The much missed 311 bus route (particularly in Lydiate)

A visit to Merseyside Transport Trust’s open day in Burscough yesterday and what should I spot but a heritage bus in Ribble/North Western livery numbered for the now lost and much missed 311 route which ran from Liverpool through to Ormskirk taking in the Old Roan, Maghull and Lydiate.

It brought back memories of the campaign and petition to try to stop Arriva abandoning the route back in 2015. Here’s a link back to my postings about the matter back then:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/21/petition-to-try-to-save-the-311-liverpool-ormskirk-skem-bus/

Four years on since the bus was withdrawn and Lydiate residents without access to a car are still struggling to get to Ormskirk, which is just 4 miles away, with only the 310 bus to use and that just skims the very edge of Lydiate.

Lydiate – 310 bus stop on A59

Lydiate residents will most probably have seen the article in this weeks Aintree & Maghull Champion regarding requests for a bus shelter on the A59/Northway adjacent to the Kenyons Lane traffic lights.

I’ve also raised this with Merseytravel recently following a Lydiate resident asking for a shelter at this spot on the Lydiate & Neighbours FB Group in a thread that I posted about a bus shelter being removed in Moss Lane, Lydiate. The shelter being removed is one that served the old 311 route that provided a good service between Lydiate and Ormskirk.

Obviously the response as printed in the Champion is at best disappointing as there’s only one bus to Ormskirk from Lydiate these days i.e. the Arriva 310. What’s more it only skims the edge of Lydiate with just one stop on the A59/Northway.

I appreciate the difficulties of this A59 bus stop site but in reality, on such a busy road, you would expect not only a shelter but a bus lay-by too. However, I also appreciate it’s a cramped site and that Merseytravel have to prioritise their expenditure. Maybe a re-routing of the bus to travel through more of Lydiate would actually be the best solution. The most likely way to do this would be for the bus to cross Northway instead of turning onto the A59 so to serve the rest of Kenyons Lane, then Liverpool Road past the old windmill and back to the A59 at Robins Island. But this at face value simple change has its problems too as St Thomas’ School is on that short stretch of Kenyons Lane and I guess that at school coming and going times the bus would get caught up in traffic jams just like the 31/31A Lydiate circular bus does on Sandy Lane.

Arriva and Merseytravel can surely get their heads together here to try to find a way forward because this situation has come about mainly due to the former 311 bus being withdrawn by Arriva in August 2015. I covered the campaign to try to save that bus on this blog site – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/21/petition-to-try-to-save-the-311-liverpool-ormskirk-skem-bus/

Yes of course the 311 was a commercial service and the 310 is too so I realise that Merseytravel have no powers to make Arriva think again about the provision of buses between Lydiate and Ormskirk. However, there’s a Bus Alliance in operation across Merseyside which Merseytravel and Arriva are a part of so at the very least they should be around a table trying to sort issues like this out.

And lastly, for now anyway, the underlying issue here is the Deregulation of bus services outside of London that was brought in during the 1980’s. My own view is that we lost control of our bus services when that happened and it was bad legislation. I’m told that Merseytravel are slowly working towards re-regulation of buses but I fear that that bus is only just about creeping along.

Lydiate – An NHS back water with little in the way of public transport to get to major NHS facilities

There are no GP’s or dentists in Lydiate, the only dentist closed not so long ago. That in itself is unfortunate but if you look at the direct public transport links from Lydiate to the major local NHS facilities the picture is also poor.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident's petition in 2015 at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk. The battle was sadly lost.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident’s petition in 2015 at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk. The battle was sadly lost.

Lydiate (along with Aintree Village & Maghull) lost the 311 bus route in 2015 which linked it with Ormskirk and of course its hospital. Yes the 310 Liverpool – Ormskirk route just skims the eastern edge of Lydiate but its a long trek for most Lydiate residents to get to a bus stop for it on the A59.

