Emergency Services – Austerity causes innovative and welcome/unwelcome thinking

We are all sick and tired of austerity which has in effect been inflicted upon us as a consequence ‘casino banking’ and the subsequent financial crash. And yes it has caused great harm to the public services we all rely on.

But one, maybe the only positive consequence is that public services which for years have operated in glorious isolation from each other have had to look at innovative solutions to service delivery. Basing ambulances in fire stations or other similar solutions that bring together sometimes all 3 emergency services under one roof is an example.

Having said that the principle is good I was personally not supportive of the local solution which put ambulances, once based in Lydiate, in a fire station in Netherton. I wanted the Lydiate Ambulance Station and Maghull Police station merged onto the Maghull Police Station site but sadly no one was listening and the joined up thinking was not joined up as the Police were separately (and seemingly in glorious isolation) planning to shut down Maghull Police Station and sell off the land…….

But another innovative solution to service delivery is just up the road from my Lydiate home in neighbouring Aughton where the local Police Station is actually on Town Green Railway Station’s Liverpool bound platform. See photo below:-

As for Maghull the Police Station, we are told, it is going to occupy space within Maghull Town Hall. This may well have been a welcome and innovative solution if it had not meant the loss of the Town’s only surviving publicly funded youth facility. Plus that facility also doubled up to house the Town’s CAB but that has also now gone and a joint community the size of Maghull/Lydiate now sadly has no CAB.

So readers will understand why I am not at all happy with Maghull/Lydiate’s rather unwelcome public service delivery ‘solutions’. When the move of the Police Station to Maghull Town Hall will actually happen we don’t presently know as all has gone quiet on the matter.

CAB – The struggles of a much loved help organisation

Many years ago (during the early 1990’s if memory serves) I helped, together with many other concerned folk, to bring a branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau to what was then my home town of Maghull (I live in Lydiate these days). It operated from Maghull Town Hall, was supported in terms of utility costs and via a nil rental charge by Maghull Town Council and was for the early years an outpost/outreach of Formby CAB.

Some years later the CAB’s across Sefton Borough merged into one organisation but they continued to operate out of Bootle, Crosby, Formby, Southport and indeed Maghull. However, as with many things these days they suffer from the withdrawal of the public money which significantly supports the vital advice services they deliver and have been delivering for many years.

The poster below is presently displayed on the outside noticeboard of Maghull Town Hall and it tells a story:-

Maghull does not have a CAB facility these days and the operation of what is now called ‘Citizens Advice’ for Sefton Borough (the word Bureau having seemingly been dropped in terms of its modern identity) can be accessed via the link below:-

www.seftoncab.org.uk/

I’m not trying to apportion blame here for the demise of CAB facilities in communities like Maghull but the financial crash of 2007, as with many things, must be a significant factor.

I do know that for the years the CAB operated in Maghull it had a regular throughput of folks wanting and needing advice. Clearly, they have to travel for such advice these days and the fact that Maghull no longer has a CAB must be a sad reflection on the state of our society.

Wheres Ya Bin (lorry)? – Try looking at Maghull Town Hall

Now this is an odd story and I am not sure that I have all nuances of it, but here goes anyway with corrections and updates as they come to my or indeed your attention.

The story seems to start about 3 weeks back when the sign below started to appear in the car park of Maghull Town Hall on a Tuesday morning:-

The car parking at Meadows Leisure Leisure Centre and Maghull Town Hall can be rather tight at times, with there being more cars trying to park than there are spaces available. This space shortage leads to cars having to be parked half on/half off the access roads and this in turn narrows the access roads so that getting around the joint site can be a real pain if not impossible at really bad times.

This last Tuesday morning there were indeed cars parked half on/half off the access road but you would have expected there to be spaces just around the corner in front of and just past the Town Hall. However, the sign above was in effect cutting the amount of spaces available there in half.

But what was the event last Tuesday morning from 8am to 1pm and indeed, so it seems, every Tuesday morning now that causes half the car parking spaces to be closed? You will be surprised by the answer.

The following photos show why:-

Half of the Town Hall car park had been turned into a bin lorry parking area, although clearly some car drivers felt the need to use the closed to cars area – because there was nowhere else to park?

Former local councillor Cliff Mainey picked up on this rather odd situation and he tells me that the same thing may well be happening on the Monday mornings when the green bins are collected in the Maghull area.

Cliff’s view is that there is no need to turn the much in demand parking spaces at the Town Hall into a bin lorry park as just up the road, literally yards away, is the Maghull Salt Depot which like the bin lorries is run by Sefton Council. So why has Sefton Council asked Maghull Town Council to use the Town Hall car park to gather their bin lorries on a Tuesday and also possibly a Monday morning?

The car park has been there for years and the bins have also been emptied for years without the need to consider use of the Town Hall car park.

On the wider front the intention of both Maghull Town Council & Sefton Council when the Leisure Centre was opened in 2010 was to run the Town Hall and Leisure Centre as one seamless community facility despite the two buildings being under differing ownership. That aim seems to be slipping for reasons I can’t understand. Why connecting doors were even built into the project so that Leisure Centre users could easily park in the larger Town Hall car park and simply walk through the buildings to gain access to the Library and/or Fitness Suite. Oddly these connecting doors are locked at times – what’s that all about?

