« February 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

Formby: Perfect Storm

Yesterday the Government's chief scientist Professor John Beddington warned that world upheavals will come to a head in 2030. A perfect storm of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources will combine to produce 'chaos'.

Regular readers will know that I have written about peak oil and climate change in other entries, this oncoming crisis needs to be addressed now. Our local strategies and plans should begin to reflect a concern for these issues and be setting out action plans that account for these threats.

For more on this look up yesterday's Guardian Newspaper or visit this blog for further coverage.

The latest

Last night I attended the usual monthly meeting of the finance committee. This is always held in the Bier House of St. Peter's Church in Freshfield. It is a very pleasant place to meet and can accommodate up to a dozen people, though so far, no member of the public has chosen to attend. By the way, it was reported at the meeting, that Sefton have agreed to add a gold finishing stripe to the planters recently installed in the village centre, for more on this see an earlier entry.

This morning I held my normal surgery in the Swimming pool cafe. As the weather improves the numbers in there seem to be increasing.  The Pilates class was very well attended and is one of many activities centred on the space. Outside I noticed my fellow Crown Green Bowler, Jim Wilson eagerly leading a small group of enthusiastic Boules players.

Finally a word of commendation for the outside cover of today's edition of The Formby Times, it is especially focussed on the 'Shop Locally' campaign.

Formby Trees

TreeImage I recently wrote to the Sefton MBC tree officer on behalf of some Formby residents, I'm pleased to report that I received a reply yesterday with answers to my questions.

I am forwarding the email to the residents concerned for their information and consideration, once they have had time to reflect I'll share the results with you on the blog.

I am grateful to the officer concerned for the detailed attention given to my questions.

In the future?

In 1965 I went to a College in Twickenham to train as a teacher. I chose to study, drama, sociology and education studies. One of my friends eventually went on to much bigger and better things, as Pete Postlethwaite, he has carved out a unique career in film and theatre. His latest role is in a film called 'The Age of Stupid'. As a subscriber to the blog, 'Transition Culture', I received a link to the film's trailer.

On YouTube, the trailer is accompanied with the following text:
The Age of Stupid is a 90-minute film about climate change, set in the future. Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking back at archive footage from 2007 and asking: why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Regular readers will know of my interest in this issue, we know that climate change and peak oil are occurring, the question - what are we doing locally to prepare for the changes they will bring?

It's the little things.....

Planters Earlier this week I read an article in the Guardian Newspaper, it is the lack of response or the poor quality of response, which residents receive when they contact their Local Councils, that causes so much criticism of local government.  In an earlier posting this week I explained I had written to the trees section using the email link given on Sefton MBC's web site, I have yet to receive an acknowledgement, now I know what the newspaper meant. I will be writing again to remind the 'trees section'.

Even when Sefton do respond it can take months, for instance, Formby Parish Council ordered new planters some time ago, well they've arrived. They were put in place over the weekend and now they wait to be filled with appropriate plants.

Fine I can hear you say, but as someone said to me in the village about an hour ago, "why don't they have a gold trim?" my answer was short and simple, "We ordered planters with gold trim but Sefton have installed one's without!"

Contrasts To make the point even clearer, here's one of the bollards that were installed in the first phase of the village enhancement project, it's next to the bin. Notice the gold trim?  But I can now hear you say, "What about that bin, it's ugly and in fact it's under one of the bike stands". Exactly, it's been like that for months or even more, the original black cover with all the trimmings has disappeared but knowing Sefton it's going to take just as long if ever to replace it.

It's the remoteness of Metropolitan District Councils that replaced local councils in 1974 that give rise to public complaints.

That's why I'm an enthusiast for local Parish Councils, the village enhancement scheme was our idea and is only happening because we're working hard to get it completed. "Oh and yes",  I will ask "Can we have a proper bin back please?"

Reflections on the Rural Issues Forum

After a busy day yesterday, filled with meetings, I've only just begun to reflect on some of the ideas that were discussed in the Rural Issues Forum. The meeting was chaired by Alice Bradley, PCC Secretary in Rainford and a National Vice President of Young Farmers. Some residents may question the relevance of the work of this group to Formby, but it is a fact that 70+% of Sefton is green open and agricultural land.

Continue reading "Reflections on the Rural Issues Forum" »


Today and tomorrow will be busy days, filled in the main, with meetings. Tonight it is the usual monthly  meeting of the Parish Council, in my case there is an element of 'catching up' I missed the January and February meetings through illness in the first instance and family reasons in the case of February.

Notwithstanding these absences I have held most of my surgeries at the swimming pool cafe and attended a number of other meetings. Tomorrow I will be in the swimming pool cafe as usual and I look forward to meeting members of the public, after a while you begin to see familiar faces and it's pleasant to exchange a nod or a few words.

In the afternoon, I'm attending the inaugural meeting of a 'Rural Issues' Forum. This is a working group within the 'Church and the World' section of Liverpool Diocese and we will meet in St James House, in the shadow of Liverpool Cathedral. The main item on the agenda will involve a discussion on Food. It will raise a number of concerns including Fair trade, locally sourced foods, wastage and the wider issue of food supply against the background of climate change, the use of land and diminishing oil supply(see Peak Oil).

I suspect the huge increase in demand for allotments in Formby is a measure of the growing public awareness of this issue. I have found little evidence that this concern has or is being acted upon by the elected members of Sefton MBC.

Formby Trees

I was approached by two residents of Formby when I was in the village on Saturday morning. As a result of their concerns about the gradual and unexplained removal of trees in the streets of Formby I have written to Sefton MBC. My questions include:

Firstly does Sefton MBC possess an up to date record of the number of trees and species type in Formby Parks, open spaces and street verges?

If this is only an estimate, what is that number? Are there any details regarding the ages of these trees? In other words at what point generally are the trees in their life cycle and is it anticipated that there will be an increasing or decreasing need for replacement. I am aware that it has been reported that the trees in the village are diseased, how many are affected, what is the disease, can the disease be treated and with what sort of effect?

My letter goes on with a number of other comments and questions, if you'd like to see the full letter, write to me and ask for a copy.

If you've also got concerns on this issue pleases write to me using the email link in the right hand column.