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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-23-12

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


2017 - The Year in Review - Part 1 of 2 - in this issue...

THE year 2017 is nearing the end, so that's a perfect timing to recap the outgoing Year of the Rooster and recall the key events that shaped Merseyside in 2017. We think all of you will agree that it was a turbulent year of storms; politically, financially and weather wise. But the good news is, we still managed to survive (even despite the scary predictions of 21 August 2017 apocalypse). So let's take a look at the year in review.

The 1st day of 2017, in Southport, started as with most of the UK, bitterly cold and icy, but that didn't stop locals taking a splash for Charity, as the 2nd Fernley was held  on the Marine Lake. What a perfect way to wake you up from the drudgery of 2016! And the event was a success!

Another success was long awaited Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or simply Rogue One, that was still a major 'force' after the Christmas rush. This obsession was to continue throughout 2017 with a special open air screening being held in Southport King's Gardens over the summer holidays.  Even Mersey Ferries got in on the act, with a 'SciFi Icons' exhibition at Spaceport, showcasing a private collection of Stars Wars memorabilia.

Just like Star Wars, but without the budget and effects, the world of politics was very rebellious and full of rogues causing mischief. With Brexit looming, ever closer, the fear of hard Brexit has been on the minds of many in the UK and throughout the world. This has been a continuing troublesome issue for those in charge, affecting everything from jobs, immigration issues, through to financial worries and even unthinkable political alliances. Yes, sadly, politics was a major part of 2017.

The important date for Merseyside and the surrounding area was 4th of May 2017, when the region voted for its 1st ever elected Mayor. The "Force" was strong for Labour's Steve Rotheram who stormed to victory, becoming the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

Another key moment was the UK's political deadlock and Brexit stalling, culminating in a General Election, in June 2017. All over Merseyside the map turned red, well except in Southport, where it turned blue, and that's not because of Everton. The rebellious people of Southport, knocked out what had been seen as a Liberal Democrats strong hold, when the Conservatives swept in, with the election of MP Damien Moore. Change did happen, with the Liberal Democrats being knocked down to 3rd place.

Internationally, Trump has been making headlines and even affecting news across the pond, on Merseyside, as rumours started to spread about his potential visit to Southport, to see the Golf at Royal Birkdale. "These aren't the headlines you wanted." But 'fake news' was also the key part of 2017.

Another local headline maker of 2017 were issues around Formby Dunes. After facing a huge funding difficulty, Sefton Council made a decision hand over 204+ hectares of Sefton Council dune land to the National Trust for guardianship. It's believed to save money for the Council and also preserve the land for future generations from the pressures of building.

Transport was another major issue for 2017, with controversy at nearly every turn. From Lord Street turning from red to black, to the plans for the A5936 – M56 link road plans being consulted... 2017 was quite a battleground for planners within the Liverpool City Region.

1 of the biggest, not only structurally and price tag wise, was The Mersey Gateway, a multi million pound transport scheme between Runcorn and Widnes, that opened in October, but it also was soon in controversy. After the opening of the new bridge, the original Silver Jubilee Bridge (SJB), which has been open since July 1961, closed for refurbishment. The once free crossing is now destined to become a toll bridge, once it reopens in 2018. This has lead to many businesses and Councillors in the Liverpool City Region and in Cheshire calling for an urgent review saying it's putting unfair pressure on the finances of locals. The political pressure was increased further when it was revealed that the new 6 lane toll bridge lead to ₤1m of fines being issued in the 1st month. This was quickly followed by a landmark court ruling could affect all Mersey Gateway fine appeals, meaning these issues are now set to run well into 2018. These fines are mainly attributable to the fact that there is no way of paying on the journey across the bridge. The vehicle's number plate is registered. And the driver can only pay via the internet, later.

Then we have the RMT strike action, which hit the Open Golf and the Grand National, on Merseyside. These strikes are about the design of the new trains that are due to be introduced in 2020, and perceived safety concerns around then, once introduced on the Merseyrail Network.

The RMT Union has announced a number of strikes over Christmas and the New Year that will significantly affect Cross Country train services, throughout the UK, plus more action on the Merseyrail network. Bus strikes also took place with Arriva and Stage Coach walk-outs leaving many stranded at bus stops.

The 1st big sporting event, other than the football and rugby, on Merseyside, was the Randox Health Grand National, which was held in April. Then more major events were to follow, like in March 2017, 1000 athletes from over 30 European nations came to the Liverpool Arena for the EITF European Taekwondo Championships.

Liverpool Hope International Tournament (LHITT) was held in June, just before Wimbledon, and some of the biggest names in Tennis were in Liverpool.  Interestingly the LHITT put on a sample event in King's Gardens, on Southport's historic Promenade.

2017 also had the return of the Round the Word Clipper Race, when it set off from Liverpool in August and due back in Liverpool in 2018...

West Lancashire Yacht Club RYA's "Push the Boat Out" took place in May, ahead of the internationally renowned 24 Hour Race Race  that took place in September. This race was one of the most interesting races of recent years.

Talking about boats, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the 1st QE Class Aircraft Carrier, set sail from Rosyth, in June to commence 1st stage sea trials off the North East of Scotland and later commissioned‎ ‎7 December 2017, that date Unfortunately was also the 76th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on the American naval base, Pearl Harbor.  She made the headlines again in last weeks of December due to the ₤3.1bn warship 'takes on 200 litres of sea water an hour.'  It is hoped that this new Aircraft Carrier will visit Liverpool sometime next year (2018).

The forth coming Commonwealth Games brought disappointment, as Liverpool lost its bid to Birmingham to host the 2022 Games.  Liverpool can still bid to host the 23rd Edition of the Games in 2026, but chances of Liverpool of ever hosting the games look dashed. But it was not all bad news as the success of hosting the Gymnastics British Championships in recent years and its strong connection to the sport has lead the City to bid to host the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships.

2017 witnessed one of the most amazing Open Golf Championships wins ever, with Jordan Spieth winning against all odds. This was done in front of the biggest attendance of a major in England, of all time and was also 10th time that The Open has been held at Royal Birkdale. A local golfer, from Formby Hall, Tommy Fleetwood, also did exceptionally well at the 146th Open Golf Championship . The experiences led to him being crowned Europe's top golfer, after a tense final to the European Tour's 2017 season in Dubai, in November.

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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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