Air quality in Sefton Borough

Air pollution has long been known to have a significant detrimental effect on all our lives, indeed it shortens lives.

I decided to have a look in more detail at this matter following Rebecca Hanson bringing the matter to my attention again recently. A good source of information is Sefton Council’s own website and in particular the page linked below:-

www.sefton.gov.uk/environmental-protection/air-quality.aspx

If you follow the links with the one above there’s a wealth of information and detail to plough through.

As a cyclist I probably notice and am more obviously impacted on by diesel particulates as I’m often sat within queuing traffic at junctions and traffic lights. Indeed, I often wonder how some diesel vehicles are still on the road based on what’s coming from their exhaust pipes!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, why are Maghull’s circular buses not electric? And why for that matter aren’t the Royal Mail’s local delivery vans electric too? Both seem to be obvious, to me at least, for the ditching of diesel engines. I’m sure others could come up with additional examples where the routes are very local – maybe chemists prescription delivery vans, but you get my drift.

Not only is air pollution killing us it’s killing our planet!

Lydiate – Route of Sandy Lane – Moss Lane footpath identified

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is to the left where the corner fence post is

I’ve blogged a few times over the issues surrounding the route of this public footpath/public right of way and the fact that this matter came to light as a consequence of Lydiate Parish Council creating a fenced in dog-run area on its Sandy Lane Playing Field earlier this year.

Anyway, there was a site meeting a few days ago between Lydiate Parish Council and Sefton Council’s Rights of Way Officer, which I was unable to attend but now know the outcome of.

Firstly, the legal line of the public right of way is not affected by the fence of the dog enclosure. Investigations (by Sefton’s ROW Officer) have shown that the path (looking at it from the Sandy Ln end) runs to the east of the fencing, in an area of overgrown vegetation but as the path heads towards Moss Lane it straddles the edge of the mowed grass of Sandy Lane Park and the overgrown vegetation. I’m told there are some metal posts within the vegetation that appear to correspond with the eastern edge of the footpath.

The consequence of these findings is that the legal line of the path will need to be reinstated, which Sefton Council will lead on. The legal line has clearly not been used for some years and as a result some of the vegetation has become well established. I’m told it was agreed that setting out the footpath and a full assessment of the works required is difficult at the moment due to the growth of the vegetation and that the Parish Council remains happy for people to continue to use the edge of the park until the matter is resolved.

Footpath sign at Sandy Ln – There’s a similar one off Moss Ln

I understand that Sefton Council will review the required works in early autumn, with the Parish Council, and agree the extent of them. The Parish Council expressed a wish to try and keep some of the more established trees. Sefton will consider this where possible.

I’d like to thank Sefton’s ROW officer for his efforts to resolve this issue working with the Parish Council. It seems like a mutually agreeable way forward has now been found.

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is to the left where the corner fence post is.

Ray Hughes moves out of Lydiate

Many Lydiate folk will know Ray from his many years as a Sefton Borough councillor for Park ward in the 1980’s and 1990’s and also from his time on Lydiate Parish Council.

I thought it apt to mark Ray and indeed his lovely wife Hazel (also a former Lydiate Parish Councillor) leaving Lydiate to live in West Lancashire.

I was talking the other day to my old chum Andrew Blackburn who also knew Ray well from his councillor days and he reminded me of the ‘Ray Hughes Point’. What he meant was that Ray was always finding things to point at for photos of casework items he was working on. They could be pot-holes, broken street signs and just about anything else a local councillor could be asked to help sort out. I recall that Ray would often get ribbed for his pointing in photos.

Seriously though Ray was a good local councillor who seemed to know a huge number of people. His phone would ring day in day out because he was such a well known local councillor. A true Pavement Politics councillor if I ever saw one…

Well all the best Ray and indeed Hazel, you certainly did your bit for the community in Lydiate and Maghull.

Local Democracy – Who investigates the goings on in local government these days?

I recently came across a scheme funded by the BBC (or more to the point more probably by its licence fee payers) to address a matter I have long had concerns about – see the link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2017/local-democracy-reporters

Having been a councillor since 1985 I have watched the demise of local reporting on local government with increasing concern. The demise has followed the loss of many local newspapers but even where the local newspapers do exist there is rarely any serious investigative journalism going on these days. I can recall 3 former newspapers that served my community from the not so distant past – The Maghull & Aintree Star, The Maghull Times & The Maghull & Aintree Advertiser and of course we have also lost the regional Daily Post too. This loss of local newspapers is sadly replicated across most communities.

I recall the days when the Maghull reporter for the Maghull & Aintree Advertiser would sit through most meetings of Maghull Town Council listening to and reporting on the debates that went on. Every year or so the reporters would change as new trainees were taken on. Nowadays you would be hard pressed to see local reporters at any meeting of Sefton Borough Council (or Merseytravel, the Fire Authority, NHS decision making bodies etc. etc.) unless a big issue is already on the agenda and even then the reporting is usually of ‘x’ said this and ‘y’ said that nature. You might say the local media often just passes on opinions these days. My point is there is little in the way of getting behind the politicians/officials spin.

A local paper on the warpath would once have been as worrying to a local council as the District Auditor if things were going wrong; now neither pay much attention to what a Council does so who is uncovering the goings on within local government and indeed within the other local decision making bodies that affect the lives of us all? Putting it bluntly no one the vast majority of the time.

