Derby Street Bridge Ormskirk 2015 Briefing On Issues And Options

Five years ago this LCC briefing note, below, provided “further background information about a decision made on Thursday 13 August by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport to consult on a proposal to put a temporary 18 tonne structural weight limit on a weak historic bridge in Ormskirk”.

Derby Street Bridge carries the A570 over the Liverpool to Ormskirk railway. It lies directly south of Ormskirk station. The bridge lies within a conservation area and is a grade 2 listed structure with a grade 2 listed water fountain located on the south west corner. The bridge has sandstone facades with 3 brick arches. There are two traffic lanes with footways on either side, one of which is very narrow.

Successive inspections and specialist investigations by the county council have shown that Derby Street Bridge is not in good condition. There are structural problems with the arches that are difficult to assess and that cannot be repaired completely. The deterioration in the condition of the bridge has reduced its strength and it is now essential that heavy vehicles are prohibited from using it. As a consequence the county council is putting in place a temporary traffic regulation order banning vehicles weighing more than 18 tonnes from using the bridge, requiring heavier vehicles to be diverted via an alternative route.

If you wait long enough you will see many famous local people on the bridge!

The options for addressing the weakness of the bridge range from demolition and replacement to major reconstruction. As the bridge is over a railway and since there are only limited options for dealing with traffic whilst the works take place, replacement would be the quickest and most cost effective option. However, given the listed status of the bridge a major reconstruction scheme may be justified although this would take much longer and is likely to cost considerably more. Regardless of the structural condition of the bridge there are a number of geometrical and other deficiencies that compromise the suitability of the Victorian bridge for modern use.

The masonry parapet over a busy railway represents a relatively high risk to rail users in the event of a vehicle impact. The parapets are also low and do not meet current standards, with at least one recorded incident of someone falling from the road onto the railway.

The south footway is very narrow and there have been incidents of people being hit by vehicle mirrors whilst walking across the bridge. Although there are two lanes marked across the bridge there is insufficient width to meet standards, and HGVs currently straddle lanes to cross the bridge.

A number of proposals have been previously considered for protecting the parapets from vehicle impact and providing a safe crossing for pedestrians. These include raising the height of the parapets with new copings, protecting the walls with steel barriers and providing a footbridge alongside the existing bridge. However, there are issues with all of these proposals that lead to a position that they are not appropriate in this situation.

Protecting the walls with barriers would require more room than is currently available within the carriageway, requiring the loss of one of the traffic lanes. This would provide room behind the barriers for pedestrians to cross the bridge. However since the safest place to cross the road is on the bridge, the barriers would prevent this. Additionally, steel barriers within a conservation area would be somewhat incongruous.

Providing a footbridge would have a number of disadvantages. Pedestrians would need a safe place to cross the road and there is no suitable site close to the bridge to provide a controlled crossing. Additionally the location of the footbridge in front of the listed structure would again be inconsistent with the concept of the conservation area.

Addressing the points above would have no effect on the fundamental structural inadequacy of the bridge and any strengthening of the existing structure would similarly retain the geometrical inadequacies requiring further works or provide a compromised solution.

An option to strengthen the existing structure and address the above inadequacies could be possible but would fundamentally lead to the bridge being largely rebuilt. There would be a lengthy and somewhat risky construction project incurring considerable additional cost over a replacement structure. In terms of closure of the A570 this could take up to 6 months.

A bridge replacement project would minimise disruption to the A570 and the railway, and overall the project timeframe would be less than a strengthening scheme.

Any proposal for dealing with the bridge must be considered in the context of the West Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan if the A570 is to serve the needs of people in Ormskirk and the wider area. The listed status of the bridge suggests it is an important element of the Ormskirk townscape however, in arriving at a solution this must be balanced against the economic, social and operational requirements of the town and as such any proposal should be developed in collaboration with West Lancashire Borough Council.

Indicative costs for a replacement bridge are in the region of £2.5m to £3m whilst a strengthening and widening scheme would be in the region of £3m to £4.5m. The cost of a chosen option is unlikely to be the governing factor given the transport requirements and the listed status of the bridge.

Lancashire County Council is commencing consultation on a temporary traffic regulation order to put the weight limit in place at the end of September and will consult on a proposed diversion route as part of this process. In order to allow time to find a suitable solution and secure funding to put it in place, the temporary traffic regulation order could be in place for around five years.

