• I was unable to attend the exhibition but have acquired the paperwork as Gittisham is in my county council ward.  Cllr Susie Bond is the EDDC ward member. In this latest major planning proposal (there have been so many major planning applications in my ward!), the fields targeted by developers, Welbeck, were designated as a “reserve site” in EDDC’s local plan.  But “reserve” which should have meant “if no other suitable proposal comes forward” appears to be meaningless, as this site is one of the first to come forward in the Honiton area. For[...]

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    I am awaiting a review of my freedom of information request decision, to release minutes of meetings on the subject of the office move, in a redacted form. So far EDDC has refused to publish them because they say they are commercially sensitive and would be meaningless with redactions. This decision is currently being reviewed by senior officers. http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/East-Devon-campaigners-stage-surprise-protest/story-20008533-detail/story.html#ixzz2jFHkZOkX Campaigners against the relocation of East Devon District Council’s headquarters from its historic Sidmouth base, [...]

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    the latest update at 05:32 this morning is as follows: “Between 15 and 50 mm of rainfall has fallen over Devon in the past 24 hours with the highest amounts of rain falling on Dartmoor and Exmoor. Rivers have re-acted to this rainfall and are high across Devon. Further showers are forecast for Monday 28 October with some heavy showers possible. Rivers will remain high during Monday 28 October. We will continue to monitor the river levels and issue further updates as the situation develops.” Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188, select option 1 and enter Quickdial number 04214 to get [...]

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    The motion, proposed by Cllr Ben Ingham, called on the government to introduce such a levy for large stores and proposed that the resulting revenue be used for local benefit. The motion was: “That the Secretary of State gives Local Authorities the power to introduce a local levy of 8.5% of the rate on large retail outlets in their area with a rateable annual value not less that £500,000 and requires that the revenue from this levy be retained by the Local Authority in order to be used to improve local communities in their areas by promoting local economic activity, local services and [...]

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    Before you go to bed secure anything in the garden that is too big to be put away. Everything else, put indoors or in the garage, if you have one. Best of British.

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    During the forward plan agenda item I asked that the task and finish forum be set up, as agreed at Wednesday evening’s full council meeting. (TAFFs are the property of the OSC.) Chairman, Cllr Tim Wood agreed and asked for volunteers.  Only mine and Cllr Giles hands went up.  It was agreed that other councillors would be invited to join the TAFF. But officers present said that staff were “stretched” and it would not be possible to set up the TAFF until at least the new year.

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    The motion was: “This Council recognises the great value of trees to the East Devon landscape, particularly ancient woodland, and also the importance of trees to wildlife. This council is concerned at the loss of trees as a result of development proposals, and is particularly concerned at the removal of trees by developers ahead of receiving planning approval. This Council: 1. calls on the Government to provide greater protection for trees and ancient woodland 2. calls on the government to allow greater penalties for developers who remove trees without permission 3. asks the Portfolio [...]

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    http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Cancelled-meeting-signify-end-controversial-East/story-19992631-detail/story.html?ito=email_newsletter_exeterexpressandecho The next meeting of a group of East Devon business leaders, many of which were former members of a heavily criticised business collective which disbanded six months after its disgraced chairman resigned and after members deemed its objectives “unviable, has been cancelled. As previously reported by the Echo, in July, the East Devon Business Forum announced that it had re-launched in a bid to make a “fresh start” and the first [...]

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    But the figure also appears in July’s cabinet papers - here - http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/eddc-cabinet-has-collective-amnesia-about-4-8m-loan/

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    I raised the issue under the forward plan once again at last night’s overview and scrutiny meeting and asked that the office move be brought forward for scrutiny next month instead. I highlighted the question of Barry Sangster at Wednesday night’s full council meeting re the £4.8m loan, and said it was a scheme of significant financial risk that needed urgent examination. But several conservative councillors said that there was no truth in the statement relating to an £4.8m loan. Cllr Ray Bloxham said he had never heard of that figure.  Cllr Tom Wright said plans to move [...]

