Monday, 21 February 2011

Abandoned guinea pigs at the Hackenthorpe sanctuary

A Hackenthorpe guinea pig sanctuary is appealing for funding, as the number of animals kept there has almost doubled since January reports Corey Kitchener.

Peter Collett, 58, says that the large rise has come with people giving up the guinea pigs they bought as Christmas presents. Since January the number of guinea pigs housed at the sanctuary has doubled from 20 to 40, with the sanctuary now almost at capacity.

“Two weeks ago I launched an appeal for more money to run the sanctuary.” says Peter. “I just want to provide somewhere safe for the animals to live, although without money from the appeal I will be unable to take many more animals.”About three quarters of the guinea pigs housed at the sanctuary on Utah Terrace are either unwanted or abandoned. Peter said that a particularly bad case of abuse was when a lady brought a guinea pig to the sanctuary that had been offered as a chew toy to a dog.

“It had gone into spasm with fear and screamed for three weeks before I could get it to calm down and eat properly” said Peter. The sanctuary became a passion for Peter after retiring from the Civil Service: “I love looking after the guinea pigs. It’s more fun than having a train set and it keeps me fit and active.”

Pets superstore Pets at Home is talking to Peter about the possibility of providing a grant to put towards the running costs of the sanctuary. To donate to the sanctuary or to adopt a guinea pig please phone 0114 248 0481.


by Kim Law   Friday, 25 February 2011

Donetsk way has proved that speeding is a problem in the Hackenthorpe area

Residents in Hackenthorpe could see a 20mph child safety zone introduced by the end of this year, after their two year campaign was accepted.

Road Safety engineers are now constructing designs for the area, which will have to be approved by residents, before plans can be implemented later this year.

Labour Councillor of Beighton Ward, Ian Saunders said: “I am completely in favour of the road safety scheme, especially around schools. I want to do something before there is a fatality; hopefully the zone goes ahead and does not fall foul of the government cuts.”

With three Primary Schools (Birley Spa, Rainbow Forge and St John Fisher), Hackenthorpe fits the criteria for the 20mph limit zone. However, it has been a long winded process for campaigners.

The roundabout where the first serious accident occured

The Hackenthorpe Tenants and Residents Association brought up the idea two years ago, after a request for a pelican crossing was denied. Two serious road accidents later occurred on Donetsk Way. The first was in November 2008, when a car hit a post at the roundabout, and the second was in August 2009, when a young girl was knocked down by a car.

As a result, speed indication devices were placed at the junction, and these incidents created debate at Council meetings as to whether a 20mph zone is necessary.

“As a parent I would love a speed limit. People mount the pavements all the time, why should we wait for another child to be hit before something is done?” says one Hackenthorpe resident.

Now it is a matter of waiting to see if plans fit resident’s expectations, if so the council budget is the only aspect that could stand in road safety engineers way.

“This could still take a while, we need to analyse the plans and consider whether or not the cost is within our new, stricter budget”, says Councillor Saunders.


by Riaz Richards   Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Beighton Lifestyle Centre

The Beighton Lifestyle Centre, the cause of much controversy when it opened in 2008, has become an important part of the village and a source of pride among locals there.

The centre, situated in the old church hall on High Street, attracts nearly 500 people per week by offering a range of therapies and activities such as Kumon classes, sequence dancing and Tai Chi. There is also a cafe open to the public and office rental space.

The funding for the centre was provided by Government and the European Union as part of a scheme to encourage regional growth. It attracted criticism from several politicians who initially failed to see the benefits the centre would provide to the community.

An operations assistant at the centre, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “There was a great deal of negativity when we opened and even now, because people think this is a private, money-making centre and that public funding shouldn’t have been used.”

“We’ve proven that the centre can be a focus point for the area. There is also very few paid staff members who aren’t paid a great deal. Everything else is done by volunteers. There is a real community spirit here,” said the assistant.

A sign of the community spirit the centre has encouraged is the ‘Knit and Natter’ group who meet every Thursday morning. This group of elderly ladies sit in the cafe and chat away while knitting, the clothes they knit given to charity.

“The joy these ladies get from doing something they enjoy for charity and the fact they can get out of the house is proof that the centre works,” said Robin Barnes, a visitor to the centre.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Roger with members, council officers, local police, Sheffield trust members and residents celebrating the arrival of the bullocks last year.

