Wednesday 5 October 2011

Conkers Bonkers

During a recent conversation with the Hawthorns centre on Southampton Common, it came to light that, the activity of picking blackberries (or anything else) on our Common, is not permitted. This came as a shock to me as I had always assumed that this was exactly the kind of healthy outdoors activity that should be encouraged.

I decided that something ought to be done and set about finding out more about the bye laws, easier said than done... However, during my search I came across the Southampton Court Leet, a unique opportunity for locals to air their grievances in front of a Jury of Aldermen and by a lucky chance this was due to take place the following week.

The Court Leet - Sheriff Standing
Meanwhile the Urbane Forager Waits Nervously in the Foreground
I spoke to the Mayor's office and duly appeared at the Civic Centre to make my presentment; based on the idea that local children and families should be free to forage on Southampton Common - what could be more natural?

The Court Leet was also attended by a large group of very well behaved children from Mount Pleasant School, who I thought, were exactly the kind of people who would be most concerned about what I had to say. They might want to collect conkers for instance.

The Town Crier was in fine voice and soon it was my own turn to address the Sheriff and Jury. I was a bit nervous but did my best to express my feelings about the issue and I'm pretty sure that I caused the Sheriff to raise his eyebrows in concern at one point...

As I left the Guildhall, I felt confident that my campaign was in a pair of hands, almost as safe as those of Kelvin Davis. Hopefully our right to pick blackberries on Southampton Common will soon be confirmed - I hope so anyway.

There may be a small article in Thursday's Echo, in support of this cause.


  1. I wish you the best of luck Alan, my experience at Court Leet and others did not amount to an awful lot despite agreements to the presentments at the time. Don't let this one get away though and more strength to your elbow!

  2. Hi Pat
    Thanks for your support. I thought the Court Leet was the perfect platform and this kind of protest should be encouraged.
    I Think it's fair to say that I am going to meet with very little resistance on this one.
    Only extreme pendants would object to what I am proposing!
    Have you seen the comments under the Echo article?
    Fantasitc stuff.
    Best of luck with your own presentment.
    Alan aka the Urbane Forager

  3. Indeed I have and you can count on my support all the way, I will be updating the web site this weekend so will link up ;)


  4. Great stuff Pat
    My little campaign seems to have gone viral now...
    The council have said sorry (on TV I hear!)
    so I guess it's over, just as I was getting into my stride - I should be in PR.
    Of course any mutual links will help so send me yours.
    Alan aka the Urbane Forager

  5. Be alert Alan, the next step will be an attempt to make a bylaw, or convert an old bylaw into a law - had that happen recently.
    Would like to have heard the apology! Have a great weekend!