Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mutt strut and dog show

Over thirty dogs, their owners and friends joined in Snuff Mills Action Group's first ever sponsored mutt strut and fun dog show yesterday (Sat 26th June). The images show Onyx - winner of best mutt (top left), the sponsored walk going through the valley (top right), one of the classes in the dog show (middle), Florence winning Queen of the Valley (bottom left) and the three winners of best sit (bottom right). Congratulations to all the winning dogs Bailey (King of the Valley), Florence (Queen of the Valley), Archie (Senior Citizen), Fenris (Baby of the Valley), Nettie (Best Posh Dog), Florence (Best Sighthound), Onyx (Best Mutt), Casper (Waggiest Tail), Sheila (Most Adorable Eyes), George and Bob (Most Amazing Ears), Rose and Fenris (Best Pack) as well as the winners of best six legs and longest sit. Luckily Gerry Watkins, the Judge, did not go home with Tikka, although she voted it the dog she would most like to take home.

The event should raise about £800 when all of the sponsor money comes in and this will be shared between Snuff Mills Action Group, Bristol Dogs Home and Dog Action Welfare Group Bristol. A special thanks must go the the RSPCA for coming and offering to microchip dogs and for Dog Action Welfare Group for judging the dog show as well as Chris and all of the other members of Snuff Mills Action Group who made the event happen.

It was really great to see so many different dogs and so many people in the valley enjoying themselves. It's just about sums up what Snuff Mills is all about. We all enjoyed it so much, we are already planning next year's event!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Grove Wood to be Local Nature Reserve

Late this afternoon Bristol City Council's Cabinet decided unanimously to declare Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve and to compulsory purchase it from the landowner if they cannot reach a management agreement with him on reasonable terms.

They received 105 statements in support of the proposal, including 26 from pupils from Begbrook School. There was only 1 statement against, from John Mair, Lord Jafari's "solicitor".

Among the flood of statements in favour, there were impassioned pleas from so many people about the woods, its wildlife, their enjoyment of it and the damage that has been done by the current landowner.

The statement from John Mair made serious allegations against a Council officer basically accusing him of being in the pocket of the Action Group. For the record, the Group has often been frustrated by the refusal of this officer to take action when situations have arisen in Grove Wood, which must mean he has acted in a fair and even handed way.

The Cabinet of Bristol City Council saw through the statement by John Mair and were clearly impressed with the level of support from the community. It will still be a long time before Grove Wood becomes a nature reserve, but today represents a big step towards achieving this goal.

Thank you to everyone who sent in statements - it made a big difference.

Evening Post article

Monday, 7 June 2010

Lobby Council to make Grove Wood a nature reserve

On Thursday June 10th from 4pm, Bristol City Council's Cabinet will be discussing whether Grove Wood should be declared a Local Nature Reserve and whether they should consider compulsory purchasing the woods to secure its future for wildlife and public enjoyment, if the landowner is not prepared to work with the Council to manage the woods properly.

A Local Nature Reserve designation would ensure that Grove Wood was managed for wildlife, public enjoyment and educational use - just what we have been calling for since 2008.

You can help make this happen by:
1) Emailing no later than noon on Wednesday June 9th stating why you think the Council should declare an LNR and buy Grove Wood - the criteria for designation are below to help you write your email
2) Asking to speak at the Cabinet Meeting on June 10th - you need to request this in the email you send the Council
3) Joining Snuff Mills Action Group outside the Council House on College Green at 3.30pm to show how much you want this to happen - make and bring banners!

We may also organise a photocall for the media in Grove Wood in the next few days so watch this space.

For a Local Nature Reserve to be declared, Grove Wood will have to fulfill these criteria:
1) It should be more than 2ha in size - it's at least 14ha we believe
2) Capable of being managed with the conservation of nature and/or the maintenance of special opportunities for study, research or enjoyment of nature as the priority concern - it is an ancient woodland that could be managed for wildlife and over a hundred people have written statements to show that they use it for public enjoyment.

To become a LNR the woods should also be either:

a) Of high natural interest in the local context - An ecological report reveals rare plants, protected bats, otters and kingfishers, you could say what wildlife you have seen there in your email to the Council OR
b) Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for formal education or research or - We are in discussions with the Museum service about a big education project to compare Grove Wood with Snuff Mills to find out why they are so different, there is huge potential educational use in Grove Wood, but this cannot happen while it is in unsympathetic ownership OR
c)Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public - over 100 people have written evidence statements about their use of Grove Wood for legal sports and past-times as part of our application to have it declared a Town Green.

Please post whatever you send the Council here to inspire others - the more representations they get, the greater the chances they will do this.

Evening Post article

Chainsaws in Grove Wood

With just three days before Grove Wood goes to Bristol City Council to possibly start the process to declare a Local Nature Reserve, you'd have thought the landowner would be trying to show he is a responsible landowner. Judging by today's events this would appear not to be the case. This white van appeared deep in Grove Wood this morning with two men with chainsaws. The noise could be heard from Snuff Mills and one group member set off to investigate. She found men chopping up wood in the woods and told them they could be disturbing protected species. Another Group member set off and was told he was tresspassing while telling the men that they could be breaking the law if they disturb protected wildlife. After many calls, a Council Officer appeared on site also telling them to conduct a proper assessment before doing work. They'd already stopped but it seemed to stop them from starting again.

We are not sure of the full details of the situation, or the rights and wrongs of it, but we do know that this is the worst time of year to do any work in woodland - bats are breeding and birds are nesting and you are breaking the law if you disturb them.

We need that nature reserve as quickly as possible.