Freshfield Level Crossing MP Questions Government Minister

Bill Esterson MP has questioned the Minister for Transport about steps taken to improve the safety of the level crossing at Fishermans Path.

Here is the question and the answer as posted on the They Work For You website (Source:

Freshfield level crossing safety question

"What assessment he has made of the need for safety improvements at the Fisherman's Path rail crossing in Formby?"


"Level Crossing safety is a matter for Network Rail, as the primary duty-holder for Britain’s railway infrastructure.

Network Rail have assessed Fisherman’s Path rail crossing in Formby and have implemented a number of safety improvements in the last year, including......."


Sefton Council: Formby Chapel Lane Trees update

Sefton Council has published the following statement about the future of the Chapel Lane trees.

Chapel Lane Trees Decision

Formby Chapel Lane Trees update

Sefton Council has agreed to let Formby Parish Council carry out pruning works on two dangerous trees set to be removed in Formby.

Last month Sefton Council wrote to the Parish Council asking for them to agree to a number of conditions that could halt the removal works taking place.

Most of these conditions have now been met regarding the two horse chestnut trees situated outside Cassidy’s and Boots in the village.

Despite an independent report carried out for the Parish Council highlighting how both trees are diseased with bleeding canker and the usual way of dealing with this is by felling the trees, the trees will remain for the time being.

At their own cost, the Parish Council is now planning pruning works in the hope of saving the two trees. Sefton Council will continue to monitor the situation of the two trees as the Council has an ongoing duty as a Highway Authority to ensure that the highway is safe.

Sefton Council had scheduled to remove the two diseased horse chestnuts due to the significant health and safety risk these dying trees pose and before they become structurally unstable.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said:

“While we strongly believe both trees pose too much of a risk giving the impending winter weather, we earmarked them to be removed for the safety of our communities.

“However, after ongoing discussions with Formby Parish Council, they have agreed to a number of conditions where they will carry out maintenance work to mitigate the immediate risk and try and save the trees.

“Our priority is and always will be the safety of residents and visitors to Formby and we will continue to monitor this situation.”


Village Trees Latest Report

Formby Parish Council has received and published a copy of the latest Arboriculturalist's report on the state of the Horse Chestnut trees threatened with felling by Sefton Council.

To download and view the report use the link posted on the Parish Council Facebook page:

I have to confess to a little confusion regarding the outcome. The consultant is clear both of the trees concerned are not a risk to the public at the moment, each tree is;

currently structurally at a point where there is no risk to the general public.

Good news on first reading but, he also notes the trees are diseased, they exhibit signs of Bleeding Horse Canker. He writes;

Horse Chestnut Outside Boots Chemist
There is some exudate and minor superficial bark cracking associated with Bleeding Canker in several locations.


Horse Chestnut Tree Outside Cassidy’s shop
There is Bleeding Canker present, evident by brown staining and exudate.

Horse Chestnut Disease
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In a later section of the report, there is a section that describes the nature and history of the Bleeding Canker infection in this country;

Until recently, the disease was considered to be uncommon and had only been reported from the south of England (Strouts and Winter, 2000).
Reports from 2003 indicate it has spread as far north as Glasgow.
Trees of all ages have been found with the disease, but the impact is most striking on large, mature trees. 

And he concludes this section with the following paragraph;


Removal of an infected tree by felling to grounding level, grinding to remove the stump and disposal of all infected arisings, preferably by burning.

I've added screengrabs of extracts from the report below, but I recommend you read the full report for yourself. You may also find the Forest Research website a useful and additional resource, the relevant page is here:

Note Forest Research is;

Great Britain’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research (

Their advice on the management of diseased trees and eventual disposal of them is quite sobering and demanding in the care needed to avoid the further transmission of the disease.

They also add this disappointing comment;

Our surveys and research reveal that where owners have replaced mature diseased trees with young horse chestnuts, some of the replanted trees have shown signs of infection within a few years. We therefore do not recommend replanting with the same species.

Formby may eventually have to accept that the sight of Horse Chestnut trees in our village will be a thing of the past.

Let's hope the disease does not infect other Horse Chestnut trees in the rest of Formby. Whatever the case, it's incumbent on both Sefton and Formby Parish Councils to look ahead and perhaps see this issue as an opportunity to renew the village and find opportunities to plant more trees throughout Formby.

Formby Parish Council first knew of this issue in 2011 (See: Village Trees Statement, seven years have now passed, is this the final point of no return?)

In summary, the trees are considered structurally safe at the moment, in the view of the Formby Parish Council Consultant, but his report confirms they are diseased and according to all the experts will need felling eventually.

In the meantime, they are likely to be a source for the spread of the disease because of the Chapel Lane location, lots of traffic movement and the unwitting transmission of the disease by conker collectors.

If you've taken one and planted it in your garden, you might want to uproot it.




Sefton Latest on Formby Village Trees

Sefton Council has published this statement regarding the future of the trees in Formby Village.

Horse Chestnut

Further discussions have taken place between Sefton Council and Formby Parish Council regarding two dangerous trees in Formby village due to be removed next month.

Both trees, situated outside Cassidy’s and Boots, will be removed between October 4 and 15 after they were declared unsafe and dangerous.

However, Sefton Council has written to the Parish Council asking for them to agree to a number of conditions that could halt the works taking place.

This includes the Parish Council using an independent arboriculturalist to inspect the trees and provide a written statement saying both trees can be retained and pose no threat to the public or to property in the short term.

A written statement would also be needed to indemnify the Council for any costs or claims that may arise should any part of these trees cause damage to people or property during the winter period and beyond.

Formby Parish Council would need to cover all costs for the written statements and works and any commitment would need to be received by the Council by October 1, 2018.

In addition all works required to make the trees safe must be carried out by October 15.

If this deadline is not met the scheduled removal will take place between October 4-15.

The two horse-chestnuts are scheduled to be removed due to the significant health and safety risk the dying trees are causing.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said:

“Our priority is and always will be the safety of residents and visitors to Formby.

“We believe both trees pose too much of a risk giving the impending winter weather and have earmarked them to be removed between October 4-15.

“However, following further discussions with Formby Parish Council, we have written to them with a number of conditions to try and draw a conclusion to this matter.

“We have given them until October 1 to meet these conditions otherwise the scheduled work to remove them will take place later that month.”

Sefton Council has published a number of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the removal of these tress and to view it, click here.