Basingstoke Common

Dear All,

We are Trustees of the Basingstoke Common. It goes without saying we love the Common.

The Common is around 95 acres of land governed by an 18th Century Act of Parliament.

As Trustees we are responsible annually for settling a small number of invoices namely public liability insurance, water charges and the occasional repairs required. Sadly due to dog poo and dog poo bags hay has no value. Hence it is necessary to run a small number of livestock on the Common in order to cover the invoices.

The Common needs a minimum of 50 livestock to both generate the income needed and to graze the Common effectively.

We have historically had either horses and/or cattle on the Common from May to October or when the grass is eaten whichever is the earlier. Five years ago Cllr Sven Godesen was advised by The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust that cattle were better for the biodiversity of the Common.
However recently we have been unable to find a cattle farmer prepared to put cattle on to the Common due to dog poo and dog poo bags amongst other things. We love having horses on the Common but we must have a minimum of 50 horses.

The ragwort needs controlling. We did try to set up a working party of residents to help us maintain the Common but sadly had only one person offering to help. Historically pulling ragwort out was considered the best way to control ragwort. However the current advice from environmental experts is that pulling ragwort is more destructive to the environment than spraying due to soil disruption.

We have had numerous meetings with relevant Council Officers. We formulated a Plan. The Council eventually found a farmer to graze 50 cattle on the Common Provided that we control the ragwort. Unfortunately the farmer does not want horses with his cattle. Our Plan was to cut the Common twice as a “one off” exercise. Once at the end of March and then the second cut after May in accordance with RSPB guidelines. After the May cut we then planned to control the ragwort. Thereafter the cattle will be put out to graze until October or thereabouts.

Even nature needs controlling. Our Plan will result in an improvement in the overall state of the Common. The farmer will have responsibility for the stock fencing and the water trough. We repeat we love the Common. Our objective has always been to manage the Common on behalf of you, the local community,
and we hope you trust us to make the right decisions.

If any of you would like us to have a meeting to discuss our Plan in greater detail please email us on

Cllr.sven.godesen@basingstoke.gov.uk

With kind regards

Cllrs Sven Godesen and Onnalee Cubitt