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'Clean air' rail plan by Southport campaigners is on track for region

'Clean air' rail plan by Southport campaigners is on track for region

by Danielle Thompson (November 2020)

CAMPAIGNERS are looking to clean up after successfully persuading key stakeholders to join their campaign for improved air quality in the area.

Birkdale resident Sonya Kelly put forward a proposal that drivers be advised to switch off their engines while waiting at the level crossing in the village, which can take up to 10 minutes before vehicles are allowed to pass.

With support for the idea from Sean Flynn in Ainsdale and Jennifer Corcoran in Kew, which also have crossings running through those wards, she contacted Southport councillor Greg Myers for help. Fully backing the scheme, he arranged meetings with the transport portfolio holder for the Liverpool City Region (LCR) who has responsibility for Merseytravel and also Sefton Cabinet members to float the idea.

Sonya Kelly says that the suggestion went down even better than she'd hoped for: “Liam Robinson, the Merseytravel Chair came up to Birkdale to talk the idea through with us and he was immediately very positive about it, so much so that he said he'd be looking into how it could be implemented it right across the LCR and has now contacted Network Rail about it.

“Meanwhile the Sefton cabinet members have been equally interested and say that they will look into implementing this under the council's own programme of clean air initiatives. It's all really encouraging and will help residents from Ainsdale to Kew and especially so in Birkdale, which can experience lengthy crossing delays.

“This has taken a while to get to this stage because of the Covid situation but we've kept at it and I'd really like to thank Councillor Greg Myers for backing us all the way and helping to make this happen.”

LCR transport chief Liam Robinson commented: "Sonya, Greg and the team made a very good case and this is simply one of those ideas that just makes sense. We all need to do everything we can to help the environment and I'll be doing all I can to back this idea."

Locally, Sefton Cabinet Member and Air Quality Task Group Co-Chair Paulette Lappin says that council officers have now also been instructed to investigate how best to go about matters: “We currently expect this to be along the lines of signage and advisory notices rather than an enforcement issue and think commonsense will prevail - as not only will this be of real benefit to local residents and the environment but also to drivers, given no-one needs to hear pounds coins falling out of their exhaust pipe while sat waiting at crossings.

“It's a win-win proposal and one that now looks as though it could pay dividends not only in Southport but right across Sefton and the Liverpool City Region.”

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