NEWTS 1 - DIBLEY 0
There`s a gentleman in American politics who goes by the name of Newt. He should live here in Dibley, as my ongoing saga with the Parish Council about newts goes into extra time. The story so far. Some years ago now, we were provided with a by-pass. I was never quite sure why, as we`re an inconsequential one-horse town in the middle of deepest Kent. My suspicion was that the by-pass was either a `political` project linked to upcoming elections or that Dibley was so unattractive that passing tourists should be diverted away from it.
Anyway, they needed a chunk of land for the by-pass which was taken from our local woods and, to be fair, a compensatory chunk of land was set aside as replacement for the bit we lost. Reasonably enough, the `new` area needed a bit of time to get established, so it was fenced off and left in peace. And then along came the newts. At the time, a big road construction project was going on at the other end of the county and, as part of the now inescapable environmental impact study, it was discovered that some newts were residing just where the new road was going to go.
To overcome this problem, said newts were transported from there to our own `new` area. There were some unsubstantiated rumours that these newts were rather special newts and needed to be protected and nurtured in a peaceful environment. Now I don`t know for sure, but my suspicion is that these were not whizzo, sooper-dooper, hi-tech, state-of-the-art, ocean going, high-end newts - otherwise NewtAid would have been on their case - but rather they were your ordinary, straightforward, up and down, common or garden newts.
All this was years ago and still the `new` area next to our woods is fenced off but there`s not a newt to be seen. So I`ve suggested to Dibley Parish Council that it`s daft for us to lose a chunk of our woods and be given a compensatory area only for it to be fenced off for years thus denying public access on the spurious notion that some Beckhamesque newts might still be around.
I`m told that the Parish Council, whilst not being in any way newtphobic, are sympathetic to my cause. But here`s where the dead hand of bureaucracy comes in yet again. As the compensatory area is still in the ownership of Kent County Council, the issue has been referred to a joint liaison working group who will take their time to come up with an acceptable solution which might satisfy local malcontents like me as well as the newt lobby.
As things stand, I fear the newts might just have their noses in front, but extra time is here and like the other great issues of the day, such as the future of the Eurozone, the outcome remains uncertain.