Hoylake RNLI Open Day and the top 7 stories this week

Hoylake RNLI Open Day and the top 7 stories this week

Hoylake RNLI Open Day and the top 7 stories this week

                                    

It’s a Bank Holiday today and although I’ve been down to the Hoylake RNLI Open Day today and taken plenty of photos which is a story on that can wait till tomorrow. Three years ago I wrote about the Area Forum where the beginnings of what is now the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum were discussed, which is one of the buildings that is open as part of the Open Day.

Wirral Council’s interest in the car park next to the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum was as you can read from this story in the Wirral News from 2010 was originally going to be sold off along with where the museum is after a decision by former Cllr Simon Holbrook (who was then Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources) in November 2010. However the decision was “called in” by councillors and reconsidered in December 2010, a letter from Hylgar Properties Limited being one of the factors that led to a changed decision. Despite brief mentions about that call in meeting, here and here on this blog, it seems I never did get round to writing up a detailed account of what happened at that call in meeting back in December 2010, however the minutes of what happened at the call in are on Wirral Council’s website.

As it is a bank holiday today, I will just be writing briefly today about what has been popular on this blog in the last week and taking the rest of the day off. The last week (August is traditionally a quiet month for politics) has seen 551 visitors to this blog viewing 1,247 pages. The top seven stories in order of popularity the last week have been:

1) Why did Wirral Council spend an incredible £1,872 on a London barrister to prevent openness and transparency?

2) The incredible £754,783.18 that Wirral Council councillors cost (plus amounts for the Mayor & Deputy Mayor)

3) Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Julia Hassall “we’re not having straightforward consultation” (part 10)

4) Planning Committee on 8:5 vote approves plans for Tranmere Rovers training ground to move to Leasowe

5) Bidston Moss Retail Park: Five New Units Under Construction

6) Birkenhead Market Limited Accounts: Is This The Reason Behind Neptune’s Masterplan?

and

7) Government asks councils in England to bid for £16 million of money to tackle fraud

Note the Contact details for 66 Wirral Council councillors (2014) is in joint 7th place but as it is just for information I have not included it in the above list.

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Bidston Moss Retail Park: Five New Units Under Construction

Bidston Moss Retail Park: Five New Units Under Construction near Junction 1 of the M53

Bidston Moss Retail Park: Five New Units Under Construction

                               

Bidston Moss Retail Park Shops Construction

As you can tell from the photo, five new units are being built on the Bidston Moss Retail Park (near Junction 1 of the M53) on what used to be the site of MFI & Carpetright. There’s been curiosity about who will occupy the new units numbered 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E and some people have come to this blog looking for further information using the search “bidston moss retail park new shops”.

The planning application (more details here) lists the mysterious Derwent Holdings Ltd on the Isle of Man as the applicant. The new units are currently advertised as to let on GVA’s website. So all that can be said about the new tenants is that they won’t be food businesses (as this type of business isn’t allowed with that type of planning permission). Hopefully the new units will be finished and let soon bringing desperately needed jobs to the local area. One of the four units is now occupied by Carpetright.

One bit of good news surrounding the development is that a former car park on the site will be transferred to Wirral Council to be incorporated into Bidston Moss Nature Reserve.

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Planning Applications (recently decided) affecting Bidston & St. James ward

There have been three planning applications recently approved by Wirral Council’s planning officers in the last few weeks. Two of these are concerning the Bidston Moss retail park. Further details are below and for more detail please click on the links.

Application No.: APP/11/00650 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 05/04/2012 Decision: Approve
Case Officer: Mr M Rushton
Applicant: Agent: Higham & Co
Location: Halfords, BIDSTON MOSS, LEASOWE, CH44 2HE
Proposal: Elevational alterations to existing retail unit including recladding and new entrance features.

Application No.: APP/11/00704 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 05/04/2012 Decision: Approve
Case Officer: Mr M Rushton
Applicant: Agent: Higham & Co
Location: Junction 1 Retail Park, Bidston Moss, Leasowe, CH44 2HE
Proposal: Reconfiguration and refurbishment of existing non-food retail unit including partial demolition, construction of extension and external alterations including recladding and new entrance features together with new car parking spaces.

Application No.: APP/12/00089 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 22/03/2012 Decision: Approve
Case Officer: Mr M Rushton
Applicant: Agent: Paddock Johnson Partnership
Location: Vittoria Court, BECKWITH STREET, BIRKENHEAD
Proposal: Proposed two storey side extension, entrance & internal alterations to update existing residential accommodations to current decency standards and to provide additional office accommodation for disaster & recovery suite and training facilities.

Arriva and the tale of the new bus stop at which Arriva buses won’t stop (for 5 months!) – Hoylake Road/Compton Road, Bidston

As regular readers of the Bidston & St. James Focus know, Merseytravel recently responded to a campaign we ran (on behalf of local residents of Beechwood) for extra bus stops on Hoylake Road near the Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre.

The one on the North side of Hoylake Road (opposite Compton Road) is fine and buses are stopping at it. Both stops now have timetables in too.

At the end of June I met with a representative of Merseytravel and Wirral Council on site. There was some concern about the effect of parking and traffic from Compton Road. However since a road of houses off Compton Road was demolished to make a park for Bidston Rise there’s been much less traffic coming into and out of Compton Road (which is short and only has houses one side). Both Merseytravel and Wirral Council agreed there would be no road safety issues as long as the bus stop didn’t obscure a drive on Hoylake or affect sight lines. At this point (a few yards from a set of traffic lights the traffic would be moving slowly anyway).

The bus would be fine stopping on the double yellow lines here and the no loading sign wouldn’t apply to a bus.

However a local resident recently stopped me in the street and told me that Arriva buses were not stopping at the Hoylake Road/Compton Road stop on the South side of Hoylake Road.

Originally Merseytravel had planned to put this stop further along Hoylake Road, but the resident outside whose house it’d be objected on grounds of parking and privacy. So instead it was sited nearer to the double yellow lines/no loading at Compton Road/Hoylake Road.

The resident said she had tried to get off Arriva buses at this stop, but they wouldn’t let her on/off, with the driver insisting it wasn’t a stop. However other operators such as Avon that use this route were stopping here. This sounded odd to me, so I wrote to Arriva.

Back in July all operators on the route (including Arriva) were written to about the proposed pair of new bus stops. This is what the Managing Director of Arriva wrote on the 16th July 2010 (before the bus stop was put in):-

Should existing bus stops be moved, Mr. Finnie would be more than happy to continue using these to aid access to the Tesco store for our customers. However, this would have to be fully risk assessed to ensure that these stops could be used safely

Bear in mind the existing bus stops weren’t moved, but new ones were added! A risk assessment was done by Wirral Council.

Arriva wrote to me again in a letter dated 23rd February 2011. In this they quote “The manager of Birkenhead depot has investigated and advised the following. Our drivers have been instructed not to serve this stop until we have carried out a full safety assessment on it. We apologise for any inconvenience this may be causing, but it is essential for the safety of our passengers, our drivers and other road users that this is completed before it is used. The stop will then be served once we have registered this additional stop with the Local Authority as we are required to do so.”

So, to summarise Arriva won’t stop their buses at a new bus stop which has been in place for 5 months. It’s already been risk assessed by Wirral Council and Merseytravel and been found to be a suitable site for a bus stop. The timetable insert (provided by Merseytravel) gives people the impression the Arriva services stop here. Today I took some photos of the stop and recorded a video to try and explain to Arriva (and the public) why they aren’t stopping here!

Hopefully Arriva will have some common sense in the near future and/or carry out their “full safety assessment”. I’ll be writing to Simon Finnie, the General Manager at Birkenhead (and back to Steven Hill) and taking him up on the offer of a site visit and Merseytravel if they wish to come.

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

I did make a one minute video of myself at the bus stop explaining the above, but the traffic seems to have drowned me out! When out this morning, I did bump into the resident who seemed pleased that someone was taking an interest in the problem. However she was walking someone to school and couldn’t chat long.

When I clear up the audio (or dub over it) I’ll post it on this blog. On a point of local history, when I was a teenager the secondary school used to play hockey on the astroturf pitches at Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre in the Winter and Spring term. As the school day finished at the Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre we were expected to make our own way back home as the school minibus only took a few back to the school gates (the school minibus took twelve, but about a hundred boys in my year did sports here each week arriving in a coach). In 1994-1996 I could have done with these extra bus stops (especially in the cold Winter!) as it would’ve saved me a few minutes walk after the slog up the steep hill with sports gear from the sports centre.

However, the main reason behind these stops is to help Beechwood residents who visit Tesco by bus to shop. These extra stops save about 3 minutes walk along Hoylake Road (which with heavy bags of shopping can be tiring for the elderly or disabled).

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