Friends of Allestree Park AGM 16 October 2013
University of Derby
Mike Kaye Chair
Peter Grundy Secretary
Mark Sims Treasurer
John Menzies Committee Member
Martin Pickard Committee Member
Edwin Slade Committee Member
Pat Sear Committee Member
Penny Kaye Committee Member
Mrs O Billings
Margot and Bill Keats
Adrian Farmer Guest Speaker
Pat Hollands, Alan Grimadell, Roger Patten, Ann Hart, Peter and Jane Parkin, Damien McParland, Bill Grange, Carol and Tony Berwick, Roger Jackson.
2 Minutes of AGM held 31 October 2012
These were accepted as a true record. There were no matters arising raised at the meeting.
3 Chairs Report
This year has been a relatively quiet year compared to the last. Your Committee has met four times for regular business, with several additional meetings between officers on an ad hoc basis. We broke with tradition by holding Committee meetings here at the University; thanks are due to John Coyne, the Vice Chancellor, for allowing us accommodation free of charge. I hope that holding our AGM here has not inconvenienced too many people.
In November 2012, 23 people took part in two tree planting events. The first in association with the City Council and Derby Wildlife Trust’s Value in Trees Project led to the planting of 1,000 native trees in Big Wood, to replace the cleared rhododendron. We are planning a similar event this November 23rd. The second involved FOAP helping the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation to plant a number of disease-resistant elm trees on the east side of the park, in an attempt to improve the fortunes of one of our rarer butterflies, the elm-loving White Letter Hairstreak.
There were two pond-dipping events this year. On 5th May we joined Derby City Pond Warden Association in their “Pondomania” event at the “Turtle Pond”. On the first of June we organised another pond-dipping session. Both events were well attended and thanks are due to Pat Sear for her organisation.
We arranged on 18th May for Neil Granthier to lead a Veteran Tree Walk, which was attended by some 15 people including Pat and myself from the Committee. Neil is a fount of knowledge about the age and history of trees in the park, and helped us to understand that some of the oldest trees are not immediately obvious without close examination.
On 21st September we held an open day at the Evergreen Hall for members and friends. Although only some 14 people attended, besides 5 committee members, there was some lively discussion during the afternoon. Bill Grange, Roger and Felicity Jackson and John Osborne helped by bringing photographs and paintings, and in John’s case his extensive collection of photo montage, measured drawings and historical maps. Thanks are due to them and to Pat Sear and Penny Kaye for baking generous refreshments.
We are at the earliest stages of planning a “Picnic in the Park” event next summer, when we hope many members and their families will join us at the park. If anyone would like to help with the organisation of that could they please contact one of the committees working group, Edwin Slade (01332 554825) Penny Kaye (01332 559566) or Martin Pickard (01332 331769).
3.3 Other Groups
We continued our involvement with the Allestree Park Local Nature Reserve Management Group, which has met twice during the year. The protection and appreciation of the nature reserve continue to be our main focus.
We were involved with the Lower Derwent Valley Landscape Partnership in the Derwent Wise project. Although some of our suggestions did not find favour one of the projects submitted to the grant aiding authorities is the planting of a wild flower meadow. Their grant application has recently been approved and I hope to bring more detail to our November Committee meeting.
Edwin Slade has represented us on a new body established by the Council, the Green Spaces Forum. There have been three meetings to date and we are hoping that Allestree will be allowed to host the Forum in the New Year.
3.4 Community Spaces Grant
Whilst the physical grant-aided work was completed last year, we have been busy implementing a supplementary Sustainability Grant. As a result, we now have our own equipment and tools, which will shortly be moved to secure storage in the stable block at Allestree Hall. We also have some funding for training and the grant has enabled us to revise and reprint the two Nature Trail leaflets, designed and produced by Bill Grange.
3.5 Other activities
Early this year our contractor completed a stone plinth for an interpretive panel on the history of Allestree Hall and the Park, again designed by Bill Grange. Unfortunately, the plinth was vandalised within a few days of completion but some remedial action should have resolved the problem. The plinth was financed by the Neighbourhood Board as part of a wider signing project organised by Tony Johnson.
In February I met, on your behalf, with Councillor Webb and Don Prime (whose company had been a “preferred bidder” when Allestree Hall was marketed), in an attempt to revive enthusiasm for restoration for the Hall. We remain hopeful that there will be a positive outcome and the Council are believed to be considering a number of alternative uses.
We are also indebted to Mrs B Moore for a £400 bequest in memory of her late husband. After discussion with Mrs Moore it was agreed that the money would be spent partly on planting two “specimen trees” and partly to provide “owl boxes” in the park, both of which will be implemented this winter.
The agreement of last year’s AGM to a new life membership category has led to 40 Life Members signing up, with an additional 32 members besides. Whilst this is somewhat lower in total than some previous years the situation remains encouraging. Thanks to Mark Sims for maintaining our membership records and chasing new and lapsed membership.
