Lymm woodland group under threat

Lymm woodland group under threat

Lymm woodland group under threat

First published in News

A WOODLAND group are hoping to get the backing of the Warrington South MP as they face being evicted from Spud Wood in Lymm.

Muddy Hands have been getting pre-school and primary school youngsters outdoors and involved in activities including making dens, building fires and toasting marshmallows for more than a year.

But the business is now under threat after complaints of noise from neighbours led to the Woodland Trust asking the group to leave the site off Stage Lane.

Jamie Knowles, who set up the business, said: “We organised parties for kids where they can get dirty outdoors and cook their own food and they’re laughing and giggling not screaming and shouting.

“That’s not a horrible noise to me so I can’t understand where the complaints came from.

“It’s a real shame as it’s a massive woodland and we’re doing no harm to it, clean up all the rubbish and now five members of staff could be made redundant.”

A council spokesman confirmed the site had been visited to check for compliance with planning and noise laws and no breaches were found but Jamie says despite that the Woodland Trust are now reluctant to work with them.

The Latchford dad added: “It’s publicly-owned woodland but the Woodland Trust said we needed to have a contract with them.

“They said we couldn’t have more than 20 children in a group but that would stop schools from attending.

“There was a bit of debate about it and then we had the noise pollution complaints and the Woodland Trust didn’t want us on the site anymore.

“Warrington would lose something unique for children and rather than playing outdoors kids will be sent to indoor centres.

“I can’t understand why the Woodland Trust wouldn’t support something getting kids in the woodlands.”

The 30-year-old former pre-school manager said youngsters had travelled from as far as Blackburn and Manchester to attend sessions as well as being popular with Warrington schools and assumes dog walkers had complained about the noise.

He will now be collecting all the feedback the group has on Facebook to take with him to a meeting with the Warrington South MP in the hope he can help him keep the business open.

Alistair Crosby, Woodland Trust regional manager, said they welcome ‘responsible use’ of woods but it must be ‘formalised in a licence agreement’ which is required of all forest school providers which conduct their activities upon sites with the consent of the Woodland Trust.

He added: “This ensures that the correct insurance and accreditations are in place to provide adequate safety and protection for all those participating in forest school activities as well as the Woodland Trust.  

“Spud Wood is a well loved community resource enjoyed by all but we and local residents have become increasingly concerned with the risk of potential damage to the fragile nature of Spud Wood, due to the increased amount of unauthorised activity taking place - a risk which can be easily avoided by working together collaboratively for the benefit of the community as a whole.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:50pm Fri 29 Aug 14

MuddyHands says...

Muddy Hands needs the whole of Warrington to get behind this. You can leave feedback here that we can print and show to David Mowat MP or like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mud
dyhands01 we also have a website www.muddyhands.co.uk
. If we lose this battle then we lose something great for the local community and further.
Muddy Hands needs the whole of Warrington to get behind this. You can leave feedback here that we can print and show to David Mowat MP or like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mud dyhands01 we also have a website www.muddyhands.co.uk . If we lose this battle then we lose something great for the local community and further. MuddyHands
  • Score: 3

8:16pm Fri 29 Aug 14

dodobird says...

These kids are not doing any harm, they are supervised and are engaging in good, healthy activiites. What is wrong with the people who are complaining about the noise? What a load of old fuddy duddies! Let the kids use the wood, it belongs to everyone!
These kids are not doing any harm, they are supervised and are engaging in good, healthy activiites. What is wrong with the people who are complaining about the noise? What a load of old fuddy duddies! Let the kids use the wood, it belongs to everyone! dodobird
  • Score: 2

11:01pm Fri 29 Aug 14

NofLymm says...

Hold on a minute! While I fully support the idea of Muddy Hands and think it's a great business idea and great to see young kids enjoying the woods, let's get a bit of truth into this story.
Spud Wood is not public property - it's owned and operated by the Woodland Trust, who are a charity, who have made this wonderful space for everyone to use. I and many other residents in Oughtrington and Lymm campaigned for, donated towards, won funding for and planted Spud Wood.
Muddy Hands is a business that wants to use Spud Wood for profit - there's nothing wrong with that as far as I am concerned. I understand that all the Woodland Trust asked of Muddy Hands for was a reasonable annual fee for using Spud Wood and some consideration towards other users of the woodland by asking Muddy Hands to only run a limited number of parties over a limited number of days per year. The fee being a contribution towards the upkeep of Spud Wood. This is not unusual, Warrington Council have similar arrangements with businesses who use their parks, such as exercise bootcamps.
As far as I know (and I don't work for the Woodland Trust before you ask), Jamie never signed and returned the contract to the Woodland Trust and never paid the fee for the license. Or at least not until they lost their patience with him and told him to stop using Spud Wood. No business has the right to use someone else's facilities or property without their agreement or without sticking to the agreement.
I also understand that Jamie appears to have run rough-shod over the principal of the contract by operating multiple parties some days and on operated on many more days than agreed. And also that Jamie has not kept to some simple conditions of the contract like using a fire-pan for fires, only collecting fallen wood for fires and other activities (the damage to trees from branches being ripped off live trees is considerable in the areas of Spud Wood where Muddy Hands operates). I and others have seen untended fires during and after Muddy Hands Parties.
I don't believe any of the users of Spud Wood wants to ban Muddy Hands, all we want is consideration from all other users of the wood towards each other, which includes Muddy Hands or any other business using the wood. That means sticking to the rules when it comes to business and contracts.
Hold on a minute! While I fully support the idea of Muddy Hands and think it's a great business idea and great to see young kids enjoying the woods, let's get a bit of truth into this story. Spud Wood is not public property - it's owned and operated by the Woodland Trust, who are a charity, who have made this wonderful space for everyone to use. I and many other residents in Oughtrington and Lymm campaigned for, donated towards, won funding for and planted Spud Wood. Muddy Hands is a business that wants to use Spud Wood for profit - there's nothing wrong with that as far as I am concerned. I understand that all the Woodland Trust asked of Muddy Hands for was a reasonable annual fee for using Spud Wood and some consideration towards other users of the woodland by asking Muddy Hands to only run a limited number of parties over a limited number of days per year. The fee being a contribution towards the upkeep of Spud Wood. This is not unusual, Warrington Council have similar arrangements with businesses who use their parks, such as exercise bootcamps. As far as I know (and I don't work for the Woodland Trust before you ask), Jamie never signed and returned the contract to the Woodland Trust and never paid the fee for the license. Or at least not until they lost their patience with him and told him to stop using Spud Wood. No business has the right to use someone else's facilities or property without their agreement or without sticking to the agreement. I also understand that Jamie appears to have run rough-shod over the principal of the contract by operating multiple parties some days and on operated on many more days than agreed. And also that Jamie has not kept to some simple conditions of the contract like using a fire-pan for fires, only collecting fallen wood for fires and other activities (the damage to trees from branches being ripped off live trees is considerable in the areas of Spud Wood where Muddy Hands operates). I and others have seen untended fires during and after Muddy Hands Parties. I don't believe any of the users of Spud Wood wants to ban Muddy Hands, all we want is consideration from all other users of the wood towards each other, which includes Muddy Hands or any other business using the wood. That means sticking to the rules when it comes to business and contracts. NofLymm
  • Score: 10

11:19pm Fri 29 Aug 14

MuddyHands says...

If we are going to put some truth into this then lets at least make sure we have all the facts. The council came back to us with this
"From a planning perspective it would appear to date that the operations of your business do not result in a material change in use of the land that would require planning permission and therefore the Planning Enforcement Team shall be closing their file on this matter."
We have always been more than willing to pay a fee and sign a contract that works for us and the other users. Once the complaints started it would seem the Woodland Trust decided they did not want the hassle and opted not to issue a new contract to us. We are qualified leaders who would not leave a fire unattended in a woodland, if you came across a unattended fire in a woodland and cared about it so much would you not put it out? There is no evidence of this? this is just gossip and people making problems up. We do not encourage or allow children to rip branches off living tree's. The wood we collect and use for den building is from dead wood that has fallen to the ground or from trees that are dead and pose a risk to people working in the area.
If we are going to put some truth into this then lets at least make sure we have all the facts. The council came back to us with this "From a planning perspective it would appear to date that the operations of your business do not result in a material change in use of the land that would require planning permission and therefore the Planning Enforcement Team shall be closing their file on this matter." We have always been more than willing to pay a fee and sign a contract that works for us and the other users. Once the complaints started it would seem the Woodland Trust decided they did not want the hassle and opted not to issue a new contract to us. We are qualified leaders who would not leave a fire unattended in a woodland, if you came across a unattended fire in a woodland and cared about it so much would you not put it out? There is no evidence of this? this is just gossip and people making problems up. We do not encourage or allow children to rip branches off living tree's. The wood we collect and use for den building is from dead wood that has fallen to the ground or from trees that are dead and pose a risk to people working in the area. MuddyHands
  • Score: -4

12:10am Sat 30 Aug 14

NofLymm says...

I didn't say anything about planning consent or the noise complaints. I'm sure there wouldn't have been complaints if you had stuck to the Woodland Trust's licence conditions. You just took too much of the opportunity that was there for you. A little consideration towards other users of Spud Wood and the neighbourhood on your part and sticking to the Woodland Trust's contract and you wouldn't be in this fix.
I actually admire you for setting up Muddy Hands, great idea. But if you're going to build a business around the environment you should consider your impact on it - all of it, including the people you share it with and those that care for it (like the Woodland Trust).
I didn't say anything about planning consent or the noise complaints. I'm sure there wouldn't have been complaints if you had stuck to the Woodland Trust's licence conditions. You just took too much of the opportunity that was there for you. A little consideration towards other users of Spud Wood and the neighbourhood on your part and sticking to the Woodland Trust's contract and you wouldn't be in this fix. I actually admire you for setting up Muddy Hands, great idea. But if you're going to build a business around the environment you should consider your impact on it - all of it, including the people you share it with and those that care for it (like the Woodland Trust). NofLymm
  • Score: 10

7:49pm Wed 3 Sep 14

nhojy12 says...

I am a very regular visitor to Spud Wood and can confirm that fires are often left smouldering long after the parties have finished. I have even seen a fire well ablaze whilst the group was away at the mud slide they use in an adjoining wood which is separately and privately owned and a good 200m from their site. Putting out such a fire is not so easy without something to carry water from the canal. The countryside code which presumably Muddy Hands is claiming it abides by urges us to leave property as we find it, protect plants and take our litter home. However even today as I walked around the wood there was litter in the tatty shelters which are left permanently erected. There are two children's coats hanging from a branch that have been there for most of the summer. However the most disturbing aspect is the number of silver birch trees which has been almost completely stripped of bark, presumably for its fire lighting properties. Hardly a good example to the attending children. I too thought what a great idea the scheme was, but have been incredibly disappointed by the reality. You have probably noticed that I have not once mentioned noise, this is because I have never heard anyone complain about the noise which I believe is just an element introduced by Muddy Hands to distract attention from the real issues.
I am a very regular visitor to Spud Wood and can confirm that fires are often left smouldering long after the parties have finished. I have even seen a fire well ablaze whilst the group was away at the mud slide they use in an adjoining wood which is separately and privately owned and a good 200m from their site. Putting out such a fire is not so easy without something to carry water from the canal. The countryside code which presumably Muddy Hands is claiming it abides by urges us to leave property as we find it, protect plants and take our litter home. However even today as I walked around the wood there was litter in the tatty shelters which are left permanently erected. There are two children's coats hanging from a branch that have been there for most of the summer. However the most disturbing aspect is the number of silver birch trees which has been almost completely stripped of bark, presumably for its fire lighting properties. Hardly a good example to the attending children. I too thought what a great idea the scheme was, but have been incredibly disappointed by the reality. You have probably noticed that I have not once mentioned noise, this is because I have never heard anyone complain about the noise which I believe is just an element introduced by Muddy Hands to distract attention from the real issues. nhojy12
  • Score: 6

