The new pop up cycle lanes on Hoghton Street in Southport town centre

Cycle Lanes

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 believe 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 extension to the consultation deadline, to allow more time for local residents to submit their views. Once the consultation ended, I requested a copy of the results. Following months of delay and obfuscation, Sefton Council finally published the results of the cycle lane consultation in November 2021. The results showed that Southport residents clearly rejected Sefton Council's cycle lane proposals.

It was clear that the costly plans have no public support in our town, and I have therefore called on the Labour leadership of Sefton Council to acknowledge this reality and announce that the plans will be scrapped.

It would have been outrageous if, following such a strong and unambiguous rejection by Southport residents, Labour pushed ahead with the £1.35 million plans. It would have been a colossal waste of tax-payers money, and would only have served to re-enforce the clear view that I and the majority of residents share - that Southport would be much better served out of Sefton.

On 18 January 2022, Sefton Council decided to shelve the North – South Southport plans, and instead progress a separate scheme in Formby. I welcome this decision, and thank all residents, councillors, and campaigners who worked together to oppose these plans.