Leighton creates a buzz as Government launches pollination plan

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Leighton Buzzard has this afternoon been featured as a national case study on how to help bees to back up minister Liz Truss launch of the Government’s national pollination strategy.

The Environment Secretary is acting after a series of warnings that bee populations are falling dramatically across the world.

Bees pollinate 75% of our food and without them it would cost £1.7 billion a year to hand pollinate our food.

But the insects are suffering from a severe loss of habitats, as 97% of the UK’s wildflower areas have been lost since the Second World War, with the increased use of pesticides also having an impact.

The government is calling on people to do more in their gardens and across council parks to save bees, as well as working with farmers and large landowners such as Network Rail.

And Leighton Buzzard is a national case study due to the work of Leighton-Linslade Town Council, who became a bee-friendly town council and worked with South Beds Friends of the Earth to involve a huge range of organisations and local residents to create eight sites of wildflowers and wildflower-friendly habitats across town.

Lord De Mauley, the Environment Minister at the invitation of the MP Andrew Selous visited some of the sites in the summer and met the huge range of people involved – including many independent retailers, Anglia in Bloom, residents, Waitrose, Heathwood School , Mentmore Preschool, London Midland, Network Rail, the Greensand Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and many more.

This autumn South Beds Friends of the Earth with the support of the town council is starting a new programme of planting wildflower areas and native hedges across Leighton Buzzard and is calling for people to give just an hour of their time to help the bees and local wildlife.

Victoria Harvey, of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth, said: “It is not just about bees but also all our wildlife such a butterflies, birds and hedgehogs.

“We have lost half of our hedgehogs in the last 20 years mainly due to loss of habitat. We are doing a mixture of planting wildflowers, planting native hedges and leaving the grass long.

“Wildlife need flowers for nectar , but they also need nesting and hibernating places and long tussock grass , seed heads hedges, shrubs and woodpiles are vital for this.

“We are creating many more areas across the town at the edges of playing fields and parks etc. and we really need help. Just an hour of your time makes all the difference please come and help us.”

Forthcoming dates:

Thursday, November 13 (9.30 to 1pm): Between Woodman Close and Hockliffe Road beside Clipstone Brook; digging and preparing for planting with Josie who was playing the role of the bumble bee at the canal and other young people who live close to the area.

Friday, November 14 (10 am -1pm): War Memorial community garden on Mentmore Road planting up the new area with bulbs, vegetables flowers etc with Dawn and Joanna.

Saturday, November 15 (10am-1pm): Between Woodman Close and Hockliffe Road digging up turf and planting wildflowers on the green space beside Hockliffe Road by Woodman Close with Josie and other young people who live close to the area.

Sunday, November 16 (10am-2pm): Riverbank in the centre of town by Bridge Street opposite Leighton Middle School ; clearing nettles and planting more wildflower on the riverbank by the road bridge.

Thursday, November 20 (9am-1pm): Parson’s Close on the banks of Clipstone Brook; planting bulbs and transplanting comfrey.

Saturday, November 22 ( 10am-12noon) and Sunday, November 23 (10am-4pm): Astral Park near the new community facilities. Planting 300m hedge for wildlife, bees, birds and hedgehogs, by the new playing fields at Astral Park.

Saturday, December 6 (10.30-2pm): Planting wildflowers at Linslade Rec near St Barnabas Church.

Sunday, December 7 (10.30am-2pm): Planting venue to be confirmed.

> For more details see www.southbedsfoe.co.uk contact Victoria Harvey on 07815817108 or email vapharvey@btinternet.com

> See the Leighton case study at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/leighton_buzzard_case_study2.pdf ,