‘Hesworth Common bear must be repatriated’ claims Fittleworth sculptor

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Sculptor Jon Edgar, who lives in Fittleworth has joined the debate on Hesworth Common’s newest resident.

The large bear arrived mysteriously eight weeks ago and villagers are divided on whether he should be allowed to stay.

Jon said: “Many remember and loved the former bear - a very similar species - which gradually rotted away on its position on Fittleworth Common. But Hesworth and Fittleworth Common are very different landscapes. The latter has perhaps less important wildlife habitats and is essentially now a private designed landscape with ‘internal’ views - an arboretum - which happens to have common access. In times past it was managed for bracken for animal bedding.

“Hesworth has some vestiges of a former heathland which was once far more extensive. It has several important viewpoints for the Downs and its beauty is in the fact that it is largely unspoilt other then for human trackways and a few selfishly-tossed dog poo bags.

“The bear is fun; it arrived on a wave of whimsy with snowdrops planted at its toes. But after the joke is known, it leaves an air of the twee, the mass produced and the generic on the common. And some plants fighting for life in an environment that is not theirs.

“If it stays, it opens the door for other unspecial objects to arrive, and pushes the parish council owner into a position where it needs to put forward planning permission to regularise such objects.

“This is not what Hesworth needs. What Hesworth needs is to be recognised as one of the last vestiges of heathland and to regain some more of its open splendour from pre-Victorian times. This means in a time when grazing is no longer sustainable, more people supporting the volunteers who help cut trees and remove saplings to continue to return it to a habitat for some of the rare reptiles in the UK, smooth snake and adder, slow worms, common lizard and - in some of the other larger heathlands locally - even the sand lizard.

“I hope the bear - and snowdrops - can be repatriated to somewhere more suitable and Hesworth’s calm and special landscape celebrated from a recognition of its OWN natural qualities and the tremendous views beyond from what was known in the 1700s as ‘Codmoor Hill’.

We cannot presently see the church, Fittleworth Common (and Cissbury Ring beyond) from Hesworth trig point any longer, but times will change.

Chairman council chairman Chris Welfare said he expected the issue to be raised at the village’s annual meeting on May 18.

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