Friends of Trent Country Park

Minutes of the Friends AGM and Public Meeting held September 2, 2021

Minutes of the Friends AGM and Public Meeting held September 2, 2021

Report by Peter W Gibbs, Chairman

Report on Proceedings of AGM & General meeting, held at 7.45pm on September 2nd 2021 at Christ the King Catholic Church, Oakwood. With added explanatory notes.

AGM 

The Chairman opened the AGM meeting and warmly welcomed 29 members to our resumed meetings programme. Cllr. Clare Da Silva, prospective candidate for the new Cockfosters Ward at elections in May 2022 was also welcomed.

The minutes of the previous AGM in Nov 2019, were taken as noted.

ANNUAL ELECTION OF OFFICERS:

No others having come forward, the following candidates were presented for approval and voted in to hold office for 2021:

  • 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 [Trent Park Conservation Committee], Ronald Cohen, Tony Hillman, Carol Langran, Shanna Marrinan, Stefanie Thann (Tree House Friends director), Kirsty Johnstone (Berkeley residents) and Tony Claydon. All were approved en bloc, with thanks for their many contributions

The Treasurer’s report showed advances in resources for the park thanks to increased visitor numbers during the pandemic and a related increase in membership numbers. Work to bring in grants continued during the pandemic.

FRIENDS OF TRENT COUNTRY PARK – 2021 TREASURER’S REPORT

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

CHAIRMAN’S AGM REPORT

Over the 20 months since our previous AGM, the Friends have kept pace with developments and worked with council officers and councillors to both conserve and enhance the park. Close contact with Berkeley and other enterprises in the park has also been maintained.

During the pandemic, visitor reliance on the park has been noticeable. Numbers rose sharply in the spirit of “staycationing” and the loss of major events in 2020 was welcomed, as it permitted less disturbed use of the whole park.

Smaller community events also suffered and this is regretted. The Friends strongly support such activities, prominent in other Enfield parks, but need to succeed in ridding Trent of damaging oversized commercial events if local activities are to see the sunlight.

Tree House Friends woodland school grows in strength and is a singular contributor to the park and to the finances of the Friends for which we are most grateful.

Berkeley residents now number over 100 households and more are arriving, and they are welcome in helping the Friends work for improvements in the park.

The café continues to be one of the best presented in the borough and is well appreciated.

Volunteers are the backbone of our work, not just in keeping a close eye on wear and tear across the park but bringing forward ideas for improvements which we can then add to the 3-year revolving plan for the park. We hope to review this again with parks management shortly. In the upcoming election year, we have (some) raised hopes of progress.

On the downside we know that raves are particularly irksome for visitors, and the Friends maintain pressure on parks management and the police to control them. However, by their very nature, they suddenly pop up and bringing resources to bear cannot be guaranteed. The internet has made it much easier for gatherings to appear suddenly and evade the authorities.

Given the processes of local government, the public and parks users in particular have to press for their views to be heard; it’s a battle of the budgets and 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.

Finally, we now face a new Enfield Local Plan, for which the Regulation 18 consultation just closed. It proposes the most radical advance in building across the borough especially into the green belt. If enacted as proposed, the whole area between the park and Enfield town will be consumed by a township of 5000+, and Cockfosters station carpark will be built over with 4 high rise towers. In all a radical reshaping of the landscape, degrading our heritage park, invading the green belt on a big scale, and putting huge pressure on all amenities from education to health and transport. It is not justified and must be recalled for reconsideration. All opposition parties oppose it as does FERAA, CLARA (Cockfosters residents association) and ERW (Enfield Road Watch) Friends will receive updates and are strongly advised to respond when called on.

 PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS: Members are requested earnestly to address concerns or to make their views known directly to the following LBE councillors / officers:

Officers thanked the committee for their work over the past 2 years. The AGM was then closed.

GENERAL MEETING
  1. Commercial events,

Colin Bull, Chair of CLARA, the Cockfosters Local Area Residents Association spoke of the work being done to persuade major events out of the park and neighbourhood, He regretted the losses in the park but also the damage done to the amenities and right to unobstructed movement throughout the neighbourhood on event days. With Covid now adding an overlay of risk for residents, he deplored the council’s refusal to abate or stand down such events in the interest of the borough and neighbourhood. All resident’s associations and Friends agree on this stance and continue to press the case.

