Friday, January 26, 2007


"Extreme Gardening" in Falcon View, Badger Farm

The story so far: Thursday last week, residents of Falcon View, Badger Farm were surprised to see a JCB turn up and start demolishing a raised bed of shrubs and a tree at the corner of their close. I was phoned by a concerned resident and went down to take a look. A quick chat with the JCB driver established that he was demolishing the planter because the retaining wall surrounding it had some loose bricks and the Hampshire County Council Highways Department had decided it was unsafe. He then told me that the site of the bed would be covered in tarmac.

This is the bed in question. It's in the centre of the picture with a large green tree and a white car parked to its immediate left.

Some quick phone calls established that the Highways Department had acted without informing or consulting anyone. The Winchester Environment Department officers who actually maintain the beds (the county pays the city to look after them) hadn't been told. Charlotte Bailey, our local county councillor, hadn't been told. Neither Brian Collin nor I as city councillors had been told and, inevitably, local residents had been neither consulted nor informed.

So we put out a leaflet to explain what was happening and local residents got together a petition demanding reinstatement of the bed, which was then signed by the vast majority of affected households .

Here is the JCB on site a few days ago, along with me and the letter to residents:

Today Charlotte and I met with county council officers on site. "We did it because it was the cheapest way to fix the problem" we were told, "We didn't consult because it was just a minor maintenance issue."

"We'll give consideration to your comments" they said. "Alright, we'll give you a tree but no shrubs."

To me this is a case of official vandalism. The residents have every right to demand the restoration of the green space. The fight will continue.

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