What happened at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee (Wirral Council) 7th September 2021?
By John Brace (Editor)
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)
First publication date: Wednesday 8th September 2021, 11:25 AM (BST).
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Yesterday’s public meeting of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, held now in person at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton saw plenty of engagement during the meeting at question time with local residents, many of whom had concerns about Hoylake Beach.
Environmental issues can be very contentious, with passionately held views.
In a nutshell, the situation and brief history regarding Hoylake Beach as far as I understand it can be summarised like this. In 2019 there was a lot of media coverage and a backlash against the use of a herbicide (a chemical that kills weeds) by Wirral Council on Hoylake Beach. The way it had been used, the closure of the beach and the visual impact as well as the impact on flora and fauna was quite understandably a topic of both public and political debate and concern.
Beyond Hoylake, Wirral has around 25 miles of coastline and during the pandemic, people have valued quiet open spaces for exercise. For those of us born on the Wirral, grown up here or have lived here some time, the vast and beautiful coastline is one unique feature of Wirral that give us a sense of place ranging from the nature reserve of Hilbre Island (discussed later in the same meeting), which is just a bit further down from Hoylake to the popularity of West Kirby and New Brighton with tourists and the many other places I haven’t mentioned.
There are many reasons why those who live on the Wirral want these places generally kept in a natural state but also managed appropriately so that they can be enjoyed and appreciated by local residents and visitors.
Wirral Council is however developing a new beach management plan for Hoylake and its Have Your Say website was mentioned at the meeting. Hoylake Beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as detailed above two years ago Wirral Council have stopped raking the beach and stopped using glyphosate on it.
The way that approach has become a contentious political issue is that a number of residents of Hoylake disagree with how Wirral Council is managing the beach since 2019 and want the amenity sandy beach restored.
Wirral Council and of course councillors are normally there to reflect residents’ wishes, but the position of Wirral Council is that it would be wrong (for a number of reasons) to change the current approach to managing the beach, but that a beach management plan will be consulted on.
A number of years ago (2016) I realised the tendency on environmental issues, even when a compromise is agreed for people to play the man and not the ball and for years of rancour to carry on until matters are resolved with some finality if a decision is perceived to be unfair or unjust. Our official policy is therefore one of non-interference, but I will finish with this somewhat (for me) emotively written warning.
Humanity is doomed to extinction (or if not extinction a large change in global population accompanied by the unrest this will cause) unless changes are made. This society values and prizes individualism. Although how individuals live their lives does have a wider impact on everybody collectively, the thinking, mindset and quality of political debate has got to really change gear if we collectively as a species are to get through what is going to be a very difficult period to come.
You can watch (nearly the whole meeting) on my video of it at the start of this piece.
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