Council cuts have Cambs wildlife haven by the pigtail

A SIX-ACRE wildlife haven fronting the Great Ouse in Eaton Socon is under threat from public spending cuts.

Trustees of The Pightle Millennium Green, near the village’s cricket ground, is home to six rare black poplar trees, wood from which was used in mediaeval times by fletchers to make the arrows that kept out invading hordes, according to trustee Derek Giles.

The project used to get funding for running costs from St Neots Town Council.

But the council has decided to fund only capital programmes, leaving the trustees to find �1,200 to �1,500 a year for maintenance to prevent the area, which provides popular recreation for local people, falling into disrepair.

The trust, which also needs �1,500 pump-priming finance to fund a �15,000 bid for landfill tax credit funding, is urging local businesses and park users to become “Pals of the Pightle” to make up for the council cut.

Although the Pals initiative has been going for only a week, the results are already looking encouraging, said Mr Giles, who is also a St Neots town councillor.

“We have had Community Payback [people sentenced to community service as punishment for law-breaking] doing a lot of work, which had made it very attractive,” he told The Hunts Post.

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“We are applying for waste recycling money over the next three or four years, but they need some match-funding and we have no money. We want to apply for �15,000, so we have to raise �1,500 to cover the donor’s administration costs in order to do that. We have already been promised �605 but we desperately need more.”

Trust chairman Bev White, pictured at the entrance, added: “The trustees desperately need money to pay for such items as insurance, mowing the grass in the late spring and autumn, cutting the grass on the pathways, replacing and renewing bird and bat boxes, trimming dead or dying trees, making the pathways wheelchair-friendly and 101 other jobs that need doing so that people can enjoy The Pightle.

“This year’s maintenance work on the six acres of the green to widen the footpaths and hedge and tree planting is being carried out by volunteers. Bulbs are purchased and planted by several local residents for all our benefit as are many of the celebration trees.”

The trust is looking to its new Pals for one-off donations or regular contributions to the haven’s upkeep. Businesses could also offer benefits by encouraging employees to help out.

The origin of the word Pightle is obscure, but it is though to allude to an irregularly-shaped patch of land. Pightle may be an East Anglian pronunciation of ‘pigtail’.