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Bee-friendly spaces will be easier on the eye next year, say councillors

Thu, 17 Sep 2020

By Chris Cave - Local Democracy Reporter
By Chris Cave - Local Democracy Reporter

Bee-friendly spaces in Douglas will be improved next year to make them more pleasant to look at, according to councillors.

Around 20 places were selected for the ‘Plan Bee’ initiative this year, which saw grass verges left uncut throughout the summer in a bid to help the bee population.

However, the move attracted criticism from some residents who felt it made the town look untidy.

Harry Owens, from the IOM Beekeepers Federation, claims the project could have been better executed.

He said: “When you’re talking about verges and wild areas within towns and villages; one of the things they [local authorities] are doing is saving money and cutting costs by not getting people to cut it [the grass].

“To me, the simplest way to make it look more decorative is to get wild flowers growing. It would take some of the sting out of complaints about it looking wild and unkempt”.

Derby Ward councillor Andrew Bentley has strongly denied it was a cost-cutting exercise, saying planting wild flowers in the bee-friendly spaces was Douglas Borough Council’s initial idea.

Mr Bentley maintains problems arising from the Covid-19 pandemic meant that plan didn’t come to fruition.

“The Covid situation has caused a backlog between eight and 12 weeks in various tasks”, he conceded, adding “they [the Parks Department] legally were not allowed to work for a series of weeks.”

Not everyone in the council was supportive of the scheme, with leader David Christian one prominent member who objected.

“Personally, I understand what was behind it, but we’re on a green Island. We’ve got so much wild and wonderful countryside out there, I believe there was no need to be doing it in the town centre. Town centres should look neat and tidy and cut”, said Mr Christian, “but the decision was made by the [Regeneration and Community] Committee and supported by the council.”

He also admitted he was surprised by the reaction he received from his constituents.

“In the area where I represent in Hills Ward, we had a very large area, normally manicured, left to grow three foot high. I thought the residents would be up in arms but it was the one area we had letters in praising what we were doing. I was wrong-footed on that one and that was slap bang in the middle of a residential estate.”

Messrs Bentley and Christian share the view the initiative is likely to continue next year.

“I think this was strike one and we were trying”, said Mr Bentley.

“Not everything went according to plan. There were areas [such as the Cooil Road roundabout] where seeds weren’t sewn and therefore it didn’t work as appropriate.”

He continued: “That’s actually a gateway to Douglas for anyone arriving from the airport. Whilst an absolute picture when the flowers are there, when they’re not, maybe it’s not the first impression you want to create; and that’s one area where I’d support a review.”


 

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