A woodland without a forester? – Part 2

Since I posted the first half of this blog (here’s a link to part 1 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/05/14/a-woodland-without-a-forester/) a fellow local environmental activist, Frank Sharp, has been in touch and he’s suggested that the downed wooden owl may actually be the body of a carved spider. I had been told that there had been/maybe still is a 2nd carved piece of public artwork within this particular wood so Frank could well be right. For reference here’s the photo again of the one I have seen and which we thought maybe an owl:-

Well as for progress I have none to report. Sefton Council hasn’t provided any further response and I’ve heard nothing from Mersey Forest and the Groundwork Trust. So who does have the maintenance responsibilities for Sefton Meadows No.3 woodland? The bottom line is that I have no idea and the powers that be whom I’ve contacted – Forestry England, Mersey Forest, Sefton Council, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) & Groundwork Trust – either don’t seem to know (Forestry England and MWDA) or don’t seem keen to engage over the matter (Mersey Forest, Sefton Council, Groundwork Trust).

The mystery remains unsolved……………….

A woodland without a forester? – Part 1

A friend of mine recently mentioned an issue with regard to an area of woodland to the west of the River Alt within Sefton Borough in the Civil Parish of Sefton. The issue is about a carved wooden owl which had, I think, been provided/erected as a piece of public artwork (on a concrete base) probably when the woodland was laid out/created around 2002. The owl has keeled over or even been pulled over as this photo illustrates:-

The area concerened is the green shaded one with the location of the carved owl where the red circle is drawn.

My first thought was, oh that will be a matter to be raised with what was the Forestry Commission, now rebranded as Forestry England. After further thought, other organisations came to mind who had or may have had a hand in the laying out of the various pieces of woodland in this part of Sefton Borough back in the early 2000s, or who hold ongoing maintenance responsibilities. Those other organisations are The Woodland Trust (I think they just coordinated the early 2000s work), Groundwork Trust, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) and possibly Sefton Council. I mention MWDA because quite a bit of the land over which the woodland planting was done had previously been used as landfill sites.

A walk in the woods (nothing to do with Bill Bryson’s excellent book I might add) was required to orientate myself and my friend acted as my guide. As we entered the relevant section of woodland this sign came into view:-

Clearly, it has the logos on it of two of the organisations I mention above.

So I fired off an email to pretty much all of the organisations I’ve listed and replies started to roll in. MWDA told me that their responsibilities are only associated with the landfill under the woodland. They thought the relevant part of Groundwork Trust had gone bust around 2005 and that it was possible that Sefton Council had taken on the land. Forestry England confirmed it was not one of their sites and they said they thought it may have passed through the hands of more than one organisation finally indicating that they felt the site was likely to the responsibility of MWDA. They also sent me this updated site plan:-

The area we are looking at above is the green one without a red line around it.

And then yet then another organisation came to mind called Mersey Forest so I emailed them too.

In words used to title the Isaac Hayes album – To be Continued – Keep an eye out for posting two……….

Dogs – Love them or dislike them these are the Sefton rules

Here’s a link to the updated rules for dogs on public land and highways:-

www.sefton.gov.uk/dogs

I’ve not had a dog since I was 14 but I do occasionally look after this lovely old chap called Chester:-

I’ve said it before but I really do wonder how one person can look after 6 dogs. Frankly, keeping Chester out of mischief is a big enough job when he comes to stay with us, another 5 Chesters is utterly mind-boggling to me.

Anyway, as Sefton Council has updated its rules which I might add will apply to all parks and gardens in the Borough (including those run by Maghull Town Council, Aintree Village Parish Council & Lydiate Parish Council) I thought I’d put the new rules out there.

Waste, fly-tipping & The Cheshire Lines Path in Maghull

Right on the western edge of Maghull, there’s an industrial estate on one side of Sefton Lane and a waste disposal/recycling centre together with a garden centre and a few houses on the other. Leaving Maghull you go over a significant mound which is the remains of a railway bridge taking Sefton Lane over the former Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway, now the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail. You then pass by the industrial estate (on your left) and recycling centre & garden centre (on your right) before a small bridge takes you over Dovers Brook, which is the boundary between Maghull and Sefton Civil Parishes.

The area has two significant problems, flooding at times of heavy rain being the most obvious and well known one which I’ve blogged about many times. The other problem is less obvious unless you walk around the perimeter of the waste recycling centre which backs onto Dovers Brook and open countryside. The problem? Rubbish, waste, litter strewn around. Here’s a couple of photos I’ve taken recently:-

View of rear fence of Sefton Meadows Recycling Centre

Rubbish stewn along the eastern bank of Dovers Brook.

When you see the rubbish your first thought (or at least my first thought) is how did it get here? You see where it has been dumped is not close to Sefton Lane so it surely can’t be casual fly-tipping. Having visited the area, twice now, with other concerned local residents and an environmental officer of Sefton Council there’s a possibility that the waste is coming from within the recycling centre. Yes, I know at face value that may seem odd but one theory is that scavengers operating within the recycling centre, out of hours, may be dragging stuff out of the centre and sorting through it on the other side of the fence, taking what they find to be of value whilst leaving everything else.

