MP, Police and Metro Mayor met with National Trust re - parking and antisocial behaviour issues
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson enjoyed a walkabout at Formby’s National Trust with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, discussing visitor numbers, traffic and parking issues, antisocial behaviour and crime.
They met with NT staff and volunteers and enjoyed a walk in the woods and on the beach.
Mr Esterson praised the volunteers on site, and those who attend to do regular litter picks, the Beach Angels. Staff reported that they felt visitor numbers had declined at peak times due to signs on Formby bypass directing visitors to Ainsdale instead, where there is more visitor parking available. Although more visitors were travelling to Ainsdale, Mr Esterson said on-road parking near Formby beach was still impacting hugely on residents. He welcomes a tow-away zone proposed by Labour-led Sefton Council.
Mr Esterson has written to Sefton Council’s chief executive regarding the Public Space Protection Order for the beach, which bans alcohol and fires. It is thought this is currently being renewed.
Large visitor numbers have resulted in several incidents this summer and over previous years, including a serious stabbing incident in May when three men were hospitalised. Police dealt with unofficial raves and parties, as well as parking and traffic issues. Residents regularly report more low-level antisocial behaviour, such as visitors relieving themselves in gardens and even parking and picnicking on residents’ drives, and throwing litter onto lawns.
Mr Esterson said: “It was a great opportunity to show Emily and Steve our wonderful coastline and speak to NT staff and volunteers. They do great work in conservation and offer fantastic leisure opportunities. They told me about their plans to build a new car park to replace the current provision which is sadly being eroded by the sea. Unfortunately the number of spaces overall will not increase significantly however I am working with them, the police and Sefton Council to try to address the parking and traffic issues, including a tow-away zone which I think will be very effective. New parking restrictions may also be needed. Thank you to the police who take a very proactive role now in directing traffic away from the area once the car parks are full. Antisocial behaviour is a huge issue for local residents and is often linked to drinking alcohol, which should be banned at the beach. A meeting with Sefton Council and elected representatives is due to take place this month to discuss all these issues and potential solutions.”
Mr Esterson said the police had done really good work in addressing some of the issues, against a backdrop of a decade of cuts which saw Merseyside Police forced to make £110m of savings. The number of police officers fell by 1,120, the impact of which was felt in every area of the Force, particularly neighbourhood policing.
However, in 2020/21, 500 new officers were recruited and the new Labour Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell is currently overseeing the recruitment of a further 160 police officers this year, bringing the total number up to 660.
Mr Esterson said: “Our Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell has brought more police officers to the area which will help address the impact of a decade of cuts from the Conservative government.”
PIC: Bill Esterson MP, Emily Spurrell and Steve Rotheram speak with members of the public and volunteers at National Trust Formby