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February 2018

Village Trees: More Details From Formby Parish Council


It's increasingly clear that residents of Formby, in general, were caught out by surprise and some anger by the apparently sudden appearance of tree surgeons to fell village trees. The ensuing hasty confusing response by both Sefton Council and Formby Parish Council members have added to this state of affairs.

I have already written previously that Parish Council members have known of the issue since 2012. This includes three members of Sefton Council who are also joint members of both Councils. Despite this fore-knowledge, very little information seems to have been shared with and discussed in detail with the public or Village Businesses. 

I have found this extract from the minutes of the meeting held on 5 December which was followed by the publication of a statement, also posted previously, which helps to clarify the information made available to our Parish Council members.


95.0 Chairman’s Report

Cllr Bennett read out a report prepared by the Chairman, Cllr Coles(Absent from the meeting)


6. Last of all, I was able to enlist the help of Andrea Watts, Director responsible for Neighbourhoods at Sefton, in moving ahead with the problem of the chestnut trees in Chapel Lane. 

As you know this has been on the radar for a long time, and Sefton have stated their concerns are primarily those of health and safety of both pedestrians and the properties close by.

I am assured that every possible effort has been made to save them, but when you looked closely at them in August, it was clear that they were diseased and stressed. 

The plan therefore is to fell them in January after all the necessary notices have been made public, and to plant new trees in late March. I have submitted to you my draft press statement for your comments, which can be revised and released once Council has had the opportunity to consider to resolution this evening. 

(Note: Cllr Bennett presented the report on behalf of Cllr Coles)

My Comment

I'm at a loss to explain, why if this is a longstanding issue, the action wasn't taken sooner, imagine the potential harm if a tree had fallen or shed a large branch during a Friday market, let alone an ordinary day of the week.

Secondly, why is it now found necessary to conduct a Bat Survey, shouldn't our elected representatives thought of all the appropriate checks first? If not, why not? Then, if there are Bats, what steps if any, can be taken to counter any dangers the trees might present. Bats or 'people and buildings' might be the only choice.

Finally, if tree removal is necessary, surely this should be a time for careful planning for the renewal of the village landscape. A threat to the trees may equally prove an opportunity.

Here's my 'starter list for ten+'.

  • CCTV will be better.
  • More space available
  • Better seating street furniture.
  • An improved Xmas lights scheme
  • Get financial assistance from Sefton for compensation and renewal
  • Realign the road, pavement, shared space.
  • Remember Champs Elysees as a space for cafe life.
  • Edwardian Canopies
  • Bandstand, stage, podium?
  • Pop up services, visitors, souvenirs, information, toilets.
  • AND if each household raised a tree from an acorn or a conker and planted it, Formby would have around 10,000 new trees. ( I've already got around 10)

This might an opportunity for our village centre to become a high street with a future.

Tree Felling: A Threat or an Opportunity? What do you think?


Village Tree Felling On Hold

Sefton Council's Tree Officer has written to local Councillors stating the following.

This follows a question regarding bat's in the trees, the work has been temporarily suspended for a bat survey to be completed.


"Dear Cllrs and Parish Councillors,

As per outcome of today there will be a bat survey undertaken tomorrow on the three Horse Chestnut trees planned for removal. I am writing as I wanted to let you all know that two members of staff from the contractor (idverde) will be climbing the trees and placing the equipment supplied by the professional independent bat expert in the trees. They will not be undertaking any cutting and we would appreciate it if people on the ground could give them space to undertake these works safely.

I did say today that no contractors would be on site tomorrow hence this email clarifying things – I reiterate no cutting of the trees will be taking place tomorrow 31st January 2018.

Sefton Council Tree Sefton:


Village Trees Statement

'Sadly we cannot stop age and time taking its toll, but we can provide the funds for healthy replacements, and ensure that future generations will benefit from their presence, as we have in the past'

Chairman of the Formby Parish Council

image from www.formby.todayHorse Chestnut trees have been part of our Village and a feature of Chapel Lane for almost 100 years and it is extremely difficult to know how to break the news they finally have to be removed.

