The main focus of this meeting was the Town Cycle Plan, as outlined in the current Neighbourhood Plan draft document. Amongst just over 30 of us who gathered in the Town Hall, we welcomed a number of new people, some of whom were invited as representatives of local cycling organisations. As usual a round of activity updates preceded the main part of the session. These included:
Marnhull Hub (https://www.marnhullhub.org.uk/ and see Facebook page) –every Saturday & Monday for Repair, Reuse & Recycle Coffee Mornings from 10.00 to 12. And on Thursdays afternoon for Tea & Talk at the Repair Cafe from 3.00pm to 5.00pm.
Gillingham, ‘Terracycle’ recycling, 1st/3rd Saturday of the month 9 to 11.30am, Chantry Community Office (next to library), collecting crisp packets, confectionary wrappers, bread bags etc. (www.terracycle.co.uk )
Next Repair Café session at Rising Sun pub, Donhead St Mary 19th January. Phone 01747 828514 for more information.
Puddletown Oil Drilling petition now at just over 500 signatures, many more needed – use link on PS Home Page to access this and share via Social Media.
Dorset Council seeking ideas from the public with regard to fulfilling their Climate Emergency commitments. (https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2019/12/16/dorset-council-launches-call-for-ideas-to-help-tackle-climate-emergency/ )
Next XR Dorset link-up meeting scheduled for Sunday 9th February, in Dorchester. Some of us going, if interested get in touch via Planet Shaftesbury email.
Climate and Environment meeting with Simon Hoare, Saturday 8th February, Crown Hotel, Blandford (https://www.simonhoare.org.uk/events/climate-and-environment-meeting-blandford )
Greener Gillingham: next meeting February 12th
Proposal in progress to set up stall promoting environmental issues at Farmers’ Market Saturday sessions in Shafts Town Hall.
Civic Society’s next ‘Civic Day’ to be on a Saturday and re-labelled ‘Celebrate Shaftesbury’. More info TBA.
John Rutter spoke of the cycle trips for beginners he runs. Provisional date for next session is February 1st. See ‘This is Alfred’ website nearer time for confirmation.
Sustainable Dorset’s ‘Green Living project’ announced. (https://www.sustainabledorset.org/green-living-project/ )
Next global ‘Earth Day’ scheduled for 22 April this year. This will be its 50th anniversary. Ideas for local events to participate in this welcome. (https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImOCY_9yK5wIVg7TtCh2RWA2sEAAYASAAEgKnI_D_BwE )
Opportunity to look at now escalating Town Tree Plan, Wednesday 22nd January, 11 to 1, upstairs at Town Hall. Next Tree Group meeting 19th Feb, at which ideas for development of plan, planting and continuing care for trees to be discussed. Once it has completed its journey through various formalities, the Tree Plan to become more publicly available for viewing.
North Dorset Wildlife Trust talk: Marine Conservation, MCZs and Plastics, Wednesday 19 February 2020, 19:30 - 21:30, an illustrated talk by Imogen Davenport, Dorset Wildlife Trust Director of Conservation (https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/events?category=55 )
This Is Alfred now has licence to broadcast and hopes to begin next year. Training for interested volunteers now available.
Brie Logan, Business Manager for Shaftesbury Town Council began the cycling discussion with an informative presentation, which began by briefly outlining the process and progress of the town’s draft Neighbourhood Plan so far. With regard to the Cycle Plan itself, she clarified a distinction between ‘Policy’ (that part of the plan that by law developers will have to take into account) and ‘Projects’ (development ideas to be undertaken by Council and partners). The Cycle Plan is a project, but falls under the Community and Leisure Policy concerning support for safe walking and cycling routes around the town. Brie emphasized that the Council’s approach has to be achievable and realistic (commenting by way of example that it is by no means possible in many cases to widen Shaftesbury’s roads for cycle lanes). Working with local volunteers, a circular town-spanning route has been devised – a map of which was displayed. This now must be checked over for safety considerations and authorised by Dorset Council, and then formally ‘adopted’ by the Town Council once tested. The map can be seen online by going to https://www.shaftesburyplan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Master-Draft-Neighbourhood-Plan-website.pdf and scroll to pp 80-82.
The route, once authorised and the necessary work of creating signs etc. completed, is seen as ‘stage one’ of a more comprehensive approach, in which cycle lanes will be devised extending to surrounding countryside and villages. It will link with organisations such as Sustrans and take into account the views of local people. There are potential impediments (eg: uncooperative landowners), so once again the ‘achievable and realistic’ mantra is to be borne in mind. Some of the options currently under consideration can be found on page 90 of the Neighbourhood Plan document (see above). Initial but comprehensive ideas on long distance routes to be signposted from the town have been documented by local cycling enthusiast Paul Smethurst. Copy available from BrieLogan@shaftesbury-tc.gov.uk who will also welcome approaches from people who want to become involved in this work as it proceeds.
Subsequent discussion covered additional considerations such as cycle parking areas, power points for electric bikes and funding options for the work undertaken.
Brie also mentioned the current work of trialling five different areas in the town (including the entrance to Mampitts Lane and the Royal Chase roundabout) with five different types of wildlife seed, to establish varying wildlife friendly areas and assess public response.