Crammer Working Party to ask Devizes Town Council to Endorse Dubious Approach to Future Management of the Crammer

Okay, I know, last thing I want is to be is a stuck record, always waffling about a pond in Devizes, but allow me thus, to express concerns in line with public opinion over the recommendation by the Crammer Working Party that the Committee endorses the approach being adopted by the Crammer Working Party in relation to the future management of the Crammer, which is due to be put forward in a Devizes Town Council Recreation & Properties Committee meeting on Tuesday 28th March…because it’s beyond wonky……

Content of the agenda prioritises evaluations of the performance of council-run venues, including a report on the Hillworth Park Café, running a net operating loss of £16,674. It sure is a nice café, and nice to have a café in the park, but if the preposterousness of the council isn’t highlighted by the notion there’s a shop nearby which is considerably cheaper and, generalising, the most common users of the park are youths and families, the least groups with disposable funds right now to accommodate a costly cuppa and slice of cake when the shop will provide a viable alternative, the notion The Crammer Working Party is dedicated to the task it was set surely is the icing on the cake.

A recommendation that the Committee endorses the approach being adopted by the Cramer Working Party in relation to the future management of the Crammer,” then, is the header to the section I’m dubious about. The Crammer Working Party being the very two councillors who we’ve recently underscored for lying on social media about DEFRA testing the swans which died in December’s extreme cold spell, falsely confirming it was bird flu, staging a campaign to starve the birds by encouraging the public not to safely feed them and to argue with anyone defying their opinion by feeding, and censoring and banning anyone from their Facebook groups who dared to question it; yeah, those committed councillors!

The background explains a Planning Committee on 14th February where a loose association of concerned residents called Friends of the Crammer requested installation of specific wildlife warning signage, after several occasions where wildfowl had been killed by traffic. Which was promptly shot down by the Working Party members stating there was too much signage already and they considered more to be a distraction for drivers.

If the purpose of the report, is for the Committee to consider if it supports the working party’s approach to dealing with issues relating to the Crammer, let me explain to you exactly what they hypocritically came up with. Adamant specific warning signage would have a “limited impact on mitigating the issues surrounding wildlife and the adjoining highways, there is a sense that changing the way humans interact with wildlife may help, and one option may be to have a series of information boards surrounding the Crammer. These would give advice on the type of wildlife present, their behaviours as well as details on the history of the Crammer, including what its original use was.” (“The way humans interact with wildlife may help” ?? They’re not running them over on purpose, I hope, or is that what they’re suggesting?!)

But….but….but I thought you said there was too much signage already, and anymore would be a distraction, and now you’re suggesting a small sign warning drivers to beware of wildfowl, which is pretty much standard in similar areas nationwide will have a limited impact, but whopping gurt information billboards labelling the species like it’s a zoo is absolutely fine and dandy, and you expect a council to be blind to the hypocrisy here?!

What the council must decide is the purpose of the Crammer Working Party, which was in the eyes of the public to ensure the future conservation of the area and protection of the wildlife. Yet, in week where four ducks have been run over in separate incidents, The Crammer Working Party did not believe that the “installation of signage was the right solution to the problem,” and propose to babble on about the heritage of the Crammer, stating “there is also a significant heritage value associated with the Crammer, which should not be overlooked. To support this, various stakeholders have been sent a request to share their views on this aspect.”

In conclusion, then, if in true conservative philosophy the stakeholders and heritage of the site is more important to the Working Party than the feelings of the public that improvements to protect the wildlife needs attention, what really needs attention is the objectives of this Working Party. Members of the Friends of the Crammer are understandably outraged. One key member passionate about the wildlife there demands the Council gets rid of the Crammer Working Party, calling out the report as a “thinly disguised attempt to play at being in charge and asserting control, but has highlighted that the CWP have no clue as to what is urgently needed. In almost a year since forming, the CWP have at no point indicated that the problems facing the Crammer wildlife are recognised or understood. What has instead been illustrated is ignorance of fatalities and health issues, ignorance of wildfowl habitat usage, and an unwillingness to listen to and discuss issues with the public actively supporting the Crammer wildlife. Instead, the CWP appears intent on maintaining an illusion that the CWP are active in the interests of the wildlife and the Crammer engaged public, when any one of those actively supporting Crammer wildlife daily can refute any such idea. The proposal of information boards is monstrously indicative of the CWP’s ignorance and unwillingness to engage and consult, adding to the built environment will only materially add to the obstacles and clutter mute swans must negotiate when attempting to move between the water surface and the grazing/rest/runway areas. Less obstacles need to be the objective, not more.”

Other members are wary, pondering “if we go in all guns blazing, are we not in danger of the council becoming more intransigent?” Of which I understand, but am hopeful councillors will see the logic that if a simple warning signpost is considered “clutter” an information board would be more so, having no effective reason for supporting. But the consensus is after taking a year to produce, the report is a farcical non-event, which says absolutely nothing. The group even proposes the possibility of creating their our own report with proposals based on research, expert advice, local knowledge and general feedback.

So, yeah, I know, it’s just a duck pond, but a good and effective town council is being overshadowed by a few bad eggs, and this is symbolic of the charade. Maybe the Crammer Working Party could consider a tally chart on their information boards, so drivers can cross off the species of duck they’ve run over?!

Maybe rather than stare aimlessly at a stating-the-bloody-obvious sign saying, “this is a mallard, this is a swan, this is a moorhen,” future generations could look more favourably at us, being the ones who took steps to better protect the wildlife depicted on the board, rather than wonder why a board exists without any evidence of the wildlife referenced on it!

Add a Dodo onto their anticipated information board, for the very idea of this so-called Working Party should be as dead as one! The Meeting is Tuesday 28th March, at the Cheese Hall, immediately following Planning Committee, you can attend to see the local council in action, you can witness if your money will spent on an elaborate superfluous information board against the objections of the public who think a far more effective and inexpensive warning sign really isn’t that much to ask for.


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