Friends of Trent Country Park

Minutes of the 2019 AGM and public meeting

Minutes of the 2019 AGM and public meeting

Report on Proceedings of AGM & General meeting, held at 7.45pm on Nov 20th 2019, at Christ the King Catholic Church, Oakwood. With added explanatory notes.

AGM  – The Chairman opened the AGM meeting and welcomed 23 members and guests from Thames21 and Berkeley Developments

The minutes of the previous spring meeting, having been distributed, were agreed.

ANNUAL ELECTION OF OFFICERS:

The following candidates were presented for approval and voted in to hold office for 2020:

Chairman – Peter W Gibbs

Vice Chair and Treasurer – Carol Fisk

Membership secretary – Brenda Nathan

The Friends Committee was also proposed and approved to serve for another year comprising the above officers of the Friends plus:

Juliet Barnett [representing Trent Park Conservation Committee – TPCC], Ronald Cohen, Tony Hillman, Carol Langran, Shanna Marrinan, Stefanie Thann

New Committee members are actively sought. Please volunteer.

TREASURER’S REPORT

BANK ACCOUNT: Starting balance at 31-10-18: £ 2,079.94

Activity since last AGM report:

Income: Membership dues: £ 422.32
Enfield in Bloom grant £ 100.00
Greggs grant £2,000.00
Tesco grant £2,000.00
Total £4,522.32

Expenses: Christ the King hall rental £ 40.00
Compton Cricket Club hall £ 40.00
Soloprint [maps] [2018 Friends fund] £ 153.90
Aylwards [trail posts] [2018 Friends fund] £ 346.25
Ruth Smith – web hosting £ 20.00
Thames21 – pond planting [Greggs grant] £2,000.00
Carol Langran – plants [2018 & 2019 EiB] £ 198.86
GoCardless set up £ 0.01
Total £2,799.02

Balance at 31-10-19: £ 3,803.24

NOTES:

  • £ 200 from a Grassroots grant is encumbered for park projects
  • £2,000 Tesco grant is encumbered for an ecological project.
  • Unencumbered funds = £1,603.24

GRANTS COMPLETED:

  • £ 590 Friends Fund grant for waymarked trails and maps
  • £2,000 Greggs Environmental Fund grant for pond planting
  • £ 200 Enfield in Bloom grants for Water Garden bed

The report was well received by the meeting and voted for acceptance.

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Discussions with Enfield Council continue with the aim of progressing all items identified by the Friends as requiring maintenance, plus improvements suited to the borough’s premier park. The Friends have pressed even harder this year to ensure that a fairer share of monies earned from events is diverted back into the park not  lost in the borough’s finances.

The Council has not withdrawn its management objective, namely to move the whole parks estate towards a self-funding basis. The Friends regard this as totally unachievable without major loss of amenity and quality in the parks estate, and so reject it.

The Friends will seek more voluntary assistance to maintain the quality features of the park, and reach out to local businesses for sponsorship. The Treasurer’s report demonstrates our success this year in bringing added features and improvements to the park for all to enjoy.

Friends’ work has been somewhat curtailed by lack of manpower – resources are stretched and volunteers are urgently asked to help our work, for whatever time can be spared, to support our efforts for the park. A half day in the park with a spade can be great fun!

We particularly need help in the Water Garden, but also with our social media outreach, with canvassing for new members, event planning and management and fund-raising.

The ecological value of Trent Country Park is a major asset for the whole of North London; the Vickers report of two years ago, undertaken by the Friends, opened all our eyes to the variety of species present in the park. It is also an educational feature highly worthy of preservation in the face of ever increasing population pressure in the neighbourhood.

Security and anti-social behaviour by revellers is a growing issue in the park. Raves in the warmer months are a pressing issue without obvious solution given the police will only intervene when major law breaking takes place.

