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Green light for improvement works to enhance Ainsdale Beach facilities

Following approval at January’s full Council meeting, plans are now progressing for improved access and facilities at Sefton’s Ainsdale Beach.

In 2020, the Council saw huge numbers of visitors flocking to the coast. This highlighted the need for further investment to maintain the best possible experience for all beach users, while factoring in important conservation and environmental needs.  

As part of the investment, designs are now being drawn up for an off-beach car park that will help to reduce the impact on local communities who have been affected by irresponsible parking in the past. A new, cashless payment system will also be introduced at the beginning of April when beach car parks reopen.

The Council’s Green Sefton team is set to recruit more than 30 Seasonal Rangers for the 2021 summer months, an increase in the number of posts usually recruited for the busy visitor period. Some of the new rangers will help to manage car parking and access at Ainsdale as well as ensuring that visitors keep the coastline clean and tidy.

Options for new toilet facilities are being explored alongside a trial for new off-beach food and drink vendors, all with a view to enhancing visitors’ experiences at Ainsdale.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am pleased to see plans progressing for the much-needed investment at Ainsdale beach and I am very much looking forward to welcoming more Seasonal Rangers to the Green Sefton team. Not only will the additional rangers help to support our management of the existing car parks, they will also play a vital role in ensuring that our coastline remains clean and beautiful.”

This week, Cllr Moncur approved a freeze on the car parking season ticket for all Sefton residents, which was introduced last year, meaning they can continue to enjoy the beach and save money after just three visits.

The specially reduced ticket costing just £30, also remains available to anyone driving an electric or hybrid car, as part of measures to encourage the use of more environmentally-friendly transport.

Meanwhile, the standard day visitor rate for the car park will increase by £2, to £10 per day to cover the costs of the latest improvements and generate income for the long-term care of Sefton’s unique 22-mile coastline.

Cllr Moncur added: “Further improvement of facilities will provide a better environment for people to enjoy this beautiful space, while protecting our special wildlife and landscape, and tackling car parking concerns.

“I am particularly pleased that the Council can continue to offer a favourable car parking rate for Sefton residents, and electric and hybrid car drivers.

“We often say we want visitors to our beaches to leave nothing but their footprints, but we can now help them think about their carbon footprint too as well as encouraging them to enjoy these special sites.”

Residents and visitors alike will continue to be encouraged to travel by other means to the beach too, as part of the Council’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and tackling the Climate Change Emergency. People can access the coast via local walking and cycling routes, as well as wheelchair and pram friendly access through Ainsdale station and village. 

Beach car parking charges for 2021:

  • £10 per day for cars
  • £16 per day for horseboxes or minibuses
  • 50% off the above rates after 4pm subject to car parking management arrangements
  • £30 season ticket for Sefton residents and those who drive an electric or hybrid vehicle

An online form to purchase season tickets will be made available on the Sefton Council website in the coming weeks. 

Current national lockdown restrictions still apply to the use of outdoor spaces across Sefton, with people being advised not to travel to the coastline for exercise if it is not local to them.

Work begins on repairing Southport’s historic Hesketh Park conservatory with £22,000 grant from the Culture Recovery Fund

Repair work is now underway at Hesketh Park’s historic conservatory after Sefton Council’s Green Sefton team secured a £22,000 grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Hesketh Park conservatory SouthportA local contractor, overseen by a specialist conservation architect, has started work on site this week which will include assessing and repairing the overall cast iron structure, mending leaks to the roof and replacing broken windows.

The Grade II listed structure, which has stood in the park since 1878, has deteriorated in recent years years as a result of water damage. The Council has been looking at opportunities to fund short term repairs alongside long term plans to restore the entire conservatory.  

Grants from the Culture Recovery Fund, administered on behalf of the government by Historic England, are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected, despite the pandemic.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, said: Hesketh Park is just one of our many beautiful outdoor spaces that the Green Sefton team, along with the valued help of dedicated volunteers, work hard all year round to maintain and improve.

“I’m really pleased to see that work has now begun on making essential repairs to the building, and that this signifies just the beginning of a journey to fully restore this historic conservatory.”

Longer term plans will be developed, as further funding is sourced, to restore the building and bring it back into public use.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.

“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

About Hesketh Park

Hesketh Park was designed by renowned Victorian landscape gardener Edward Kemp in 1865. A decade after it first opened, a large conservatory was erected and housed an array of rare and exotic plants. It had originally been part of Brunswick Villa on Lord Street, Southport, but was purchased by Southport Corporation and moved to the park in 1878. Today, the Grade II listed Conservatory still stands in the centre of the park next to the lake.

Green Sefton backs LOVEmyBEACH call to tackle coastal pollution

The LOVEmyBEACH campaign is calling on all regular beach users to help identify and report signs of coastal pollution, in order to prevent it damaging the North West coastline.

The group has produced a guide to help people to understand what to look out for and where to report any concerns. The guide can be downloaded here.

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton team is urging all Sefton residents, particularly those who regularly visit Sefton’s 22-mile coastline, to be aware of instances of pollution.

Mark Shaw, Green Sefton’s Service Manager, said: “Across the coast, our small Green Sefton team is supported by dedicated volunteers who work alongside our officers to keep our beaches clean, tidy and pollution free.

“However, it’s a collective responsibility for everyone across Sefton to protect, respect and enjoy our coastline. Please act responsibly and take litter home when visiting, and by reporting any possible pollution to us, we can target our resources to ensure that our beaches are safe for all visitors, and vitally for the flora and fauna that call it their home.”

Coastal pollution has the potential to harm beaches, seas and wildlife. Various sources of pollution can impact bathing water quality and the reputation of beaches, whilst being unpleasant to look at and potentially dangerous for beach users.

Help tackle coastal pollutionThe most common signs of pollution that might be noticed are:

  • Signs of sewage (e.g. sewage solids, pipes discharging dirty water, sewage fungus growing or grey clouds around a pipe).
  • A significantly large rainbow coloured film or thick sludge, indicating oil.
  • Abnormally high levels of litter or dumped waste. Or large quantities of one particular material e.g. a deluge of microplastics.
  • The presence of a new substance or material on the beach, e.g. palm oil.

Regular beach visitors are likely to be the first people to spot these smaller incidents, maybe just by noticing a change to the usual appearance of an area or unusual occurrences.

People are then urged to report anything of concern to the relevant authority – which may be the Environment Agency, Local Authority or United Utilities – so that action can be taken to prevent any further damage.

The LOVEmyBEACH campaign was created in 2013 by Keep Britain Tidy and engages with individuals and partners across the North West region to work together to keep local beaches and bathing waters clean.

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