Sefton Focus Review of 2018

It’s always interesting to look back at a year just ending – lessons can always be learned from history (even very recent history) but that’s a piece of traditional advice many of our present-day politicians really seem to struggle with.

So let’s look back at the past 12 months via 12 Sefton Focus postings – each month has a link back to my original posting. It’s my personal take on 2018:-

January – A celebration of everything Hornby:-

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre Maghull – Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV this year.

Well, I had to start this review with the TV programme which put Maghull firmly on the map. I refer of course to the Town being a part of one of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys celebrating the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident – Toy maker Frank Hornby:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/18/maghull-hornby-as-seen-on-tv/

February – Pavement Politics:-

We Libs are known for our ‘pavement politics’ so it’s no surprise that in February I was going on about pot-holes! Sadly, as we shall see later, a pot-holed/poorly maintained road which I mentioned back in Feb’ ended up being a contributory factor to a cyclist’s death later in the year.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/02/26/the-state-of-our-road-surfaces-on-your-bike/

March – Youth and CAB make way for Police:-

The move of Maghull’s Police Station from Westway into Maghull Town Hall, facilitated by Labour-run Maghull Town Council, made my blood boil because a successful CAB help point (still not replaced when we were told it would be) and a unique youth facility (a Youth Coffee Bar run by local young people) were both lost to make way for the boys and girls in blue.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/03/24/maghull-cheering-on-the-new-police-station-no-remembering-what-we-lost-to-rehouse-the-police/

April – Oh for decent services on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line:-

Departure board at Southport Station.

Railways have always been of great interest to me and I’ve been a member of OPSTA for many years now. Their campaigning to bring about a decent train service from Southport to Wigan and Manchester has been long-running and as I type it still is. This was the state of things back in April BEFORE the complete melt-down of the May timetable changes. Note – I think it fair to say that Merseytravel have now upped their game a little regarding services on this line but the reliability of it (It’s run by Northern Trains) is still very poor indeed.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/18/southport-loss-of-trains-to-manchester-airport-and-piccadilly-seems-merseytravel-has-form-here/

May – Did Merseytram burn Merseytravel’s fingers?:-

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.

In May I mused about the lack of significant public transportation developments across the Liverpool City Region and pondered on whether the failed Merseytram project burnt Merrsytravel’s fingers too hard.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/25/merseytravel-did-merseytram-knock-the-stuffing-out-of-innovative-progressive-transport-planning-in-the-city-region/

June – Canal Breach in Melling:-

The Leeds Liverpool Canal breached in the Waddicar part of Melling during June, stopping the many pleasure boats that use the canal during the summer season. The canal was closed for quite a few weeks whilst repairs were undertaken by the canal and River Trust.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/13/melling-canal-breach-this-mornings-photos/

July – How accessible is the new Maghull North Station?:-

I penned this posting a few weeks after the new station was opened. The level accessible route into the station has now been provided although there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists off School Lane.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/07/23/maghull-its-new-north-station-an-accessible-interchange/

August – The sad death of a local Councillor and cyclist:-

The August posting links directly back to the one I highlighted in February i.e. the fatal accident involving Melling Parish Councillor Alion Doyle who was cycling on one of the lanes in Aughton which I raised concerns about back then. A stretch of this lane, maybe a 100 yards or so, is still in terrible condition this December and I have raised this with Lancashire County Council. Such a sad loss of life. RIP Allison Doyle.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/08/20/aughton-fatal-accident-on-bold-lane/

September – The battle against fracking:-

Being an environmental campaigner the battle against Fracking is important to me as it is to many others. This month’s chosen posting is about Lydiate Parish Council gaining information from the volunteer campaigners against fracking. And yes, Lydiate PC did subsequently agree to put £500 to one side to help the volunteer Moss Alliance with their legal costs.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/27/lydiate-parish-council-gets-insight-into-fracking/

October – Building on high-grade agricultural land, which feeds us, is the politics of the madhouse:-

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Another environmental campaign that I feel passionately about. That governments and councils (of any political colour) can allow building on the highest grades of agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, is utterly mad to me – a subject I have blogged about many, many times…..

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/15/we-import-50-of-our-food-now-do-opposition-politicians-get-why-i-keep-banging-on-about-saving-high-grade-agricultural-land-from-development/

November – Ormskirk to Preston Line – The worst performing in the UK?:-

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

As the year dragged on for the poor long-suffering passengers of Northern Rail questions began to be asked about whether the line from Ormskirk to Preston could possibly be the worst performing in the UK. The question was taken up by BBC News with particular reference to a whole week without a single train running on the line. Performance can only improve in 2019, it just could not get any worse.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

December – The battle to try to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from Highways England’s plans for a new road:-

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

And to close 2018 a subject I have oft-blogged about, the campaign to try to stop Highway’s England building a new road to the Port of Liverpool through Rimrose Valley Country Park. There have been many angles which I have reported on but the bizarre tangle Sefton Council’s Tory Group have got themselves into takes a lot of beating.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/04/rimrose-valley-country-park-are-sefton-tories-backing-highways-england-plan-for-new-road-through-it/

Fracking – So do you think it’s a good idea? It’s really NOT!

Fracking is on our doorstep but how many folks really appreciate that and indeed the troubles that it could well cause in mid-Sefton and West Lancashire?

The process is advancing in Great Altcar, West Lancashire and at some point, subject to further permissions etc. a green light could be given to start fracking under our communities. Lydiate, Formby, Ince Blundell, Little Crosby, Hightown, Crosby, Little Altcar, Great Altcar, Maghull, Downholland are all within range for the process to take place below them.