Yes we see local government stories in the local press but they are virtually always built upon press releases from councils or the politicians who run the councils, or they are about party political spats between opposing politicians.

Is the issue that the remaining local media is not training young journalists to get to the heart of what is going on in local government? Is it that they can’t afford to pay the kind of wages required to bring on good investigative journalists? A good and experienced local government reporter would once have been expected to know as much or indeed more than the local political bigwigs they were reporting on so that they could take on the spin and expose the facts.

The problem is of course a national one, of that I have little doubt. I wonder how many uncomfortable moments that councils and publicly accountable local bodies across the land should have had (and would have had in the days when the local media was a force to contend with) are not being picked up at all these days, unless the matter is so bad that it reaches the national press/media such as the Rotten Boroughs page of Private Eye?

This challenge is, I think, what the BBC scheme is trying to address but will it have any effect? Are a new generation of independently minded investigative journalists going to be created via it? Is the present day poor reporting by the BBC a reflection of too few good investigative journalists coming through the system and is that why the BBC has launched the scheme?

As the majority of journalists will have started at the bottom of the journalistic ladder reporting on the goings on of the local parish councils will we once again see bored young reporters sat listening to the debates of Little Twittering Parish Council awaiting a juicy story?

In a functioning healthy democracy well informed investigative journalists are a big part of keeping the powerful on their toes and I fear the demise of them at a local level is doing us all a disservice.

Maghull – Sefton takes action at Green Lane over 11 years of car sales

Well this has been one very, very long saga indeed but at last Sefton Council has taken what looks to be effective action.

I think my first involvement in this issue will go back to around 2007 when a Liverpool Road South resident contacted me in what was my Sefton Councillor capacity back in those days. The complaint was that the ‘Hammer Head’ at the end of Green Lane was being used for commercial car sales and could I help get it stopped/addressed? I blogged about the matter back in March 2011:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/03/26/the-strange-story-of-the-green-lane-car-sales/

Subsequently I contacted Sefton Highways quite a number of times to see if they had come up with any solutions but I got the distinct impression we were all going around in circles. One resident even suggested to me that Knowsley Council had addressed such issues by using Anti Social Behaviour laws but Sefton were not keen on taking that route.

What it seemed to come down to was that Sefton Highways were saying that a car sales company could sell up to 2 vehicles in one location on the public highway and no one could stop it, or words to that effect. When I pointed out that there were usually 3 or 4 cars for sale on Green Lane I was told that they were being sold by two separate companies so Sefton’s hands were still tied.

I then ceased to be a Sefton Councillor for Park Ward in 2015 (and had moved from Maghull to Lydiate) and whilst the car sales were still on going the complaints, to me at least, had stopped. However, I retained an interest in the matter and discussed it with one of the present Sefton Councillors for the Ward.

Then out of the blue about 4 weeks ago Sefton Council had a contractor out in Green Lane installing parking restrictions. Well I thought to myself 11 years on and a solution has finally been found, who said that the wheels of local government turn very slowly!

Here’s a couple of photos of the end result:-

Sefton Borough – Do Labour really want to merge it with Knowsley and Liverpool Councils?

Sefton Council Logo

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-open-liverpool-merging-14756310

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

In times when it looked just about possible that the Borough of Sefton could be split up I recall that Bootle Labour Party were seemingly of the view that merging Bootle in with Liverpool City Council was akin to them all being captured by the enemy. They certainly seemed to view the prospect with more than a little spluttering into their coffee so to speak.

Now it seems that some Labour folk are saying Knowsley Borough may not be viable in the future (I seem to recall that was a phrase used to describe West Lancs Borough not that long ago) and Joe Anderson suggesting that merging Liverpool with either or both Knowsley/Sefton is worth considering.

The church of St. Helen in Sefton Village, This village gave the name to Sefton Borough.

Sefton certainly is a muddle of communities with few common interests and there can be little doubt that it was somehow cobbled together by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1974 to suit some purpose but no one is quite sure what that purpose was. Unloved would be a good way to describe Sefton Borough. I have blogged about this before and here’s a link to that previous posting dated March 2015:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/28/borough-of-sefton-what-a-mixture-of-diverse-communities-that-have-little-common-with-each-other/

Of course Labour-run Sefton has now got rid of its Area Committees (mentioned in the March 2015 posting) as they have acted to centralise power in Bootle Town Hall once again.

Sefton Borough artwork recognising the year the Borough was created.

So having rehearsed that history, how on earth would merging Sefton with either or both Knowsley Borough and/or Liverpool City help empower Sefton’s diverse communities – Answer it wouldn’t, indeed it would most probably place the decision making power base even further away in Liverpool.

The other question is why do some Labour folks in Knowsley and Liverpool want to merge their councils areas with Sefton Borough. Is it just a bigger is better approach to local government?

The talk of mergers is probably little more than that but of course we Liberals need to be on our guard as we are very much opposed to the big is beautiful approach to local government because we are decentralisers by nature and instinct. Creating a huge Merseyside Council taking in Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton would achieve what? A Liberal view is that it would be more remote, less in touch with the needs of individual communities and pretty much impossible for residents to hold to account. In reality we need smaller councils with far less highly paid officials running them.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting