Release Date: 30/05/2012
Over 100 people attended a public meeting last night to discuss the electric fence and other safety measures on Petersham Meadows.
The event, co-hosted by Richmond Council and the National Trust, brought together Council officers, local ward members, representatives from the National Trust and the Petersham Trust. Attendees were given the opportunity to hear from each of the panelists and give their views on whether the installation of an electric fence is in the best interests of the cows on the meadow and the local area.
All those attending were invited to complete a short survey, asking whether they felt that safety measures should be introduced on to the meadows and if so, what should they be. The results showed that 55% of those attending felt that safety should be improved, but only 7% were in favour of an electric fence.
Alternative suggestions from residents included improved signage, a more rigorous ban on dogs, installing a non-electric fence, using volunteers to patrol the site or growing hedging along the path.
Following a constructive debate, all those involved agreed that they were committed to finding a way forward and identifying a suitable solution to improving safety on the meadow. The Council, local ward members, The National Trust and Petersham Trust will now meet to discuss options.
Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“Last night was a very open and constructive meeting and whilst we weren’t able to identify an alternative to the electric fence that suits all partners involved, we were all able to agree that the safety of the residents using the meadow is of paramount importance.
“There isn’t going to be a quick solution.
“The Council has to ensure that the Meadows are managed appropriately and we will now meet with The National Trust and other groups to continue a dialogue that will hopefully result in an agreeable and workable outcome for all involved.”
Sir David Williams, Ward Councillor for Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside, added:
“Local residents are still strongly opposed to the electric fence, and don’t see the justification for it. The National Trust, as at the meeting last July, failed to persuade the audience that there is a danger of cows attacking people. I suggested that use of made of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 to prosecute owners of dogs seriously worrying the cows and calves. With prominent signs this would strengthen the dog ban. I hope discussions can start urgently to allow the cows to graze freely on Petersham Meadows, as they always did until last year. ”
Hilary McGrady, Regional Director for London and the South East, added:
“We were happy with how the meeting went. It was useful to have the opportunity to discuss in the open the issues impacting upon Petersham Meadows.
“We are committed to working with residents, users of the meadows and the Council to make sure that the right things happen. Over the coming months we will be ramping up our engagement in the area to make sure that the right solutions are found in recognition of the issues that were raised last night”.