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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nature presenter backs community garden campaign

* Community gardeners gather on their plot during the recent snow.

Nature presenter Iolo Williams has added his voice to those opposed to the closure of Llangollen Community garden.

The garden has been threatened by a deal between a developer and the landowner, Denbighshire County council. 

Iolo is one of Wales’ most renowned naturalists and wildlife presenters. He has worked in conservation for over 30 years and has presented many nature and wildlife series for the BBC and S4C.  

He said: “Resources such as this play a vital role in local communities and can engender a lifelong passion for gardening and wildlife. Indeed my own passion was encouraged by my grandfather who took me to work with him in a local community garden.

"In these times when mental health and weight issues are becoming an increasing problem, community gardens have an important role to play and it would be a travesty if the garden at Llangollen was closed.” 

Last month Denbighshire County Council’s Asset Management Group decided to gift the 0.5-acre plot for housing on the basis that the developer will carry out works to nearby Plas Newydd.

Founders of the garden, which was established in 2012, say they received just four days’ notice ahead of the decision, which is due to be ratified on January 11. 

Garden campaigners claim that following the initial decision in November it has now emerged that the land was originally bought by Denbighshire County Council in order to enhance and protect the neighbouring heritage attraction, Plas Newydd. The initial purchase was majority funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, they say. 

Gardener Warren Davies said: “We have worked hard to create a community resource which is open to all, at no cost to the council, but it seems the council is willing to destroy that.  

Amid claims by Denbighshire council that an alternative site had been turned down, Mr Davies said: “Another site has been mentioned, but it is in private ownership and has not been negotiated by the council, or formalised in any way. It also appears to be one tenth of the size of the current garden." 

The community garden is free to attend and open to all, and grows fruit and vegetables as well as developing wildflower areas and nature habitats. 

The garden regularly hosts free events such as storytelling evenings, visits from local children's groups, Welsh language sessions, and bonfires. 

The community garden group have set up a petition on their website which so far over 300 people have signed, and has more information about the group on Facebook. 

* Denbighshire County Council told llanblogger in response to its last story on the garden:  
“The council has also committed to providing a revised report for the next meeting of the Asset Management Group in January, when this group will review the decision made at the November meeting, reflecting on the additional information and supporting documentation provided by the Community Garden."

The council said yesterday that it doesn't wish to add to this comment.

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