1. What has happened in the Park in the last year?
a. Gate pillar
I reported last year that two initiatives to help avoid further damage to the gate pillars had yet to be implemented. I am pleased to say that both have now been completed. Sacrificial bollards and raised pavement areas have been installed to emphasise that the route into the park is not an extension of Shakespeare Ave. At long last, the school have removed Alexandra Park from their address.
b. Park Locking
The council have reintroduced locking the park at night. This was supported by the Friends as a useful initiative to deter vandalism and fly tipping.
c. Cliff path.
The roots of the cliff path hedge, removed in May 2015, were removed by grubbing out or chemical treatment in the autumn. The council provided several hundred spring bulbs, which, with the invaluable assistance of Paul Pearce, the Friends planted at our Spring Event in April this year.
Two trees further trees were lost in the last year. One had to be removed because it was diseased and the other was blown down. Six new trees were planted recently by the council. Two were to replace the trees lost in 2014/15, two to replace trees lost last year and two new ones, to be paid for by the Friends.
e. Green Flag status
Alexandra Park lost its Green Flag in 2014. I am pleased to say that it regained it in 2015 and there is now a flag pole flying the Green Flag. The council have applied again this year. There will not be a pre-arranged formal inspection so we need to help keep the park looking at its best.
f. Play equipment
The ‘noughts and crosses’ has been replaced and some new safety matting installed.
2. Friends’ Achievements
a. Picnic in the Park
The 2015 Picnic in the Park was just before last year’s annual public meeting. However, the financial results were not then known. As will be seen in the financial report, they were the best ever. Judy Boyd is currently working hard to organise this years event on 3 July. As always additional help and volunteers for gate duty are urgently required.
b. Wild flower beds
With considerable hard work by the volunteers on the preparation and a successful spring event to do the sowing, the two wild flower areas have again been developed in the park. These are coming into flower and beginning to look attractive.
c. Community action days
Community action days have been held at least once every month, come rain, ice or shine for the last year. These sessions are well supported but of course with more people we could achieve more. As well as litter picking and preparing the wild flower beds, work has continued to maintain the two stands of trees between the toilet block and the Bowls Club, control the growth of brambles and other vegetation along the cliff path and maintain the chicanes.
d. Bird boxes
As in previous years, all the boxes were all cleaned out and their fixings checked in the autumn. Our thanks to Andrew Lawrence who organised this, to Gary for assistance in the maintenance. Our thanks also to John Yates who continues to give advice and encouragement.
Besides Green Flag, there were two awards last year –
- A four-star-rating of the park in the South West in Bloom Awards.
- A level 4: Thriving Award in the RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme.
Both these achievements helped Bath win Gold in the national Britain in Bloom competition.
a. Management plan for the park
A new management plan for the park was developed by the parks department for the 2016 Green Flag application. This contains a number of possible initiatives that we were not consulted about (such as a new path from the entrance to the play area, a social play space and installation of barbecue friendly picnic tables). We have expressed our concerns. At present there is no funding for these items but further consultation has been promised in the event that funding is found.
One item in the plan that we strongly support is the improvement of the main viewing area. Funding for this may be available from the Beechen Cliff improvement fund and a consultant is currently working on an outline scheme. The log sort of viewing table would be included in the plan.
One other item in the plan that could go ahead is improved signage at the entrances to the park.
We await other infrastructure repairs such as replacement of the ‘kick rails’ and repairs to the cliff path fence.
b. Ecology plan
Last year I reported on the ecology plan that the parks department had developed in 2014. Some of this has now been implemented, such as reduced mowing of some areas, planting of the cliff path and two new trees. The plan now needs updating and development to guide future work by the council and the Friends.
c. Beechen Cliff School 5 year development plan
Beechen Cliff School produced a 5-year development plan last year. Following consultation several elements are being reconsidered but a new plan has yet to be published. Some elements, such as a rebuilt pavilion, are going ahead, as funding can be obtained. The effect on the Park of the emerging plans needs to be carefully monitored.
d. Parking on the park
The level of non-park visitor parking continues to grow. In early 2016, the council conducted a survey of residents’ views on parking controls in Bear Flat but to date no results have been publicised, nor is there any indication of whether this will be taken forward.
e. Future of the Friends
The Friends (with its fore-runner the Forum) has now been going for 6 years. It has achieved much but it is entirely dependent on volunteer effort. We need more volunteers to help on community action days and at events like Picnic-in-the-Park. In addition, we need people willing to serve on the committee to discuss and plan what we do. It is important that the committee gets new blood to bring new ideas and energy.
a. Judy Boyd – for agreeing to organise another Picnic-in-the-Park following her magnificent 2015 event
- Geoff Lees – who has now stepped down from the role of Treasurer – for his excellent work since 2011
- Other elected officers, Collin Carr and Sue Evans
- Mike Davies – for agreeing to be co-opted mid-year to take over from Geoff
- Vicki Skelsey – for auditing the accounts
- All the volunteers for all their support, assistance and hard work in the last year.
As I am stepping down at this meeting, I would also like to thank all those who over the past 7 years helped set up, run and develop the Friends into the organisation it is now. Being chair has been hard work at times, it has had its frustrations and disappointments but overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am extremely grateful to Collin for being willing to take over despite knowing what is involved! My best wishes to him for the future
Thursday, 09 June 2016