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Sefton once again showcases its green-fingered expertise at North West in Bloom competition

Netherton Community Garden who received a Thriving Award
Netherton Community Garden who received a Thriving Award

Community groups across the Borough have once again been recognised for their green-fingered expertise for the 2021 North West in Bloom competition.

Volunteer groups from Ainsdale, Bootle, Litherland, Netherton, Maghull, Crosby, Seaforth, Southport and Waterloo were enthusiastically involved in this year’s celebration following the cancellation of the official competition in 2020.

In July, the North West in Bloom judges visited each location to see for themselves the good work the volunteers have been doing, despite the difficulties posed by the continuation of some Covid-19 restrictions.

Despite the obstacles they faced, Sefton’s gardening enthusiasts have once again showcased their skills by maintaining flower beds, supporting community initiatives and creating wonderful displays.

So much so that 38 entrants were recognised by the judges with the following awards: Thriving, Advancing, Outstanding, Silver and Gold. Special recognition was also awarded to seven Sefton entrants:

  • Ainsdale in Bloom – Best Town, Gold Award
  • Botanic Gardens Community Association, Southport – Five Years Outstanding Award
  • Cheyne Close, Crosby – Five Years Outstanding Award
  • Crosby and Waterloo in Bloom – Silver Gilt, Clean Sweep Award
  • Maghull Station Volunteers – Best Railway Station, Outstanding Award
  • Southport in Bloom – Best Large Coastal Resort, Gold Award
  • Southport Model Engineering Club – Five Years Outstanding Award

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“The Green Sefton team has been absolutely bowled over by the determination and commitment of our green-fingered community groups and volunteers who’ve created such wonderful displays and been involved in great outdoor projects this year.

“Not only do their continued efforts help to make our Sefton greener, but they also help to bring communities together making them stronger and happier. We’ve all enjoyed spending time outdoors, perhaps more than ever in recent times, and having passionate gardeners across our Borough looking after our valued green spaces has really enhanced our time spent outdoors.

“What’s more is that many of these displays help to boost our Borough’s biodiversity, attracting many pollinators that are vital in the natural fight against climate change that we’ve heard so much about recently.”

Boyer Court Garden Club, Maghull, who received an Outstanding Award
Boyer Court Garden Club, Maghull, who received an Outstanding Award

North West in Bloom is the voluntary regional organisation that administers the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Britain in Bloom competition in Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, and is one of the 18 regions and Nations that comprise Britain in Bloom.

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service – who help co-ordinate North West in Bloom within the Borough – are encouraging residents to think ahead now to next year when it is hoped the competition will go ahead without any restrictions on activities.

Green Sefton officers are also keen for volunteer groups to think about the most environmentally friendly ways to maintain their future displays and arrangements. Ensuring that nature can thrive and act as natural mitigation to today’s climate concerns.

 

Anyone interested in becoming involved can email greensefton@sefton.gov.uk

For more information on taking a more active role in community gardening the RHS has lots of helpful resources, simply visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/community-gardening

Get outdoors safely across Sefton this winter

Sefton’s heritage parks and green open spaces, along with its 22-mile coastline and exciting nature reserves are here to be explored this winter.

Whether its walking, cycling or simply getting outside for a breath of fresh air, which many people may look to do over the festive break, the Council’s Green Sefton service is reminding residents to take care and to respect wildlife, as well as the landscape, when getting outdoors locally.

Cllr Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“This year we’ve continued to see unprecedented use of our outdoor spaces, particularly throughout the summer months along our beautiful coastline. We joined forces with colleagues and partners to implement our Coastal Action Plan and we were delighted with the support we got from residents and visitors, the vast the majority of whom took note to enjoy our beaches safely.

“Now we’re embracing the seasonal changes and the onset of winter, and I would encourage everyone to continue to make the most of some fresh air when they get outdoors, as well as enjoying everything that nature has to offer in our Borough. That’s not just on our coastline but also our canal walks, cycling routes and Sefton’s many small open spaces and parks.”

Downloadable resources and ideas for places to explore locally in Sefton are available on the Visit Sefton website visitseftonandwestlancs.co.uk.

Residents are being urged to be prepared for winter differences before getting out and about around Sefton’s parks, coastline, and open spaces.

