At the time of writing in early May, we are still in a state of lockdown, so I hope you are all keeping well and safe during these difficult days. The past weeks have challenged even those of us who are used to working from home, but at the same time maybe it has been an opportunity to remind ourselves of our wonderful countryside in and around Trottiscliffe. We have a rich and diverse natural environment here with many notable trees to provide a welcome distraction from COVID19. Also, the traffic noise is lower and the air so much cleaner, so without detracting from the seriousness of the situation, maybe there’s a glimmer of an upside after all!
But Spring is sprung!
If you’re like me and a bit susceptible to low mood under the gloaming skies of winter, there’s nothing more cheering than seeing the hedgerows burst into life in early spring. One of the first to show off is the blackthorn, Prunus spinosa which, like many of its cherry relations, flowers before the leaves emerge. This absolute belter on the footpath from the Pilgrim’s Way by Commority down towards Coldrum Barrow will be a riot of sloes to feed the birds in autumn if the gin-lovers don’t get there first!
A lot of people think these early flowers are the hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna but these emerge later (appearing now in late April/May) – here’s one from Pinesfield Lane by the nature reserve.
And it’s not just the trees, the wildflowers are bursting into life in our verges and providing nectar for the early pollinators – one of my favourites at this time of year is greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea -every bit as attractive as any garden cultivar.
Or if that doesn’t float your boat, how about the dainty ladies’ smock, or cuckoo flower, Cardamine pratensis there’s a cluster of these on Taylor’s Lane near the start of the traffic “calming” zone (or the remaining bits of it the driveway contractors haven’t flattened).
These verges are full of wildlife and conceal those ugly post and wire fences – one to think about before we reach for the strimmer.
Thorny issues at Bramble Park
A few years ago, I was invited by Mike Towler to survey the many veteran trees within the grounds of Bramble Park for a Tree Council veteran Tree project. This project aimed to ascribe value and importance to our heritage trees – we do this for historic buildings so why not?!
As you may have seen, there is a planning application to convert the Park into an educational establishment. Putting to one side the potentially emotive issues over this in terms of traffic levels, I do have a real concern that there’s a risk of damage to these trees should the reconstruction go ahead. None are covered by TPOs because most are not visible from public areas and so have no “amenity value” – this is a real shame because some of them are wonderful and should be protected for future generations to enjoy. While the planning application makes provision for amelioration of damage through root zone protection, it’s important this is applied in practice – too often trees in construction areas are destroyed through wilful or inadvertent damage to the root structure.
The Coldrum beech
The area surrounding Coldrum Barrow is important beech woodland recognised by the Kent Downs AONG 2014-19 Management Plan. You can’t help but notice the splendid heritage beech Fagus sylvatica at the entrance to the site which is usually adorned with ribbons etc by those presumably embracing the ancient spirituality of the site.
What they (or other misguided individuals) have also done is to carve a LOT of graffiti into the bark, which is a shame aesthetically (beech have particularly smooth and tactile bark) and potentially endangers the tree as bark wounds may give an access point to fungal pathogens – bracket fungi which can in time destroy the heartwood of the tree. My old arb lecturer at Hadlow college told the tale of attending site to dismantle an ancient oak tree which had developed a very bad stem rot. To his horror, he recognised the initials he himself had carved into the bark some 20 years before right where the fungus had gained its fatal foothold!
I’ve written to the National Trust asking for help to avoid further damage but as yet they haven’t been helpful – fingers crossed mother nature smiles on this iconic tree.
That’s it for now folks, don’t forget you can contact me if you ‘d like to know more about the trees in your area – distancing guidance permitting!
We are revising our scheme in BART to help people who may be self-isolating (having to stay at home because of the Coronavirus) or who may just need a helping hand. Read more about BART Community Support
Don’t forget the Saturday Freighter Service (Bulky) waste can no longer take garden waste since the introduction of the Council’s chargeable collection service on 30th September 2019. Read more about Changes to waste services
1 – Apologies for absence
2 – Minutes of the 2018 Annual Parish Meeting
3 – Chairman’s report
4 – County Councillor’s report
5 – Borough Councillor’s report
6 – Financial report for 2018/19
7 – Report of Village Hall Committee
8 – Report of the School Representative
9 – Members of the public
10 – Any other business
A new recycling, waste collection and street cleaning provider
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council has appointed Urbaser to take over its recycling, waste collection and street cleaning services from 1 March 2019.
Urbaser is one of the largest resource and cleaning management companies in Europe and the new contract will provide residents with a greatly improved recycling service, as well as street cleaning services.
What will change?
Initially there will be no change to your current collection services.
Your collection days will stay the same for now, although we are pleased to announce that as from 1 March we will be collecting on all bank holidays (except the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day bank holidays). As such, over Easter 2019, we will be collecting on both Good Friday and Easter Monday for the first time. See opposite for a reminder of what we collect.
From 30 September 2019 Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and Urbaser will be introducing exciting service improvements including:
Separate weekly food waste collections
Fortnightly dry mixed recycling collections including plastics, glass & cartons
Recycling collections of textiles, household batteries and small electrical appliances
We’ll provide more information about the new services over the coming months, but don’t worry – you’ll get plenty of notice about the changes!
New recycling service roadshows!
Visit our new recycling service roadshows running in spring and summer 2019.
It’s a great opportunity to find out more about your new service provider and the improvements to your collection services. Staff from Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and Urbaser will be touring the borough to meet residents and answer any questions about the new service.
Come and see us on Saturday 23 March ~ 9.30am to 2.30pm at The Big Bridge, Tonbridge High Street
We will be posting details of more events on our website, so please check to find out when we will be in your area!
Until the new services are introduced, your collections will continue as normal so please keep using your green bins and boxes! Here’s a reminder of your current recycling and waste services.
Current recycling and waste services
Green-lidded bin ~ takes food waste, cardboard, garden waste
Green box ~ takes paper, cans, aerosols, kitchen foil
Black wheeled bin ~ non-recyclable waste
There are more than 40 recycling sites around the borough where you can recycle many different materials:
Plastic bottles, pots & tubs
Cans & tins
Glass bottles & jars
CDs & books
Shoes & textiles
Newspapers & magazines
If you need to dispose of a large item you can book a bulky collection, or visit one of our Saturday freighter sites.
From 30 September we are also introducing a new opt-in garden waste service for which there will be a charge. This will help us to significantly improve our recycling collections direct from your home to include plastics, glass and cartons as well as cans, paper and card.
Early Bird offer
If you wish to have your garden waste collected, sign up from Tuesday 7 May to Friday 2 August 2019 to get your Early Bird discount!
Early Bird offer will include:
Discounted price of only £35 per year (Full price £40 per year)
This price guaranteed for the second year on renewal
Continual service when your current garden waste collections end on 27 September 2019
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