Southport – Planning for a positive future

birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-british-lawnmower-museum-and-town.html

Above is a link to the blog site of my good friend Cllr. Iain Brodie Brown, please take a moment to click the link and read his posting. It is pure community politics to my mind.

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Southport viewed from the end of its pier

Click on the photo to enlarge it

There can be little doubt that the towns/boroughs surrounding Liverpool have not benefited from being a part of the Liverpool City Region. Indeed, my own view is that centralising power in Liverpool as both Tories and Labour are planning for, with a Metro Mayor, could well be the road to ruin for places like Southport St. Helens, Birkenhead, Maghull, Formby, Prescot etc.

Whilst Iain’s posting is all about what needs to be done to give Southport a bright future his fundamental concerns could well be about any of Liverpool’s satellite communities that sit outside of the Liverpool City Council boundary.

Centralising power and influence in Liverpool will just not work, except for Liverpool itself. Unlike the Greater Manchester communities, which mostly seem look towards Manchester, the same can’t be said of Merseyside. Southport has always seen its connections with Preston and Lancashire as being of great importance but it was wrenched away from such historical links by local government reorganisation in 1974. Much of Wirral Borough has historic connections with Chester and Cheshire but it too was forced into Merseyside.

Merseyside because of its odd geographic shape was never likely to be a runner as a viable unit of local government and the years that have passed since 1974 have only proved that theory correct. Sefton, itself a strange collection of diverse communities, realised this some years ago and it began a process of decentralisation. Bizarrely though Labour then slammed this process into reverse when its Bootle based party took control of the Council. What was their motivation to say ‘the Borough will work well as a one size fits all because we say it will’ not least because this approach had failed miserably when first tried?

Presently we are seeing the start of a process to take 1000’s of civil service jobs out of Netherton, St Helens and Bootle for them all to be centralised in Liverpool. Liverpool’s gain will be big losses for Sefton and St Helens Boroughs.

Make no mistake the Tories are wedded to cities being made more powerful at the expense of their surrounding towns and boroughs. What’s more Labour are pretty much behind this process, why else did the 6 Labour Council Leaders on Merseyside sign up to a 3rd rate devolution deal?

Towns surrounding big cities need investment, public and private, not dependency on the nearest City because that is the road to ruin except for the big cities of course.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Bootle – What sense does it make to take 2,500 Civil Service jobs out of it?

Firstly, yes I have an interest in this matter as I am a civil servant working in Bootle.

A bit of history to start things off – Civil Service jobs were brought to what became known as Bootle’s ‘Mini-Whitehall’ for two reasons in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s i.e. the area needed investment and jobs and government found it too expensive to keep such jobs in the south east of England. I think the moves were entitled ‘Exit London’.

The last big move to Bootle was by the Health and Safety Executive if I recall correctly.

But now the process has seemingly been slammed into reverse as plans have recently been announced to remove around 2,500 HMRC civil service employees out of Bootle (and Netherton) and into a central Liverpool location in around 4 years time.

The obvious questions people in Bootle are asking are? Aren’t building costs much, much higher in central Liverpool? Won’t car parking be far more difficult and expensive in Liverpool for the hardly well paid staff and most importantly of all what will be the extent of the negative impact on the Bootle (Sefton Borough) economy? How would any town cope with 2,500 jobs being taken away from it never mind one like Bootle that always falls within the poorest ranked communities in England?

I suspect this will be a long-running issue but opposition Lib Dem members on Labour-run Sefton Council have already raised concerns by asking a question about the matter at the Full Sefton Council meeting held last night. The answer was that Sefton’s Chief Exec’ (Margaret Carney) has written to Lin Homer Chief Exec’ of HMRC and that this Department of Government is willing to meet the Council.

Yes indeed what is Sefton Council going to do to try to retain 2,500 jobs in the Borough? And I do hope they make a serious attempt to address this situation. I say this despite power and influence on Merseyside continually moving in Liverpool’s direction which is more and more of a concern in Sefton and indeed in the other Borough’s that surround the city.

It is no use Liverpool prospering by sucking jobs out of Sefton, Knowsley, St. Helens (this Borough is also down to lose civil service jobs as well), Halton and Wirral.

Will Sefton make all the right noises though about job losses in the Borough whilst at the same time also having to toe Liverpool’s line as it seemingly rebuilds its prosperity at the expense of the other Merseyside Boroughs?

‘Ground survey set to assess potential for Rimrose Valley road’

This was the headline in the Champion newspaper on 19th August and a sobering one it is too.

How many times have I commented on the complete lack of foresight and preparation for the soon to be completed river berth at Seaforth Docks? I lose count I really do but to consider churning up a Country Park for a relief road beggars belief. My last posting is here:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/04/lancashire-life-magazine-expansion-at-seaforth-dock/

Yes I know the Highways Agency (now Highways England) has been considering this option for years now, so long indeed that no one can quite recall when they first thought of it!

