Network Rail workers ruin First World War memorial garden at Shepreth station

Shepreth county councillor Susan van de Ven and Councillor Philippa Hart from South Cambs District Council in the destroyed memorial garden Shepreth county councillor Susan van de Ven and Councillor Philippa Hart from South Cambs District Council in the destroyed memorial garden

Thursday, August 28, 2014
8:33 AM

Bungling Network Rail workers have destroyed a wildflower garden planted by volunteers to mark the anniversary of First World War.

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The garden was planted at Shepreth Railway Station 18 months ago so that the poppies and other wild flowers would be ready for the anniversary of the start of the war. However, last week it was completely cut back by workers who were tidying other parts of the site.

Volunteers from the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group had planted the garden after receiving donations from Network Rail, train operator First Capital Connect, and members of the public, who read about the scheme in the Crow.

County councillor Susan van de Ven, who chairs the group, said: “The staff should have known land was completely off limits to them because Network Rail, which owns the land, made a formal arrangement whereby the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group has special rights and responsibilities for the garden’s upkeep.

“Network Rail’s response has been disappointing because they haven’t shown an understanding of how much work went into the project over a long period of time. “We’re going to be asking Network Rail to reimburse the rail user group in donations to purchase more of the specialist seed which we planted over the last 18 months.

“The garden was carefully built up with professional advice, and now it’s been completely cut back. We’ll have to go back to square one.”

South Cambridgeshire district council ecology officer Rob Mungovan oversaw the planting of the garden, offering help and advice to volunteers on types of suitable plant.

Councillor Philippa Hart, district councillor for Shepreth, said: “I am very disappointed as a representative of the district council, which has put a lot of work into the poppy patch, and as a member of the community rail partnership. This is a devastating set-back.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We are extremely sorry for the damage to the flower garden and offer our sincere apologies to the volunteers and all those who have donated time and money over the last 18 months. We are in contact with Cllr van de Ven and will make sure that this is put right.

“We have arranged for signs to be put in place so staff are aware of the extent of the garden and will look at whether some sort of fencing or other suitable physical boundary demarcation is needed.

“We are happy to pay for 
replacement planting and will work with Cllr van de Ven and the user group to replace what has been damaged.”

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