Five years is up. There’s been a masterplan, a traffic strategy, there will be resin repairs, single lane traffic, but bugger all to show for it. Politicians, that’s what some of them do, bugger all! What’s the betting on there being another briefing note in another five years?

Lancashire Spends Much Less On Its Roads Than London

According to the Lancashire Post

County council areas like Lancashire are being outspent on road repairs by more urban local authorities that have far fewer miles of road in need of maintenance. That is according to the County Councils Network (CCN), which says London’s boroughs were able to spend three times more than so-called ‘shire counties’ on maintaining their roads and investing in upgrades last year. The capital’s councils shelled out £62,350 for every mile of road in their area, compared to £20,885 in county areas.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned that Lancashire County Council spent marginally more on its roads during 2019/20 than the average for other county authorities at £24,186 per mile. The figures include capital investment in constructing entirely new routes like the Penwortham bypass.

The CCN claims that lower funding for county areas and disproportionate regional investment has made places such as Lancashire the “poor relations” when it comes to highways funding. The organisation’s research shows that nine percent of the road network belonging to England’s 36 county councils was in need of repair last year a total of 11,117 miles.

While the percentage of repairs required in London was similar, eight percent of the capital’s network, the total mileage was over 15 times lower, at just 730 miles. The man responsible for Lancashire’s roads is not hugely surprised by the difference but says that he would be “grateful for any extra funding” that could come the county’s way.

“London is the capital city and it’s a totally different situation – in Lancashire we have a lot more country roads and a very diverse network” said Lancashire County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon.

“We get a government grant and we have topped that up ourselves – this administration has put in an extra £15m.

“We have also improved by 12 percent in the latest survey of public satisfaction with repairs to potholes and damaged roads making us one of the most improved counties in the country. I’d like a bigger settlement, but as things stand, it’s the hard work of our highways staff which has without doubt made our improving position possible” County Cllr Iddon added.

The government has promised a £2bn pothole repair fund over the next four years and the CCN is calling for counties to receive the same proportion of the cash as they did of a previous one-off grant in 2018 – 74 percent.

Lancashire County Council is assessed by the Department for Transport as being one of the best-performing authorities for road repairs entitling it to the maximum share from its Highways Maintenance Fund, with County Hall allocated £3.8m in the next financial year.

The 36 urban metropolitan councils in England spent £41,929 per mile on their roads last year, while the eight ‘core cities’ were able to invest £57,241 per mile. The North West as a whole – across both county and urban areas spent £33,770 per mile, one of the highest amounts in the country.

CCN chair David Williams said “County motorists are clearly the poor relation to drivers in London and other cities areas when it comes to how much gets spent on fixing potholes and improving the local road network, with drivers across the country facing a pothole lottery, even within regions. Due to more generous day-to-day funding and infrastructure investment, cities and urban areas are in a position to spend disproportionate amounts in keeping their roads maintained or upgraded compared to councils in counties. This is despite far more of our road network in the shires requiring repairs and improvements.

“The government’s £2bn pothole fund and commitment to level up infrastructure are therefore extremely welcome. These findings show that it is imperative our areas receive a fair share of the government’s new fund, in proportion to the number of miles we are responsible for, while ensuring the longer-term commitment to level up funding for national infrastructure doesn’t bypass county areas that stretch across the length and breadth of England and are the vital arteries for those ‘left-behind’ towns”.

This report suggests the Tory LCC isn’t getting as much from the Tory government and isn’t doing much to fight our corner. The “left behind?”, of course we are 

“Oliver” Aka Clive Grunshaw “Twist” Is Back!

He’s announced his Annual Precept Consultation 2020-21 Version.

There’s a certain inevitability about the annual “Oliver Twist” police precept grab. It has an unusual “twist” this year. Mr Grunshaw has previously had less police officers, so he needed more precept. This year he is having more police officers, so he needs more precept! Probably his annual 5%?

“Due to the General Election there is a delay in the confirmation of the level of central government funding for 2020/2021, the uplift to the funding for new officers, and the flexibility to raise the precept, meaning that timescales are tighter than ever. My survey launched last week and is open until 9am on Friday 17th January.

“Running Lancashire Police costs over £286m a year, with almost 72 per cent of this coming from Central Government funding, and the remainder being raised by the Policing element of your Council Tax bill. I’m required by law to set the policing element of the Council Tax bill every year. This decision is made by taking into account lots of things, including what you, the public want your police service to look like against how much you want to pay for it.

