Urban foxes – In Maghull, in Melling, in a community like yours

Following the recent case where a young child was pulled out of cot by a fox there has been much media hype over the matter.

Urban foxes have been around for a long, long time. Indeed, I recall sitting at the busy A59/Hall Lane traffic lights by Maghull Town Hall not so long ago and watching a fox, bold as you like, trot across the A59. That was about 8.00pm in the evening.

I also saw one where my Mum and dad used to live in Sefton Lane, Maghull making its way through back gardens. This was 4 or 5 years ago at least and my Dad would often tell me that he had seen a fox in his garden going back many years.

Yesterday, at work, we got talking about this and a lady who lives in Melling told me that she often sees foxes about. But if you think about it the East Parishes part of Sefton is semi-rural so finding foxes in our communities is hardly a new thing.

SAVE OUR GREEN BELT – Labour hype about Green Belt/Green Spaces – what brass neck!

I mentioned not so long ago a Labour publication that is doing the rounds in the Sefton Central constituency called Sefton Voice and the frankly ludicrous article about the closure of Sefton Council’s libraries which is being pursued by the Labour run Council.

But there was another but this time more subtle attempt to spin a bit recent history. In an article about the Green Belt we see a picture of three Labour councillors who represent Maghull walking across a green space. The impression that Labour wants us to pick up from this is that they are fighting for Green Belt and green spaces. The other picture shows Sefton Central’s Labour MP and his 3 Formby Labour councillors. Again a pro-Green Belt impression is being pushed yet the independent Green Belt campaign group in Formby seems highly unimpressed with what all 6 of Formby’s Borough Councillors (there are two Tories and one Independent in addition to the 3 Labour councillors) are doing to protect their Green Belt.

If we cast our minds back to two quite recent events, one in Lydiate and one in Maghull the actions of Labour, as opposed to their spin, has not been as ‘green’ as that Party seems to think we are.

This snow covered field is where Labour councillors voted to allow a canal marina to be built off Bells Lane, Lydiate

This snow covered field is where Labour councillors voted to allow a canal marina to be built off Bells Lane, Lydiate

In Lydiate, Labour councillors on Sefton Council’s Planning Committee voted to build a canal marina on Green Belt land. The only reason it did not happen is because at that time Labour did not control the Council and opposition parties voted together to stop it. It then went to a Planning Appeal where the developer tried to overturn the Council decision. No Labour councillors turned up at the two day hearing and it was left to residents and Lib Dem councillors to fight the developer. The battle was won but under Labour the planning permission would seemingly have been given.

In Maghull, Labour brought residents together to fight a development on a significant piece of urban green space in the heart of the community, off Damfield Lane. Labour brazenly marched them up to the top of the hill and then abandoned them by voting for the planning application!

The more they spin the more they expose their ‘say one thing do another’ approach. Oh and by the way, in case you may be thinking that I would be saying this because I am in opposition to Labour, consider this. A lady, who said she was a Labour Party member, got up to denounce the actions of Labour at a Planning Committee meeting that dealt with the Damfield Lane project; I know because I was there!

Lib Dem proposals to invest in Maghull’s green spaces

Let’s continue to invest in Maghull’s

parks, gardens and open spaces

A few years ago a ‘Best Value’study was undertaken on the maintenance of Maghull’s parks and gardens and it found that our many areas of public green space are a significant asset to the community and they are a big factor in why Maghull is such popular place to live.

 In recent years the former Lib Dem administration  on the Town Council embarked on a second programme of upgrading children’s play areas in particular (of which there are now 11 across Maghull’s parks) following the very significant upgrade programme of the late 1980’s and through the 1990’s. As with many things the life cycle of play equipment is finite and new more exciting play items come onto the market.

 In the last couple of years the children’s play areas at:-

 KGVPark, Dodds Park & Glenn Park

have seen considerable investment from the Town Council’s own funds but also via the Playbuilder Government funded grants. Other individual items of play equipment have been replaced across the parks as they have become life expired.

 However, much more needs to be done and local residents have highlighted the need for more investment in the following play areas in particular:-

 Moorhey Park, Moss Park, Round Meade Park & South Meade Park

 There has also been a recent push towards fencing in of children’s play areas (by the previous Lib Dem administration) to keep out dogs and this process also needs to be moved on to complete the programme. Presently the fenced in play areas are:-

 Balls Wood, Lathom Gardens, Moorhey Park, Mersey Ave Park, KGV Park, Old Hall Park & Glenn Park (toddlers play area only)

 This leaves the following to be done:-

 South Meade Park, Round Meade Park, Dodds Park, Glenn Park (older children’s play area) & Moss Park

 Skateboard facility – We are also aware of the long held view of young people, as expressed to the Council via Maghull & District Youth Council, for the Town Council to try to facilitate the provision of a local skateboard facility. We are pleased that this wish is being seriously investigated and hope that options will be presented to the Town Council in the near future.

 Sefton Sudell Ward Cllr. Cliff Mainey has assisted in bringing in some Section 106 money (planning gain money) from a development off Station Road Maghull to enable cash from that source to be used to further upgrade Maghull’s play areas.

