Lydiate – Haven Walk hedging

Recently One Vision Housing took a significant amount of height out of their privet hedge which bounds Southport Road’s pavement and this seems to have been welcomed as it makes sight lines for motorists parked on Southport Road clearer.

But oddly the same hedge has also grown in width over the years and has been encroaching over the pavement yet this aspect was not tackled as part of the works.

I have raised this with One Vision Housing and await their response.

Maghull – Habitat Regulations – Town Council has an in and out relationship with them or so it seems

The irony of Maghull Town Council taking out hedges (otherwise know as a habitat for wildlife) in Glenn Park only yards away from other hedges along Eastway, which they have previously left uncut despite complaints from pedestrians, due to Habitat Regulations is not lost on me.

This saga goes back a while now (to 2015) and I have posted about it previously. Here’s my most relevant previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/30/maghull-i-keep-getting-asked-why-maghull-tc-does-not-cut-its-hedges/

What’s brought the matter back into focus now is the removal of a couple of quite long hedges from within Glenn Park by Maghull Town Council in the past few days. My understanding is that the stated reason for removing them is to introduce sight lines across the park to assist with anti-social behaviour issues there. Well the motive seems sound then at one level but hang on a minute.

Glenn Park – Where until recently there was a hedge/wildlife habitat

Firstly, a bit of history. Glenn Park has long had ASB issues associated with it; I can trace them back into the mid 1980’s at least, as that is when I became a Maghull councillor. Various things have been tried to tackle the problem. For example the former tennis courts were floodlit to provide a caged ball area in the 1990’s. Another initiative between Maghull Town Council and Sefton Council’s Youth Service was the youth facility that operated within the park making use of the former bowls hut. I also recall The Town Council introducing Park Rangers across all of Maghull’s parks to tackle ASB. The demise of the youth facility and the Park Rangers must have had a negative impact on ASB issues.

Anyway back to the present. As you may have guessed by now the Town Council pointed to Habitat Regulations when they were challenged over uncut and overgrown hedges along Eastway. As I have pointed out in my previous posting (linked above) they were being selective in their interpretation of the regulations because where a hedge is close to a footpath it can be cut back on the side causing access issues for pedestrians.

So what we have established is that the Town Council are aware of the appropriate regulations. Here’s a link to those regulations which seem to be more properly known as The Hedgerows Regulations (1997):-

www.gov.uk/guidance/countryside-hedgerows-regulation-and-management

So how do we end up in a situation where the Town Council takes out hedges seemingly without reference to the hedgerow regulations it was merrily quoting when it came to the non-cutting of hedges only yards away not so long ago?

I am aware that a Maghull resident has referred the matter to Natural England and that a response is awaited but frankly I can’t see why the environmental and habitat considerations were seemingly not taken into account along side the ASB issues before action was taken to grub out two lengthy sections of what would have been mainly Hawthorne hedging.

Yes of course the ASB issues need to be addressed again at Glenn Park but to do so whilst removing habitat for wildlife is solving one problem to effectively create another. There must have been a viable alternative (reducing the height of the hedges comes to mind as is happening in other places presently around Glenn Park) so why was it not pursued? Surely an Environmental Impact Assessment would have been the first consideration would it not?

The Town Council may well get away with removing the hedging and the home it provided for wildlife but surely a public body should be approaching such matters with the green and environmental consequences of any park management changes being its first thought.

As an environmental campaigner I am so saddened by this turn of events.

Maghull – I keep getting asked why Maghull TC does not cut its hedges

MTC's KGV hedge 22 08 15

I have covered this rather odd matter before on this blog site but to recap the issue is this.

Along Eastway there are hedges both sides of the road that belong to Maghull Town Council. The hedges bound Whinneybrook Field on one side and Glenn Park on the other. Also along the A59 (Northway) The Town Council has a hedge that bounds KGV Park where Maghull Town Hall is sited.

MTC's Whinney Brook Field hedge 22 08 15

Both of these sites have not been getting their hedges cut over the last couple of years and by that I mean regularly cut. They have both had an end of growing season cut very recently (early November) but up until then the hedges have been significantly over grown and almost wild.

In 2015 I related a story about a partially sighted chap who lives in Eastway who walked into the barbs of the overgrown hawthorn hedging along that road. He had to contact the Town Council to ask them to cut the hedges back I understand. He raised the matter with me as well at the time and again this year.

I was a member of Maghull Town Council for 30 years (until May 2015) so some folks must still think that I am because I have also been contacted by a lady asking if I could assist her in getting hedges cut back in Maghull. As you may have noticed from the text above this has finally now happened.

BUT why does this problem keep manifesting itself each summer? I recall that during my time on the Town Council a tractor was purchased (and a hedge cutting flail arm for it too) so that the Council’s many hundreds of yards of hedging across the Town could be effectively and efficiently cut. That machinery could do the job quickly and my recollection is it took just 2 groundsman to operate it i.e. one driving the tractor and a second one acting as banksman to keep people and animals away from the cutting.

The kind of equipment Maghull Town Council acquired to cuts its many hundreds of yards of hedging across the Town.

The kind of equipment Maghull Town Council acquired to cuts its many hundreds of yards of hedging across the Town.

I say all this because the lady who contacted me recently said that she had been told by the Council that there were effectively three reasons why the hedges are no longer being cut i.e. that legislation won’t allow hedges to be cut before 31 July, a lack of man power and antiquated machinery.

Well as you can read above the Town Council did have the machinery to cut the hedges and it was far from being antiquated so what has it done with it?

