Public meeting urged over Cleadon Hills pony grazing scheme

OPPONENT ... Lynn Cook with dogs Ebony and Scarlet on Cleadon Hills.

OPPONENT ... Lynn Cook with dogs Ebony and Scarlet on Cleadon Hills.

A DOG walker has called on the council to hold a public meeting to discuss plans to let wild ponies graze on Cleadon Hills.

South Tyneside Council are considering using the animals to help preserve the area, but that has not gone down well with some people.

The public have been asked to contact the council with their comments by March 15.

Lynn Cook, of Mill Grove, South Shields, who walks her Labradors, Ebony and Scarlet, on Cleadon Hills twice a day, wants a public meeting to be held.

The teaching assistant said: “Everyone has been given until March 15 to lodge their views in writing or online, but I feel there should definitely be a public meeting.

“It’s very important that people write to the council, though, and give their views. As a dog walker, I have my side of it, and everyone should be heard. It’s like a community up there – everyone knows each other.

“There are so many people against wildlife going on there, but no one feels as if our views are going anywhere.”

The Gazette first revealed in November 2011 the local authority’s plan to keep Exmoor ponies on Cleadon Hills, and talk of the scheme re-emerged this year.

Council bosses say wild ponies will help to allow the flowers and land to thrive at the nature reserve, next to Cleadon Village.

The site has been designated an area of special scientific interest that must be preserved and protected.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We are currently carrying out a public consultation on the draft management plan for Cleadon Hills local nature reserve.

“It sets out management proposals for all aspects of the site including grasslands, scrub and hedgerow management and visitor facilities such as access, benches, interpretation and heritage including the Grade II listed mill and the limestone walls.

“Some of the plans are aspirational and we hope to secure funding in the future to implement them.

“We know that historically the land was grazed by animals – a process which is proven to allow the flowers and land to flourish. This is just one of the management methods being considered.

“The draft plan has already been presented at the West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum and will be presented at the next Place Select Committee, which are both public meetings.

It is also widely available to view in public buildings including South Shields Town Hall, all libraries and online at www.southtyneside.info/consultation

“Notices have also been put up on the site and the consultation has been highlighted in the council’s Greenspace E-newsletter, e-mailed to many organisations, interest groups and individuals.

“We would urge people to read through the documents before submitting their views, by March 15. The comments received will then be considered in detail by senior officers and elected members, taking into consideration statutory requirements and all site users, before a final version is adopted and published later this year.

“This is one of seven draft management plans the council is developing to help improve and expand the borough’s local nature reserves.” Twitter: @shieldsgazette




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