Friday 15 January 2010

Wirral Borough Council takes action to save Butterfly Park

The Cabinet of Wirral Borough Council decided on 14th January to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on New Ferry Butterfly Park, to save it from closure. The process will start within the next few days, but can take some months to complete.

The CPO is being issued on environmental and social grounds. The Park supports at least 397 species, including butterflies, moths, bees, spiders, shield bugs, pond life, and a long list of plants including two species of orchid. The social benefit has been shown by the willingness of people to sign the public petitions.

Hilary Ash, Hon Conservation Officer, said "We are very grateful to everyone who has signed our petitions, and all the people who have made great efforts to collect signatures on behalf of the Park. The paper petition submitted to Wirral MBC reached 1990, and the e-petition 1542, a grand total of 3532. Thank you, everyone."

Once the legal procedures have gone through, it is the intention of Wirral MBC to sell or lease the Park to Cheshire Wildlife Trust, to continue as a nature reserve managed by the local community. Substantial donations have already been offered, and a public appeal for funds will be launched in the near future. Over the last 16 years, the New Ferry Butterfly Park committee has raised over £24000 in grants and £3000 in donations, all to make the Park accessible for visitors, keep it secure and aid the wildlife.

Cllr Steve Niblock, who has been actively backing the campaign, said “I am delighted that the Cabinet have agreed to Compulsorily Purchase the Park, following the groundswell of support from local people to save this gem in New Ferry.”

The Butterfly Park currently has about 35 volunteers involved in various roles, including wardening, practical management, hosting educational and other groups, fund-raising and publicity. However, more volunteers are very welcome! Contact Hilary Ash (327 5923), Paul Loughnane (645 8937) or send an email.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Butterfly Park Fight Taken To Parliament

Wirral South MP, Ben Chapman, will present a petition against the closure of New Ferry Butterfly Park to the House of Commons, on Monday 11th January. This is a last minute attempt to stop the park from closing, after landowners Brock PLC gave notice to vacate the land by the end of the month.

The presentation of the petition will take place just days before Wirral Borough Council’s Cabinet Meeting, on 14th January, where a decision on a Compulsory Purchase Order is expected to be made. The petition, which has been available for the last few weeks in the MP’s constituency office, requests that the House of Commons “urges the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage Wirral Council and others to do all they can to secure the retention of the Butterfly Park”.

Ben Chapman commented: “I hope that this gesture in the House will go some way to encourage those that have the power to save the park, to do so.

I have expressed my view on the importance of safeguarding this urban nature reserve countless times. Many of my constituents as well as wildlife enthusiasts have written to voice their support. Lord Harrison, who once represented Wirral in the European Parliament also wrote to express his concern for the future of this invaluable asset. I have passed all correspondence on to Steve Maddox, Chief Executive of the Council for his consideration.

I hope the Council is fully aware of the vast amount of support this campaign has attracted, and will consider all possible measures to secure the park’s future”

Hilary Ash, Hon Conservation Officer for Wirral Wildlife, added “We have been amazed and touched by the support from all sides of the community for our campaign to save New Ferry Butterfly Park from closure. Over 3000 people have signed out petitions to Wirral Borough Council. We are especially grateful to Mr Chapman, a long-term supporter of the Park, for taking this to national level. Hopefully it may also benefit any other nature reserves that find themselves under threat from private interests.”