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THE Melksham community has gone ‘wild’ over Wiltshire Council’s request for nominations for areas within the town to become wildflower havens.
In response to the story in the last issue of Melksham News, readers have submitted a number of ideas for areas to be preserved as spaces for wildflowers and insects to flourish.
• the playing field by Forest and Sandridge School
• land near the new housing estate being built off Sandridge Road to replace the field lost to housing
• behind the houses of Corncockle Road/CranesBill Road, extending from the Eastern bypass to the end of Westbury View, following the stream
• local roundabouts
• land at Bowerhill near the Tesco store
• The land between Duxford Close and the open fields at the far end of Bowerhill
• the land between Brabazon Way and St Athan Close and Tangmere Close at Bowerhill
• the path running down to the canal from the end of Bowerhill Lane
• the half-moon grassy area at Bream Close.
See letters on page 26
However, Melksham Town Council, whilst supportive of the idea, has expressed concern, explaining that creating wildflower areas can be difficult to grow and maintain.
At the town council’s asset management committee meeting last week, councillors decided to defer responding to Wiltshire Council’s request for nominations. Instead, they decided to ask Wiltshire Council for more information about how the wildflower areas will be maintained.
“There is no point planting wildflowers anywhere unless you can manage that space,” said cllr Tony Watts at last week’s meeting. ‘There’s a danger these spaces could be consumed by grass.”
Cllr Adrienne Westbrook added, “There are loads of areas we could come up for this – but it is very difficult to plant wildflowers. However, this is something that the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan steering group is about to look at – we are about to do a big piece of work about where all these areas could be.”
At the meeting, councillors also discussed a request by Wiltshire Council for their opinion on local resident’s Bo Novak proposal that the grass on roadside verges along Eastern Way be left to grow, creating an area for wildlife to thrive. The area, which is currently managed by a consortium of housing developers, is expected to become Wiltshire Council’s responsibility in the near future.
But again councillors approached the idea with caution.
Cllr Watts said, “You can’t just leave grass or areas to grow and expect wildflowers to appear. Growing wildflower meadows is much harder than simply cutting the grass, as you have to deal with grass which is then 2-3ft long on a regular basis, which is difficult.”
Cllr Westbrook added, “I’m totally in favour of having longer grass in areas where longer grass and wildflowers look good. But you have to bear in mind that if you have long grass coming right up to the roadway – that is a real problem.
“There must be fantastic areas that we can use, whether it be east of Melksham or somewhere else that would look fantastic with wildflowers – but it’s not a case of leaving the grass, and also it’s not a cheap option – and that’s one of my worries. This idea just gives you a wide area of grass along the road.”
Cllr Vanessa Fiorelli said, “You just know it will turn into a tip, people will just use it as a rubbish bin as they are driving past.”
Councillors resolved to recommend that grass adjacent to Eastern Way on both sides of the road be mowed on a regular basis. But they also recommended that it be explored how areas further away from the road could be managed to encourage wildlife.