Maghull – It must now be 20 years+ of blooms in the shopping centre

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The other day I got to thinking about how long floral displays have been going on in and around The Square/Westway. Well it must be around 20 years or more.

It all started with a former Maghull Town & Sefton Borough Councillor by the name of Roy Connell. Forgive me if my memory is not fully correct but here goes.

Summer 2009 there were both hanging baskets & barrier planters

Roy realised that in some other parts of the Borough Sefton Council put up hanging baskets (outside the Strand in Bootle was one such place) and he asked for them to be erected in Maghull along Westway too. His request was eventually agreed to but Maghull Town Council wanted to join in too. What came out of this was a partnership between Sefton and Maghull Councils, brokered by former Town Clerk Barry Smith, whereby Sefton would pay for so many hanging baskets and Maghull Town Council would both pay for the extra ones they wanted (along part of Liverpool Road North & up Stafford Moreton Way) and they would do the watering of all of the baskets using their in-house parks/grounds maintenance team.

This carried on for a few years but then problems started to emerge with regard to the strength of the aged street light columns which had had two hanging baskets fixed to each one. We were told that some of the street lights were no longer safe to hold hanging baskets so those along Liverpool Road North and on Stafford Moreton way were removed. Subsequently, as a cost cutting move, Sefton stopped funding all hanging baskets across the Borough but for a while the Town Council kept going with the ones along Westway. But then the same issue arose with the strength of street lamps there too so after about 8 years or so they were no more. You can still see some of the brackets which the hanging baskets were suspended from as they’ve not been removed.

A circular prize winning flower planter on Maghull’s Westway.

I think it was around this time, about 12 years ago, that the Maghull in Bloom volunteers were established and I recall them attending a Maghull Town Council meeting (at the time I both lived in Maghull and was a Maghull councillor) asking for support. The Town Council agreed to fund MinB to the tune of £5,000 per year (reduced to £2000 in the past few years) and it also agreed to take on the watering of the summer planting along Westway which would from then on take the form of pavement planters and pedestrian barrier baskets as opposed to hanging baskets.

MinB volunteer’s hanging baskets at Treeview Court

Maghull in Bloom volunteers went on establish themselves as one of the Town’s most high profile voluntary groups with additional displays at Treeview Court (summer hanging baskets & year-round pavement planters), Deyes Lane shops (summer hanging baskets), Leeds Liverpool Canal (Planters at bridges & weekly canal towpath litter picking), The Fruit Meadows & flower beds/planters on KGV Park/outside Meadows Leisure Centre.

In 2019 Maghull Town Council passed the responsibility for watering the Westway summer displays onto the owners of the shopping centre London & Cambridge Properties and they completed the summer 2019 watering season. And that is pretty much the story of the blooms in Maghull shopping centre over the past 20+ years.

Maghull Square Shopping Centre – It’s not well thought of!

I got involved in some Facebook exchanges yesterday with folks who are concerned about the state of Maghull’s Shopping Centre, at least that part of it to the north of Westway.

This is Maghull Square in the 1970's but the buildings are as was. It was built in the 1960's. Photographer unknown.

This is Maghull Square in the 1970’s but the buildings are as was. It was built in the 1960’s. Photographer unknown.

It certainly is run down now despite the valiant efforts of the Maghull in Bloom volunteers whom Sheila and I have recently joined.

I suppose there are two major issues – the quality and diversity of the shops and the condition of buildings and car parks.

Around the back of the ‘Square’ and the rear of the shops along Westway the car parks are rutted and the backs of the shop units look very neglected. What’s more the flats above the shops (which are accessed from the rear car parks) are let out and those living in them deserve a better outlook and much improved maintenance.

The previous owners (The Maghull Group) did have plans for major refurbishments and rebuilding and I recall that they got planning permission for that work. Trouble is they then ran into the recession caused by our dodgy bankers and politicians who spent more than we had. So, no progress was made despite great optimism at the time the upgrading was being promoted a few years ago.

Now things have deteriorated further and the property has been sold on. The challenge for the new owners is to breath some life into the Square before it slides any further. That may not be an easy task but it is certainly becoming an urgent one.

The new managing agents are London and Cambridge Properties. They also have a big property interest the other side of the shopping centre south of Westway (the more modern ‘Morrisons’ side) so it would seem to be in their interests to get the whole of it pointing in the right direction sooner than later so to speak.