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    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/3days/125305.aspx http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings For comprehensive advice on what to do before, during and after flooding please visit the Environment Agency website, where you can also sign up for flood alerts http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/default.aspx Information on how individual properties can prepare for flooding can be found on our website http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/flooding . You can also see the latest flood alerts and weather reports at [...]

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    I took a different view and said that I thought it was important that the points were made in public, so that residents could see that we were fighting their corner. It is their money after all.  The letter has been a while coming and required some chasing, but I think the arguments are well made…........................................................ To Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government East Devon District Council Concerns on Government Funding Reductions As Chair of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee I have been asked to write to[...]

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    Connecting Devon and Somerset broadband project has come under fire recently, with accusations of secrecy.  I have also asked (via a simple email not under FOI because I hadn’t realised it may be confidential information!) about plans for my own ward, but have not yet had a response. Read more and see a map of future likely broadband progress, at Cllr Thomas’s blog here - http://www.trinitymatters.co.uk/trinity/trinity-broadband-group/744-official-it-s-in-the-public-interest-that-the-public-does-not-know

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    May the force be with Feniton residents in particular.  No doubt village flood wardens, Cllr Susie Bond and Jayne Blackmore will be very busy helping the village prepare. I am keeping everything crossed that no one is flooded. Photograph:  The Ottery Road out of Feniton.

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    The paper is well worth a read. It is important that residents are kept informed on this, even if it seems to be happening before members of the public have had their say. http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/notes_bstaff_101013.pdf

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    Cllr Giles proposed the motion by giving a speech and as seconder I also gave a short speech. On the subject of HS2, Cllr Giles said: “I always thought that spending £50 billion of taxpayers money to allow people to travel between London and Birmingham and further north a few minutes quicker was a scandalous waste of public money. “The much more sensible approach would be to fund local improvements where there is an acknowledged need and benefit in East Devon, and other parts of the country. “I was concerned that here in Devon we would not be getting our fair share of [...]

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    Broadband suppliers have responded to criticism made by Upottery parish councillor Graham Long over Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), the programme responsible for rolling out the £94million infrastructure project. In last week’s Herald, Cllr Long launched a scathing attack on CDS and BT over the apparent lack of high-speed fibre broadband set to be supplied to Upottery by the end of 2016. Since the outcry, CDS has spoken to the Herald, stating the plan should bring such broadband to at least 90 per cent of premises across Devon and Somerset by the end of 2016, with at least two megabits[...]

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    Cllr Roger Giles, at last night’s full EDDC council meeting, called the minute and moved an amendment that the paper should be published immediately. But a senior officer said that the minute was starred, which meant that amendments were no permitted. Cllr Giles asked why that minute was starred. The senior officer replied that it was starred because the decision was within the remit of the committee. This was in line with the constitution, the officer added. A freedom of information request submitted last month from an Exmouth resident asking for the report to be published was also [...]

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    The committee has been advised it cannot talk about so many issues (most controversially it is not permitted to discuss any aspect of planning) that it has been left with little to debate, until after the inspector has examined the local plan. Mr Cooper’s question was at last night’s EDDC full council meeting. Chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer replied that Cllr Troman was away on holiday but he would decide when the committee would reconvene.

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    A silence ensued.  Chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer replied that there was no one available to answer the question. Mr Sangster then gave the answer, which I didn’t catch because of a hubbub in the room.  If Mr Sangster is reading this perhaps he would like to leave the answer in a comment below!  Thanks.  

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    Mr Thurlow asked Cllr Godbeer, who is also the chairman of EDDC’s standards committee, at last night’s full council meeting, whether he approved of Cllr Diviani’s email and whether it represented the views of the council. Cllr Diviani had refused apologised Mr Thurlow advised, when he had tackled him about it. Cllr Godbeer referred the question to the leader, who said he was entitled to his opinion. There was much heckling from the public gallery at this point because Cllr Godbeer had neatly sidestepped the question. So he replied that he would provide a written answer to Mr[...]