The Tree and Woodland Team at Sefton Council have been monitoring their condition for a long time now and for the past year, they have watched very carefully, as the images taken in August show. Residents will have noticed that the leaves began to fall at the end of July when they showed severe ‘distress’. The conclusion has been reached that because of their age, health and structural condition they should be cut down and replaced.

It is the responsibility of the Sefton Council to keep us safe from dead branches falling on to pedestrians or causing damage to properties close by and the recent bad weather has given greater concern.

In recent years the Parish and Ward Councillors have provided funding for new trees, and last year six were replaced on the corner with Halsall and Three Tuns Lanes.

The Parish Council has therefore set aside more funds to replace all five as soon as the conditions are right in the New Year.

After their monthly meeting, the Chairman of the Parish Council reported that, sadly we cannot stop age and time taking its toll, but we can provide the funds for healthy replacements, and ensure that future generations will benefit from their presence, as we have in the past.

The trees have been there for a very long time, they were once in front gardens and so the contractors will have a delicate job removing the old roots, preparing pits deep enough for the new ones and making sure we don’t disturb any services underground.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said:

“The trees identified for removal have been showing signs of decline in recent years and if left will pose an unacceptable Health and Safety Risk to users of the highway. The tree works will be undertaken in the New Year and new planting will follow. Leaflets will be sent out to businesses and residents directly affected by the works in due course and we will be in constant dialogue with Formby Parish Council.”

The appropriate public notices will be prepared and we do hope residents will understand and support the plan.

(Source: Formby Parish Council website, accessed 29 January 2018 in 'Latest News' extract from the minutes 5 December included below)

93.0 To discuss and approve the following:

93.1 To approve expenditure for replacement trees.

Cllrs considered the motion and agreed to amend the amount to £4000.

It was resolved to approve expenditure of £4000 for replacement trees, to include 5 trees on Chapel Lane.
(Presumably in the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, Cllr M Bennet presided) 
Members in attendance : Maria Bennett (Vice-Chairman), Derek Baxter, Dawn Brodie, Roy Broadbent, Bob McCann, Dave Irving, Bernie Prescott. Frank Stinner. Paul Wiencke.
Absent members: Cllrs Coles, Dutton, Hearn, Peace, Price, and Williams.

Note: The observant may notice that it appears that the meeting was attended by the predominantly Fragoff group, while Conservative members and one independent were absent.



Village Trees For The Axe

Sefton Council has announced when they're going to fell the large Chestnut trees in Formby Village centre and trim others.

Village Trees 2aVital tree works are to begin later this month along Chapel Lane, Formby.

The street tree management, which begins on Monday January 29, is expected to take around one week to complete.

Chapel Lane will be temporarily closed to vehicles while the works take place each day. The road will reopen to traffic during the evenings.

The works will also allow for the planting of seven new trees before the end of March 2018, with replacement trees expected to be a mix of species including non-fruiting horse chestnut.

A study of the Chapel Lane trees by Sefton’s Parks and Greenspaces team have found that five existing trees are in need of pruning works, while five horse chestnut trees were found to have severely declined in recent years.

They must be removed before they pose a significant health and safety risk.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said:

“The condition of the five large horse chestnut trees has declined significantly over the past few years and sadly they will not recover.

“We have decided to remove them before they pose a more significant risk to the public

“It is always regrettable when we have to remove trees, especially such large, prominent trees that have been part of the landscape for many years.

“Sefton Council, along with ward and parish councillors, have secured funding to replace the trees.

“Seven new trees will be planted before the end of March 2018.

“We apologise in advance for any disturbance and inconvenience while the works are taking place.”

What do you think of this decision?

And if the trees have got to go, do you have suggestions about further enhancements in the village landscape?

Select the comment link below, or email or use the Chat link in the righthand column.



Who Will Win at Formby?

Ever wondered why Golf is such a favourite game? It always defeated me when I was younger, but this video has reintroduced me to the joys of the game.

Four players go 'head to head' in a pairs competition on Formby Golf Course.

The sun is shining, and it's a close game, the final three holes will decide the outcome. Who are you going to support?


I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, played in the right spirit, by skilled players, and a story, skilfully told, I can understand now why golfers play the game.

To learn more about the game and the people involved select: