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Nervous wait for Pound Hill, Crawley residents as land owner culls woodland next to M23



Residents in Pound Hill are waiting nervously for a report to be released by the Forestry Commission following a large portion of woodland around Burleys Wood being culled.

The land owner instructed workers over the Christmas period to cut down trees across a large patch of woodland next to the M23.

A popular pathway that runs between the land and land owned by Highways England has seen the tranquil pathway used by residents and dog walkers become opened up to the noise of the motorway.

Residents and councilors rallied round to find out who was responsible and the reasons behind it. It was soon discovered that the land was privately owned and initial reports that it belonged to Crawley Council or Highways England were not true.

One dog walker said:

“I used to allow my dog to run around the forest knowing that the dense nature of it would prevent him from going anywhere near the motorway. Now though what is there to stop him going onto the carriageway?”

Other residents have already complained to both the council and to the Forestry Commission saying that as a result of the trees being removed the noise levels have increased considerably.

Initially there was a lot of confusion over whether the land owner had a license to remove the trees but since an investigation was launched the Forestry Commission and DEFRA has confirmed that no license was provided.

However, they have also made it clear that this does not mean that anything wrong has been undertaken as there are numerous reasons why this could have been done without the need for a license.

It was also pointed out that none of the trees cut down had any protection order on them.

Representatives from the Forestry Commission were seen last week taking measurements and photos of the area in order to provide a report that will be part of an investigation to assess whether any wrong doing had been done.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs clarified that:

“If we find that there is no felling licence or other valid permission is in place, or if the wrong trees are cut down:

  1. All parties involved can be prosecute
  2. The Forestry Commission can, in certain circumstances, serve a Restocking Notice to re-stock the land concerned, or any other land as may be agreed, regardless of whether or not a prosecution takes place
  3. The person served with the notice must maintain the replacement trees to acceptable standards for up to 10 years”

Further details can be found here: and

For now though residents will have to wait to find out whether the culling of the trees on this private property will be allowed or whether there will be repurcussions.


Southern Rail joins train companies extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse



Govia Thameslink Railway is supporting an extended nationwide initiative to help domestic abuse victims reach refuge accommodation by offering free train travel.

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Chief Operating Officer Steve White said:

“With the numbers of survivors of domestic abuse soaring during the pandemic, charities are expecting a surge in people trying to escape to a refuge when lockdown restrictions relax. Abusers frequently withhold money, which is why the free train travel we offer as an industry is so vitally important for the hundreds of victims making use of this scheme.”

Southern Rail and its parent company Govia Thameslink are joining other train companies in extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse until the end of March next year.

The move comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the scheme and reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions.  

Charities are bracing themselves for a surge in people fleeing abusive relationships when restrictions are lifted. The extension will help hundreds more people to take the train, for free, to reach a safe refuge.  

Rail to refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation. Since April, train operators have provided free tickets to 836 people, including 210 children. In other words, four survivors have travelled to safety each day on average using the Rail to refuge scheme. 

First introduced by Southeastern in September 2019 and then GWR on its routes in March 2020, all train operators joined the Rail to refuge scheme on 9 April with the original plan to keep it in place for approximately 12 weeks or for the duration of lockdown.  

However, with refuges expecting a spike in demand after the current national restrictions are eased, the scheme is now being extended for the rest of the financial year until the end of March 2021. This means hundreds more survivors will access free travel. 

The number of survivors of domestic abuse asking for help has soared during the pandemic. Women’s Aid reported a 41% increase in users visiting its instant messaging Live Chat site within the first two weeks of lockdown in March and as a result extended its opening hours to 10am – 4pm daily. Respect, which runs the Men’s Advice Line, has increased service hours from 46 to 75 hours weekly to support male victims, after seeing a huge increase in demand since March. 

Refuges expect to see the increase in demand across their services continue in the coming months as domestic abuse is worsening and abusers are using the pandemic as a tool for abuse. A recent Women’s Aid survey shows 61% of survivors living with their abuser reported that abuse worsened from March – June 2020, under tighter coronavirus restrictions.  

Many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Free travel can be a lifeline for people fleeing abuse who may not have access to cash. Two-thirds (63%) of people that booked a journey through Rail to refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for. 

Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: 

Women face huge barriers in leaving an abuser. Notonly is it an extremely dangerous time, but many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own. Many women and children escape to a refuge with nothing at all.  

Thanks to the rail industry removing the financial barriers of travel, hundreds of women have left abusive relationships and been able to access safety. It is welcome news that this important initiative is being extended, especially as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to severely impact survivors of domestic abuse.” 

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: 

“We’re proud to have provided a vital lifeline for almost a thousand people escaping a desperate situation, but there are still too many women, men and children that need help. Our staff are working hard to support the survivors of domestic abuse with free train journeys while keeping the railway running for all the people, communities and local economies that rely on it.” 

Survivors of domestic abuse who would like to access the scheme, or need other support, can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: 

If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the lifesaving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: (link goes live on 23 November 2020, 00.01).

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