3 Sefton Libraries on just 3 or 2 day a week opening – 3 on 6 day opening

Maghull Library has been on a 2 day week as a consequence of Covid Lockdown for quite some time now and I’d been assuming, always a dangerous thing, that it would soon be opening up 6 days per week. However, a recent enquiry seems to indicate that increased hours/days may not presently be on Sefton Council’s agenda. Anecdotal evidence indicates, I might add, that staff shortage may be the reason for keeping it to 2-day opening.

Time to try and get to the bottom of this me thinks so I’ve approached 2 Sefton Councillors asking them both to try to find out what’s going on.

Maghull Library is within Meadows Leisure Centre and has been since the centre was opened in 2009, although sadly Sefton Council has steadily been reducing the size of this library in favour of other activities. It’s now, I guess, less than half the size it started out at just 11 years ago. Interestingly, Meadows Leisure Centre itself is now opening, according to Sefton Council’s website, at these times –

Monday to Friday 6:30am – 10.00pm
Saturday and Sunday 8:00am – 5:00pm

Whist Maghull Library only opens on a Tuesday and Friday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

A check on the opening hours of the other Sefton Borough libraries reveals this:-

Bootle –
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm

Crosby
Monday 10am-4:30pm
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Thursday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm
Saturday 10am-1:30pm

Netherton –
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm

Formby –
Monday 10am-4:30pm
Tuesday 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday 10am-4:30pm
Thursday 10am-4:30pm
Friday 10am-4:30pm
Saturday 10am-1:30pm

Southport –
Monday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Tuesday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Wednesday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Thursday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Friday – 10.00am-4.00pm
Saturday – 10.00am-2.00pm

I’m not sure what’s going on here as personally, I’d expect there to be reasonably common opening hours across all of Sefton’s libraries. Clearly, 3 libraries, (Bootle 3 days and Netherton/Maghull 2 days) are bearing the brunt of whatever problems Sefton Council are facing but I fear the short opening hours could well have further-reaching consequences. Firstly, what about vital access to IT equipment which those who are job seeking and/or on benefits use our libraries for as the cost of having broadband at home is beyond their budgets. Surely the 3 libraries in the Borough on 3 and 2 day opening only cause problems for them which if they live in Crosby, Formby or Southport they don’t face. A postcode lottery you might say?

My other concern is the viability of these 3 short-hours libraries because reducing them to just 3 or even 2-day opening is akin to reducing the number of buses on a route or trains on a railway line; you get to the point where folks just stop using them and try to find other ways around the lack of availability. In my view Sefton Council needs to get the 3 short-hours libraries back up to similar opening hours as the 3 that are already running 6 days per week and this needs to happen sooner rather than later.

As always, if I’ve got any facts wrong in this posting please let me know and I’ll try to put things right.

Lord Peter Smith RIP

I’ve just picked up on the passing of Lord Peter Smith from the blogsite of Jim Hancock – This is what Jim had to say about him –

‘I was sad to hear of the passing of Lord Smith of Wigan. He was one of the most significant figures in local government in the North West in the last 40 years, although his profile was low. He led his local authority for 27 years and was leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) for 21 years.

His quiet ability to bring together ten competing local councils and make them see the wider picture provided the foundation for the Combined Authority we see today. He was a moderate in Labour Party terms and avoided open personality clashes. I confess that sometimes I found him frustrating when looking for a colourful quote, but I respected his wisdom, diplomacy and dignity.

My condolences to his friends and family.’

I too liked Peter Smith whom I met on a number of occasions during my time as Leader of Sefton Council – Back in March 2012 I blogged about his impressive leadership of Greater Manchester and compared it with politically dysfunctional Merseyside:-

Greater Manchester – It’s going places that Merseyside finds hard to reach!

As Jim Hancock notes Peter was a moderate, not a description I would personally like to be known by, yet he was hugely successful. In many ways, his approach to regional issues was just about the opposite you’d expect from a senior Labour politician. I never saw him angry, ranting or tribal in his approach to anyone, indeed he was very diplomatic. We have indeed lost a decent man.

Maghull/Lydiate – Cycling the A59/Northway

This is a subject I’ve blogged about quite a few times previously. It’s one where progress is being made yet some confusion seems to surround it (as well as some significant gaps) so I’ve taken up a number of queries with Sefton Council once again. Here’s the current situation as I understand it to be:-

Starting at Switch Island the cycle path/track has been upgraded over almost all of the stretch to the traffic-lighted junction with Liverpool Road South (Alt Junction) yet odd things have clearly not been done. There’s a stretch of maybe 100 yards over the River Alt where the track/path has not been widened yet either side of this isolated stretch has been. Moving towards the Liverpool Road Sth junction there’s no signage showing cyclists how to safely cross L’pool Rd Sth to access the safe cycling route (or for drivers to be aware too) along the service road to reach Hall Lane junction.

When you reach the Hall Ln junction, having used the service road, again there’s no signage for cyclists to access the recently widened footpath/shared pedestrian/cycle space northwards towards the newly rebuilt Damfield Lane junction. Indeed, there are no signs to say that the widened path is indeed a shared pedestrian/cycling space.

Looking southwards towards Maghull Town Hall/Hall Lane junction with the new and widened shared space path.

There’s presently no cycle track/path north of the Damfield Ln junction to the Westway junction so we’ll leave that section out for now pending Sefton Council finding the resources to provide such.