But, have a look at this Channel 4 News video which details what has happened in Holland and then turn around and tell me, those of you who back fracking, that you are still happy for it to take place under your community.

www.channel4.com/news/why-the-dutch-are-ditching-gas-extraction

You may want to consider backing the work of the Moss Alliance if you are not doing already, who are trying to fight off fracking locally:-

themossalliance.org/

Lydiate Parish Council, on which I sit, has allocated £500 to assist the Moss Alliance in any legal battles they may fight as I have mentioned before on this blog site.

Lydiate – Notes from a Small Parish

Yes I know, I could not help but pinch the title of Bill Byrson’s excellent book but it felt appropriate to me anyway.

I’ve not updated on the activities of the Parish Council for a while but as we have just had our October meeting here goes with a few notes:-

* We donated £73 to the WW1 Lydiate Project to help them produce 100 additional printed booklets on their work. Here’s a link to this primary schools based project:-

madcos.org.uk/project/ww1-lydiate/

By the way have you seen/read ‘Great War Britain – Liverpool – Remembering 1914-18’ by Lydiate historian Pam Russell? May well be worth tracking a copy down – it was published this year. The copy below was for sale in Liverpool Central Library:-

* After the Brexit carry on it will hardly be surprising if Lydiate folk look upon another referendum with a skeptical eye but there is going to another very local one early next year. It will just be for Lydiate voters and it will be regarding whether the community accepts the Neighbourhood Plan which the Parish Council has put together. I’ve blogged about these plans many times before – watch out for a polling card popping through your letter box.

* We have put £500 to one side, in effect pledged it, to the Moss Alliance to help pay for their legal costs against fracking. My previous posting on this matter is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/tag/the-moss-alliance/

Sandy Lane Changing Rooms building

* The Parish Council continues to look for ways to improve the changing room facilities and indeed the old tennis courts at Sandy Lane Playing Field. I’ve mentioned this a number of times previously. Suffice to say that the project may now take the form of a small extension to the present building but with a far more substantial project to provide modern changing rooms and a multi use games area (MUGA) to follow. It all depends on funding and grants and it could take a while to bring this project forward.

* It looks like funding to help with the lighting of the Christmas Tree (actually its a holly tree) on the Village Green will no longer be provided by Sefton Council after Christmas 2019. There’s a challenge for Christmas 2020 and beyond….

Lydiate – Parish Council gets insight into Fracking

I’ve blogged about fracking previously and indeed mentioned The Moss Alliance who are organising the opposition to it locally.

Lydiate’s Park Ward Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon is a leading light within The Moss Alliance and she together with two other members of this voluntary campaigning group were at the last Lydiate Parish Council meeting. The group is trying to raise a significant amount of money to enable them to employ planning experts who will help the group effectively campaign against fracking. Here’s some details of their present Crowdfunder appeal:-

They were at the Parish Council meeting on 25th September to brief the Council on the current situation and the threats, as they see them, being faced by local communities in Sefton Borough should fracking go ahead in neighbouring Great Altcar Civil Parish.

Here’s a map showing where the well site will be situated in Great Altcar:-

And here’s the area covered by the license the fracking company holds for our part of the world:-

My apologies for the poor quality graphics which are caused by me copying handouts from The Moss Alliance.

As you can see a large area is covered by licence PEDL 164 so it is reasonable to expect that should the fracking go ahead locally that at some point it could well be underneath any or all of the communities within in it.

I’m firmly against fracking and I’m hopeful that Lydiate Parish Council will make a financial contribution towards The Moss Alliance at its next meeting. Here are some contact details for the campaign group:-

Renewables have to be the way forward, not more fossil fuels for our future energy requirements

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

Fracking – You help fight it by joining a local crowdfunding scheme

With fracking a really serious possibility in West Lancashire and more precisely in Altcar Civil Parish, which is all but surrounded on 3 sides by Sefton Borough, those opposed to fracking are trying to raise money to fight the planning application which is expected to be submitted any day now to West Lancs Borough Council. The link below explains and via it you can join the crowd funders who oppose fracking locally:-

www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-to-save-altcar-moss-from-fracking

The Moss Alliance comprises community groups opposed to fracking in West Lancashire and Sefton. To help them oppose Aurora Energy Resources’ planning application for exploratory drilling and fracking at Altcar Moss near Formby they will need to engage expert consultants. Expert advice does not come free so they need to raise a considerable sum so that the consultants can give them the best chance of defeating Aurora’s first prospective frack site.

This is one of the biggest environmental challenges locally so please help if you can.

Fracking – Coming to a field near you but do you know what it’s all about?

www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/26/fracking-the-reality-the-risks-and-what-the-future-holds

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

This is an interesting and informative piece from Adam Vaughan and well worth taking the time to read it.

I recently came across a clear map showing the boundaries of the Fracking area closest to our part of the world – The License is to Aurora Energy Resources and it’s number is PEDL 164. Here’s the map:-

As you can see the majority of the seismic survey area is within West Lancashire (the thick pale yellow line is the Sefton/West Lancs boundary) but the much wider license area boundary includes large parts of Sefton Borough. Parts of Formby and Lydiate Civil Parishes are clearly within seismic survey area.

My understanding is that Aurora must complete seismic surveys in the area by the 30/9/2020, submit a planning application for that area by 30/9/2021, and drill a well there by the 30/9/2023.

With thanks to Lydiate Parish Council, Frack Free Formby/The Moss Alliance and the Oil and Gas Authority for the map and much of the information contained in this posting. If I have anything wrong please shout and I will correct. Also thanks to Roy Connell for the link to the Guardian article.