'Guerrilla gardeners' clean up to slow down drivers
A GROUP of residents from Westbury- on-Trym spent two years improving a children's route to school that had become a dangerous rat run.
Householders living near Chock Lane put their heads together to see what they could do to improve the road in 2011.
A path that runs alongside had become overgrown with nettles and brambles so the group looked into why Bristol City Council was no longer maintaining it.
They got together with nearby pub The Victoria and formed a "guerrilla gardening group", which developed into the Chock Lane Improvement Group.
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Members hoped people driving down the lane would notice how beautiful the path was and be encouraged to drive in a slower, more responsible manner.
They applied for funding from their local Neighbourhood Partnership's Well-Being Fund and were awarded £1,400 so they could maintain the area themselves.
Since then the group of dedicated volunteers, coordinated by the pub, have been working in all weathers to create a woodland walk.
They have planted several hundred plants, shrubs and bulbs and a native edible cherry tree.
Resident Mel Woodland, 30, a charity worker and a member of the group, said: "The council had stopped maintaining this well-used footpath, which is an important route to school for children from Westbury-on-Trym Academy. Chock Lane has no pavement so they use this footpath to get safely to the school.
"It had become overgrown with brambles and nettles and walkers were finding it difficult to get down there.
"The Victoria Pub organised a guerrilla gardening group and out of that the Chock Lane Improvement Group was formed – the aim was to raise funds to pay for some native English trees, plants and bulbs that would create a woodland walk down the length of the footpath.
"The idea was to also create a space that is safe for children to walk down and would attract wildlife.
"The work brought together generations of helpers from Chock Lane and surrounding streets and we had a committed team of volunteers weeding, digging and planting.
"A group of children from the school even came down and planted all our daffodil bulbs. We've been lucky to have not only a Neighbourhood Partnership grant from their Well-Being Fund but also the expertise of Westbury in Bloom volunteers who helped put our planting scheme together and picked out the plants.
"It really was a group effort and it just goes to show what you can do as a community to improve your area."
Loveen Ross, 28, an environmental consultant, said: "Having recently moved to Chock Lane I'm thrilled to find residents are so proactive and dedicated to improving their environment. Their efforts promote local conservation and community engagement – a good example for anyone who wants to set up a guerrilla gardening group."
A spokesman from the Westbury- on-Trym Academy Safer Routes Group said: "We're amazed by the efforts of Chock Lane residents who have created a safe and picturesque green space in the middle of a busy city rat run. We hope speeding motorists will slow down and respect the work residents have been doing."