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August 12, 2015

A sad little tale

This is a tale of local government not listening to its citizens. It involves one of Scotland’s smallest local authorities which is a worry.  Because if they couldn’t get it right, what hope is there for the rest of us who have to live with a system of local (regional) government where the distance from the citizen to the council is greater than any other country in Europe. It’s a sad little tale in which, although no one actually gets hurt, the distance between a council and one small group of citizens just grew a little wider.

Midlothian Advertiser

A member of an environmental group that planted wild flowers in a wildlife garden is outraged at the council for cutting the grass there. Doctor Gordon Spiers had contacted the council last year after they strimmed around the wildflower area at Newbyres Community Garden, after he and another member of Gorebridge and District Environmental Group (GADEG) had spent so much time creating a wildflower meadow in the garden.

So Dr Spiers called the council recently to ensure that this didn’t happen again. Lo and behold, a week later the same area was cut back to within two inches of the ground.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it. They just chopped the whole lot down. The whole thing is a wildlife garden. It’s just one part of it that we planted wildflowers on. I just can’t believe they would chop it all down. It’s meant to be a wildlife garden, so why chop it down? It’s not very wild now! It’s absolutely ridiculous. I phoned the council and lost my temper with them.”

Dr Spiers revealed how much work has been spent on making the wildflowers an important part of the wildlife garden. He said: “We have been working on the wildflower garden for the last two years. I managed to get my own funding, £2,200 from my old school George Watsons. We used it to buy plants and we have got a little bit of that money left.

“They haven’t strimmed any of the area that we have actually planted in. The wildflowers are coming up there now. It’s the rest of the area around the wildflowers that has been chopped down for no reason at all. It was overgrown, but then it should be, it’s a wildlife garden!”

The doctor told The Midlothian Advertiser that he can’t understand why the council would waste money cutting grass in an area which is supposed to be a wildlife garden. He said: “There is a children’s nursery opening nearby soon and the children could have used the wildlife garden for trails. I don’t quite see the point of this. It’s a waste of tax payers’ money. It doesn’t add up. It makes no sense whatsoever to chop it all.”

“At the last meeting of the Gorebridge and District Environmental Group, we discussed this issue at some length and we decided to send a letter to the council. GADEG started the garden. To open up that area to the local community. And we got the council to deem it as a wildlife garden. They actually planted trees there. The whole thing is quite preposterous. It annoys me as we put so much effort in and the council just takes it away. Does ‘biodiversity’ not mean anything to them?”