As many local residents know, I have spoken out against the cycle lane scheme which Sefton Council imposed upon our town without consultation.
In mid-2020, Sefton Council applied to the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to finance the rollout of cycle lanes across Southport. They then built these lanes across Southport’s town centre.
Whilst I welcome the availability of greater funding for local authorities to encourage cycling – indeed in many areas of the country cycle lanes are desperately needed – in Southport cycle lanes are neither necessary nor desired.
I am particularly concerned that the Council has not consulted with local businesses and residents prior to the new lanes being installed. I have been inundated with concerns - this scheme is damaging the trade of local businesses at a time they are desperately trying to rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Holy Trinity Church have complained that on-street parking was no longer available as a result of the lanes, meaning that elderly and disabled parishioners can no longer park close, and parents can no longer drop off or collect their children from school.
As if this was not reason enough to oppose the scheme, the new cycle lanes have left a hole in the Council’s pay and display revenue – at a time when Council spending is at a record high due to the pandemic. Sefton as a borough cannot afford cycle lanes.
I wrote to Sefton Council and the Government expressing my deep concern regarding the restrictions on road access, the decrease in revenues (both for businesses and the Council), and lack of consultation.
In January 2021, it was announced that the cycle lanes are due to be expanded into areas of Birkdale and Ainsdale to the south, and both Churchtown and Crossens in the north.
In June 2021, Sefton Council consulted on their proposals - which are estimated to cost £1.35 million. I beleive that the proposals are deeply flawed, and will not support their introduction. I note that petitions on this matter have raised thousands of signatures, and that local Conservative councillors have submitted motions to the Council requesting the plans be scrapped.
I secured an extention to the consultation deadline, to allow more time for local residents to submit their views. Now that the consultation has ended, I have requested the results from Sefton Council. I will provide futher updates once this information has been received.