“Despite having saved over £86m from the police budget since 2010, last year, thanks to the support of council tax payers, I’ve made good on my promises in 2019 and investment was made back into policing here in Lancashire, with the creation of Task Force teams covering every district across Lancashire, focusing on reducing and preventing crime and dealing with the issues that matter most to people.

“Specialist target teams were also strengthened tackling cross border crime and criminality, alongside burglary and robbery and there was an investment in detectives following public feedback to prioritise investigations around major crimes, child exploitation and domestic abuse.

“There’s some positive news this year, as we know that there is government funding for some additional officers, but that does also come with additional costs. Lancashire is growing as a police force and the costs of running it will go up proportionately. There are also the standstill pressures, including inflation and statutory pay rises which unless they are addressed by government will leave the force with a £7m deficit.

“My current proposal this year is to increase the precept to meet some of the pressures that are coming through alongside a plan for savings to meet the deficit, rather than to seek cuts, but I want to hear what you have to say”.

Don’t suppose two words, one being “off” will work?

Local Plan Common Sense?

John Redwood

spells out a common sense route to local planning. He writes

“The government will legislate to introduce a points based system of migration control. The plan is to reduce numbers coming in to take low paid work, and to ensure anyone entering to work comes to a job that has been identified.

“The government has not set out any numbers yet, but presumably the plan is to have fewer migrants in total than we have been experiencing in recent years with EU freedom of movement. This should have a knock on effect to national and local plans, which currently need to cater for a large and continuing expansion of demand for homes from a variety of sources including from strong inward migration.

“In Wokingham the Council has responded with a large approved building programme under the current local plan. As we look forward to the successor plan we need to reduce the future numbers of extra homes planned to take account of the large number already allowed. We need green gaps between settlements, protection of woodland and good farmland, and maintenance of flood plain.

“Many of the homes now being built are being built on low lying land which creates more drainage problems. There are limits to how much drainage can achieve as it just dumps the water more quickly into the river system which itself is prone to flooding.

“We also need to plant more trees and create more woods, not rip them out to concrete over the landscape”.

Music to our ears in West Lancashire? Burscough, Halsall, flooding? Parrs Lane Aughton, to become a concrete landscape as has Yew Tree Farm? 

Is An OWL About To Fly In To Aughton?

Aughton residents have today received glossy leaflets from Our West Lancashire extolling the benefits of independent representation at West Lancashire Borough Council.

The grip of Halsall based Westleyism keeps a blanket Tory representation in place, five in the Aughton wards, three of them resident in Halsall. They have history, despite which so far they remain intact. Who can forget the “Aughton liars” public accusation from Wally Westley himself. Or the Parrs Lane sell-out to developers Redrow and Wainhomes only defeated in law by Labour held WLBC?

The OWL leaflet specifically targets the failure of two party politics. “Both Labour and Tory councillors are complacent, toeing the party line. Time after time they fail to stand up for their local wards, following the dictats of their party. Residents feel excluded and ignored”.

[insulted too, Wally “lies told door to door” . Calls for councillor to quit after ‘waste of time’ slur as told by by Danielle Thompson in the Champion. AUGHTON residents are calling for Councillor David Westley to resign – after he called the two-year campaign to keep Parrs Lane in the greenbelt ‘a waste of time’ and alleged that door to door campaigners had told lies.

“After Colin Atkinson, chairman for the Aughton Residents Group (2012) raised the issue of the formulation of the neighbourhood plan to discuss the future of Aughton at public question time at the Aughton Parish Council meeting on Monday December 9, Lancashire County Councillor Westley, who represents Aughton and Downholland told Colin Atkinson that campaigners had wasted two years talking to the Borough Council.

He said “The campaign was a disaster, lies were told door to door and the campaign was a waste of time”.

He then walked out of the meeting at Aughton Village Hall amid shouts that the campaigners had not lied, jeers and calls for his resignation]”. 

The appeal OWL will make, according to its leaflet, is the “localism” of village residents who “simply want a responsive, accountable council offering good services at a fair cost”. 

Who could dispute that? If an OWL does fly into Aughton & Downholland, the Tory majority last time was only 266. Independent minded residents and some disenchanted Labour voters might lend their votes to the OWL?


Branson Warns On Scams, But Doesn’t Mention Virgin Care?

To me, outsourcing NHS services is a scam. It makes fat cat outsourcing company bosses rich. Virgin Care 

comes to mind, like Serco with its WLBC leisure service contracts. Who doesn’t think the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill scheme is a scam?

