Edgar Street lime trees to go!

So it’s official, the decision has been made. The 14 lime trees on Edgar Street are to be removed. But bizarrely the council aren’t to blame! Shock horror!

No, it appears that Highways Agency (HA) are the guilty party. They are planning a road widening scheme in order to reduce congestion on Edgar Street. And it turns out that the HA don’t need to apply for planning permission!! But due to the controversy surrounding the plans they have agreed to plant trees to replace the ones that are being chopped. Wow, thanks.

Clearly this could have been avoided if the HA and the planners behind the ESG had put their heads together earlier. The widening could then have eaten into the ESG site rather than the trees. But then politicians aren’t known for their joined up thinking. Although the council aren’t directly to blame, the scheme does fit in with their intense love of new roads, so we doubt they will be challenging it.

So where does this leave those of us who support the conservation of green spaces in our town. Clearly letters and emails of complaint aren’t worth toffee, the same goes for petitions, when did a pile of signatures last stop a road being built? There comes a time when direct action is the only tool left, what form that direct action this takes is down to how much people want to save these trees.

An interview with…..An Eco-Animator

For our lastest article in the ‘An Interview with….’ series we talked to eco animator Anita Sancha. Working from a small studio at her home in Herefordshire, Anita is creating short films dealing with “environment topics, planet earth, global warming and its effects on climate change, peak oil, and other issues like food, energy and transport.”

Heckler: How did you get into animation?

Anita: It’s a long story. I had a business where I was cutting up rare veneers for rich people, but I’ve got a big conscience so I sold the business and started doing animations. I made “home sweet home” and at that time I thought I was the only one around worried about climate change.

Heckler: How long ago was that?

Anita: Eight years ago.

Heckler: So what do you hope to achieve through your work?

Anita: I try to make animations with a message that will hopefully change people’s ideas and attitudes. The difficulty is getting my animations seen by a lot of people and getting shared on sites like Facebook and twitter. Therefore spreading the message. I try and make each animation non-verbal, so it crosses all language barriers and with the positive end.

Heckler: What sort of reach has your work had? Do you get feed back from all over the world?

Anita: I get some lovely feedback. I even had a fan club in a school in Brazil for a while. My animations are often shown in schools so teachers are usually the ones who write. They seem to spark off conversations about the various topics in class. But I never intended my animations to be used for education, but, as I said, they have no language and end positively that’s why I think they are shown more in schools than anywhere else. I also get invited to workshops and film and animation festivals, which is great because I meet loads of interesting people.

Heckler: Are you inspired by other artists?

Anita: I try not to see too many artists work, because I can feel more depressed and despondent as they are often so good. I am self trained and I suppose from that point to view I’ve tried hard to be as good as I can.

Heckler: Are there any specific environmental issues that inspired you to take the eco line with your animations?

Anita: I’ve got a book with about 50 ideas for animations and I just seem to take out of it the one that feals strongest at that time, but slowly I’m trying to cover all of them. However I did start off with global warming and air flight pollution with “home sweet home “.

Heckler: Can you say a bit about the methods you use in your work

Anita: I use stop motion and special effects software. I combine the two. For the stop motion I use plasticine mostly and props. Then photo the puppets frame by frame with the special effects software I then work in photoshop. I work in front of a computer for what seems hours and hours. Animations take time.

Heckler: And finally, how do you feel the green movement is doing in Herefordshire in raising awareness?

Anita: I think it’s moving on quite well. H energy week is certainly increasing in visitor numbers. I’m just hoping that the council will change and take on new green ideas.

A big thank you to Anita for taking the time to talk to us.

All of her work can be viewed via her website here.





Hereford city cycle network to be expanded

There has been mixed reaction to the news this month that Herefordshire Council plans to postpone the Broad Street development in favour of upgrading the city’s cycle network.

Rush hour in Hereford

The Council is claiming it’s listened to the concerns of the public after holding community consultations! This would be first. Herefordshire Tory Party, as we well know, only listen to the rich, the masons and the church. Councillor Graham ‘funny handshake’ Powell, cabinet member for education and infrastructure, also claimed that “Although improving Broad Street would have completed improvements made in the city centre over recent years, it is clear that in the current economic climate, now is not the right time to go ahead with the scheme.” So why aren’t you postponing the ESG Graham?

