A woodland without a forester? – Part 2

Since I posted the first half of this blog (here’s a link to part 1 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/05/14/a-woodland-without-a-forester/) a fellow local environmental activist, Frank Sharp, has been in touch and he’s suggested that the downed wooden owl may actually be the body of a carved spider. I had been told that there had been/maybe still is a 2nd carved piece of public artwork within this particular wood so Frank could well be right. For reference here’s the photo again of the one I have seen and which we thought maybe an owl:-

Well as for progress I have none to report. Sefton Council hasn’t provided any further response and I’ve heard nothing from Mersey Forest and the Groundwork Trust. So who does have the maintenance responsibilities for Sefton Meadows No.3 woodland? The bottom line is that I have no idea and the powers that be whom I’ve contacted – Forestry England, Mersey Forest, Sefton Council, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) & Groundwork Trust – either don’t seem to know (Forestry England and MWDA) or don’t seem keen to engage over the matter (Mersey Forest, Sefton Council, Groundwork Trust).

The mystery remains unsolved……………….

A woodland without a forester? – Part 1

A friend of mine recently mentioned an issue with regard to an area of woodland to the west of the River Alt within Sefton Borough in the Civil Parish of Sefton. The issue is about a carved wooden owl which had, I think, been provided/erected as a piece of public artwork (on a concrete base) probably when the woodland was laid out/created around 2002. The owl has keeled over or even been pulled over as this photo illustrates:-

The area concerened is the green shaded one with the location of the carved owl where the red circle is drawn.

My first thought was, oh that will be a matter to be raised with what was the Forestry Commission, now rebranded as Forestry England. After further thought, other organisations came to mind who had or may have had a hand in the laying out of the various pieces of woodland in this part of Sefton Borough back in the early 2000s, or who hold ongoing maintenance responsibilities. Those other organisations are The Woodland Trust (I think they just coordinated the early 2000s work), Groundwork Trust, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) and possibly Sefton Council. I mention MWDA because quite a bit of the land over which the woodland planting was done had previously been used as landfill sites.

A walk in the woods (nothing to do with Bill Bryson’s excellent book I might add) was required to orientate myself and my friend acted as my guide. As we entered the relevant section of woodland this sign came into view:-

Clearly, it has the logos on it of two of the organisations I mention above.

So I fired off an email to pretty much all of the organisations I’ve listed and replies started to roll in. MWDA told me that their responsibilities are only associated with the landfill under the woodland. They thought the relevant part of Groundwork Trust had gone bust around 2005 and that it was possible that Sefton Council had taken on the land. Forestry England confirmed it was not one of their sites and they said they thought it may have passed through the hands of more than one organisation finally indicating that they felt the site was likely to the responsibility of MWDA. They also sent me this updated site plan:-

The area we are looking at above is the green one without a red line around it.

And then yet then another organisation came to mind called Mersey Forest so I emailed them too.

In words used to title the Isaac Hayes album – To be Continued – Keep an eye out for posting two……….

Maghull – A wildflower meadow for Stafford Moreton Way

This is a piece of land which I have blogged about before – August 2017. Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/08/09/maghull-weeds-festooned-around-new-home-bargains-site/

And now the good news, because unconnected with my previous moaning about the state of the site, a group of volunteers has come together to tackle the unkempt plot of land and I’ve been asked to publicise their project.

www.spacehive.com/stafford-moreton

This week they launched a crowd funding campaign to raise over £6000 before 31 October, to improve the beginning of Stafford Moreton Way. Sefton Council award up to £5000 or 40% of the target fund (whichever is the lesser) and the volunteers have progressed their application through to the 1.4.19 deadline set by the Council. My understanding is that Sefton make their decision for funding just prior to 10.5.19, basing their funding awards mainly on community engagement, indicated by the number of ‘likes’ and ‘pledges’. Consequently, the volunteers urgently need to generate as many of the likes and pledges before the May decision, as they anticipate this is their best chance to obtain a significant amount of funding towards their target.

If you feel, like I do, that this is a worthwhile project, please consider backing it and spread the word around as many local people as you know. I will certainly be letting the Maghull in Bloom team, that I’m a part of, know about it. The minimum pledge that can be made is £2 but a ‘like’ can also be really useful so here’s a link to the web site where you can back the project:-

www.spacehive.com/stafford-moreton

And here’s a note in more detail from volunteer Frank Sharp about the project:-

‘I can imagine, (like myself) that initially people may think introducing a wildflower meadow to such a prominent large area could look as unkempt as the original concerns in 2018. But if you look on the website under the timeline entitled ‘Journey’ there is a subtitle – ‘Our Plan’ hopefully gives a reassuring explanation. In essence, both sides will have an oval shaped area of medium-sized trees, under planted with 1000 Bluebell bulbs and under covered by bark chippings, the circumferences of these areas will have a 2 m and a 1 m strip on each side of the road respectively comprising of wildflower turf (which will not look as scruffy as wildflower seeds), the backdrop on the smaller left-hand side plot will have 28 m of blackthorn hedge. The company providing the wildflower turf are the same ones that created the amazing wildflowers at the London Olympic Park.

We negotiated the plan with Mersey Forest who came to the site in February and donated the trees and hedging. They also suggested planting in the National tree week in November. We have also been amazed by the generosity of the Ashworth hospital gardeners who have volunteered to undertake the work in one day utilising their staff and machinery. However, we are keeping the news about Mersey Forest and Ashworth hospital, quiet for another media release to maintain some media momentum. London and Cambridge Properties have given permission following reassurances about maintenance liability and where obviously pleased that it may in fact reduce the level of maintenance due to the reduced grass areas to be cut, whilst the wildflower turf as you demonstrated with the scythe video (Cheshire lines) generally only needs cutting once a year, and hopefully the bark chippings should suppress any weeds.

It is quite a responsibility, to shape such a prominent area, but hopefully this should be a change for the better.

One of the more touching donation pledges was made by my disabled nephew in Devon (who contracted meningitis at two years of age, which left him with multiple disabilities connected to cerebral palsy and has had a lifetime of crowdfunding initiatives for himself and others) who when he asked what I would like for my 60th birthday. I said, just a couple of quid for this project. His response was £60, £1 for each year of my life!’

And finally a flash back to October 2014 when the old library and former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre were still standing:-

It’s a radically different view now but the plot of land for the wildflower meadow is the piece of greenspace in the front center of this now historical view.