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    The two cottages are on the outskirts of the village and have been subjected to repeated flooding for the past few years, but in the past 12 months, have been flooded a shocking seven times, caused by the ditch behind their property overflowing when it rains heavily. Their lives consist of: Not sleeping properly, constantly checking the water levels in their ditch, tipping out crazy amounts of water collected on a daily basis by their dehumidifiers, no carpets, furniture on blocks, damp walls and floors, spending thousands of pounds spent on flood defence measures, trying to motivate English [...]

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    The appeals, by Wainhomes, Strategic Land Partnerships and Feniton Park Homes, total around 230 houses, and follow an appeal for 50 homes by Wainhomes - the houses now under construction. I am working with Feniton Parish Council, Fight for Feniton and Cllr Susie Bond on preparing their case, as the parish council has bravely and successfully applied for “Rule 6” status, which gives them the right to examine and ask questions of the developers and their legal teams. A meeting is being set up later in November in the village, to talk through the appeal inquiry and how it is handled.[...]

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    The two and a half acre piece of land, which is opposite McColls, has been viewed for many years as a green lung in the village and is full of wildflowers in the spring. There are also many important and old trees on the field. An application by the landowner was submitted in 2011 for 38 dwellings, an underground car park for 50 cars, and other facilities. This was rejected, following many objections from councillors and residents. Last year, Ottery St Mary Town Council carried out a consultation on where the 35 houses allocated to West Hill under EDDC’s local plan should be built. This[...]

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    EDDC refused the application at West Hayes, West Hill, first in 2011 and secondly last year,on landscape grounds and that the land is outside the built up area boundary. Both times an appeal was lodged by the developer. But the first appeal, which was dismissed on the grounds that building here could damage the appearance of the parkland (landscape grounds), especially the view from a public right of way running alongside the field.  But this decision took place before the National Planning Policy Framework was published, with its weakening of countryside protections and presumption in [...]

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    DCC must save around £110m over the next four years and as part of cost saving measures, 69 stops are suggested to be withdrawn from the mobile library service across Devon. Of those, 50 stops are the only visits the mobile library service makes to that particular community. In Ottery Rural ward, Tipton St John is set to lose the service, which arrives for about half an hour on alternate Tuesday afternoons. Yesterday, I visited the library van on its stop at Tipton and spoke to the librarian and the two residents who use the service there. The internet, online books, after school clubs and [...]

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    Kelly was sent a letter by EDDC in July, giving her until the end of March 2014 to leave her property, or face prosecution, a court injunction or direct action. I had repeatedly asked officers that the decision on whether to resume enforcement action against Kelly, was made by councillors on the development management committee, but this unfortunately did not happen. Kelly has been battling away to remain on her land for around 10 years, which has been lived on by generations of her family. Cllr Ken Potter, a planning committee member, can remember his father buying a horse from Kelly’s[...]

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    A freedom of information battle is looming over a refusal to disclose details of behind-the-scenes plans to revive the sale of a council headquarters. East Devon District Council (EDDC) failed to convince its own planning committee to rubber stamp a proposed scheme to fund an office move by converting its historic parkland home into housing and a care home. The Conservative authority was branded “farcical” by critics after it spent £250,000 drawing up the proposals, which were finally turned down in March. The process which was marred by a series of embarrassing blunders – including [...]

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    Story here - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Teenage-Devon-chef-given-award-Exeter-s-Michael/story-19969020-detail/story.html A 15-year-old Maia English from Ottery St Mary has won the Junior class of South West Chef of the Year awards. An exceptional standard of cooking was displayed by a number of budding young chefs at the finals at Ashburton Cookery School. The future stars of the catering industry, all aged between 11 and 16, had already won a semi-final in their own area of the South West. The hotly-contested final on Saturday to cook under the watchful eyes of top judges and [...]

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    The scheme provides all sorts of service for people who have health difficulties, trouble getting to medical appointments, or much needed emotional support for those residents who have just been bereaved. The services its volunteers provide include: - transport to and from medical appointments - wheelchair hire - bereavement support - voluntary nail cutting services - memory cafe - visiting and befriending - sitting for carers - support for people who are feeling lonely or isolated Ottery’s help scheme is relied on by local GPs at Coleridge Medical Centre and is really valued by the [...]

