Wirral Conservation Areas’ Forum Respond
As reported in our previous post, there is an impending threat to the future of Wirral’s council-run Conservation Service. Wirral Conservation Areas’ Forum have responded to this in their newsletter which you can download in full from this website.
Here is their quoted response to this worrying news:
In a shock announcement at a meeting between Forum officers Alan Chape and David Allan and the Council’s Head of Regeneration David Ball, it was disclosed that Wirral’s Conservation team, together with the post of Tree officer, was being disbanded.
David Ball gave an assurance that the Council will still deliver its Conservation service but in a different way. It would mean they would cease to employ specialist in-house officers but would set aside a sum of money to buy-in specialist advice previously provided by the Conservation team and Tree officer.
At the moment the conservation officers provide advice to the case officers on planning applications that have conservation and heritage implications. In the future, where specialist advice is required, this will be provided either by in-house, re-trained case officers or by buying in such advice from external sources.
In relation to the Tree officer the Council has a Technical Services department responsible for the care and maintenance of 6000 trees. This resource of staff would be linked to tree work applications together with specialist advice provided by external sources.
The Forum representatives expressed deep concern that the consultation process was being limited to staff and trade unions to the exclusion of the Conservation committees. Given the statutory obligations of the Council to Wirral’s 26 Conservation Areas, including two of international renown and several which had been designated ‘at risk’ by English Heritage, it was felt that the proposals would lead to an unacceptable diminution of service. They pointed out that the proposals did not address a whole range of other matters relating to maintaining the character of Wirral’s Conservation Areas such as overseeing their simple day to day care and management.
Forum chairman, Alan Chape has written to Wirral’s Chief Executive, Graham Burgess expressing concerns about both the process and the content stressing the need for wider consultation with local Conservation and Civic societies who make up the Wirral Conservation Areas’ Forum. Subject to agreement by the Chief Executive, David Ball will attend the General Meeting of the Forum scheduled for 15th October at Port Sunlight where he will explain his proposals and answer questions.
The Wirral Society will be following all future developments on this issue and offering their support where necessary.