Town & Manor of Hungerford News – June 2019

Hungerford Town & Manor

Town and Manor to Elect New Trustees

As has been widely publicised, here and elsewhere, the Town and Manor of Hungerford has been seeking nominations for the roles of Trustees. The terms of office of all 10 trustees ends this month and the positions need to be re-filled, either by existing Trustees standing again or by others putting themselves forward. If there are eleven or more candidates then elections need to be held.

The nominations have now closed and it appears that there are indeed more candidates than there are Trustee positions available. This will be confirmed on or soon after Thursday 6 June when the list of candidates will be published on the Town and Manor’s website.

Assuming that there will be elections, these will take place on Thursday 20 June. Votes must be cast in person at the Town Hall between 9am and 7pm. This page has more information on the procedure, including who is eligible to vote.

This year a change has been introduced to the period the Trustees will serve for. Rather than, as previously, every Trustee serving for three years, now half will serve for three years and half for six. The intention is to ensure continuity at election time. (it’s a system used by some local councils for just this reason.) Once the votes cast have been counted, the candidate with the most votes is asked if they want to serve for three or six years: the same question is repeated to the other candidates in order of votes cast until one of the term options has achieved its quota of five, the remaining candidates then taking up the remainder of the other option. Future elections will thus be held every three years with in each case half the Trustees relinquishing their seats and offering themselves to stand again or not, as they choose. 

Habitat and Wildlife Husbandry

The Town & Manor of Hungerford owns and maintains over 400 acres of land in and around Hungerford including Hungerford Common and Freeman’s Marsh and over 5 miles of waterways including the River Kennet, River Shalbourne, and River Dun. 

The trustees of the Town & Manor continue to expand their environmental bio-diversity and habitat management of the estate, now to include preservation of populations of wild bees. 

 

The Town and Manor’s Owls

We have over 110 varieties of bird on Town & Manor owned land and one of our roles is to understand and protect all these species. One of our avian residents is a wonderful Little Owl who was recently ringed. 

The chaps who do the ringing for us are both local: one is called – appropriately – Swallow and the other flies big jets for a living and so has a lot of respect for and understanding of anything with wings.

They are both so so kind and careful and absolute experts – how lucky we are to have them living on our doorstep to help.

Tree Hives

The bee population is declining drastically worldwide so we have installed three bee treehives for wild bees which we were confident would be populated soon after removing the bungs. There is one on Hungerford Common, one in Pickets Mead Orchard and one in Rootes Meadow. We are delighted to be able to report that two of the tree hives have already been inhabited: this is great news for us all. It’s hard to think of any animal whose disappearance would have such a catastrophic effect on humans – by some estimates they are responsible for pollinating 90% of our wild flowers and 30% of our food.

For further information on the hives, here is the supplier we have used:
https://beekindhives.uk

This continues the policies of the trustees to do whatever they can to improve the habitats of wild life within the estate and around Hungerford.

Since 2000 the trustees have successfully eliminated pollution of the River Dun from years of spillage of polluted water from the canal. Here C&RT have installed bi-weirs to contain water within the canal pounds. Here the River Dun is again gin clear with a clean gravel bottom.

In 2013 with considerable assistance from WBC polluted storm water drainage at Eddington was diverted from spilling into the River Kennet SSSI into filter beds and polluted algae infested water in Eddington Lake was contained. Since the gravel trout spawning beds of the river have been washed clean from detritus. The recovery from this pollution has seen increasing fly life populations year after year which benefit not only the wild trout and grayling but also the vast populations of invertebrates in the river.

At the same time the trustees have taken active measures to control predators such as mink, pike and cormorants in the rivers while acknowledging the return of otters to Hungerford.

Since 2009 the trustees have organised annual programmes of Walk & Talks together with the improvements of habitats for Wild Birds, restoration of wild flower meadows and the re-seeding of wild flowers on the Common Port Down.

Where there is land there is likely to be rabbit and mole damage from their excavations, if not managed these populations get out of control and will lead to infestations of ragwort, a notifiable poisonous plant. This in turn has to be controlled by hand pulling or use of selective herbicides.

For some years the trustees have been restoring hedge rows by coppicing, cutting and planting. Evergreens have been illuminated and replaced by indigenous hard wood trees. Where possible when felling and clearing wood stacks are piled up as habitat for new populations of insects which provide a larder for small mammals’ and birds. 

The trustees wild bird recorders have now reported 110 different species of resident and migrant birds and around 3500 are ringed annually as part of the British Ornithological Trusts countrywide surveys.

The trustees work has benefited from outside organisations like Natural England, Environment Agency, North Wessex Downs AONB and ARK ( Action River Kennet) and West Berks Council.All this seems far away from Tree Hives but here there is another opportunity to add to the efforts of the trustees to add to the quality of the environment and bio-diversity of Hungerford and the protection of our precious wild life.

DAWN BIRD WALK

Join our River Keeper Rob Starr and ARK – Action for the River Kennet on Saturday 15th June for an early morning walk along the riverbanks to enjoy the birds and other wildlife present. 

There will be a bird ringing demonstration, so an opportunity to see birds up close and learn more about ringing.

Meet at 5.45am in the Fisherman’s car park at Denford for a prompt 6am start.

Not an ARK member? Join now or on the day.  
Option for the group to purchase a full English breakfast/bacon sandwich etc. at a local premises at the end of the walk. 

Advanced booking essential with Anna on email anna@riverkennet.org 

Please let Anna know if you are interested in advance of the day.

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