The view from all corners
You will have noticed that we recently shared statements from all four of the main political parties. A number of people questioned why we have done this, so we wanted to explain here, as well as sharing each party’s statement in full.
Through our work with both the Campaign for Better Transport and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, it became clear that securing cross-party support had to be one of our objectives.
This is so whenever we come to discuss what is happening to Rimrose Valley and the surrounding area with politicians beyond our immediate vicinity – a vitally important part of opposing this scheme – they will understand that the impact to the public's health and the environment knows no, political boundaries.
Influential MPs exist in all parties, whether in Government, or not. We need to connect with more and more of them as our campaign progresses and a supporting statement from their own party is a great way of introducing ourselves.
It was therefore extremely encouraging to receive positive statements from all parties.
The statement we received from the Leader of the Conservative Group on Sefton MBC is particularly useful. This is because we currently have a Conservative Government which is the driving force behind the Port of Liverpool Access Scheme.
In its statement, Sefton Conservatives say that they will endeavour to use their connections to Government to influence the decisions made.
It also claimed that the Port’s expansion will result in prosperity for the region and provide meaningful and well paid jobs.
On the back of receiving this statement we have requested that we be included in any meetings which can be arranged with suitable contacts in central Government. Access to the Department for Transport is obviously critical; given it is the Secretary of State for Transport who ultimately signs off these plans.
Furthermore, in November, we invited Jake Berry MP, originally from Liverpool, in his capacity as Minister for the Northern Powerhouse to meet with us and to see Rimrose Valley first hand. He declined. We have therefore asked Sefton Conservatives to make another attempt on our behalf.
Finally, we requested that Sefton Conservatives share what source they used to support the statements made on job and wealth creation which may occur as a direct result of the Port of Liverpool's expansion. This is because, to our knowledge, this documentation does not exist. If justification for the proposed road is that it will help deliver prosperity, the public needs to see the information this claim is based on, in order to make an informed decision. How many jobs will be created at the expense of losing our green space, a massive increase in pollution and the negative impact on public health which follows?
So, whilst on the face of it, it may have appeared that our campaign was championing each party, we hope everyone understands the thinking behind this.
We feel that, politically, we are in a much stronger position than before.
Here are the statements in full:
The expected increases in traffic volumes serving the docklands would make matters worse for the ‘corridor communities’ and that is an outcome they should not have to suffer. Highways England has proposed to construct a road between Brooms Cross and the Sefton docklands.
The road – if built – might alleviate some of the air pollution issues for communities close to the ‘Dunnings Bridge Road corridor’, but may impact negatively on the health and wellbeing of those communities in close proximity to Rimrose Valley.
Sefton Conservatives acknowledge the efforts of ‘Rimrose Valley Friends’ in their call to explore all alternative transport solutions (that might include a rail link) before any construction is commenced. We will endeavour to use our connections to government to influence the decisions made".
"Sefton Labour Party's position on Port access is quite clear. We believe that alternatives to road use should be much more of a priority, particularly rail, but to have any serious impact significant impetus would be needed from Government, Railtrack etc. to increase rail capacity to and from the Docks.
With regards to a road solution, the Church Road/Dunnings Bridge Corridor is just about at capacity as it is and, as such, any expansion of that Corridor is not acceptable.
With regards to Highways England's proposal for a dual carriageway through our country park. This is also not acceptable for Sefton Labour Party. We believe that a tunnel or 'cut and cover' solution is the best option available as either option would hopefully leave our country park intact. Highways England state that they are "handcuffed" by the financial envelope that Government has given them to deliver a road option.
We believe this is not quite the case in that Government wouldn't have pulled the figure of circa £250 million from thin air and must have been advised by Highways England as to cost. It is therefore disingenuous for them to say this and it seems to us that it was always Highways England's plan to build a dual carriageway through our country park.
We continue to oppose their plan and to press for a resolution that protects our communities from pollution whilst protecting, to the best of our ability, Rimrose Valley Country Park.
Labour-led Sefton Council have already challenged through the Courts Highways England's process, albeit unsuccessfully, and we will continue to challenge and push for a fully funded proper solution to this issue".
"The Green Party has passionately expressed their love for Rimrose Valley Park, which is a unique green treasure in the midst of so many communities.
The Sefton Greens have been in the forefront of the campaign with its coordinator, Mike Carter, being a founding member of the Rimrose Valley Friends Charity.
We have highlighted the threat posed by the increase in the already heavy road pollution that locals suffer on a daily basis, especially on the A5036 with interviews on local television. We invited the then leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Natalie Bennett here to see the beauty of Rimrose Valley and to chat with locals and Caroline Lucas MP visited the Seaforth Port entrance and saw, heard and experienced the pollution-causing port traffic.
Parks and local green spaces have been shown to be fundamental to our wellbeing providing the opportunity for communities to integrate, relax, exercise and play.
We need to make sure all residents are within easy reach of parks, play areas and green spaces. Any plan to push a dual-carriageway full of HGV’s has to be fought and defeated.
We call for a consultation immediately on introducing emergency traffic-reduction measures to protect people from air pollution. We need to see our local councils make a commitment that all developments are air quality neutral and require new developments to reduce air pollution in the most heavily polluted areas".
Rimrose Valley plays an important part in preserving our physical environment and our air quality. It is a much loved and well used piece of green space, crucial to South Sefton’s identity, which must be protected for educational and ecological purposes in the future.
The Liberal Democrats, including our group of councillors on Sefton MBC, are committed to protecting Rimrose Valley and our green spaces across the borough.
Our thanks go to to all who responded to our request.