12:57am Thu 4 Sep 14

Sitting Duck says...

This is a very sad state of affairs. Muddy Hands should be constructively working with the Woodland Trust and building their business with positive marketing, rather than misrepresenting the nature of the issue. I was particularly disappointed to see comments raising concerns on the facebook page being held up to public ridicule, with the predictable ill-informed and rude support. A much more professional approach would have been to show some respect for the complainant and an attempt to win them over. I can't think this is good for business or anyone concerned.
This is a very sad state of affairs. Muddy Hands should be constructively working with the Woodland Trust and building their business with positive marketing, rather than misrepresenting the nature of the issue. I was particularly disappointed to see comments raising concerns on the facebook page being held up to public ridicule, with the predictable ill-informed and rude support. A much more professional approach would have been to show some respect for the complainant and an attempt to win them over. I can't think this is good for business or anyone concerned. Sitting Duck
  • Score: 2

8:23am Thu 4 Sep 14

MuddyHands says...

We as a business are looking to resolve all the issues raised by everyone. As you will see from previous comments and the statement from the council in the reading, they attended due to noise complaints. We are trying to work with the woodland trust but unfortunately as they are getting a number of complaints about things happening in spud wood it is clearly making this difficult. We arrived to the site we used over summer to find the 2 coats had been left there. These are not ours but like most things at the woodland we get the blame a easy scape goat. We have one across cans of beer, i suppose these were left by us to. As for the silver birch we are teaching the children about silver birch and its uses. We have stripped large parts of this off so children can listen to the sap moving up the tree using listening tools, a fantastic lesson i would suggest anyone try.
As for the tatty shelters they are children's dens made from dead wood on the floor. Most peoples reaction when seeing them is wow how fantastic. Please try and remember what you did as a child then you may not be so against this.
We as a business are looking to resolve all the issues raised by everyone. As you will see from previous comments and the statement from the council in the reading, they attended due to noise complaints. We are trying to work with the woodland trust but unfortunately as they are getting a number of complaints about things happening in spud wood it is clearly making this difficult. We arrived to the site we used over summer to find the 2 coats had been left there. These are not ours but like most things at the woodland we get the blame a easy scape goat. We have one across cans of beer, i suppose these were left by us to. As for the silver birch we are teaching the children about silver birch and its uses. We have stripped large parts of this off so children can listen to the sap moving up the tree using listening tools, a fantastic lesson i would suggest anyone try. As for the tatty shelters they are children's dens made from dead wood on the floor. Most peoples reaction when seeing them is wow how fantastic. Please try and remember what you did as a child then you may not be so against this. MuddyHands
  • Score: -2

5:26pm Wed 10 Sep 14

Tommyconker says...

For me the issue is that whoever is using the woods are leaving a mess behind. As well as smouldering fires there is lots more litter than ever. All just left in the area being used, sweet wrappers, paper, all kinds

You may think you are doing no harm but at least tidy up after yourselves properly. Looking around the woods and in bushes the litter is concentrated in the area being used.
For me the issue is that whoever is using the woods are leaving a mess behind. As well as smouldering fires there is lots more litter than ever. All just left in the area being used, sweet wrappers, paper, all kinds You may think you are doing no harm but at least tidy up after yourselves properly. Looking around the woods and in bushes the litter is concentrated in the area being used. Tommyconker
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree