Sefton Focus Review of 2018

It’s always interesting to look back at a year just ending – lessons can always be learned from history (even very recent history) but that’s a piece of traditional advice many of our present-day politicians really seem to struggle with.

So let’s look back at the past 12 months via 12 Sefton Focus postings – each month has a link back to my original posting. It’s my personal take on 2018:-

January – A celebration of everything Hornby:-

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre Maghull – Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV this year.

Well, I had to start this review with the TV programme which put Maghull firmly on the map. I refer of course to the Town being a part of one of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys celebrating the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident – Toy maker Frank Hornby:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/18/maghull-hornby-as-seen-on-tv/

February – Pavement Politics:-

We Libs are known for our ‘pavement politics’ so it’s no surprise that in February I was going on about pot-holes! Sadly, as we shall see later, a pot-holed/poorly maintained road which I mentioned back in Feb’ ended up being a contributory factor to a cyclist’s death later in the year.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/02/26/the-state-of-our-road-surfaces-on-your-bike/

March – Youth and CAB make way for Police:-

The move of Maghull’s Police Station from Westway into Maghull Town Hall, facilitated by Labour-run Maghull Town Council, made my blood boil because a successful CAB help point (still not replaced when we were told it would be) and a unique youth facility (a Youth Coffee Bar run by local young people) were both lost to make way for the boys and girls in blue.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/03/24/maghull-cheering-on-the-new-police-station-no-remembering-what-we-lost-to-rehouse-the-police/

April – Oh for decent services on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line:-

Departure board at Southport Station.

Railways have always been of great interest to me and I’ve been a member of OPSTA for many years now. Their campaigning to bring about a decent train service from Southport to Wigan and Manchester has been long-running and as I type it still is. This was the state of things back in April BEFORE the complete melt-down of the May timetable changes. Note – I think it fair to say that Merseytravel have now upped their game a little regarding services on this line but the reliability of it (It’s run by Northern Trains) is still very poor indeed.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/18/southport-loss-of-trains-to-manchester-airport-and-piccadilly-seems-merseytravel-has-form-here/

May – Did Merseytram burn Merseytravel’s fingers?:-

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.

In May I mused about the lack of significant public transportation developments across the Liverpool City Region and pondered on whether the failed Merseytram project burnt Merrsytravel’s fingers too hard.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/25/merseytravel-did-merseytram-knock-the-stuffing-out-of-innovative-progressive-transport-planning-in-the-city-region/

June – Canal Breach in Melling:-

The Leeds Liverpool Canal breached in the Waddicar part of Melling during June, stopping the many pleasure boats that use the canal during the summer season. The canal was closed for quite a few weeks whilst repairs were undertaken by the canal and River Trust.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/13/melling-canal-breach-this-mornings-photos/

July – How accessible is the new Maghull North Station?:-

I penned this posting a few weeks after the new station was opened. The level accessible route into the station has now been provided although there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists off School Lane.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/07/23/maghull-its-new-north-station-an-accessible-interchange/

August – The sad death of a local Councillor and cyclist:-

The August posting links directly back to the one I highlighted in February i.e. the fatal accident involving Melling Parish Councillor Alion Doyle who was cycling on one of the lanes in Aughton which I raised concerns about back then. A stretch of this lane, maybe a 100 yards or so, is still in terrible condition this December and I have raised this with Lancashire County Council. Such a sad loss of life. RIP Allison Doyle.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/08/20/aughton-fatal-accident-on-bold-lane/

September – The battle against fracking:-

Being an environmental campaigner the battle against Fracking is important to me as it is to many others. This month’s chosen posting is about Lydiate Parish Council gaining information from the volunteer campaigners against fracking. And yes, Lydiate PC did subsequently agree to put £500 to one side to help the volunteer Moss Alliance with their legal costs.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/27/lydiate-parish-council-gets-insight-into-fracking/

October – Building on high-grade agricultural land, which feeds us, is the politics of the madhouse:-

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Another environmental campaign that I feel passionately about. That governments and councils (of any political colour) can allow building on the highest grades of agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, is utterly mad to me – a subject I have blogged about many, many times…..

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/15/we-import-50-of-our-food-now-do-opposition-politicians-get-why-i-keep-banging-on-about-saving-high-grade-agricultural-land-from-development/

November – Ormskirk to Preston Line – The worst performing in the UK?:-

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

As the year dragged on for the poor long-suffering passengers of Northern Rail questions began to be asked about whether the line from Ormskirk to Preston could possibly be the worst performing in the UK. The question was taken up by BBC News with particular reference to a whole week without a single train running on the line. Performance can only improve in 2019, it just could not get any worse.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

December – The battle to try to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from Highways England’s plans for a new road:-

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

And to close 2018 a subject I have oft-blogged about, the campaign to try to stop Highway’s England building a new road to the Port of Liverpool through Rimrose Valley Country Park. There have been many angles which I have reported on but the bizarre tangle Sefton Council’s Tory Group have got themselves into takes a lot of beating.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/04/rimrose-valley-country-park-are-sefton-tories-backing-highways-england-plan-for-new-road-through-it/

Fracking – So do you think it’s a good idea? It’s really NOT!

