Ask any Councillor what topic has featured heavily in their inboxes in recent weeks, and they’ll most likely reply ‘re-wilding’. Re-wilding is when you leave areas of land to grow unmanaged in order to allow wildlife, especially bees and other pollinators, to flourish.
During lockdown, some grass areas managed by Mendip couldn’t be cut, and people were delighted to discover wildflowers (including rare orchids) springing up. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss, and on the back of all the wonderful feedback received from residents, and the obvious boost to our flora and fauna, we took the decision to leave 17,000 square metres of Mendip land to re-wild.
The District Council is serious about protecting our natural environment as part of our commitment to the climate and ecological emergency. Re-wilding is the first step in a broader strategy which also includes the sewing of wildflowers across the district.
Now, while many people love this new approach, we do recognise the need to consult with communities, as well as the Parish, Town and City councils, to make sure we get it right going forward. We know, for example, that some residents use these patches of ground as informal kick-about areas, and want the grass cut. We need to strike a balance, and we are working on better signage too, so communities are fully informed of our land management measures.
Continuing the theme of supporting bio-diversity and the growth of natural habitats, you may have seen this week we announced two community-led weeding pilots in Mendip. They’ll be in Frome and in Easton, Wells. The aim is to ‘pull together’ as residents to tackle weed control without the use of glyphosate - a weed killer linked to cancer and considered toxic to birds and insects.
To find out more and sign-up, visit: www.mendip.gov.uk/communityweeding. You don’t need to bring along any special equipment – just your enthusiasm! We’re looking forward to the Council’s first ever ‘hoe-down’ in late September. If you don’t live in the pilot areas, please still sign-up. Mendip wants community weeding groups to grow across the district, and we’ll help facilitate these, even though they are not part of the official trials.
We were happy to hear from Fusion Lifestyle this week that there is a schedule for pools to be re-opened in Frome and Strode (1st September), and in Wells (14th September). The outdoor lido in Shepton remains closed, but is due to re-open next summer.
This administration inherited a 50-year lease with Fusion, with few conditions on how they run the centres. How and when they open their facilities is therefore for Fusion to determine, but the Council recognises the challenges the COVID crisis has brought to the leisure industry and is doing all it can to support the company and the important services they offer.
I hope you’re enjoying these final days of summer before the children return to school, and a new season sweeps in. And if there are any issues you’d like covered in this column, please email me: [email protected]