Applause after applause from a large crowd resounded throughout the crowded Court Room in the Town Hall at last night’s (Monday 11 April) meeting of the full Town Council where Councillors vented their opposition to Forestry England’s ‘internal’ suggestion to close Savernake Forest to all vehicles.
Councillor Nick Fogg was vehement in his condemnation of the ‘plans’ presented by Forestry England, and whilst in their defence, they claimed that their words had been ‘misrepresented’, Councillor Fogg made clear that, having (like all other Councillors) read and digested the Forestry England ‘internal discussion document’ in its entirety that in his view it ‘was a serious proposal’. (Access the internal discussion document here).
Whilst no criticism of Forestry England or the Forestry Commission was made of how they manage Savernake Forest in terms of maintaining the forest, Councillors who voiced their clear opposition to this part of the plans were given applause after applause by the estimated crowd of eighty, maybe a hundred who packed the Court Room (standing room only) to hear the Town Council’s opposition to what one Councillor described as ‘an outrage’.
Councillor Jane Davies noted that she had received details of some anti social behaviour happening in areas of Savernake Forest, and she asked the Police representative present (Sgt Gareth Cole) about the Policing of the area whilst he was giving his report moments previously, but she, like all other Councillors was adamant that the answer was not to deprive residents of Marlborough or visitors from much further afield access to Savernake Forest in their vehicles.
Councillor Mark Luson, the newest member of the Council pointed out that proximity to Savernake Forest was one of the main reasons that he and his family moved to this area. Mayor Mark Cooper described Savernake Forest as a ‘magical place’.
In the end Councillors voted emphatically and unanimously to object to any such proposals, echoing the resounding opinion of the community at large and those packing the hall.
Next step? A statement from either Forestry England or the Forestry Commission setting out exactly what they are proposing regarding vehicular access, the future of the Postern Hill car park (enlarging to 350 cars / ‘Disneyfication’ / charging?) and if they are really going to ‘develop’ this part of Savernake Forest to commercial ends with the ecological consequences. Or let the natural and glorious beauty of Savernake Forest be there for all to enjoy.