The Friends continue to press the Council, along with residents, to dissuade it from increasing the programme of massive events in the park – intrusions which are pressed on us in the name of revenue generation.  Events are not cost free at all. Damage to the exhibition ground from 2 years ago remains visible and our character gateway has been demolished again by over-sized event contractor vehicles. This will all be restored, we are told, but it will take many, many weeks. Trent Park receives virtually nothing from hosting these events, revenues being spent elsewhere in the borough.

Maintenance, including litter, is a further pressure. The Friends will maintain a close eye on litter collection and press for a responsive service to keep the park attractive and safe. Likewise the toilets.

Given the processes of local government, if the public and parks users in particular do not press for their views to be heard, administrators will continue to drain resources from parks and open spaces since there is no legal requirement on the council to invest in them at all. The public view is that parks are major assets, not liabilities, and vital for the health and social well-being of the community in Enfield, but the message needs constant reiteration, and direct pressure from residents does work. 

PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS: Members are requested earnestly to address concerns to us and also make their views known via the following LBE councillors / officers:

Leader of Enfield Council:   cllr.nesil.caliskan@enfield.gov.uk

Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability:  Cllr.guney.dogan@enfield.gov.uk

Cockfosters Ward local councillors:

Cllr.Edward.Smith@enfield.gov.uk

Cllr.Elaine.Hayward@enfield.gov.uk

Cllr.Alessandro.Georgiou@enfield.gov.uk

Senior Operations Manager for Parks: Marcus.harvey@enfield.gov.uk

Enfieldletters@london.newsquest.co.uk

Enfield’s website has a “Report it” facility to notify anything untoward seen in the park. LBE promises to scrutinise all reports and take appropriate action. https://new.enfield.gov.uk/services/leisure-and-culture/parks-and-open-spaces/parks/

The AGM was then closed.

GENERAL MEETING

1] Thames 21

Stephen Haywood presented a synopsis of his work to implement natural flood management measures in the park.  This includes the planting of over 1000 new trees. The Friends hail this investment as the most significant addition to the park’s ecology for many years since LBE itself has no budget for any tree replacements in any of its parks ! Thames21 also assisted with the restoration of the Limes Ave pond which is now set to enhance the park as a haven of diversity and wildlife.

2] Campus – Berkeley development

Berkeley has welcomed its first families to the campus: building is proceeding to plan and will continue for another 2 years. The roundabout at the entrance to Snakes Lane is shortly to be opened, and work is beginning on resurfacing the tennis courts – which we hope the public will access when completed. Work on the north face of the mansion is running to plan and the emphasis is shortly switching to the south face and interior; the museum space will be prepared and the group developing the exhibition space is working to raise funds and finalise its operational plans.

The new water feed to the campus has been installed along Limes Ave and operations will be cleared from the site shortly.

During construction on the campus, public access will be denied where safety demands it, but eventually reasonable public access to most of the heritage features will be restored.

3] Events Programme

The Friends confirm their support for a full slate of communal activities in the park. But overbearing and destructive major events that cause most grief and loss of civic amenity are rejected and with good cause. The Friends continue to campaign with CLARA, the local residents association, for these to be de-escalated, removed from peak visitor periods, and made subject to all required safety protocols.

Members are very aware that set-up and knock-down impact several days in a row, and affect other commercial activities in the park. Distress and nuisance is caused to many hundreds of residents in our suburban neighbourhood, due to noise, litter, antisocial behaviour and the sheer weight of revellers. This year LBE escalated numbers to 25,000 (Elrow event) and 51st State to 17,500. In 2020 LBE threatens us with double this number – enough to fill Wembley Stadium. We consider this unsustainable.

LBE is reviewing its 2 year old events strategy which impacts so heavily on our park. We are not encouraged to believe all our concerns will be met but press on in the hope that LBE realises the weight of major events is indeed too great for the park and area to sustain.

