I have posted a couple of times recently about this activity off the Sefton and Lancashire coast and last night my heart sank when I saw a BBC North West TV item about rescues being required for cocklers operating off Lytham in Lancashire.
I have no doubt that cockling can be both financially lucrative and potentially a very dangerous activity as well. The deaths off Morecambe a few years ago brought that home to us all. Of course in times past the cockling was done by locals who knew the Ribble estuary and the sandbanks like the back of their hand. Now it can be a multi-national activity with gang masters employing people to do the work who do not know the coast well at all.
What has worried me since I became involved in this matter in my Sefton Council Cabinet Member capacity is that there seem to be many statutory and non-statutory groups who have a say in what happens and frankly coordinating the various bodies is not necessarily easy. I know that officers of Sefton Council have tried very hard to bring all interested parties together so to try to ensure that cockling activities undertaken off the Sefton coast are as safe as they can reasonably be. However, there will always be dangers especially when winter weather becomes a big factor as it is now.
I am not a big fan of red tape/regulation but neither do I want lives to be put in danger. Clearly, we have had a warning following the rescues of the Fylde coast but with the cockling season lasting until the end of next April the potential for more rescues must always be there.
My colleague from Cambridge Ward Cllr. Sue McGuire has recently posted about gym/fitness equipment that has been installed in Southport’s Hesketh Park. Check out her blog for more information – see my link to Cambridge Ward – Sefton MBC from the list at the side.
This is a subject close to the heart of Maghull Lib Dem Councillor Cliff Mainey who was been speaking to me about trying to get such equipment in a Maghull park. Clearly Cliff is right to pursue such a project but one word of caution. When Lydiate Parish Council first started to investigate putting such equipment in one of their parks it drew some unfavourable criticism via the letters page of the Aintree and Maghull Champion. Indeed, I seem to recall the project being dubbed as ‘adult play equipment’ by one detractor.
Cllr. Cliff Mainey
I suppose this just goes to show how what seems to be a good idea to help us lead healthier lifestyles can be seen as just the opposite by some in thecommunity. However, I hope that Lydiate Parish Council can pursue their project further and clearly Cliff is campaigning along similar lines in Maghull
The November edition of Railway Modeller has a superb review of a working model of this famous but sadly defunct railway that once graced the Liverpool waterfront from Seaforth to Dingle.
The chap who built it is from Leeds and he must have spent thousands of hours on the project. I hope it is exhibited on Merseyside at some point.
Check out this link for more information on this unique railway (the original thing as opposed to the model), courtesy of Merseytravel:-
Earlier this week when the gales were blowing and the rain/hailstones were falling (or more appropriately been blown in sideways!) I went out onto the beach and shoreline with a Sefton Officer who is probably one of the foremost experts on the many facets of Sefton’s unique and diverse coastline.
I went out to see where the cockle picking starts/finishes and to discuss, on site, the issues that I have mentioned before on this blog. I also had the opportunity to see other things associated with the dunes, wildlife and habitats. It was an informative if incredibly cold few hours out and about in a Coastal Ranger Land Rover but well worth the time spent.
I took the photo below looking out to sea in the teeth of the gale and associated appalling weather but whilst the aspect looks gloomy it in no way captures the climatic conditions!
From debate on Green Belt in Westminster Hall, 18/11/2011:
Bill Esterson: The hon. Member for Broxtowe mentioned the potential for councils coming forward with plans on the green belt, and gave some examples. There is an example in the village of Lydiate, where recently plans were proposed. They were for a development in the green belt outside a clearly defined urban area, and had the support of planning officers. The Leeds and Liverpool canal runs through my constituency, and the plans were for a marina on the canal. On the face of it, it was a sensible development suggestion, but it was in the green belt and would have broken a clear barrier between the urban and green belt areas. It was worrying to see planning officers recommending its approval. Fortunately, the planning committee turned it down and the planning inspectorate appeal upheld the decision, saying that it would clearly be an inappropriate development in the green belt.
Now this raises a very interesting point in that Mr. Esterson seems to be attacking his own Labour Party councillors because at the Planning Committee Labour members voted for the application to be approved! It was a Lib Dem proposal to turn the application down that ensured it was stopped in its tracks.