Keeping commons in tip-top condition

PUBLISHED: 13:36 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:27 04 May 2010

SOHAM is very lucky in having extensive areas of common land for the benefit of local residents. What many of our residents do not know is that these commons are very special historically and are, in fact, unique in the UK. Qua Fen Common, East Fen Common

SOHAM is very lucky in having extensive areas of common land for the benefit of local residents. What many of our residents do not know is that these commons are very special historically and are, in fact, unique in the UK. Qua Fen Common, East Fen Common and Angle Common are owned by the Lord of the Manor and managed by Soham Town Council.

The county council has also designated two of the commons as county wildlife sites. This means they consider there are sufficient interesting plants, plant communities, animals and insects to merit their protection from destruction.

In previous years, due to problems with the lack of grazing animals in the area, the management of the commons has not been carried out in the way best designed to preserve the wild life.

Soham Town Council has been working hard this year to get them back into a better state. In the past few weeks we have had the unpaid services of a group of community service young people. They have worked hard to tidy up the commons, clearing much of the scrub and removing the rubbish which had accumulated. We are grateful for all their hard work. I am sure you will agree that the commons are looking much tidier and more attractive.

I am pleased to say that we will be having grazing animals on the commons again this year. On East Fen, there will be only tethered horses as in previous years. Angle Common will be cut for hay. On Qua Fen there will be a mixture of horses and cattle which will be allowed to wander all over the common 24 hours a day. Suitable notices are being erected at the entrances to the common, warning drivers to take care and slow down. Anyone living on or near the common is reminded to keep their boundaries in order and their gates closed.

The town council is also trying to reduce the number of ducks on the common to preserve the habitats for other wildlife. The kindest way to reduce the number of ducks is simply to stop feeding them. This will encourage those birds for whom there is insufficient natural food, to find other homes.

I am aware that there is a popular misconception that common land means that everyone can treat it exactly as they like. Actually this is incorrect. There are a number of by-laws covering the commons. These include not dumping rubbish on the commons or in the ponds; not driving any sort of motor vehicles (includes quad bikes, scrambler bikes, etc) and not lighting fires.

We do ask you please to clean up after your dog. This makes walking on the common much more pleasant for others.

We also ask you to respect the gates, fences, kissing gates and signs which we have to erected on the commons. The money needed each time these have to be repaired or replaced because they have been vandalised, comes out of our Council Tax.

The town council is pleased that people can enjoy using the commons and we want to encourage their responsible use. We hope that in the future we can provide more information about them and by improving their management, increase their wildlife interest.

ROSEMARY AITCHISON

Chairman (Soham Town Council)

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