Roger Marsh, the Chair of Owlthorpe Community forum, tells Kim Law about the Grasslands grazing project…

Looking out of his conservatory window, Roger Marsh can see the derelict greenery which he aims to make a ‘living landscape’ out of. The hills surrounding Owlthorpe are being grazed down and transformed for all to enjoy, with the help of ten local friends.

The rare breed bullocks worked on Owlthorpe last summer, grazing fields and re planting wildflower seeds. They have spent the winter at Gravespark farm, five miles away, but will return to complete their work in June. After grazing phase one of the Grasslands Grazing project last year, the bullocks have proved their talents and Roger says phase two should be finished by October this year.

“The area had been abandoned; you could not walk across it without breaking your ankle. The cattle can strip away rank grass, and replant seeds, leaving room for wild flowers to grow. Foxgloves are already coming through and harebells will be grazed,” Roger explains.

Residents warmed to the cattle, and last year Mr. Marsh and members of the forum carried 100 litres of water to them everyday, as there were no troughs. For their return in 2011, an underwater system has been implemented and three troughs provided.

One of the ten bullocks in the grazing land last year

When the project is completed this year, the bullocks will have grazed 22 acres of land in total. Most of which has been designated as special sites of importance, due to the species rich in wildflowers which still exist in the seed banks.

Mr. Marsh describes the bullocks as friendly but determined. “If you are in their way then they will not hesitate to nudge you with their horns, as I have learnt from experience”.

He advises that children are kept under control when near the area, and also that dogs remain on leads. Members of the public are also warned to remain within the boundaries of the kissing gates, which the forum have funded and built, to direct residents when walking.

Owlthorpe residents campaigned for this land two years ago, when builders wanted to work on it. Fortunately, they managed to hold on to the sites of importance and it was this that encouraged the Grasslands Grazing project. Furthermore, studies by the countryside agency have shown that Sheffield lost three quarters of its unimproved grasslands between 1980 and 2002, so projects like this are important to the city.

One of the kissing gates, implemented by the forum and local farmers.

“We want to make Owlthorpe and surrounding areas nicer places to live, and make the most of our countryside. This project will benefit the wildlife, residents and locals,” says Mr. Marsh.

Mr. Marsh sells insect and bird boxes, and attends car boot sales, to make projects like this possible. He receives grants from the council’s climate change for the forum, as well as a free supply of seeds and bulbs from Sheffield City Council.

The community forum has risen over £20,000 this year, which will go towards managing the cattle during their four month stay this year and other projects they have coming up.

Roger says: “The council may provide us with grants and we are very grateful, but they are getting their labour for free, and you can not put a value on the voluntary hours of work, where members practise hard labour.”

Alongside the Grasslands Grazing project, the forum is working on an Owlthorpe Heritage walk, which will include the newly grazed areas. They intend to plant new apple and pear trees, next to pathways which will be laid near the grasslands so that residents can go out and see the improvements for themselves.

Mr. Marsh also tries to involve younger children in the forums projects, and works closely with seven local Primary Schools. The children participate in outdoor activities and went to see the cattle last year.

“If you get them interested in the countryside at a young age, it will hopefully last and in the future they will look after the work we have done, and the enthusiasm we have to protect the greenery will be passed through generations,” he says.

Other future projects include the maintenance of Owlthorpe’s ancient hedgerows, which the forum hopes to replant and strengthen, so they can last up to 100 years. The hedgerows they have planted so far help to reduce carbon dioxide, and release oxygen in return. They also avoid electrical equipment, using hand held tools like scythes instead, to benefit the environment and residents.

Councillor Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, of the Beighton Ward, said: “Owlthorpe Community Forum is a group of motivated local residents who have achieved a great deal in the last 2 years working with local organisations. The projects we have all supported help to improve the environment and strengthen the community”.

Owlthorpe Community Forum began in 2008 and currently has 272 members, working closely with the South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield Landscape Trust and countryside planning officers. They carry out two litter picks a month; hope to set up a neighbourhood watch scheme soon, and are always looking for donations or new members.

If you want to donate money, support or get involved with the community forum then please contact Roger Marsh at ocf@uwclub.net and he will get back to you.

**All pictures owned by Roger Marsh**



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