Remove the electric fence
Sir – At the public meeting about the cows on Petersham Meadows on May 29 National Trust representatives gave two clear assurances.
They said they would meet with stakeholders to discuss further the controversial electric fence and they would be prepared to hand back the lease and the endowment to the council and Petersham Trust if this seemed the best way forward.
However, since May 29, not only have they not had the promised meeting, they will not even return emails and phone calls trying to set up this meeting.
All the indications are that the people at the National Trust have made up their mind to keep the electric fence and the lease, and are just going through the motions of being open to change.
We have been here before. Last year after a public meeting, where they were told that dogs were the problem, not the cows, they did agree with Richmond Council in September that a dog ban would be enough and that an electric fence was not needed.
Two months later they changed their minds.
Ever since then they have dug their heels in, claiming that there is a risk to the public from the cows without an electric fence.
The fact that almost no one agrees with them only results in a stronger push to show that they know best.
I am deeply disappointed that an organisation whose prime purpose is to protect our national heritage is so arrogant and intransigent.
The meadows are now in a worse state that any time I can remember in the 45 years I have live here.
The National Trust must be close to a breach of its lease obligations to maintain the meadows properly.
Only two solutions are acceptable to the community and the council.
Either the National Trust get rid of the fence, if necessary after a trial period to demonstrate that there is no significant risk without it, or it surrenders the lease and gives back the very generous endowment. The council and the Petersham Trust on May 29 said that they were prepared to take this on. And the overwhelming majority of the public support this.
Hopefully common sense will prevail, and they will open the dialogue promised at the public meeting.
SIR DAVID WILLIAMS
Friday, July 13, 2012