Port of Liverpool – £400m River Berth opens but access roads and rails will not be in place for years!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/live-massive-400m-port-liverpool-12125368

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Red and blue cranes at Seaforth Docks

How many times have I posted about this?! It must be one of the most cart before horse projects of this scale that I have ever come across.

Why build a £400m container ship terminal at Seaforth but without any of the new transport infrastructure in place to service it?

Highways England are only just consulting on their controversial plan (that’s putting it politely) to build a brand new access road to the docks down the Rimrose Valley Country Park and Network Rail seem to be little more than asleep on the job!

If the new River Berth is successful it will seemingly need to be serviced by an increasing number of HGV’s along the A5036 Dunningsbridge Road/Church Road. How will the congestion and air pollution be dealt with?

Why has Sefton Council just sat there watching this happen on their patch? Well I think we know the answer to this last question. It’s because Bootle Labour Party has not wanted to to get involved for fear of getting blamed for the project. But that is very far from community leadership!

Rimrose Valley walk to oppose new road to Seaforth Docks – 11th September

I have posted about the unwelcome proposal for a new road to Seaforth Docks down the Rimrose Valley Country Park many times before so am pleased to help publicise this event.

RV-Main-Path

www.cprelancashire.org.uk/news-private/current-events/item/2368-walk-planned-to-highlight-current-threat-to-green-belt-land

The Lancashire Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has the story on its web site – see link above

This is a jointly organised walk/protest with Rimrose Valley Friends and it starts from the car park of the Cooksons Bridge Pub in Gorsey Lane, Netherton. But potential participants need to register that they will be attending. Check details on the CPRE web site (link above) on on the Friends web site at:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/events/greenbeltwalk/

Access to the Port of Liverpool – Shuffling about in Bootle Labour’s undergrowth?

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships in August 2015.

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships in August 2015.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/calls-tunnel-link-liverpool2-terminal-11651359

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Readers of this blog site will know how disappointed (and that’s being polite about it!) I have been by the lack of action by Labour-run Sefton Council with regard to this hugely important transport project. But are we starting to see stirrings from Bootle Labour who may be trying to position themselves?

My most recent posting on this matter is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/07/22/access-to-the-port-of-liverpool-an-update/

The Echo article above is interesting and it may or may not be of significance. By that I mean if Bootle Labour are seemingly latching onto a solution that will not be a runner due to the massive cost then they are just positioning themselves to be able to say we did propose an alternative and were ignored. A political get out of jail type card.

But of course they may be backing the tunnel because they think it is likely to happen and need to be on the winning side of the argument. However, they see themselves winning either way because if the proposed surface road does get built (down the Rimrose Valley Country Park) then they have distanced themselves from its unpopularity.

Am I being too cynical? I very much doubt it!

PS. You may notice that the Echo article makes no mention what so ever about the potential rail solutions for accessing the Port of Liverpool/Liverpool 2. Have rail options been dropped now? Were they ever seriously investigated?

Access to the Port of Liverpool – An update

Work on the new River Berth taking place in August 2015

Work on the new River Berth taking place in August 2015

IMG

I return to this matter because Highways England have issued a 3rd newsletter which is now available on their web site – see link below (click the publications tab):-

www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/a5036-port-of-liverpool-access/

The map above shows what Highways England have in mind, as if we were in any doubt. Option 2 is their proposed new road down and through the Rimrose Valley Country Park. Option 1 is upgrading the A5036/Dunningsbridge Road etc.

The issues that pop out for me from this latest newsletter are:-

* The odd answer to the question which I and many others must have asked the Highways England reps at the various public events a few weeks ago. Why isn’t greater use being made of the railway network in order to distribute this additional freight? Answer – Improvements to the rail network are being considered elsewhere. The obvious follow up question is where is ‘elsewhere’ and why is there no indication of it in the newsletter?

* In a second question specifically about bringing the North Mersey rail branch line back into use Highways England give a reasonable answer but again the answer does not take us any further forward with regard to non-road solutions.

* On the positive side Highways England seem to be saying all the right things about biodiversity, green issues, air quality and noise issues, which of course we should welcome.

However, what you quickly realise is that the strong line of questioning that Highways England clearly got from the public during the first round of consultation was really about the rail connections to the docks. No surprise there of course but those of us pressing that crucial issue were talking to folk who exist to build roads! They have little or no interest in other forms of transport.

And all this brings me back to my greatest concern which I have voiced before. Why is there not a joined up consultation being undertaken including Network Rail and Sefton Council? Yes we know that Labour-run Sefton is hiding behind the sofa hoping no one will realise that they should be leading this debate and goodness knows what Network Rail are doing in reality. So all we have at present is Highways England being desperate to build a new road.

It really is time for Labour-run Sefton Council to come out from under their sofa and lead this important public debate. If Bootle Labour MP Peter Dowd can raise the issue in Parliament why can’t Labour get to grips with it at a local level? And I don’t mean photos with concerned residents in the local press! What we need is all agencies and appropriate bodies being brought together by the Council so we have a fully informed public debate. There its not so hard comrades is it? – just do it.

Acessing the Port of Liverpool – Westminster Hall debate 19th April

My last posting on this subject for a while I promise

hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-04-19/debates/16041940000002/PortOfLiverpoolRoadAndRailAccess

Above is a link to the Westminster Hall debate that I mentioned in my last posting. It makes interesting reading although the inaction of Sefton Council in recent years does not get the prominence that their sit back and watch/sit on the fence approach deserves!

And here is a link to the Liverpool Echo’s take on the debate:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-loses-out-london-gets-11211068

I get the feeling that the powers that be are actually really on board with a road ‘solution’ and that working up a credible and maximum rail solution is not on the agenda. I am with Peter Dowd here as the process needs to one of putting the maximum amount of freight on rail and only then considering the what needs to be done to improve the roads to and from the docks to Switch Island. The way we are going though it will be the maximum amount of freight by road and a token rail effort!

I still think Sefton Council should be driving this forward because as far as I can see they are just sitting back waiting to blame everyone else when they, in my view, are at fault for not bringing all the agencies together.

Access to the Port of Liverpool – Now there’s a strange coincidence

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/bootle-mp-set-demand-answers-11205293

What a strange coincidence, the very day (yesterday) that I publish the views of former Sefton Councillor Cliff Mainey on the muddle (that’s putting politely) and trouble over how freight will access the newly expanding Seaforth Dock, Bootle’s MP is raising the same issue in Parliament.

I am glad that Peter Dowd MP is raising the issue (see the link to the Liverpool Echo article, which was written before Peter raised the matter in Westminster Hall, above) but I do wonder how chuffed his Labour colleagues on the Council will be about his intervention.

Is it my imagination or has this been the subject that dare not speak its name on Labour-run Sefton Council or not?

Yes of course Peter is right to focus on the all but nothing approach of Network Rail to the port expansion and yes of course we all want as much freight as possible moved by rail out of the port but why has Sefton Council not been leading this fight?

Of course Government will need to significantly fund any road and/or rail solutions that are brought forward but surely the plans need to have been worked up at a local level. Sefton Council should have been leading this with the City Region Local Economic partnership (LEP) and the City Region Authority itself in collaboration with Highways England and Network Rail. Government is only really going to react to proposals that have been worked up and are properly evidenced. It is this work that should have been going on in detail for the past 3 or 4 years. Why has it not been done?

We should by now know what the viable solutions are and be implementing them but Highways England are just starting consultation, Network Rail seem to be stuck in the sidings and Sefton Council have run for the hills!

So yes Peter, thanks for raising the profile of this issue but dear me how much longer will it take to get everyone pointing in the right direction?

As I have said before the planning of how freight is going to get to and from the expanded docks is a scandal. I will report on what came out of the Westminster Hall debate in due course.