Minutes of AGM 2016

Minutes of 15th Annual General Meeting, 2016
Venue: New Charlton Community Centre
Date: Thursday November 10th 2016

Present (15): Christine (chair), Steve (secretary), Gulle (treasurer), Jason, John, Liz, Steve, Catherine, Mickey, Alan, Pino, Ronnie, Nigel, Jane, Matthew.

1. Welcome: Christine welcomed members to the 15th AGM. We were delighted to be joined by our local MP Matthew Pennycook.

2. Apologies: Ashleigh, Paul, Andrew, Chrissie, Evelyn.

3. Minutes of previous meeting: Accepted.

4. Fifteenth Anniversary: Steve looked back on the history of the Friends group, starting with a Public Consultation meeting at Charlton House in June 2001 and the Friends’ first meeting at the same venue on November 23rd 2001, at which four of tonight’s attendees had been present.
Some of the issues raised at both meetings were notably similar to those continuing today.
Main aims set out were:
1) taking an interest in the parks and monitoring Council management
2) encouraging greater usage of the parks
3) campaigning for a permanent parkkepper
4) surveying flora and fauna and disseminating information about them

5. Chair’s Annual Report: Main points:
Monthly Clear Up on the first Saturday of each month, which has diversified a little into doing some work as well as litter-picking. A gazebo had been purchased and we now offered hot drinks and biscuits to volunteers. New members had joined in.

Bi-monthly meetings at Gulle’s house had had an average of 13/14 present.

Community Garden has gone from strength to strength (see below).

The past year : Daffodil and bluebell planting took place over a couple of very cold days in November 2015. Results from the daffodils were good. On 5th November 2016 we planted 500 daffodils to add to 500 already planted by Rod and Lesley by the water-meadow.

Several trees were lost over the winter and early spring, including two mature black poplars in Maryon Wilson that we had warned were in a dangerous condition.
In March we heard that key parks management staff were to be made redundant – a letter of thanks was sent to Jeremy Shearmur for his work over the years and we welcomed David Willoughby as our new Council contact.

We also heard that the Council would not be running the Open Day in MWP this year but they hoped the Friends could take a leading role in this instead. Due to the very late notice, this was not possible but we hope to be able to consider an open day next year.

In June the Council formally voted to take back the running of the Animal Park – we will be monitoring this over the coming year.
The group was represented at the borough’s annual Great Get Together and Armed Forces Day Festival on 25 June, and the Big Lunch in Maryon Park organised by members of the local Community Hub.

Maryon Park was inspected anonymously for a Green Flag and we were pleased that the Green Flag status was confirmed.

The Council obtained funding from London Geodiversity and Natural England towards installation of steps in Gilbert’s Pit, which allow visitors to see the strata in this SSSI at close quarters in a safe manner. Two open days have been held, one for geologists and Friends members in June and another on 23rd October for the wider community. Both were well attended and positive feedback has been received about the talks given.

The issues of drone use in the parks has been raised on several occasions and the Council confirmed it is not allowed.
The derelict toilet block in MWP has been brought again to the Council’s notice. A number of suggestions have been made as to the best way to deal with this site but it remains unresolved.

The latest walkabout identified more areas of MWP that have gradually become overgrown and these are gradually being cut back to re-instate former vistas. Positive feedback has been received from local people.

Work by Rod and Lesley on the ‘Water Meadow’ has continued apace, opening up this entire area. Wild flower seed has been provided by the council and sown, along with 500 daffodils in that area. Steve and Liz have been working to rid the Triangle area near the animal pens of brambles.

Some paths in the park have been improved – in particular the main Green Chain path through Maryon Park – but funding for path repairs in Maryon Wilson has not been available.
There was no news on either the green bridge across Woolwich Road, which we supported, or a cycle highway through MWP, which we opposed, presumably because of financial constraints.
Christine thanked all those involved in work throughout the year and in particular Steve and Gulle and all members of the committee.

6. Treasurer’s report: After expenditure including a gazebo, fencing for the ‘Triangle’, hall hire and photocopying of info flyer, the balance on October 31st was £782.72 with petty cash of £22.11.

7. Community Garden Annual Report: Tim and Edna’s report said the Garden continues to thrive. It has been nominated as a ‘Flagship Garden’ for Capital Growth, the organisation promoting community food growing in London. So far this year it has harvested £180 worth of produce, the equivalent to 422 meals.

