Friends of Allestree Park AGM 31 October 2012
St. John’s Methodist Church, Allestree
Mike Kaye Acting Chair
Peter Grundy Secretary
Mark Sims Treasurer
John Menzies Committee Member
Tony Johnson Committee Member
Martin Pickard Committee Member
Edwin Slade Committee Member
Carol and Tony Berwick
Mary and Jim Bosworth
Roger and Felicity Jackson
Rosemary Lucas - Guest Speaker
Pat Sear, Ann Hart, John Ash, Peter Parkin
2. Minutes of AGM held 9 November 2011
These were accepted as a true record. There were no matters arising raised at the meeting.
3. Amendments to the Constitution
Mike Kaye briefly summarised the proposed changes to the constitution as detailed in the AGM calling notice. These were agreed unanimously.
4. Setting of Lifetime Membership Donation
The proposal to set the lifetime membership donation at £25 was agreed unanimously.
5. Chair's Report
Mike Kaye, as acting chair, summarised his report which is given in full below. Mike corrected the date for the ‘Big Tree Plant’ as being Saturday November 10th, not the 11th as stated in the report. Mike also added that 41 bat and bird boxes had been bought with a grant from Wild Derby and these had now been erected around the park.
In addition, Mike thanked Peter Grundy for continuing to serve as Secretary for the Friends of Allestree Park during some difficult personal circumstances.
Anne Wigley noted that a number of veteran tree walks had been held in the past, but had not been undertaken recently. These had been very informative and she hoped that these could be re-introduced in the future. Mike, on behalf of the committee, undertook to contact Neil Granthier with a view to providing walks in the future.
This year has probably been the busiest since FOAP was formed, with much of your Committee’s energy devoted to the implementation of two grant-aided projects and greater involvement in the community, at the same time as continuing improvement work in the park with our partner organisations. Many of the aspirations in the Five-Year Plan have, as a result, been achieved, but as always much remains to be done to conserve and improve the park whilst striving to maintain its natural beauty.
Your Committee has met six times for regular business, but there have been at least six other ad hoc meetings dealing with various aspects of the Community Spaces Project, of which more later. This abnormally high workload has inevitably taken its toll; John Menzies our Chairman stood down at the end of July, having steered FOAP successfully through applying for and subsequently implementing the complexities of the Community Spaces Project. Whilst John wishes to continue as a Committee member, the pressure of the Chairmanship has prevented him pursuing his many other interests to the degree he would wish. We are grateful to him for his leadership, professionalism and hard work during a very hectic year.
It is also with great regret that I must report that another former Chairman of FOAP, Bill Grange, has decided to step down from the Committee. Bill has made tremendous efforts on your behalf, creating and maintaining our website, organising and leading working parties to improve the park, addressing other organisations about the park and FOAP’s work, and designing and producing information panels, leaflets and posters. His work on the creation and promotion of our two nature trails has been outstanding. Whilst Bill wishes to continue with some aspects of this work, his contribution to the Committee will be sorely missed and we must thank him for his enthusiasm, expertise and considerable sustained efforts.
5.2 Community Spaces Project
A team of Committee members successfully prepared an application to the Big Lottery Community Spaces Fund, which John reported on at the last AGM. Much of our subsequent work has been focussed on implementing the Project, and in June, launching the completed Project to the public at large. We are grateful to Councillor Roy Webb and his colleagues for their support during the project and to Council officers for their help and encouragement.
We have been assisted to a great extent by the Council’s Parks section and especially by Hilary Nelmes and her team; she has been invaluable in managing the financial and contract issues of the new path to the lake and installation of revetments around the lake to thwart the bank’s erosion, and getting full value out of the £23,800 grant. We are also indebted to the Trust for Conservation Volunteers, who have undertaken much of the preparatory clearance work in Big Wood, removing much of the invasive rhododendron and sycamore growth which was stifling the native woodland around it. The subsequent replanting programme culminates in mass tree planting on November 11, which members are urged to take part in. A further element of the work has been the creation of a new Big Wood Nature Trail and re-launch of the original Nature Trail round the lake, with new guidance leaflets for both. We have to thank Bill Grange for masterminding that element of the Project. We are also indebted to John Menzies, Edwin Slade, Martin Pickard, Pat Sear and Tony Johnson for their efforts both during the Project and in organising the Launch, which many of you attended. I hope you will agree that the effort has been worthwhile. There was an element of criticism from some park users during the work, particularly the Big Wood clearance work, but I am sure most people understand that long-term conservation objectives sometimes have short-term impacts; it will take some time for the full benefits of the CS Project to be realised. At this point I would also wish to report that, during the course of the project, David Winslow from Parks provided much helpful advice and support; he enhanced the improvements by securing support from the Council for new signs at the park entrances, now installed and giving a more welcoming view for visitors to the park.