Meanwhile elsewhere in the council, the It’s Our County mob are trying to gain a bit of credit for the councils u-turn. “We know we were a major part of this decision even if the official statements don’t mention our part.” claim the IOC leadership.

The truth behind the councils decision more likely to be linked to future road building rather than political point scoreing. On more than one occasion Herefordshire Council has been told by the Department of Transport that money will not be made available for a by-pass until alternative traffic alleviation schemes have been tried.

The money for the Broad Street development is coming from Destination Hereford: a programme funded by the same Department of Transport. The programme aims to “reduce congestion, increase low carbon transport use and support sustainable economic growth around Hereford”. Common sense would tell you that upgrading the cycle network fits this remit far more that the Broad Street plans.

Don’t get us wrong, we support the idea of improving the cycle network. It could have a lasting positive impact on the traffic congestion in the city, but only if the money is spent wisely and effectively. Unfortunately, with this councils record of delays and fuck ups, it’s quite possible that this could go the same way as all their other ‘great’ ideas.


h.Energy: Sustainable Herefordshire Week

h.Energy kicked off early last week with a flash mob in Hereford High Town. Over 100 people surprised shoppers by breaking into song. The organisers were equally surprised when many of the shoppers joined in for the encore. (click here to see footage of the flash mob)

Now in it’s third year, h.Energy has over 100 events taking place throughout the county. Describing itself as “a week-long county-wide open exhibition of events and activities about living more sustainably in Herefordshire.” Their mission is to “demonstrate that using renewable local resources, avoiding waste and reducing energy usage is just common sense”.

Climate change is something everyone is aware of but not everyone feels they are in a position to do anything about it. It’s also not a priority for everyone. If you are facing housing, employment or social problems, getting your recycling sorted isn’t going to be top of the list. Hopefully this years h.Energy will be more accessible to people outside of the ‘green ghetto’. They have certainly made the effort to involve more families with the ‘Ladybird Safari’ of events. A full list of what’s happening can be found here.

Organisers are hoping that this years attendance will exceed that of last year when 2500 people took part. With a diverse group of participants from schools, farms and community groups to shops, restaurants and charities, every aspect of sustainability is covered. Transport, energy generation, food, energy saving, recycling, community empowerment, local economy, permaculture and alternative finance, the list goes on.

So even though the h.Energy folk aren’t yet pushing for the revolution that would rid us of the climate damaging profit driven economy, it’s certainly something to get involved with and support.

h.Energy runs from 13th-21st October, download thier brochure here


Community activists planting for the future

Local residents lead by example today when they planted potatoes in the grounds of Victoria House in Whitecross. Activists hope this act of ‘guerrilla gardening’ will publicise their campaign to secure the future of the area for use by the wider community.

Victoria House and the surrounding land is currently owned by Herefordshire Council. At present developers McCarthy and Stone are in negotiations to buy the site and build some retirement flats. Their plans hang in the balance as permission to demolish the house has yet to be granted. Parents and teachers from the adjoining Lord Scudmaore School are also angered by the prospect of flats over looking their grounds and signed a petition in protest at the plans.

The campaign, lead by the charity St Nicholas Community Association, puts a far greater value on the site. Jane Gutteridge from the Community Association told the Heckler that due to a lack of community space in Whitecross they’d like to take over and run Victoria House on behalf of the community. “70% of people who responded to the councils City Plan consultation said they’d like to see the house retained for community use, we’ve got nothing in Whitecoss apart from a couple of run down church halls.”

If the campaign is successful they have some exciting plans for the site. “Groups like Herefordshire Growing Point and Growing Local is Going Local are keen to get involved and create a food education centre and community garden”, Jane told us, “Transition Hereford would also like to work with us to make the house environmentally sustainable.”

With the lack of facilities in Whitecross the campaign plans to host other much needed services including health advice clinics, pre-school groups, credit union, exercise classes and a cafe and cookery school.

So it appears that the council have a decision to make, either sell off Victoria House and make a fast buck, or actually do what they are supposed to do and think about providing for the people of Hereford.