No decision yet on Stratford district wildflowers campaign

The Cinnabar moth among the wildflowersThe Cinnabar moth among the wildflowers
The Cinnabar moth among the wildflowers
Next step will be to see what county council has in mind

A decision on whether to plant wildflowers on road verges and green areas around Stratford district has been put on hold to allow for a countywide policy to be drawn up.

The suggestion was put forward by Cllr Neil Edden (Lib Dem, Studley with Sambourne) and considered at this week’s cabinet meeting of Stratford District Council.

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In his notice of motion he explained that countryside charity Plantlife was urging highway authorities to balance their duty of keeping highways safe with encouraging a wider diversity of plants supporting wildlife.

He added: “As a local authority, we have an opportunity to both support that initiative whilst also championing a similar approach to our town and parish councils and our housing authorities who may have similar maintenance contracts on areas of land, verges and green areas.

“Having declared a climate emergency in July 2019, I ask council to consider a recommendation to review the mowing and maintenance of verges and shared areas within the district and take the opportunity to examine ways in which this council can develop and support a scheme to balance tidiness and safety with the encouragement of those wild flowering green areas and verges within its remit and the remit of its direct associates.”

Portfolio holder for climate change, Cllr Ian Shenton (Con, Wootton Wawen), admitted he saw the benefits in such a scheme.

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He said: “In principle I have no problem with this. Where I have a slight reluctance about deciding it today is that the county decides the verges policy. They have an emerging policy which was due on April 1 but I’ve not seen the final draft. That will have an effect because we will only do what the county tells us to do because they will fund it.

“The idea of the motion is great but I think we should defer for a short report once we know what the county’s verge policy is - we need to sort out what the costs are likely to be.”

Cabinet members agreed to defer making a decision to await a report from officers at the next available meeting.

A second notice of motion calling for an investigation by officers into how the council could become more effective in bidding for government cash was rejected by cabinet.

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It had been proposed by Cllr David Curtis (Lib Dem, Shottery) but council leader Cllr Tony Jefferson (Con, Welcombe) dismissed the suggestion.

He told the meeting: “The total funding we’ve secured amounts to £21.4m which is a very substantial figure given the scale of the district council. My view is that this demonstrates that the policy we have adopted has actually worked well and I am proposing that we reject the notice of motion.”

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