The public open spaces in Gillingham are recognised as one of the UK’s very best green spaces
The open spaces in Gillingham have been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as some of the very best in the world.
Public open spaces at: Jubilee Fields, Rolls Bridge, King Edmund Green, Hawthorne Avenue, Upper Lodden Meadow, Lower Lodden Meadow and Ham Farm are among a record-breaking 1,883 UK parks and green spaces that have received a prestigious Green Flag Award this week.
This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.
The Mayor, Cllr Mrs Su Hunt said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for our open spaces. For some areas this is for the third year running. New this year were the open spaces at Upper Lodden Meadow, Lower Lodden Meadow and Ham Farm.”
“We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and this award celebrates the dedication that goes into maintaining our open spaces to a high standard”.
Judges who assessed the site commented that “The Town Council are managing a significant land resource of over 70 acres across a number of sites. Their approach to gaining/retaining Green flag status is a positive statement of their intention to manage these sites well. There was evident enthusiasm on the part of staff, volunteers and elected members.”
International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme, with more Green Flags awarded this year than last year.”
“Each flag honours the people who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We are proud to have so many wonderful green spaces in the UK for people to enjoy, and hope that next year, we award even more flags.”
Gillingham residents vote in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan
The Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Mrs Su Hunt has announced the results of the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan Referendum which was held on Thursday 12th July 2018.
The question which was asked at the referendum was: 'Do you want North Dorset District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for the parish of Gillingham to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?'.
The number of votes cast was 2,120, representing an overall turnout of 23%.
The votes were:
Yes 1,919 (90.5%)
No 201 (9.5%)
There were no spoilt papers.
Cllr Mrs Hunt said: "It has taken six years to reach this stage and a lot of hard work has been put in by some dedicated volunteers on behalf of our community. I would like to thank all members of the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan Group for their commitment and everyone else involved for their contributions and support. I am delighted that the town has supported the Neighbourhood Plan by such a strong majority"
Neighbourhood Plans give local people the power to shape the area where they live or work. If the majority of those who vote in a referendum are in favour of the plan, then the local planning authority must adopt the plan within 8 weeks of the referendum. It will then form part of the statutory development plan for the area. This means it will need to be taken into account when considering planning applications in the Gillingham neighbourhood area.
Following the majority ‘yes’ vote at the referendum, the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan will go before North Dorset District Council on 27th July 2018 to agree the results of the referendum and agree to 'make' the plan part of the statutory development plan.
Mr David Beaton, Chairman of the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan Group said “We are really pleased with the result, which ensures that the views of the people of Gillingham and Milton-on-Stour about the future of their town and village will be taken into account when decisions are being made about planning applications in this parish. I’d like to put on record my thanks to the members of the Neighbourhood Plan Group for the hard work they have unstintingly put in and for the commitment that they have consistently shown over the six years it has taken to prepare the plan. I am looking forward to seeing it play a part in shaping the future of the harmonious and community-minded neighbourhood area of Gillingham.”
Gillingham Town Council continues to raise awareness of the importance of our pollinators to sustain life.
At the end of May volunteers from Gillingham Action for Nature Group (GANG) were busy sowing wildflower seeds and cereals crops on the public open space at Shreen Meadow. The seed varieties chosen were the same type used by farmers to plant along the edges of fields to provide a food source for insects and wildlife.
Bob Messer, said: “GANG are very excited about developing Shreen Meadow as a haven wildlife and it will be interesting to monitor how many more butterflies and birds are attracted to this site.”
A wildflower lawn has been created in the closed churchyard at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in Gillingham as part of an ongoing Living Churchyard project in partnership with the Town Council.
Rev Eve Pegler, said: “We are really looking forward to a colourful display of wildflowers this summer as well as providing a great source of food for our pollinators.”
It is not easy to establish wildflower meadows in heavy clay areas such as Gillingham as the natural soils are too rich for many wildflowers to grow; however, with good management and patience it may be possible to overcome these initial difficulties. Two small wildflower areas are being trialled with a mixture of wildflower seeds and plug plants on the public open space at Rolls Bridge and Jubilee Fields If successful, more areas will become designated for wildflowers.
The Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Belinda Ridout, said: “The Town Council is committed to improving the biodiversity of the town and surrounding areas and encourages everyone to plant something for our pollinators. The more people who work with us, the ore effective we will be in preventing further decline of our pollinators.”
Gillingham Town Council is very keen to get residents involved in keeping the town looking clean and tidy. Cllr Belinda Ridout has been busy encouraging organisations and individuals in the town to enter the South West in Bloom – It’s Your Neighbourhood 2018 competition. A competition judged on community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening achievement. A total of 10 gardens have been entered and judging will take place in July. We wish all the entries good luck.
