Merseyrail – Should their fare structure copy Bandwagon Burnham’s Manchester approach?

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station


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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/1-ticket-manchester-commuters-been-15395226

Well, I’m certainly no fan of Andy Burnham, who has always struck me as popularist who jumps from policy to policy depending on which way the political wind is blowing, but has his latest pronouncement as Mayor of Greater Manchester hit the right note in terms of trying to reduce congestion on our roads?

A Manchester Metrolink Tram

Here’s a link to Transport for Greater Manchester’s website with details of their low fare scheme:-

www.tfgm.com/press-release/early-bird

Would I be right that Mersey Metro Mayor was caught on the hop by the Echo in effect challenging him to come up with a similar deal for Merseyside? The fact that a spokesperson from Merseytravel responded for the Mayor makes he think so.

My own view is that public transport needs to be cheap, reliable, convenient and of high quality and frequency if we are to get folk to leave their environmentally challenging cars at home.

City Regions and their Metro Mayors – Middle aged white men! Big diversity issues here but the concept of City Regions is flawed too

ciltuk.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Focus/Mayors.pdf?utm_source=http%3a%2f%2fciltemail.org.uk%2fcilt2011lz%2f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Focus+_+May+_+2018&utm_term=How+have+the+metro+mayors+changed+British+politics%3f+%7c+May%27s+Focus+is+out+now!&utm_content=22855&gator_td=iT217sLHzHCoAXs18511elTuBZj1y%2bUBNsQ2o7DKf48Ic4IydWBQNaS7%2fFOG2l2wyKQc4JXZU1IwHtb%2bpWgqMLq5FmgGg%2b0arS69lo9I6mhxB3EwtEt8pRb3rC8KyWS2Hs0%2bO4QDHRDiyF8uROrzpNskgsTlxZ1gq3d5tjGKKoeO55z6Y6P5Szll43dbyFFILza%2fFcHZo3LJ9DDTp8PbDQ%3d%3d

The article is on the web site of Logistic and Transport Focus and is available via the link above

So many white middle aged men, yet most of them will be representing very ethnically diverse regions of England – regions where around 50% of the population will also be women I might add. A diversity disaster is my first thought.

I have always opposed the concept of City Regions and elected Mayors for a number of reasons. I don’t support the idea of concentrating power in the hands of one person, whomever that person may be, as it is a poor form of representation which does not deliver good democracy. Secondly, the devolved powers (certainly as far as the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside are concerned) are 2nd or even 3rd rate. But probably more than anything else I see power and resources being pulled into the heart of a City Region often at the expense of its surrounding towns and communities.

I can’t comment of the other City Regions as I’m not well enough informed but looking at my own Liverpool City Region I see two obvious examples of a pull to the centre and a disregard of an important issue to an outlying town.

The pull to the centre is the removal of around 3,000 civil servants from a deprived area into Liverpool City Centre. The losing community here is Bootle where a mini-Whitehall had been established over many years starting in the 1960’s. Yes some civil servants will be left in Bootle but why on earth take 3,000 of them out to place them in a crowded city centre where property is more expensive and the parking charges faced by poorly paid civil servants are high. Surely a lose lose situation especially when you take away the spending power of 3,000 workers from the Bootle retail economy. What did the Liverpool City Regional do about this? Well whatever it was it was ineffective because decisions made in the real Whitehall could not be overturned? Or was it that despite the huffing the puffing by the powers that be locally it actually suited some to concentrate jobs in Liverpool City Centre?

My second example is of an outlying Liverpool City Region Town effectively being left all but unsupported, by any meaningful regional intervention, over an important transport link. The link is the railway line and service from Southport to Wigan, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport which is about to suffer from a poorer service due to decisions being made by Network Rail, Northern Rail and the railway industry generally. The problem has been known about for a long time so it has not been a quick decision that has been difficult to address in a short timescale. Yet the main campaigners against the move to downgrade Southport’s rail service to Manchester have been two voluntary organisations – OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) and Southport Rail Transport Forum. Where exactly has the Liverpool City Region and its Transport Committee Merseytravel been during this process and what have they done to defend the loss of an important rail link to Manchester Airport and a much reduced service to Manchester Piccadilly? But looking back further to when the Liverpool City Region produced its first Long Term Rail Strategy the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line did not even get a mention! That had to challenged and it was (successfully to some degree) but the 2nd iteration of this plan, published only last October, clearly makes the line little more than less than important to the City Region.

So my view remains that the concept of City Regions and City Region Mayors is badly flawed and that it can work to the disadvantage of towns surrounding a big city area. That neglect can manifest itself by things being drawn towards the centre or by issues in outlying towns being all but ignored. Look at it like this City Regions, as they are presently set up, are a bit like the overheated economy of the South East – a magnet for money to the City with crumbs from the city’s table finding its way to the outlying areas. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that as a rule of thumb any investment in an outlying City Region area will only happen if it is also to the advantage of the main hub.

Oh and just in case you’ve forgotten the other big issue – the City Region Mayors are all middle aged white men, just think on that.

Note – Both of the examples I have focused on above are within Sefton Borough

Mersey Tunnels – When a toll reduction is a big let down!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-42802041

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Now what exactly was Steve Rotherham’s electoral pledge on Mersey Tunnels Tolls? Well I have listened carefully to the video on the Liverpool Echo web site from January 2017 and the pledge was very clear to me – Mr. Rotherham said he was going to reduce the cost of a single (Fast Tag) journey, for Liverpool City Region residents, through the tunnels to £1. No mention of it being only between 7pm at night and 7pm in the morning. Here’s the link to the Liverpool Echo article and video:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tunnel-trips-1-5-things-12496167

So why has he watered down the pledge? Was it not fully thought through, costed and affordable when the pledge was made?

Is there any wonder folk lose faith in politicians who don’t deliver on pledges – Mr Clegg and his pledge to not increase Labour’s Tuition Fees comes to mind of course!

In my view tolls on tunnels and bridges should all be abolished and the cost of the upkeep of them funded from general taxation.

Liverpool City Region Labour Mayor adopts much of Lib Dem Carl Cashman’s manifesto – Well that’s what it looks like

Yes I know, many of those Lib Dem manifesto pledges that Labour voters rejected in the Mersey Metro Mayor election of a few months ago seem to have been picked up as policy by the newly elected Labour Mayor of Liverpool City Region. Just look:-

Not exactly the same words but you could not read Carl’s manifesto without saying hang on a minute! And what will Labour voters think of it; they seemingly rejected Carl’s policy options only last May!

Politics is a funny old world at times but this made me smile because much of what Lib Dem candidate Carl Cashman stood for in the Metro Mayor is now seemingly official Labour policy on Merseyside. Carl should be pleased as imitation is the best form of flattery, or so they say.

But of course just picking up Carl’s ideas is one thing making them happen in a meaningful way is quite another! Maybe Steve Rotherham needs to appoint Carl as his special advisor for implementation of the Lib Dem manifesto:-)))

Picture Credit of lead photo – Charlie Green

Carl Cashman for Metro Mayor – The Liverpool Echo take on his manifesto launch

Carl discussing the issues of the day at a meeting in Liverpool Central Library,

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/metro-mayor-candidate-says-merseyside-12824589

The Liverpool Echo covered Carl Cashman’s recent manifesto launch – see link above

You will have to persevere with the Echo article as it unfortunately takes a long time to load up.

My own account of the launch last week can be accessed via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/28/mersey-metro-mayor-carl-cashmans-manifesto-launch/