Wednesday, 29 December 2010

"Opportunity missed"

For all the publicity about the renovation of Reigate Priory Park through Heritage Lottery Funding of £4.2 million plus more millions from local businesses, I have always maintained that a DVD would be an ideal way of recording the process and the outcome.

So it was a great treat this Christmas to see the new DVD sponsored by the Borough Council and Legal & General. It features some key historical elements since the 12th century, as well as the ancient woodland deerpark, medieval fishponds - now the lake, wild flowers, Victorian-style herbaceous borders and numerous magnificent tree specimens.

Those of us interested in nature conservation might be astonished by the attention to regulations when it came to the demolition of the old air raid shelter with its one resident bat. Similarly with the draining and dredging of the lake, one single duck nest had to be protected by giving it a wide berth of several metres.

The silliest story in my opinion, though, is about the fully grown terrapin that is an unwelcome resident of Reigate Priory Park lake - certainly not a genuine heritage feature and according to Surrey Biodiversity Partnership, actually 'a serious threat to our wetland fauna'. Project manager Nina Porter explained that she had heard about the terrapin before, she had seen it herself and it was a menace, eating fish and ducklings. I wonder if it had been properly listed in the paperwork as a living creature that should be moved to a new and more suitable home, if the opportunity presented itself.

Well, now we know that there was indeed a perfect opportunity, but failure of communication with a naive contract worker.

Suffice it to say that, after all that hard work and financial outlay, the overgrown and unwanted exotic pet still lurks there. Yes, Reigate's Rogue of a Reptile was taking a stroll across the grass when it was spotted by a workman, picked up and ushered back into that beautiful, tranquil and ancient lake, where it remains to this day. Watch out - he or she has grown to the size of a dinner plate.

Now how about a Reward for anyone else who finds it again?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Castle cottages

There is some good news from my Lib Dem councillor Graham Norman about one of my heritage concerns locally - the boarded up cottages in Reigate's Castle Grounds are for sale!

Yes, it will be good to have them occupied again and one trusts fully restored in keeping with their age and location.

If they decided to put them on the market as a result of my raising the subject then I am very glad I did - and with the proceeds there will be more than enough to pay for the restoration of Reigate's magnificent Park Lane gates. After all, it is only fitting that the sale of one historic treasure in this ancient town can fund the long awaited repair of another. Problem solved.

Letters to the Editor archives

Now that the local paper has moved offices out of Reigate to Redhill, there is no space for the archives. They have all had to go to somewhere in Brentwood/ford, I hear.

So for posterity, here are two of the letters published in October 2008, one by a colleague and the other from me. Well, if only more people had read them at the time, such as our MP Crispin Blunt who lives in London, not his constituency. We really could have helped prevent at least 4,445 girls from getting side effects in less than two years, some of whom have needed long-term hospital care.

Yes, both subheadings were shown to be correct - the HPV comments WERE misleading, and Better safe than sorry - but it is too late now for those girls.

Click here to enlarge

Click here to enlarge

For an up to date account of my findings please take a look at my new Pigeon Post page: Truth about Cervarix.