The value of the field
There’s been a big campaign going on to try and prevent the local council from turning the Bathampton Meadows into a large car park. The meadows have been there since the Bronze Age as a place for grazing cattle and sheep and that still goes on and now it is also a nice place to walk and makes the approach into Bath very attractive. Walking across the meadows gives you a sense of space and some tranquillity not always so easy to find. They also act as a floodplain when there is excess rain and often that aspect seems to get forgotten.
Yesterday I took a walk across part of the meadows and met two people who were also talking about where the park-and-ride might go – there would need to be spaces for the buses to take people in to town and a lot of tarmacadam, roads and walkways, probably a bus shelter or two – possibly public toilets and then who knows what else might also develop.
I talked to them about the plans and said how against it I was – one of them felt the same but the other looking across the green field said ‘well it’s not really doing anything… Is it?’ Aside from the fact that there are usually cows grazing that are now obviously in for the winter, it did leave me wondering whether a field had to be doing something to be of any value. For in our current set-up we all have to be doing – we have to be productive rather than just being. It is as if the primary value of being alive and that includes all of creation have been relegated.
Of course I understood that he was reflecting the current status quo where everything is weighed in terms of production and economic success. He seemed a nice enough person and eventually commented that he thought it was good to keep green spaces, but his initial response helped me understand the old saying that for some people a tree is an object of beauty whilst for others it becomes an obstacle in the way or merely some firewood. Too often now the meadow and the tree are only obstacles in the way of a new road or in this case a massive car park.
Incidentally as far as I can understand from looking at the blog from last night’s council meeting it seems as if also the general idea has been passed for a park-and-ride but the whole business goes out for further consultation and review. This seems an excellent idea because I think the longer the debate goes on the less realistic the use of this land will seem for a park-and-ride – after all anything that encourages more car use must be an outdated way of thinking.