Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013

Monday, 11 March 2013

Between a Rock and a green space...

That's the choice we'll all be faced with when BDC's public consultation begins on March 18th.  Rock Fielding-Mellen was quoted at some length in Chris Hill's excellent feature on Thorpe Woods (Evening News, 4th March and Eastern Daily Press on 5th March).  Rock might have talked a lot but he wasn't saying anything. He simply regurgitated the same old drivel doled out by the Mayhews, the Meath-Bakers and Andres Duany during their charade of a charrette in July 2010.

Fielding-Mellen said he wanted to explore all options, that nothing had been decided, that he wanted to see what everyone thought about the site and to gather local knowledge and opinion, and that only when he had done this would any concrete plans be produced for the future of the woods.  He said that the BDC consultation would form the start of this process, and went on to say that he didn't think anything like a "ground -up exercise looking at all the opportunities and constraints" had ever been attempted before.

It is common knowledge that Gail Mayhew spent months getting him started on this 'project' and went to the trouble of introducing him to local council members and officials. It is incredible that Gail, who loves to talk about her ideas on how the woods could be enhanced by building houses in them, didn't let Rock know in great detail about everything that had happened over the 12 years or so that she's been involved in 'promoting' the woods. Yet what he said was exactly what his predecessors told everyone two and a half years ago.

Back then, they told everyone throughout their week long charrette how they wanted it to be a ground-up exercise designed to explore every option; how they would be guided by local knowledge and opinion, and if it turned out that local opinion was strongly against any development in the woods, there would be none.  They promised to hold another public meeting in September 2010, to gauge public opinion once the charrette had had time to sink in. They promised to release their video of Andres Duany's final presentation (at which Duany revealed the shockingly destructive nature of his plans, and at which he was loudly argued against despite doing his utmost to avoid awkward questions). They promised that they would keep everyone thoroughly informed by keeping their website fully up to date. They also assured us that their motives were honourable and that their approach to all things connected with the woods was entirely open and honest.

They didn't hold any more meetings. They didn't release their video. They didn't update their website once, and they failed to keep anyone but themselves informed about anything. Their 'open and honest approach' was flexible enough to allow for Gail Mayhew to acquire, in August 2010, website domain names such as friendsof, etc, presumably in the hope of thwarting any ambitions on our part to obtain them.

They lied then, and it looks very much as if the same old lies have been passed to Rock for another airing.

But maybe Rock will surprise us all?  Perhaps he'll do a bit of research (this blog would be a good start), talk to some local people and their elected representatives, and the penny could just drop: maybe he'll realise that nobody wants the woods changed in any way other than for the better - and that better means nothing more than managed for the benefit of their already flourishing wildlife and made easier for people to walk around. Maybe he'll see that people don't merely value the woods as places to walk their dogs, but for their intrinsic beauty and the wealth of flora and fauna to be seen in them at all times of the year - values which would be ruined if his clients (Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust, aka the Mayhews & Meath-Bakers) ever get their way.

Rock might see the dazzlingly obvious where those who went before failed, but it would be unwise to put too much hope in that. Instead, we must all take the chance afforded by the forthcoming BDC consultation, to let BDC know exactly what we think of any 'promotion of the site for development'.