Tonight’s Council meeting at Bootle Town Hall is set to debate the issue of sheep pens and felling on the Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserve.
A motion submitted by Conservative group deputy leader Cllr Terry Jones is seeking “an urgent review of the Council’s current coast management arrangements, despite the fact that Sefton Council’s Scrutiny and Review Committee (vice chair: Cllr Terry Jones) endorsed a review of the management of Southport’s foreshore less than six months ago. A request for action on the management of the Local Castal nature reserve, proposed by Southport’s Lib Dem councillor Tony Dawson, and agreed unanimously by the Southport Area Committee in July, is presently awaiting a response from Sefton MBC Cabinet Member Ian Moncur, who has recently taken over responsibility for the Council’s policy in this area.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of Southport councillors met with senior staff from English Nature to discuss the management of the Coast and neighbouring Dune areas. At this meeting, they discussed the thorough review which is now being undertaken by English Nature of the “Higher Level Stewardship Agreement” with Sefton Council which covers management of the Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserve.

Lib Dem councillors Sue McGuire, Tony Dawson, Pat Keith and Haydn Preece (pictured) who represent the three coastal wards in Southport, from Marshside to Ainsdale, all attended this meeting with English Nature.

Their proposed amendment for tonight’s Sefton Council meeting reads as follows:

“The Council

(1) Recognises the many concerns raised by a significant number of Southport residents, regarding the management of the Ainsdale and Birkdale Nature Reserve and Dunes.

(2) Notes the resolution passed unanimously by the Southport Area Committee in July 2012: “That this 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.”

(3) In the light of that resolution:

(a) welcomes the review of the Higher Level Stewardship Agreement currently undertaken by English Nature;

(b) notes the meeting that was held between English Nature and Southport councillors on Wednesday 22 August 2012;

(c) in particular, welcomes English Nature’s intention to hold subsequent meetings with members of the public, including interest groups.

(4) Also notes the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Regeneration and Environmental Services) which considered the subject of Southport Beach Vegetation at its meeting on 20 March 2012 and resolved to accept that:

(a) “maintaining a beach free of vegetation in this location is not a viable option”;

(b) “the beach will still be there but would be further seaward as this length of shoreline is accreting due to the influence of the Ribble estuary” and

(c) “to maintain the amenity of the beach we have to accept that the beach is moving seaward and work with natural processes to promote sand dune in preference to saltmarsh formation to the rear of the beach.”