, it’s not cyclist-friendly. Expecting cyclists to dismount and then follow the same circuitous route that pedestrians have been landed with at this junction is not encouraging folks to leave their cars behind, in fact, it probably has just the opposite effect!

So, why do I return to this subject now? Well, improvements are afoot as shared-space cycle/pedestrian routes are being constructed on either side of the A59 between the Town Hall/Hall Lane and Damfield Lane junctions. The Damfield Lane/A59 junction, which has a poor accident record, is also being turned into a traffic-lighted one.

So the lot of cyclists is being improved although clearly, an A59 safe cycle route needs to pass through all of Maghull and indeed Lydiate to reach the cycle tracks along the A59 to the north of Robins Island in West Lancs. But don’t be churlish Robertson progress is being made which should be welcomed, and I do indeed welcome the progress.

Here are some shots of the work presently being undertaken at Damfield Lane and along the A59 to the Hall Lane junction:-

Looking towards the Town Hall/Hall Lane junction with the new and widened shared space path.

Elevated view of new Damfield Lane junction layout.

Damfield Lane junction looking north

It will be interesting to see how cyclist-friendly the Damfield Lane junction is when works are completed because from my perspective cyclists should not have to dismount to travel through a junction as seems to be the highway engineer’s want at the Alt junction. Junctions should be designed so that cyclists can go through them safely whilst pedalling not via having to walk.

I’m sure there’ll be much more to comment on as our presently very limited local cycling network is painfully slowly expanded.

Lydiate – Football changing room transformation

I’ve blogged a number of times previously about how Lydiate Parish Council is upgrading its sports/fitness/football facilities at Sandy Lane Playing Field. The works include new additional changing rooms (which should be put in place towards the end of May) and a big refurb’ of the existing changing rooms. Additionally, outdoor fitness equipment has been relocated from LPCs Village Centre Site in Lambshear Lane and land drainage under the football pitches is actively under investigation with a view to resolving water-logging issues as far as possible.

The project is complex and is being supported financially by the Football Assn. One of the significant aims is to get to a position where women’s football is properly catered for. And there’s still another big issue which we need to find a way forward for; turning the tennis courts into a multi-sports area (MUGA) with a much-improved surface, but not everything can be tackled at once.

These two photos show some remarkable progress with regard to the old changing rooms which are being transformed as I type this blog-piece:-

A disability toilet has already been installed and there’s a bespoke fitted out area in the present building for the making of refreshments/a community cafe.

Lydiate – Tyson’s Triangle to be built on

Tyson’s Triangle – March 2021

It must have been back in the 1980s that the triangle of farmland bounded by Liverpool Road, Kenyons Lane and the A59 (Northway) in Lydiate became known as Tyson’s* Triangle, indeed I seem to recall there was an advertising hoarding up for a while in that company’s name which led directly to it being dubbed Tyson’s Triangle.

And now to bring this all up to date. Not so long ago Sefton Borough Council published its Local Plan which defined land use across Sefton for around the next 15 years or so. This plan replaced what was previously know as a Unitary Development Plan. The major changes with regard to the new plan were that various sites across the Borough were taken out of Green Belt and in effect opened up to development/building. Tyson’s Triangle is one such site.

Readers of this blog site will know that I worked to oppose the emerging Sefton Local Plan during my latter years as a Sefton Councillor (I ceased to be a Sefton Borough councillor back in 2015) for Lydiate but that in the end I and the other environmental campaigners whom I worked with lost that fight.

And I mention this all now why? Well, moves are clearly afoot to press on with the building of 300+ dwellings on the land with a draft site plan of the proposals being made available to Lydiate Parish Councillors this week.

I’ve got past the raw anger I once felt at high-grade agricultural land (which much of the former Green Belt to be built on has been) being sacrificed for building but still feel that both government and council have failed to value some of the best food-growing land in England.

So built upon this site will be no matter what I or anyone else thinks; the die has sadly been cast. The only arguments now are about the site layout, the access roads to it, flooding mitigation etc. etc.

OK, I’m still angry really it’s just not as raw!

* I’m guessing that Tysons were possibly the first developers to have an option on this site should Sefton Council take the land out of Green Belt but if I’m wrong please shout out.

Lydiate – Progress at Sandy Lane

Just a bit of an update on Lydiate Parish Council’s project to develop and upgrade the football changing facilities at its Sandy Lane Playing Field. Here’s the latest photos:-

This is where the additional changing facility will be located. It will come as a pre-built modular container-type building for which the services are being provided via these works. My understanding is that delivery will be around 18th May.

Works inside the present building are also progressing to raise the 1960’s-type standards and provide refreshment facilities too. Here’s a photo which I may have previously posted with regard to these works. It was taken 3 months ago so much has changed. This is where the disability friendly toilet facility is being located:-

More news as things move forward……..

Gerard Manley Hopkins – the Lydiate Connections

Readers of this posting who know me well will recall that I’m an atheist so may consider my reviewing a book about such a deeply religious man and his poetry a little incongruous and I suppose it is but here goes anyway.

