Maghull – Hedges removed at Pimbley Field because they are dangerous?

The story was scooped by the Aintree and Maghull Champion newspaper on 8th May and what a seemingly bizarre story it is too.

You see I was a member of Maghull Town Council for 30 years (until) 2015 and chaired it’s former Amenities Committee for many of those years and I can’t recall anyone asking for the hedges at Fieldway/Bridge Road to be taken away. I’ve also spoken with another former chair of that committee, former Maghull Town Councillor Andrew Blackburn, and his recollection is like mine.

The hawthorn hedges have been there literally for generations so how on earth can they be a danger to pedestrians or even vehicles? With regular trimming and clearing up those trimmings all should be fine, birds can nest there and all should be well with Maghull’s world.

When I went to have a look at the grubbing up of the hedging (Sunday 12th May) the part of it along Bridge Road was still in place although it looked to be in desperate need of a hair cut so to speak:-

Is it that a lack of maintenance has caused complaints to the Town Council? If so surely all that was required was a trim rather than complete grubbing up of the established hedge?

I’ve come across some bizarre stories in my time but this one is right up there and it’s so sad and unnecessary too. What were you thinking Maghull Town Council? I think our local MP Bill Esterson needs to get into this environmental disaster story. I’m sure he would like his photo taken with the residents who are upset with the actions of Labour run Maghull Council.

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.