Sunday, April 29, 2007

In a nutshell . . .

It's been suggested that my previous post was a tad too detailed, so here is an attempt at a more concise response to the Ladywell Rose:

The Ladywell Rose story 'Greens back tree massacre' was an ill-informed pack of lies by an ex-councillor who frankly should know better and I take it as a slur on my integrity. The article claims that at a 1st February public meeting to discuss the planning application for Ladywell Fields, Green councillors "defied local people and gave their backing to the tree cutting plan". This is untrue. I was the only councillor present (from any ward or political party) and as such was asked to chair the meeting. As the chair of the meeting I did my utmost to remain impartial, to refrain from expressing an opinion either way and to give all those present an opportunity to speak. Local Labour representative Paul Newing attended the meeting, but did not speak.

For the record, I was uncomfortable with the idea of 68 trees being felled, but also keen that the opportunity the EU money provided to improve the Northern Field was not lost. I was therefore pleased when following the walkabout with park users and officers, a revised plan was drawn up which resulted in a reduced number of trees being lost, and an overall gain in the numbers of trees after replanting.

Cllr Mike Keogh has been heavily involved with Ladywell Fields Users' Group and the QUERCUS project since its inception. As he has been so heavily involved in the project, and as the company he works for are contracted to carry out some of the work in the park, he quite rightly took no part in the planning decision when it was considered by his planning committee on 15th March 2007.

It is always sad when trees are cut down, but there are sometimes valid reasons for doing so. In this case, as I understand it, some are being removed to enable the river to be moved to the centre of the field (a key part of the project, which in my opinion will enhance the park for both local people and wildlife), some are diseased, some are too close together and need to be thinned to enable them to flourish and some non-native species are being replaced with more native species. If the plan was to stick a motorway through Ladywell Fields, I would be the first to chain myself to the diggers. This is not the case. There will be a short-term loss in biodiversity while the work is being carried out, but I honestly believe this will be outweighed by the longer-term improvements in wildlife habitat and attractiveness of the park to local people.

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