North of the Westway junction there is a safe cycling route, again using the A59/Northway service road, to the Dodds Ln junction and beyond that but not as far as the Kenyons Ln junction so there’s another missing link. An aside here is that a traffic engineer tells me that they’ve tried to tweak the traffic lights at this junction so that the pressure pads better recognise cyclists.

Kenyons Ln junction

North of the Kenyons Ln junction, again there’s no safe cycle facility to the next junction at Robins Island, however, whether I like it or not (and I don’t) the agricultural land abutting this section of the A59/Northway (known locally as ‘Tyson’s Triangle’) is to have a new housing estate built upon it. However, the silver lining here is that it throws up the distinct possibility of Sefton Council being able to negotiate with the developers via what is termed a Section 106 agreement. It means the developer will need to pay for some local infrastructure improvements and I’ve thrown my two penneth in along the lines of some of that money being used to create a safe cycling route between Kenyons Ln and Robins Island. I’ve also asked Sefton Council to extend the cycle path, which is already in place north of Robins Island, back into Liverpool Road so that cyclists are no longer forced to use either the pavement or Robins Island. This is really a minor piece of work but it will make a significant difference for cyclists.

So there you have it. The goodish news is that I’ve been able to engage in a dialogue with some of the traffic/highway engineers at Sefton Council to discuss these issues and I’m pleased to say that we seem to be on a similar agenda. Indeed, I was delighted when one of the engineers told me that he is a fellow cyclist so he clearly understands things from a cyclist’s perspective.

I don’t know how long it will be before there’s a clearly built and signed cycle track/path alongside the whole of the A59/Northway corridor from Switch Island to the West Lancashire boundary, which is just north of Robins Island, but I’m more hopeful than I have been for a long time that the campaign to have it constructed is making slow if steady progress.

More news when I have it.

Maghull – New Damfield Ln/A59 junction under pedestrian fire

I commented on this newly traffic-lighted junction back in April referencing it to Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’ i.e. the A59 which splits the town in half and makes getting from one side to the other on foot or on a cycle hard going. Here’s a link back to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/04/11/cycling-and-crossing-maghulls-berlin-wall/

And here’s a photo I took back in April whilst the new junction was being constructed:-

Firstly, let me say that that this junction really did need upgrading as there have been some really bad accidents associated with it. After completion, I tried crossing it from the western side by bike and I found it OK as the pedestrian phase accommodates cyclists too and unlike the newish ‘Alt’ junction the route is direct.

I thought no more of it until I approached the junction from the south by car wanting to take the Damfield Road slip road to Liverpool Road North. What immediately struck me was that the traffic lights guarding the pedestrian crossing over this slip road have a shroud/filter over them so that drivers don’t confuse them with the new junction traffic lights. The trouble is you can’t see what these shrouded lights are showing until you are quite close to them. Couple this with vehicles leaving the A59 at high speed and I wondered if things were set up safely. Those thoughts lay there until the other day a Maghull resident raised the very same issues with me and indeed other local councillors.

It is the red outlined traffic lights which are difficult to see until drivers are on top of them.

So there you have it. Beware of the pedestrian crossing over the slip Road at this junction as it certainly concerns both myself and another local resident who has told me that ‘In my own case I have now opted to resume taking my grandchildren to school over the footbridge as a safer albeit more time-consuming option.’ Let’s hope Sefton Council reviews the set-up of this new junction as a matter of urgency.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Lydiate – Rosehill Gardens a more gradual graduation

Rosehill Gardens is the new housing estate in Lydiate which, by road, can only be reached via Maghull’s Turnbridge Road. However, it now has pedestrian and cycle access into the rest of Lydiate. The link from the estate is onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath not far from the Bells Lane swing bridge.

Rosehill Gardens Leeds Liverpool Canal link as seen on 2nd July 2021 during construction.

I was recently asked why this link had seemingly moved from where it was originally planned to be i.e. slightly nearer towards Bells Lane? A look at the works to provide the link brought me to the personal conclusion that it had been moved due to the need to have a shallower gradient and so it turned out when I exchanged e-mails with a Sefton Council Planning Officer.

My understanding is that some form of bollards are to be placed at either end of the link to try to dissuade motorbikes from using it and that if this does not prove to be successful then other obstacles to motorbikes will be considered.

As readers of this blogsite may recall, the Canal and River Trust have gained what is called a Section 106 contribution, via this new housing development, towards resurfacing the section of towpath which runs from Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate. It may also be recalled that Lydiate Parish Council has been trying to engage with both Sefton Council and the Canal & River Trust to see if some of that S106 money could be spent on sections of the towpath north of Bells Lane swing bridge where it is in far worse condition. That dialogue has, as far as I am aware, not brought about any changes to date.

Lydiate Footpath No.5

I’ve been asked by a couple of people about how long this particular footpath will be closed for so I’ve been chasing things up via Sefton Council who are responsible for public rights of way in the Borough.

For those unfamiliar with Lydiate’s public footpath network, the path runs from the side of Church View Farm on Southport Road, across the fields and it comes out on Eagar Lane. You can see the path here on Lydiate’s public rights of way map as Lyd5:-

Sefton highway engineers tell me that they’ve received an update from the contractor who will be undertaking the work to replace the footbridge, which is the cause of the closure. It seems that the new bridge will be fabricated soon, followed by the removal of the existing bridge, then construction of foundations for the new bridge and installation of the new bridge. Timescalewise it looks like mid-August for the works to be completed.