Fracking is on our doorstep but how many folks really appreciate that and indeed the troubles that it could well cause in mid-Sefton and West Lancashire?

The process is advancing in Great Altcar, West Lancashire and at some point, subject to further permissions etc. a green light could be given to start fracking under our communities. Lydiate, Formby, Ince Blundell, Little Crosby, Hightown, Crosby, Little Altcar, Great Altcar, Maghull, Downholland are all within range for the process to take place below them.

But, have a look at this Channel 4 News video which details what has happened in Holland and then turn around and tell me, those of you who back fracking, that you are still happy for it to take place under your community.

www.channel4.com/news/why-the-dutch-are-ditching-gas-extraction

You may want to consider backing the work of the Moss Alliance if you are not doing already, who are trying to fight off fracking locally:-

themossalliance.org/

Lydiate Parish Council, on which I sit, has allocated £500 to assist the Moss Alliance in any legal battles they may fight as I have mentioned before on this blog site.

Lydiate – Parish Council gets insight into Fracking

I’ve blogged about fracking previously and indeed mentioned The Moss Alliance who are organising the opposition to it locally.

Lydiate’s Park Ward Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon is a leading light within The Moss Alliance and she together with two other members of this voluntary campaigning group were at the last Lydiate Parish Council meeting. The group is trying to raise a significant amount of money to enable them to employ planning experts who will help the group effectively campaign against fracking. Here’s some details of their present Crowdfunder appeal:-

They were at the Parish Council meeting on 25th September to brief the Council on the current situation and the threats, as they see them, being faced by local communities in Sefton Borough should fracking go ahead in neighbouring Great Altcar Civil Parish.

Here’s a map showing where the well site will be situated in Great Altcar:-

And here’s the area covered by the license the fracking company holds for our part of the world:-

My apologies for the poor quality graphics which are caused by me copying handouts from The Moss Alliance.

As you can see a large area is covered by licence PEDL 164 so it is reasonable to expect that should the fracking go ahead locally that at some point it could well be underneath any or all of the communities within in it.

I’m firmly against fracking and I’m hopeful that Lydiate Parish Council will make a financial contribution towards The Moss Alliance at its next meeting. Here are some contact details for the campaign group:-

Renewables have to be the way forward, not more fossil fuels for our future energy requirements

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

A Royal Wedding and an FA Cup Final – A good time to bury fracking bad news

Click on the photo to above to enlarge it

Fracking is a hugely controversial environmental issue. What’s more its happening on Sefton Borough’s doorstep and this proposed relaxation of planning rules is clearly aimed at smoothing the process of getting it started across the UK.

Of course Fracking is also a vision of the past because its a fossil fuel and not sustainable energy. The more we use fossil fuels the faster we accelerate global warming and make the lives of future generations more difficult.

But of course we all know all this so the big issue here was to bury the matter whilst eyes were turned on a royal wedding and the FA Cup Final. Some things never change and Governments of all colours do it because it works and we are easily distracted form the really important things.

With thanks to Cliff Mainey and Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Fracking – Coming to a field near you but do you know what it’s all about?

www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/26/fracking-the-reality-the-risks-and-what-the-future-holds

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

This is an interesting and informative piece from Adam Vaughan and well worth taking the time to read it.

I recently came across a clear map showing the boundaries of the Fracking area closest to our part of the world – The License is to Aurora Energy Resources and it’s number is PEDL 164. Here’s the map:-

As you can see the majority of the seismic survey area is within West Lancashire (the thick pale yellow line is the Sefton/West Lancs boundary) but the much wider license area boundary includes large parts of Sefton Borough. Parts of Formby and Lydiate Civil Parishes are clearly within seismic survey area.

My understanding is that Aurora must complete seismic surveys in the area by the 30/9/2020, submit a planning application for that area by 30/9/2021, and drill a well there by the 30/9/2023.

With thanks to Lydiate Parish Council, Frack Free Formby/The Moss Alliance and the Oil and Gas Authority for the map and much of the information contained in this posting. If I have anything wrong please shout and I will correct. Also thanks to Roy Connell for the link to the Guardian article.

Fracking on our doorstep – The opposition is getting organised

I suppose that fracking was always going to appear locally following Government giving out licences to companies wanting to explore for shale gas. Trouble is the wider political establishment is wedded to this source of fuel, which is far from being a green/renewable source of energy.

My previous posting on this subject was in January of this year and it is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/06/fracking-its-getting-closer-exploratory-drilling-in-great-altcar-is-on-the-agenda/

Opposition locally is being led by ‘The Moss Alliance’ who held a public event in Haskayne Village Hall on 10th February.

On 4th January 2018 Aurora Energy Resources submitted a scoping request to Lancashire County Council. This is the stage before submitting a planning application. They want to dill 2 boreholes on Altcar Moss. The site is more or less level with Formby and to the east of it inland. Please note the site is actually within Lancashire (due to the most odd local government boundaries locally) not Sefton but Formby will be the biggest community that is nearest to the site.

Lancashire already has experience of dealing with shale gas exploration and drilling due to the Cuadrilla site near Blackpool which has had a great deal of coverage in the media.

I understand that Aurora will be holding their own public event, also at Haskayne Village Hall, on 17th February.