 Green Flag– With regard to the Town Council’s parks and gardens we would like to see ‘Green Flag’ opportunities developed, firstly at KGV Park, where such a project was shelved due to the building of Meadows Leisure Centre, and then to bring in other Maghull parks for Green Flag entries/awards.

 Our proposals are therefore to encourage the new administration of Maghull Town Council to both continue and develop the established investment programme in the Town’s parks and play areas and we hope that proposals can be brought before the Council for discussion as soon as possible.

 Campaigning for the wider environment

 Maghull TC has a history of investing in the environment via Maghull in Bloom, Maghull Station Volunteersetc. It was probably all started by former Town Councillor John Sharman’s Whinney Brook Volunteers many years ago.

 Two presently stalled projects that could do with being resurrected though are:-

 The Dell– This piece of land at the junction of Westway and Liverpool Road North is in the hands of the Primary care Trust (NHS) and the Town Council tried to get The Dell passed over to it a few years ago. The NHS was not keen on doing this and said they wanted to await the potential redevelopment of their neighbouring Health Centre. A number of years have gone by sine then but it looks like that promised redevelopment is now firmly back on the table. On that basis the Town Council needs to campaign for the future of this green lung at the heart of the Town. It is vital that it is not lost and the most likely way of making it secure is for the land to become the direct responsibility of the Town Council as originally intended. Without such a move the land may well be saved from development but the maintenance of it will continue to be at a very basic level. We call upon the Town Council to take up this challenge once again.

 Land fronting Royal Mail Sorting Office– This Liverpool Road North plot was adopted by Sefton Council many years ago and it remains a poor advert for the Town as the maintenance is inadequate yet the site, like The Dell, is very prominent.

 The Town Council agreed to fund the landscaping of this site some time ago but the project was shelved pending possible redevelopment of the site. That redevelopment is not now going to happen so the Town Council’s investment in the land can be taken forward.

 As well as investment from the Town Council both the above sites may well be able to benefit from S106 (planning gain) monies that will be available because of development plans for Maghull Shopping Centre. We call upon the Town Council to take a lead here to ensure these two prominent environmental projects are followed through in line with previous decisions made by the Town Council.

 In conclusion

 We wish to encourage the new Town Council administration to take on board these environmental and play area projects as both will assist with and complement the efforts of the Maghull in Bloom and Station Volunteer groups as well as presenting the Town in a better light to both residents and visitors.

 We appreciate that large investment programmes such as the ones we propose can only be sensibly addressed over a number of years but the commitment to pursue them is vital if the Town Council is going to lead the Town towards a better and more sustainable environment for the future.

Cllr. Tony Robertson, Cllr. Andrew Blackburn, Cllr. Jane Day

Lib Dem Members of Maghull Town Council

October 2011

Banging the Environmental drum

Over recent years a number of sites across the East Parishes part of Sefton have have their grass verges protected from vehicles driving on to them via the use of post and shrub planting.

This is me at Eastway/Deyes Lane, Maghull a while ago when such post and shrub planting was taking place

In the right places this can work quite well and it looks far better than concrete bollards. I think the idea for them came from my dear old mate and former local councillor Roy Connell, he certainly developed it if he did not originally dream up this solution up.

The snag is that last winter the cold snap killed off a number of the shrubs and dead ones can be seen in Maghull’s St Andrew’s Conservation Area and at Poverty Lane to name but two sites. Earlier this year I started looking for a way to replace the shrubs and whilst realising that Sefton Council would obviously have no money due to Council budget cuts I did occur to me that Maghull Town Council may well be able to fund the replacements from its Environmental Fund.

The Town Council’s Environmental fund was set up to fund any type of environmental improvement in the Town whether the project be promoted by the Town Council itself, the Borough Council or a community Group. And what’s more the Town Council helped Roy with money from this fund before with such projects. 

So I have asked Sefton Council’s Neighbourhood Officer who looks after the East Parishes to ask the Town Council to assist with some funding to replace the dead shrubs. I am hoping for a positive response.

Green Belt v Grade 1 Agricultural Land?

Like many parts of the UK Sefton needs more land for housing or so we are told. Here in Sefton Council Officers have been doing the rounds looking for sites to build on. They tell us that very soon the Borough will run out of ‘Brown Field’ land (land previously developed) and that within a few years there will be pressure to release land from the ‘Green Belt’ (mainly agricultural land).

As a long time campaigner for Green Belt this is a big challenge to me but I also have worries of a ‘green’ nature. If we accept, and I do, that we must start to grow more food closer to where we consume it then building on Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land is not the brightest of ideas. Indeed, it looks like a very bad idea! It was for this reason that I raised the dilemma at a recent Sefton Council Cabinet meeting.

This is the official map of agricultural land qualities in Sefton's East Parishes - It is all Grade 1 and Grade 2 i.e. the best growing land

My fear is that ‘green’ issues are not prominent enough in the present study of land availability so I intend to make it prominent. It is no use consulting the public over whether Green Belt land should be become unprotected or not when probably the biggest future consideration has to be where will we grow our food? We can’t just develop Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land and then say we wish we had not done so when we find there is no where left to grow food!

The photo above is of what is presently agricultural land to the east of Maghull but for how long will it be our local food basket?

Housing is important but so must we also consider the environmental sustainability of our communities. We all know that importing food from across the world, that we could grow in the UK, is simply not sustainable.