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Formby Parish Council claim Corporate Manslaughter over the village trees.

The Formby Parish Council meeting on Tuesday 4th September at Formby Library saw a large group of residents attend being very concerned about the future of the trees in Formby Village which are due to be chopped down by Sefton Council on 4th October. Parish Councillors have said that Sefton Council have lied to them and called it 'Corporate Manslaughter'.

Sefton Council are saying that the trees are dying and are a health and safety hazard. Formby Parish Council paid a tree expert back in February to examine the trees and his findings were that the trees were healthy and should not be cut down. Sefton Council claim that they have a report saying the opposite but nobody has seen this report. Parish Councillors called Sefton Council liars. Cllr Maria Bennett of Formby Parish Council said: "At the Sefton Council meeting they were telling us what they were going to do and when they were going to do it. The senior officer had no idea what had taken place in Formby in February, he had no idea that there were hundreds of signatures and emails, no idea about the six trees coming down, he was completely in the dark."

"We have never been given the opportunity to put into place any Remedial works. I always said I would stand by our independent Report and I’m sure the Parish Council will as well. The full report that Sefton Council claim to have from their independent tree specialist has still not been seen and I do not think that the report will ever come, in fact we don’t think it has ever been written. I personally fully support the residents and think we should be given the option to put a tree surgeon up into the tree which they have not allowed us to do yet. They should grant us that at least." Cllr Bob McCann of Formby Parish Council said: "The tree specialist that Sefton Council have used is in fact a person who works for the council contractor who takes the trees down, that’s what he gets paid for!"

"What annoyed me was the officer in charge of the trees wasn’t open for discussion regarding other options such as making the pits bigger or injecting into the roots to revamp the trees, which has been done in other areas. The Parish Council will stand by our independent report but the report was only from ground level. The tree management officer in Sefton Council is undermining what our man has said when the truth is that our man is somebody who other councils actually employ to go around and assess the trees and also he did actually do the trees for the royal family. He knows what he is talking about." Cllr Maria Bennett said: "Everything was so negative in the meeting with Sefton Council. The Parish Council offered to raise money to have remedial works done. What annoyed me was when Sefton Council said that they have no budget for maintaining trees but they do have a budget for cutting trees down! Sefton Council say that the trees are in decline but I say, 'well we would all be in decline if someone didn’t water and feed us. We would all be gone!' They say there is no budget to maintain the trees and that they would plant a replacement, which I call a twig by the way, then 15 years later what do they do? They will go and pull the twig down because they can’t maintain it! It’s false economy. They should be looking after the trees."

"It is actually corporate manslaughter! We’ve got a huge battle on our hands and I personally stand by our independent tree specialist reports. We could get our specialist to go up inside the tree and get another independent report for for that. Sefton Council haven’t got a report because they will not show it to anyone, They have given a date to start the works on of 4th October so this would have to be done very quickly."

"Please be prepared on the day scheduled to cut them down, after last time, Sefton Council will call the police or Sefton Security to lock anyone up that stands in their way. You can’t stand still and block the highway but you can keep walking around the tree so that they can’t cut the trees down. Please be aware that they could take you away but believe me, I will be in the cell with you!"

The conclusion to the 7.1 agenda on the Formby Village trees was decided. Secretary, Claire Banks said: "We need to contact Sefton Council to inform them that we will be obtaining a further survey of the trees by allowing our specialist to go up inside the tree to assess the decay and suspected rot in the crown of the tree and to see what steps can be taken to further the life of the trees."

Many residents attended the meeting and were all furious with Sefton Council. Resident, Nigel Ledger Lomas said: “It is true that I thought the tree battle was put to bed in February. Once you cut down 100 year old tree, you can’t replace it we should do everything we can to save them. It’s not over until it’s over! “ Resident Kate Brown said: “I'm having a déjà vu here after protesting last time, I think they have a bit of a cheek claiming health and safety when an independent expert says that the trees can be saved. “ John Phillips of Formby civic society said: "The trees are a part of the fabric and heritage of Formby. Do we have to take the trees down? It's people who don’t live here that are the people who want to take the trees down. I understand that Sefton Council have had 45% of cuts but Sefton Council have made the wrong decision this time, they are not telling the truth about the trees, all they need is thinning and pruning! This is a con! “

There is a friendly meeting on Saturday 8th of September from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Chapel Lane in Formby Village next to the trees. If you want to help keep our trees, please come to the village and support us, we need as many people as possible to attend.

