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Work to start on £14k project to clean up island in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 16:47 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 22:31 10 January 2019

Snow drops on Butten Island in Thetford which is being clean up as part of a new £14,000 project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Snow drops on Butten Island in Thetford which is being clean up as part of a new £14,000 project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015

A project is about to get underway to improve Thetford’s Butten Island and adjacent riverside to encourage more people to use it and combat the perception it is a haven for anti-social behaviour.

Volunteer group Sex, Rock n Roll n Weeding in Thetford already have a communal garden space on Butten Island. Picture: Sex, Rock n Roll n WeedingVolunteer group Sex, Rock n Roll n Weeding in Thetford already have a communal garden space on Butten Island. Picture: Sex, Rock n Roll n Weeding

Improvement works costing £14,000 will begin shortly to make the area of wooded land next to the Little Ouse river and close to the town centre more accessible and useable by local people and visitors.

A number of trees are set to be cleared opening the area to more natural light, river views and other points of interest along the riverside and on the island.

Breckland Council is using money from its Market Towns Initiative on the project, which will eventually see around 20 unsafe, decaying and dead trees removed from the island and riverbank as well as the removal of hedge areas. It is hoped the work will make it more attractive for the community to use, while providing safer areas for people to enjoy.

Councillor Paul Claussen, Breckland’s executive member for place, said: “Currently, parts of the island are so dense that it is quite dark and unappealing and you can’t even see the beautiful river running alongside. By removing some of the vegetation on the island it will make the area much brighter and cleaner for people to use and will play to the area’s natural strengths ahead of the spring and summer.”

The recently refurbished statue of Maharaja Duleep Singh stands on Butten Island in Thetford. Picture: Conor MatchettThe recently refurbished statue of Maharaja Duleep Singh stands on Butten Island in Thetford. Picture: Conor Matchett

The island is already home to a communal garden overseen by Sex, Rock n Roll n Weeding, a group of volunteers who began tidying up an overgrown area in 2014.

A spokesman for the group said: “Anything that improves Butten Island is welcomed by us. We have made a garden on what was a previously neglected plot. Breckland Council are happy for us to continue to maintain it. There is minor anti-social behaviour in that it is used by the ‘street drinkers’. Generally they don’t cause too much trouble, but they do leave a lot of drink related rubbish. This in spite of several more litter bins being provided.”

The island is home to the statue of Duleep Singh, the last Maharajah of the Punjab, who settled at Elveden after the British ousted him from his kingdom in 1849. The life-size bronze, which shows the ruler on a horse, has previously been the subject of vandalism.

The new project will begin with parts of the hedging removed. Unsafe trees which are currently growing at an acute angle over the river are due to be removed before early February. Further trees will be removed or crowned in the first half of February, before the project is finished in March.

Rubbish in the river around Butten Island in Thetford which is being clean up as part of a new £14,000 project. Picture: Sonya DuncanRubbish in the river around Butten Island in Thetford which is being clean up as part of a new £14,000 project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The work has been agreed after consultation with the town council, British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water.

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