The Smedley Hydro General Regiter Office on Trafalgar Road in Birkdale in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Stand Up For Southport

Calls have been made for “a thorough review of parking” in Birkdale in Southport. 

The issue has been raised due to the large numbers of office workers at the Smedley Hydro building – home of the General Register Office for England and Wales – parking their vehicles in surrounding roads. 

At next Thursday’s (14th September) full Sefton Council meeting at Bootle Town Hall, Dukes Ward councillor Sir Ron Watson will ask for solutions to “mitigate the continual and growing concern from reasonable residents whose lives are often blighted by this situation”. 

Smedley Hydro, on Trafalgar Road in Birkdale, is an impressive four-storey Victorian building which was used in the 1800s as a hydropathic spa and hotel. 

It is now used by civil servants working In the General Register Office for births, deaths and marriages after it was relocated from London to Southport in 1991. 

Sir Ron Watson will lead a motion about the issue next week, saying: “The Smedley Hydro complex provides a very important public service and employs not insignificant numbers of the local population in the borough and on those two criteria alone it is an asset. 

“However, a complex of this size would not now be granted planning permission and it is no exaggeration to say that there has been a constant problem for decades over the vexed issue of car parking for Smedley employees. 

“Whilst the council has made serious efforts to resolve some of the issues it remains a contentious problem and the adjoining residential roads and avenues suffer as a result as far as local residents and visitors are concerned. 

“The attempts made so far have to a large degree simply moved the problem from one area to another. 

“Whilst it was hoped that the move towards home working would alleviate the problem it does not seem to have made any discernible difference. 

“Ward councillors have attempted to have the Highways Department, in conjunction with other agencies such as the police, undertake a thorough overall review but councillors have been advised that the resources required to do such an in-depth study are not available and this financial aspect is one reason why wider consideration needs to be given to helping resolve the difficulties.” 

Sir Ron Watson will ask councillors to back his five suggestions to help solve some of the issues: 

  1. Initiate and undertake a thorough review of parking in the area affected and as part of this process invite other interested parties. 
  2. Smedley Hydro management should be asked to provide senior managerial input as part of this process. 
  3. As there is involvement by the Home Office on a national basis in addition to the representations already made the Member of Parliament should form an integral part of the issues to be addressed. 
  4. The Southport & Birkdale Cricket Club should also be included as they had previously provided, by agreement with Smedley Hydro, car parking facilities for Smedley Hydro staff. 
  5. Residents of the area should be consulted and the appropriate documentation provided to enable them to have their own individual input. 

The councillor said: “Such a process now remains the only viable option and what is outlined in terms of recommendations would in itself help mitigate the continual and growing concern from reasonable residents whose lives are often blighted by this situation.” 

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