Dont forget to sign the petition and please share it on your social media pages as well, thankyou.

Please can everyone get behind the campaign to retain these irreplaceable trees. Follow on the Facebook go to Save our 'Formby Village' Trees and please

Don't forget to sign the petition HERE

Sefton Council have now issued a statement saying that they are removing TWO trees in on Chapel Lane in Formby Village starting from 4th October.

There has been a lot of opposition to the council chopping down our trees since they decided to take them down in February this year. Hundreds of residents gathered in the village to protest against the chop. Formby Parish Council commissioned a tree survey by an expert Aboriculturalist who said the trees can be saved and thrive, posing no threat to the safety of village shoppers with the appropriate tree care and remedial pruning. Sefton Council then went ahead and chopped one tree down on 5th March this year. Everyone thought the other trees were safe until now.

The report is still not enough proof for Sefton Council who issued the following statement yesterday, 29th August.

Sefton Council:

Works are due to start to remove two dying trees from Chapel Lane in Formby. The unavoidable works are to be carried out in order to ensure public safety as both trees have been identified as unsafe. All options, including the possibility of remedial works, have been explored but none of the options identified would immediately reduce the significant health and safety risk the dying trees are causing. In order to ensure the public highway is kept safe for both pedestrians and motorists the two trees concerned must now be removed. A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “Sadly due to the extent of decline of both trees, any remedial works would have no effect on the longevity of them. “As the highway authority, we have a statutory duty of care to make sure Chapel Lane is a safe area and we have taken the decision to approve the removal of these trees. “The tree in front of Cassidy’s greengrocers is dying and no amount of maintenance works will improve the trees health, while the tree outside Boots is suffering from a considerable amount of decay within the crown leading to major structural concern. “Both trees have the potential to drop considerable limbs in windy conditions and if left would pose an unacceptable Health and Safety risk to users of the public highway. “Formby Parish Council and Ward Councillors are fully aware of this decision and, despite some public comments, significant and proactive talks have taken place between all parties.” Work to remove both trees are expected to take place between October 4 and October 15. Chapel Lane will be closed to traffic while these works are taking place. Diversions will be in place via Elbow Lane, Duke Street, Three Tuns Lane and vice versa.

Please can everyone get behind the campaign to retain these irreplaceable trees. Follow on the Facebook go to Save our 'Formby Village' Trees and please

Don't forget to sign the petition HERE

Statement from Derek Baxter of Formby Parish Council regarding the trees.

Derek Baxter of Formby Parish Council said: "I am horrified that once again Sefton Council Officers are determined to remove the mature Horse Chestnut trees from Formby Village. Having removed the tree from outside of Waterfields Bakery earlier this year, now the threat is to the trees outside of Boots Chemist and Cassidy’s Fruit and Veg Shop."

"Sefton Council are persisting in their assertion that these trees pose a threat to the general public. To address “project fear” I think it should be stated quite clearly that most agree that these trees cannot be left to decline as they are, as they will pose a threat to the safety of the public if not addressed. Although I speak for myself as a Formby Parish Councillor but not on this occasion for Formby Parish Council as a whole, I think my colleagues of all denominations would agree that something needs to be done and that Sefton Council Officers are correct to flag these trees up as in need of attention."

"At this point Sefton Borough Council and my follow FRAG (Formby Resident Action Group) Councillors part company. Formby Parish Council employed an eminent tree expert in Mr Bruce Hatton to asses and advise on whether the trees in Formby Village pose a threat to the public and what actions would be necessary to maintain these trees to standard acceptable for trees on the public highway. In his report Mr Hatton recommends that the trees currently identified for removal by Sefton Council can be retained subject to a course of remedial pruning and attention to the tree pits."

