Outdoor Partnerships Service Newsletter

Welcome to the Autumn edition of the Outdoor Partnerships Service Newsletter.  With the heatwave long forgotten here is a round up of some of the things which have been happening across the service over the last few months.  In this edition: 

To find out more about the Outdoor Partnerships department within Shropshire Council please visit our Council website or Shropshire's Great Outdoors or email us at outdoor.recreation@shropshire.gov.uk

Another Year, Another Green Flag Award!

SVCP Visitor Centre

Severn Valley Country Park in Alveley and Highley, managed by Shropshire Council, has been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best in the world.

The park is among a record-breaking 1,883 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award, the mark of a quality park or green space.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

This is the record-breaking 15th year in a row that Severn Valley Country Park has been awarded the Green Flag. Staff at the park offer a varied programme of events, a busy school visits programme and organise twice-weekly volunteer days. The cafe at the park offers fresh coffee, ice creams, hot and cold food and panoramic views down the valley.

Councillor Tina Woodward (local member for Alveley and Claverley) said,

“We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the 15th year in a row. We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and this award celebrates the dedication that goes into maintaining Severn Valley Country Park to such a high standard.”

Councillor Dave Tremellen (local member for Highley) said,

“Last year an incredible 15,000 volunteer hours went into managing the parks and open spaces in south Shropshire and ensuring that they are attractive places for people and wildlife. Shropshire Council really appreciate the hard work and dedication of our volunteer teams.”

Councillor Lezley Picton (cabinet member for Culture and Leisure) said,

“Severn Valley Country Park is one of our flagship country parks and an important tourist destination in the county. I would urge as many people as possible to take advantage of this wonderful asset, both for its natural beauty and for the benefits to individual health.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme, with more Green Flags awarded this year than last year.”

“Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We are proud to have so many wonderful green spaces in the UK for people to enjoy, and hope that next year, we award even more flags.”  

Green Flag Award 2018

Opening Times at SVCP

SVCP Opening Times

As we head to the winter season, our opening days and time Severn Valley Country Parks opening times will be changing.

For the October Half Term holidays, the visitor centre and café will be open everyday from Wednesday 24th October to Sunday 4th November from 11am-5pm.

After half term, the visitor centre and café will be opening weekends only from 11am - 4pm. This starts on 10th & 11th November.

The toilets will continue to open daily from 9am-4pm and the main car park at Alveley will also be open 9am-4pm.

Ploughing and Cropping Campaign 2018

A significant number of the complaints received by Outdoor Partnerships are related to ploughing and cropping obstructions where a path has not been reinstated through a crop.  Since 2016 the Mapping and Enforcement Team have been proactively addressing this issue and sending letters out to Landowners who have not fulfilled their duty.

49 letters were sent out in March and April 2018 which is a significant reduction since the campaign started in 2016 when over 120 letters were sent out, followed by 83 in 2017.

Ploughing and Cropping

In addition, nearly 40% of the letters sent out this year were to landowners/farmers who had not been highlighted on previous years campaigns and were totally new.

The spread of complaints by area was as follows: -

12% Bridgnorth

18% South Shropshire

20% Oswestry

30% North Shropshire

20% Shrewsbury and Atcham

As in previous years the main areas affected by Ploughing and Cropping were in the North and Oswestry Areas.

Inspections carried out by officers following these initial letters revealed that:

Maize reinstatement

12% of the routes reported had no crops

16% had non-active reinstatement

12% had been partially reinstated

22% had been reinstated

22% had not been reinstated

The remaining 16% were not inspected.  An additional fourteen letters were sent out in May, nine in June and nine in July as a result of reports of ploughing and cropping and non-reinstatement.

From the inspections an additional 24 letters were sent out.

Overall the campaign resulted in 58% of the issues being resolved and the routes reinstated; 5% being partially resolved but with very strong advisory letters for future years compliance; 34% of the issues having some action but insufficient time to resolve, this was mainly due to a large influx of additional complaints which meant that the focus on the initial issues could not be maintained.  Only two legal orders got served which resulted in compliance.

The Mapping and Enforcement Team take ploughing and cropping issues seriously because landowners who fail to comply with their responsibilities can seriously affect the accessibility of the ROW network.  Into the future the team plan to serve notice immediately on persistent offenders and will also regard the Shropshire Way as a key priority to keep open and available.

If you need to report an issue on a Right of Way in Shropshire click here

Dormouse Project at Poles Coppice

Dormouse Footprint Tunnel

Shropshire Council Countryside Rangers were delighted to start a new Dormouse Project, thanks to Tesco’s little bags of help. The People's Trust for Endangered Species set up the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme in order to record population trends of the hazel dormouse across the country. Shropshire Dormouse Group (an informal branch of the Shropshire Mammal Group) carry out monthly nest box checks under license on registered sites across Shropshire, and supply this information to the PTES in line with this scheme. However! This new project is a collaboration of the Shropshire Dormouse Group and Shropshire Council, coming together to protect and record Dormice.

Dormouse footprint tunnels are a new upcoming technique for monitoring Dormice. This new practice, shows a good indictors of Dormice but also minimises disturbance when collecting species records. Penny Wellman, Assistant Country Park Support Officer and placement student at Shropshire Council, is trialling whether footprint tunnels are more effective than recording Dormice using nest boxes. 

With the help of four volunteers they were able to put up the tunnels and will be checking the tunnels once every two weeks for evidence of Dormice, by identifying footprints. This project is the first of its kind in Shropshire and will be a valuable project for the future of Dormouse Conservation.


Clive Woodland School at Corbet Wood