Report by Peter W Gibbs, Chairman
Report on Proceedings of the General meeting, held at 7.45pm on May 12th 2022 at Christ the King Catholic Church, Oakwood. With added explanatory notes
The chairman welcomed 19 Friends, plus guests – Cllr. Alexander Georgiou and Cllr Ruby Sampson, and Colin Bull, Chair of the Cockfosters Local Area Residents Association (CLARA)
CHAIRMAN’S PROGRESS REPORT
Following the local elections on May 5th, the Friends are expecting and working towards a better and more settled deal for our park.
In this we thank Cllrs Edward Smith, now representing another ward, and Elaine Heyward who has retired, for sustained commitment over many months.
Continuous pressure on LBE officers in light of extensive damage to the park from the curtailed 2021 major events programme has resulted in a cap of 10,000 visitors per event day, vs current 25,000. This is the cap we have campaigned for, reducing the certainty of damage to the park, and disruption to the lives of the many who live close by in Enfield and Barnet. We want this cap made permanent in recognition of the physical limitations of the park, and the certainty that major events make no contribution to the council after all costs are taken into account.
The churned-up exhibition table is showing some signs of recovery after ploughing and re-sowing but has been out of use for over half a year now and will take longer to fully recover; deep ruts remain a trip hazard.
The damaged Cockfosters Gate, now leaning on its wooden leaf, has not been restored after 9 months and it appears the council has taken the insurance payout, with no intention to fully renovate it (for the third time) The council is obdurate in not limiting event vehicles to 7 tonnes, so reducing the risk of further damage to gate and roadways. The ugly safety fencing around the gate is a disgrace and we are pressing for resolution.
The Friends expect the council to conserve and enhance the park, not use it solely for revenue raising – its current policy. We seek a return to the pre-2015 regime when local and community events flourished. Smaller events are a proportionate use for the park, and we have enjoined the council to work with us residents, as in other parks, to promote events with local value.
Close contacts with Berkeley and other enterprises in the park have also been maintained, with this common objective.
TCP is the borough’s premier park, its 413 acres hosting some 1 million visitors a year – 10% of all park visits made across the borough yet the council spends the minimum on maintenance and nothing on capital improvements. Visitor reliance on the park has been sustained post pandemic. Numbers rose sharply in the spirit of “staycationing” and the removal of major events in 2020 was welcomed, as it released several peak visitor weeks for less disturbed use of the whole park.
The 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. The café continues to be one of the best presented in the borough and is well appreciated.
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. Campus members helped the Friends this winter to restore the seating feature in the water garden and lay in new walkway edging boards.
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, a planning tool rather in abeyance of late. We hope to review this again with parks management shortly.
On the downside we know that raves are particularly irksome for visitors and campus residents, 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.
Finally, we must now face a new Enfield Local Plan, currently in consultation. It proposes the most radical advance in building across the borough especially into the green belt east of TCP. If enacted as proposed, the whole area between the park and Enfield town will be consumed by a township of 5000+. This plan has to be opposed by Friends of all parks and any who value our suburban amenities and quality of life.
Cockfosters station carpark is proposed for development by TfL with 4 towers to 14 stories, a massive intrusion overshadowing the park. Colin Bull summarised the excellent ground-breaking work of CLARA along with the Friends and FERAA in mounting a major campaign against the development as inappropriate, damaging to public transport and irrelevant to the housing needs of the locality.
Residents made serious representations to the Secretary of State not to permit the change of use, and he has done so. We are doing our utmost to sustain this decision to save Cockfosters against pressure from Enfield Council who have refused to protect local residents’ interests or promote housing relevant to the many needy families in the borough, here and at Arnos Grove. The Cockfosters development would inevitably damage heritage assets, curtail ease of access to public transport via Park and Ride, and shed commuter parking towards TCP car parks and crowded neighbourhood streets.
CLARA also fronted an appeal in March against TfL’s proposed closure of Arnos Grove station carpark, a similar threat to travellers and community, and another scheme that Enfield council wanted to approve.
Preventing TfL from cashing in on car parks at the expense of our community and park facilities is essential; Oakwood station will be next if we fail, and the whole area will have no public car parking on the northern end of the Piccadilly line, with severe consequences for commuters and mobility impaired alike.
Cllr. Alex Georgiou
Cllr Georgiou outlined his party’s resolve to get a better deal for parks, maintain a cap of no more than 10k visitors per day to major events, and work to ensure commercial activities make a genuine contribution to finances after all expenses.
He also addressed the need to protect the assets of west Enfield from rampant development, whilst advancing schemes that meet local needs realistically.
He warned against the threat from the emerging Local Plan which will come forward again later this year for public consideration. The Friends have rejected the main thrust of the plan and are pressing for revisions based on realistic population growth projections and housing formats, whilst protecting the environment, parks and open spaces.
(post meeting development: Cllr Georgiou has been elected as Tory group Leader for Enfield)
The audience sought clarification on repairs and developments in the park, and expressed continuing worry over raves. The chair confirmed the Friends’ attention to these issues but no breakthroughs were in sight at this time.
Members know that far too few residents bring themselves to write to the officers and councillors who can amend policy if sufficient residents apply pressure. The Committee requests members earnestly to address concerns or to make their views known directly to the following LBE councillors / officers:
- Leader of Enfield Council: email@example.com
- Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability: Cllr.Rick.Jewll@enfield.gov.uk
- Cockfosters Ward local councillors: Cllr.Alessandro.Georgiou@enfield.gov.uk
- Senior Operations Manager for Parks: Marcus.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Enfield council’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/
Otherwise, comments sent to us will all be actioned and directed to the right department.
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 autumn 2022. Agenda details to follow closer to the date. A summer newsletter will be issued later this year.
Meeting closed 2120 hrs. PWG 16.5.22