In March, 20 local people volunteered to brave the cold and snow to litter pick a wide area of the town. Between the ‘snows’, pupils of Gillingham Primary School planted 24 no. Elm trees in the recreation ground at Hardings Park. The cold weather did not deter Gillingham Action for Nature Group volunteers (GANG) from clearing scrub on our open spaces at Shires Gate, Shreen Meadow and Withy Woods. A newly formed volunteer litter picking group will regularly help towards clearing the town and beyond of litter. Volunteers can be easily spotted wearing hi-viz jackets with a colourful logo emblazoned on the back - Gillingham – ‘Love Where You Live’. If you spot this logo it means that local people are busy working on a project that will benefit our town. A list of volunteering opportunities is currently being put together and will be launched shortly.
Twenty volunteers from the community braved the cold wind and snow showers to help litter-pick the town on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March. A wide area was covered and many sacks of rubbish collected.
In 2017 Gillingham Town Council launched its five-year Pollinator Action Plan and a commitment to raise awareness of the importance of all pollinators which are essential for food production and consequently our lives. On Thursday, 15th March 2018, 24 no. Elm trees were planted at Hardings Park with the assistance of Year 1 pupils from Gillingham Primary School.
Native Elms are prone to disease, especially as they reach maturity, but the new varieties that have been developed on the continent have proved disease resistant and are now being planted in the UK alongside native elms to improve the biodiversity of hedges and woodlands. The two Elm varieties chosen for Hardings Park are most suited for heavy clay soils and have been supplied by Peter Shallcross of Wallmead Farm, Tisbury, Wiltshire.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is highly supportive of this project and their Conservation Officer, Patrick Cook said:
“It’s brilliant that Gillingham Town Council are making positive steps towards helping pollinators and in particular butterflies such as the White-letter Hairstreak. Planting a mixture of native, naturalised and disease resistant elm should benefit the White-letter Hairstreak, whose sole foodplant is Elm. We hope that many councils will follow the excellent example being provided by Gillingham Town Council in order to improve our urban areas for pollinator species.”
The tree planting is part of the Town Council’s commitment to plant more trees and, where possible, in conjunction with primary school aged children under the ‘global initiative - One Tree Per Child.
The Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Belinda Ridout said:
“It is always a pleasure to plant a tree knowing that it will provide a valuable resource for generations to come. When a child volunteers to plant a tree it is even more special because this provides an opportunity for a child to measure their own development with that of the tree”.
Children of Hedgehog Class at Gillingham Primary School, Dorset, tree planting with the Mayor, Cllr Belinda Ridout, courtesy of the BVM Magazine.
Gillingham Town Council has joined forces with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy in a bid to reduce dog fouling in key problem areas.
The campaign sets its sights on irresponsible dog owners. Recent research shows that dog walkers are more responsible and pick up after their dogs, when they think that they are being watched.
Last year Keep Britain Tidy conducted a campaign pilot, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), working with land managers across the country. This pilot saw an average reduction of 46% in the levels of dog fouling. Feedback suggests that dog fouling tends to occur at night time and during the months with shorter days, as some dog owners feel that they can’t be seen ‘under the cover of darkness’.
Gillingham Town Council signed up to the edgy and uncompromising campaign to tackle dog fouling hotspots. The ‘We’re Watching You’ signs are visible after dark, and use innovative cuttingedge materials. The social experiment was the first time such a material has been used on a poster.
Cllr Mrs Belinda Ridout said, “Feedback from residents has told us that dog fouling is a key issue in our town that they would like to see addressed. We know that the public perceive dog fouling to be by far the most unacceptable and dirtiest type of litter”. “The vast majority of dog owners are responsible people, who habitually pick up after their dog and dispose of the poo bags correctly, either in the nearest bin or by taking home to dispose of in their own household waste bin.”
“We are thrilled to be working with Keep Britain Tidy, and being a part of such a cutting-edge campaign. We hope that we will see the same results as the local authorities who have already signed up to the campaign.”
On the 15th and 16th November an avenue of trees was planted on the public open space at Lower Lodden and Ham Farm. A total of 50 trees were planted – 20 Common Oak and 30 Popular – by the town council’s grounds staff and volunteers. The trees have already made a big impact on the public open space and will be an attractive feature in the landscape for many years to come.
In mediaeval times, Gillingham’s Royal Forest was a favoured hunting area and its quality timbers were used in Royal palaces and for ship building. Deforestation continued as the town grew. Nationally, there is concern that without successive tree planting there will be a generation gap of mature trees.
