Minutes of Meeting, May 2011

FRIENDS OF MARYON AND MARYON WILSON PARKS

Minutes of meeting, May 2011

Venue: St Thomas’s Church Hall

Date: Thursday May 5th 2011

Present (27): Tim (chair), Steve(secretary), Gulle  (treasurer), Edna , Elen , Roger , Paul, Mickey, Sarah, Andrew, Jason, Pat, Nigel, Ronnie , Liz, Steve, Carol, Sheila, Ashleigh, Evelyn, Hazel, John, Catherine, Christine, Mike and Crystal, Cllr John Fahy.

Apologies: Sarah, Alison, Claire.

CAMPAIGN SPECIAL

1. Campaign report:

Claire and Ali were unfortunately unable to be present. Edna reported on behalf of STAMP (Save The Animals (in) Maryon (Wilson) Park). There were now some 1,770 online signatures and 3,797 Facebook members. Sheila and Edna had collected more than 1,200 paper signatures and were aiming for up to 10,000 overall to present to the Council by the end of the year. They requested volunteers to collect signatures for tour days of the Animal Care Centre on Mondays; Catherine agreed to help Edna at the final Charlton Athletic home match of the season [UPDATE: when many more names were added, with good wishes for success from many supporters]. A child at Thorntree School had written to the Queen and received an acknowledgment.

2. Campaign news from the Friends

Tim was compiling a day-to-day blog for the website with latest news. There had been recent publicity in the Westcombe News (front-page lead item), a double-page spread in The Wharf and also the Charlton Grapevine. Unfortunately one or two publications had given the impression that the Animal Care Centre had been saved, but this was not the case.

At this point Cllr Fahy arrived and said he was “relaxed” about the position and did not think the ACC would close. “Our intention is not to close it but to seek alternative ways of managing it,” he said. The option mentioned was a community trust, with the Council maintaining ownership. He cited Mudchute Farm as an example of a trust model in which all elements were sponsored. There had also been discussions about a mobile café in the park this summer. Cllr Fahy added that the park as a whole needed new investment, for populating the animal pens, upgrading the teaching facilities and toilets; although Elen, a local teacher, said she felt the teaching block was perfectly adequate. He then added that if the Council felt sufficient progress was being made towards finding a financial solution, he suspected they would extend the deadline for closure by a year. A strategy would have to be in place by the summer.

Under some hostile questioning, Cllr Fahy then raised a number of issues, including

  1. School visits were free, although Woodlands for example charged £60 per class;
  2. Riding for the Disabled, he said, cost £30,000 a year in addition to the £43,000 annual Animal Care Centre running costs already given by the council;
  3. Hadlow College, Tonbridge was coming into the borough and would be offering apprenticeships in subjects like horticulture;
  4. The ACC could not continue as it was and would deteriorate without further investment.

3. Website and Facebook

Jason said the website had been updated with campaign news and was proving very useful.

Please follow the Friends’ website for further news and developments: www.friendsofmaryonparks.org

The Friends’ meeting continued, with 24 members present:

Minutes of previous meeting: Accepted.

Matters arising: Cycle stands had been put up as promised in Maryon Wilson (by the old toilets) and Maryon Park (by the old café). They could easily be moved if better sites were found.

MP Community Food Growing Project: Paul reported that an excellent job of clearing the proposed site had been done. Mickey said a gate would be needed. The Greenwich Development Agency can offer a chainsaw. There was a lot of Japanese knotweed which cannot be touched at present as that would risk spreading it. Paul had written an article for local residents’ newsletters and also visited Westcombe Park allotments. There is to be another working party on Saturday May 14th at 10am, all volunteers warmly welcomed.

Feedback from Clear-Up days:

There had been a successful clear-up on the first Saturday in April. It was pointed out that clearing of brambles along the Woolwich Road had only been half finished, apparently because the workers ran out of time. It was suggested that it was time for Jeremy Shearmur of the Council to undertake another walkabout with us to pinpoint work required. ACTION: Steve to contact Jeremy.

Next Clear-Up Day: Saturday June 4th, meet 10am at the Flamsteed Road entrance to MWP.

Tree Walk Project:

Nigel recorded his thanks to Joe Woodcock, the Borough arborist, who had been very helpful on a tree walk round Maryon Wilson Park. A provisional route has been planned and it will be possible to download the leaflet and the walk from the website as well as a mobile phone version.

Bats:

Catherine reported that she and Gulle had signed up for a training workshop on how to lead a bat walk. These are best done at sunrise (!). Help had been offered from the Greenwich Forum, which has purchased 6 bat detectors.

Birds:

Andrew Donkin had contacted Patricia, a keen local bird-watcher, who conducts bird walks in Greenwich Park and was prepared to do one in our local parks, including Gilbert’s Pit. She would do a recce in May with a view to a walk when the trees were a little more bare in September.

Annual Open Day in Maryon Wilson Park:

Saturday May 21st was this year’s date, from 10am to 4pm. Gulle compiled a rota of volunteers for our stall; plants, bric a brac, books, CDs/DVDs and good quality toys all welcome for sale. Catherine and Gulle would compile their annual quiz. ACTION: Steve to contact the Mayor to confirm her attendance at our stall.

Treasurer’s Report: Balance £692.11 plus the grant of £2,650 for the tree walk. The bank had paid princely sum of 12pence interest. Petty cash of £5.1p after topping up the mobile phone by £10.

Friends’ Website News:

There was now a link to the website on the STAMP Facebook page.

Correspondence/Emails received:

There is a Greenwich Wildlife Advisory Group meeting on July 14th at 7pm. The London Green Spaces Friends Network meets at City Hall on May 9th (6pm) and has a conference in Tottenham on May 21st. There is a Love Our Parks picnic on July 31st. All details available from Gulle.

A letter from Windsor Castle suggested that Kew Archives could possibly hold any royal charter with details of covenants about keeping deer in Maryon Wilson Park. The Green Chain Walk offered support for the STAMP campaign and said 233,000 walkers per year pass through on the Green Chain Walk.

Greenwich Parks Forum report:

Gulle will attend the meeting on May 12th.

Bids and funding:

Carol arrived just in time to update us on the Charlton Estate reminiscence project, being funded by a grant of £39,000 from Your Heritage and £2,000 from Viscount Gough. It was intended to cover the past 100 years, so as to take in World War I. Twenty volunteers would be trained in interview techniques and anyone interested should contact Carol. Just before the Olympics next summer there will be a two-week exhibition in Charlton House. A website should soon be available on which memories and information can be uploaded.

Date of next meetings:

Thursday July 14th and Thursday September 15th, both 7.15 for 7.30, probably at St Thomas’s Church Hall (venue to be confirmed).

Steve Tongue, Secretary