“The National Trust shows disregard for the Formby community” says #Formby Caravan Park in latest statement which you can read here…
Statement from Freshfield Caravan Park:
For over 40 years, there has been a private caravan park, nestled in the dunes at the end of Victoria road in Freshfield. It is accessed by a road that is kept clear of sand, by the caravan owners. This hidden and tranquil spot has been enjoyed by many generations. That is until December 2021, when the NT (their landlords), forbade the clearing of the ‘wind-blown sand’, essentially isolating, and closing the site down.
Caravan owners, have united to oppose this decision. They are angry and devastated at the situation and have tried to negotiate with the multi-million pound charity, but to no avail.
All managements suggestions to reroute access, or offers of compromise to NT have been refused.The only offer received, is to assist the site with removing their vans, and closing the site down.
The National Trust have taken an attritional stance, to grind down the sites morale, their funds and their resilience. Delaying in making any compromise for over 12 months, with no access for residents, whilst still continuing to take full rent from the site.
With 10 years remaining on the lease, the site wanted to work with the NT to resolve this situation, but lack of communication and support from them has prevented this. They are now at an impasse.
For years the caravan site residents have worked to protect the woodland reserve, assisting with the NT Christmas tree planting, reporting anti-social behaviour to police, reporting fires and residents assisted collecting rubbish left by hoards of visitors. The residents take pride in protecting their precious site.
Bob McCann, Chair of the local Parish council, said: “I met with the National Trust and the caravan owners, and have seen the total disregard the NT have for this facility. Whilst they say they understand the problem, they have not proposed any solution, other than closing the site and assisting the caravan owners to remove their caravans.”
The NT, state they have been prevented from allowing removal of the sand due to SSSi, by Natural England under the threat of a fine, however no representation from Natural England has been forthcoming.
In the last month there has already been many hundreds of trees removed in the woodland, along with a number of huge 'notches' created in the sand dunes along the frontal coast, all to facilitate the movement of sand inland, all on SSSi land.
The National Trust have now finally advised the site, the access road, which the caravan site has repeatedly been forbidden to remove sand from, due to SSSi, is suddenly allowed to be reopened, and sand cleared, in order to remove the caravans, and close the site down!
The NT actions, are directly leading the director of the site to potential bankruptcy and the resident site wardens to lose their home and livelihood.
The director of the site stated: “After 14 months of denied access, the NT have now suggested we have no option but to close the site. Contrary to their repeated claims to be in discussions with directors, any solutions we offered were dismissed, and there has been no constructive suggestions offered.”
”With covid, we have endured three years of disruption and restrictions, with members unable to use their caravans for most of that period, although the site was charged full rent for all three years. We have suggested a simple plausible solution to the immediate problem, and we have no intention of allowing a perfectly sound facility to be abandoned.”
Bob McCann said: “It is another example of poor management of the coastal area, by the N T.”
"We hope the local residents, and those further afield, including any public/political figures, can come together and support the caravan owners with their fight."
Formby residents have been complaining about the National Trust for the past few years, in relation to their lack of cooperation with the community and poor management of the woods, beaches and public amenities. Their insistence of advertising the Formby /coast as a tourist attraction, has caused huge problems with traffic and antisocial behaviour over recent years, effectively preventing locals from leaving their own homes.
Bob McCann continued: "Ever since the National Trust extended their management responsibilities, they have paid lip service to the local community, by holding working groups with local representatives that have little or no input into the way the Trust is conducting its business."
"My personal opinion is that Sefton Council should find the National Trust in breach of its contract, and revoke management responsibilities.”
It should be noted, that there are currently two planning applications submitted to Sefton Council, which will impact upon parking at the National Trust sites.
The first submission by NT, involves the construction of a new car park at Freshfield site, in the woodland at the end of Victoria road, where the protected ‘squirrel reserve’ is situated!
The plans for this involve removal of in excess of 400 trees, removing the existing car park rubble, and using it as the base of the new car park, in the woods. Moving sand, trees and using heavy machinery, all in an SSSi area. The NT state, this new car park is intended for temporary use, for 25 years.
The second application by Ascot group, involves the creation of 100 car park spaces, adjoining a new housing estate for 25 houses, at the 'Shorrocks hill site'. This will effectively provide additional parking for the National Trust, however it remains unclear who will maintain this.
Both planning applications are available to view on the Sefton planning website, where you can comment and/or post objections.
Links to follow.
Relocation of the existing car park:
Planning application for the former Shorrocks Hill Country Club: