Sixpenny Handley and Pentridge Parish
Concern about the cutting back of the recreation ground hedge (part of the medium-term plan below) has been raised on Facebook, this report is to clarify issues raised and provide details on what is taking place. Please note every Parish Councillor is a volunteer, voted in by the community. If you feel strongly about this and other issues please contact a member of the council directly, our details are in the Downsman and on the Parish Council website – https://sixpennyhandleyandpentridge-pc.gov.uk.
The recreation ground hedges have not been managed for over 25 years, this is due to the fact that ownership was not clear, as part of the Recreation Ground review ownership was identified and is the responsibility of the Parish Council. The whole Parish Council met at the Recreation Ground earlier this year to discuss upkeep and maintenance of the ground and facilities which is owned by the Parish. This included buildings, boundaries, and the ground maintenance. All aspects to be considered by the Parish Council were captured in the ‘Grounds Maintenance & Future Planning’ document. At the Finance and General Purpose Parish Council Meeting held on the 3rd of June at the Parish Office the document was reviewed. The outcome of this was a short, medium and long term plan being agreed and minuted. The following is an extract from the minutes which are available from the Parish Office on request.
Members agreed to engage with local contractor Bradley Kilshaw to discuss matters relating to the Cricket boundary perimeter & banking, Artificial strip maintenance & practise nets, Play area & Church boundary hedge and the School end boundary - removal of elder & scrub encroaching onto recreation area. Members agreed to meet Mr Kilshaw at Recreation Ground 4th June @ 5pm Cllrs Reed, Meaden & New to attend. The new hedge along Saddlers boundary needs regular watering – the Bowls Club have an outside tap to provide a possible solution. Cllr D Adams agreed responsibility to mow the L shape grassed area whilst maintaining a pathway for school pick up. Members agreed for the Pitch Groundsman to continue to mow the cricket outfield.
The planting of a hedge behind the green container – continuation of hedge to tidy up the corner of the cricket boundary. The large hedge row between S Judd’s land and the Recreation ground is the responsibility of the PC but works to layer/reduce will require access for the appropriate machinery. Members agreed to gain permission and quotes from landowner & contractor and begin work at the (Church end) and continuing towards the corner of the rapeseed field. Commencement of work late September/October as any waste can be disposed of on the annual bonfire. Cllr D Adams to approach Mr S Judd. A local contractor has been contacted to landscape & grade the land at the rear of the Pavilion – waiting for a child friendly natural design and quote.
- The continuation of hedge row layering – Autumn 2022.
- The reorganisation of storage, increasing capacity, replacement/removal of the green container and the amalgamation of machinery to one compound area – formal planning and grant funding will be required.
- The purchase of a new mower will require raising funds.
Vegetation on the steep football bank to be left longer - a home to wildflowers encourage flora & fauna.
Why cut the hedge back
It is very difficult to find suitably qualified contractors at this time of year and there is limited time for this work to be conducted and allow time for the remaining work in time for spring growth. The state of the hedgerow, habitation, fruit etc was also made, normally at this time of year frost have set in and fruit has been eaten by the wildlife. Whilst the season is mild at the moment it was deemed suitable to complete the work as there were fruit available in the remaining hedgerow and no evident nesting. An opportunity to gain someone was identified earlier this month and so a meeting with the contractor was held at the start of this week. The following was discussed:
We looked at the first 150m from the playground down towards the pavilion up to the point where the grass becomes the arable field. The remainder would have to be done next year if this fitted in with Steve’s cropping plans. This would involve cutting the hedge down close to the ground, removing most of the brush with some being replaced to protect the stumps and any new hedge plants as and when these are planted. Some of the hedge is quite large and would need to be cut with a saw due to the diameter of the wood but there isn’t much scope to leave larger plants to grow into full trees because of the power lines.
The contractor was only available this week and so with agreement with the Parish Council the work was initiated. Unfortunately, this did not give time to inform the wider community and it also transpired that Steve Judd had not been fully briefed on the extent of the work. A member of the Parish Council therefore updated Steve on the work to address this shortfall.
Whilst the cutback looks extreme it is in fact in line with best practice, cutting close to the ground encourages ground level regrowth leading to a stronger hedge, leaving stumps encourages top growth and a weaker hedge. The trees needed to be removed due to the power line running over the top of the hedge line. The brush needed to be removed as it had become a habitat for rabbits which were digging holes in the football pitch resulting in broken ankles and therefore a public liability if not addressed. They also were infected with myxomatosis and so were also an issue to other rabbit populations.
The hedgerow has also become much wider than intended, the ground now exposed will be laid with native wildflowers, there are 400 native bushes on order which will be planted this winter. There are saplings on the bank which will also be relocated to fill gaps and help establish the run of the hedge. As stated, the full hedgerow is not being cut this year, this is to ensure there is still a habitat for wildlife in this area of the recreation ground. Whilst there has been some loss of fruit, most was stripped and there is still the remaining hedgerow as well as the abundance of hedges around the parish.
It should be noted that there is further work being carried out over the coming weeks, trees next to the pond at the entrance to the village hall are being felled, this is to improve visibility at the entrance and again address management of the areas the parish council are responsible. All legal aspects regarding the felling of the trees have been addressed and planning permission is not required due to the tree species.
If you feel strongly about any of this, please contact a member of the parish council directly. Please do not publish further comments on Facebook, not everyone has access, and it can lead to mis information and upset, we are a community and face to face talks are always the best way forward. If you would also like to volunteer to help in this long-term project then please contact us, we are few and could do with some help every now and then.
The Parish Council