Friends of Norman Park (FONP), Minutes from the Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 24th April 2018, at 7:30pm at St Luke’s Church, Bromley Common
Present: Jo Hone (Chair), Jane Myles (Princes Trust), Marc Houghton, Gwyn Floyd, Tony Clark, Cllr Graham Arthur, Sarah Jackson, Jason Glen, Sue Holland (Idverde), Caroline Stone (Bromley Mencap), Pherenice Worsey-Buck, James Tillotson (FONP), Sandy Goddard (FONP), Ian Jackson (FONP), Brian Waddell (Chair, Hook Farm Allotments), Penny Mead (Idverde)
Apologies were received from Jeremy Townsend (Treasurer), Julie Robinson (FONP) and Felicity Hone (FONP).
Jo Hone, Chair of the Friends of Norman Park, welcomed everyone to the Annual General Meeting.
2.Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes had been shared prior to the meeting, and copies were available at the meeting. There were no matters arising from last year’s AGM minutes and they were agreed as an accurate record.
3. Chairs Report
Jo presented the report from the first year of FONP.
“Since last year we have continued to hold community litter picks and conservation work days on the last Saturday of every month, starting at 10am.
Numbers of volunteers vary, but we always get very positive feedback from everyone who takes part.
As well as supplying litter pickers and gloves we have also invested in litter picking hoops this year – these hold open the bin bags which makes the activity much easier, especially on windy days!
Between May and August last year we experimented with moving the location of our meeting point for litter picking and conservation days to the Hook Farm end of the park, opposite the Mencap Lodge.
This location is a better place to access Elmfield Wood where most of the conservation work is carried out, plus it was nearer an excellent coffee supply via Bromley Mencap’s kiosk!
However, we found that we had much less footfall there, plus it is quite windy and therefore a much colder area, so we moved back to near pavilion 1, the Hayes Lane end of the park, for the litter pick and we now meet at Elmfield Wood field gate for conservation tasks.
We continue to gain new Friends, or members, via our website and by signing people up at our monthly conservation days. Having a large group of members helps enormously when it comes to applying to external funders for projects, and it gives us a much louder voice when campaigning for park improvements. We now have 160 Friends and 1027 likers on Facebook.
We have four main projects on the go at the moment…
The playground improvement project is on going from last year.
The new equipment and installation is estimated to cost around £40k.
We hope to acquire funds via a grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust who's focus is on inspiring people who are usually quite sedentary to become more active.
To encourage all park users to use the space we have incorporated a trim trail in the proposed design.
Since we took on the project, extra maintenance costs have been introduced by Bromley Council. This means we will now have to commit to raising funds to cover the costs associated with any new equipment installed, however these will not be covered by external funders. The maintenance costs for this project are now estimated at £12k, which brings the overall costs to £52k. We are hoping Bromley Council’s Communities Fund will help us cover this.
We are currently working with Bromley College and Bromley Mencap to create a Peace Garden on a 20x10 meter plot of land adjacent to Bromley Mencap Lodge at the Hook Farm end of the park.
As the park is flat and expansive and lacks colour or formal planting, we wanted to create an inviting garden that the whole community can enjoy.
There will be an emphasis on sensory planting - calm colours and a variety of textures and scents throughout the year.
On going maintenance and upkeep of the garden will be partially the responsibility of the park's management contractors, currently idverde, and Bromley College who will recruit volunteers to regularly work in the garden. Mencap students and the Friends Group will also take on ad hoc garden maintenance tasks, which we hope will instil a real sense of community and shared ownership of the space.
Storage facilities! Since we badly need somewhere to store our equipment we hope to acquire a shipping container and position it on the hard standing opposite the 'Cow Shed' at the Hook Farm end of the park. We intend to camouflage it by painting it green and potentially use willow to disguise it, as well as create an environment for wildlife. We are in the rather drawn out and expensive process of applying for planning permission, but we hope to have a decision within the next three months.
And last, but of course by no means least, our toilet campaign!
Last year we launched a petition to re-open the public toilets which have been closed in Norman Park since May 2012.
Just for clarity, this is our stance on the matter:
Lack of facilities severely limits the time park users have to enjoy this important green space and excludes many from visiting at all (such as the elderly, disabled people, children and pregnant women).
Using the toilet is a basic human need and we would argue therefore that public toilets should be a basic human rite.
