Maghull – 8 days notice to speak to Town Council meeting

I was a Maghull Town Councillor for 30 years (until 2015) and in my experience residents would just turn up at a Council meeting to vent their concerns etc.

But the other day it came to my attention that the Town Council now expects residents to give 8 days notice if they want to speak during the public participation part of any meeting or if they wish to address a matter that is on the agenda of a Town Council meeting.

So what’s that all about? Why 8 days notice? Why can’t residents just turn up when they want to ask of the Council whatever is on their mind? For goodness sake its only a parish council meeting they are going to address; they are not giving evidence at the High Court!

This process would seem to follow one used by Sefton Borough Council to some degree but as I say its only a parish council meeting when all is said and done. Why not just welcome anyone who wants to have their say when they want to have it?

I’m on Lydiate Parish Council these days and as far as I’m aware residents are welcomed to have their say at the monthly meetings without the need to give advance warning.

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 – Merrick Stott – A life well lived

Long time Maghull resident and former Maghull Town Mayor, Councillor Merrick Stott has sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 93.

Merrick had lived on Melling Lane in Maghull for as long as I had known him, he was a regular attender at St. George’s RC Church and had been a bank manager prior to his retirement I understand.

He was always smartly dressed and rarely seen without his suit on, you might call him an old fashioned gentleman.

He was elected to serve on Maghull Town Council in May 1987, was Town Mayor in 1990/91 and was Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee. It fell to Merrick to uncover a loss of money within the Council which ended up with the Police being involved back in the late 1980’s, but as a former bank manager it was no surprise that he picked up on the matter.

Whilst Merrick could look rather formal he actually had a rather good sense of humour and two incidents come to mind that make me smile when I recall them. On one occasion he was canvassing for the Lib Dems somewhere in Maghull and a door opened to reveal a young lady with a little towel covering her up and nothing else! Always the gentleman Merrick did not flinch and carried on with his doorstep conversation as though nothing had happened. On another occasion there was a slight misunderstanding between Merrick and I. I thought he had told me he was a naturist when in fact he had told me he was a naturalist. Well having commented on Merrick of all people being a naturist the misunderstanding got back to him. Fortunately he thought the misunderstanding was hilarious.

Merrick spent some time on the Management Committee of the former Stafford Moreton Youth Club and he was also involved in the running of Melling Tithe Barn. And with his environmental interests taking the lead he worked up the project to replant many trees within Balls Wood during the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. Those trees are now fully established and a tribute to Merrick.

A nice and decent man was Merrick Stott and my best wishes to his family at this difficult time.

And here are some additional comments from George Barnes paying a lovely tribute to Merrick:-

Thank you Tony, for the fitting and lovely personal tribute to the Late Merrick Stott, an ‘unsung hero’ of local & civic service. Merrick had many interests and supported many good causes; he was ever ready to give his time and professionalism for the benefit of others. Always self-effacing, he had an acute mind in matters financial as Tony points out. Very well-read – nothing ‘light’, and well-informed. Back in the day, he was involved in Scouting within St.George’s parish. He co-founded the Stroke Club which met at Christopher Taylor House, was for many years a Foundation Governor of St.George’s Primary School and very much involved with the Late John Hoople in the Melling Arts Association. He was a keen gardener, kept bees at one time, very interested in Environmental matters. We cannot mention Merrick without Marie to whom he was married for over 50 years; and well-known in Maghull in her own right. They were rightly proud of their three sons and 10 grand-children – always supportive and interested in their careers , achievements and travels. All who knew Merrick acknowledge their loss with deepest sympathy but with the conviction that Merrick contributed much without wanting fuss or praise. May he rest in peace.

Maghull – Council still worrying over problems they did not fight when they had the chance to

My letter to the Maghull Champion newspaper in response to Maghull councillors crying crocodile tears over the massive Maghull East development site:-

Dear Sir,

I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read in the Champion that Maghull Town Council leaders are still worrying over the huge urban extension housing development to the east of Maghull which will go a long way towards making the Town 25% larger.

If Maghull Council had got up and fought for the Town when Sefton Council was developing its Local Plan, which dumps 1600+ houses plus some industrial units on some of the highest grade agricultural land in England, then we may not be in the situation we are now.

I was a member of Maghull Town Council for 30 years and led it to oppose development of the very same land in 1998. We won that fight. Yes, it may not have been won this time around but no serious battle was even fought by Maghull Council, end of.

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Member of Lydiate Parish Council

Maghull – The math behind the Police station move to Maghull Town Hall

The present Maghull Police Station in Westway, Maghull.

The curious move by Merseyside Police out of their Maghull Police Station on Westway and into the former Youth Coffee Bar and CAB facility space in Maghull Town Hall has had folks head scratching.

