Council Spotlight: Gillingham Town Council

Gillingham Town Council has an estimated population of 11,500 residents in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset, with a precept of £764,594. There are 17 locally elected councillors – nine representing Town Ward, four Wyke Ward, two Ham Ward, one Milton-on-Stour Ward and one Rural Ward.

The council provides a range of local services, which include town hall (a hub for the registrar, county and district council, Housing Association and town council), public open spaces, recreation parks and play areas, cemetery, allotments and seasonal events.

The council is responsible for 28 hectares of public open space, ranging from grassed verges and planted areas to larger recreational areas. One of the council’s initiatives for 2017/18 was a Pollinator Pledge and Action Plan.

The council agreed to a Pollinator Pledge and Action Plan because bees and other pollinators are essential for food production and therefore to lives. In particular, the bee population has been declining at an alarming rate in recent years.

Pollinators are essential as they help wild plants and commercial crops to grow.  The number of insect pollinators is the highest in the summer coinciding with peak plant growth and supplies of nectar and pollen. Their value to the UK economy has been estimated at more than £400m a year.  This is particularly important in Dorset, with its large farming community and abundance of diverse and wildlife-rich landscapes.

The council’s Pollinator Pledge and Action Plan include a range of principles that will be adopted for all relevant projects, plans and decision-making processes, both now and in the future. Actions cover areas of public open space, planted areas, cemeteries, playing spaces, grassed verges and allotments where harmful chemicals will be banned and the planting of more pollinator-friendly plants will be actively encouraged.

The Pollinator Pledge and Action Plan have been widely supported in the community. The Parish Church is adopting a Living Churchyard policy, the Friends of Gillingham Station hope to develop bee and butterfly garden alongside the platform and bug hotels are being built on our open spaces. To encourage further public awareness a Pollinator Friendly Town logo was designed and will be used in areas where pollinators are being encouraged.

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