5.3. Sustainability Grant
A further small team of Committee members, John, Edwin and myself, prepared a separate application to the Community Spaces Fund for a sustainability grant, and I am delighted to report we have been awarded a further £2949 to develop FOAP’s capacity in terms of display and event equipment, tools for working parties and for training. The first phase of the sustainability grant, which addresses the group’s capacity for promotional events and displays, is now being implemented and further phases involving equipment and training will be implemented through to early summer next year.
5.4. Signing and Information
FOAP has benefited from two private legacies and a separate grant of £3800 from the Council’s Neighbourhood Board. The legacies have financed a new fingerpost at the entrance to the park near the Hall and new notice boards at key entrances. The Board grant is funding a stone-mounted ‘history’ panel near the Hall, which should be in place early in 2013, and a new ‘birds of Allestree Park’ panel near the lake, now installed. Tony Johnson, Peter Grundy and Bill have been the driving force behind these initiatives, with Bill in particular providing design work, as he did for the existing information panels.
5.5. Other Events
John, Peter and I represented FOAP at a ceremony to re-launch the rebranded Park Farm Wilkinsons store, in return for which they presented us with bacon butties and a cheque for £250! The three of us were joined by Pat when we ran a stall at Park Farm to publicise the Community Spaces Launch event and to encourage local residents to support FOAP; whilst we recruited only a handful of new members on the day (not altogether assisted by atrocious weather!) our presence drew a number of messages of support and a number of new faces on launch day. It may bear more fruit in the longer term. We also had a useful meeting with our (then) local MP, Pauline Latham, and held our first liaison meeting with Golf Club officials to iron out conflicts between nature conservation and freedom of access on the one hand, and their desire to provide a good golfing experience on the other. During the year we have also had Pond Dipping events led by Pat Sear and a Nature Walk led by Bill Grange.
5.6 Working Parties
There have been a number of working parties during the year, principally to line paths with logs to help guide people away from vulnerable plants and to support the new Nature Trail. Several of the work details were led by Derbyshire Group of Conservation Volunteers, to whom we owe our thanks. I have to mention that attendance by FOAP members was largely confined to Committee members; if more members turned out we could do so much more! We also held a litter-picking morning preceding the CSP Launch. A separate TCV working party built a set of steps, part of the Community Spaces Project, from the northern part of the Nature Reserve to Quarndon Lane, which should help to contain erosion of the bank there. I would like to remind you that all the work we have organised is carried out under the strict understanding that we will not act as a substitute for the Council’s responsibility to maintain the park, a principle your Committee feels very strongly about given that Council cutbacks have led to withdrawal of a full-time on-site Ranger service at the park in the past year. I recently made that view known to our Council liaison officer, and he has said that there is little prospect of a full-time Ranger service being restored in Allestree, or any other park come to that. That alone is worrying for the future of Allestree Park.
Thanks are due to Pat for continuing to write and place a column in Allestree Life about FOAP activities and for orchestrating a number of press statements, which led to some favourable coverage in the Derby Telegraph, and also, I believe, in Derbyshire Life and Countryside’s October issue. I have continued to produce a Newsletter for FOAP members, which, if welcomed, I will continue with next year. Any member can write a letter or other contribution for the newsletter for wider circulation; please make the effort as it is sometimes difficult to be ‘inventive’ about content! As always, we are greatly indebted to Bill for maintaining and extending the FOAP website, which has been the source of much favourable comment from outside our circle.