"There is a willingness amongst Formby Parish Councillors to provide funding for the necessary actions to preserve these trees, although I can only speak for FRAG Parish Councillors, I think this support extends to others."

"Sefton Council Officers appear to be suggesting that as the liability for any failure of the trees or claim for damages against Sefton Council cannot be transferred to Formby Parish Council should an injury occur due to the failure of the structure of the trees, then they cannot accept our experts report. This resulted in them claiming that because Formby Parish Council can’t take ownership of the trees the Parish Council’s Report cannot be accepted."

This is nonsense as Bruce Hatton, the expert employed by the Parish Council has advised Lancaster City Council, Cambridshire County Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council, Corby Borough Council, Christchurch College Oxford, and the Royal household. Without deriding Sefton tree officers, that's quite a CV, he has also worked for the Highways Agency, the Environment Agency and gives expert witness to planning inquiries. All of these entities have been implementing his recommendations without having to transfer ownership or liability."

Formby Parish Council have successfully challenged Sefton Council Officers and have provided a funding stream to allow these beautiful mature Horse Chestnut Trees to be preserved, to remove them in the face of this is simply an act of public vandalism."

Please can everyone get behind the campaign to retain these irreplaceable trees. Follow on the Facebook go to Save our 'Formby Village' Trees and please

Don't forget to sign our petition HERE


This is the tree that had to be cut down in our village

Original Story in March 2018:

Tree Experts finally agree on a way forward with Sefton Council regarding the Chapel Lane Trees in Formby.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “As promised, a discussion has now taken place involving Sefton Council’s own internal tree experts and the author of the independent report into the condition of trees in Formby Village to consider the inspection findings in more detail."

“As there are still some differences in expert opinions, we have come to a mutual short term position. The experts agree that one tree needs to be felled and we will undertake essential health and safety work on two others involving the removal and pruning of dead branches. All trees will be inspected in Spring time to determine the next steps. We will however monitor the impact of any adverse weather in case the trees deteriorate more quickly. This work will start from Monday, March 5."

“It is due to continuous Government funding cuts that the Council only has budget for health and safety work on trees. This was an explicit Council decision as part of a package of measures to balance the budget while prioritising the services that protect the most vulnerable and provide essential services to our communities."

“Therefore, unfortunately we are not able to implement any of the wider recommendations in the report commissioned by the Parish Council. We simply do not have the budget to undertake this type of works and the practical implications of changes to footpaths and winter gritting would need to be carefully assessed."

“We do however recognise that we still need to finalise the longer term prospects for these trees and we will continue to work with Formby Parish Council and the Ward Councillors to consider the implications of the wider recommendations including funding options.”

Don't forget to sign the petition HERE

A Poem by Formby Historian Joan Rimmer about the Formby Village Trees...

Our Village Trees

For a hundred years they've stood there,

Majestic and supreme,

Enhancement to our Village,

A true arboreal dream.

Through two world wars they flourished,

Growing stronger every day,

Lovingly trimmed and tended

By the powers of yesterday.

Then suddenly the bombshell

From the pressent powers that be

Who said the trees were dying,

They must cut down every tree.

"Oh, no they're not" we shouted,

"They've flowerd every year,

Borne conkers for the children,

And our love for them is clear".

Dead branches just need pruning

And they'll live for years and years,

Such haste, no consultation

Aroused the public's fears.

With just one day to save them

The people all appeared,

In pouring rain we stood there

and stopped what we had feared.

The next day men came back again

And also so did we

And tried for an injuction

And surrounded every tree.

There'd been no propper survey,

So we got a short reprieve

And a statement from the council

That all their men must leave.

And now we wait and wonder

At the folly of it all,

And hope and prey our trees will stay,

So proud and strong and tall.

We Know there is no danger

If the dead wood's cut away,

They'll thrive and grow and blossom

For untold years each May.

They'll be a splendid legacy

For a future still unborn,

Nature's lasting treasures

One every waking morn.

By Joan Rimmer (01/02/18)

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