A FORMER leader from neighbouring Sefton Council has called for the Burscough Curves, the direct rail line between Ormskirk and Southport, to be brought back into action.
Sefton’s councillors last week confirmed their commitment to engage with neighbouring authorities, such as West Lancs, to ensure that vital transport links and infrastructure are kept and improved.
At a full Sefton Council meeting at Southport Town Hall on January 23, Cllr Tony Robertson put forward a motion asking that Sefton give appropriate priority to the transport needs of the borough and people travelling in from places outside Merseyside.
He asked the council to recognise the economic importance of transport links and called on the council to work with West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire County Council to engage with neighbouring transport authorities.
He added: “This issue is important to the borough because of the unique shape of Sefton. You could say the problem goes back to the local government boundaries of 1974 – they are probably the indirect reason why we have so many problems.
“The north of the borough has pretty good connections to the south and the rest of Merseyside.
“But Southport is a huge disadvantage if you want to go north or east.”
Cllr Robertson said the areas that needed consideration were the rail and road networks. He added: “The transportation difficulties that Sefton’s residents have are solvable in another political area. If we do not address this issue, who else is going to? If we do not address this, no-one else will.”
Labour councillor Anthony Carr then proposed an amendment asking that the council requests that the minister of state for transport recognises the unfair disparity of rail investment in the North in comparison to the South – amending future spending in order to enhance, improve and secure transport needs in our region.
Sefton’s cabinet member for transportation, Cllr John Fairclough, said he had to submit Sefton Council’s response to the West Lancashire highways and transport masterplan as part of the consultation they were running.
He then asked why the motion had been put forward, yet no responses on the plan had been sent to him. He added: “This is about an election coming up.
“Let’s be clear, though – why would West Lancs spend 90% of their money to support 90% of the people in Southport, no one will do that. That is why we are asking the Government to step in and put the investment in.”
Conservative party leader, Terry Jones, added after the meeting: “The Lib Dems tabled a motion to improve rail networks leading to Southport. I couldn't agree more – we need to seek to invest.
“However, local councils do not have such money and it's correct we ask the Government to invest. But one thing the Lib Dems must understand is we would not be so reliant on the rail network if they had not spent so many years targeting the motorist, leading them to visit other destinations.
“Pay and display, excessive double yellow lines, speed bumps, and more recently their vote to turn Lord Street into one-lane traffic. These are just some of the factors visitors decide not to visit Southport in cars – they don't feel welcome or are being used as a cash cow.
“Don't be part of destroying the tourism trade and then try to be seen as the as the saviour.”
The transport masterplan for West Lancs sets out a number of ambitious proposals such as building a railway at Skelmersdale and traffic improvements across the borough.
But the report claims that the Burscough Curves will not be reinstated as there is not a good enough economic reason for doing so. The railway curves would connect Southport directly to Ormskirk and Preston. The consultation on the plans finished last Friday.