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Redevelopment of Formby Village Toilets

In the last post I wrote about my suggestion for a redevelopment of the 'mothballed' toilets in the Furnace Avenue car park. I suggested this proposal should be included as part of a bid for a 'Portas: Town Team'.

The idea has evoked some response in the twitter stream: @formbyvillage. I mentioned that this was not an original idea and since my post, I've found details of another example.

Have a look at the two images below and spot the differences and the similarities.




The first photograph is the Formby Toilets block in it's current mothballed state. The only similarity between the buildings is probably their size. The second photograph is of the Thirsk Town former toilet block situated in the centre of the town. (See: http://www.visitthirsk.org.uk/index.php)

The difference is that it has been redeveloped into a Tourist Information office. It's run as a 'Social Enterprise' by volunteers, which is how all the Charity Shops in Formby are run and managed.

My suggestion is that our toilet block should be renovated as a Tourist/Town Information centre also stocked with appropriate goods like those in Thirsk. There would still be room for toilets for the public, but that they would be less likely to damage or misuse because they would be only available when the centre was open.

The redevelopment alongside all the Village existing and forthcoming Improvements by Formby Parish Council, would help to redefine the centre of Formby as a 'destination town'. It would encourage those thousands of visitors who flock to the beach to come to the village and help reinvigorate the retail heart of the town.


Portas 'Town Team' Bid Update

Earlier this week I met with two of the Formby Parish Councillors, who have volunteered to look at the idea of making a bid for a Portas Pilot Town Team Bid. It was a fruitful meeting and we agreed these actions

  • To meet with Sefton MBC officers to register our bid preparations
  • To meet with the local Traders.
  • To prepare a 'draft' bid application form.

The Parish Council members have agreed the boundaries of the bid area should focus on the village shopping centre only, but to role out the benefits to Formby's satellite shopping centres. They're also hoping to include a proposal for the empty former M&S shop next to HSBC Bank.

I suggested the mothballed toilet block in the Furness Avenue car park should be adapted so that it's primary purpose becomes a 'Tourist/Town Information' centre but also providing public access to toilet facilities. Presently the cost of renovation outweighs the likely benefits. A similar scheme was undertaken in Cumbria. A team of local residents formed a 'Trust' made a successful bid for Lottery funds and now run a thriving community led 'Information Service'.

What do you think a Portas Town Team Bid should include? The Pool Trust have just published their consultation document for the pool grounds, this is an ideal opportunity to develop an integrated improvement plan for the centre of our town.

Norman Wisdom Seen at BP Petrol Station

Image of Norman Wisdom
I've just come across a very small but fascinating glimpse of the past in Formby. Norman Wisdom starred in a film called 'What's Good for the Goose' that was made in 1969. He played a banker who is attending a conference and on the way he picks up two teenage hitch-hikers and finds himself confronting the 'Swinging Sixties'.
Some of the scenes were filmed in Formby, at the BP Petrol Station where Norman fills his car with petrol and the adjoining roundabout, where the two hitch-hikers get their lift.

Two photographs document those scenes.

These and more photograph of many of the scenes from the film are are featured on the Reelstreets web site. They are an intriguing glimpse of Southport, the Formby By-Pass and other parts of Merseyside.


Freshfield Road Repairs Completed


Sefton MBC have completed the resurfacing of  Freshfield Road in the vicinity of Formby High School and the road has reopened.

Motorists should be aware of the 'school zone' 20mph speed limit. The signs are very clear.

The students of Formby High School will be pleased to see that their campaign of some years is gradually bearing fruit.

Freshfield Road is frequently driven along too fast by too many vehicles it will be interesting to see whether there is any change in drivers behaviour.

Sefton MBC Removes Village Flower Hanging Baskets

Sefton Council have removed the street light hanging baskets as part of their cut's in services. An agency based in Derby who provided them in the first place sent their 'white van' men to complete the removal. I just happened to be on hand to catch sight of and record the moment.


Formby and Town Team Bid Update

In an earlier story I said was going to urge Formby Parish Council to consider making a bid for a Grant to form a 'Town Team' (See Portas Review).

I'm pleased to report that the Council have agreed to examine the idea. The grant application has to be submitted in about 8 weeks time. In the meantime a small team of 3/4 Parish Councillors will look at all the details. The outcome of this will decide whether they proceed.

More soon, as and when I hear what they have decided.

Parish Council Should Bid For A Town Team



I am attending Formby Parish Council this evening. During the Public Forum item, which occurs near the start of every meeting, I'll be urging the Council to make a Bid for £100,000 to form a 'Town Team'.


This is one of the ideas suggested in the recent Mary Portas Report on the future of Town and Village High Streets. She writes:

Without highly competent, inspired and collaborative high street governance we are never going to get our high streets running effectively. I have called this group the “Town Team”. We need the belief and engagement of all the local stakeholders to create the sustainable high streets of the future

And she goes on to write:

a Town Team could include key landlords, large and small shopkeepers, council representatives with specific knowledge of planning and development, the mayor or MP, other local businesses and service providers, and local residents

Here's Mary Portas explaining her ideas at the time of the review's publication:



In my view Formby is well suited to make a Bid for Department of Communities and Local Government Funding. The Minister, Grant Shapps MP, explains in the short video below.


Why do I think Formby can and should make a bid. Firstly we match all of that's required of the bid, but secondly the existing network of retail, residential and other relevant organisations is already in place. Formby Parish Council simply has to lead this project. It's worth collaborating with all these groups to work on the future 'Village heart of our coastal Town'.

In last weeks edition of the Formby Times I talked about aspects of the Mary Portas Report. I want to thanks all of you who have expressed support for my ideas. I hope you will also support this initiative too.