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:-

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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.

Lydiate – It’s parks and gardens seem to be appreciated

Lydiate has long had decent quality parks and gardens but at the end of 2015 I saw a couple of pieces of evidence that folks really do appreciate the work that goes into them by the small team of grounds staff that the Parish Council employs. Here are a couple of examples of how locals feel:-

e-mail to Parish Council dated 3rd November – ‘Lydiate Parish Council should be congratulated because of the way it keeps our area clean, tidy and nice to look at. I’m talking particularly of the ares by the bus shelters in Southport Road. I would like to highly commend the staff for their hard work.’ The area referred to here is the garden around the Nedens Lane bus stop.

e-mail to the Parish Council dated 15th November – ‘I would just like to thank you for the fantastic job that is being carried out refurbishing the tennis courts on Sandy lane Playing Field.’

cropped-Lydiate-Parish-Council-Logo-e1372273297819

It’s always nice to know when folks appreciate the efforts of the Parish Council and yes I say that as an opposition member of the Council. I don’t think neighbouring Maghull Town Council can be getting many thumbs-up these days based on the complaints I have seen on Facebook about them not cutting the hedges around their parks and litter/rubbish problems in those parks.

Sefton Focus hopes for 2016 and beyond

Here are a few of my local hopes for 2016 and beyond. They are in no particular order:-

Here I am at Lambshear Lane Lydiate checking out farm land that is coming under threat from house building.

Here I am at Lambshear Lane Lydiate checking out farm land that is coming under threat from house building.

That Sefton Council’s Local Plan is rejected on the basis that high grade agricultural land on which we grow our food should not be used to build houses on.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

That Merseytravel actually take some notice of what folks are saying about the planned Maghull North Station. Also, that they stop blocking the idea of the present Maghull Station being renamed Maghull Hornby.

That HMRC’s ‘exit Bootle’ plan is revisited and jobs are kept where they are needed in a community that requires investment rather than being moved to where they are not needed.

That the Environment Agency’s plan to create a flood plain north east of Lunt Village actually works when they turn off the River Alt pumps.

HALT poster

That the Lower Alt wind turbine proposal, to be built on high grade agricultural land would you believe, is rejected by West Lancs Borough Council. I am certainly not against turbines and renewable energy as it is the future for green energy, but not on high grade agricultural land that grows our food.

That Costa in Maghull stop running auditions for screeching child of the year. We only want a bit of peace and quiet while having a cuppa.

Uncut hedge at Maghull's KGV Park

Uncut hedge at Maghull’s KGV Park

That Maghull Town Council cuts its hedges more than twice a year.

That the electrification of the Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line gets the green light to be extended through to Burscough.

That before any more houses are built in Sefton Borough a thorough independent assessment is made of the consequences of building in terms of flooding events.

A Red Squirrel at Formby Point in 2015

A Red Squirrel at Formby Point in 2015

That our precious Red Squirrel population in Formby continues to thrive.

Southport FC

That the remarkable turn around in the fortunes of Southport Football Club in late 2015 continues and it leads to them getting back into the Football League one day.

That youth facilities in Maghull gain some investment instead of them being closed by Maghull Town Council.

Fighting for Southport's Libraries

Fighting for Southport’s Libraries

That volunteers are encouraged and welcomed by Sefton Council instead of them being treated so badly when they try to take over and run community facilities such as closing community libraries.

Leeds Liverpool Canal in Bootle

Leeds Liverpool Canal in Bootle

That the 2016 By-Centenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal are a success in Sefton.

That those of us who live in communities outside of Liverpool do not allow ourselves to be dominated from Liverpool Town Hall now the imposed/unwanted Merseyside Mayor concept has been foisted on us.

That gun crime in Sefton Borough and beyond is brought under control.

nhs-logo

That the concept of NHS drop-in centres is revisited and promoted so that more NHS services are delivered in communities rather than in over worked hospitals. Remember Maghull’s long-promised rebuild of its Health Centre to include a drop-in facility that was dropped by the NHS?

I am sure you will have other/additional wishes for 2016 and beyond and if I spent long enough thinking about it I could add to this list myself. However, I think you get my drift of what Sefton Borough could look like.

A very happy New Year to all.

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:-

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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?