Tuesday, December 27, 2016

27th December, 2016 Dragonian Measures

This blog is about ponies, but it is also about people.

About a hundred years ago, when I was studying for my MBA, I read a really interesting book about organisational management. It explained that for every step that at an organisation took to maximise attendance and production, disenfranchised employees would find a way round it, to thwart it, so that it ended up costing the company more in the long run. Thus, if the company decided to dock fifteen minutes pay from anyone who was five minutes late, the employee would make sure they were fourteen minutes later rather than just one minute. The company would retaliate by docking one hour's pay for anyone that was fifteen minutes late and then find that employees would turn up fifty-nine minutes late.

The villagers of Woodgreen have been some of the first to have their bottoms smacked for parking on the Forest verges. The initiative came from the National Park Authority who quite rightly could see that parking on the grass was quickly eroding the area available for the animals of the Forest to graze, as well as looking pretty unsightly: (Don't Treat Our Verges Like Dirt).  Although residents are certainly not the only ones parking on the Forest, some could not be bothered to open the gates to their drives to park on their own land.

Away from the villages, although there are hundreds of designated gravel car parks on the Forest, some dog walkers and tourists seem to prefer to find their own quiet area to walk and therefore park wherever they like. Cars do not float and inevitably the grass is damaged. Parking, like litter attracts more litter, attracts more parking.

The work to prevent parking on the grass has been carried out by the Forestry Commission or their contractors. It's a shambles. Along the road into Woodgreen where there are several gates and bridleway gates into the inclosure they have dug ditches halfway across the existing gravel so that cars are now parking on either side of the ditches rather than inside the narrow gravelled area where they would block the gate. The ditches are so close to the bridle-gates that horse riders will have difficulty negotiating them.

In the village itself, dragons teeth and ditches have effectively formed a moat and palisade all the way around the grassy areas. Villagers have now been forced to park their cars on their drives which would appear to be a good thing. But there are three houses in Woodgreen that have no vehicular access at all - one of them is ours. Although the track is called a drove, it has been defined as a footpath. I don't mind this at all since it is like waking up everyday on Christmas Day because it is so quiet. Now all occupied, each of these houses has at least two occupants who work in different directions and at different times from each other. The chap at the bottom is a builder, as is his son, and they have a big van and a flat bed transit. The tenants next door have two cars. We have two cars.

To make things easier we have for years rented a space for one of our vehicles at a neighbour's, paying him with a regular case of beer, but there is nowhere else for all of the other vehicles to go.

The Forestry Commission have allowed space for two cars in total. Someone, not me, removed two of the dragons teeth in order to make more room and recent attempts to replace them were thwarted because I am unable to drive my car which is parked in the way. I can see that we are going to have to go and talk to the Forestry Commission as they have not responded to the letter I send them before the work began.

Living in the Forest is idyllic most of the time. However 124 animals have been involved in collisions in 2016, a figure that is sure to rise when at least 3 ponies have been hit and killed this week. I would have thought that most people living in and on the Forest would have recognised the value of the animals in conserving the Forest just the way it is and limiting the amount of mechanical management that has to take place. This is not the case. For example a local Facebook page reveals that some think that we should all keep our 'pet' ponies at home or fit them with hi-vis clothing. Whilst I do put collars on my ponies, and have tried streamers in their tails, they do come off easily - they have to. People seem to think that collisions are inevitable and the fault of Commoners who do not put collars on their ponies.

A collar didn't save this filly
The daftest thing I have seen lately is a huge salt lick hanging outside the Fighting Cocks public house which is immediately next to the B3078. I've no doubt that this publican's profit is increased by the number of tourists who come to meet the ponies and donkeys that congregate outside for petting and chips, spilling out across the road, and forming a chicane for the queuing traffic. This salt lick is bound to attract animals in the same way, causing them to cross one of the busiest and most dangerous roads on the Forest.