The avenue of trees that has been planted at Upper Lodden (off King John Road), Lower Lodden (to the rear of Addison Close and Lodden View) and Ham Farm (off Chaffinch Chase and Wren Place), fall within the boundary of the Gillingham Royal Forest and will serve as a living heritage feature and a valuable amenity asset: helping to purifying the air we breathe, providing a wildlife habitat and soaking up excess surface water.
The Mayor, Cllr Mrs Belinda Ridout was particularly enthusiastic about the project and commented that “the tree planting coincides with the commemoration of the end of WWI, so the trees will be a remembrance to all the local people who lost their lives in the Great War”.
The project has been funded using developer money set aside to maintain and improve our public open spaces. The town council is very appreciative of the financial contribution it received from Co-operative Funeralcare, to Mark Jackson of Merck Limited (Sigma-Aldrich) for releasing staff to help with the planting and to all the other volunteers who willingly gave up their time to help on the day, without which the trees could not have been planted so quickly and efficiently.
Employees from Merck using their community time to help with tree planting. Left to Right: Alex Chase, Laura Kimber and Oli Martin.
North Dorset Local Plan Review – Issues & Options Consultation
North Dorset District Council is in the process of producing a new Local Plan for the District, which will replace the North Dorset Local Plan Part 1 (adopted in January 2016) and those parts of the North Dorset-District Wide Local Plan (adopted in January 2003) that are still extant. As part of the Local Plan Review the Council will be consulting on an Issues & Options Document. The consultation period will start on 27 November 2017 and end at 5pm on 22 January 2018.
The document considers, amongst other things, how much development the Council should be planning for and where that development should be located within the District. It is currently intended that the Local Plan Review will cover the period to 2033.
The Issues & Options Document, Sustainability Appraisal, consultation response form and other associated documents will be accessible via the link below from the 27 November 2017.
Once the consultation has commenced hard copies of the Issues & Options Document and the Sustainability Appraisal will be available to view at the Council’s Offices, Nordon, Salisbury Road, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7LL and at South Walks House, South Walks Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1UZ during normal opening hours. The documents will also be available to view at the public libraries in North Dorset. Details regarding the locations of the libraries and their opening hours can be accessed via the following link:
As part of the consultation on the Issues & Options Document the Council has arranged a number of drop-in events at which residents and other interested parties will be able to view what is being considered. Officers will also be available to answer questions. Details regarding the drop-in events are as follows:
- Blandford – Monday 27 November 2017 (10am to 7pm)
Council Chamber, Nordon, Salisbury Road, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7AF
- Shaftesbury – Wednesday 29 November 2017 (10am to 7pm)
Ground Floor, Town Hall, High Street, Shaftesbury, SP7 8JE
- Gillingham – Tuesday 5 December 2017 (10am to 7pm)
Shreen Room, Riversmeet Leisure Centre, Hardings Lane, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 4HX
- Sturminster Newton – Monday 11 December 2017 (10am to 7pm)
Bow Room, The Exchange, 1 Old Market Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 1FH
- Stalbridge – Tuesday 12 December 2017 (1.30pm-7pm)
TheHub@Stalbridge, Station Road, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 2RG
Please be aware that all responses to the consultation will subsequently be available for inspection by members of the public and other interested parties.
All of the responses to the consultation will be considered prior to the Council progressing to the next stage of the review process which will involve the production of a Preferred Options Document. The Preferred Options Document will also be subject to public consultation.
The Mayor, Cllr Mrs Belinda Ridout, joined volunteers on Saturday, 14th October, to plant over 1,000 daffodil bulbs on the open spaces off Gyllas Way in Gillingham. The bulbs were purchased using donations from local residents.
Cllr Mrs Ridout informed reporters that “local residents and those that regularly travel through Gillingham have commented to the Town Council on how much the flower beds and planting schemes are appreciated”.
Last month a local resident paid for three hydrangea plants to be planted along Le Neubourg Way opposite Cemetery Road and more recently The Town Council has supported The Rotary Club’s 30 year commitment to eradicating polio across the world by planting a large number of crocus bulbs. To find out more information fo to www.endpolionow or www.gillinghamrotary.co.uk
At the South West in Bloom Award Ceremony held in Torquay earlier in October the Town Council picked up an award for the summer bedding scheme at Station Road to celebrate 40 years of Gillingham Town Twinning with Le Neubourg in France. The flower bed in the High Street to celebrate the Lion’s Club 100th anniversary also won an award.
Cllr Mrs Ridout said “the South West in Bloom judges were so impressed with the standard of planting that they would like Gillingham Town Council to enter again next year”
Resilient Communities Fund enables Gillingham to prepare for an emergency
Funding received from Southern Electric Power Distribution’s Resilient Communities Fund has enabled Gillingham Town Council to purchase equipment which will help protect the welfare of the community and improve communication during an emergency situation.
