Our “new” clerk Jenny was welcomed in the last issue. Unfortunately she resigned within a couple of months. Nothing to do with us, honest! She was just unexpectedly offered her old job back and found it too hard to resist. So now we welcome Geoff Wright, who I’m sure will prove to be a much more steady character.
At the meeting on 1st September we co-opted Tom Wood as a new member to bring the council up to full strength. It’s good to have some young blood on the council, and Tom brings a welcome representation from the western end of the village.
Headstone Copse footpath
The council had a further meeting with the new landowner, Jason (Jay) Witts, in June. I’m pleased to be able to report that Jay has agreed to the perimeter path becoming a permissive path. Jay is working with Hampshire County Council and the PC to establish this on a formal basis. As you will probably know, there are two public rights-of-way through Headstone Copse, one of them the Wayfarer’s Walk. The perimeter path, which many of us have walked for years, is not a right-of-way. This agreement will allow villagers to continue to use it, and for that we are most grateful.
Jay has many plans for the copse (also called Claire’s Copse), including measures to enhance it both for walkers and for wildlife. Selective clearing and coppicing will take place to allow more light into certain areas, and the creation of a pond adjacent to one of the footpath’s boggy areas will aim to increase biodiversity. Because of this and other activities Jay will occasionally need to close part of the permissive path for short periods. He plans to install kissing gates at two points (where the more southerly public footpath crosses the permissive path) and as the need arises will post notices to that effect there. It is vital that we respect these. Jay hopes to offer seasoned firewood from the felling and coppicing at a competitive price. The funds raised will be reinvested in the copse and the youth work he supports.
Jay would also welcome village involvement with these plans, in particular with the conservation work. This would need to be organised with Jay rather than on an ad hoc basis. Whilst this is not strictly a parish council matter, we would be happy to help to establish a conservation working group. We have already had a couple of offers, so if you’re interested please get in touch. No-one should undertake any unauthorised work in the copse, no matter how well intentioned or apparently harmless it might seem.
For those less active, the prospect of a seat beside the public footpath to rest and to admire the view might be welcome. If you would like to donate one, perhaps as a memorial, Jason would be interested to hear from you!
Windmill Down paths
We also had a further meeting in August with Windmill Down Farms (WDF), the owners of Windmill Down. We re-stated our preference for the unofficial linking path to be agreed as a permissive path, but WDF remains unhappy for this path to be walked. As an alternative WDF has offered a pair of paths, one linking the official footpath to the bridleway by means of a new path inside the hedge beside Brook Lane; the other almost doubling back to Hog Lane, crossing it, then following the field edge until it meets the footpath which emerges from the Church heading towards Stewarts Green.
It’s difficult to describe these routes, but WDF has supplied a plan showing them all. Unfortunately it would not be legible reproduced in the magazine, but you can see it in Clark’s window, the PC notice board and on the PC website. I would urge walkers to inspect these. If you have any views please pass them on to the clerk, Geoff Wright. Contact details are inside the front cover.
Meetings and agendas
Meetings usually take place on the first Monday of the month (a week later if that’s a bank holiday) but agendas have to be displayed publicly three days in advance. In practice this means by the previous Wednesday. No business may be transacted that’s not on the agenda. So if you’ve got a grant application you’d like us to consider or any other important issue that you feel we should discuss, you need to let us know a week in advance.