Leters to the Editor March 2023


From the editor…


Today I popped down the garden, and paused for a second. There it was. That inescapable, inevitable scent on the wind. Spring. It wasn’t a conscious choice, but my mood immediately lifted, and I took a few moments to smile at a suspicious robin who was waiting for me to leave.
This winter has been so very long – endlessly, ploddingly, dully long. But you can’t keep a good year down, and as the days lengthen our gloomy northern-dwelling brains, despite their best grumbling intentions, will start to feel that positivity that comes simply from a little brightness in the day.
Sometimes, you have to stop thinking so much about how wretched the world is and just feel the spring.
We have had long conversations with our son in America today as he tussles between two excellent job offers. One with a stellar global company but a rigid, restrictive work routine, the other with a young company without the name, the recognition or the stability – but all the flexibility and autonomy he could desire. Ultimately his decision won’t be made in a neatly thoughtful pros and cons list. He’ll simply go with which feels right. And rightly so.
Our front cover isn’t necessarily the most technically perfect image that was in our submissions this month. But that happy, pollen-coated fat little bee with his foolishly dangling legs gave us both that same warmth of optimism that a little sunshine in March brings. He’s heading down to just-one-more sticky yellow crocus stamen like it’s a packet of chocolate digestives that it’s frankly rude to say no to. It’s perfect. It feels right.
Highlights in this month’s issue for me are the Country Living focus on Toby Hoad the horse logger, the weirdly interesting insight into where our rubbish goes, and if you never venture as far as the Health columns, don’t miss Karen Geary’s comments around the news that our GP’s will be mass-prescribing statins. As you’d expect, she has Some Thoughts.
And finally, in a bit of a scoop by Edwina, the BV can give you a tour of some of the wonderful art inside The Red House, the winner of the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) prize for the UK’s best new architect-designed house. It is nestled in rolling hills south of Shaftesbury.
Enjoy March – don’t forget to go outside and lift your face to feel the sunshine when it shows up.

Second home owners
As I write this I note that Dorset Council has just voted through the additional levy on second home owners. Thank goodness. Second homes are the death by a thousand cuts for any small community. And it’s no good a holiday home owner suggesting that they contribute to the local economy – of course you do, but nowhere near as much as a family who work locally, attend school, shop, use the GP and pharmacy etc. It’s a nonsense argument. At the end of the day, if you can afford a second home, you can afford a little more tax on it to aid the community you are stripping of an asset.
(Terry’s interview with Cllr Peter Wharfe on the podcast was an excellent follow up to last month’s article, I urge others to go and listen to it.)
John Reid, Shaftesbury

Re. The original Blackmore Vale Magazine
I saw a mention in a recent article about being printed since 2020 and could only think you referred to your own tenure of the BVM.
In 1987 it was recommended to me by a local while I was searching for a place to live in North Dorset. It was packed with useful information and in fact lead to me finding a home. It provided details of employment, local events, Council activity and much much more over the years – I think it deserves a bit of a drum roll for a lengthy and informative history.
Suzanne Webb, by email

This question is raised frequently – you might like to read the article we wrote in November 2020 to clear the confusion. It may also interest you to know that we’re very proud to have the long-time editor of the original BVM Fanny Charles and equally-long-serving Dorset journalist Gay Pirrie-Weir as sub-editors – Ed

Developers in Marnhull
The arrogance of developers and their agents is breathtaking. Despite approval in recent months for nearly 300 homes, Marnhull is once again having to resist a major planning application on a greenfield site.
But the applications and supporting documents submitted are an insult to the intelligence of local people. Quite apart from the skewed arguments in favour of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘enhanced bio-diversity’, the casual incompetence of professional consultants beggars belief. Out-of-date plans and photos, inaccurate measurements and incorrect statements abound. It is evident that basic research has not been carried out and that no site visit has occurred.
On one recent application a consultant re-routed a public footpath through our garden and across the patio.
You couldn’t make it up. Except they do, as a result of cynical, sloppy and unprofessional practice. It’s bad enough to impose unwanted, unnecessary and excessive expansion on the rural community with all the harm to the landscape and environment that implies, but to do so with such incompetence adds insult to injury.
Stephen Boyce

On the flood at Bourton
Further to Roger Guttridge’s The day the Dam burst (The BV, Feb23):
We live right next to the dam in question on the road to Gasper and I’m pleased to say that a) it looks very solid and b) there is a very effective run off system now.
The lake is drained every year to manage the fish stocks. There is a plaque on the dam commemorating the events of that night.
Nick Allott, Facebook

For Barry and Pete
I just wanted to write and thank
Barry Cuff and Pete Harcom for their gardening columns. I don’t even grow veg except a few tomatoes – but I never miss Barry’s column, much like I never miss Gardener’s World.
I enjoy the gentle, calm tone and the obvious experience and passion that comes through his
words. Who knows, maybe I’ll plant some carrots this year, just to join in.
And Pete’s column always has a couple of jobs for me to get on with – despite not having a huge garden, I do love to keep on top if it. His timely reminders on a Friday always give me a task for the weekend ahead.
Could you thank them both for me, and tell them they are much appreciated?
Iris Bell, nr Blandford.
(you just did so yourself – Ed)


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