Updated: Oct 21, 2021
This blog shows you an example of what we are up against, trying to get a council and councillors to listen our concerns.
Hoylake Beach Community wrote to Cllr Pat Cleary (Leader of the Green Party) on 8th October, to invite him to listen to our concerns about the ongoing spartina grass / salt marsh growing on Hoylake Beach. It was noted within this email that Cllr Cleary had sought advice from an unqualified representative of a pro-grass group. See images below.
Cllr. Cleary did not respond to us before the council meeting.
Cllr Cleary replied today (20/10) and declined our offer, two days after the council meeting and the motion being voted on.
Hoylake beach is a concern to the majority of residents and businesses in Hoylake, Meols and West Kirby. The residents deserve for their opinions to be listened to by elected councillors, especially as said councillors vote and are making decisions on behalf of 13,000 people living in Hoylake & Meols as to what happens to their public amenity - the beach.
By not seeking to understand another side of the ongoing beach debate - is not good enough for Wirral residents and voters.
Below are the three emails in chronological order. DO make a point of reading them, this blog is a long read but well worth it. Especially the email from HBC 19th October.
EMAIL 1: Initial email from HBC to Cllr. Clear on 8th October
I hope this finds you well?
We noticed your request for informed feedback on the Facebook Group - Hoylake Beach The Evidence, with regards to the motion put forward for the council meeting on the 18th.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue of Spartina with you, and were wondering if you would like to have a chat over a coffee locally perhaps? In West Kirby or Hoylake, whatever is preferable and convenient to you?
We feel our insight and knowledge with regards to Spartina and Hoylake beach would help to inform and aid you in any future discussions on the issue.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Hoylake Beach Community
EMAIL 2: Second email to Cllr. Cleary 19th Oct.
From: <email@example.com> Sent: 19 October 2021 01:05 To: Cleary, Pat. (Councillor) <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Hoylake Beach Community - Requests your help to achieve a compromise - Precedent set by North East Lincolnshire Council for Cleethorpes Beach
Dear Councillor Cleary,
Further to the full council meeting held on Monday 18 October 2021, please could you spare a few minutes to read the information set out below relating to an agreement that North East Lincolnshire Council achieved with Natural England to retain a section of sandy beach in Cleethorpes, which was essential to retain tourism in the area, and allow a small amenity area for the Cleethorpes residents.
Hoylake Beach Community are a group of local volunteers who are striving for a reasonable compromise to have a stretch of amenity sandy beach from the new RNLI station to the King Gap. This actually equates to less than 1% of the Wirral conservation shoreline. This will allow both green and sandy beach, a compromise for all.
The beach has always been at the very heart of Hoylake, and the beach and promenade areas were originally designed by the Victorians to allow sufficient leisure space around the beach, because Hoylake has very little amenity leisure or green park space elsewhere. The town has also thrived on tourism and footfall particularly during the summer months, due to the beach.
As you'll already know, the petition to rake the beach reached 12,500, and the overall feelings in Hoylake are now running high, due to the lack of consultation, and quite often a total disregard to residents' very relevant questions, which are not answered on the portal.
More importantly, one of the main arguments being made relates to salt marsh and land reclamation flood protection, however Hoylake beach is classed as a 'low probability' flood area, with the Hoylake North Parade geographical co-ordinates noted as 'outside flood risk' on natural catastrophe software, and storm surge noted as 'very low probability' (once every 250 years).
We have also received independent advice from a consultant ecologist who specialises in salt marsh, and had heard about our campaign. He confirmed that sand dunes will not form without coastal engineering, and that Hoylake will almost certainly end up as salt marsh like Southport and Parkgate. Whilst new botanical species will initially form in the early wilding stages, they will quickly be overrun by marsh grasses, and the Spartina growth will quickly develop around the coastline reaching other beach areas. Hoylake will no longer act as a 'fire break'.
The ecologist understood our concerns as a community in respect of the leisure area being destroyed and lack of amenity space for health and well-being. He has been extremely supportive and referred us to the following case whereby a compromise was sought and achieved.
In 2011 North East Lincolnshire Council came to an agreement with Natural England, after months of negotiations when thick marsh grass started to take over their beach.
Salt marsh is protected by UK and European law. Natural England described Cleethorpes beach as a site of "international importance for its biodiversity" and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) classification….just like Hoylake beach.
A beach management plan was negotiated and agreed by North East Lincolnshire Council with Natural England to remove any growth from an agreed section of the beach, with the remaining area being allowed to grow and spread.
The scheme is designed to balance the needs of tourism and the local wildlife. The salt marsh provides a habitat for plants, birds, and other animals.
The Chair of tourism and leisure at North East Lincolnshire Council, negotiated for a five-year beach agreement, whereby the beach is inspected three times a year, and any growth manually removed.
What a fantastic agreement for people, plants, birds and other wildlife.
This is all Hoylake Beach Community are asking for.
Media links below:
"We're going to lose our beach" - resident's anger over Cleethorpes salt marshes - Grimsby Live (grimsbytelegraph.co.uk) We have uploaded more information on the Hoylake Beach Community website: Home | Hoylake Beach Community The October newsletter also attached for your information.
We would much rather raise funds to plant additional trees in Hoylake for carbon capture, and achieve a compromise of the amenity beach area.
After the full council meeting, the Hoylake Beach Community group is feeling very despondent, and we hope we can move forward, though there appears to be a large divide in council support for Hoylake community.
We would welcome the opportunity to hear your thoughts on the above and very much appreciate any support and advice going forward; our aim is to reach a compromise which works for everyone.
If you need any further information, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your time.
On behalf of Hoylake Beach Community
EMAIL 3: From Cllr Cleary to HBC today (20th October).
Thank you for this and for the earlier invitation to meet up. Apologies for such a tardy response. I have taken some time ahead of last Monday’s council meeting to look into the Hoylake Beach issue in more detail. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that a Green councillor is instinctively in favour of rewilding initiatives. However, I was not fully aware of the benefits this would bring to Hoylake, not just to wildlife, but also in protecting the area from sea and sand storm surges. I have recently seen in my own ward the effects of what is rather carelessly referred to as a “1 in 200 year event” so I would be extremely cautious about any assumption around the likelihood or otherwise of such events impacting Hoylake or anywhere else for that matter.
Unless the scientific advice regarding the North Wirral Foreshore changes significantly I will remain of the view that raking is not appropriate for Hoylake beach. I understand that many do not agree with me on this but I don’t, given my commitments elsewhere, not least to the people who elected me, intend to engage around the detail on this.
Thanks again for reaching out.
Green Party councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere
Leader of the Green Group of councillors
Chair, Merseyside Pensions Committee
07852 842 559
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