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Issue:- 8 May 2014

Derek Baxter from FRAGOFF said:- "I handled the original complaint about this issue last year. The road where the signs and gate have appeared is not a Public Right of Way for Vehicles or pedestrians; its status is that of a Permissive Path, that is to say that pedestrians may use it because the Land Owner consents to it. Although the route appears on the Ordinance Survey Maps as a National "way" for it to be a Public footpath it has to appear on the Definitive Map for the area, a copy of which can be viewed by contacting the Council, however this path isn't on it! If the land owner ever withdrew permission to walk down St Luke’s Church Rd or indeed Alexandra Rd or Albert Rd, I have a strong suspicion the Ramblers organisation or Local Authority would step in to secure them as a public right of way, however this would be expensive, so unless pedestrian access is contested, things are likely to stay as they are."

Derek Baxter also added:- "The "No Trespassing" signs have sprung up around the site of Firwood House. This plot of land is privately owned and was granted Planning permission for a large house about a year or so ago. There is a well established path that runs through this land which has been walked for many years by myself and amongst others and at this time of year the route is surrounded by bluebells, some of the locals call it the 'Bluebell Woods'. This route is not part of the permissive right of way and is quite clearly on private land. This doesn't prevent residents from applying to have it recognised as a right of way but makes the process a whole lot more difficult. For a start this bit of path doesn't start on a public right way and doesn't end on a public right of way, once again this would not prevent it from becoming a Public right of Way but it does make matters more tricky. The final consideration in trying to get access to the route though Bluebell Woods is this, Developers apply and succeed in having public footpaths diverted all the time, so even if you did manage to claim the path as a public Right of Way there is a very good chance that the landowner would apply for and get a Diversion Order. I hope that makes sense?"

Incidentally, as many have pointed out, for over at least 30 years local people, and visitors, have been walking and running along those paths.

Sefton Council have also replied accordingly to our email. Brian Goodwin, Senior Assistant Engineer - Public Rights of Way and Cycling Highways Development Control, for Sefton Council told us that:- "The South Section of St Luke’s Church Road is a private road and not public highway. It is the Authority’s understanding that there have been signs at the entrance to St. Luke’s Church Road, for many years, stating that it is a private road. The gate and the new signage, that were erected last year, were probably undertaken by the owner of the land and that it was done so as to clarify the fact that it is a private road."

He also added that:- "The Council is unable to comment upon the appropriateness of the content/wording of the current signs as they are sited upon and refer to access and use of this private road. Similarly, it would not be appropriate for the Council to comment upon whether these signs should be complied with or about entitlement to drive along, park or use this road. Furthermore, The Council does not have the authority to permit or protect public vehicular use of the private section of St Lukes Church Road."

Brian Goodwin responded that:- "Albert Road and Alexandra Road are owned by the Council. However, they are not public highway and the public does not have a vehicular right to use them." This part we are now getting clarified, due to the 'Private Property'  signs being placed on them.

He went in his email to say:- "Within Formby, an Order has recently been made to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on numerous roads. As the order relates to public roads Albert and Alexandra Road were not included in the Order and are not subject to the restriction. Unfortunately, it appears that the contractor has erected repeater signs in these two roads in error. The Council has instructed the Contractor to remove these signs and set them aside for future use elsewhere. In regards to St Luke’s Church Road, the Order includes the full length of St Luke’s Church Road however, only the section between Busbys Lane and Kirklake Road is adopted highway, therefore, the Order will be duly amended and the signage will be removed. I trust this helps clarify the situation"

For the most part we at Southport Reporter feel that this has clarified the situation and thank all parties who have replied to our requests, but we will continue to ask for any outstanding issues which you raised, to be addressed. For example, we think that as we asked so many questions, the fact that some of the signs being on 'Council Land' might have been missed or confused with the question about the 20mph signs.

One thing is for certain, Formby Hall Investments, known now as McComb Property Company Ltd. according to Company Check, has a good record in Formby for helping the community, so we do not think it is likely that there are any dark forces at work, but we can see why people are thinking that. Also, we are not positive that it was Formby Hall Investments who added the signs, as they are not marked. The only thing we can be certain of is that they look the same as the ones on their land. It could easily be, as with Sefton's contractors that the Private Property' signs have been erected in error..

We will let you know more as and when we get it.


Examples of the locations of odd signage on areas that are meant to be Sefton Property:-

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Please email us your views on these issue raised to our newsroom via:- and also let us know if you have any information regarding these signs that could help clarify matters for our readers.

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