A PRACTISING commoner whose New Forest family roots go back to 1650 has been appointed to the national park authority with a determination to teach incomers about the area’s traditions.
District councillor Ann Sevier (67), who lives in Blissford, near Fordingbridge, said she was “thrilled” to get the role and promised to make education a key priority, particularly for residents newly moved to the area.
Cllr Sevier, a Conservative, is the 13th generation of a commoning family who were originally Flemish migrants. She recently came to prominence after starring in the four-part Channel 4 documentary series A Year in the New Forest.
She told the A&T: “I am thrilled to represent the residents of the New Forest – all the residents, not just the commoners – and to be able to use my knowledge to promote the principles of the national park.
“I am particularly keen to be able to support the national park in communication and education.
“I think it’s particularly when people newly move into the national park from urban areas. I think some of them do not appreciate – because the New Forest is so unique with the commoning animals maintaining the landscape – that it takes a while for them to understand the rural setting.
“Every year in May, for instance, somebody will – for whatever reason – stand up and say the New Forest is over-grazed.
“That’s because in May the cattle and ponies go out onto the Forest for the summer grazing, and every year someone will announce it’s overgrazing.”
The issue of stock numbers is a regular debating point which can put commoners at loggerheads with figures such as local TV naturalist Chris Packham and academics over the impact of the more than 9,000 ponies, cattle, donkeys and pigs that are put out at various times each year.
Cllr Sevier was appointed on Wednesday by New Forest District Council’s ruling cabinet as one of 12 local authority appointees on the 22-strong governing body.
A graduate in science and maths, Cllr Sevier has not always lived in the New Forest, with spells in Switzerland, Germany, France and London. She spent several decades caring for her parents.
She will fill the space left by Penny Jackman who had to leave the NPA when she quit the district council and Lymington and Pennington Town Council without explanation in July.