Agenda item

Matters Raised by the Public

To deal with matters raised by members of the public resident within the Borough, of which notice has been given in accordance with the procedures relating to public questions, motions or petitions set out in Paragraph 36 to 47 of the Council and Committee Procedure Rules in Chapter 4 of the Council Constitution.

 

(A)      Public Petition - Save the Promenade in Crosby Coastal Park

 

(Details of any further petitions notified or questions submitted by members of the public will be circulated at the meeting).

Minutes:

The Mayor reported that a public petition had been received containing the signatures of 507 people and that the summary of the petition stated:

 

Public Petition - Save the Promenade in Crosby Coastal Park

 

We the undersigned petition the council to save the Promenade in Crosby Coastal Park and the Multi-use Path on top of it by clearing the sand from its top surface, removing the sand from the beach side of the revetment, and restoring its surface, railings and signage.

 

It is the official policy of Sefton MBC's Cabinet and of Green Sefton to keep the promenade clear of sand, but Green Sefton struggle to do so within their budget and resources of manpower and machinery. There is therefore a kind of unofficial policy of neglect which has intensified over recent years. Sand dunes have built up on both sides of the seawall/promenade. Sand covers the existing Multi-use Path for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, etc. on top of the promenade, in particular between the point on the prom where it is joined by the access path from Blucher Street car park past the water treatment works, and a point opposite Crosby Leisure Centre at Mariners Road.

 

The Council's 'Vision' for the future of Crosby Coastal Park up to 2030 included proposals for a new inland Multi-use Path in the Marine Park between Mariners Road and Cambridge Road ('Zones D and E'). The Seafront Residents' Action Group (SRAG) and others have long campaigned for the Council to keep the promenade in good repair, and its existing Path open, and free from sand.

 

SRAG has opposed the new proposed inland Multi-use Path, which is billed as an alternative to the one on the prom, but in the prevailing circumstances is almost certainly going to be a substitute for it. The Council are about to launch an application for planning permission for the new Path, which if allowed would run through the Park between Blundellsands Road West and Cambridge Road, with a section along Endsleigh Road. They consulted on most of it being 3m (10') wide, but their planning application will ask for permission for it to be 4m (13') wide, and as such it would look like a road bisecting and attacking the green space of the Park. The existing Path on the prom is actually wider and potentially safer for multiple use, and is further away from residences, but its true dimensions are partially concealed by sand.

 

A retired engineer whose company used to contract with the Council to keep the sand away from the seawall by moving it to the mean low tideline has proposed that a reputable firm or firms could remove the dune from the beach and clear the dunes from the top of the prom for free or at little cost, provided they could retain the sand themselves for recycling. It could be done in a manner that would create minimal disruption to the general public, though it would require planning for the necessary logistics and contractual arrangements.

 

In August 2021 SRAG alerted the Council and suggested meetings between Councillors and Officials with representatives from the company or companies potentially involved. Green Sefton have said that this proposal is not feasible and is undesirable. SRAG are continuing to press for its feasibility to be properly considered. It is clearly desirable in the short term, though there would be heavy machinery working on the beach and lorries removing the sand for a period.

 

Undertaking this work would remove the dangers now posed by hidden hazards such as wire at ankle level, half-buried signage and broken fencing. It would potentially reduce the sand blow into the Marine Lakes, obviating or mitigating the need to dredge it from time to time.

 

The existing promenade route is scenic and preferable to an inland alternative route, whether for leisure or commuting. It runs alongside the iconic statues of Antony Gormley's 'Another Place'. It has recently been adopted by the Secretary of State for the Environment as part of the new National Trail, the England Coast Path. It needs to be kept open, not least to prevent roll back of the Trail towards seafront residences.

 

Green Sefton say that in advance of any formal discussion with sand winning companies that an Environmental Impact Assessment would be required to address the impact on coastal habitats and species in the wider Liverpool Bay, River Mersey and Sefton Coast; and it would need to be assessed by Natural England as the site has multiple local, national and international scientific and nature designations. So be it. The Park was created before the designations were made. Where there is a will there is a way.

 

They also say that a Feasibility Study by an external consultant would be required which has cost implications.

 

The offer is of free or low-cost sand removal. We ask the Council to consider whether to undertake and fund the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment and Feasibility Study.

 

The dunes in front of Waterloo and Brighton-le-Sands have formed relatively recently in front of a densely populated residential area. They have at least in part been made by human intervention, including fencing, planting and the deposit of used Christmas trees. The considerations that apply should take into account all the other benefits of a scenic route for walking and cycling along the coast and through an amenity park which has become a hybrid of amenity and natural enclave, before dismissing an idea whose time has come through a chain of circumstances. These beachside sandhills of the Marine Park are hardly a genuine part of the much more important and valuable dunescape of the Sefton coast, which is the largest in England and runs for 12 miles to their north. They are a recently formed small adjunct to it.

 

The promenade was created between February 1969 and July 1973 as part of the ‘seaside improvements’ which created the Marine Park part of Crosby Coastal Park. It was funded at considerable expense by Crosby Borough out of local funds and it is a key asset of green infrastructure which should be cherished. No part of it ought to be buried and abandoned by its successor Local Authority.

 

We petition the Council to SAVE THE PROM!

 

In accordance with the Councils Constitution, the Lead Petitioner was advised of his right to make representations to the Council, not lasting more than 5 minutes.  Mr. Wolstenholme addressed the Council for 5 minutes in respect of the terms of the petition.

 

The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Moncur, responded to the petition and made the following points:

 

·       The Council had continually responded to correspondence submitted by the Seafront Residents' Action Group on this issue

·       The sand winning proposals suggested by SRAG could result in the removal of around 720,000 cu m of sand from the area (over 1 million tonnes); and that if 20T wagons were used this would involve 87,500 vehicle movements through suburban areas of Crosby and Waterloo which would be detrimental to local residential amenity and highway safety. A sand winning operation in Southport generated many complaints from residents concerning HGV movements on local roads

·       Heavy plant and machinery would also be required in the promenade area which would require risk assessments to be undertaken and the closure of public paths whilst work was being undertaken. Working hours would be dictated by tidal sequences and consideration may have to be given to early morning and late-night working, again to the detriment of residential amenity 

·       A feasibility study would likely be required by an external consultant to address some of the many questions raised and there would be a cost associated with this. Furthermore, environmental impact assessments would have to be undertaken due to the nature of the proposed works

·       Other considerations included the long-term implications for coastal defence, as the build-up of sand protected the seawall from wave impact and damage and thus would delay the need for repairs and replacement; in respect of the Climate emergency the predicted increase in sea levels and extreme wave height meant that sea defences were likely to be impacted more in the future and the sand accumulation may provide some degree of a buffer against this; and an assessment of the impact in terms of the decarbonisation agenda would be required in respect of the upgrading of existing routes / installing new routes, repairing/replacing sea defences and sand removal operations  

 

 Members then debated the petition.

 

Thereafter, it was moved by Councillor Moncur, seconded by Councillor Cummins and

 

RESOLVED:That:

 

(1)

the lead petitioner be thanked for submitting and presenting the petition to the Council;

 

(2)

the terms of the petition be noted; and

 

(3)

it be noted that the Council will give due consideration to the points raised in the petition and in the email from the petitioner to all members in support of the petition and any points raised in the future by the Seafront Residents’ Action Group.  

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: