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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/

Sefton Council backs Flood Action Week 2021

Sefton Council is backing this year’s Flood Action Week, taking place from Monday 22nd November to Sunday 28th November, to ensure that the Borough’s residents and businesses are aware of the potential risks and are prepared to act in the event of flooding.

Risk

Over 5 million people in the UK are at risk of flooding and in Sefton approximately 63% of properties could be impacted by flood events.

The Environment Agency, which is spearheading the awareness week, is urging everyone to take action to protect themselves, their families, homes, and businesses from potential flooding.

With backing from Sefton Council’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) officers, people are being asked to look at ways to manage their own personal risk.

Solutions

Cllr John Fairclough, Cabinet Member for Locality Services and Chair of Strategic Flood Resilience Group, said: “Flood risk is a serious issue for residents and businesses across the Borough and our officers are dedicated to finding both short and long-term mitigation and solutions to it. This ranges from routine maintenance of gullies to seeking investment for coastal defences.

“Raising awareness and educating communities about the role they have to play in flood prevention and preparedness is another incredibly important part of their work.

“This year’s Flood Action Week is even more important off the back of weeks of talk globally about the climate emergency that we are all facing. Extreme weather events are predicted to become more frequent, but as the Lead Local Flood Authority for Sefton, we are doing all we can to manage these risks and to ensure our communities are equipped with the information they need to be prepared for such instances.”

Alerts

People can research if they are living in an at-risk area by visiting the Environment Agency website where they can also sign-up for flood alerts and warnings: https://www.gov.uk/browse/environment-countryside/flooding-extreme-weather

Those living near watercourses can monitor river levels online and are recommended to do so during periods of heavy rainfall: https://check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/river-and-sea-levels

Sefton residents and businesses can prepare a personal plan of action that includes knowing where medications are, insurance documents, and how to turn off gas, water and electricity in their properties. The North West Flood Hub website provides a one stop shop for all information and advice regarding flooding, including planning toolkits: https://thefloodhub.co.uk/household-flood-planning-toolkit/

Forecasts

People are also reminded to bookmark weather and flood forecasting websites, such as the Met Office. This enables them to check rainfall radars and forecasts, particularly during the wetter autumn and winter months, to be prepared for any instances of flooding.

Finally, residents are urged to protect their own properties by clearing and maintaining drains and grids to prevent blockages and to consider using water storage systems that could reduce the amount of flooding during heavy rainfall.

The Council has recently ended a public consultation on a new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy. The new Strategy takes into account recent climate change predictions and outlines the actions that will be undertaken to reduce the risk and impact of flooding and coastal erosion on Sefton’s communities. It is expected that the new Strategy will be adopted in early 2022.

The Strategy also outlines the clear roles and responsibilities of not only the Council, but other risk management authorities including the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Highways England and the Canal and River Trust.

Positive outcomes

Cllr Fairclough added: “We continue to work with our key partners to manage flood risk across Sefton.

“We’ve already met a number of times this year under our new working group and I am confident that this collaborative approach is already resulting in positive outcomes that will benefit all of our communities.”

Approaches already being undertaken by the FCERM team includes assessing planning applications to ensure future climate predictions are considered in designs, to designing in sustainable drainage systems within Council sites.

Anyone concerned about flooding can find further advice on flood risk and what to do to protect their property on the Sefton Council website: https://www.sefton.gov.uk/flooding

Reporting

Residents can report flooding on a public highway or any blocked road gullies on the Sefton Council website using an online reporting form.

Should anyone end up with flood water in their property, they should report this to flooding@sefton.gov.uk with any photos to accompany the report.

Reporting incidents will ensure that the Council can understand the extent and location of properties impacted by incidents of flooding and allow officers to work with other flood risk management authorities to help reduce the risks and consequences of future flooding.

