Sefton Council’s Southport Area Committee have taken a strong stance over plans to fell woodland and introduce sheep pens in the Birkdale & Ainsdale Nature Reserve.
Following a short presentation by Ainsdale resident Professor Brian Moss of Liverpool University, which questioned both the efficacy and the legality of some of the proposed measures planned to be undertaken by the Council’s Coast and Countryside division, and numerous questions from local residents, the Area Committee agreed unanimously to support a motion proposed by Lib Dem Councillor Tony Dawson whose Dukes Ward contains most of the reserve:
“This Area Committee recognises the concerns of local people over proposed methods of management for local dunes. It calls upon the Cabinet Member – Children, Schools, Families and Leisure to ensure a full, informed, public discussion of the issues involved before progressing sheep pens and block felling of woodland.”
Earlier, the Committee declined to support a motion from the Conservatives which called for an outright ban on the proposed activities. Councillor Dawson reminded members that, much as he would like them to have the power to take these decisions, they were not the Southport Council, with full decision-making powers, only an advisory committee. Councillor Dawson is the former co-Chair of the Southport Borough Campaign.
“If the public wanted the Area Committee to be effective the members have to make reasoned requests to the appropriate Sefton Cabinet member who had the power to direct the council officers,” he said.
“The Area Committee still had a duty to take decisions based upon careful consideration of all the evidence and clearly, in the absence of any appropriate council officers at the meeting and the lack of detailed reports on the issues at stake, the Area Committee could not make such a decision at this time. “
“Members can, though, take an active interest and make sure they are present if the Cabinet Member or his Scrutiny Committee make a call for evidence and hold public hearings as the Committee requests.”
Councillor Dawson has already written to the Cabinet member for Leisure, Councillor Ian Moncur, informing him of the Committee’s request for public discussion of the evidence. “It is a serious matter when someone as qualified as Emeritus Professor Moss makes allegations of inappropriate and unlawful actions,” he said.
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