It is a shame that our first volunteer day of the season had to be cancelled but we will be having another at the end of January, and I will keep people informed on our website and on social media. There is still a huge amount of clearance work needed in the park because it is just that – a park.
The estate did not have a great deal of natural woodland and, although there are some lovely specimen very old oaks, many of the older trees were planted by the owners of Ashtead Park House, now the City of Freemans School. These include some alien specimens such as the Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava) from America and the Caucasian Elm (Zelkova carpinifolia).
Volunteers are trying to remove the encroaching bramble, scrub, and thousands of saplings that are taking over the open spaces. The Park has been neglected for a long time and even the notice boards are decrepit and out of date. An attempt to create ‘dead hedges’ failed, and they became fire a hazard, so they are being also being removed.
Recently, some progress has been made to remove saplings and bramble near the carpark and it is looking much more open. These areas will be mowed to systematically weaken any shrub, sapling, or bramble growth and so keep the park-like views. Much more of this will be done in future sessions.
Along with the Leatherhead Angling Club which has a licence to fish the pond, the Council is aiming to improve around the pond and, hopefully, the recently installed plastic piping and netting will be concealed, or removed appropriately. Everyone has been assured by the Angling Club that what they are doing is ‘work in progress’ and they will strive to improve the pond and its surroundings.
The council will be removing the Angling Club’s notices that have been fixed to trees and to the carpark noticeboard because they give the impression that quite a large area is private. Actually, the only private aspects of Ashtead Park are the fishing rights. The public has every right to go wherever they like and enjoy the surroundings.
Something must also be done about any irresponsible commercial dog walkers who are responsible for the large amounts of dog faeces in the undergrowth. This is not doing the park any good and is certainly offensive for residents.
If you would like to get some exercise and fresh air, why not join the volunteer groups? Give you give your contact details to your councillors, as it will enable us to keep the volunteer list up to date so that you can be informed of any activities.
By Councillor Patricia Wiltshire