Stedham villagers wage war on ragwort

The field of ragwort, next to the village hall.
The field of ragwort, next to the village hall.

ON ONE hand it’s a picturesque sea of yellow in a tranquil rural village.

On the other hand, the field next to Stedham Memorial Hall is a bone of contention which has fuelled decades of problems.

Currently villagers are calling for the ragwort, which can be poisonous to livestock, to be removed.

But Pauline Matthews of Nyewood, who owns the field, says she is at her wit’s end: “There are no right of way across that field and yet people insist on walking their dogs there.”

“It’s very difficult. We own land in the middle of a village.

“We tried to grow cereal crops there, but people walked in them. It’s on a slope and there was flooding into people’s gardens. We did everything we could to stop it. We were asked not to plough the field so we put it to grass and kept livestock there. I don’t know what more to do.”

Mrs Matthews said the ragwort would normally be topped but the machine was currently broken.

She said she had had talks with parish councillors and hall trustees but there seemed to be no solution.

“Stedham needs car parking and housing for young people in the village but everyone wants it just to be kept beautiful so they can enjoy the views.”