Statement: Orrell Mount 3G pitch works postponed

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, has today (Friday, November 12th) announced that work to create brand new 3G pitches on Orrell Mount in Bootle will be temporarily paused in order to continue open dialogue with local community groups.

Throughout the planning application process for the hugely beneficial scheme residents, members of the community and a number of sports organisations were consulted on the plans, which received wide reaching support.

Proposals were approved and work was due to be undertaken on site this week. These works however have now been put on hold following a recent public demonstration.

Cllr Maher said: “While we have continued to engage with the community around Orrell Mount, recent demonstrations on site have indicated there is still more dialogue to be had.

“Our initial consultations led Sefton to revamp, tweak and add in certain elements to the scheme in order to best benefit surrounding residents and address concerns raised, which is why we were confident that a schedule of works could begin in earnest.

“It was never our intention to close the park off while these works took place and this drastic decision was only taken at the eleventh hour in order to keep both the public and contractors safe after it became clear demonstrations could lead to a health and safety issue.

“After a significant amount of discussion between Cabinet, ward members and officers, we have unanimously agreed to temporarily halt all works and reopen the park as a sign of good faith, while we seek to continue further constructive dialogue and consultation with residents.

“We all want to find a solution which allows this hugely beneficial scheme to become a reality and we will now await the findings of this additional consultation before any further potential progression is made.”

Orrell Mount Playing Fields will now fully reopen, however a small number of playground improvement and maintenance works will still be taking place within the grounds.

 

Orrell Mount fields temporarily closed as fantastic 3G pitch works get underway

Earlier this year Sefton Council announced that it had been successful in a bid for £780,000 funding from the Football Foundation to create brand new and much needed all weather 3G pitches at Orrell Mount.

Alongside around £350,000 direct investment from the Council, this welcome additional funding allows the Council to undertake work to replace the existing grass pitch and to install new changing facilities on the site – ultimately benefitting local people all year round.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “We are aware of misinformation which has been shared online about the scheme and we have reiterated that key facilities will remain and even be improved, including dog walking facilities and a fully refurbished children’s playground.”

Local Sefton former professional footballer Jamie Carragher’s 23 Foundation will be running the new facility, to maximise its potential and nurture a new generation of future sporting stars

They will provide a managed programme which supports partner club growth and offers a range of recreational football activities to people of all ages, backgrounds, genders and abilities to deliver the FA strategic outcomes.

Full backing has been given to the scheme by the Liverpool County FA, local grassroots football teams such as Northfield Juniors and many members of the community.

Tony Smith, Football Development Manager at the Liverpool County FA, added: “There is a huge shortfall of match play on 3G pitches and having this facility in the heart of the community will not only develop better grassroots players but also develop better social outcomes to combat obesity, improve health and wellbeing, while also tackling anti-social behaviour.”

Rachel Stevenson, Welfare Officer for Bootle’s Northfield Junior’s Football Club, said the team can’t wait to play on the pitch.

She said: “Historically in the winter months we have found real difficulties and challenges to get our kids access to proper training facilities.

“This will be our first opportunity to keep players within the local community and allow them to train closer to their homes.

“We are a registered charity so this scheme will also allow us to keep our costs down and allow us to pass this back on to our members so our football remains completely inclusive to everyone in the local community.”

A Sefton Council spokesperson reiterated these comments, adding: “Any surplus made from operating the facility will be put back in to the community.

“Throughout this process to provide significantly improved health and wellbeing provisions for football players of all abilities and ages, Sefton Council has endeavoured to work closely with members of the local community and has acted on some of the concerns expressed.”

Despite these promises, a pocket of public opposition to the plans has remained and owing to the ongoing actions of these demonstrators, Sefton Council have reluctantly taken the decision to temporarily close Orrell Mount park to the public.

A council spokesperson confirmed: “This decision has not been taken lightly, however we need to ensure the ongoing safety of both demonstrators and our contractors.

“This closure will remain in place until works to install a 3G pitch, lighting and community safety provisions have been completed.”

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