In a bid to raise awareness, the businessman Richard Branson has released an animated guide to explain the ways that criminals use his name and likeness to steal personal and financial information. He also recommends reporting anything you think is a scam, to Action Fraud. You would anyway, wouldn’t you?

In a video, a cartoon version of Branson points out that scammers are contacting people who post on Virgin social feeds. “Even if it’s a verified account, know that I never direct message anyone, nor does my team. I never endorse any get-rich-quick schemes, this is a sure-fire way to lose your investment”.

“I have written several times warning people about the growing problem of fake stories online linking me to get-rich-quick schemes, fake pages, misleading ads, false endorsements and fake binary trading schemes” he wrote in a blog post.

Virgin Care claims “In West Lancashire we’ve been commissioned to improve the experience of people using these services by introducing new ways of working, making the best use of technology and increasing efficiency”.

People might have an opinion that Virgin Care is a “get me Rich[ard] quick” scheme, at cost to tax payers who fund the NHS, or think they do? In July last year Rosie Cooper MP suggested “Delivering good services for people should be the focus of our public services not profit, as our public services belong to the people. It’s time to end the outsourcing scandal which has seen private companies rip off the taxpayer, degrade our public services in West Lancashire and put people at risk whilst remaining wholly unaccountable to the people who rely on and ultimately fund these services.

“Nationally and locally, we’ve seen the mess caused by private providers like Serco and Virgin Care who seek to make profits from these contracts. After year upon year of failures the public has rightly lost confidence in the privatisation of our public services and the carve up of the public realm for private profit. The government’s ideological pursuit of privatisation and outsourcing has seen the public pay the price as fat cat bosses count their profits”.

Virgin Care runs Adult Community Services and Urgent Care Services on behalf of the NHS in West Lancashire which includes community nursing and Skelmersdale and Ormskirk Walk in Centres.

Rosie hit out at the “Continued and blatant privatisation of the National Health Service, with previously free treatments now being charged for, directly by the NHS. Routine treatments such as cataract surgery and hip replacements are now considered as procedures of low clinical value and are being charged for at a local hospital trust.

“Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust have a list of treatments they now charge for under their ‘My Choice’ programme. Rosie, a member of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee, said “I have consistently opposed the privatisation of the NHS, but this latest horrific news shows just how ‘normal’ it has become that a hospital and its Board think this is acceptable to taxpayers. They should hang their heads in shame!

“In West Lancashire, the CCG farmed out contracts to the private provider Virgin Care, and nearby at Warrington and Halton the NHS Hospital Trust itself is now charging for treatments including cataract and hip replacements.

 “The Trust has a list of procedures they’re charging for, with hip and knee replacements costing over £7,000. This is the galloping privatisation of the NHS under the Tories continuing. The outrageous message this NHS Trust is sending is ‘Can’t afford it – we don’t care if you’re in pain or can’t see!’

“What’s next, will we need to take our credit cards with us every time we visit hospital. The Health Secretary needs to be clear about this now”. 

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Take Democracy Seriously, Put Preserved Moss On Council Office Walls!

As reported by the Taxpayers Alliance

Milton Keynes Council has 19 Conservatives, 23 Labour, and 15 Liberal Democrats elected members, no overall control. Which might explain its recent bizarre artwork decision! 

The council can’t be accused of letting grass grow under its feet, but it has put preserved MOSS on walls inside the civic offices as part of a £315,000 refurbishment. 

The council says the move is a “small nod to MK’s much-loved green spaces” but one councillor has blasted the idea at a time when the city has seen an upsurge in homelessness. Cllr Peter Geary (Cons, Olney) said “I am amazed that someone thought putting moss on the walls is a good use of public money, at these times when there is so much homelessness and things to do in MK”.

A spokesman for MK Council said “The preserved moss walls are a small nod to MK’s much loved green spaces. They’re a little part of improvements to our public spaces and committee rooms, including new acoustic ceiling panels and microphones.

We hold hundreds of public meetings every year at Civic and this work is part of our commitment to taking democracy seriously”.

Is this a good idea? Could it happen in West Lancashire, just to reassure us WLBC takes democracy seriously? We could have a wall of preserved Beacon Park golf course landfill,

a wall of preserved Burscough floodwater,

or a wall of preserved potholes!

The possibilities for great WLBC murals are endless!