All Friends are urged where possible to take pictures and keep records of nuisance and damage caused by events so that even more pressure can be brought to bear in future to halt this trend. Send material to the Friends so we can forward it to the right officers at LBE and also to local councillors.

4] Biodiversity (Carol Fisk)

The Friends’ work to enhance public understanding of the rich biodiversity in the park was greatly advanced by the Habitat Survey undertaken by noted ecologist, Denis Vickers. It is being used to curate the assets, and enable educational and general public interest to be better informed. The document is on the Friends’ website and makes excellent and accessible reading – highly recommended.  Please note the rare acid grasslands and ancient woodland, which are Trent Park treasures.  Habitat Survey

Two nature interpretation boards that have been missing for nearly two years will replaced before the end of the year and a brand new interpretation lectern will be installed by the Limes Avenue pond to educate visitors about pond life.

Work carried out on the field and pond at the Cockfosters Gate earlier this year was welcomed eco-maintenance, even if somewhat delayed.  The field, which is an HLS [Higher Level Stewardship] wildflower site, for which Enfield receives special funds, had catch-up work done on it, while the trees around the pond were thinned out to allow more light in.  This has made it a more suitable amphibian habitat as part of a FrogLife toad project, which will also include two new toad ponds.

The Friends would like to encourage people to report any wildlife they see, where and when, either directly onto the Greenspace in Greater London [GiGL] site at  www.gigl.org.uk and/or by email to the Friends so we can compile current records for the park.  A nature section has been added to the website with some useful resources to use when visiting the park.

5] Water Garden  (Carol Langran)

Maintenance of the Water garden has taken a leap forward with debris clearances by the Council. Water supply to the garden was lost during the hot summer when an operational error emptied most of the lower lake that feeds the gardens. This is now recovered and procedures to stop this recurring are in place.  Building on these improvements, we hope to agree a better maintenance plan with the Council that will further enhance the Water Garden, making it a joy to visit throughout the year.  Friends sourced and planted a large number of bulbs in the entrance and these made a fine display of colour early in the new season; well done all volunteers. More have been planted this autumn with volunteers’ help

6] Additional items

The waymarked trail project was completed in the summer and there are now two 2.5 miles trails marked by yellow or red posts, which take in the highlights of the park.  Maps are usually available in the cafes or at Go Ape or at Oakwood Library or can be downloaded from the website.  Map

A pathway alongside the roadway from the main gate to the Cockfosters cafe is a pressing need since cars are often forced onto the low level pedestrian pavement because the road itself is too narrow for vehicles to pass.

Replacement of the Adult Trim Trail remains a bone of contention with Parks Dept. The trail was a valued part of the park’s amenities and the Friends will continue to campaign for its restoration.  The fact that 17 other LBE parks have adult gym facilities but not TCP is a pressure point in discussions with officers.

Replacements for two items of gear in the children’s play area were squeezed out of the council after 15 months delay! We hold that TCP is under-provided with kids’ equipment, given the 1 million annual visitors.

7] Volunteering with The Friends

Friends of Trent Park need more volunteers to assist in all sorts of work in the park to enhance and improve the facilities and their presentation to the public. Much of it is email writing and attending meetings to press our case, but there is spade work for those able to undertake it. Those with horticultural knowledge, legal experience, sports backgrounds, architectural and planning experience, social media outreach skills, event planning and management, and fund-raising experience, are especially needed, but we also welcome anyone who can spare a few hours canvassing in the park for new members and helping with other one-off tasks.

8] Social Media

Please Like our Facebook page and share it with friends and family. This is the first place to look for news of events, alerts or just pretty pictures of the park.   We would like to increase our Twitter and Instagram activity.  If anyone can help, please get in touch.  And this website has lots of good information about the park, council contacts, etc.  You can also join online here: Membership

Next Friends meeting

The next meeting is planned for April 2020.  Agenda details to follow closer to the date.  A winter newsletter will be issued early next year.

Meeting closed 2120 hrs.

PWG   3.12.19

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