Hartley Matters

A Newsletter from the Friends Of Hartley Countryside

December 2001

Decline in Sport hits Manor Field

Until last summer on a gentle stroll through Manor Field on a summer afternoon you could stop and watch a very traditional English scene as the bat tried to outwit the ball. Alas, last summer cricket was not played regularly on this field, as the team that normally plays there could not raise enough players. In September Senior Football left Manor Field for a cheaper venue.

5 Junior Football teams now play regularly on the field that has a capacity for 12 during the winter. There are advantages to this decline in use. Fewer cars are using Church Road and the residents enjoy more peaceful weekends.

Participation in all organised sporting activities is in decline throughout the country but Junior football seems to have been particularly hard hit in this area. Why then, with spare capacity already on Manor Field, have the Parish Council stated in their current newsletter that they intend to build more football pitches on Northfield?

In the Village Survey carried out by Friends Of Hartley Countryside, sponsored by Kent Rural Community Council, an overwhelming 72% said no to more football pitches on Northfield. The Parish Council seems to be completely ignoring the wishes of local people and is going ahead with the construction of 3 more pitches. Northfield is managed by a committee on which the Hartley Parish Council chairman and vice chairman are members. They seem keen to simply support the demands of the New Ash Green members to meet their alleged needs.

If Hartley struggles to achieve full use of Manor Field why are we paying 50% of the cost of providing football pitches for New Ash Green? Why are Councillors who are on record as saying they would not support them in such circumstances going along with this?

Footnote on Northfield.

For the past two years the Friends of Hartley Countryside have fought very hard to keep a full range of countryside options including part of Northfield in farming. On 16 October 2001 the two Parish Councils took over this field and agriculture ceased. This land now becomes Amenity Land. Amenity land is often said to be "halfway to housing".

If the proposed football pitches fall into disuse, due to over supply, will the amenity land become another New Ash Green neighbourhood?

Agenda 21

An Agenda for the 21st century is a global plan for surviving and thriving, calling on all governments, local and national, to produce strategies for sustainable development through widespread public participation. Northfield has been shaped by mankind and will only have a future if we continue to look after it. People aren't going to stop using the land, but we need to think today with tomorrow in mind, and find a way to look after the land as well as make ends meet.

Longfield Community Park

As part of their project management of the site. Groundwork Thameside are improving public access to 5 acres of chalk grassland at the park, including disabled access. Future plans include on-site interpretation. In all another example of how vital it is to have professional management for large scale amenity land, their expertise in getting finance means that it has not cost the people of Longfield a penny. This is featured in

Groundwork's autumn newsletter (01322 287727)

Election Fever!

Provided there are enough candidates, Hartley will see a bye-election on 13th December. In recent years there haven't been a lot of contested elections in Hartley, last year's bye-election was the first contested election in Hartley for almost 10 years - and that was a case of 12 candidates for 11 seats. The turnout largely depends on whether other elections are being held on that day. Spectacularly just 2.9% of electors turned out to vote in a 1983 bye-election! Last year the turnout was 25.4%, which is very good when there were no other polls that day. But Hartley can do better! So we urge everyone to make use of their vote.

Mammal Matters

On 8th September two friends attended a one-day symposium entitled Mammal Matters -Mammals Matter, organised by the Essex, Kent and Surrey Mammal Groups, with the Kent Wildlife Trust, at the Medway Campus of the University of Greenwich, at Chatham.

Eight wild life workers each gave an half hour presentation in their particular speciality. Subjects covered were Beaver in Kent, Water Voles in the Inner Thames Marshes SSSI and Essex Coast Marshes ESA scheme, Badgers as burrowers, Dormice in Kent, Bat conservation in the South of England, Rodenticides and their effects of vertebrate predators in Britain and a report on an investigation to verify the presence of free-living wild boar - yes they really do exist in S.E. Sussex/Kent borders and are, according to the researcher, quite harmless unless provoked. A most interesting and enjoyable day was had - a special mention for the excellent refreshments on offer!


We have ascertained that if footpaths on the edge of fields are overgrown with nettles etc. then the Rights of Way Officer in West Malling is the person to contact about their clearance.

You may have noticed the fly tipping in Foxborough Woods in the last few weeks. We have contacted Graham Rusling, R.O.W. Officer at West Malling and he assures us that following our call he will arrange for Sevenoaks District Council to remove the offending heap.

Dormice update

September brought results of the post mortem on Mrs Dormouse. It seems she died of natural causes. Although she weighed a respectable 16g. the post mortem revealed she had very little reserves of body fat and this would have led to a general weakening of her health and maybe interfered with her ability to seek food.

In August a resident further along Church Road found a dead dormouse (male) on his . doorstep - the victim of a cat. The incident was reported to the Kent Mammal Group representative, who visited and recorded the find. The recorded dormice are now part of the statistics of a national survey of this endangered and legally protected species. He will be returning at a later date to erect dormouse boxes in an appropriate area.

Stack Lane

The Ash Road end of Stack Lane is not adopted and is shortly to be repaired by the residents there at their own expense. The Stack Lane Residents Association would therefore be grateful if people could respect the "No Entry Except for Access to Properties Signs", and not add to the wear and tear on the road.

FHC win campaign for open government

In the last newsletter we were campaigning for open government locally. We are pleased to report that the Parish Council agrees with us and in future they will place a full opy of all Council agendas in the library.

Rectory Meadow

16th September came - it was a fresh sunny day. The Parish Council had asked for volunteers for the restoration work on Rectory Meadow to progress. 15 people turned up, three Parish Councillors, two residents local to Rectory Meadow, one person from New Ash Green, two from the N.W. Kent Countryside Project and seven volunteers from the Friends of Hartley Countryside. After a good morning's work, most of the hay was raked into piles by lunch time. On raking the hay, we lost count of the amount of frogs, slow worms and insects that were found. The hay was disposed of elsewhere. Many thanks to the N.W.K.C.P. for supplying the tea and biscuits. We hope the outcome will eventually help restore this area into a traditional chalk grassland.

Cllr John Sandeford

It is with regret we note the death of John Sandeford. Without Cllr Sandeford's guidance and help the pedestrian crossing would never have been created. This will be a lasting memorial to him for all who use it.

If you have any feelings about any of the issues we raise write to the Parish Clerk at the Library or to our Secretary.

Published by Friends of Hartley Countryside, Rommey Cottage, Stack Lane, Hartley Kent

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