Following extensive consideration by the Parish Council and discussion with the Police and other agencies of the ways in which the problems caused by large numbers of visitors to Pickmere in summer can be mitigated, Council decided at its meeting in early August that it would erect a fence at the IROS, incorporating several field gates, with the intention that the Council could decide periodically to close the IROS, leaving open the public footpath, when it considered that this would be in the best interests of the local community.
The Parish Council has taken full notice of the route the public right of way follows and the resulting fence and gates map can be viewed here (the fence is the line in blue) – Proposed location of fence Aug-Sept 2022
Quotes for the erection of the fence were considered by the Parish Council on 16th August, and the contractor HB Agri Services was selected, at a cost for the specification provided of £6813.25 excluding VAT.
The specification is essentially for a stock proof fence similar to that erected by the adjoining landowner.
Arrangements will now be made for the erection of the fence.
At its meeting on 6th September 2022, Council gave consideration to the ‘protocol’ or arrangements for opening and closing the gates/land. Before making its decision on these arrangements, Council considered 3 different options for closing the gates/land. The detail of these different options can be found in the report that Council considered on 6th September, but in very broad terms these were:
Option 1. To close the land between 4pm and 10am between March and October; otherwise the land to be open between dawn and dusk.
Option 2. Whilst the land would generally be left open, to close the land for the weekend if the weather forecast suggested that large numbers of visitors were likely to be attracted – thus mainly during summer months.
Option 3. Simply to close the land each weekend from April to end of September.
After a detailed discussion, the Council decided to adopt the following arrangement:
• The gates/land will be closed each weekend (plus any bank holidays) in the period from 1 April to 30 September (except for the public footpath which will remain open).
• The gates will be closed at dusk on the Friday (Thursday if Friday is a bank holiday) and reopened on the Monday morning (Tuesday if Monday is a bank holiday).
• Between 1 October and 31 March the land would remain open.
• The Council of course retains the ability to open or close its land at any time should it be considered necessary or desirable.
The Council will publish the information as to when the land will be closed on its website and Facebook page, on its noticeboards and via delivery to all residences in the Parish, and through any other media that is available (for instance the Police Facebook page).
Except for the short period while the fence is being erected (when it will have to be closed for Health and Safety reasons), the public footpath down to and along the southern side of the lake will remain open at all times.
The intention of the proposed arrangement is to ensure that a clear message is sent to potential visitors during summer months, so as to try to avoid large numbers of visitors turning up who are not aware that the land is closed.
The Parish Council has considered and decided on this action with the support of Cheshire Police and Cheshire East Council since this is the only power that the Parish Council has which might influence the number of visitors to the village and the amount of anti-social on-street car parking that results. Opinions as to the problem of excessive numbers of visitors to the village have been sought from residents via the Parish Council’s initial Neighbourhood Plan survey and last year’s other more targeted parking survey. All opinions received from Pickmere residents have been taken into account, including those expressed at the Parish Council meetings on 2nd August and as recently as 6th September but residents’ opinions vary considerably and no-one has been able to suggest any form of ‘magic bullet’ to solve the problems the village suffers.
Help for the parking issues in the village has been sought for the past 3 years from both the Police and Cheshire East Council, but neither body simply has the staff resource capable of managing the situation in the way residents would like. However both bodies seem keen to help us “help ourselves”. It is hoped that seeking to provide the “fire break” of closing the land as described above will interrupt the cycle of huge numbers of visitors causing gridlock in the village with their inconsiderate and antisocial parking.
The Parish Council will clearly review the situation once the fence is in place and operational, with a view to balancing the need to allow residents the maximum freedom to use the IROS as it has since the Council took ownership of the area, with the wish to try to mitigate the seasonal problems that have resulted in the last few years.
The Parish Council continues to work with both the Police and Cheshire East Council to pursue measures such as the possible extension of yellow line restrictions. At this stage there can be no certainty about such a scheme, which in any case would probably take more than a year to be delivered and would be subject to Cheshire East’s own public consultation exercises as well as the consultation processes required by law.
The Parish Council appreciates and thanks all those who have taken the time to attend meetings and proffer ideas and opinions to aid the Council in its difficult path to deliver a solution that is within its power.