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    I was really surprised because I think that in the past couple of years the association has achieved a huge amount and is doing a brilliant job in all sorts of ways. It is proactive, responsive to concerns and has produced some extremely high quality pieces of work, especially in responding to EDDC’s local plan and lately on its special trees of West Hill project. I have listed a few of the important pieces of work that WHRA has been involved with recently. Continued consultation on, and input to, the EDDC Local Plan Input on all significant new development proposals Community speed [...]

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    I raised the issue during the forward plan at last week’s standards committee meeting but no one seemed to know about the recommendation. Officers agreed to look at July’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting minutes and report back at the next standards committee meeting on 21 January. Below are the previous blog posts I have written about my views on lobbying. http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/lobbying_will_be_debated_by_eddc_standards_cttee/ http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/legal_advice_sought_on_eddc_lobbying_guidelines/ [...]

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    Last Wednesday’s (9 October) meeting, kicked off with some confusion about the definition of a “reasonable person.”  The latest draft of the social media policy had been amended to refer to a reasonable person’s view of what comments may bring the council into disrepute. Previously, I had proposed the following sentence be deleted as it constituted a gagging clause: “You must not make any comment or post material that may cause damage to the council’s reputation or bring it into disrepute.” The latest draft of the policy contained the amended wording: “You must not make [...]

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    At last week’s standards committee meeting officers said that they were trying to make the system “less bureaucratic” and are trying to find “amicable resolutions”  to complaints. By January, they said they will have prepared an analysis of the procedure so complaints can be handled “as efficiently as possible.” Standards committee chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer added:  “Many feel that people don’t treat each other with respect anymore.”

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    Page 14 of the agenda - link here - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/os_agenda_241013_combined.pdf - contains the following points for the committee to consider:  1. Is the activity essential or is it something that helps to fulfil one or more of the council’s key priorities? 2. Is the activity something that either has to be done by the Council or is the council best fitted to carry it out? 3. If the answer to the above to questions is not necessarily yes then consider the following issues. A) Is the activity necessary or desirable for residents? B) Is the activity very popular with [...]

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    Some of you may remember - blog here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/office_move_scrutiny_delayed_until_january/  - that the reason for refusing scrutiny of the highly controversial, largely secret and very much in the public interest office move, until January, was because the next few months would be packed with overflowing agendas. But see the next “full” agenda below, which contains: - an update on the environment portfolio - notes from the budget task and finish forum - to follow - a committee timetable review - to follow Some people might think that thin [...]

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    http://saveoursidmouth.com/2013/10/14/save-our-sidmouth-group-rejects-diviani-allegations/ ‘East Devon District Councillor Paul Diviani recently sent an email to nearly 100 people regarding budget cuts by Devon County Council and EDDC. He contended, wholly inaccurately, that “The Ottery Councillor and her allies in the political opposition groups EDA / SOS are running campaigns which simply do not deal in the facts, invariably giving half a misinformed story and making no useful or positive contribution to the debate”. SOS, like the East Devon Alliance, strongly objects to the [...]

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    They are as follows: 1. Motion 1 – Post Office Services (now privatised) “This Council recognises that it is the policy of the Government to privatise the Royal Mail but the Council is extremely concerned that the inter business agreement signed between Post Office Limited and the Royal Mail Group is not sufficiently robust to ensure the essential requirement that the “Universal” principle is maintained with satisfactory services continuing in rural areas both by the maintenance of adequate provision of rural post offices and by the requirement for postal deliveries to continue [...]

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    The association is making really good progress with the scheme and once finished, will be a public document designed to record the trees and hedgerows within and around the village which are thought worthy of special note and protection. It will include, or provide links to, advice on how they should be protected and maintained. The draft objectives of the project are to: • ?    Increase awareness of our tree heritage generally and of specific trees in particular • ?    Educate owners and others about the importance of this heritage • ?    [...]

