We are now confident that the immediate concerns around Avian flu from birds visiting the Crammer has now passed, so we have taken the signs down, but what now? We were keen to get some advice from an organisation who have a wealth of knowledge, therefore we have been in contact with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge and they were very clear in their advice. Their advice is that there is no need for us to take responsibility for feeding the wildfowl on the Crammer, as the birds are not enclosed and are therefore able to find food sources for themselves. Whilst discussing the issue with them we did ask that if members of the community want to feed the swans what is the best food and the Trust were very clear in their response, in that they could not recommend this and indeed have stopped selling grain to the public at Slimbridge to minimise the risk of spreading any Avian flu. From this advice, I think we can only pass on their comments, in that the birds that visit the Crammer are wild and capable of foraging for themselves. Whilst currently we have no birds showing signs of Avian Flu on the Crammer, it is still out in the wild and highly contagious and therefore caution needs to be exercised.
On Tuesday evening, Devizes Town Council set its precept for the financial year 2023/24, which will see it rising by 4.1% with a band D council tax charge being in the region of £194.63 for the year, an increase of £7.71 on 2022/23. Like many organisations we are seeing significant increases in our costs, with fuel being only one. The Town Council recognises that increasing prices is going to affect everyone over the coming year and as such it has had to balance the expectation that we continue to look after the town to the best of our ability as well as continuing to support the great community events, which make our town such a great place to live, against the financial impact it will have on everyone’s pocket.
Each year the Council gives out Civic awards to those in our community who have made a significant contribution to the lives of others as volunteers. There are several award categories, from recognising groups and individuals making recent improvements to the natural or built environment in Devizes by improving open spaces or refurbishing a building, to services to the people award that recognises individuals who has helped to improve the quality of life for people in Devizes. There is also a group category, as we know there are voluntary organisations within the town, who do some brilliant work. For some years now we have worked with Cross Manufacturing, who have a highly skilled locally employed workforce to recognise individuals who have worked for the same Devizes Company for 40 years or more. We also do not want to forget the younger members of our community, so working with a local charity, Bear Trust Foundation we will be seeking nominations from anyone who knows of a young person who is making a difference to the lives of an individual or group and there is even a bursary prize for this category. For more information visit our website, call into the Town Hall or email my colleague who will be able to tell you more.
Shortly our contractors will be felling the ring of trees around the former water tower in Green Lane. In addition, two Leylandii in the same area will be removed as they are collapsing due to their age. This group of trees have considerable epicormic growths and after discussions with our arboriculturist and the tree officer at Wiltshire Council, who both advised that these trees need to be removed and replanted with a more suitable tree for the location, we have taken the decision to undertake the work. Decisions like this are not taken lightly, however it has to be recognised that all trees have a lifecycle which eventually ends, but for trees in public places, often we have to make this difficult choice early, in the knowledge that this will have an impact on biodiversity and the loss of habitat. As you would expect we will replant new more suitable trees in this location, but would welcome any views on what they should be and where they should be planted.
Through our “Greening Devizes” project, we are keen to work with local communities to see how we can develop partnerships to improve biodiversity within the open spaces that we manage and if you are interested in meeting with members from the Greening Devizes team to explore what we can do in the Green Lane area, then let me know via email and I will set up a meeting to discuss this in more detail.
Simon Fisher, Town Clerk