|Yellow areas will become 'meadow'|
In response to my query about the policy an officer gave this response:
The changes are part of a £900k cut. The Officer's budget report stated:I'm unable to provide maps for all the affected parks at this stage as we're currently updating all of them but a list of sites is provided below:· Roundwood Park· Neasden Recreation Ground· Gladstone Park· Barham Park· King Edward Park· Silver Jubilee Park· Roe Green· One Tree Hill· Woodcock Park· Preston Park· Lindsay Park· Sudbury Court Open Space· Elmwood· St Raphael’s Open Space· Northwick Park· Church Lane Recreation Ground· Tokygnton Recreation Ground· Kenton Grange· Leybourne Road Open Space· Eaton Grove· Abbey Estate· Tookey CloseI can confirm Veolia will continue to maintain the sites as part of the Council’s Public Realm Contract. The current plans are to allow the various grass species to grow, with the meadow areas being cut once a year in order to prevent self sett trees, brambles, etc. taking hold. Grass cuttings will be collected as part of this.The case for creating wildlife havens was not the specific subject of any committee reports; they are covered as part of the need to achieve contract savings in 2017/18 as agreed under item 7 at the Full Council meeting on 27 February. Further details, including minutes of the meeting, are available on the Council’s website
Any change in operations may be noticeable to residents used to familiar and established work practices. However, these changes are specifically intended to improve environmental standards overall.Officers have made an attempt to justify the change on environmental grounds:
These grass meadow areas will now be cut once per year as part of a number of programmes that aim to make the borough cleaner and greener. Letting the grass grow aims to create wildlife havens, increase biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions. This programme will be supported by the launch of the Brent Wildlife Watch website later this summer. All parks will retain some areas that will be kept maintained in a traditional way.There has been no public consultation about the change and no reports by specialist horticulturalists or biodiversity officers that could be scrutinised by councillors of the public. These are changes that will change the appearance of our parks substantially.
Brent does have meadow land at Fryent Country Park (actually certified organic) and the Welsh Harp Open Space but these are long established - turning formal lawns into 'meadow' just by letting the grass grow long is a different proposition. It does does not create an environmentally friendly wild flower meadow of the type that can be seen at Westminster University, Northwick Park.
It is noteworthy that despite the claim that 'wildlife havens' will be created there is no mention of wildflowers, a vital component of such havens. Proper wildflower meadows have to be created and diligently maintained as this publication from Newcastle City Council states LINK
Creation of such meadows requires investment while Brent's aim is to save money. Unless the Council can provide more detail of their strategy I am afraid I think we will end up with overgrown areas dominated by a single species like many a neglected back garden.Since the end of the Second World War, Britain's wildflower meadows have decreased by more than 90 per cent. This has been due to changes in farming practice, urban expansion and development.
Although we cannot recreate traditional wildflower meadows in a short period of time, it is possible to create species rich grasslands and meadows, which are beneficial to our native wildlife in the urban environment.
There is no simple strategy for creating wildflower meadows in urban environments. The type of meadow created and method used to create and manage them will vary with conditions, habitat and budget. It is extremely important to remember that all grasslands and meadows require some form of management for them to be successful. If areas of fertile (nutrient rich) grassland are left unmanaged they will rapidly become overgrown with a few dominant species of tall grasses, nettles, docks, brambles, thistles etc. The wildflowers soon disappear as they become smothered by the more dominant species and deprived of light, water and space.