Fantastic Mr Fox

Image above: Chiswick foxes, photograph Mark Lawson

Cllr Joanna Biddolph names the guilty parties

The ripping out of 20 out of 37 automatic traffic counters in Grove Park is the work of foxes, according to Cllr Joanna Biddolph.

The damage was done over the Bank Holiday weekend and noticed by residents on Monday 31 May. Cllr Sam Hearn, who represents Riverside ward, which includes Grove Park, called it “mindless” vandalism. Cllr Guy Lambert, who is Lead Member for Recycling & Waste, Highways and Trading Companies on the Cabinet of Hounslow Council, told us:

“such appalling vandalism doesn’t really help anyone. I can only assume whoever’s done this doesn’t want the facts to come out, which isn’t very clever.”

The counters – thin black strips which run across the road – were put in place to monitor the amount of traffic on the roads, to inform the council’s decisions about whether or not to keep the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in place.

The council has measured traffic flow in Grove Park like this twice before, in September 2019 and September 2020, and observed a dramatic fall in the amount of traffic since the LTNs were introduced. The point of doing it now is to see how the end of lockdown has affected the traffic flow.

Image above: Chiswick foxes, photograph Mark Lawson

“Irresponsible to assume it was done by humans”

A local resident has written to The Chiswick Calendar and to councillors suggesting it is the work of foxes, as she says her neighbour had seen foxes playing with the cables in their street.

‘In Brackley Road the traffic counters were repeatedly ripped up – not by any human but by the numerous foxes that run around at night.  They are the most ideal play-things for them’.

On the strength of this Cllr Biddloph wrote to Cllr Lamber demanding he withdraw his statement:

‘Please could you retract your comments in the Chiswick Calendar article blaming people for this act and apologise for them.  You have had the email, below, saying quite clearly it is done by foxes.  It is irresponsible to assume it is done be people’.

Cllr Lambert’s reply:

‘I am no expert on vulpines but I would be most impressed if they were so well organised to destroy so many in so little time, especially as I have never previously heard tell of their taste for automatic traffic counters’.

If it is foxes, they put Roald Dahl’s character in Fantastic Mr Fox to shame, with their organisational still and planning. Boggis, Bunce and Bean would have no chance against Chiswick foxes.

Image above: Chiswick foxes, photograph Mark Lawson

Council exploring criminal damage option

So is the council calling in the nearest Fox Hunt? They prefer the more traditional method of asking the police to pursue an investigation into criminal damage.

Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport and One Hounslow, said:

“Hounslow Council doesn’t tolerate crime and if there is evidence of criminal damage in this instance we will do all we can to make sure the perpetrator is brought to justice. We will be liaising with our local policing team and we will share CCTV footage and any other evidence we have in the eventuality of an investigation.

“We are aiming to remove the Grove Park logging equipment today, (Tuesday 1 June) which has been collecting traffic data for our Streetspace review, and we will examine what data it has captured. The equipment was due to be removed today in any case, so we may still find we have the full data set required for our review. If we don’t, the equipment will be re-installed at a later date.”

Images above: Karen Liebreich’s decapitated tulips; Chiswick squirrel photograph by Jon Perry

Squirrels also accused

A month ago Karen Liebreich MBE, co-founder/director of Abundance London and one of the founding directors of the Chiswick Flower Market, found all the flowers in her front garden had been cut off just below the flower head.

“This was some thirty tulips and daffodils, both in pots on my front doorstep and growing in beds around the front garden, and included every single plant in flower in the garden apart from some apple blossom”.

It was suggested on social media that this was the work of squirrels.

“There has been much discussion that the damage was caused by squirrels” she told The Chiswick Calendar, “and some people with time on their hands have kindly trawled through the Abundance twitterfeed to find previous comments that squirrels have damaged my tulips.

“Yes, they chew occasional tulip bulbs and bite off their heads. But this was definitely not squirrel damage: squirrels do not methodically snip off every single flower; they rarely attack daffodils.

“I have never seen a squirrel in my front garden and no neighbouring gardens were attacked. When all the flowers in just my front garden accessible from the road are methodically cut off it is beyond reasonable doubt an act of vandalism, not squirrels and as such I reported this to the police”.

Subsequent malicious gossip about her in social media is now subject to legal proceedings.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Automatic traffic counters ripped out in Grove Park

See also: Dramatic drop in traffic in south Chiswick

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