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Herne Bay, England, CT6
United Kingdom

Community website for all things Herne Bay (Kent, UK). Covers: The Downs, Herne Bay Museum, Herne Bay Historical Records Society, Herne Bay Pier Trust, Herne Bay in Bloom, East Cliff Neighbourhood Panel, No Night Flights, Manston Airport, Save Hillborough, Kitewood, WEA, Local Plan and much, much more...

Friends of the Downs

Council wastes £50k fighting village green


A campaigner embroiled in a bitter battle with council bosses over the future of a beauty spot has accused them of "spending money like water".

Phil Rose, of the Friends of The Downs in Herne Bay, spoke out after discovering officials have spent about £50,000 fighting his application to register the land as a village green - and that figure could rise.

Meanwhile, the council is proposing to close Herne Bay Whitstable and Canterbury's Heritage Museum for winter in order to save £65,000.

Mr Rose, of Beacon Hill, said:

"There has been no consultation with the museums' friends' groups, nor with residents asking whether this is what they want. On the other hand, the council is happy to spend money like water when it comes to fighting the public wish to register the Downs as a village green.
Let's put that £50,000 in context. It's more than the council will save by not having Christmas lights. It's more than the council will make in decades by charging local people to keep a boat on the beach. It would keep the Herne Bay Museum open full-time, instead of part-time, for another two to three years."

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Rose discovered the legal fees and officer time involved fighting the village green application had reached around £50,000. He also found that there was no upper limit to the expense that could be incurred. with a council lawyer telling him:

"When a decision has been made to contest a case such as this, then it will cost what it will cost."

Mr Rose said:

"After a lot of asking, the council has finally admitted that it has no record of asking members whether it should spend £50,000 on this - they just ran an 'open purse' policy. The council said it had to fight the application, as village green status would prevent coast defence work on the Downs. But Kent County Council's barrister said that this was a 'perverse' argument and that registration of the Downs as a village green would not interfere with any necessary coast defence work.
Meanwhile, just a few miles away, the council is having chats with Whitstable residents about making Prospect Field (also a coastal slope) a village green. Worst of all, Canterbury is happy to spend public money fighting what Herne Bay wants - £50,000 so far to deny us our village green."

Council spokesman Celia Glynn-Williams said the two issues should not be linked, adding:

"The council is now having to take some very tough decisions concerning its finances for the long term and the decision to move to seasonal openings for three of our museums was taken for sound commercial reasons and will generate annual savings in the future for the council of £65,000. The cost of the fighting the village green application for the Downs is a one-off cost that has largely already been spent."

She said officials still opposed the village green application because the land had sufficient protection under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields in Trust.

HB Times 22nd Aug 2013 

Friends of the Downs home page

Village Green - anniversary news


On 1st September 2009 I handed in my application to register the Downs as a village green. For more than four years Canterbury City Council has fought the application tooth and nail, against the wishes of the public, and spending over £50,000 in the process.

The Regulation Committee at Kent County Council (who decide whether or not to register land as a village green) met at the beginning of September. We were expecting VGA614 (our application) to be considered or resolved at this meeting, but it wasn't.

As you'll see in Section 5 of the first document below, there were 5 cases to be heard "in the next few weeks", but ours isn't one of them. And as you'll see in the second document, KCC are "awaiting legal advice" on our application.

KCC are in a rather tricky position. They decided, quite rightly, that this case was too complex for them to handle alone, and so employed a barrister to act as Inspector at a Public Inquiry. She recommended that about 85% of the Downs should be registered.

Canterbury City Council protested that her report was legally flawed, so KCC called in another barrister. (They couldn't re-use the first barrister, as would normally happen, because she had since been made a judge and was therefore out of bounds.) The second barrister recommended that about 5% of the land be registered.

So KCC are faced with a knotty problem, having two conflicting recommendations from their own independent legal experts. Whichever way they decide, they lay themselves open to the possibility of judicial review because either side can claim one of the independent recommendations is correct and should not have been ignored. Tricky. 

Friends of the Downs home page

The Bounds of The Downs


The Autumn Bounds of The Downs starts from the King's Hall at 10am on Sunday 22nd September 2013.

Feel  free to start from the beginning, or anywhere along the Bounds. If the  weather is filthy, stay indoors - this is supposed to be for fun! - as  there'll be another chance later: 

  • Sunday 22nd December 2013
  • Sunday 23rd March 2014
  • Sunday 22nd June 2014
  • Sunday 21st September 2014

Borrowing from the tradition of beating the bounds of a parish, walking The Bounds of The Downs is an opportunity to appreciate The Downs from every angle. Walking the Bounds will happen on the Sunday nearest each solstice and equinox, so that we also get to appreciate The Downs throughout the year.


The plan is to go clockwise, starting from the King's Hall. The full tour of The Bounds of The Downs is about 3¼ miles, but there are shorter routes. The red shortcut, up the Hundred Steps, brings it down to a very manageable 1¼ miles. The yellow shortcut, up the slope leading to The Lees makes a 1¾ mile circuit.

Friends of the Downs home page

Mystery butterfly


Dear readers, you seem to be very good at identifying the flora and fauna of the Downs... 

Any idea what this might be?

You marvellous people! It's a Magpie Moth (Abraxus grossulariata).

It is a fairly common moth and uses blackthorn as a foodplant so it is likely to be abundant on the Downs. It is worth looking out for Clouded Yellow butterflies at the moment – I saw several between Herne Bay and Reculver.
The photo of a butterfly, is in fact a moth called 'Magpie Moth' flight in July/August and enjoys brush and scrub, nice to see.
A naturalist friend thinks it is a Magpie Moth – a day flying moth. I think she is right.
Hi the mystery butterfly is a Magpie Moth, Abraxas grossulariata. I found it listed in the Readers Digest book of Butterflies and other insects of Britain. Lovely colours.
Your mystery butterfly is a moth called The Magpie, it flies from July to August and is widespread and fairly common. It apparently favours woods, hedgerows and gardens.
This is in actual fact a moth - the Magpie Moth Abraxus grossulariata  According to the book description "A common and beautiful species found throughout Europe... In the British Isles it is widespread and abundant... Its favoured habitats are hedgerows waste grounds, gardens and allotments... The caterpillar is very distinctive and similar to the moth in colouration... Foodplants mainly Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Euonymus but it can also cause widespread destruction of leaves of gooseberry and currant bushes. Moths are on the wing in Summer and will fly by day"

Friends of the Downs home page

QE2 Coastal Management Plan


The Management Plan for the QE2 Coastal Park, which includes the Downs, has been published - you can read the report below (you can also download a copy if you want to).

This Plan will be discussed at HBAMP at 6.30pm on Tuesday 21st May 2013. HBAMP (the Herne Bay Area Member Panel - our town's councillors) will meet in the Salvation Army hall at 33 Richmond Street. The Agenda item is reproduced below.

Friends of the Downs home page

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