Monday, 14 February 2011

Knettishall Heath Country Park

The future of country parks and recreation sites within Suffolk: Knettishall Heath

Duncan Farley
The future of country parks and recreation sites
Suffolk County Council
Endeavour House
8 Russell Road
Ipswich IP1 2BX

Cc:
Parish News Editor: e-mail address (omitted for this print out)
Parish Correspondent e-mail address (omitted for this print out)
Matthew Hancock MP West Suffolk (my MP, though not Knettishall Heath's MP)
Letters to Eastern Daily Press & East Anglian Daily Times (Knettishall Heath Norfolk & Suffolk)
Bury Free Press Lesley Anslow (Knettishall Heath apparently comes under Suffolk jurisdiction)

Re: Knettishall Heath Country Park

Dear Mr. Farley,

you request 'any immediate questions, contact us by e-mail to countryside@suffolk.gov.uk or phone 01473 264786 and we will respond directly.'

I deem it a sad situation that Knettishall Heath Country Park has been turned into a car park and restricted area over recent years. I lived across the way at Riddlesworth Stud as a child in 1966 before moving to nearby Coney Weston in 1967. I have close family ties to area going back generations. My mother played upon the heath as a child as did my brother and I. My Grandfather worked at nearby Riddlesworth Hall as did his father before him.

The wonder of Knettishall Heath 'Red Arch' was always its wildness, unkempt condition and the opportunity to wander anywhere and explore off-track. As a child I learned from falling over, grazing my knees, getting scratched and stung and benefiting from fresh air cum rain or shine. Where today there is an official car parking area, I once had a birthday party whereby a bunch of my primary school friends put down jumpers and played football. We laughed at finding a discarded condom among the grass and heather that was our football pitch. Today one might be in danger of criminal charges for even leaving condom 'litter' thereabouts as a sense of perspective is being dissipated by political correctness and framework legislation.

Please return the area to its wild condition by removing all car parking and fencing materials. I do not have an issue with the toilet facilities; though as a chap it is easy for me to pee behind a bush, I fully appreciate the convenience of public conveniences for those who require such a facility. Indeed, there should be public lavatories on as many street corners as possible; rather than in McDonald's factory food outlets such as in Bury St. Edmunds.... but, that's another issue.

However, the rest - fencing, car park ground griding material, unnecessary ugly signs - please get rid of it all. Return it to the condition we see every time repeats of Dad's Army are shown. That is how it once was. Neither the ponies that now monopolise large part of the heath nor the electric fencing are indigenous to this area. Let the ponies either roam wild or return them to the area where they are indigenous.
I am asked to express an interest at http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/countryside and complete the online form or complete and return the form enclosed in the original letter by post to:
Jerry Hindle
Countryside Manager
Suffolk County Council
Endeavour House
8 Russell Road
Ipswich IP1 2BX

I do not wish to fill in more forms; our 'big society' appears over run with forms. In this case just simple common sense can prevail and perhaps an invitation by the local authorities to locals to attend an open day/evening/weekend if necessary to discuss the issue. What is it with today's society that everything requires paperwork and form filling? My desire is clear, simple and one sentence long:
Please return Knettishall Heath Red Arch to the condition I recall 30-40 years ago.

Whom ever has been responsible for 'manicuring' and undermining the natural environment of Knettishall heath, please dismiss them with immediate effect and just let the heath be. I am not convinced degrees, diplomas and academic qualifications in conservation necessarily make for he wisest use the our local heathland; indeed, they may even be detrimental. I wonder if we have forgotten the benefit of the apprenticeship policy which might have once been implemented by an estate manager.

I attended a Parish Council meeting some weeks ago and expressed my views though I was cautioned by the chairman for 'grinding my axe' with the local councillor. I was alarmed at being publicly cautioned for grinding an axe which I did not even realising I had, let alone grinding. Recent experience with local authorities and committees makes me suspect Knettishall is unlikely to be returned to the condition I so fondly remember.

After 14 years experience of asking local authorities to enable me to renovate Gasthorpe Church ruin, I understand the attitude of local authorities toward historical and cultural sites depends on connections, the right handshake and adhering to conventional legislative framework which frequently denies common sense, practical solutions and becomes more of a hindrance than help.

I do not expect my proposal to be applied; however, as a local member of the voting public I am at least registering my view with you Mr. Farley, my MP, local Parish Magazine and local newspapers.

Yours sincerely,
Ned Pamphilon