Friends of Norman Park (FONP), Minutes from the Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 11th April 2018, at 7:30pm at St Luke’s Church, Bromley Common
Present: Jo Hone, Jeremy Townsend, Julie Robinson, James TIllotson, Sandy Goddard, Caroline Stone, Jason Glen, Sue Holland, Meryl Clarke, Anthony Clark, Marc Houghton, Gwyn Floyd, Sarah Jackson, Ian Jackson, Ken Daniel, D Miller, Y Jenkins, T Stoner, Alison Hayes, Robert McIlveen, Ruth Bennett, Mary Stirling
Jo Hone, Chair of the Friends of Norman Park, welcomed everyone to the first Annual General Meeting of the group.
2. Chairs Report
Jo presented the report from the first year of FONP
The Friends of Norman Park officially constituted on 9th September 2017, although the forming of a Friends group was first discussed in an open meeting on 30th June 2016 and then again on 30th March 2017, when an informal committee was formed here – which is why we’re holding our first AGM today.
This past year our volunteer committee has looked like this:
Pherenice Worsey-Buck was Chair until I took over the post in August ‘17
Our Treasurer is Jeremy Townsend
And our Secretary is Kaylee Morris
Our committee members are
* James Tillotson
* Julie Robinson
* Sandy Goddard
* Pherenice Worsey-Buck
* David Allison
* Caroline Stone
We all share a love of Norman Park and neighbouring Elmfield Wood and we wanted to take an active role in improving the park and safeguarding it’s future.
However, we knew it wasn’t just us and we couldn’t do it on our own, so in September last year we set about engaging with park users in our first Friends Meet and Greet event, with the aim to recruit as many members, or Friends, as we could.
Having a signed-up group of actively engaged park users gives much more weight when campaigning and fundraising, plus it’s a great way to keep people involved and informed about what’s happening in the park.
Idverde (who manage the park) lent us a gazebo, we adorned it with home-made bunting, handed out our “[heart] Norman Park” badges and and got chatting to everyone we could pull off the path!
We had over 100 people sign up as Friends that day, many were Parkrunners (we set-up on a Saturday morning at 10am!), but we also had dog walkers, families and local residents – all keen to support our aims.
It being a digital age, we recognise the importance of having a presence online, so we created a website (which went live in September) and revamped our Facebook page. Add to that a lovely new logo and our ‘brand’ was complete.
Our next step was to organise a regular litter-picking and conservation task day. Our first was on 28th October and we have set-up at10am every last Saturday of the month since, now opposite the Mencap Lodge at the Hook Farm end of the park.
We are strongly supported by our idverde Community Manager, Sue Holland, who brings all the litter-picking equipment and leads the various work days – which have included making and installing bird boxes, shrub clearing and coppicing in Elmfield Wood.
The Autumn also saw a group of Princes Trust Students working to revitalise Elmfield Wood, they cleared scrub and litter, as well as the stream, and raised over £200 which they donated to the Friends Group for equipment. We are very grateful to everyone involved.
In January we saw the weekend opening of the Mencap kiosk (which is 9am – 3pm - or whenever the Mencap sails are flying!), which has received a very positive response from park users.
In February we started a consultation on the second stage of playground improvements. Members of the committee handed out questionnaires in the park and we also collected lots online. We are awaiting possible plans and will work together with idverde on the next steps.
Last month I had the pleasure of unveiling a new wooden notice board with a Bromley College Student at the entrance of Elmfield Wood. This sign had been made for us by a group of students, led by idverde, and we are very pleased with the result.
This month it’s all about the installation of a dog poo bag dispenser - yay! Idverde will be fitting it and the Friends group will be responsible for keeping it stocked. So look out for the dispenser near the recycling bins at the Hook Farm car park and feel free to use it!
So, going forward… well, there are lots of things on our wish list!
We have plans to purchase our own gazebo and bin bag hoops to help with litter picking (the glamour!), plus a container to house our equipment (which could have a bug hotel or green wall on it’s sides!).
We also hope to hold small events, such as treasure hunts, a Dog’s Trust community day, nature and family fun days. Events will help promote our Friends group, raise funds and also bring the local community together.
I will end by raising our most pressing issue by far – this is, of course, the lack of public toilets.
We think that in a park of this size (together Norman Park and Elmfield Wood are 55 acres) it is unacceptable that the nearest public toilets are 1.5 – 2 miles away.
Having no toilets, not only limits everyone’s enjoyment of the park, it actively excludes many members of our community from visiting the park at all – and this is something that we are campaigning to change.
Our paper petition to the London Borough of Bromley is here if you would like to have a read – and we would very much appreciate your support by signing it before you leave! There is also a petition online.
We hope that huge public pressure will mean we can start discussions with the council in order to find a way to re-open the toilets, or provide alternative facilities, as a matter of urgency.