Southern Electric Power Distribution established the fund to support communities in order to improve local resilience for future emergency weather events. During an extreme weather event, emergency services need to prioritise those in greatest need and this means that in certain situations communities may need to rely on their own resources to cope with an incident until they can be reached by professionals. In Gillingham, a small working party has been set up by the Town Council under the leadership of Cllr Paul Harris. The working party has built on existing relationships and networks, and applied local knowledge to ensure that the town can act in a way that complements the responses of the emergency services and creates a stronger, coordinated framework from which to effectively deal with severe weather situations.
Following receipt of the grant, equipment was purchased and Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan was updated. On 20th April 2017 a table top exercise was arranged by the Civil Contingencies Unit to test the effectiveness of Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan. The exercise was attended by representatives from Gillingham Town Council, Dorset Police, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Dorset County Council, British Telecommunications Plc, Dorset RAYNET, The Environment Agency and the Dorset Local Resilience Forum. Civil Contingencies Officer, David Beavis said, “The exercise was well received from all of those who attended. Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan is a prime example of what effective measures can be put in place at a local level, and the Civil Contingencies Unit will refer to Gillingham’s plan on the Local Resilience Forum’s webpage as an example of good practice”.
Cllr Paul Harris, who attended the exercise on behalf of Gillingham Town Council stated, “We have had great support from SSE in further developing our emergency resilience plans and to purchase additional equipment. We have specific challenges in Gillingham around flooding and much of this equipment will allow our flood wardens to be more effective in their work”.
If anyone would like to find out further information on how they might assist, the Resilience Team will be available to answer questions and show the equipment between 6pm and 7pm, prior to the Full Council meeting, on Monday 26th June 2017 at Gillingham Town Hall.
An official celebration of the completion of the Hardings Park project and the creation of a leisure hub for Gillingham will be held on Saturday, 15th July from 11.30am till 4pm. The event will be hosted by Gillingham Town Council in partnership with the RiversMeet Leisure Centre.
The skate park will be officially opened with a ‘Skate Jam’ from 12 noon with numerous prizes on offer.
The outside table tennis facility and multi-use games area will be officially opened at 11.45am. RiversMeet Leisure Centre will be providing a BBQ and Italian ice cream at reasonable prices.
The table tennis facility will be dedicated to the late Mr Alan Hislop – a veteran international table tennis player who died earlier this year and was an enthusiastic ambassador for the sport and keen to see a table tennis facility included as part of the refurbishment of Hardings Park.
The multi-use games area is suitable for football and basketball and free to use. As part of the celebration, we hope that ball skills will be demonstrated by local football and basketball players.
The Adventure Play Area nearby was officially opened last June and has been extremely popular with local families and visitors.
We invite the whole community to join us for this celebration.
On Monday 27th February 2017, the final sixteen oak trees were planted to finish off the avenue of trees project that was started last spring on the open space adjoining King John Road in Gillingham. The avenue of trees commemorates the 500th anniversary of Gillingham School as well as a reference to Gillingham’s past as a Royal Forest. The newly planted trees will help to irrigate the local area, improve the water quality of the River Lodden, which flows through the site, and reduce surface water run-off to help prevent flooding further downstream. The trees were purchased from funds held by the Town Council and donations from Gillingham School and local residents.
The Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Barry Von Clemens with Town Council staff, Dorset Countryside, Gillingham School and local residents.
The Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Barry Von Clemens championed the initiative for local school councils to link with Gillingham Town Council. At the beginning of his Mayoral year
Cllr Von Clemens had stated that “young people have a voice and we are here to listen”.
Representatives of Gillingham School’s council attended the Gillingham Full Council meeting held on Monday, 23rd January 2017 and presented a report of their current activities. Members of the town council welcomed this report and agreed that Gillingham School Council and St. Mary’s Primary School Council, who had asked to join this initiative, should be invited to send written reports, on a quarterly basis, up-dating the town council of their issues and concerns. This will provide a platform for the young people to engage with the first level of local government, to experience how democracy plays it’s part in their everyday lives.
Cllr Von Clemens hopes that in time all the School Councils will join this initiative and he would very much welcome their involvement. He stated “The young people are the future. This will be their chance to become part of Gillingham’s future development”.
Gillingham Town Council has recently provided a ‘Teenzone’ goal end for youngsters at Church View following requests from local residents to provide a facility for ball games. The Mayor said “the new equipment will encourage the youngsters to play ball games in a safe environment away from the roads.” Local children and residents, seen here with the Mayor of Gillingham, Cllr Barry Von Clemens and his escort, Alison Gale, gave the facility a ‘thumbs up’ seal of approval.
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