Once again thanks are due to Pat Sear for her efforts to secure publicity both in Allestree Life and on the Park notice boards (with Bill’s help). Unfortunately, problems with my computer have impeded me from issuing the regular newsletters started in 2011, but I am now hoping to renew these for members’ benefit.
During the year your Secretary Peter Grundy carried out a thorough review of FOAP’s management plan, which was then agreed by your committee. Peter has accomplished that task and managed the affairs of the committee, despite increasingly severe health issues, and I think we all owe him a debt of gratitude for everything he has done both this and previous years in FOAP’s service.
Our main challenges in 2013-14 relate, first, to the continuing vandalism in the park, notably involving anglers improving their casting and selfish log-burning stove owners, and second to the continuing council cutbacks which have decimated the rangers service among other effects. Dare I suggest that the two issues may be related? Nevertheless if any members witness vandalism of any sort I would strongly urge them to contact the Police immediately. It is unwise to challenge perpetrators yourself! Similarly, if you know of anybody removing logs, which of course is theft, tell the police or a member of your committee.
On a final rather sad note, you will gather shortly that some members of your committee are “retiring from active service” for personal reasons. All of them have contributed greatly to the fortunes of Friends of Allestree Park over the years and we all owe them a deep debt of gratitude. I sincerely hope that other, currently less active members will put themselves forward to fill the breach!
Margot Keats asked about the possible uses for Allestree Hall discussed with Don Prime. Mike Kaye stated that the preferred option was to use the Hall as a hotel. However, at this stage there are no plans only ideas as agreement is required between any developer, the Council and English Heritage.
Anne Wigley asked if Wild Derby was still happening as a result of the Council cutbacks. The future is unclear. However, this and other issues are discussed with David Winslow, from the parks department, at the FOAP committee meetings that he attends.
4 Treasurer’s Report
Mark Sims summarised his written report, circulated to the meeting, which is reproduced below. The introduction of the life membership has been a success, although it is recognised that these are a one off income source. However the committee will ensure that the remaining monies are spent wisely – the use of the University facilities for free being an example. Overall, the finances are very healthy.
Statement of Accounts No 8 2012/13
Balance brought forward: £6,147-31 (Bank Statement No. 75/2nd October 2012)
Membership Donations: £1,200-00
Derby City Council Grants (Events): £50-00
Lottery Grant Phase 1 £878-69
Lottery Sustainability Grant £1,531-40
Bequest (Mrs Moore) £400-00
Information Panels (Pryor Signs) £1,897-20
Training (St John’s) £28-00
Meeting Room Hire £10-00
Lottery Grant Phase 1 spend £878-69
History Plinth £1,881-00
Lottery Sustainability Spend inc Nature Trail leaflets) £1,531-40
New Balance at 24th Sept. 2013: £3,912-90 (Bank Statement No. 92/2nd Aug.)
The Chair thanked Mark for his report. There were no comments from the floor.
5 Election of the Committee
The following nominations had been received in accordance with the constitution:
Mike Kaye – Chair
Edwin Slade - Secretary
Mark Sims - Treasurer
Pat Sear, Edwin Slade, Martin Pickard, Penny Kaye, Monica Monticelli, Committee members.
All were elected unanimously.
In addition Felicity Jackson will be co-opted onto the committee at the next committee meeting in November as her nomination was received after the closing date.
Post Meeting Note: Nicola West has agreed to join the committee and will also be co-opted onto the committee at the next committee meeting in November.
6 Any Other Business
Anne Wigley raised the issue of the future of the ornamental garden and box hedges which she understood the Council were proposing to remove and grass over. She asked if FOAP could take over maintenance of the hedges. Pat Sear replied that FOAP was aware of the Council’s proposal and were in discussions with the parks department. FOAP was proposing to plant wild flowers in the area and see if the Council would maintain the hedges. Mike Kaye stated that FOAP were reluctant to take on maintenance work that was clearly the responsibility of the Council. However, if the choice was between losing the hedges and FOAP taking on the maintenance he felt that FOAP should become involved. It was considered that this could be an activity that could be undertaken by the FOAP membership. John Menzies proposed that FOAP should inform the council of the decision but that it should be time limited to e.g. 3 years and reviewed at that time as circumstances may well have changed in that time. This would be progressed by the committee.
7 Guest Speaker
Adrian Farmer, from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Partnership, gave a presentation on ‘The Importance of Nature Reserves in the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone’. He outlined the extent of the buffer zone around the Derwent Valley Heritage Site and explained how the Local Nature Reserves along the valley helped to protect the Heritage Site from possible development. He also stated that the partnership was keen to involve local friends groups in activities to promote the Heritage Site. This would benefit both the partnership and the friends groups. The committee agreed that this should be encouraged.
Mike Kaye thanked Adrian for a very interesting talk and brought the meeting to a close.
Peter Grundy for FOAP