Opponents aren’t wild about meadows plan

GRASSED OFF ... Coun Steve Harrison at one of the many wildflower meadows appearing around Fellgate.
GRASSED OFF ... Coun Steve Harrison at one of the many wildflower meadows appearing around Fellgate.

POLITICAL opponents are united in being blooming mad about a wildflower plan at a South Tyneside estate.

Less than a fortnight before the local elections, both Labour and UKIP activists are digging in for a fight against plans to create a wildflower and meadow grass feature around the Fellgate Estate, Jarrow.

Coun Steve Harrison, a UKIP member for the Fellgate and Hedworth ward, said: “I know this is all about the council saving money, but residents are up in arms about the herbicide strip which has appeared right around Durham Drive, ahead of the creation of the wildflower feature.

“This is completely over the top and we want it taken out and the area reseeded, so that we can have some colour.

“If this wildflower area goes in, it will make the whole estate look the same, with the grass left to grow.”

Opposition to the council-backed wildflower project across South Tyneside is growing, with campaigners last month demanding the plans be scrapped in historic York Avenue, Jarrow, where traditional flower beds are set to be replaced by wildflowers.

But South Tyneside Council has already made huge savings from the annual cost of maintaining seven million square metres of local grassland and the Fellgate scheme is part of a move towards a wildlife-friendly maintenance system.

Coun Alan Smith, Labour member for Fellgate and Hedworth, has also spoken out against the low-maintenance wildflower scheme, despite it being approved by the Labour-controlled council.

He said: “I am totally opposed to this area being converted to wildflowers and meadow grass. I am against the proposal as it now stands.

“I have arranged a site visit with council officers to rethink this project.

“There can definitely be no meadow grass around the perimeter facing the houses – wildflowers will probably be OK.

“There may be patches where this is feasible and look attractive, but definitely not the full area. After this site visit, the residents facing this area will be consulted.”

No one was available for comment at South Tyneside Council.

Candidates standing in the Fellgate and Hedworth ward in the Local Elections on Thursday, May 22 are Ian Armstrong (Conservative), Steven Harrison (UKIP), and Geraldine Kilgour (Labour).

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