We think it is a travesty that the nearest public toilets are 1.5 – 2 miles away, especially given the park’s size and user groups’ needs. Being outside in green spaces is proven to improve mental and physical health, so ensuring everyone can enjoy the park is our priority.
We collected over 500 signatures on paper and there are currently 573 online. The petition was submitted to Bromley Council on 2nd April and we are awaiting a response. There are a number of ways to re-open the toilets and we are keen to work with the council to find the best solution. We will of course keep everyone updated on our progress.
4. Treasurer’s Report
Jeremy was unable to attend the meeting, so Jo presented his report.
"2018 was a quiet year in terms of income and expenditure. Total receipts were £223 and expenditure of £100 was incurred resulting in a net income surplus of £113.
During the year we received the £950 that we were owed at the beginning of the year - this combined with the £113 net surplus meant that the cash balance increased from £915 at the end of 2017 to £1975 at the end of 2018
During 2019 we have received a further £315 and incurred expenses of £13 resulting in a current cash balance of £2,277."
Sue Holland advised the meeting that following the re-tendering, Idverde had been awarded the contract to continue to manage Bromley’s parks for a further 8 years with the option of extending for a further 8 years. She said that the contract is closely monitored by the local authority. There are additional aspects to the new contract so Idverde are mobilising their resources to cover their new responsibilities.
Sue said how much the parks teams appreciated the support of the friends groups and volunteers. They enabled them to achieve so much more in the maintenance and development of the parks.
Sue spoke about the various projects within Elmfield Woods and Norman Park and the support Idverde can give to groups via training. Work days in the park are publicised on the noticeboards – winter tasks tend to be about coppicing and hedge laying and summer tasks tend to be more about surveys. Everyone is welcome to these sessions.
Sue and the team are planning works to broaden the diversity of the tress within the park and woodlands, to encourage a greater range of wildlife and plants.
Bromley Conservation Volunteers have also done a lot of work in the park, with hedge laying projects and the removal of old tree stumps in Elmfield woods to make a better pathway. They have also installed two new benches.
Horse passes – a scheme was developed to enable horse riders to come through the park to access the private woodland area. Those wishing to use the scheme have to register and follow a specific route. The scheme is self monitoring and seems to be working well for all park users.
Sue is hoping to arrange a bat walk later in the year.
Sue explained that she works as part of the Countryside Team and is responsible for the woodlands and allotments, and Penny Read is the Community Manager responsible for Norman Park. Jo said we are fortunate to have two representatives from Idverde supporting us in the park.
Sue thanked everyone for all of their help on the work days throughout the year. Jo thanked Sue, and said that the committee felt very well supported by Sue and the team at Idverde.
6. Amendments to Constitution
There were no amendments to be made to the constitution this year.
7. Election of Committee Members
The current committee are:
Jo Hone (Chair), Jeremy Townsend (Treasurer), Sandy Goddard, Julie Robinson, James Tillotson, Caroline Stone, Felicity Hone and Ian Jackson.
Jason Glen volunteered to join the committee. Jo was happy to stand again as Chair, and Jeremy as Treasurer. All other committee members were happy to stand again.
Pherence Worsey-Buck proposed the new committee and Gwyn Floyd seconded it.
Jo said we were looking to expand the committee and that if anyone was interested in joining to speak to her or one of the other committee members.
8. Princes Trust
Jane spoke about the Princes Trust project that she manages at Orpington College. The programme is for young people aged 16-25 years who are not in employment, education or training. It is a 12 week programme with students designing a project which will benefit their local community as part of their course. Jane hoped to work further with the Friends Group, Bromley Mencap and Idverde in the coming year.
9. Any Other Business
Pherenice commented that the new hedgerow is looking fantastic and that the park is looking loved after everyone’s hard work. Gwyn Floyd said the views across the park are now improved too.
Jo was asked about the development of the track. Ian was able to advise that a new track is being laid in August, but plans for the redevelopment of the buildings are still awaiting approval.
Jo advised that the potholes in the car park are being repaired by Amey.
Pherenice mentioned the bumpy pathway at the Hayes Lane end of the park. This tarmac has lifted due to tree roots. Sue said this was being investigated and teams were trying to work out the best way to smooth the path without damaging the trees.
The possible sewage leak in the park was raised. Jo said it was being investigated but the more people who reported it on ‘fix my street’ would help to prioritise a repair.
There was no other business, so Jo thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and closed it at 9pm.