It will be interesting to see what happens now that Cliff has in effect said that using the car park to park bin lorries is not a sensible use of scarce parking places.

Maghull – Youth facilities – I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry

Readers of this blog site will know how I and others supported the ambitions of local youth when they created Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar within Maghull Town Hall some 20+ years ago. You will also know how distressed I am about Maghull Town Council closing down the facility in 2016.

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

But having read in the Aintree & Maghull Champion a quote about youth facilities in Maghull I did not know whether to laugh or cry! – ‘developing an appropriate youth offer to engage young people in productive activities is the right thing to do’. This was said, according to the Champion, by Town Council Leader Patrick McKinley.

Now what was the Youth Coffee Bar meant to do? Yes you have guessed it, just what the quote above says! So why run it down over 3 or so years and then close it? Why not have taken it to the next stage, whilst engaging further with local youngsters and getting them to take the lead yet again?

It was the idea of local youngsters in the first place, the Town Council of the day just helped them develop it, fund it and put in place the management processes to ensure it worked. Setting up Maghull & District Youth Council was a part of this process.

It was not something imposed on youngsters by adults, it was their plan which adults aided them, only as required, to fulfill.

Now the facility is mothballed (although Maghull CAB still use it I guess as they always have done) and it may even become a Police Station if that’s the part of Maghull Town Hall the Merseyside Police are moving into.

Sorry Patrick, I hear your words but I despair, I really do.

The Champion newspaper printed an edited version of a letter which I had sent to them about this matter in its edition dated 18th January.

A final goodbye to Jim Byrne

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It was Jim’s funeral today and it was nice to see so many folks turning out to pay their respects to a chap who had dedicated much of his life to the Maghull and wider Sefton Borough community.

Both the current Mayors of Sefton and Maghull were there as well as 2 former Sefton Mayors and 4 former Maghull Mayors, so Jim was getting a great send off.

Here are a few photos about Jim’s work on the council. The first photo is of the 1984 opening ceremony of Maghull Town Hall and Jim is 3rd from the left:-

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Here’s a shot of the past Mayor’s board at Maghull Town Hall. As you can see Jim was Mayor in 1975/76:-

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And Jim was Chair of the National Association of Larger Local Councils in 2003 and the plates below were presented to him by Barry Town Council in South Wales. They remain on display in the Council Chamber of Maghull Town Hall:-

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Jim really was a nice chap whom everyone liked and it was fitting that someone who had done so much for his community was given such a great send off. Indeed, I think it was goodbye to ‘Mr Maghull’.

Jim Byrne RIP

Jim with former local councillor Sylvia Mainey at the site of the former Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club prior to Lydiate Village Centre being built.

Jim with former local councillor Sylvia Mainey at the site of the former Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club prior to Lydiate Village Centre being built.

A am sad to have to report that former Maghull councillor Jim Byrne died on 31st December.

Jim had been a local councillor on Maghull Town Council, Sefton Borough Council and Lydiate Parish Council over many, many years. Indeed, he was first elected to Maghull Town Council in the early 1960 if memory serves.

Jim and I sharing a moment together.

Jim and I sharing a moment together.

Jim was fun to be around as he would often have some amusing remark to make about any situation. I recall his legendary old Ford Cortina car. Well put it this way it was old, probably one of the first off the production line, but he kept it going for years. Andrew Blackburn, Robbie Fenton and I thought he had bricks in it for suspension as the ride across The Moss to Southport for Sefton Council meetings was like a fairground ride!

Jim at the then derelict site of the former Albany Cinema, where Lidl is now of course.

Jim at the then derelict site of the former Albany Cinema, where Lidl is now of course.

I understand he had been a county level table tennis player in his younger days. Later in life he would really enjoy the quizzes that used to be held at Maghull Town Hall each Wednesday night where he could often be found deep in conversation with Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker about their time doing National Service. Yes, neither of them were actually taking a great deal of notice of the actual quiz, that was left to Andrew Beattie, Andrew Blackburn, myself and whomever else had turned out for our ‘Nutters’ quiz team.

Jim was a Maghull Town Council member when Maghull Town Hall was planned for and built and if you ever pop in there look out for the photo of the opening of the building in the foyer as Jim is on it.

He was also a member of Lydiate Parish Council when the successful campaign was launched to build what is now Lydiate Village Centre on Lambshear Lane, on the site of the former Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club. And he was a member of both Maghull Town and Sefton Borough Councils as we fought to get Meadows Leisure Centre & Library built by Sefton Council.

One part of the work of local councils that Jim loved was dealing with planning applications and he rose to become the Chairman of Sefton Council’s Planning Committee. I think he enjoyed that more than anything.

There can be few people indeed who have been involved in the work of local councils in this area from the 1960’s to early 2000’s who will not have known Jim. I think it is fair to say that I have never come across anyone who did not like Jim.

He often said that he was no politician and in many ways never a truer word has been spoken as Jim just liked doing things for the community. From my perspective it is nice to celebrate the life of a really nice chap who did his bit for his community.

Jim leaves behind a loving family whom he would constantly chatter about when in company. He clearly thought a lot of them and them of him.