Lydiate (together with Maghull, Melling and Aintree Village) has no direct public transport link to Litherland NHS Walk-In Centre, indeed it never has had such a link despite calls for one. I recall saying, when the Walk-In Centre first opened in the early 2000’s, that it could not reasonably be seen to serve the Eastern Parishes of Sefton Borough because of the lack of direct public transport links to it. Of course we were also fighting for a Walk-In Centre to be provided in Maghull at the time and even got to the stage of the NHS allocating money to rebuild Maghull Health Centre with provision for a Walk-In facility. But then out of the blue the NHS pulled the plug on the project for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained. I was of course pleased when Maghull Councillor Matt Gannon relaunched the campaign for a Walk-In Centre in Maghull in 2016. I also understand that Maghull Town Council will be including such an aim in its draft Neighbourhood Plan for the Town.

Lydiate’s link to Fazakerley Hospital has been via the 236 bus route in recent years. However, this route is no longer serving Lydiate as a consequence of Merseytravel confirming their Sefton Bus Review proposals recently. This is quite obviously a blow to Lydiate folks visiting friends and relatives by bus in that hospital.

Now the Sefton Bus Review proposals have been confirmed Lydiate’s only direct bus link with a major NHS facility will be via the 300 bus route to Southport and of course its hospital.

The last Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council, Dave Russell, tried every possible way possible to get an NHS facility within Lydiate Village Centre when planning for the new centre was at an early stage but the NHS managed to slip from his grasp there too.

Yes for me Lydiate is sadly an NHS back water both in terms of facilities in the community and with regard to direct public transport links to local hospitals and Walk-In Centres.

Stop Press – I had written this posting a while back but had not got around to finishing it of for publication. Then last night at Lydiate Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan meeting the very same issues came up and there seemed to be broad consensus that another attempt to gain NHS primary care facilities within Lydiate had to be made. Let’s hope such a plan will win the day this time around.

Sefton Bus Network – Merseytravel’s Maghull consultation event

I attended Merseytravel’s consultation event in Maghull yesterday held in their rather fetching and unmissable tent at Central Square.

WP_20160926_13_51_41_Pro

I raised concerns about the lack of a bus to Ormskirk from Lydiate since the 311 was withdrawn. I also asked for a 231 circular bus to meet the last train from Liverpool each night rather than the service ceasing with the last but one train.

I do hope that these issues can be addressed as part of the review of bus routes across Sefton Borough.

Bus routes in Sefton – More cuts in subsidised services?

With a review of Sefton’s bus services on the near horizon (and you can I think sadly read into that more cuts in the subsidised routes) this photo is telling:-

No passengers

Click on the photo to enlarge it

I took it around 7.30pm on 13th July at the Meadows shops in Maghull – it’s the 310 bus out of Liverpool. I happened to be there quite by chance when the bus arrived but the telling thing is that whilst the bus stopped there was no one on it and there was no one waiting to get on it.

Oh yes, and the review is being undertaken by Merseytravel the transport committee of the Liverpool City Region.

It was the recent ‘Knowsley’ Review that has led to the re-routing of the 133 bus route through Maghull & Melling. My previous posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/06/04/melling-gets-another-bus-cut-as-133-is-re-routed/

As someone who has campaigned to retain local bus routes for many years – the loss of the 311 Arriva route being the most recent one – I really do fear that with empty buses like this we are going to end up with fewer buses as we move forward. It reminds me of the decline of our railways after the Second World War. With less people using the trains the number of trains were reduced. Then as there were few trains less people used them etc. etc. You get my drift…….

But trains are making a remarkable come back, will the same happen to buses in years to come?

MY REVIEW OF 2015 – Some Maghull & Lydiate events

Its always difficult to know where to start and what to leave out of a review of a year just past but here goes with 5 memorable issues for me in 2015.