Poster on Maghull Town Hall noticeboard recently

When Merseyside Police announced their new accommodation strategy in response to budget cuts it was clear that Police Stations across the County would be downsized and that they could well end up being in shop units in shopping centres.

Maghull TH being converted into a Police Station – Photo from Sept. 17

However, in Maghull things took a surprising turn in that its Town Council in effect invited the Police to rent space from them within Maghull Town Hall. Sadly, resurrecting the recently closed youth facility and Citizens Advice, both of which occupied the same space as the soon to be opened police station, would no longer be possible though. But it’s going to be a nice little earner for Maghull Town Council because it will get a yearly rental income of £11,000 from Merseyside Police.

The £11,000 includes all utilities bills thrown in I understand but then again the Town Council was paying them before as part of the overall utility bills for the Town Hall so in reality MTC is £11,000 better off per year.

The running cost of the present and soon to be closed Police Station on Westway per annum is £101,581, so its no surprise that Merseyside Police jumped at the chance to move into Maghull Town Hall thereby very substantially reducing what it would have cost them to rent a shop unit say in Maghull Square Shopping Centre.

So if my math is correct Merseyside Police has at a stoke reduced its annual running cost of having a Police building in Maghull by £90,581. And Maghull Town Council is a winner too as it has £11,000 coming in each year and no youth support staff to pay either as the youth facility is no more. If memory serves the CAB facility was provided by the Town Council at nil cost to Sefton CAB.

The cost of converting the youth facility into a police station? A budget of £60,000 has be allocated by Merseyside Police for the work.

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

So everyone’s a winner? Not quite as somehow in the public policy making process Maghull has lost its last publicly funded youth facility and a Citizens Advice facility as well.

The figures used in this posting were supplied to me by Merseyside Police following a Freedom of Information request that I made.

Maghull – So who were/are the people who have made a difference to the community and won the Town’s Civic Award?

Two honours boards in the Council Chamber of Maghull Town Hall tell part of the story about who has won the Town’s Civic Award since its inception in 1981. But for how many of those winners do I know the reason why they won the award (as the boards do not give such detail)? Here’s a couple of photos of the boards – Click on each board to see it enlarged:-

Well here goes with my recollections:-

Neil Burslem –
Anthony J Brooks –
Joseph Fay – For his long membership/service to Maghull Town Band
Mark Thompson –
Arthur Dwyer – heavily involved with the youth at St. Andrews Church – Sunday School and Scouting. Also a Burma Star Veteran *
Elizabeth Supple –
Patricia Minshull –
Joan Currall – for her Guiding work where she was County Commissioner *
Andrew Settle –
Mable Lone – For her work with the former Maghull Pensioners Association
Patricia Donnelly –
George Parker – For his volunteer work for Maghull Air Training Corps ATC
Stephen Quilliam – For his volunteer work with Maghull St. John Ambulance
David Fearn – For his volunteer work with Maghull British Legion
Eric Deacon – For his Lifesaving swimming tuition
Arthur Bailey – For his campaign to stop the demolition of the former Whinbrook House old peoples home
Jacqueline Whalley –
Nicola Smith – for her volunteer work with Maghull & District Youth Council and Maghull Youth Coffee Bar
Tim Ashley – For his volunteer work with the Scouts
Pamela Edwards – Helping to set up a nursery within Woodend Primary School
Dr. John Rowlands – For his work as a local historian publishing local history books
John Johnson – For his work as Chair of Governors at Deyes High & Lay Preacher at St. Andrews Church *
James T Baldwin – For his volunteer work with St. John Ambulance
Paul & Sue Clare – For their volunteer work with the Scouting movement *
Alan Bentley –
Mark Andrew Thomas –
George Baker – For is volunteer work with Maghull in Bloom
Nigel Winchester – For his work with Maghull Station Volunteers
Bill Howarth – For his volunteer work with Maghull University of the 3rd Age
Liam Cunningham – For his work with local youth
Steven Heron –
Alan Charnock – For his volunteer work with Maghull 7 Lydiate Homewatch
Lynn Billingham – For her many years volunteering in the swimming and lifesaving arena *
Anne & John Hill – For their volunteer work with Maghull in Bloom
Year 6 Pupils at At Andrews C of E Primary School –
David Hughes –

So the question is can you fill in the gaps i.e. tell me what good works the people did that I can’t personally recall the detail of? Any additional information I receive will lead to another blog posting as all these people certainly did more than their bit for my former home town of Maghull.

Comments can be left on this blog site or you can e-mail me at t3robertson@gmail.com

* Stop Press – Many thanks to Mary and Mike who have separately provided information which has enabled me to add to the list above in respect of Lynn Billingham and Sue and Paul Clare.

Thanks also to Eileen Pritchard for her information about Arthur Dwyer, Joan Currall and John Johnson.