Grounds and Environment Committee

Agenda

HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL

To: All Members of the Grounds & Environment Committee (Kate Bailey, Jane Baker, Carolyn Barton, David Bunting, Claire Tester, Kristian Berggreen, Leslie Campbell, Frances Gaudencio, Bill Hatton, Frank Rylance and Alex Simmons) and Co-opted Members (Tony Copeland) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
cc. Richard Higgs


A virtual meeting of the GROUNDS AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE will be held on Wednesday 28 April at 7.30pm.

Parish Clerk
20 April 2021

1. TO ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.

2. TO ACCEPT DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST.

3. MINUTES. To accept the Minutes of the Grounds and Environment Meeting held on Thursday 11 March 2021. (Previously Circulated)

4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.

5. OFFICER’S REPORT. (Appendix 1)

6. REWILDING A SECTION OF ADASTRA PARK. Members are invited to note correspondence from HKD Transition about projects to increase biodiversity and to consider a request to support this initiative by allowing a section of Adastra Park to become a wild area. (Appendix 2)

7. VILLAGE SIGN. Members are invited to approve the progression of the Village Sign project. (Appendix 3)

8. MOBILE FOOD BUSINESS. Members are invited to consider a request from a local Ice Cream Van vendor to trade in Adastra Park. (Appendix 4)

9. ADASTRA PARK MASTERPLAN. Verbal Update (Parish Clerk)

10. FLOOD WORKING GROUP. Members are invited to approve the drafting of an article to publicise the work of the Flood Working Group and flood mitigation projects in Hassocks.

11. TALBOT FIELD. Following the results of the recent tree safety survey, Members are invited to consider possible action to address specific concerns raised regarding Poplar Trees in Talbot field as previously reported at the G&E Meeting held on 22.10.20. Verbal report. (Parish Clerk)

12. PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY. Verbal update. (Cllrs Ian Weir & Leslie Campbell)

13. ANTI-LITTER CAMPAIGN. Members are invited to note that in partnership with Hassocks Parish Council and Hassocks Community Organisation, Downlands School are proposing to organise an Anti-Litter Poster competition to discourage littering in the village.
13.1. Two Councillors are invited to volunteer to be involved in judging the posters.
13.2. Members are invited to consider a request to make a contribution towards the production costs of the winning posters. Further details to follow.

14. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.

15. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. To be arranged.

Please Note
All members of the public are welcome to attend meetings of the Parish Council and its Committees.

Item 4 – a period of 15 minutes will be set aside for the public statements and questions relating to the published non-confidential business of the Meeting. It may be necessary to consider particular items in confidential session and where this arises, these items will be considered at the end of the agenda.

If you wish to attend this virtual meeting please email info@hassocks-pc.gov.uk before 09.00 hrs on the day of the meeting to be sent an electronic invitation by 12.00 noon on that same day.

FILMING, RECORDING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS AND USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. During this meeting members of the public may film or record the Committee and officers from the public area only, providing it does not disrupt the meeting. The Confidential section of the meeting may not be filmed or recorded. If a member of the public objects to being recorded, the person(s) filming must stop doing so until that member of the public has finished speaking. The use of social media is permitted but members of the public are requested to switch their mobile devices to silent for the duration of the meeting.
Clerk: Ian Cumberworth, Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Keymer Road, Hassocks BN6 8QH
Tel: 01273 842714 email: info@hassocks-pc.gov.uk


Appendix 1

To: Grounds & Environment Committee                                    Date: 28 April 2021
Contact for this report: Deputy Clerk
Subject: Agenda Item 5 – OFFICER’S REPORT


1. The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on Grounds and Environment (G&E) Matters.

2. ADASTRA PAVILION
2.1. PAVILION CLOCK. After an extensive investigation by the Administration Assistant, the pavilion clock has had a replacement control panel fitted and is now working. The total cost for this repair was £440.80 for the panel and £70.00 for installation which was expended from the Pavilion Repairs and Renewals budget.
2.2. PAVILION REDECORATION. Repairs and redecoration have been carried out to the water damage caused by the leak from the roof into the changing room and bar of the pavilion at a cost of £925 which was spent from the 2020/21 Pavilion Repairs and Renewals budget. It is considered most likely that the damage to the roof has been caused by youths accessing the roof area, and therefore is to be closely monitored in case of further leaks.

3. ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR. Current events which have been reported to the Police:
• A sofa being situated in the Garden of Remembrance. This was removed very quickly by a local clearance company at a cost of £48.
• The head of the Silent Soldier was broken off necessitating the complete removal of the soldier.

4. MEMORIAL BENCH. A new memorial bench is to be installed in the North Field on the west border.

5. COVID-19. Adhering to Covid-19 guidelines, football, cricket and tennis have resumed play and stoolball is hoping to do so in the next month or so. The Pavilion remains closed at present.

6. PARKLANDS ALLOTMENT. Allotment plot markers have been purchased from the Allotment Grounds projects budget 2020/21 at a cost of £432.00. These will enable plots to be clearly marked and will be a great improvement to the organisation of the allotments. Special thanks go to the Hassocks Allotment Holders Association for their work in installing the markers.


Appendix 2

To: Grounds & Environment Committee                                    Date: 28 April 2021
Contact for this report: Deputy Clerk
Subject: Agenda Item 6 – REWILDING A SECTION OF ADASTRA PARK


1. The purpose of this report is to:

1.1 Inform Members of the following correspondence received from HKD Transition regarding its involvement in projects to increase biodiversity and support pollinators.
1.2 Invite Members to consider supporting the project to increase biodiversity by assigning a section of Adastra Park to be allowed to become a wild area.

2. Abridged correspondence received from Juliet Merrifield of HKD Transition.

I wanted to let you know that HKD Transition is taking part in two projects organised by our friends in Hurst Rethink to increase biodiversity and support for pollinators in our villages. One is encouraging people to take part in the Plantlife campaign #NoMowMay, in which people agree not to mow their lawns (or part of their lawn) in May and then to survey the flowering plants that have appeared – https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/about-us/news/no-mow-may-how-to-get-ten-times-more-bees-on-your-lockdown-lawn

The other project is working with West Sussex County Council’s ‘community road verges’ (I’ll attach the WSCC leaflet about these). The idea is that WSCC agrees not to mow specified road verges this spring, we carry out plant surveys between April and July to establish what is already present in the verges, and WSCC mows in August when our volunteers rake up the cuttings. The research this year will enable us to understand what pollinator-friendly species are present already, and how we can best support and extend these in the future. Georgina Judd with Hurst Rethink is leading the community road verge project in our area and I have copied her into this email. She can answer any questions you may have better than I can.

In Hassocks we are discussing with WSCC a trial verge on Keymer Rd at Beaconhurst (see the map below). We identified this site for several reasons: the verges are wide and research shows that these are best for pollinators, there are no front gardens or driveways so residents are not mowing verges themselves, and it’s a visible area where lots of people will see the results. There will be lots of publicity about what’s going on with this verge, so residents know it’s not neglected.

It would be wonderful to have the support of Hassocks Parish Council for these projects. This year is just a small beginning on which we can build in future years. I hope that we can create more community road verges in the future, and create nature recovery networks across Hassocks.

Map showing verges at Beaconhurst

3. Proposal to consider assigning a section of Adastra Park to be allowed to become a wild area, with an annual cut and collect only.
The project to re-wild has been supported by Mid Sussex District Council, which is creating more meadow areas in some of its open spaces and parks across the district this year https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/about-us/press-releases-and-publications/council-to-introduce-more-meadow-areas/. More information on rewilding and biodiversity is available by visiting http://www.bluecampaignhub.com/ .

3.1. If members are minded to support the proposal to re-wild a section of Adastra Park, consideration needs to be given as to the most suitable location. One site suggested for consideration is the section of grass north of the Tennis Courts in the North Field. As shown below:

Area north of Tennis Courts in Adastra Park

3.2 These areas are managed by the Groundsman and are not gang mown. They are independent grassed areas, bordered by the path and the tennis courts/ play area. Operationally these areas might lend themselves to be left unmown in preference to a designated section of the main field. Additionally there would be no impact on the football pitches which cover a large section of the North Field.

