Chair of ‘Friends of Chorlton Meadows’, Dave Bishop, got in touch with us about his concerns over the discontinuation of the Mersey Valley Countryside Warden Service and its implications for the valley’s wildlife. He wrote to his councillors (see below) and it appears that a decision to cut this service in April looks likely. However, the council states that no final decision has yet been made and a four week consultation will take place. Read on to find out what you can do to help.
I keep hearing rumours to the effect that the Mersey Valley Countryside
Warden Service is to be disbanded. Are these rumours true, or not? If the
rumours are true, are Friends groups, like the Friends of Chorlton Meadows,
who have devoted hundreds of hours of their free time to the Mersey Valley,
going to be properly informed and consulted – or are we just going to have
to rely on rumours?
David Bishop, Chair of FoCM
So far I have had the following reply from Cllr Victor Chamberlain:
“I understand that the City Council’s budget proposals mean that the
service will close down in April. A cut of £150,000 from MCC along with
Trafford’s lack of a payment commitment mean that the service is unlikely to
survive. It’s really poor that you haven’t received any information about this so I
will ask the Council how they plan to engage Friends Groups in the
proposals and the future.”
He subsequently wrote:
“I understand that the meeting was very sombre and that members accepted
the budget cut. Some Councillors argued that Trafford Council’s decision to
cut funding last December encouraged Manchester to do the same. Apparently
there is going to be a consultation which opens from today however the
service is likely to be run down between now and the end of March.”
Councillor Sheila Newman, Labour Member for the Chorlton Ward added:
“The proposals re the Mersey Valley Warden service are part of the Council budget, which was agreed for a four week consultation at the Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday 23rd January. All comments on the proposals are welcome and you can respond on line. As a local councillor, I am also keen to hear the views of local residents. The Mersey Valley is a valued part of Manchester and Chorlton and I do not wish to see a reduction in service or maintenance. Many of the wardens are proposing to take VER or VS and this will greatly impact on the service provided.
“However as you know the Mersey Valley warden service has been jointly funded by Trafford and Manchester. As Trafford have reduced and now withdrawn their funding, it isn’t possible for Manchester to continue with the same level of funding, given we are faced with £80million budget cuts imposed by the government.Many of the proposed reductions in the budget are not things we would choose to do, but we have to work within the budget available. No final decisions have yet been taken and there may be amendments to the budget up until mid February.”
Dave Bishop: So, the Mersey Valley project appears to be dead and the fate of a well-loved piece of local green space hangs in the balance. As a long-term user of this green space myself I am saddened and angry. I might also ask: What is the point of a consultation when the decision already appears to have been made?
As you are a Mersey Valley user, I’m sure that you will share my concerns,
so please, please, please take some time to express those concerns by
e-mailing Councillor Rosa Battle, Executive Member for Culture & Leisure (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Questions that you might like to ask Cllr Battle could include:
– What are the implications of the disbanding of the Mersey Valley Countryside Warden Service for the future of the Mersey Valley?
– How does the Council intend to maintain sites like Chorlton Ees/Ivy Green and Chorlton Water Park in the future?
– How does the Council plan to protect these sites from vandalism and other forms of damage?
– How does the Council plan to protect Mersey Valley wildlife?
– Have the Council have any plans for selling off any Mersey Valley sites?
It would probably be a good idea to copy your ward councillors in on this
correspondence; you can find your ward councillors here.
It is absolutely essential to keep your message polite!
Please feel free to circulate this e-mail to as many people as possible.
Let’s show the Council that we love the Mersey Valley and that we don’t intend to lose it!!
Chair of FoCM