Press Release

The Friends of St. Mary’s Lands are alarmed at Warwick District Council’s proposal to fence off areas of the Lands because dogs are disturbing birds.

Where is the evidence?  An FOI disclosure shows that only one warning letter had been issued since 2011 and that was in August this year when the dog-walkers’ outcry about access to our open spaces began (ending in a 6,000 signature petition).  In fact, it appears from the Ecology report that disturbance from joggers and walkers is low to moderate.

The Lands are covered by an Act of Parliament which states that 25 hectares [61.75 acres] shall be “deemed to be public parks or pleasure grounds…..for the purpose of recreational facilities” and there should be “full access to the public except on race days”.  Yet WDC have already fenced off an area of 0.41 hectares for the recently constructed wetlands and a report is now going to the Executive to fence off another enormous area to protect birds.

The Act only permits fencing to enclose the Racecourse on race days or temporary fencing for public entertainments but specifically prohibits fencing which obstructs a right of way or recreational areas.  Yet this proposal will obstruct three rights of way. 

It was agreed by the Working Party that this proposal should not be progressed until legal advice was obtained and FoSML have asked WDC to provide this.

FoSML emailed Working Party councillors John Holland, Moira-Ann Grainger, Martyn Ashford, Dave Skinner and Noel Butler asking if they agree with the proposal to fence off further areas of St. Mary’s Lands and none had agreed the proposal at this time.

We maintain that there are clearly marked paths which are already being observed and the nesting site area is avoided by dog walkers.  Fencing is unnecessary, confrontational and counter-productive.

Our 1,200 signature Petition asked WDC: –

 To honour their earlier commitments to the residents of the town of Warwick and fully protect St Mary Lands Warwick, from any further development which would impact upon the open nature of the land, or reduce the amount of land available for free public recreation.”

We have met with our M.P. Matt Western on three occasions requesting help regarding the protection of St. Mary’s Lands but we have received no feedback or help of any kind.

Residents are being excluded from what the vast majority still believe is common land and it is inevitable that another campaign will be launched to demand that this proposal is dropped forthwith.

With its historic, aesthetic and uninhibited openness, the special features of St. Mary’s Lands would be stolen, not only from us, but more importantly future generations!

The Committee

Friends of St. Mary’s Lands

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