Loss of the 311 Bus – Thanks Arriva! – This was a big issue for Lydiate in particular and it now means that Lydiate folk can only get to Ormskirk, if they don’t have a car, by getting the 231 bus to Maghull station and then a train to our local market town.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident's petition earlier this year at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident’s petition earlier this year at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk.

I worked alongside local residents during the summer who raised a petition to try to save the 311 but Arriva were not for turning to quote the Iron Lady and the bus was lost at the end of August. By the way the Bus Deregulation Act that brought in private company control of most bus routes was a Thatcher era move.

Boxing Day Floods – Well they are fresh in memory and the subject of recent postings on this blog site so just to say that I hope those affected by them are recovering from them.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook.

Building on Green Belt & high grade agricultural land – Sadly, Sefton Council continued in 2015 to plough ahead with its proposals to concrete over vast swathes of land especially in the East Parishes part of the Borough. They are looking to allow massive urban extensions to be built around Maghull and Lydiate together with other significant Green Belt building sites being identified across the Borough.

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough's high grade agricultural land from development.

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.

As 2015 closed a planning inspector was reviewing Sefton’s Local Plan which details the Labour-run Council’s environmental destruction. So frustrating that few local decision makers seem to value our exceptionally high grade agricultural land which grows the food that we eat. Where will our children grow their food?

Maghull’s Stafford Moreton Youth Centre & former Maghull Library sites – This must surely be a candidate for farce of the year as it tangled Labour up in knots all of their own making. To recap, Labour-run Sefton Council put the side by side sites out for sale by tender. When the bids came in the Council’s all-Labour Cabinet took the highest bid. Labour back bench councillors protested (well after the horse had bolted) saying they wanted a pause in the process to see what the community wanted to do with the site or words to that effect. Their Labour Cabinet bosses said no we are selling it, tough. But the day before the Cabinet confirmed its original decision Labour back benchers launched a community consultation via the Champion Newspaper! The consultation lasted less than 24 hours and was pointless anyway as their Labour bosses were determined to sell the site. Later we found that Netto are likely to build a supermarket on the site. What a carry on.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull's shopping area.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library in the heart of Maghull’s shopping area.

But then as December crept up on us all too quickly I was told that a former local chap called Henry Stafford Moreton had either donated the land and or money to have the Stafford Moreton Youth Centre built in the 1960’s. This being the case (and I am trying to verify it) then surely our Labour councillors should not be selling the land off and stuffing the money in Sefton Council’s back pocket but they should be investing the proceeds of the sale of the Youth Centre part of the site in youth facilities in Maghull. 2016 will determine whether or not Henry Stafford Moreton’s donation of land or money (assuming that it did indeed happen) will be wisely reinvested in Maghull’s youth or otherwise. Watch this space.

The demise of Maghull’s unique Youth Coffee Bar – In August it shut its doors and I am not aware of them reopening. How sad and how ironic that later in 2015 we encountered the sale of Stafford Moreton Youth Centre for a Netto to be built. Youth facilities have certainly taken a bashing in Maghull.

Nickie Smith was a former Chairperson of Maghull & District Youth Council and was one of the original campaigners for the Youth Coffee Bar who subsequently became a Maghull Town Councillor

Nickie Smith was a former Chairperson of Maghull & District Youth Council and was one of the original campaigners for the Youth Coffee Bar who subsequently became a Maghull Town Councillor

When Nickie Smith had to pack in helping to run the the Maghull Town Hall Coffee Bar earlier this year she did so because she realised that Maghull Council’s heart was no longer in project. In all my wildest dreams I did not see Labour’s disinterest in youth facilities coming when they took control of Maghull Town Council in 2011. Ironically, the facility had previously been visited by Burscough Parish Council and Knowsley Parish Council (both Labour -run) as they wanted to see what it was all about and because they also had an interest in youth facilities like the then Lib Dem-run Maghull Town Council.

Well that’s probably enough grumbling about 2015 and let’s hope that 2016 holds better hopes out for our environment, our young people and local transport amongst other things.