Southport – Sainsburys’ Meols Cop development troubles

Cllr. John Pugh

Southport’s former MP is still on the campaign trail as a Sefton Borough Councillor for Dukes Ward; here he’s taking on the might of Sainsburys as the link below to a Liverpool Echo article details:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/controversial-sainsburys-store-ever-built-15632011

Sefton Council – will it be buying more shopping centers in the Borough?

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

In what can only be seen as a surprise move last year Sefton Council splashed out over £30m of public money to buy The Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, a move that shocked many in these times of austerity for local authorities.

But it seems that buying shopping centres is quite the fashion for local councils these days as the article below details from the BBC website:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46625912

I’m the first to say that I’m highly sceptical of such moves by cash-strapped councils – it’s a massive gamble that could go horribly wrong. I had not realised that Wigan Council had purchased The Galleries but having walked around it’s all but deserted upper floor before Christmas you really do wonder what that council can do to bring back the lost retail outlets.

Of course, Sefton Council’s previous big move into retail property development was to take on the rebuild and running of Southport Indoor Market a few years back. This was another hugely controversial investment which I and others on the Council at the time opposed.

But as Sefton and indeed other councils are now firmly into retail property development will this mean other shopping centres locally will be snapped up at lowish prices using borrowed public money? Makes you wonder, especially when private sector owners seem to struggle to find the resources to upgrade down at heel shopping centres such as Maghull Square.

I’m not advocating that Sefton buys up more retail property, because I think it has too much risk attached to it, but if the Council’s Labour rulers really do think that acquiring shopping centres is the next big thing for municipal socialism why stop at Southport Market and Bootle Strand?

Thanks to both Roy Connell and Keith Page for the leads to this posting

Lydiate – Cyclists and the Kenyons Lane/A59 traffic lights

A fellow cyclist recently raised this junction with me as they were concerned that the detection wires under the tarmac on the Coronation Road side of the junction may not be picking up approaching cycles.

Oddly a similar thought had crossed my mind a while back as I had an encounter with these traffic lights where they did not change to green when I expected them to. I had all but forgotten about this incident but when approached it came back to mind.

The resident has raised their concerns with Sefton Council Highway Dept. and shared the exchanges with me. It seems that if a cycle is ridden too close to the edge of the road the bike may not be recognised and the advice is that cyclists use the middle of the eastbound carriageway when approaching the lights as this should lead to a bike being detected. So now you cyclists know but let me know if problems persist.

Oh, and by the way, it is not recommended for cyclists to ride near to the kerb anyway as these links illustrate:-

www.britishcycling.org.uk/membership/article/20140102-Road-safety-tips-for-members-0

www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/10-tips-for-safer-city-riding-47029/

Sefton Highways tell us that the advice given in the links above has been endorsed by Chris Boardman who’s currently working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester to improve Cycling Safety Standards.

With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Sefton Council – What happens if you don’t pay your Council tax

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/people-merseyside-facing-prison-not-15329840

Recalling my 16 years as a Sefton Councillor (1999 to 2015) my recollection is that Sefton has always been pretty good at collecting Council tax i.e. it collects more than many other councils. And it’s clear from this Echo article that the Council is willing to chase up Council tax debt through the courts.

Sefton Council Logo

Council tax is a poor and unfair and regressive tax because it is based on the value of land/property rather than the ability to pay. A poor person can end up living in a large house with high Council tax with the person next door paying the same amount of Council tax whilst being wealthy. We need a new form of Local Income tax to re-balance such a badly targeted tax to pay for council services.

But, until we get a fairer tax system to fund councils, my experience of talking to Sefton residents is that they expect all householders to pay their way as they do. So my guess is that there’s little sympathy out there for those who don’t pay, although there well may be for those who are trapped in larger properties on low incomes and who can’t pay.

Maghull – Bob’s Field, Bobby’s Wood or Bobbies Wood?

The photo above is of a piece of public land (maintained by Maghull Town Council but owned by Sefton Council) at the junction of Liverpool Road South and Northway (A59). If you know of it you may refer to it by one of the names at the head of this posting, but which is right and why?

I have always known of it as Bobby’s Wood but that’s just because someone told me it’s name many years ago. I never questioned it nor did I know it seeming had a very similar name (but with a different spelling) or indeed yet another name.

I guess community given names like this grow over time and if there’s more than one version doing the rounds then unless a formal title is given to the land by say a council, which then puts up a plaque/sign to that effect, then the differing names will perpetuate.

Anyway in one of my other lives, as a Maghull in Bloom volunteer, I wrote a posting for the Maghull in Bloom News Facebook Page (which was copied to the Official Maghull Community Page) recently regarding a volunteer/community activity taking place on this piece of land today Saturday 20th October.

The list of former Mayors

The posting led to this exchange with between former Town Mayor (1984/85) Maghull Rhona Simon and myself (see photo of former Mayor’s board in Maghull TH above):-

Rhona Simon – In the fifties, this area was known as Bob’s field, don’t know where Bobbie’s wood came from! I climbed my first tree there!

Tony Robertson – I wondered that too. Someone mentioned a connection to me about the Police hence Bobbies.

Rhona Simon – There was a horse called Bob that was kept in that field, hence the name. Someone else out there must remember him!

So now we know it’s name is actually Bob’s Field or at a push Bob’s Wood, it has nothing to do with Policemen or women of a previous generation.

Thanks for setting the record straight Rhona

Note: click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Foot and cycle path to Park Lane from new station

I’ve raised this issue a few times recently as back when the Poppy Fields housing estate site was down to be a new prison there was, along with the new Maghull North Station, an access path to be constructed right through to Park Lane. The path was brought into the the design of the site so to provide easier access to the new station for residents in the Park Lane area.

Here’s part of the access path looking towards Park Lane from Maghull North Station car park. Like Goldcrest Road it was constructed as part of the initial works for the prison that was cancelled.

My concern and indeed that of others has been that whilst the new station has been completed there’s no sign of the path being completed and opened up. This led me to chase up Merseytravel and Sefton Council and I now have what looks like some good news. This statement is from Sefton Council Highways Dept:-

I can confirm that I have persuaded Persimmon Homes to incorporate this footpath within their formal s38 Highways Act 1980 submission for the roads and footpath to be put forward to the Council for formal adoption. They will in turn become highways maintainable at public expense.

My thanks to Sefton Highways for chasing this matter through and gaining a good end result. It will just be a question of time now before the footpath/cycle path is completed and opened up for public use. That timescale is presently unknown and is down, I understand, to the phasing of the house builder’s works on the Poppy Fields site.

Hope that helps? Oh and BTW Sefton Highways have also agreed to take up the issue of the requested dropped kerb (for cyclists) onto School Lane where the recently opened level access to the new station reaches the pavement.