Friends of Allestree Park

Allestree Park in Derby, England

Annual General Meeting 14th Oct., 2009

Friends of Allestree Park
Annual General Meeting Held on 14th October 2009 at St. John’s Methodist Church, Allestree

Those Present

Bill Grange -  Chair
Peter Grundy  -  Secretary
Mark Sims - Treasurer
Margaret Johnson  -  Committee Member
Tony Johnson - Committee Member
Edwin Slade  -  Committee Member
John Menzies - Committee Member
Pat Sear  - Committee Member
Ruth Boocock  - Committtee Member 
Carol Berwick
J D Ash
Margaret & Peter Statham
Pat Hollands
Jane Parkin
Jo Dawson
D’Arcy & Sally Payne
Jim & Mary Bosworth
David Gibson
Neil Granthier

1.    Apologies 2.    Minutes of the last AGM
3.    Chair’s Report
4.    Treasurers Report
5.    Amendment to the Constitution: 
The committee propose that the constitution (Clauses G.1 and G.1 b) is amended such that the maximum number of committee members is increased from 9 to 12. 
6.    Election of the Committee
7.    AOB (at the Chair’s discretion - Chair to be notified prior to commencement of the AGM)
8.    Speaker:
Debbie Alston, the Biodiversity Officer for the Lowland Biodiversity Partnership, will give an illustrated talk on her work.
1.   Apologies
    Denise Kilpatrick
    Mike & Penny Kaye
    Ann Wigley
    Paul & Pam Highman
    Diana Grange
    Deena Smith
    Chris Vaughan

2.   Minutes of the Last Meeting

The minutes of the last meeting were accepted, without comment, as a true record of the meeting.
3.   Chair’s Report

It has been a particularly eventful twelve months since my report at the last AGM.  However, things were overshadowed by the death of Alex Kilpatrick, the founding chairman of the Friends, in January.  Alex had been the driving force behind many of our projects, being an inspiration to us all with his enthusiasm and engaging warm sense of humour.

Following Alex’s splendid example, we have continued organising a number of walks and conservation projects in Allestree Park.

Activities and Events

On Sunday 31st January a sizable body of members turned up to plant a hundred small native trees (provided by the City Council) in an area of land near the Woodlands Lane car park, previously cleared of rhododendron and also pulled up some sycamore saplings.

On Sunday 29th March: we ‘enjoyed’ another session to clear out twigs and rubbish from the Lake at the Evan’s Avenue end, actually not a particularly pleasant activity. 

On Saturday 2nd May about forty people joined myself for a guided wildlife walk in Big Wood at bluebell time, looking at conservation projects underway and planned by FOAP.

On Saturday 16th May we again tackled the invasive Himalayan balsam from around the lake.  We appear to have got on top of it there - but we shouldn’t be complacent!

On Sunday 14th June: We held an Allestree Park Discovery Day at the Evergreen Hall on the edge of the Park.  This was intended to be a big event, involving a number of environmental organisations, as well as the Friends.  The purpose of the day was to ‘showcase’ Allestree Park, both its natural history and history, to promote the work of the Friends and provide an opportunity for similar local groups to promote themselves with walks and exhibitions.

The committee had been working on this for some time and had high expectations for it.  As it happened, although the weather on the day was perfect, the attendance was far lower than expected, although those that did attend enjoyed the exhibitions and events.  Even so, it was good to work and meet with members of other local environmental groups so, in this respect, the day was successful.

On both Saturday 18th July and Saturday 15th August, we joined Derbyshire Conservation Volunteers to help construct steps down from Big Wood to the golf course.  The intention was to make the path safer and allow the regeneration of vegetation on a badly worn slope.  The conservation volunteers supplied the material and the expertise.  The project was featured in the local press.

On Sunday 26th July we helped to clear the Invasive Himalayan Balsam from the field on the extreme eastern side of the Park.

During August a few members of FOAP spent three days camouflaging the old pump house on the lake shore, blighted by graffiti, with a tree mural.  The masonry paint was obtained at nominal cost from the Derby Play and Re-cycling centre, a good example of how we can recycle materials. The pump -house now blends with its surroundings!  Not only did the local press feature the project, but we made it onto East Midlands television News!

On Sunday 4th October we worked again the Derbyshire conservation Volunteers on putting the final touches to the steps and lining the main footpath through Big Wood.  A further session is planned for 18th October.

The DVC are an amiable group whom it is a pleasure to work with.  We look forward to collaborating with them in the future

We are also grateful for those members of FOAP, as well as committee members who took part in the conservation sessions.  However, we could do with more people coming along to these events.

Future Projects

The Friends committee is at present working on a number of projects to keep us busy for the next few months and years.  Current ones include carrying on with footpath maintenance, rhododendron clearance and tree planting in the woods; a footpath along the north side of the lake and erosion control measures for parts of the lake shore.

Rhododendron clearance, by the way, has been carried out over the last year by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers as part of a NVQ course, working independently from FOAP.

We are also planning some information panels around some of the park entrances and a stone memorial to Alex Kilpatrick, the first chairman of FOAP, near Allestree Hall.

We are continuing to develop the website to be a source of information about the Allestree Park and the work of the Friends and as a forum for discussion on all matters concerning the Park.  We do need more people to contribute to the site.

We are at present drawing up a detailed forward plan to help us define our role and what we want to achieve over the next five years.  This will cover a wide range of conservation and educational initiatives, extended use of the park, enhanced facilities within it, as well as safety issues and how to encourage responsible use of the park in the face of a number of problems from littering to vandalism.

Contact with the Council

It must be stressed that we seek approval and co-operation from the City Council for all our projects.

Early in the 2009, the City Council approached the Friends with a request that we take on the fishing rights on the Lake.  We politely declined but stressed that the Friends should be brought into any discussions on this matter as we are keen to work closely with whoever may be appointed to look after angling on the Lake and to ensure that the environment and wildlife is protected and enhanced.

On 17th June, members of the committee met with Alf Bousie and Beverley Rhodes of the City Council for a site management meeting where we toured the Park, pointing out what FOAP had achieved, our future plans and problems that need to be addressed.  Apart from those listed above, we pointed out the need to repair the fencing along Woodlands Lane and to curtailed the herbicide spraying (not done by the City Council); also the severe grazing pressure from rabbits - and now horses - on the city wildlife site of woodlands field at the northern extremity of the Park.  The two council officers thought there was no problem with the latter!

We spent quite a lot of time looking at the severe erosion along part of the lake margin as a result of people-pressure.  FOAP have proposed possible solutions to restore the shoreline and as a result the Council is now looking into instigating measures to tackle the problem.  We all agreed that as naturalistic an appearance of the shoreline as possible should be maintained. 

On 2nd August, members of the committee again met with the council and the County Archaeologist for a site meeting to discuss the completion of the footpath around the Lake by constructing a section along the northern shore.  Again this was as a result of a proposal by FOAP who had worked out a route which would avoid damage to both the ridge and furrow system and the wildlife habitats, including trees.  The Council is now drawing up detailed plans for the path.

On 4th September, two members of our committee attended a meeting of several local environmental organisations, convened by Beverley Rhodes, Environment Projects Officer of the City Council, to discuss arrangements for a big tree planting day in Big Wood on 5th December this year.  This is part of a national day organised by the Breathing Spaces scheme of the BBC.  Although we are rather dubious that this incorporates a world record bid to plant as many trees as possible in an hour, it will serve to kick start our re-planting programme of the northern part of big wood with native trees, following the removal of invasive sycamore last year.  The new trees are being provided by the City Council.

Finally, I would like to thank members of the committee for their hard work over the last year, with a special thanks to Neil Granthier and Mike Day, the on-site Park Rangers, who have enthusiastically worked with us on all our projects.


On the herbicide spraying along Woodlands Lane Bill would try and find out, though Alf Bousie, who was carrying it out.

It was highlighted that FOAP had carried out a photographic survey of the state of the benches in the Park.  As a result with the park rangers had undertaken the renovation of a number of seats within the park and others replaced.

A request to plant a memorial tree in the woods had been received.  This has been accepted by the council, and a private family ceremony will be arranged towards the end of the year.

It was asked if it was legal to remove the Himalayan balsam within the park.  There is no restriction on its removal.  However, it should not be removed if the seed pods are still on the plant as this will distribute the seeds over a wide area which will then grow next year.

4.   Treasurers Report

    Statement of Accounts 2008/2009

    Balance brought forward:     £1,102.41


    Membership Subscription/Private Donations:    £274.50
    Derby City Council:      £75.00
    Talk to Friends of St Mathews (WG):      £20.00
    Donation – The Ramblers:      £20.00
    Discovery Day Refreshments:      £37.90

    Total Receipts    £427.40


    Discovery Day Catering:      £10.00
    Meeting Room Hire:      £70.00
    Printing:       £9.00
    Display Materials:      £30.00
    First Aid Course (WG):      £20.00

    Total Payments    £139.00

    Current Balance (10/10/09)    £1,395.81

    The treasurer stated that the finances were in a good position, noting that Derby City Council had paid the public liability insurance for FOAP directly to BTCV for 2009.

5.    Amendment to the Constitution

The committee propose that the constitution (Clauses G.1 and G.1 b) is amended such that the maximum number of committee members is increased from 9 to 12.

The amendment was passed unanimously.

6.    Election of the Committee

The following were elected unanimously to the committee

    Bill Grange  -  Chair
    Peter Grundy  -  Secretary
    Mark Sims  -   Treasurer    
    Margaret & Tony Johnson       
    Edwin Slade    
    John Menzies
    Pat Sear
    Ruth Boocock
    Mike Kaye
    Deena Smith

6.  Any Other Business

6.1    It was asked why the venue for the AGM had moved from the British Legion.

It was explained that the most venues are booked months/years in advance and that St. John’s was the only place available.  In addition there is often football on the television in the British Legion which can be quite noisy.  It was felt that this venue was acceptable.

6.2    The policy on charging for fishing was raised, as many fishermen are surprised that there is no charge during the week.  In addition, it was felt that regular collections of fees could prevent the more unacceptable fishermen being a nuisance round the lake.

    Neil Granthier, one of the park rangers, thought the lack of charge collection during the week was probably due to the staffing levels within the Parks Department.  He would try and find out what the Council policy was on charging fishermen in the park.

6.3    The issue of litter and the size and number of waste bins was raised.

    FOAP have tried to increase the number of bins within the park.  However, it is understood that the emptying is done by a private contractor so any increase in the number of bins would incur a cost to the council.  The size of the bins has been reduced so that the bins can be easily emptied without having to put hands inside the bins due to the risk of needles etc. been present.

As part of the FOAP Five Year Plan, we are looking at ways of combating the litter problem.

7.   Speaker:
Debbie Alston, the Biodiversity Officer for the Lowland Biodiversity Partnership, gave an illustrated talk on her work in working with the community to record and conserve the wildlife of our County outside of the National Park.

She explained that the organisations she worked with range from bodies such as Derbyshire Wildlife trust, Local authorities, Landowners and local groups, such as ours who were carrying out conservation at grass roots level.  Allestree Park, she said, was indeed a very important component of the biodiversity of the county, with its varied habitats and use as an educational resource.  She stressed the important role FOAP played in furthering her work.As an example of the importance of us all working together in conserving wildlife, she said that the country as a whole had lost about 90 percent of the area of wildflower grassland since the 1980s - and this was after a similar loss since the Second World War!  However, she was reasonably optimistic that in Derbyshire, at least, the work of the Biodiversity Partnership gave grounds for optimism for the future of our wildlife.

Peter Grundy
Secretary - Friends of Allestree Park

Tuesday, July 17, 2018