Friends of Trent Country Park

Minutes of the Friends May 23 2023 public meeting

Minutes of the Friends May 23 2023 public meeting


Report by Peter W Gibbs, Chairman

Report on Proceedings of General meeting, held at 7.30pm on May 23rd 2023 at Southgate Compton Cricket Club, Chalk Lane, Barnet. With added explanatory notes. 

Guest speaker: Colin Bull, Chair CLARA

Audience – 32 members


The chairman welcomed all and enthused over the lovely spring in the Park, before outlining the work of the Friends’ committee in pressing for enhancement and better maintenance of park assets.

The value of the park and all the other open spaces in Enfield could not be more significant – large development schemes are afoot and each expansion of the borough’s population (currently 333,000 and projected to rise to 400,000 by 2039 with another 25,000 homes) means an even greater reliance on open space for health, recreation and community cohesion.

Enfield council has steadily removed support from parks, despite issuing assurances that open space is valued. Assets have languished and maintenance fallen well into arrears. The council has endeavoured to actually earn revenues from larger events in parks, principally TCP, to cover maintenance of open spaces, but has failed – mainly due to the inadequacy of park assets for major events, and a lack of commercial skills within LBE to control operators.

Friends of TCP, on behalf of all park users (around 1 million visits pa) have always supported community events serving local audiences, operated on a scale suitable for parks. LBE has purposely ignored the physical constraints, has never undertaken a professional study to establish the actual safe carrying capacity of parks, the impact on neighbouring communities and has pushed on regardless.

The Friends have continuously presented to the council the fact that during the licensing process, a semi-judicial undertaking, promoters have agreed willingly to all constraints and controls, only on the day to cast them aside. LBE has no means to ensure license conditions. are actually observed, so visitors and neighbours alike suffer. This is the essence of unsustainable process.

Discussions with Enfield Council continue with the aim of progressing the list of items identified by the Friends that are required to keep TCP in former condition. Councillors are sympathetic but none of that translates into action. Proceeds from events are inadequate to offset wear and tear and quite a lot of damage. The heritage Cockfosters gate has been struck a fourth time because LBE officers will not take measures to safeguard it. Limes Ave is potholed over much of its length and, despite agreement to attend to this, nothing has happened. There is no evidence that parks have a champion within Enfield council – parks have no voters so no one really cares, excepting our ward councillors.

The council is considering widening the wire gate south of the heritage gate to permit large events vehicles to enter and traverse the park on a prepared surface. We oppose this an inappropriate, damaging and costly beyond LBE’s resources. The notion that events will cover the cost is totally unsustainable since events make no net contribution even now.

The Council has not withdrawn its financial objective, namely to move the whole parks estate on to 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 have proposed contributing more by way of volunteer hours. We are ready to do more if the council can throw off its lethargy and take a positive view. Our list of further suggestions has been tabled and will be pressed.

In view of the council’s lack of response, the chair asked all Friends to undertake to write direct to officers and controlling councillors when they spot matters needing attention in the park, cc The Friends. By writing in twice a year, and boosting the committee’s efforts, we hope to make the public’s views plain to LBE and press for improvements. 

Events Programme (Colin Bull of CLARA)

Residents had campaigned for 7 years to bring commercial events in TCP under control. This year LBE restrained promoters to no more than 10k attendees per day, no substantive reason given. Partly as a result, no major events took place this year, only two of about 5000 attendees each – Ghana and Mauritius. But the council will not clarify its intentions for 2023 onwards.

Efforts to control events traffic and parking and the impact on the area, including Barnet, have not been successful in the past and continue to be a matter of consultation between CLARA / Friends and officers from the two adjacent boroughs. However, there is a limit to the additional costs promoters could bear. Nobody wants to chase away suitable promoters with disproportionate costs. CLARA is working to find a suitable way forward.

Local Development Plan (Colin Bull of CLARA) and impact on TCP 

West Enfield is slated to bear the brunt of development under the draft Local Development Plan. Patterns of car usage are changing under pressure by TfL which advocates less use of private vehicles and is moving to build on station carparks, to 14 story elevations which will impact the locality and park, being visible for miles. This proposal is current arrested by the Secretary of State at the Department for Transportation who has refused change of use permission for the station carpark, but TfL are using all means to get this lifted, which all parties in the area are fighting to prevent.

Enfield RoadWatch was set up 8 years ago to resist unwarranted development of green belt along Enfield Road and expanded its mission to the protection of all the borough’s green belt. It has now joined with other groups to resist the transformative proposals announced in Enfield Council’s draft Local Development Plan. The key objections surround the huge development proposed for Vicarage Farm (Enfield Road), Hadley Wood, and Crews Hill, amounting to over half the 25,000 new houses proposed by 2039. If approved and built, Enfield would be transformed and the quality of life for current residents substantially threatened. The LDP is now approaching Stage 19, following a cursory public consultation 2 years ago. It is likely to return to the table shortly, when its expansionist provisions will be confirmed, prior to the whole plan being put to an Inspector for ratification or, if we are successful in our opposition, modification to more reasonable objectives and less damage to the character of the borough and the infrastructure required to maintain quality of life for all.

All groups including Friends reject gross exploitation of the Green Belt as not called for. Re-working “brownfield” sites across the borough, fulfilling regeneration opportunities in wards with older less efficient properties, is the obvious first choice.

Vice-Chair’s report  [Carol Fisk] 

The Friends have a moratorium on proposing new projects for the park because of lack of cooperation from the parks department and lack of appropriate maintenance for projects conducted over the past several years.  A reorganisation of the department is under way, as part of a wider reorganisation of the council, and we remain hopeful of a more productive working relationship in the future.

In the meantime, the Friends receive regular comments and complaints from the public [many because people get no response from the council] and we duly pass those along and press for remedies.  The current list includes:

  1. Poaching of specimen fish from the lakes and fishing without a licence in general
  2. The cafe:  mobile unit became fixed shed with no planning permission; continued use of plastic; litter and dirt; high prices and surly staff.
  3. Wildlife abuse:  bread and non-edible objects thrown into ponds.  [This issue is more widespread.  For instance, the male swan was injured at Boxers Lake and someone let their dog kill new goslings in the wildlife area at Oakwood Park.]
  4. Cyclists racing and acting without due consideration of others.  Also earlier this year a couple of complaints about the unofficial BMX trail in the woods.
  5. Lack of maintenance to paths, steps and bridges making some unsafe, especially for less able walkers. This includes Limes Avenue, which is very potholed. Complaint that braille trail is not maintained
  6. Tree felling during nesting season.
  7. Lack of response from parks department and council in general so people contact us about events, cemeteries and more.
  8. Dog walkers having more than the permitted 6 per person
  9. Raves and ASB allowed to continue unchecked

Attendees added to this list the fact that some people are camping in the park and that there need to be signs in the Water Garden informing people that dogs must be on leads in that area.

Fisk also reported that the grazing programme is going ahead with a small herd of red poll cattle arriving soon to maintain the acid grassland habitat in the southwest corner of the park.  More info:

Volunteering with The Friends

Friends of Trent Park would welcome more volunteers to assist in all sorts of work in the park to enhance and improve the facilities and their presentation to the public. Some help with email writing and attending meetings to press our case is always valuable, 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.  If you are interested in joining the committee, please let us know as two of our members have recently resigned for personal reasons.

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.:

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

Next Friends meeting

The next meeting is planned for Nov 2023, which will also be our AGM.  A further newsletter will be issued this autumn.

Meeting closed 21.10hrs.                                                                                        PWG 24.5.23