Sefton & West Lancs – Encounters on a bike ride

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride yesterday so I set off from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simmonswood, Aughton and Downholland back into Lydiate. It was a ride of just over 12 miles but quite a bit happened along the way.

Firstly, a van overtook me whilst I was negotiating the roundabout by the new Maghull North Station and the Poppy Fields housing development. To say the van was too close is putting it mildly; less than half a meter from me I would guess when the recommended amount of space to leave around a cyclist when overtaking them is 1.5m! Fortunately, the name of the firm was on the truck so when I stopped I Tweeted the Preston-based company asking them to advise their driver not to put cyclists at risk by driving so close to them.

Then I went down Spurriers Lane, which turns into Outlet Lane when it leaves Melling Parish and enters Simmonswood Parish in West Lancs. I had a brief look at the hugely controversial caravan site off the beginning of Spurriers Lane, near Carla Lane Animal Centre, and saw 4 or 5 caravans on it. My recollection is that the Champion newspaper recently reported that Sefton Council is having the landowner return the land back to its original condition as the development does not have planning permission. There was no sign of remedial works taking place.

I pressed on down Spurriers and into Outlet Lane and then a dog encounter, which I have never had before down that particular lane. I stopped a good 20 yards from the two dogs that were running free in the lane and retreated. The problem is you never know as a cyclist what dogs running free will do so its best to avoid them. Even friendly dogs can jump up and knock a cyclist off causing injury. When I stopped later for a brew in Town Green I e-mailed the West Lancs Dog Warden asking them to speak to the owners about keeping their dogs under control and I await a response. I also Tweeted the company of the too close van as mentioned above and I await their response too.

Then it was up and over Clieves Hill and what a view it was on a lovely sunny winters day. I also encountered the volunteer litter picker who often cleans up at this local beauty spot. Regular readers of this blog site will recall that I posted a while back about my encounter up there with a West Lancs Council litter cleaner who told me how bad the littering was and that there was a chap who did some volunteer litter picking. Well, I’ve now met the chap and we had a good chat about the mucky buggers who create so much mess in and around this lovely spot.

Down the hill into Downholland and I find myself approaching the Green Lane/Eagar Lane canal swing bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal but there were workmen on it and the bridge had clearly been closed. It soon became apparent why – one of the safety barriers had snapped off in the high winds as always seems to happen at this exposed spot. Indeed, the barrier was in the canal and was being fished out by contractors working on behalf of the Canal & River Trust. A narrow boat was waiting to get through the bridge and it was able to whilst I was there as the work had been completed and a new barrier is on order. Here’s a couple of shots of the activity around the bridge:-

Snapped off bridge barrier being hauled out of the canal

Narrow Boat at Eagar Lane canal swing bridge after bridge is reopened

Quite a lot of things going on on one short bike ride around Sefton and West Lancs.

Melling – Opposition to Green Belt planning application for Spurriers Lane site grows

I blogged about the controversial planning application for a permanent travellers site off Melling’s Spurriers Lane recently. Here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/04/melling-spuriers-lane-a-single-track-backwater-but/

I have subsequently been asked by a Melling resident for my advice and opinion on the development. These are the points I made in response:-

*****

* I oppose farmland being used for other purposes and I fought against the Sefton Local Plan because it allows this very thing to happen (on the sites taken out of the Green Belt).

* I’m guessing that you will have got the 3 Molyneux ward Sefton Councillors on board as they will be crucial in lobbying their fellow Sefton Councillors, who sit on the Planning Committee, to oppose the application. None of the Molyneux ward members are on the Planning Committee as far as I can see so they should be free to express a view. Planning Committee members can’t say what they think about a plan before the meeting it is discussed at. If they do, it is called pre-determination and it precludes them from voting on it.

* My personal view is that the planning application is not consistent with the new Sefton Local Plan as the site is within Green Belt and a change of use from farmland is an inappropriate use of the land.

* I know how nice the Spurriers Lane area is as I represented Melling on Sefton Council until 2011, although it suffers terribly from huge amounts of fly-tipping particularly the bit of it in West Lancs which is called Outlet Lane.

*****

Obviously I’m just a Lydiate Parish Councillor these days so my opinion on this Melling matter will be of little interest to the Planning Committee of Sefton Council but as a matter of principle I always try to defend Green Belt land from development.

Separately, I’ve also contributed to a thread on the Maghull Community Page of Facebook where one of the objecting campaigners was calling for those speaking at public meetings about the application to stick to the Green Belt issue and not to get carried away with the emotional issues surrounding the application. This was the advice I added:-

Sound advice Charlotte and the same will more importantly apply when petition/s are presented and spoken to at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee. The only things that will be taken notice of by the Planning Committee are Planning related matters of policy/guidance. I know as a former Sefton Councillor who sat on the Planning Committee that matters like this can be highly emotional but it is important to remain focused on grounds for objection that relate to Planning law, policy, the Sefton Local Plan etc. Best of luck.

Planning is a legal-type process so any comments not related to planning law and policy should automatically not be taken into account. I recall seeing controversial planning applications being opposed at Sefton’s Planning Committee in the past where those speaking concentrated on getting things off their chests rather then sticking to grounds of opposition related to planning law and policy. The speakers may have felt better for getting things off their chests but sometimes they were not actually having much influence the decision making process.

I have always felt that residents, who rarely come across Planning issues, are at a big disadvantage as they not only have a limited amount of time to get their concerns over to the Planning Dept. (of any council) but they also have to get their heads around a quasi-judicial process steeped in jargon, law, policy and the like.

Melling – Spuriers Lane a single track backwater BUT……

Spurriers Lane has to date been known for one good thing (the Carla Lane Animals in Need Sanctuary – see 1st photo below) and one bad thing (it suffers from huge amounts of fly-tipping* – see 2nd photo below) but are things going to change in an even more controversial way because of a planning application before Sefton Council’s planning Committee for a travellers permanent site?

I understand that the planning application is going to be discussed in public at a meeting of Melling Parish Council on Tuesday 12th June at 7.30pm in Melling Primary School.

Here’s a link to the planning application on Sefton Council’s web site:-

pa.sefton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=P854SXNWMSW00

Strong feelings are being expressed on the Maghull Community FB Page and like it or not such applications are always hugely controversial in any community.

*Note. Spurriers Lane runs out of Melling Civil Parish into West Lancashire and it is known as Outlet Lane in Simonswood Parish, West Lancs.

And here is a link to a Liverpool Echo article on the matter:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/fury-plans-set-up-permanent-14742828