Last week was a relatively quiet week at the Council, with business very much as usual but as always there are issues that we are dealing with, the Crammer being one. We are working with a number of key stakeholders to look at the long-term management of the Crammer, especially around how it is used. As always, at face value the problem seems simple, but often below the surface there are tensions between different uses. It is clear that the starting point is looking at the water quality, but whilst in terms of the chemical pollution this is within safe levels for the environment in which the Crammer is located, nitrate levels in the water are very high, which over the last week has led to a bloom in the water. This high level of nitrates is caused by wildlife depositing waste in the water and therefore over the next few months we will explore questions like what population of wildfowl can the Crammer support? Is Devizes happy for the appearance of the Crammer to change? And if we look to make wildlife the focus for the Crammer, how do we then manage the inevitable further reduction in water quality. The project is now very much work in progress and over the next few months I will update you on the work that is being done.
Remaining with Wildlife, urban gulls are very much an ongoing issue in Devizes and if you live on the eastern edge of town, you will be all too aware of the noise and mess they make. We are now finding that whilst the Hopton area is still the focus of the problem their numbers no longer have an impact on other areas as they spreading further west. As many will know, birds like Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls are now protected under a change of legislation that came into effect in 2019. Prior to 2019, as a Town Council we could apply for and receive a licence for an egg removal programme that would help to manage the local population, but this is so much more difficult under the new arrangements, as a site specific license is now required and these will only be issued as a last resort after it has been demonstrated that local property owners have done all they can to stop gulls from nesting on their buildings, that property owners have a programme of removing deserted nests from their buildings and that gulls are causing a risk to life. Clearly these are very difficult challenges to meet, but we are happy to talk to any owner of a large industrial building where nesting is occurring and with the support of our urban gull expert, help them to manage the gull population that use their building as a place to breed.
Still thinking about the environment, at last new electric charging points have been installed in Station Road car park, so at least there are some opportunities for EV owners to charge in Devizes, if they don’t have easy access to a private charging point. We know as electric vehicles ownership is set to increase two public charges in the town will not be enough. Therefore we are currently applying for funding to install 8 further points in the town centre, with a hope that we can install four in the Central car park and four in the West Central car park. The capital cost of chargers is quite high so funding from the Government’s on On-Street Residential Charging Point Scheme will be essential to deliver this project and our application is currently being submitted. The criteria for the funding is to be able to demonstrate that those who live within the town centre have no access to private EV chargers and therefore this admiral change will support greater electric vehicle ownership and that the town will be more welcoming to electric vehicle owners.