Littlemoor: an update and an insight, please read & share…
4 years ago, when the Himalayan Balsam started to infiltrate the park, I knew that it would take 3 years for it to decimate virtually every plant in there or 3 years of pulling it up to save the area.
We chose 3 years of pulling it up. During those 3 years of organising balsam bashes and working with volunteers from our community, we talked about the state of the park as well as how beautiful it was as one of the last remaining managed quiet spaces in the local area.
We made tentative and informal plans to help the council reinstate the already existing nature trail, replace the signage, sow the wildflower meadow to help create ‘bug hunts’ and dreamed about putting back the lake, sorting the drainage and making a ‘stargazing’ platform complete with a star map. Tesco offered to replace the lost plants from the Balsam takeover which encouraged us to consider other ideas. Many of us involved talked at length about an education programme to help children understand the countryside code and how to “leave only footprints, take only photographs“ with the pièce de résistance being the FOSTER AWARD – a grant to fund wildlife projects in the area.
All of these ideas were ‘floated’ and then, when we were tipped off about the potential to build a Crematorium, a sense of urgency to create an official ‘Friends of’ Group led to a flurry of meetings. It would be the best way to ensure the community as a whole could help to protect our beautiful space as well as help with the effort to bring it back to a cared for park – all in a formal manner with support from the powers that be.
The crematorium may still go ahead (since writing this, the plans to use Littlemoor for building are no longer going forward). The plans that were discussed informally during the balsam bashes are also now on hold as other ideas are brought into the mix. The usually simple process of setting up the Friends of Group had started, and despite teething problems, it is now in its 2nd year.
But, we can’t get away from the fact that where there are arguments, debates and questionable conduct, there is usually a perceived gain or a commodity at the centre of it. It hadn’t occurred to me that Littlemoor would become a commodity. To me, it is just a space that needed some care and input to keep it there for future generations, yet it feels as though our beautiful park has become exactly that over that past few months.
“Ask not what the park can do for you, but what we, as a group, can do for the park.”
It may seem a bit much using that famous quote in these circumstances, but I think it illustrates the underlying ethos of a ‘friends of’ group which is usually formed to ensure the long term protection of a space and to create a fair and democratic process for decision making. Members should be made up of those who intend to be in it for the long haul:
- In it no matter what decisions are made about its future,
- In it whether or not they get their preferred outcome,
- In it because they care about its preservation for the entire community.