Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

Towpath north of Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal through Lydiate leaves a lot to be desired; a subject I’ve blogged about before I might add. Here’s a couple of links back to previous postings in October 2015 and June 2019 :-

October 2015 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/22/lydiate-leeds-liverpool-canal-bank-collapse/

June 2019 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/29/lydiate-improvemnets-to-tow-path-flow-from-controversial-house-building-site/

The worst section of towpath is probably that which is north of Lollies Bridge (Southport Road Bridge) up to and past Lydiate Hill Bridge (also known as Billy’s Bridge) where the land and fields adjacent to it is higher. This causes water run-off onto the towpath with muddy almost impassable conditions at times especially after heavy periods of rain.

Lollies Bridge

View from Billy’s Bridge looking back towards Lollies Bridge.

Canal bank collapse just south of Lydiate Hill Bridge – Photo 2015

Ok, now to try to put all this in context of what Lydiate Parish Council is trying to do in 2021. If you’ve read the links above you’ll know that some planning gain money (otherwise known as Section 106 money) from the housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road (the new estate is known as Rosehill Gardens) has been allocated to the Canal & River Trust to upgrade the towpath along the section of it which is adjacent to the new housing i.e. the Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate section. The money amounts to £67,000 I understand. These works are yet to be undertaken I might add.

The recent intervention by Lydiate Parish Council has been along the lines of saying to the C&RT that whilst money to upgrade the towpath is obviously welcome there are actually worse parts, far worse parts, of the towpath through Lydiate which could do with attention and can we discuss how this can be achieved either using the S106 money or other funding sources. The response of the C&RT has been that the S106 money can only be spent on the defined section of canal towpath as detailed in the planning permission.

The Trust do however acknowledge though that the towpath elsewhere through Lydiate Parish Council’s area is in poor condition and that it can become impassable during inclement weather. They also say they’d be happy to work with the Parish Council to help identify improvements and priorities for the canal in such locations.

As readers may know the C&RT is a charity (similar to the National Trust – I’m a member of both I might add) and it is reliant on securing funding via developments (such as Rosehill Gardens) to try to improve the condition of the towpath surface or through bidding for funding via local and national schemes and initiatives. They seem to be happy to work with LPC to try to improve the canal towpath but clearly this means significant extra resources will need to be identified. At a very rough back of a fag packet type guess I’m thinking that to do up the whole of the towpath through Lydiate Parish could involve say £250,000+ and presently there’s just £67,000 in the pot for one already defined section of it, which is partly in Maghull.

There’s some good news however as the canal bank collapse (pictured above in 2015) is, we are told by the Trust, scheduled to be repaired in the next financial year – 2021/2022 assuming scarce maintenance resources do not have to be redirected to more urgent works.

The Parish Council is going to discuss the matter again at its February Zoom meeting to see if ways forward can be identified with regard to the bad sections of towpath.

I’ll update further as things hopefully develop…….

And a look back to the days when pedestrians and cyclists were unwelcome on our canal towpath – notice as seen at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

Lydiate – More work on that Neighbourhood Plan

Yes I know it seems to go on forever, putting one together for Lydiate Civil Parish that is. And yes I’m still a skeptic of them, seeing NP’s as of little or marginal benefit only, at best.

But whatever I’m doing my bit to help put together the Lydiate one.

Our last Neighbourhood Plan meeting went into all kinds of detail but two particular areas really interested me, the lack of a cycle path on the A59/Northway through Lydiate and the poor state of the canal tow path through Lydiate.

What have these issues got to do with a Neighbourhood Plan you might ask. Well the connection is that when house building does takes place in Lydiate developers have to provide money to support local infrastructure. Presently that’s via a process known as Section 106 agreements. They may be morphing into CIL – Community Infrastructure Levy – but Sefton Council can’t seemingly make up its mind whether to make the change or not. But whichever process is used it means that the Parish Council can try to direct how up to 25% of that money is spent.

The two major areas that we have identified, via our NP process, are upgrading the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path through Lydiate and addressing the lack of a cycle lane alongside the A59/Northway through Lydiate.

The following 2 photos from 2014 show the canal tow path as little more than a rut in the grass alongside the canal:-

Looking north from Pilling Lane bridge along the canal

Looking south from Pilling Lane bridge along the canal.

It’s still the same now and we want it upgraded so that cyclists and pedestrians can make greater use of it. A wider hard wearing surface is required.

With regard to the cycle path along the A59/Northway, it comes to an abrupt halt at Robin’s Island. North of here there are cycle paths on either side of the dual carriageway through Aughton Civil Parish. We would like to see a safe cycle path/route coming into Lydiate. Here’s a photo of the end of the cycle path as you reach Robins Island from Aughton direction:-

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

So there are a couple of our stated ambitions in the draft NP for Lydiate. Lydiate folk will get to vote on the plan, via local referendum, before it is finalised I might add.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Whatever happened to the £250,000 that Maghull Town Council was sat on?

First, a bit of history to put this matter in its correct historical context. My posting of 7th December 2014 refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/12/07/maghull-town-council-now-what-about-that-new-play-equipment/

Well we have moved on to February 2016 since then and little or nothing has seemingly happened despite the big promises of 2014. No bandstand (but folks living in Liverpool Road South and Brendale Avenue are probably grateful for that I guess), no big investment is new play equipment across Maghull’s parks and no progress on the plant heritage centre.

Maghull Town Hall

This latter project, when I got to the bottom of it, always struck me as being of some considerable merit. It was being put forward by a local resident who is an award winning plant expert. I understand that, some 18 months or more on, the chap was still awaiting a definitive answer as to whether his proposals will be supported or not.

As a bit more context the cash, just shy of £250,000, is called Section 106 money and you have probably picked up from the link to my previous posting above that it came from those ‘planning gain’ negotiations going back to 2008.

So the £250,000 question is, why has this large pot of money, meant for environmental improvements in Maghull seemingly been all but forgotten about? Yes, projects like the proposed KGV Park bandstand are controversial and potentially unwelcome but my point is, why has the money been sat in the bank when big promises were made by Labour-run Maghull Town Council about what it would be spent on back in 2014?

When will we hear of this money again?

Maghull Town Council – Now what about that new play equipment?

Not so long ago I posted about some of Maghull Labour’s wild and even wilder claims, the posting is via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/11/17/maghulllydiate-labour-made-up-stories-misinformation-in-their-upside-down-world/

One of the issues I commented on was their talk of investing money in Maghull’s parks and gardens. Strange we in opposition on The Town Council thought, these are the very people who took money out of the Town Council’s budget for such expenditure! The extract from my blog posting above said:-

‘Maghull Parks – Labour says they are planning improvements to Maghull parks yet it was Labour-run Maghull Town Council who took the money for such improvements out of the Council’s budget! We Lib Dems opposed the money being removed.’

So if money is to be spent by Labour-run Maghull Town Council on the Town’s parks where on earth is it going to come from?

Roy Connell

Roy

Well how about from Planning Gain money negotiated after Labour voted for the Ashworth South site to become a prison? Yes indeed, that is the source of the money even though the site is now going to be used for housing. However, the person who led that negotiation on behalf of Maghull’s local councillors was none other than former Lib Dem councillor Roy Connell. Not a single Labour councillor was even elected in Maghull back then!

So here we have Labour trumpeting that they are spending money on Maghull’s parks when in fact the reason the money is going to be there at all is down to Roy Connell and his Lib Dem colleagues who fought for the money back in 2008. I am sure that Labour don’t want folks to be told this as it rather spoils their plan of trying to look like generous benefactors but the truth will out and it certainly has outed Labour’s spurious claims!

Now what about the detail of where this money is to be spent? (This must be all Labour’s and Council Officer’s thinking as we Lib Dems have been kept out of the process)

* ‘Outdoor performance area in KGV Park’ – This is the park surrounding Maghull Town Hall and Meadows Leisure Centre. Readers may recall that Labour said they wanted to build a band stand there a few months ago for reasons most of us could not grasp, as no one had asked for one, and nearby residents seemed particularly unimpressed by the idea. Well it seems they are to get one whether they like it or not!

Illustrative only - Is this what Maghull Council has in mind for Maghull's KGV Park?

Illustrative only – Is this what Maghull Council has in mind for Maghull’s KGV Park?

* An ‘Infrastructure project relating to Plant heritage in KGV playing fields’ – No idea what this is, sorry.

* Balls Wood – New play equipment. This is the park next to the M58 Motorway.

* Extra pieces of play equipment in the following Maghull parks – Glenn Park, South Meade Park, Dodds Park, Lathom Gardens Play area, Round Meade Park, Moss Park, Mersey Avenue Park, Moorhey Park and KGV Park.

KGV Park - Maghull

KGV Park – Maghull

And how do I know all this? Well it is contained in a report going to Sefton Council’s Planning Committee on 10th December. And oh yes, the report to the Planning Committee also says that all this was fixed up via ‘Ward members were invited to meet with officers from Planning and landscape Services to discuss recommendations of where to allocate greenspace monies and to carry out tree planting’ – This should read Labour Ward members as I was certainly not invited!

It’s a funny old world being a councillor in Maghull these days under Labour-run Maghull & Sefton Councils. Maghull Council agendas are bland and rarely is there much to discuss but then things like this, which must have been decided in non-smoke filled rooms, then just pop out. Now what’s all that about transparency in local government?