More than fifty Chatteris residents took to the streets this weekend in the hope of saving Chatteris’ former Manor Park, now known as Wenny Meadow, from development.
People of all ages handed out leaflets that sought to bring the plight of the meadow to the attention of others. While some people leafleted alone, many parents were joined by children eager to save a favourite local landmark. Since Girl Guide Evelyn Patterson’s heartfelt intervention at a meeting of Chatteris Town Council on Tuesday 7th September, many of the Guides and Scouts who volunteered have decided to make the campaign part of their “community impact” or “campaigning” badges.
Kirsty Patterson, who coordinated the volunteers, said: “People couldn’t wait to do something proactive to support the campaign. People have felt helpless and let down. One parent told me her seven-year-old son had been in tears after finding out during a school visit to the meadow that it might be developed. Children have been begging their parents to help.”
Kirsty added: “I’ve been totally overwhelmed. We only planned to target the roads nearest the meadow, but we had so many people come forward that I couldn’t find something for them all to do. We ordered twice as many leaflets as we thought were needed and they’ve all gone. I had people deliver to one road and then come back for more. Everyone was asking if we were expanding to other parts of the town, so we’ve now got a list of people waiting for another batch of leaflets to arrive. The strength of Chatteris lies in its community, and that has been proven yet again by their efforts this weekend.”
Volunteer Sarah Woods said: “My 10 year old daughter, Milly, feels very connected to the meadow – she picnics, walks our dog, and practices her photography there. She sobbed when she heard about the plans and insisted on being part of trying to save it.”
Sarah and Milly leafleted two streets and have offered to do three more.
Sarah explained why she thought the meadow was important, saying: “Only one in four children play outside in the UK, but the children of Chatteris have the wildlife-rich green space of Wenny Meadow to tempt them away from their consoles and screens”.
The Fenland District Council planning website already records well over 100 objections after just one weekend, and the group says that it is still early days for their campaign. Some of those volunteering with the group are making time to write a more comprehensive objection to the plans, so they expect the number of objections to increase further still.
A spokesperson for The Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign said: “Something we’ve noticed in the last few days is the extent to which those who are coming forward to try and save the meadow represent a diverse cross-section of Chatteris. They include the young, the old, those who’ve recently moved to Chatteris, and people who were born and bred here. It just goes to demonstrate the broad appeal of this amazing place.”