ISSUES including visitor numbers, traffic, parking, anti social behaviour and crime were discussed when Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson and Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell enjoyed a walkabout at Formby’s National Trust.
They met with National Trust staff who told them that they felt visitor numbers had declined at peak times due to signs on Formby bypass directing visitors to Ainsdale instead, where there is more visitor parking available.
Although more visitors were travelling to Ainsdale, Mr Esterson said on-road parking near Formby beach was still impacting hugely on residents and said he welcomed a proposal by Sefton Council to introduce a tow-away zone .
Large visitor numbers have resulted in several incidents this summer and over previous years, including a serious stabbing incident in May when three men were hospitalised.
Police dealt with unofficial raves and parties, as well as parking and traffic issues.
Residents regularly report more low-level anti social behaviour, such as visitors relieving themselves in gardens and even parking and picnicking on residents’ drives, and throwing litter onto lawns.
Mr Esterson said: “It was a great opportunity to show Emily and Steve our wonderful coastline and speak to NT staff and volunteers.
“They do great work in conservation and offer fantastic leisure opportunities.
“They told me about their plans to build a new car park to replace the current provision which is sadly being eroded by the sea.
“Unfortunately the number of spaces overall will not increase significantly however I am working with them, the police and Sefton Council to try to address the parking and traffic issues, including a tow-away zone which I think will be very effective.
“New parking restrictions may also be needed. Thank you to the police who take a very proactive role now in directing traffic away from the area once the car parks are full.
“Anti social behaviour is a huge issue for local residents and is often linked to drinking alcohol, which should be banned at the beach.
“A meeting with Sefton Council and elected representatives is due to take place this month to discuss all these issues and potential solutions.”
Mr Esterson said the police had done really good work in addressing some of the issues, against a backdrop of a decade of cuts which saw Merseyside Police forced to make £110m of savings.
The number of police officers fell by 1,120, the impact of which was felt in every area of the Force, particularly neighbourhood policing.
However, in 2020/21, 500 new officers were recruited and the new Labour Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell is currently overseeing the recruitment of a further 160 police officers this year, bringing the total number up to 660.
Mr Esterson said: “Our Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell has brought more police officers to the area which will help address the impact of a decade of cuts from the Conservative government.”
Emily Spurrell added: “I was pleased to join Bill and Steve to do a walkabout of this beautiful part of our region and speak to ward Councillors, local community groups and residents about the issues affecting their community.
“The Local Policing Team have been working hard with partners to pro-actively tackle the issues in Formby and the surrounding areas, particularly in relation to ASB and parking. This has included using a whole range of tools at their disposal, including high-visibility patrols, quad bikes, enforcement action and Public Space Protection Orders to encourage to act people to act responsibly and safely in the area, while having consideration for people living nearby.
“While the Force is still way short of the police officer numbers it had back in 2020, the 660 officers we are recruiting will make a big difference and enable the Chief Constable to dedicate more resources to tackling local priorities.
“I am committed to working with Bill and our colleagues to lobby Government to give Merseyside Police the funding it deserves and I will continue to fight to get more officers, PCSOs and staff back on to the streets of Merseyside.”