Work on clearing Ashtead Park started at the end of November when a voluntary working party met under the guidance of Alex Bagnall, Mole Valley District Council’s Tree and Countryside Officer.
It was really encouraging that some 30 people turned up, including local Councillors, some of the Deepdene Volunteers, Ashtead Common Volunteers, representatives of the Ashtead Residents Association and the Leatherhead and District Angling Society.
Good progress was made clearing bramble and saplings around veteran oaks. Such so-called “halo release” is necessary to ensure that those trees that developed, not in woodland but in open parkland or pastures, are maintained in good condition.
A “dead hedge” made of vertical poles, and compacted horizontally lain branches cut as a part of the clearance, was also constructed to help divert footfall from one of the important oaks.
Subsequently, Alex, Cllrs David Hawksworth and Patricia Wiltshire met with representatives of the Angling Society on 8 December to discuss possible future works in and immediately around the largest pond.
A second working group has been fixed for Wednesday 25 January 2023, again meeting in the car park at 9.45 a.m. Some tools will be available but if volunteers were able to bring some cutting equipment (not powered please) that would be appreciated. If you are able to join this group, please let Alex know in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org) so he can be aware of likely numbers.
The volunteer days are planned until the breeding season starts and then continue when birds have safely finished making families and nests. Even outside the nesting season, great care will be taken to avoid any harm to small mammals and other animals.
It is also planned to establish an Ashtead Park Users Group similar to that being formed for the Ashtead Recreation Ground. This would be separate from Working Parties, and include representatives of user groups and organizations together with some residents. It will be chaired by a resident who is neither a Councillor nor a representative of an organisation.
The purpose of this Group will be to provide a forum which can input views at the earliest possible stage into the emerging much-needed Long-Term Management Plan – before that is made available for wider consultation.
Individuals and organizations who are interested in being members or represented on the User Group should contact Cllr David Hawksworth (email@example.com) in the first instance.
Cllr Patricia Wiltshire