Frankly this carry on is probably the biggest local scandal to afflict the south of Sefton Borough. With the river berth about to be opened later this year virtually nothing has been done (except for the recent works to the big roundabout in Seaforth) to address the increased HGV traffic and the air pollution it brings with it.

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships.

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

It’s as though no one has realised or wanted to realise that building the river berth for much larger ships will have significant environmental consequences for Seaforth, Waterloo, Bootle, Netherton etc. Only in the UK could we get ourselves into such a muddle of wishing an end result (bigger ships, better port facilities, more trade etc.) without at the same time planning for the movement of freight from the docks to the Motorway network and onto the rail network. Yet here we are in that muddle and one of the ‘solutions’, possibly the only one we presently know of, is to build a new road right through a County Park in a densely populated area.

Where are the improved rail facilities up to? Who if anyone is planning for them? Do Network Rail have a project in their sights to use the rail freight facility in its present guise to its greatest potential? Is the mothballed Aintree – Bootle line going to be brought back into use to help expand the rail freight capacity? Is the Seaforth dock railway link to be electrified so to relieve the communities living near to the rail line from diesel pollution?

So many questions but only a new road through a Country Park on the agenda or so it seems!

The photo above is also amongst on by Flickr page at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

More arrests this time in Maghull and Netherton

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/six-people-arrested-bootle-netherton-9625166

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

This is a follow up to the raids in Liddell Avenue, Melling of a couple of days ago.

Closing Pubs – A mile of road in Litherland/Netherton sums up the difficulties for pubs

I have commented before on the troubles of the Priory Pub in Litherland and the Cabbage Inn Pub in Netherton. The Priory has just been demolished, much to the sadness of the local community who had been fighting for it to be saved. The Cabbage has been empty for some time now and awaits redevelopment.

But in between these two pubs, that are just over a mile apart, there are two others, one still surviving but the other well gone and demolished. So instead of 4 pubs in just over a mile one is left!

Starting at the closed Priory Pub which has been demolished over the last few of weeks:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/01/25/the-priory-litherland-another-local-pub-has-gone/

The Priory Pub prior to demolition

The Priory Pub prior to demolition

The site of the former Priory Pub after demolition on 20th March 2015

The site of the former Priory Pub after demolition on 20th March 2015

Next we come to the closed and demolished Liverpool Arms:-

The former Liverpool Arms Pub

The former Liverpool Arms Pub – photo credit Phil Wieland

Site of the former Liverpool Arms Pub demolished some time ago

Site of the former Liverpool Arms Pub demolished some time ago

And then on to an open pub! Cooksons Bridge:-

Cooksons Bridge Pub

Cooksons Bridge Pub

Then finally on to the closed Cabbage Inn:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/07/18/saving-pubs-at-risk-of-closure/

The Cabbage Inn

The Cabbage Inn

If this mile of road in Litherland and Netherton does not illustrate how our drinking habits have changed and the effect that this and other factors, such as the greed of Pub Co’s?, has had on a once flourishing trade I don’t know what does. Often a building that is much loved by the community is lost and The Priory seems to be one such Pub. They are landmarks, often used by people to give directions before the advent of sat nav’s but even now if you ask someone to tell you where ‘Fred and Mary’ live they may still say look out for the ‘Red Lion’ or some such pub name. But in future such landmarks will be gone and few will be left to admire as unique buildings often with their own architectural merit.

The Aintree (not on this length of road but in Bootle – see 2nd link above) was of course saved and it is now in another use so the building has been saved. Sadly, The Priory and The Liverpool Arms have gone for good. Why if they were not viable as Pub’s could they not have been converted into flats? Just a thought.

Let’s hope that Cooksons Bridge Pub continues to buck the trend!

Any errors in this article are mine and I am more than happy to correct them, so please get in touch if I have anything wrong.

Narrow Boats, barges, maintenace boats and cruisers – All seen in Lydiate

Lydiate is blessed with having the Leeds Liverpool Canal flowing through it as indeed are the other Sefton Borough communities of Melling, Maghull, Aintree Village, Netherton, Litherland and Bootle. Lydiate is also the home, as I have posted before, of the Mersey Motor Boat Club.

A walk along the length of the canal through Lydiate can bring forth all kinds of sights and sounds of canal boating. Narrow boats, barges, maintenance boats, cruisers etc. All these shots were taken on the same day in May 2014:-

A canal barge – wide in comparison with a narrow boat:-

rsz_canal_barge

Narrow Boats aplenty:-

rsz_narrow_boat_1

rsz_narrow_boat_2

A short narrow boat

A short narrow boat

A medium length narrow boat

A medium length narrow boat

Maintenance Barge

Maintenance Barge

A Canal Cruiser

A Canal Cruiser

Some of these photos are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/