Concerns over country park

I was very concerned to see Ms Nixon’s letter in the County Times (August 9) about Southwater Country Park.

The weather conditions this year have caused Horsham District Council significant challenges as far as grass cutting and vegetation across the Horsham district, and residents have generally been very understanding of the difficulties that have been caused.

On the council’s countryside sites, the developing richness of species diversity in the grassland areas is one of their particular strengths.

At Southwater Country Park, this year’s weather has had a very positive outcome in that it has seen an explosion in the number of orchid species. Four new orchid species have appeared in the last couple of years, including the very rare Bee Orchid.

The conditions have also meant that many of the areas have grown far more lushly than normal years. With so much still in flower, we are committed to allowing the plants to set seed before we do our normal hay cut in autumn. Some may see this as ‘untidy’ so our countryside staff are currently placing notices in these areas to provide visitors with information about the grassland areas and how they are managed.

We have taken note of Ms Nixon’s comments about the need for picnicking space in the grassy areas and this week we have identified some suitable additional areas.

The condition of the beach, in particular the erosion, is a serious concern for the council and it is committed to enhancing this area. Officers have been looking at various options for the area.

Litter picking and tidying around the country park is something that is carried out every day of the year by our dedicated wardens and local volunteers.

Although the site is generally kept very tidy, there may be occasions when a sudden spell of good weather attracts a rush of visitors, some of whom may not be responsible for carefully disposing of their litter. This is not a general problem and no complaints have been made to the council over the summer about littering in the county park.

The council is keen to work with the local community to develop a volunteer group for the county park. If you would like to get involved, please contact leisure@horsham.gov.uk

JONATHAN CHOWEN

(Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead) cabinet member for arts, heritage and leisure, Horsham District Council , North Street, Horsham