I came across this book via Sheila, my wife, who asked me to order it for her as a Christmas present in 2020. What drew me to find out about the book and Manley Hopkins is the simple fact that I regularly cycle past Rose Hill House in Lydiate’s Pygons Hill Lane and I’d recognised the painting of the house on the book’s front cover. Here’s a present day photo of the scene:-

Rose Hill is a Grade II Listed Building I might add; here’s a link to British Listed Buildings:-

britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101343312-rose-hill-lydiate

Firstly, who was Gerard Manley Hopkins? This link to the Poetry Foundation helps set the scene:-

www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gerard-manley-hopkins

The book talks about Manley Hopkins’ early life and influences and his conversion from Anglican to RC religion – which clearly caused some short-term family troubles. It then charts his arrival in Liverpool in January 1880 and his visits to Rose Hill House to celebrate Sunday Mass. It seems to have been a weekly event for a Jesuit from St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Salisbury Street Liverpool to ‘take the train to Lydiate*, sleep overnight, then celebrate Mass in the “chapel” at Rose Hill House’, a direct quote from the book. The celebrated poem ‘Spring and Fall’ was penned by Manley Hopkins at Rose Hill House in September 1880.

Well I’ve certainly learned some things I did not previously know about with regard to my adopted home community of Lydiate and it’s via books such as this that such gaps are filled in and our local history better understood. It’s well worth a read if you have an interest in Lydiate, poetry, the RC church etc.

Sales of the book will I understand support Hospice Africa – Ive noticed that it’s presently available (Feb 2021) via Abe Books price £6.89.

* It seems the Jesuit travellers would either have used Maghull Station or Town Green Station (both opened in 1849) on the present day Liverpool – Ormskirk line or Lydiate’s own Station on the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway although that line and station did not open until 1884.

Note:- Tony Robertson (the editor of this blog site) is a former leader of Sefton Council and a present day member of Lydiate Parish Council

Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

Towpath north of Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal through Lydiate leaves a lot to be desired; a subject I’ve blogged about before I might add. Here’s a couple of links back to previous postings in October 2015 and June 2019 :-

October 2015 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/22/lydiate-leeds-liverpool-canal-bank-collapse/

June 2019 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/29/lydiate-improvemnets-to-tow-path-flow-from-controversial-house-building-site/

The worst section of towpath is probably that which is north of Lollies Bridge (Southport Road Bridge) up to and past Lydiate Hill Bridge (also known as Billy’s Bridge) where the land and fields adjacent to it is higher. This causes water run-off onto the towpath with muddy almost impassable conditions at times especially after heavy periods of rain.

Lollies Bridge

View from Billy’s Bridge looking back towards Lollies Bridge.

Canal bank collapse just south of Lydiate Hill Bridge – Photo 2015

Ok, now to try to put all this in context of what Lydiate Parish Council is trying to do in 2021. If you’ve read the links above you’ll know that some planning gain money (otherwise known as Section 106 money) from the housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road (the new estate is known as Rosehill Gardens) has been allocated to the Canal & River Trust to upgrade the towpath along the section of it which is adjacent to the new housing i.e. the Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate section. The money amounts to £67,000 I understand. These works are yet to be undertaken I might add.

The recent intervention by Lydiate Parish Council has been along the lines of saying to the C&RT that whilst money to upgrade the towpath is obviously welcome there are actually worse parts, far worse parts, of the towpath through Lydiate which could do with attention and can we discuss how this can be achieved either using the S106 money or other funding sources. The response of the C&RT has been that the S106 money can only be spent on the defined section of canal towpath as detailed in the planning permission.

The Trust do however acknowledge though that the towpath elsewhere through Lydiate Parish Council’s area is in poor condition and that it can become impassable during inclement weather. They also say they’d be happy to work with the Parish Council to help identify improvements and priorities for the canal in such locations.

As readers may know the C&RT is a charity (similar to the National Trust – I’m a member of both I might add) and it is reliant on securing funding via developments (such as Rosehill Gardens) to try to improve the condition of the towpath surface or through bidding for funding via local and national schemes and initiatives. They seem to be happy to work with LPC to try to improve the canal towpath but clearly this means significant extra resources will need to be identified. At a very rough back of a fag packet type guess I’m thinking that to do up the whole of the towpath through Lydiate Parish could involve say £250,000+ and presently there’s just £67,000 in the pot for one already defined section of it, which is partly in Maghull.

There’s some good news however as the canal bank collapse (pictured above in 2015) is, we are told by the Trust, scheduled to be repaired in the next financial year – 2021/2022 assuming scarce maintenance resources do not have to be redirected to more urgent works.

The Parish Council is going to discuss the matter again at its February Zoom meeting to see if ways forward can be identified with regard to the bad sections of towpath.

I’ll update further as things hopefully develop…….

And a look back to the days when pedestrians and cyclists were unwelcome on our canal towpath – notice as seen at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port