5.8 Membership and Constitution
We have welcomed a number of new members to FOAP during the year; unfortunately, some former members have failed to renew their commitment to FOAP, and as our constitution requires they can no longer be considered as members. My thanks to Mark Sims, the Treasurer, for maintaining our membership records and for seemingly endless chasing of ‘subs’. A new proposal is being floated to you tonight to introduce a new category of ‘Life Member’, which would enable those who wish to support our efforts but do not wish to make an annual donation to express that commitment with a one-off payment. Everything we receive is spent on our stated activities (unlike Government, Banks etc!) and officers receive no remuneration. I urge you to consider Life Membership, which will remain, if approved, a household membership i.e. including all who live at the same address as the named member. We are proposing a small number of changes to the constitution to facilitate that change; and at the same time Peter Grundy is suggesting a few other changes, following consultation with the Charities Commission, to ‘tidy’ what has been a more complicated document than the Commission considers necessary.
5.9 The Future
Looking at the Five-Year-Plan, the past year’s hectic activity has enabled us to achieve many of the things we set out to do. Peter and myself have committed to a review of the Plan, with a view to reporting to Committee early in 2013; hopefully a revised Plan will emerge to present to you next year. We also need to consider holding fewer Committee meetings to free up time to organise one or two events for all members. The CSP launch event demonstrated that there is enthusiasm for a social-type event in the park to which members can bring the whole family; your views on that suggestion would be most welcome.
We have been invited to take part in two other initiatives, the Neighbourhood Board’s Local Community Plan and the wider Lower Derwent Valley Landscape Partnership Project. It is a little early to be able to say where these will benefit FOAP, but our yardstick throughout will remain how we can best protect what remains one of Derby’s finest natural assets rather than turning the park into a glorified playground.
The continued lack of Council progress in securing the long-term future and re-use of Allestree Hall remains a source of disappointment and frustration; we have offered to meet with the developer chosen by the Council with their officers, but no response has been forthcoming to date. We believe the Hall is an important asset in the park and should be refurbished for a financially viable use, enhancing the park for the people of Derby and environs.
Not wishing to end on a bleak note, it is great to see so many of you making the effort to attend the AGM. I thank you for that, and hope to see you and your friends and families during the forthcoming year.
6. Treasurer’s Report
Mark Sims summarised his written report, circulated to the meeting, which is reproduced below. He said that donations had led to a significant increase in receipts as some members gave significantly above the £2 minimum. Membership now stood at 93 households, the most we have achieved. The outstanding balance is high as there is an outstanding cheque to be cashed. Overall, the finances are very healthy.
Statement of Accounts No7 2011/11
Balance brought forward: £2,781-94 (Bank Statement No. 60/2nd November 2011)
Membership Donations: £432-00
Derby City Council Grants (including Wild Derby): £4,442-09
Wilkinson Opening Donation: £250-00
Meeting Room Hire: £98-00
Bat/Bird Boxes/Tyree Guards/Nails £548-63
Lottery Launch Event £16-29
Finger Post £1,075-80
New Balance at 14th Oct. 2012: £6,147-31 (Bank Statement No. 75/2nd Oct. 2012)
NB: cheque to pay for info panels £1,897-20 to be cashed.
The Chair thanked Mark for his report. There were no comments from the floor.
7. Election of the Committee
The following nominations had been received in accordance with the constitution:
Mike Kaye – Chair
Peter Grundy - Secretary
Mark Sims - Treasurer
John Menzies, Pat Sear, Edwin Slade, Martin Pickard, Tony Johnson - Committee members.
All were elected unanimously.
Mike Kaye stated that there are still a number of vacancies on the committee. Although no nominations could be accepted at the AGM, if anyone would like to serve on the committee they should contact any committee member, ideally before 12th November when the last committee meeting of the year will be held.
8. Any Other Business
Bill Grange informed the meeting that the Allestree Park LNR meeting, run by Derby City Council, will be held on 21st November at Portway Junior School. This is open for all residents.
No other items having been previously raised, the Chairman thanked members and others for their attendance and concluded the formal meeting at 20-10.
9 Guest Speaker
Rosemary Lucas, from the Local Studies Group, gave a talk on the history of Allestree and the park from the17th Century to the present day. This ranged from the ridge and furrow farming through to the change of ownership and enclosure of the land by the various landowners, the Mundy’s, Gibson’s and Evans.
Mike Kaye thanked Rosemary for her talk on behalf of the Friends of Allestree Park.
Secretary - FOAP