Since the Meadow was acquired by the Parish Council, it has been managed by volunteers with just three voluntary managers during those twenty-seven years or more. The only contracted work was in mowing the paths through the Meadow in May to keep the area accessible, plus a complete cut in the autumn.
In recent years, it seems volunteer wardens who are prepared to undertake the physical work of scrub clearance, raking, burning and hedge maintenance have become fewer and the ups and downs of their availability has meant that the reserve has not been managed consistently well.
There are three management committee meetings each year, chaired by a parish councillor and attended by the manager and wardens and it was agreed recently that we should move towards a contracted maintenance regime for the major annual tasks, thereby freeing up the volunteers for the more rewarding, occasional initiatives.
The greatest benefit of this will be the annual removal of the hay in the autumn, and good maintenance of the hedges and paths. An example of the difficulties experienced is the brookside path. This was cleared by volunteers a few years ago and made for a popular and pleasant walk adjacent to the stream which was previously inaccessible. However, this needs at least one cut each year with a brushcutter to keep it clear which in turn means getting heavy tools down to the field. No one is prepared to take their private car along Lings Lane now and this means that the path has been neglected.
In 2012, the access path was cleared as far as the top path. In 2013 the rest of the path will be cleared and the access path maintained. Clearance will continue at an affordable rate until the Meadow needs simple annual maintenance to keep it in good condition for wildlife and attractive to visitors.
HELP!We have very few wardens to help keep an eye on the reserve and to help with occasional tasks. No knowledge of wildlife or countryside management is needed.
The work described above has create masses of bonfire material so if that appeals, or if you can spare an occasional couple of hours now and then, we will be able to restore our visiting rota that makes sure the site is safe and well-maintained. If you can handle a saw or loppers then your practical skills may prove handy on occasions.
At the moment the reserve is wardened by stalwarts Barbara and Peter Stafford, with Geoffrey Littlejohns and Diane Wright helping out. Our latest recruit is Mike Reid. Just a few people more would enable better management and of course you will play a role in the reserve's planning at the regular management meetings.
If you would like to give it a try, please contact the Clerk to the Parish Council who will put you in touch with the reserve's manager. (Or contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org)
Clerk to the Parish Council,
Tel: 0115 937 2185