I would like to raise my concerns about the Public Open Space between Barton Park and College Fields, a large proportion of which has been left untended. There is now tall grass heavily invaded with weed which has created an eyesore in the heart of these developments. For over 25 years I lived in the area and was part of a group which tried to gain Village Green designation to ensure the land was safeguarded for future use.
This was opposed by Wiltshire Council and Marlborough College but at a Public Inquiry in January 2018 it was formally recognised as Public Open Space. The campaign revealed the strong attachment people had for the location and the appreciation of what it could offer culturally, socially and personally. Subsequently in October 2019 a petition was submitted to the Council requesting the transfer of this asset; a proposal which was supported by both the Town Council and Marlborough Area Board. It was hoped that this would allow some facilities which had been requested by members of the community, including benches and dog bins, to be provided.
In policy documents the Government has recognised the importance of green spaces which need to be accessible, aesthetically pleasing and provide opportunity for play, sport and leisure. They are multifunctional; possessing intangible worth beyond monetary value and are of benefit to both physical and mental wellbeing.
There is an expectation that elected representatives should take the lead in developing strategic plans for the use of these spaces in collaboration with the local community incorporating the Councils expertise and resources. Consultation should include a formal survey of current use and future requirements and the process needs to be transparent and responsive to feedback. Only when agreed should any proposal be implemented and of course monitored.
I’m not aware of any such exercise and yet there has been a change in management of the green leaving large parts unmown and unusable. We already know from the Neighbourhood plan that despite being a rural town there is insufficient space for public activities.
The current problems with the long grass at the site:
- There is a huge impact visually from the road creating the impression that the whole area has been neglected and is derelict. It certainly doesn’t invite exploration and is unwelcoming.
- It limits access for the visually impaired and physically disabled.
- When the grass is cut long it sits on top of vegetation and doesn’t decompose. It also blocks light and hinders growth.
- Vets advise it shouldn’t be used by pets as there will be more parasites such as fleas and ticks, and grass seed can cause irritation and infection of skin, eyes, ears and nose.
- There is more hidden animal faeces from dogs and cats which carry harmful pathogens. The NHS clearly states that children shouldn’t play in such areas.
I think there are some wonderful opportunities to enhance this area both for the neighbourhood and to the advantage of the environment such as community seating, tree planting, wild flower borders and provision of bins. Will Wiltshire Council rise to the challenge?
Portsnouth, but of Marlborough until recently