The problem could do with getting to the bottom of with Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) and their site operator Veolia. If the waste is being brought from inside the recycling centre compound then shouldn’t MWDA/Veolia take action to collect it up on a regular basis? Again, if it is coming via the route suggested does this not mean a beefing up of security is required?

It will be interesting to see how the Sefton Council environmental officer gets on with her piece of detective work. She seemed keen to get to the bottom of the growing environmental mess around this area.

And then just yards away you can walk over to the Cheshire Line Path/Trans Penning Trail which is maintained by the Merseyside North Volunteers and you see the other and very much positive side of our local environment:-

A tribute to ‘Pat from Lydiate’

For the last 5 years, one of my Borough councillors for Park Ward of Sefton Council has been Independent Pat O’Hanlon. She effectively took up as a Borough councillor as I bowed out of being one in 2016.

I got to know Pat as she was one of quite a few environmental campaigners who came together from across the political spectrum to oppose high-grade agricultural land being taken out of the Green Belt in Sefton Borough for development via the Sefton Local Plan; a fight I had long been involved with myself as regular readers of this blog site will be aware. Pat came from a Labour/socialist background but had left the Labour Party due to its stance on this hugely controversial issue. Indeed, she didn’t just leave Labour she stood against them and took a Sefton Council seat off them in Park Ward.

I liked working with Pat as she reminded me of another previous councillor for Park Ward – Lib Dem Robbie Fenton – who was tenacious and very determined to pursue any and every issue brought to her attention. Like Robbie, Pat did not seek the limelight as a councillor, she just got on with the job and she did it very well.

I was disappointed when it became apparent that Pat would not be contesting her Park Ward seat this May as politics needs the Pat’s and Robbie’s of this world who don’t give a damn who they take on.

Before Pat was elected she gained the nickname ‘Pat from Lydiate’ as a consequence, I think, of an interview on Radio Merseyside. She was also a very significant campaigner against asbestos pollution and I think it fair to say she gave both Sefton Council and the Health and Safety Executive a real run for their money over it.

Well done Pat, I’d be surprised if anyone who’d approached you during your term of office as a borough councillor had anything but good things to say about you. You more than did your bit for Lydiate, Maghull and the local environment; enjoy your retirement.

A random act of abuse on a beautiful day

Cycling along Acres Lane in Great Altcar yesterday was glorious; the countryside and weather were just right for peddling. However, someone had to spoil it and they achieved that by abusing a fellow cyclist all because they had been slowed down by a bike. Indeed, instead of simply safely passing the cyclist, they had to draw up alongside wind down the passenger window and take a bit more of their day to ensure they were fully understood by the cyclist, if you get my drift!

So what was it all about? Testosterone, selfishness, petrol-headedness, intimidation of a more vulnerable road user – your guess is as good as mine but one thing I have yet to see as a daily cyclist around Sefton and West Lancashire Boroughs is for such behavior to be exhibited by a female driver. Yes, abusing/intimidating cyclists is very much a male-dominated hobby in my experience.

And what you might ask was my fellow cyclist doing other than peddling along a country lane to get this chap so upset? Nothing at all, he was simply going about his lawful business, following the Highway Code and enjoying his day.

When I’m cycling pedestrians are the most vulnerable things on the road. When I’m driving pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists are the most vulnerable things on the road. It’s the mindset of drivers who think they are the most important thing on the road that’s dangerous. Powered vehicles are never the most important, except on a Motorway.

Yes, I’m fully aware that some (usually male) drivers very much disapprove of cyclists and that they think we should not be allowed on our roads. I’ve even had one barmy driver tell me to get onto the pavement, which of course is telling me to do something which is illegal (although rarely enforced)!

Photo from Cycling UK showing the likely chage to the Highway Code for passing a cyclist.

Cycling UK, of which I’m a member, recently told me that many UK police forces had taken part in a campaign (#OperationClosePass Day) to tackle close-passing of cyclists. This practice is sadly a regular thing you get used to but it’s dangerous and often caused by poor driving or even done deliberately to intimidate cyclists. The Highway Code presently says a driver should leave as much room as possible when passing a cyclist but that is soon to be changed to a more specific distance to leave beween a cyclist and a passing/overtaking vehicle. I raise this aspect now of course because close-passing of cyclists is very much related to the kind of driver behaviour which I observed yesterday.

I’ve asked both Lanashire Police & Merseyside Police to publish information about how they participated in the safety campaign but have yet to hear back from either Force. The idea, as I understand it, was to send out coppers on cycles, dressed in plain clothes/cycling gear, so that they could identify bad/dangerous drivers who were not observing a safe passing distance when overtaking. I’ll let you know what I get back from Lancs & Merseyside Police.

Virually all cyclists are drivers too but many drivers are not cyclists. Cycling is getting more and more popular for fitness and environmental reasons so the conflict bewtteen cyclists going about their lawful riding with drivers who want them off our roads is only going to become a bigger issue. The police really need to tackle dangerous and intimidatory driving that’s why initiatives like #OperationClosePass Day are so important.