One of the things that really brings the local area down that could be easily resolved is the state of the bus shelters. If you go around West Lancashire you’ll see that many of the bus shelters are vandalised and left by the council. They’re an eyesore which the council seems unwilling to sort out.
Pat Carson and I have been asking to sort out one particular bus shelter on Digmoor Road in Moorside (shown to the right). This picture was taken last year and the shelter has been further vandalised over the past few months.
Digmoor Road is one of the main roads through Moorside and Digmoor wards and this shelter is one of the first welcoming sights for visitors. It drags down the local “street scene” and shows that the council doesn’t really care about the local area.
When I’ve asked at the council I’ve been fobbed off, first that there was a review of the bus shelters and then that the bus shelters will be improved by the “quality bus routes” (which this isn’t on). Pat’s asked if we can just take out the glass and get the shelter painted ourselves, but the council say that we have to take on responsibility with the wet paint and broken glass.
Over Christmas it seems that the problem might resolve itself, but only because Arriva buses are cancelling the last bus that stops here. It was announced that the Skelmersdale – Liverpool bus was being scrapped by Arriva, another stupid decision by a company which previously stopped the main Wigan – Southport bus route from being a quality bus route by it’s refusal to run low floor accessible buses.
So when the Liverpool bus route finally ends, the stop will become redundant. Perhaps the best thing then will be to remove it altogether and for the surrounding area to be cleaned up.
Nothing particularly new for 2006, the main issues have been on and off the agenda for the past couple of years:
- uncertainty over west lancs as a viable authority in it’s own right
- the structure of the local health provision
- Skelmersdale town centre investment
Things are coming to a head in the near future, and I expect that we’ll know what’s happening over the next six months.
The expected white paper on local government reorganisation is likely to be published in the next six months. We are told that it will be published in the summer, but there is talk that it will come sooner. It seems that everyone I speak to has a different idea of what will happen, but there seems to be consensus that Districts are too small to be viable.
By October the changes to the local PCT’s will be known and will already be being implemented. There is also the review of liverpool health trusts which also has the Southport and Ormskirk hospital trust in it’s sights. Hopefully, neither set of changes will hit us too hard in West Lancashire, both being changes at the management level. A new PCT merged with South Ribble, Chorley and Preston keeps the local identity without being lost to a massive single Lancashire authority. With the Liverpool health trusts, the main problem with the Ormskirk and Southport hospitals is that they find it difficult to find clinical staff who want to work out here. Also, as technology improves there is more remote diagnosis where the specialists don’t have to be in the same hospital as the patient – patients have to travel less and specialists get to do more consultations.
Following the consultations over the Skelmersdale vision for the town centre, the council and other partners are applying for money to invest and try to turn it into a reality. These applications have been sent in, but even if we get the money, it will be a while before work starts. Investment to improve the town centre is something that will have to continue for years – an established town centre needs to grow and can’t just be dropped onto the site of an older, failing, town centre.