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    http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/dmc_151013_urgent_item_-_lp_consultation_feedback_report.pdf

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    Each policy has been attributed a colour to denote whether it is the subject of significant (red), minor (amber) or no significant objections (green). There are more than 60 policies that are subject to significant objections. Probably from residents who believe (quite rightly in my view) that there is too much development and developers who argue that there is not enough development. The paper asks councillors to give some weight to some policies, but leaves the decision to councillors judgement.  It states:  “Officers will determine delegated applications and advise Members [...]

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    The two old oaks at Crantock - see post here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/developer_kills_ancient_oaks_in_west_hill/ ... were killed, or ordered to be killed, by Hugo Headon of H & H Prestige Homes. Mr Colman said:  “The two oak trees were old hedgebank trees that have been growing alongside the highway for at least 150 years. They are plotted on the Ordnance Survey First edition maps (1888-1890) and must have already been significant trees for them to have been recorded as landmarks .  At this age they should be in a fully mature condition. [...]

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    The reasons for refusal mirrored the appeal decision outcome in 2011. The appeal which was then for 56 houses, was dismissed largely on sustainability grounds. Distance from the school, pub and lack of pavements, as well as an infrequent bus service were the issues that planning officers prioritised. Of course, Tipton St John has already had more than its allocation under EDDC’s local plan with the controversial Barton Orchard development for 15 dwellings approved last year. Tipton St John’s allocation is 10 dwellings until 2026. This afternoon, I leafleted (with the kind help of Roger [...]

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    There are have been two reported accidents at Wiggaton, following the start of the diversion on Monday, as very large vehicles are trying to squeeze past each other at the very narrow pinch points in the hamlet. Tipton St John residents are also reporting heavy traffic, including HGVs and buses, despite not being part of the official diversion. On Monday, I asked highways officers to put up warning signs to help protect the Tipton schoolchildren crossing the road, as the school is on a split site, with the playing field a five minute walk further into the village.  The signs are up now [...]

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    This is a government that thinks it is entitled to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with it. Perhaps we will see harsh punishments for dissenters next? ....................................................................................................................................................................... Placing the Local Authority Publicity Code into legislation could lead to councils being banned from campaigning on behalf of their residents on key issues, according to legal advice obtained by the Local Government Association. The Government is proposing to make the [...]

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    THE proposed regeneration Ottery’s derelict factory site has stalled as the developer struggles to secure funding to get the project started. Approved plans for 100 homes on the 5.3 acre Town Mills site include the demolition of the run-down factory building and an expensive conversion of the five-story Old Mill in to apartments. But councillors at East Devon District Council (EDDC) have been told that the developer, Churchill Property Group South West, had ‘experienced an unwillingness of banks to lend development finance’ which has delayed the project. Planning officials have suggested[...]

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    See previous blog here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/virtually_all_decisions_on_eddc_office_move_taken_in_private/ Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been agreed to be spent behind closed doors, without the benefit of the public being able to scrutinise the decisions nor the agenda papers and minutes. This paperwork and these decisions are very much in the public interest, especially in view of people’s concerns about the justification for the proposed move, not to mention the council’s perilous financial position. The only thing to do is to refer the decision [...]

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    AROUND 265 individuals and organisations have made comments in the latest round of consultation on the East Devon Local Plan. Comments will be forwarded to the Planning Inspector later this month (October). The examination of the plan started at the time it was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in August. We are expecting that in February 2014 there will be hearing sessions at which the Planning Inspector will listen in person to the arguments and cases that people want to present. In August, the Planning Inspector, Mr Anthony Thickett, had advised that further consultation was needed [...]

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    A scheme to establish wildflower verges is to be piloted by Devon County Council. The County Council is working with Devon Wildlife Trust on a pilot project aiming to enhance areas of roadside verges in order to help reverse the decline of wildflowers and pollinating insects. A handful of sites have been chosen in the Ottery St Mary area for the trial. Seeds of plant species such as Yellow Rattle, which is an annual flower that discourages grass growth and encourages wildflower growth, will be sown with a variety of other wildflower seeds on the selected verges next month. Not only would the [...]

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