3.3 However, Members are invited to note that there are two benches along the east border of the section in front of the tennis courts which are regularly used.

3.4 One further aspect for consideration is the potential risk of unseen dog fouling in longer grass.

4. OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATION. Members are invited to consider whether to support the initiative to improve bio diversity within Adastra Park, and if so to agree a suitable site for designation as a wild area. Any site approved should consider the operational impact and level of use.


Appendix 3

To: Grounds & Environment Committee                                       Date: 28 April 2021
Contact for this report: Deputy Clerk/Cllr Jane Baker
Subject: Agenda Item 7 – VILLAGE SIGN


1. The purpose of this report is to update Members on progress with the Village Sign project and to invite Members to approve the progression of the project to enable the commissioning of a new sign.

2. Update report provided by Cllr Jane Baker.
In order to progress this matter, as Chair of the Grounds and Environment Committee, I invited Cllrs Barton and Bunting to be in a ‘quick response’ team to review the work done so far, the various suggestions already made/considered and to prepare a plan for speedy implementation.

Previous village sign

Background story.
The previous sign in Adastra Park was it appears erected, in 1977, 44 years ago and is not a Village sign per se, but part of the celebrations at the time to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  The wording refers to the “Parish of Keymer” “George Vth and Elizabeth II”, and “1910-1977”.  It includes various heraldic type pictures of Martlets, Lions rampant etc. and was placed within a metal frame topped with a crown and mounted onto a post.

The sign was painted onto a sheet of Marine ply/ board and could not have been expected then to last for many years and is presently in storage at the Council Offices.  It is not therefore appropriate in 2021 to be seeking to replace this sign as such.

More typical Village signs in Sussex and elsewhere identify in words the name of the Village only, and pictorial references to their local landmarks and /or historical features. It is proposed that this type of sign is used for Hassocks, with acknowledgements to Hassocks and additionally to both original parishes Clayton and Keymer

PROGRESS TO DATE.
A rigorous and focussed approach has been followed with the intention of delivering a Village Sign for Hassocks to be in place ideally by mid-summer occupying the same position of the now defunct sign. Signs for Keymer and Clayton may follow in subsequent years as budgets allow.

Materials. A range of materials for the sign were considered with a view to the selected material being robust, long lasting and as maintenance free and vandal resistant as possible.

Wrought iron was selected for the following reasons:
*Cost within budget
*Sourced locally
*Simplicity
*Durability
*Minimal upkeep costs in the future.

Production. Research has informed the team that signs supplied to other villages produced by national village sign companies (none based locally) incurred costs well outside our budget of £3000 and therefore such companies were eliminated.

A local blacksmith was contacted who is very knowledgeable about local history and experienced with such work. Without a design he was unable to give a cost but his guesstimate was well within budget.

Design. A local artist who approached the Clerk in the first instance has been contacted for further information. She has prepared designs for signs for other villages suitable for use by a blacksmith and has expressed an interest in being involved with the Hassocks sign project.

Signpost and base. It seemed prudent to investigate the possibility of re-using the existing concrete base and post.

The existing post that the previous sign was mounted upon is not currently standing vertical, its base is aged. At the present time, the post potentially invites persons to climb on it and is showing its 41 years.

A meeting with a local handyman/ builder has been arranged to review the options for this part of the works and obtain a budget cost for any remedial works, including post replacement. It is considered that the new sign will be mounted on a renewed foundation, and that any refurbishment will appear as new.

image of wooden post with metal frame

Also for noting is that that the Blacksmith contacted about the sign itself, has also previously supplied posts as a part of the package when fabricating the Village signs for other local villages.  Therefore this may also potentially offer an alternative option when considered the post for the Hassocks sign.

3. OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATIONS. The project has progressed in a positive fashion and the team are keen to maintain the momentum. Therefore the Committee is invited to consider the following proposals:

3.1. The Committee is invited to approve that Cllrs Barton and Bunting continue to progress the project by working with the local artist and blacksmith to present a final design and proposal for the Hassocks Sign within the previously agreed budget of £3000. Including the most suitable option for the sign post and base.

3.2. Subject to the approval of the above, Members are invited to consider the presentation of the final design to Full Council for approval, rather than requiring pre-approval by the G&E Committee in advance of Full Council. The reason for this being to enable the installation of an approved sign by the Summer.

Minutes

HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL

Draft Minutes of the GROUNDS AND ENVIRONMENT Committee held virtually on

28 April 2021 at 7.30pm.

Attendees: Cllrs Jane Baker, Kristian Berggreen, David Bunting, Leslie Campbell, Frances Gaudencio, Bill Hatton, Frank Rylance, Claire Tester and Ian Weir.

In attendance: Tracy Forte – Deputy Clerk, Ian Cumberworth – Parish Clerk, Cllr Bob Brewer.

GE20/79 APOLOGIES. Apologies were received from Cllr Alex Simmons and co-opted member Tony Copeland. Absent without apology – Cllr Kate Bailey.

GE20/80 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST. There were no declarations of interest.

GE20/81 MINUTES. It was RESOLVED that the minutes of the Grounds & Environment meeting held on Thursday 11 March 2021, be signed by the Chair as a true and accurate record of the meeting.

GE20/82 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.  There were no members of the Public present.

GE20/83 OFFICER REPORT. Members noted the Officer’s report.  The Deputy Clerk updated Members on further anti-social behaviour in the park involving young people taking drugs before school.  Downlands School and the Police had been made aware of the matter and are working closely to address this.

Cllr Baker reported that she had visited the allotments recently to meet Tony Copeland from Hassocks Allotment Holders Association to discuss opening the allotments as part of the National Garden’s Open Gardens Scheme.  Cllr Baker noted that the allotment site and allotments were looking very well maintained and that the new plot markers had been installed and were excellent.

GE20/84 REWILDING A SECTION OF ADASTRA PARK.  This item required further clarification due to an inaccuracy in the report, the proposal was not to re-wild a section of the park, but to leave an area un-mown during May.  The Clerk reported that the matter had been initially raised at the recent Full Council meeting and was deferred to the G&E Committee to enable a full discussion to take place.  The proposals from HKD Transition were:

(i) For HPC to consider allocating a section of Adastra Park to be left unmown during May as part of ‘No Mow May’ which is a national campaign being organised by the charity ‘Plantlife.  At the end of May, HKD volunteers will complete a flower count and generate a nectar score.

(ii) For HPC to support the WSCC ‘community road verge’ project in Hassocks, with the verge north of Beaconhurst, Keymer Road, being a proposed pilot site for 2021.

Full details of both projects are included in a report received from Juliet Merrifield attached as Appendix 1

No Mow May.  Members fully supported this initiative. The grassed area north of the tennis courts in the North Field was considered as a possible site.  This area is managed by the Groundsman and is not gang mown.  It is an independent grassed area, bordered by the path and the tennis courts.  Therefore, operationally the area lends itself to be left unmown in preference to a designated section of the main field. Additionally there would be no impact on the football pitches which cover a large section of the North Field.

It was noted that there were two benches in the suggested area, and it was confirmed by the Clerk that a path would be mown to allow access to the benches and that the grass immediately around the benches would be cut.

GE20/84.1 It was RESOLVED that the area north of the tennis courts in the North Field would be left unmown during May in partnership with HKD volunteers, who will carry out a pollen count and generate a nectar score at the end of the month.

GE20/84.2 It was RESOLVED that the Hassocks Parish Council offered its full support to HKD in its involvement with the WSCC community road verges project and supports  the site proposal  for the 2021 pilot of the verge on Keymer Road, north of Beaconhurst.