Cllr Moncur added:

“Following this advice and going through a quick check list before heading out and about will ensure that people get the best out of spending time outdoors.

“Similarly, the seasonal changes bring with them amazing wildlife spectacles. Rare migrating birds can often be spotted along our coastline, as can cattle and sheep that through their grazing are helping to manage vital habitats among the dunes. Please do show respect to both the landscape and the wildlife that we are so lucky to have in Sefton.”

A handy checklist covers everything residents, and visitors alike, need to know when enjoying the Borough’s outdoor spaces this winter.

  • Be prepared for winter weather with appropriate clothing and robust footwear.
  • Always check the weather forecast as conditions can change quickly and check tide times before you set out to the coast.
  • Take note of any safety signage at beach entrances – there are no RNLI lifeguard patrols on Southport or Ainsdale beaches during winter. Lifeguard cover is year-round at Crosby. If you or someone needs help at the coast call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
  • Remember that the evenings get darker earlier so carrying a torch or wearing reflective clothing would be advisable.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Remember that some of our gated parks may be locked an hour after sunset.
  • Take care close to water, especially in wet or icy conditions and do not attempt to walk on frozen water, ponds or lakes.
  • Avoid walking through woodland in high winds and keep away from any fallen or hung up trees until they have been made safe.
  • Sefton’s entire coastline is environmentally sensitive and protected – please respect this precious landscape.
  • Do not disturb wildlife, livestock or damage habitat – keep a close eye on dogs and keep them under control away from pools of water and resting birds. Similarly, horse riders should never ride through flocks of wading birds. If they are chased or disturbed intentionally it can result in serious harm to them.   
  • Leave nothing but your footprints – take all your rubbish home with you and recycle wherever possible.
  • Some facilities like public toilets may not be open in winter months at parks and nature reserves.
  • Beach car parks are closed and will not re-open until the spring – please park responsibly in the parking available nearby.
  • Walk or cycle rather than taking a vehicle where possible.
  • If walking or cycling in remote areas, ensure you take a fully charged mobile phone and be aware that signal may be poor.
  • Camping, BBQs and fires are not permitted.
  • Remember to follow current COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Report any emergency hazards or concerns to Sefton Security on 0151 922 6107.
  • Always follow the Countryside Code: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code

For more advice, tips and updates from the Green Sefton service this winter, people are urged to follow them on social media:

Facebook: greensefton
Instagram: @greensefton
Twitter: @GreenSefton_

 

Vital habitat management works udder-way across the Sefton Coast this winter

Belted Galloway cow on the Ainsdale dunes
Belted Galloway cow on the Ainsdale dunes. Photo taken by Green Sefton Engagement Officer John Dempsey.

Sefton Council is carrying out its annual schedule of habitat management works at key sites along the coast.

Each winter, the Council’s Green Sefton service brings grazing animals onto the Local Nature Reserves to help control vegetation growth. This, in turn, encourages diverse plant species to grow and dune specialists such as Natterjack Toads, Sand Lizards and Northern Tiger Beetles to thrive.

This year, Herdwick sheep from Cumbria alongside Belted Galloway cattle from neighbouring Lancashire have been moved on to the reserve at Ainsdale.  The animals will graze the reserves until early spring 2022.

Sign reminding beach visitors of need to keep dogs on leads.
Sign reminding beach visitors of need to keep dogs on leads, to close gates and to be mindful of the cattle and sheep during the grazing period.

Green Sefton is urging everyone to act responsibly if they visit the reserve to catch a glimpse of the special winter visitors. Dog walkers are reminded that pets should be kept on a lead and under close control within fenced grazing areas, following the Countryside Code, which can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code

Herdwick sheep on Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve
Herdwick sheep on Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve.

Gordon White, Countryside Officer for Green Sefton, said:

“These grazing animals are an essential tool in the management of Sefton’s scientifically important sand dunes. Not only do they help us to improve the condition of the sand dune habitats, but they really help to optimise the potential of Sefton’s important natural assets.

“We urge all dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead, under close control and away from the sheep and cows they may see in the fenced grazing areas this winter – just as you would on any site or farmers field where livestock are kept.

“While they are docile animals and used to seeing people, they could be a little nervous in their new seasonal Sefton home.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“Conservation grazing is a fantastic, cost-effective and natural way to protect our dune systems and it is great to see the animals making a return to our reserve again this winter.”

