This is the letter I sent to the Swindon Advertiser on 11th January 2020. It is a response to the articles of 4th and 10th January, which you may have read about.
They haven’t yet published my letter, so here it is in full:
11th January 2020
Mr Pete Gavan, Editor
Re: Hreod Burna Urban Forest
With reference to the articles of 4th and 10th January wherein Josie Lewis, a Wroughton resident, outlines her opposition to the planting of trees in Gorse Hill and Pinehurst: as a fellow Trustee of HBUF, I am disturbed and dismayed by this person’s attacks on our group. HBUF is a charitable trust that, as our name suggests, exists to promote wildlife, woodland and the planting of trees in an urban area, for the benefit of the local community.
As a matter of record, at the last full Parish Council meeting 18th December 2019, it was agreed that the trees planted on the Cricklade Field should remain.
This person has been fiercely against any trees on the Cricklade Field from the very beginning, and has changed her arguments each time they were shown to be incorrect. These arguments have ranged from ‘open space’ being legally different from ‘public open space’ to the suggestion that HBUF would be breaking our lease if we planted trees in certain areas of our land.
She says that public open space is “by definition […] a sports ground or playing field”. This is not the case, as there is no statutory definition of this phrase. Note, however:-
Section 20 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 states that the “expression `open space’ means any land, whether inclosed or not, on which there are no buildings or of which not more than one-twentieth part is covered with buildings, and the whole of the remainder of which is laid out as a garden or is used for purposes of recreation, or lies waste and unoccupied.”
Memorandum by The Open Spaces Society (TCP 19)
Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs – Memoranda April 1999
In both 4th and 10th January articles your explanation of the link between Swindon Borough Council, the Central Swindon North Parish Council and HBUF is unsatisfactory. HBUF does not run the area on behalf of the Parish. There is a lease; it existed between SBC and HBUF; it now exists between the Parish and HBUF.
The minutes of our meetings are on public record and may be read on our website hreodburnaurbanforest.com. These will support all of the information I refer to in this letter. They show where opposing opinions have been voiced, as well as proposals and decisions made on a democratic basis.
I am most concerned, in these worrying times of climate crisis, that this person has seen fit to denigrate all that we are attempting to do.
Secretary, HBUF With endorsement by fellow Trustees Kate Henery, Treasurer, and Sue Gwinnell, Vice Chair