New features include an orchard fruit cage, a wormery for fertilizer, a terraced wild flower bank, a pizza oven and a pop-up shop, installed by Alan, for Open Days. Further improvements have also been made to the Children’s Area including a gate, and an illustrated “Many Varied Hands Create a Greener Land” mural with children’s handprints. Alan continues to improve the site and his maintenance work is invaluable.

The Forest School, an outdoor teaching and learning space, has a new rustic classroom shelter, a newly installed water butt and extra bird feeders. The space is being used by Windrush School for early years Forest School classes and for Outdoor Art Sessions and Workshops run by Simon Coats from the Community Outdoor Art Therapy Service.
The Garden is open to the public during volunteer sessions on Wednesday afternoons and the afternoon of the first Saturday in the month.

This year there were four special Open Days, the Big Dig (April), the Big Lunch (June), Grow Well, Feel Well Day (July), and the Urban Harvest (September) that was featured in the local press and attracted 120 visitors. A ‘Friends of the Garden’ scheme has been introduced for people who may not want a growing plot but who want to support the Garden and enjoy access.

The Community Garden has successfully applied for Grants from the Greenwich Friends of Parks Forum (Orchard Fruit Cage), the London Tree and Woodland Trust (Forest School Shelter) and the TESCO ‘Bags for Help’ scheme (New Gate and Fencing).

Future plans include upgrading the fencing and main gate, providing a shelter for the children’s area and the addition of a polycarbonate greenhouse, plus further art work in the Garden and the Children’s Area.

The next Open Day will be a ‘Family Christmas Grotto’ event with a plant sale on Saturday 3rd December 2.00 – 4.00 pm. The AGM is on Tuesday 14th March 2017.

8. Election of officers and committee: Christine, Steve and Gulle volunteered to continue for another year and were unopposed. Mickey joined the committee, which now comprises: Christine, Steve, Gulle, Catherine, Jason, John, Liz, Mickey.

9. Projects in the Parks: Appreciation was expressed to Rod and Lesley for all the work they had done in the past year, which included removing the whole of the concrete plinth and sowing grass there; also to Liz and Steve for their work on the Triangle. A survey had been done as to which was the most popular day and time for the monthly Clear Ups and Saturday at 10am remained the most popular.
A system of monthly jobs was being undertaken, including leaf clearing and bulb planting over the past two months.

10. Future of the Animal Park: As mentioned earlier, the Council had taken back responsibility for running the Animal Park. MWAP Ltd is being dissolved and never intended to form a separate Friends group. There was a possibility of a link-up with Hadlow (Agricultural) College and we had been invited to send a representative on a visit there this month with Council officials, which was postponed at very short notice. We are awaiting a new date.
It has been suggested that the number of animals is being deliberately run down.
Matthew, our MP, is particularly interested in the future of the Animal Park and will seek some information for us.

11. Parks Forum survey: Gulle had undertaken a survey of how other Friends Groups in the borough operate, which will be submitted to the Parks Forum.
Of 12 groups who replied, number of members varies from 24 to 376 (ours is 193). Five out of 12 have subscriptions from £2-£5. Half have committee meetings only, plus an AGM. Eight have a newsletter . Six meet weekly and three of them monthly. Six meet in a home, three in a free Council venue and two in a café or pub.
The next Forum meeting is on December 1st at Woolwich Town Hall (7.30pm)
In the ensuing discussion, Jason suggested concentrating on our Facebook page (Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks) for information and publicity.

12. Any other business:
Tim and Edna had attended the Council’s Green Infrastructure Survey meeting and reported that a Consultant’s report had rated Maryon Park “high quality and high value” whereas Maryon Wilson was “low quality and low value”. After Tim questioned this, one of the consultants said they had “made a mistake” as they had not included the Animal Park. The next day the Council’s Rob Goring telephoned to say the Council did not consider MWP to be of low value. He said the report, which will be published at a later date, needed some fine tuning.

A horticulture course from Hadlow College is available free to members of Friends groups. We have sent a separate email to all members.

A member of the public reported a dead tree near McCall Crescent and also yellow fungi, which we have sent pictures of to the Council.
Website hits were 66 in September and 62 in October.

13. Date of next meeting and Clear-Ups: We will meet at Kinveachy Gardens on Thursday January 12th at 7.30pm. NB: This was originally going to be January 19th but has now been changed. All welcome. The next Clear-Ups are on the first Saturday of each month as usual: December 3rd and January 7th. Join us at any time from 10am-midday, at the gazebo (north end of Kinveachy Gardens).

Steve, (Secretary)