Lastly, we would like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to our wonderful Community Manager, Sue Holland, for being so supportive and hands on. As a new group having Sue to advise us and help with all park matters has been absolutely invaluable and I, for one, couldn’t have done it all without her.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Jeremy Townsend, Hon Treasurer, presented the Treasurers Report. Jeremy reported that a bank account had been opened with Metrobank and that the current balance was £1,865. This was mainly made up of donations from Bromley Film, who use the Norman Park car parks from time to time as a base for filming.
Jeremy said there had been minimal expenditure this year.
4. Amendments to Constitution
The proposed amendments to the constitution had been posted on FONP website and paper copies were available at the meeting. Jo spoke through the proposed changes, the most significant of which was the addition of a Social Media Statement (section 4.).
Jo said the FONP were keen to encourage discussion about the park on social media, but felt it was all too easy for it to become a negative forum. She felt that even if a negative post was placed it should always be possible to try and turn this around. The meeting felt that all views should be encouraged and whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinions, no-one should offend the views of others. The purpose of the social media statement was really to ensure all views were heard, directed in a positive way wherever possible and to prevent social media disagreements escalating.
The meeting were asked to vote on the adoption of the amended constitution. All agreed.
5. Election of Committee Members
The current committee introduced themselves to the meeting.
Sandy Goddard is Chair of Whitehall Rec Friends Group and a regular user of Norman Park
James Tillotson is a local resident and regularly walks his dog in the park
Julie Robinson is a local resident and walks regularly in the park
Jeremy Townsend is a local resident and Parkrunner
Caroline Stone is a local resident and also manages Bromley Mencap’s Lodge in Norman Park.
Election of Chair – Jo Hone was happy to stand again as Chair. This was proposed by Sandy Goddard, seconded by Jeremy Townsend and agreed by all present.
Election of Committee – Sandy Goddard, James Tillotson, Julie Robinson, Jeremy Townsend and Caroline were proposed by (Sandy’s husband), seconded by Mr Floyd and agreed by the meeting.
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. Sandy explained the role of the secretary and general committee members. She also went on to say that Friends groups add a lot of value to local parks. They are a very positive step and are able to help to get funding into parks. Friends groups can add value and promote changes around nature, environment and park improvements.
How much does it cost to run the FONP? Very little, Idverde the company that manage the park support the running of the group. Our overheads are minimal ie the URL for the website. We would like to buy a gazebo for our monthly litter picks, but feel it is important that any funds secured are used to improve the park for its wide range of users.
Athletics Track Update - Ken Daniels, Manager of the Athletics Track asked to speak to the meeting about the proposed plans for the track redevelopment. He explained that LBB no longer want to fund the track and that it is in need of redevelopment. Blackheath and Bromley Harriers have come to an agreement with LBB and are about to sign a 125 year lease on the building. There is currently a planning application with the borough for re-development of the site costing £3.3m. Selling the Blackheath Harriers site in Hayes for £2m will help to fund this development. A press release is due to be made this week giving details of the development. It will include a new two storey building with restaurant facilities, an 85m indoor track and a new track. Ken said this would be fantastic for athletics in the area. It is anticipated that the redevelopment will take about 6 months to complete.
Ken confirmed that local schools will still be able to access the facilities and it was important to continue to work with the local community.
A lady asked about the impact this development could have on the Rookery Estate. She asked if planning permission was granted for this, would this enable Rookery Estates to also build upon their land. Ken and Jo confirmed that the track land all belongs to LBB and is not part of the Rookery Estate which neighbours the park. Cllr ? confirmed that the Rookery Estate is not part of the local plan for development and as such will not be affected.
Generally the meeting felt that improvements to sporting facilities was a good thing. Ken said that over 1,000 children had attended the track in the last year.
How do I become a friend of Norman Park? Jo explained that just to ‘like’ a comment on Facebook does not make you a FONP. Your details have to be logged and saved as part of our membership system. Details can be completed on-line or paper forms were available at the meeting.
Is the Constitution on the Website? Yes it is, and copies were also available at the meeting.
Are there plans to improve the entrance at Hook Farm Road? This was raised at one of the initial meetings of FONP. There is no proper footpath and pedestrians have to walk in the road, to walk around the park gates. This road is very busy and so it can be difficult to navigate safely. FONP Committee have been looking into this and are trying to establish who owns the road, so an approach can be made.
What is being done about the drug use in Elmfield Woods? The entrance to the woods by the bus stop has been cleared in conjunction with Bromley College and this seems to have made a big difference to the littering and anti-social behaviour. Sandy advised that any issues should be flagged with the local police and that Ward Security can be contacted at any time for assistance with issues. Their contact details are on the LBB website and will be added to the noticeboards in Norman for ease.
Has the RSPCA been contacted about the badgers in Elmfield Wood? As a friends group this does not fall within our remit, but it was suggested that the lady contact the RSPCA direct to discuss further.
Any Other Business
There being no further business, Jo thanked everyone for coming along and closed the meeting.