Green Sefton officers managing a controlled burn of scrub
Green Sefton officers managing a controlled burn of scrub.

Other habitat management works taking place along the coast this winter include the tightly controlled burning of invasive, non-native species. This method is used due to the terrain of the area and to ensure that damaging biomass is removed to allow for improvements to the ecology of the dune systems

Areas of scrub are cut down throughout the winter by Green Sefton rangers, with the help of volunteer groups. The stumps are then removed or burned in a controlled environment, only when weather conditions permit.

The Dynamic Dunescapes programme also continues to tackle areas of invasive non-native species at the Sefton coast, such as Japanese Rose, Japanese Knotweed and Sea Buckthorn. Different methods are used to remove these species to expose more sand and ultimately improve the dune slack habitats. More information about this partnership can be found online at www.dynamicdunescapes.co.uk/project/sefton-coast/

Cllr Moncur added:

“Sefton’s coastline is one of Britain’s most important areas for nature conservation and has the highest level of protection under UK law as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its flora and fauna.

“On-going initiatives like this really help to enhance these important coastal ecological systems and also ensures that we are playing our part in mitigating the impact of climate change on our coast.”

Volunteer undertaking scrub removal
Volunteer undertaking scrub removal.

Gordon White added:

“We all have an obligation to protect these very special features and balancing their needs with those of our visitors can be a tricky task. Part of our role at Green Sefton is to help our communities to learn and understand how fortunate we all are to have such incredible and fantastic species right on our doorstep. Working with our communities, as well as with partner organisations on specific environmental projects, we can achieve great improvements to the condition of our wonderful sand dune habitats.

“Ultimately this will enable us to be confident that we have contributed to passing them on to the next generation in a strong condition, to continue to survive, while providing them with fascinating wildlife spectacles.”

Council’s Green Sefton service celebrates National Tree Week with 1,000 new trees

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton service is marking National Tree Week by planting 1,000 new trees across the Borough.

Three new trees planted by Sefton Council
New trees planted by Sefton Council in 2020/21 planting season

The trees have been donated by The Mersey Forest, one of 13 Community Forests across England. They will be planted in the coming months with support from community groups.

The announcement coincides with the start of the planting season during which the Council is hoping to plant around 270 large ‘standard’ trees. They will also be working with The Mersey Forest to plant thousands more saplings.

During the last planting season, Green Sefton Tree and Woodland officers oversaw the planting of 3,230 new trees that branched across 19 of the Borough’s wards in parks, woodland areas and along its highways.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“Sefton is a clean, green and beautiful place to live in and to visit. The Council is dedicated to maintaining its green spaces, which includes looking after 90,000 trees in our parks and on the highway, as well as countless more on the coast.

“I’d like to celebrate our small but expert Tree and Woodland team this National Tree Week, as they continue to do a sterling job overseeing the planting of thousands of new trees across our Borough every year.

Tree uprooted by Storm Arwen
Tree uprooted by Storm Arwen

“Just last weekend the team were working through the night managing more than 100 incidents of damage and fallen trees as a result of Storm Arwen. The aftermath of the storm was heart-breaking to see, with many mature trees falling victim to the extreme winds. I would ask residents to be patient as our small team coordinate the clear up, which is likely to take several weeks.

“We will do all we can to ensure that new trees are planted for those sadly lost to the storm, within resources and funding available, but this additional workload will inevitably have an impact on the forthcoming planting season. That is why it is vital that we continue to work alongside community groups and partners to drive forward more planting year on year.”

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said:

“Sefton is a key Partner in the Mersey Forest and we are pleased to be supporting the Council team to plant even more trees across the area this tree planting season. Trees provide a range of benefits for both the climate, environment and residents, helping people to connect with nature and the many health and wellbeing benefits that this provides.”

New trees planted on Waterloo high street
New trees planted on Waterloo high street

Sefton Council has also been successful in a bid for Government funding, thanks to its proactive efforts seeking out and submitting applications for investment in tree planting initiatives.

It will soon receive £41,873 as part of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), which will support the planting of 44,000 large ‘standard’ trees across the UK by 2023. In Sefton, the additional funds will support the planting of 100 trees.

National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, running from Saturday 27 November to Sunday 5 December. The week is coordinated by the Tree Council.

Tree planting plays a significant role in carbon capture and reducing the impact of climate change on the planet.

Cllr Moncur added:

“With an average tree storing around a tonne of carbon in its lifetime, our annual tree planting schedule contributes meaningfully towards our continued action on climate change. It has a vital role to play in ensuring that the Council reaches it net zero carbon target by 2030.

“Tree planting can also help to significantly improve air quality. The health and wellbeing of our residents is our main priority and air pollution is a growing public health concern, particularly for our most vulnerable residents. More trees can only be a positive contributory factor to improving the air we all breathe.”

Local businesses can also pledge to support the planting of more trees across the Borough, as well as a host of other activities and green initiatives, as part of the Green Sefton Business Supporter Scheme. The variety of ways businesses can get involved, can be found on the Council’s website at www.sefton.gov.uk/around-sefton/green-sefton/become-a-business-supporter/

If residents would like to know more about the work of the Tree and Woodland team, or have a request or question about tree planting in their ward, they can email trees@sefton.gov.uk or visit the Council website at www.sefton.gov.uk/around-sefton/green-sefton/trees-in-sefton/

There may be a slightly delayed response from the team at present as they manage an unprecedented workload as a result of Storm Arwen. 

 

Botanic Gardens lakeside mural to be repainted by its original artist Robert Newbiggin

Artist Robert Newbiggin has been given the green light from Sefton Council to create a replacement mural that will adorn the lakeside area of Southport’s Botanic Gardens.

The current mural was painted by Robert around 14 years ago and local students have added to it as part of their studies. It has weathered in the elements over the years and now Robert has offered his time, at no cost, to replace the mural. 

The new design will depict Victorian scenes within the park, reminding people of the history of the site and its inclusion on the Historic Parks and Gardens Register.

Pastel sketch of the proposed mural background. Victorian figures enjoying the scene will be included in the final design.
Pastel sketch of the proposed mural background. Victorian figures enjoying the scene will be included in the final design.

The initial concept and design have been signed-off by both Sefton Council and the Botanic Gardens Community Association (BGCA).

Robert will now begin the painting process in his studio across a series of boards, that once finished, will be put into position in the park. It is hoped that the project will be completed by spring 2022.  

The Council’s Green Sefton Service works in partnership with the dedicated volunteers of the BGCA to maintain the popular park. The materials required for the mural will be funded by the Association.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“I’m so pleased that we’re seeing another of the phased improvements planned for the Botanic Gardens lakeside area coming to fruition. The park has such a rich heritage and the new mural design will really showcase this to both visitors and park users.

“I’d like to thank Rob for offering his time at no cost to undertake the painting in his studio and to the volunteers of the Botanic Gardens Community Association for their contribution for the mural materials.

“I know that the community is very excited about the mural, as well as the wider park improvements, and can’t wait to see it take pride of place by the lake next year, which by that point will be fitted with new aerating fountains too.” 

Robert grew up in Southport and spent a huge part of his teenage years drawing and painting – often in the Botanic Gardens studying and sketching the flora and fauna. His career as a self-taught artist has taken him around the globe, but closer to home people may know him for his Southport town centre mural of Captain Sir Tom Moore that he painted last year.

Robert Newbiggin, said:

“I’m excited to start as I have the boards now, and the fact I’m the artist I am today will make all the difference.”

David Cobham, Botanic Gardens Community Association (BGCA), said:

“The Botanic Gardens Community Association volunteers have kept the existing mural going for the past few years with a new surround. But, time marches on and we are delighted that Rob has offered to carry out the artwork for free to add to his magnificent portfolio.

“The new mural will be far longer lasting, and we are equally delighted to fund the first-class infrastructure materials.”

The new and improved mural installation works follows last month’s news that two aeration fountains have been ordered as part of the first phase of lakeside improvements at the park.

The costs of the fountains have been met by recent fundraising efforts from the Make a Change for Ben group who have donated their funds raised to the BGCA for improvement projects and on-going maintenance within the park.

A longer-term vision to source a multi-million-pound investment for the park remains at the early stages of development. Next steps will include launching a public consultation in 2022.

Anyone interested in helping to shape the developing project, or would like to volunteer in the Botanic Gardens, can contact the Botanic Gardens Community Association at https://botanicgardensca.org.uk/

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