GE20/85 VILLAGE SIGN.  Appendix 3 of the meeting agenda had set out a full report of the progression of the Village Sign project to date.  Members were invited to approve that Cllrs Barton and Bunting continue to progress the project by working with a local artist and blacksmith to present a final design and proposal for the Hassocks Sign within the previously agreed budget of £3000.  Including the most suitable option for the sign post and base.

It was confirmed that the location of the new sign would remain unchanged at the entrance to Adastra Park.  Members were appreciative of the effort to progress the project along and the aim to have the sign installed by the Summer. With this in mind, Members were requested to agree that the final design is presented to Full Council for approval, rather than requiring pre-approval by the G&E Committee in advance, to enable the installation of an approved sign by the Summer.

Cllr Frank Rylance raised a concern that the renovation of the gate at the entrance to the Garden of Remembrance appeared to have been overlooked again, despite his concerns being raised at a previous meeting.  It was confirmed by the Chair that this had been previously designated as an operational matter and the Clerk informed Cllr Rylance that the gate had been repainted.  Cllr Rylance noted that the gate latch remained broken and the Clerk confirmed that he would explore the possibility of a replacement or repair.

GE20/85.1 It was RESOLVED to APPROVE that Cllrs Barton and Bunting continue to progress the project, in consultation with the Clerk, by working with the local artist and blacksmith to present a final design and proposal for the Hassocks Sign within the previously agreed budget of £3000.  Including the most suitable option for the sign post and base.

GE20/85.2 It was AGREED that the final sign design is presented to Full Council for approval, rather than requiring pre-approval by the G&E Committee in advance, to enable the installation of an approved sign by the Summer.

Cllr Bob Brewer left the meeting.

GE20/86 MOBILE FOOD BUSINESS.  The Deputy Clerk informed Members that a request had been received from a local Ice Cream Van vendor who was just setting up a new business to trade in Adastra Park. At this stage, Members views were sought as to whether the Council would be minded to consider such a request in principle.  Members were informed that the operational matters for consideration included ensuring the necessary legal documentation and contractual obligations were set up and managed, ensuring a safe and accessible location for the van to trade from, the potential risk of further litter within the park, the level of charge to be applied and considering a policy to accommodate further applications if this initial request is approved. Members had mixed views regarding the matter, however it was noted that one outcome of the Adastra Park Masterplan consultation had been a request for a refreshments kiosk or outlet in the park.

A detailed discussion took place and it was agreed that the opportunity to trial a refreshments outlet in the park was welcomed, however it was felt that more consideration needed to be given as to the nature of the outlet and type of refreshments offered. Due to safety concerns around trading from the main car park and the potential of limited parking, it was agreed that the car park by the Pavilion might be a better option if members were minded to approve the request.

It was noted that a contract would need to be drawn up, and that the obligation to ensure that all litter is removed could be included as part of a contract.  Members recognised a level of complexity around permitting food vendors to trade from the Adastra Park.  Whilst there was some support for the idea in principle, it was agreed that further information was required around the legal obligations and necessary documentation and that further consideration needed to be given as to the most appropriate type of food outlet in the park.

GE20/86.1 Therefore it was AGREED that the Clerk and Deputy Clerk would be asked to explore the operational requirements in more detail and present a report to the Committee at the next meeting for a continued discussion.

GE20/87 ADASTRA PARK MASTERPLAN.  The Clerk updated the Committee on the following matter.

Garden of Remembrance.  The planned reseeding and topdressing of the grassed areas in the Garden has taken place and is being watered daily using a sprinkler.  The area is fenced for protection and once the grass has established the area should be much improved. The Clerk informed Members that the funding for this work had been met from a maintenance budget and not from the Adastra Park Masterplan Budget.

Cllr Frances Gaudencio noted that the Rain Garden has become quite untidy and appears in a poor condition.  Cllr Baker reported that she had inspected the Rain Garden with the Clerk earlier in the week and that a combination of a lack of rain and limited maintenance had resulted in this appearance.  However it was confirmed that once the Garden Volunteers are able to resume, maintenance would be undertaken and that some rainfall would also make a considerable difference to the condition of the plants.

GE20/88 FLOOD WORKING GROUP. Members were invited to approve the drafting of an article to publicise the work of the Flood Working Group and flood mitigation projects in Hassocks.

GE20/88.1. It was RESOLVED to approve the drafting of an article by Cllr Gaudencio and Cllr Tester to publicise the work of the Flood Working Group and flood mitigation projects in Hassocks in accordance with the Communications Policy.

GE 20/89 TALBOT FIELD.  The Clerk referred to a previous item which was reported at the G&E Meeting held on 22.10.20 regarding Poplar Trees in Talbot field.  The trees had been planted near the border of the field and the owners of a property adjacent to the border had raised concerns over the potential damage to their property by the roots from these trees.  Poplar Trees send out runners and following earlier concerns, a root barrier system was installed several years ago to mitigate this problem.  However it appears that this has not worked and roots have now been seen in the garden of the property mentioned.  The Clerk informed Members that as part of the recent tree safety survey, the Arboriculturalist assessed these trees and recommended their removal due to the potential issues that could be caused by allowing them to continue to grow and spread.   The Clerk had sought an indicative cost for the removal of the Poplars and informed Members that this would be in the region of £400 for removal and poisoning of the remaining trunk using an ecoplug system.

Members were therefore invited to consider whether to approve this course of action.

Members were reluctant to approve the removal of any trees, however it was noted that this was a very specific situation.  After a full discussion it was agreed that as the root barrier system had not achieved the desired results, further action was required to overcome this issue.  It was hoped that additional trees could be planted to offset the removal of the Poplars but it was agreed that careful consideration should be given to location and species, and that any further planting should be undertaken in consultation with the Woodland Flora and Fauna Group who manage Talbot Field on behalf of HPC.

GE 20/89.1 It was RESOLVED to approve the removal of the identified Poplar Trees at a cost in the region of £400 to be taken from the Talbot Field Tree Maintenance budget.

GE 20/90 PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY. (PROW) Cllr Ian Weir informed Members that following the proposed improvement plan presented by himself and Cllr Campbell, and agreed by the Committee, at the previous G&E meeting, a meeting was scheduled for 5 May 2021 with representatives from WSCC to discuss the proposals.

Cllr Hatton expressed his thanks to Cllrs Weir and Campbell for all of the work they were doing to improve Public Rights of Way in Hassocks and asked for this to be put on record.  This was echoed by the Committee.

Cllr Campbell also informed Members that he had been advised that improvements had taken place on the section of Footpath 27C which runs down from Pheasant Field, past Woodbine Cottage to the gate.  It was thought that the improvements had been carried out by the landowners and were much welcomed.

GE20/91 ANTI-LITTER CAMPAIGN.  Members were invited to note that in partnership with Hassocks Parish Council and Hassocks Community Organisation (HCO), Downlands School have organised an Anti-Litter Poster competition to discourage littering in the village.  The Deputy Clerk informed Members that one winning design was to be chosen from each year group and made into a large professionally produced poster for display in Adastra Park and at various points in the village.  Members were asked to consider three items.

  1. i) Two Councillors were invited to be involved in judging the posters. Cllr Kristian Berggreen and Cllr David Bunting volunteered for these roles.
  2. ii) Members were invited to consider a request to make a donation of up to £100 towards the production costs of the winning posters from the Greener Hassocks budget. The Committee were informed that HCO had agreed to contribute to part funding the project.

GE20/91.1 It was RESOLVED to approve a donation of up to £100 towards the costs of the production of the anti-litter posters, with the expenditure to be taken from the Greener Hassocks budget.

iii) Members were informed that outside of Adastra Park, other possible locations which had been identified for displaying posters were in the Bus Shelter at Spitalford Bridge, near Budgens and along Keymer Road close to the stretch of road between Keymer and Ditchling.  Members were invited to offer suggestions for any other locations.  The Cinder Track, Clayton Village Green and the Railway station were offered as possible locations.  It was noted that landowners would need to be approached for permission to display the posters.

