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Belted Galloways

Belted Galloways

Hastings parks best in the UK. Official!

Hastings Borough Council has won two very special awards for innovation in parks management. The projects that secured the awards were for bathing water quality improvement in Alexandra Park and the introduction of Belted Galloway cattle, conservation grazing and heathland restoration at Hastings Country Park.

Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, lead member for the environment said, “The country park and Alexandra Park are two of just eight inspirational parks and green spaces in the UK to achieve the award, which is presented to Green Flag Award or Green Flag Community Award winning sites that have made changes which have brought outstanding benefits to both their site and the local community. My thanks go to the dedicated council staff who found innovative ways of achieving their aims and then saw the projects through.

“The topography and coastal habitats of the country park present challenges for conventional management. In 2015 we established an innovative free roaming conservation grazing project. We introduced a small herd of Exmoor ponies and Belted Galloway cattle to manage the wooded glens and slopes which are inaccessible for the mechanical equipment we would normally use. We opened up fencing so the cattle and ponies roam freely in the woods and steep slopes, allowing them the same freedom as walkers.

“Having successfully introduced these animals to help manage the park, we propose to roll out a second phase of grazing for four weeks in the autumn to cliff top areas. We are introducing a system of invisible fencing to allow grazing on the cliffs, with an underground induction loop fencing system restricting cattle to discreet areas for grazing whilst preserving the clifftop landscape.”

“Our innovative use of free roaming grazing animals to manage threatened habitats on public land successfully combines biodiversity and wildlife management with public enjoyment and getting closer to nature, especially for residents from disadvantaged communities in the town.”

Turning to the award won by Alexandra Park, Cllr Fitzgerald said, “Waterways are a key feature in Alexandra Park. The Waterways Improvement Project started in the winter of 2014 and was completed in November 2016. The project aim was to reduce the contamination from surrounding sources and misconnections within the plumbing systems of some local houses entering into the stream flowing through the park. This involved the natural treatment of water in Alexandra Park through the creation of weirs, wetland, silt traps, planted stream channels, floating island eco-systems, pond edge treatment and an aeration system that sucks water through natural gravel and plant filtration beds.

“As a result of our work, stream water now travels slower through the park giving greater exposure to UV light, providing beneficial microbes and root filtration. The longer the water can be kept in the treatment areas the greater effect the power of nature will have to revitalise the quality of water discharged into the sea, resulting in improved bathing water quality at the outfall to the sea.”

Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Scheme manager said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in the Hastings Country Park and Alexandra Park projects, both worthy winners of the Special Innovation Awards. Research has proved that quality parks and green spaces play a vital role within their local communities. Hastings Country Park and Alexandra Park are perfect examples of this.”


Posted 13:24 Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017 In: Nature


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  1. Andy Ammo

    The small herd of Belties is even smaller since one of them was allowed to fall into a Country Park tank. How is Hastings Country Park is deserving of either its Green Flag or this award? The recent management of the Country Park (and its setting) has been anything but ‘inspirational’.

    At Little Warren Cottage (so dubiously sold off), the Council omitted to put in tree-screening conditions.

    The new Visitor Centre is a function suite by stealth.

    The Chair of the Planning Committee sits on the High Weald Joint Advisory Committee representing Hastings Borough Council. The High Weald Management Plan is full of platitudes and motherhood statements on nature and conservation. But there’s no action when and where it is needed, to protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Right of Way, Site of Special Scientific Interest, Scheduled Ancient Monument, Local Nature Reserve, etc.

    So these ‘changes which have brought outstanding benefits to both their site and the local community’ are hard to find, and the reference to ‘challenges for conventional management’ sounds like a cynical joke.

    A recent retrospective planning application from Rocklands Caravan Park [HS/FA/17/00294] for solar panels drew dozens of objections (including from the Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve). Despite its acknowledged inaccuracies and the contemptuous history of development there, the application was recommended for approval and duly approved by the Planning Committee.

    Other cases such as the Observer Building (ref HS/FA/16/00367) and Queensbury House (ref HS/FA/17/00894) give no hope that the decisionmakers of HBC have any civic pride.

    Comment by Andy Ammo — Sunday, Dec 24, 2017 @ 10:28

  2. Chris Hurrell

    More spin from HBC. Apparently it is official that Hasting Parks are the best in the UK.

    I can only imagine how good the Country Park would be if we had councillors that cared and officers who were prepared to take their statutory duty to protect the park from development seriously!

    The awards are for innovation. Please explain how this gets spun into a claim that Hastings Parks are the best in the UK?

    Anybody who knows the East Hill and Ecclesbourne Glen will be aware of the disaster at Rocklands and the glen. HBC have presided over a disaster which has ruined the views and left the glen closed.

    The local government ombudsman has found fault with the way that HBC handled the affair. HBC has totally failed to protect this community asset.

    Cllr Fitzgerald and most councillors continue to ignore this disaster. HBC has spent well over a 100,000 pounds on the Rocklands affair – mainly on legal fees and consultancy reports which are then ignored.

    HBC has taken no action to investigate and resolve drainage issues nor to take enforcement action against the many unauthorised developments – both contributory factors in the landslip.

    HBC is currently spending an estimated 30,000 pounds on legal fees ensuring that a report into the causes of the landslip is not made public.

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Friday, Dec 22, 2017 @ 09:37

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    This a sick joke isn’t it??? Nobody can visit Eccelsbourne Glen now due to the major landslip some years ago, the causes of which, via grim resistance are kept under wraps by Hastings Council – a Belted Galloway cow falls into a disused water tank and drowns and now the proposal is to allow more of these gentle cattle to graze near the cliff with some ‘invisible’ deterrant to prevent them falling off the cliffs….the horror stories are conveniently kept from those organisatons who award these accolades and it is fortunate that there are citizens in this town who refuse to allow this situation to proceed without question.
    To add insult to injury it appears Hastings Council has spent over £92k on legal fees relating to the landslip and other issues on this particular area of our country park.
    As reported in the local press, the saga concerning the withholding of reports concerning the landslip continues with the outcome of a Tribunal hearing expected in the new year. There has to be a reason for this council to spend so much money on this fiasco. What is so secret about a geo technical report which may reveal the causes of the disaster which has closed Eccelsbourne Glen?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Dec 21, 2017 @ 09:09

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