A lack of manpower (and womanpower too)? I know that the Town Council now takes on grounds maintenance jobs as it is trying to operate as a business on top of looking after the Town’s 75+ acres of parks, gardens and play areas. This was starting to happen during my last couple of years on the Council and I recall saying back then that it should not be allowed to impact on the standard of parks maintenance. Are we to assume that it has and that commercial activities of the Council are taking a preference to maintenance of the Towns parks and gardens?

And what about that nesting birds issue? It is true that the advice given to us all is that we should refrain from cutting hedges from 1st March until 31st July (some advice says 31st August) due to nesting birds. If I understand the legislation correctly, if you knowingly cut a hedge where there are nesting birds in this period you are breaking the law.

There are of course caveats to the law such as if the hedge is next to a public highway and not cutting it will create health and safety issues. In such circumstances ways should be found to cut the hedge. The hedges I am aware of in Maghull which folk are most concerned about are all next to pavements and it should surely not need a partially blind chap to protest to the Council before it addresses such hedges in my view.

So there you have it. I don’t know all the ins and outs as I am no longer a Maghull Town Councillor but should the Town Council wish to tell Maghull residents about its hedge cutting policy/problems then I am sure such information would be welcomed.

Maghull – The Town Council has ‘forgotten’ to cut its hedges yet again!

This problem surfaced last year when a blind chap walked into the uncut hawthorn hedge along Eastway but the hedges here (on both sides of the road) are back again in last year’s overgrown condition. What’s more the hedge along the edge of KGV Park on the A59 (Northway) is in a similar condition.

Here’s a photo I took last Sunday of the hedging along Eastway:-

WP_20160724_17_01_24_Pro

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Not sure what the problem is but surely Maghull Town Council can cut these hedges regularly so that folks do not have to run the risk of walking into the barbs of hawthorn? I have never seen neighbouring Lydiate Parish Council’s hedges in such a state.

Maghull – Why has the Town Council not been cutting its hedges and a littering of other sins

The lack of hedge cutting around Maghull’s parks has of course been raised before on this blog site. My previous post refers at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/23/maghull-hedges-has-anyone-at-the-council-noticed-how-desperately-they-need-cutting/

But look at this, an advert for hiring out the Town Council’s Grounds Maintenance staff, seen on the Town Hall internal notice board on 22nd October:-

WP_20151022_19_34_24_Pro

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

When Labour took control of the Town Council in 2011 they said they were reducing what they called the ‘Rolls Royce’ standard of maintenance that the Lib Dems had promoted for Maghull’s parks, gardens and playing fields. Little did we know that they were seemingly moving towards a ‘Trabant’ standard as the alternative!

There have been complaints of hedges not being cut this year at Whinney Brook Field and Glenn Park along both sides of Eastway and at KGV Park along the A59/Northway. Also, concerns about litter piling up at Dodds and KGV Parks has come to our attention this summer and autumn via Facebook and the latest edition (28th October) of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper. The lack of hedge cutting refers back to my previous posting about the blind chap walking into and getting a face full of Hawthorne from the uncut hedges on Eastway.

Would it be too much of a leap to wonder if the lack of maintenance of the parks and gardens in Maghull is due, at least in part, to the Grounds Maintenance staff seemingly being out for hire on private contracts?

It was also interesting to note that the Champion article whilst being critical of the Council, via the comments of a local resident, carried a response from a ‘Council spokesperson’. It seems Maghull’s Labour rulers were not too keen on being seen to be a part of an article like this. Surprising really as they would normally be all smiles for the media’s camera at the opening of a packet of crisps but not it seems at the litter caused by discarded packets of crisps etc.

Of course the Council is as much the victim of the litters and rubbish dumpers as the wider community. However, experience tells us that if litter and rubbish is not cleared away quickly it, by default, gives the impression that the community/Council do not care for the area and more littering and dumping takes place.

Will Maghull Town Council address these maintenance issues or not?

Maghull – Council tax paid twice but only half cut hedges

This is a follow up to my recent postings about hedge cutting (or the lack of it) in Maghull by its Town Council.

Half cut hedge at Whinney Brook Field, Maghull.

Half cut hedge at Whinney Brook Field, Maghull.

You see Maghull Council tax payers actually pay to have the hedges in and around their parks cut twice and I don’t mean twice per year, I mean they pay Maghull Town Council (who have been doing the cutting) and Sefton Council who have never done the cutting). Yes, you do not misunderstand me the bill is paid twice but the hedges around the parks, at least on recent evidence, are only half cut and that’s infrequently.

Sefton Council charges Maghull Council tax payers the same as they do say Bootle or Crosby or Southport Council tax payers but in those communities Sefton cuts the hedges around the parks. In Maghull Sefton Council does not cut any hedges at all around the Town’s parks (unless there are any hedges in Old Hall Park as that is the only park in the Town run by Sefton) because Maghull Town Council owns the hedges and raises its own Council tax (technically its called a Precept) to do the work.

Until Labour took control of Sefton Council it used to refund to Maghull Town Council what Sefton would have spent on cutting the hedges if it maintained them. The refunds were called Double Rating payments but Labour scrapped them meaning Maghull residents really do pay twice to have their parks hedges cut.

Trouble is that Maghull Town Council is clearly having trouble cutting the hedges these days, so despite paying twice residents of Maghull are seeing their hedges left uncut!

By the way Aintree Village and Lydiate residents suffer the same pay twice for hedge maintenance problem. Not only that residents of Maghull, Aintree Village and Lydiate also pay twice to have the grass cut in their parks and gardens as Sefton Council does not provide any parks in those communities (except Old Hall Park in Maghull) despite charging the residents the same Council tax as they do in Bootle, Crosby, Formby and Southport etc.

Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village residents have every right to feel aggrieved at this point……