It was also suggested that local traders could be asked if they would support the project by displaying laminated copies of the posters in their windows.

GE20/92 URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.  There were no urgent matters.

GE20/93 DATE OF NEXT MEETING.  To be confirmed.

There being no other business the meeting closed at 8.45pm

APPENDIX 1

Wildflowers for Pollinators in Hassocks

1. Background

Half of our 25 native bumblebee species are in decline as are 71% of our native butterfly species.  Worldwide insect populations have fallen by 50% since 1970.  Much of this decline is due to habitat loss: in the UK we have lost 7.5 m acres of nectar-rich hay meadows since 1930s.  Only 1% of our countryside now provides flowers for pollinators.

But our 15 million gardens and many miles of road verges could be a great resource for insects, providing food, shelter and nesting sites.  The two projects being developed in partnership by Hurst Rethink and HKD Transition aim to encourage local people to take pollinator action in Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint.

2. No Mow May campaign

Our lawns have the potential to be a major wildflower nectar source.  Nectar from common flowers like daisies, dandelions, buttercups and clover are important food sources for bees and other pollinators.  Insects in turn are food for creatures further up the food chain, so by encouraging those at the bottom, we benefit many more.

HKD Transition is taking part in the charity Plantlife’s national campaign No Mow May, which encourages people to leave their lawns unmowed (or some part of their lawn) for the month of May and to do a flower count at the end of the month to get a nectar score.  Our colleagues at Hurst Rethink have arranged with Plantlife to generate a nectar score for BN6 – the first time they have worked with communities like this.

Proposal to Hassocks Parish Council: to take part in No Mow May by leaving a small area of Adastra Park unmowed for the month of May, following which HKD volunteers can complete a flower count and generate a nectar score.  We can provide signs to tell people what is happening and publicity via local media.

3. Community road verges

There are nearly 313,500 miles of rural road in the UK with verges running most of their length, equivalent in area to our remaining lowland species-rich grassland and a nationally significant resource of increasing importance to UK wildlife. When managed well, road verges can be part of nature recovery networks that enhance and join up natural habitats.  But the majority of road verges are either cut too frequently, at the wrong time, cuttings are left in situ, thus inhibiting wildflower growth and increasing soil nutrient levels or they are abandoned to scrub (see Plantlife – Managing grassland road verges).

We could do much more to manage road verges to provide food, shelter and nesting sites for insects, while maintaining key safety features such as clear lines of visibility.  Many counties are now allowing wildflowers to bloom along roadsides, and West Sussex County Council is taking steps in that direction through their new ‘community road verges’ project. This is part of their Pollinator Action Plan managed by the Sustainability Team.

In this project WSCC works with a community group or parish council to agree specific road verges within the 30 mph speed limit.  WSCC contractors will not mow these road verges on the usual schedule this spring and we will survey between April and July to establish what is already present in the verges.  WSCC then mows in August and our volunteers rake up the cuttings, reducing soil fertility and enabling wildflowers to set seed and flourish.  The research this year will enable us to understand what pollinator-friendly species are present already, and how we can best support and extend these in the future.

HKD Transition’s proposal for the 2021 pilot is the wide verge on the north side of Keymer Rd opposite Beaconhurst.  We identified this site for several reasons: wide verges are best for pollinators, there are no front gardens or driveways so residents are not mowing verges themselves, and it’s a visible area where lots of people will see the results.  There will be publicity about what’s going on with this verge, so residents know it’s not neglected, including a letter to neighbours in the area. By starting small with just one road verge we can understand better what nectar-rich plants we have, identify any problems to be overcome, publicise widely so that residents are aware, and gather input to enable us to expand the project next year.

Proposal to Hassocks Parish Council to engage with the community road verge project and the review of the pilot site for 2021, with a view to developing the project in coming years.  Councillor Kirsty Lord supports the project and can facilitate with the WSCC team as needed.

Juliet Merrifield

On behalf of HKD Transition

Working with Hurst Rethink