Oh Mr Burnham did you really think the Northern Poorhouse was anything more than spin?


I am not known for my support of Andy Burnham but this piece in the Echo really does make me wonder how he and indeed other Labour worthies ever came to the conclusion that George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse was anything more than party political froth.

Talked about for a handful of years what on earth has been delivered for the ‘North’ that would not have happened anyway? Any medium to large project you can think of has been linked to the Northern Powerhouse in recent times and just about every council policy document you look at name drops it. But that does not mean that things have been achieved because of what some now refer to as the Northern ‘Poorhouse’.

Right wing Labour politicians are clutching at straws by begging for a policy devised by a now ousted Tory Chancellor and that was of little substance to be saved.

‘Northern Powerhouse’ progress: Slower than the Southport to Manchester train?


The Story is on the Birkdale Focus Blog site – see link above

As someone who has always been at best sceptical of the Northern Powerhouse concept/project I find myself at one with Lauren Keith who has written a posting on this subject for the Birkdale Focus blog site. It is worth a read.

I commented quite some time ago about a Labour Party friend of mine re- christening it the ‘Northern Poorhouse’ and a more apt name I have yet to come across. Sadly, I get the impression though that northern Labour leaders seem to have been taken in by it. Without really significant investment it is and will remain nothing more Tory than window dressing.

£340m Liverpool Rail Improvements/Investments – but lets cut the Blair type re-announcements please



The Liverpool Echo and the BBC web site have the story – see links above

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Two differing takes here on some welcome rail investment news for Liverpool/Merseyside, but you do get the impression, especially from the BBC article that a lot of it, like in the Blair years, is re-announcing what has already been announced to big up the overall picture.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Take Maghull North Station, yes we know its going to happen, the Coalition Government gave more than 90% of the money for it well over a year ago. And what about the Halton Curve, the reopening of it for passenger rail services has been pumped out as new news more times than I have had hot dinners.

But please none of us get too carried away because the amount of money being invested in transportation projects in the north is nothing like what it is, per head of population, in the south east.

And what’s more our northern rail investments are unsurprisingly being linked yet again to that Northern Poorhouse project! Is there any public money now spent in the north that is not related to ‘keep the grumbling northerners from moaning too much project’?

The second photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Education, education, education


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

Sir Michael Wilshaw is a blunt and undiplomatic chap to me whose ideas I often question but he has a point here because our education system in deprived urban areas has been letting children down for years and years and it is simply not good enough.

Take Knowsley for an example. It has been rooted to the bottom of the education attainment leagues for generations despite its high schools being reorganised and rebuilt every 10 years or so.

Maghull High School (in neighbouring Sefton Borough) is good example of how Knowsley’s education system is failing because it has been educating Knowsley’s children for many, many years as Knowsley parents have given up all hope of some Knowsley schools coming up to scratch.

Northern Poorhouse (sorry Powerhouse) – Another perspective


The BBC has the story in its news magazine – see link above

Just a couple of comments.

The M62/M60! – Oh just how long is it going to take to make the long section west of Rochdale smart? The 50mph speed restriction has been in force for as long as I can remember. What’s more I tend to use it in the evenings and at night when there is nothing going on at all yet the speed limit is still in place. Don’t get me started.

Pennine Road Tunnel – Yes it’s probably needed because the main roads from Manchester to Sheffield are a joke with queues at all times of day and night.

Northern Powerhouse or Northern Poorhouse, this project is more about keeping us troublesome moaning northerners from rebelling than it is about re-balancing the huge economic imbalance between us and the south east/London in my view.

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus January 2016 – Posting 1 – The SuperPort implications

There’s some interesting, encouraging and indeed worrying information (or the lack of it) in this 47 page prospectus. I will cover the various aspects in 3 separate postings because they are all worth a mention in their own right.

The words Norther Powerhouse litter the document as they seem to every public sector paper from t’north these days. I assume this is to either keep or get George Osborne on side rather than the authors being enthusiastic about it?

The first thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Skelmersdale on page 12 not least because of the connection with the Liverpool SuperPort project. The relevant text says this:-

Skelmersdale in West Lancashire is closely linked to the Merseyside economy and is able to offer major sites for logistics and distribution companies keen to take advantage of the opportunities being generated by the opening of Liverpool SuperPort. This is supported by research commissioned by Peel Ports and the Liverpool City Region has highlighted the need to increase large market-attractive sites to take advantage of Atlantic Gateway opportunities.


This is interesting not because it is new news but because it shows how far the tentacles of the SuperPort project spread. Readers will probably know that a huge piece of Green Belt/high grade agricultural land in Melling, next to the M57, is firmly on Peel Ports agenda for similar purposes and that Sefton Council has, for now, kicked the issue into the long grass.


The problem will of course be how all the freight that lands in either or both of Melling and Skem actually gets to Seaforth Docks. Of course this will all have to happen in reverse too. The A5036 is the only road from the ends of the M57 and M58 motorways. Fools some years ago took up the rail connection and Highways England are now promoting a new road straight down the middle of Sefton’s Rimrose Valley Country Park as their preferred option to addresses the ‘need’ for a new freight route!

Never has so much Green Belt and green space been under more threat in Sefton, than via these proposals and of course Sefton Council’s own appalling Local Plan.