Some hope was visible in that damage by 51st State in early August had so ruined the exhibition table that succeeding events had to be cancelled. A review of major events has begun, we hope, supported by local politicians and Bambos Charalambous, the constituency MP. All parties are pressing for uncontrolled and irresponsible operators to be banned from the park, especially as these events deliver no gain to the council, after all management and rectification costs are taken into account.

  1. Friends events. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Friends are finally able to offer some public events and volunteer opportunities in the next couple of months.
  • Our Park – Our Planet – Join Capel Manor’s Diane Morris for a free eco-walk to learn how the park is adapting to climate change and how it is helping to mitigate the problems.  11am Sunday, September 19, 1pm, Sunday September 26.  Meet at the Limes Avenue pond.  The walks last about two hours and are part of Enfield’s Big Green Climate Festival, organised by Enfield Climate Action Forum [EnCAF].
  • Family Nature Sessions – five free sessions run for the Friends by Tree House Friends to introduce families to the flora and fauna of the park.  The sessions are all the same and must be pre-booked at https://www.treehousefriends.co.uk/buy-sessions.  11am on Saturday, September 25, October 2, 16, and 23 in Trent Park.  October 9 in Pymmes Park.  Funded by an Enfield Friends Fund grant.
  • Water Garden workdays – Please join us on October 9 and 10 to catch up with some work in the garden.  We’ll be planting some cherry trees [thank you Enfield in Bloom for the grant], rebuilding the seating area, replacing some path edging and creating a hibernaculum.  Email fotpenfield@gmail.com to let us know you can help and we’ll send more information.
  1. Park condition. Some recovery in the condition of the grounds was noted during the 2020 season in the absence of events, but work

remains to improve drainage and keep ponds and lakes in good condition. Discussions with Enfield Council continue. The Friends press hard for events’ revenues to be reinvested back into the park but suspect there will be nothing left in the kitty once rectification and rebuild of the heritage gate (3rd time struck by oversized contractors vehicles) have been completed. The exhibition table is now cordoned off for treatment and regressing, and will largely remain so for a number of weeks.

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 and Covid – 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.

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.

  1. Campus – Berkeley development

Building is proceeding to plan, is about half completed, and will continue for another 2 years. Snakes Lane junction improvements are finished and the tennis courts are completed. The mansion is taking time to restore owing to structural problems, and dangerous materials. The swimming pool has also run into trouble with delays to reconstruction.

Alan Perkin, representing the museum project, spoke of the work continuing to assemble materials and plans for opening the promised museum in the mansion possibly by early 2023. He reported good progress but faces an unresolved issue over parking for visitors.

Public access to the site has improved as development has advanced, the lawns and approach now show clearly it will be a handsome site and fine place to live. Some concerns remain over visitor behaviour, allowing dogs free rein when they are required to be on one at all times, and treating houses in occupation as estate viewing opportunities, spoiling their rights to privacy. The Friends are concerned that access to the site will not be preserved if visitors ignore notices.

       5.  Park development programme. 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. This report is on line and very readable for all to share and enjoy.

       6. 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.

       7. 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.

       8. Thames Water is operating a one-year upgrade in water supply to the district, with some vehicles passing through the park to its site in the NE. But the organisation of this project has been exemplary with good notification of programme elements. The park will benefit from improved parking facilities, a most welcome by-product, as well as water back up to full pressure in the area.

       9. Ecology – 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.

      10. Water Garden

Maintenance of the Water garden has been patchy this year. 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.  The committee member who has been our Water Garden champion is stepping down and we need a replacement.  If you have some gardening experience and love the Water Garden, please get in touch and we’ll explain what the role involves.

  1. Additional items

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.

We hold that TCP is under-provided with kids’ equipment, given the 1 million annual visitors, and continue to press for more.

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.

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 our website has lots of good information about the park, council contacts, etc.: 

Next Friends meeting

The next meeting is planned for spring 2022.  Agenda details to follow closer to the date.  A winter newsletter will be issued later this year.

Meeting closed 2120 hrs.                                                                                        PWG 12.09.21

Visits: 3748