Had a really lovely meeting yesterday evening with the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Ian Hudspeth, and Witney’s Deputy Mayor, Chris Holliday to discuss my campaign to have Oxfordshire’s roadside verges as wild flower meadows.
If you have’t done so already, check out The Oxford Mail’s article on the project.
We have decided to push ahead with creating a ‘template project’ on Jubilee Way here in Witney that once successful can be applied by community groups and associations throughout Oxfordshire.
Introducing the Jubilee Wild Flower Meadow
If you zoom in to the verge on the east side of Jubilee Way you will see the area marked by a black line. This area looks to be around 2.2 hectares or 5.4 acres. Planted up with wild flowers and only cut once a year after flowers have seeded will make this a massive win for the local wildlife and the local community.
Obstacles to overcome
- Ian Hudspeth’s concerns were over liability insurance and risk assessments. Cllr Chris Holliday is going to approach Witney Town Council to see if this can be done through their insurance and also chat to them about risk assessments.
- Choosing the flowers to grow in the area and deciding weather to sow or plant established plants. It is a massive area, so ideally we will be looking for a few professionals to come on board and offer advice to make sure we get the tight plants for the right area.
- Funds. This will be funded by fundraising in the local community through crowd-funding. We’ll need volunteers to come on-board to help drive this forward.
What a successful template in Witney means to Oxfordshire
If we get this right then the implications for wildlife habitats in Oxfordshire are MASSIVE! For the project to work it has to be community driven and for two very important reasons!
The first is that the council just doesn’t have the resources to make this happen, and lets face it – funds are tight. One of the positives for the council will be that they will actually save money eventually as these verges will need much less maintenance.
The second is that we are not just planting seeds in verges, but in the hearts of people. Seeds that will grow with pride in a child’s heart allowing them to pass by the verge in full bloom and say “I did that!” These kinds of experience can really chance peoples understanding of their local environment and place in the ecosystem.
It is hoped that local people will chip in a couple of quid along with businesses and community groups to make this happen.
The next step
Hopefully over the next few weeks a core team of volunteers can arrange to meet on site and get planning. If you want to be a part of this then please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on the numbers are the top of this page.
Join the discussion!
The comment section below is open for your comments and views. Want to share your thoughts or even offer to help in some way? Get in touch!
Thanks for reading!
Richard MacKenzie – The Witney Gardener