In previous editions of Wirral Matters we highlighted the case of an area of Noctorum where a contractor had felled trees despite preservation orders being in place and destroyed the woodland.
We are pleased to report that after almost two years, Wirral Borough Council has succeeded in prosecuting the contractor who was fined the maximum amount for unauthorised tree felling plus costs, amounting to £7819 by District Judge Abelson.
Whilst this will never bring back the trees or the wildlife it sends a clear message to the public that this type of wanton destruction will not be tolerated by the Community and the courts. The efforts, perseverance and persistence of both the Borough Council and the resident who first alerted Wirral Society to this unauthorised act of destruction are to be commended.
We also hope that our subsequent efforts, together with those of Wirral Wildlife, helped to both to raise and maintain the profile of this disgraceful act and to ensure prosecution was not overlooked. The Society is currently trying to establish whether the judgement included any requirement to replant the area and also whether this illegal act will have any bearing on any future Planning Application for development on the land, by this developer.
Although it was a very stressful situation a local resident had the presence of mind to photograph and video the destruction – evidence which proved essential for a successful prosecution.
The full details will be reported in the next Wirral Matters.
Many thanks to Mal Molloy for supplying the photographs on this page and for his vigilance in recording the destruction.
As reported in our previous post, there is an impending threat to the future of Wirral’s council-run Conservation Service. Wirral Conservation Areas’ Forum have responded to this in their newsletter which you can download in full from this website.
Here is their quoted response to this worrying news:
In a shock announcement at a meeting between Forum officers Alan Chape and David Allan and the Council’s Head of Regeneration David Ball, it was disclosed that Wirral’s Conservation team, together with the post of Tree officer, was being disbanded.
David Ball gave an assurance that the Council will still deliver its Conservation service but in a different way. It would mean they would cease to employ specialist in-house officers but would set aside a sum of money to buy-in specialist advice previously provided by the Conservation team and Tree officer.
At the moment the conservation officers provide advice to the case officers on planning applications that have conservation and heritage implications. In the future, where specialist advice is required, this will be provided either by in-house, re-trained case officers or by buying in such advice from external sources.
In relation to the Tree officer the Council has a Technical Services department responsible for the care and maintenance of 6000 trees. This resource of staff would be linked to tree work applications together with specialist advice provided by external sources.
The Forum representatives expressed deep concern that the consultation process was being limited to staff and trade unions to the exclusion of the Conservation committees. Given the statutory obligations of the Council to Wirral’s 26 Conservation Areas, including two of international renown and several which had been designated ‘at risk’ by English Heritage, it was felt that the proposals would lead to an unacceptable diminution of service. They pointed out that the proposals did not address a whole range of other matters relating to maintaining the character of Wirral’s Conservation Areas such as overseeing their simple day to day care and management.
Forum chairman, Alan Chape has written to Wirral’s Chief Executive, Graham Burgess expressing concerns about both the process and the content stressing the need for wider consultation with local Conservation and Civic societies who make up the Wirral Conservation Areas’ Forum. Subject to agreement by the Chief Executive, David Ball will attend the General Meeting of the Forum scheduled for 15th October at Port Sunlight where he will explain his proposals and answer questions.
The Wirral Society will be following all future developments on this issue and offering their support where necessary.
Uncertain Future Facing Wirral’s Conservation Service
Members of the Committee have been very concerned to learn in recent days, of the possible demise of Wirral Council’s Conservation Service and the loss its Tree Officer, because of financial stringencies.
We are currently trying to find out more information on exactly what the proposals are, before we make any comment formally.