Minutes of Meeting held on Monday, 13th February 2017 at The Commercial Inn, High Street, Knaresborough
Present: Mike Pyle (Treasurer), Jo Smalley (Secretary), Elsa Wiehe (Secretary), Countryside Ranger Sam Walker (Harrogate Borough Council); Stuart Bell; Marian Kempson, Richard Williams.
Chris Wake (Chairman), Richard Owen-Hughes, Councillor Ann Jones, Councillor Bill Rigby; Shan Oakes; Hilary Hopkinson; Trevor Hopkinson; Sam Frankland; Emma Frankland, Ros Kemp, Nick Kemp.
As Chris Wake, the Chairman was unable to attend, Mike Pyle chaired the meeting.
Approval of Last Minutes and Matters Arising
The minutes of the previous meeting of 6 September 2016 were accepted by Stuart Bell and seconded by Richard Williams. Stuart Bell congratulated Andy Bickerdike, local professional graphic designer, who designed the excellent logo for the Friends of Jacob Smith Park. Jo S explained that Andy had produced the artwork at no cost to the group out of his family’s love of the park. Everyone agreed how fortunate the Friends are to have support like Andy’s.
The Great British Spring Clean 2017 (3-5 March)
This is a national event where the public help to clean up a local open space. In Jacob Smith Park, some areas off the beaten track do need monitoring for litter picking (especially as we are coming into brighter days and more people will be visiting the park), but on the whole it was felt that the majority of the park was pretty litter free.
Jo S said this was testament to how people care enough about the park to take their litter home and also clean up other people’s litter.
Mike Pyle suggested that we organise a one hour "Spring Clean" on the day as an informal event, because at the moment there was no need to organise a very formal event, as we are lucky that the condition of the park is so good.
Ranger Sam Walker offered to provide official litter picker tools and high viz jackets for the day.
Sam W added that most local friends' groups were involved in doing a Spring Clean, mainly as part of their social calendar. Everyone agreed this was a good idea for the future.
Fly-tipping of plastic charity collection bags
Jo S and her children found a large number of charity bags and promotional flyers dumped in the park. They gathered them up and disposed of them, and the charity involved and Harrogate Borough Council have been notified – and the incidences logged and the charity (whose representative sent sincere apologies via Jo S) is investigating.
Tree planting aftercare event (Sunday 30 April at 10am)
Mike Pyle and Ranger Sam Walker agreed that maintenance (i.e clearing around the saplings planted a few years ago on the right hand side of the gate) would be useful. The tree guards now too tight for the young trees would also be removed as required.
Sam Walker (HBC) would bring his van and a trailer. The Cubs and Beavers etc would be invited to come to help accompanied by their leaders and parents.
Mike Pyle wondered about replacing the specimen oak trees that had failed. Sam W said that it was sometimes possible to secure money for tree planting schemes.
It was suggested Councillor Anne Jones might be able to advise of community funds available which would be suitable for this, and also our friends at the Rotary Club might be willing to help fund replacement trees.
Everyone agreed what a valuable contribution the Rotary Club had made to the park with previous tree donations and planting of the donated trees. Stuart Bell suggested that it would be nice to invite the Rotary Club to come and help with the aftercare. Jo S to send out invitations.
Thanks were due to Sam W for bringing the last load of woodchip and to Mike P and Chris Wake for helping to spend them. The park entrance needs a second lot of chips to keep dry underfoot before Spring is out. It was agreed that extra wood chippings a year would be very beneficial. Sam W to action.
Jo S has emailed the wall survey, photos and map from HBC’s contractor, Hill Cannon, to all Friends on the email list. She also posted a notice on the Facebook page. Sam W said the oak tree by the entrance will be retained and the wall around it monitored, and there are currently talks that the wall in this area could be reinforced with iron rods when required.
All trees in the park have been assessed (and continue to be monitored) by HBC’s arboricultural team and are not considered to pose a risk.
There is a sycamore that is affecting the wall at the junction with Scotch George Lane and Tentergate Avenue. Scotch George Lane is an un-adopted byway. Sam W will spray rogue saplings in the wall when necessary.
Sam W reported that the farmer is keen to cut the hay again and remove it this time. Unfortunately, he had not been able to take the hay off site last year – which Sam W was very disappointed with.
Paths were moved last Spring and widened when HBC mowed the grass. Mike P said it was successful. Sam W advised keeping an eye on the paths and their width to ensure it gets done. It also reduces the self seeded balsam.
Sam W will spot treat docks if required. Main reason for killing them is if the farmer wishes it as a condition of cutting and removing the hay. Otherwise this is not a major problem at the moment and docks are very beneficial for insects and other wildlife.
We will continue with the Balsam bashing volunteer days and Sam W will spray some of the worst patches to try to halt the spread of this invasive plant.
Green Space Designation
The park has been awarded Green Space Designation on HBC’s Draft Local Development Plan, which is very encouraging news. Being awarded the designation in the final Local Development Plan would officially recognise the park as a valued community asset, and mean that, only in ‘very special circumstances’, (wording taken from Local Development Plan policy) could the park be used in the future as anything over than the green space we know today. The FOJSP are extremely grateful to everyone who sent in letters of support direct to HBC, or persevered with the HBC online portal to make comments.
The FOJSP also put together a document of support entitled ‘A Picture Tells A Thousand Words to help tell the story (but not the whole story!) of why the park is so important to community life. Thank you again to everyone who kindly sent in photographs to make this document shine. You can view the document by following this link http://eepurl.com/ctBIy5.
The meeting thanked the local children who sent in a beautiful collection of poems and pictures to tell the HBC planning team what the park means to them. We will know if the park has been assigned Green Space Designation in the final Local Development Plan later in the year.
FOJSP feel the park should have been designated as a site of Importance for Nature Conservation on the strength of its ancient trees alone.
Jo S thanked Sam W for all his support and advice when she was navigating Green Space Designation policy documentation!
The new HBC sign looks smart and there is a small but useful lockable notice area for FOJSP news. The Friends formally thanked HBC’s Kate Dawson for all her help with finally getting the new sign into place. Moving the sign to its new location has been a great improvement.
However, there is little narrative on the standardised, branded HBC sign about the park, so in the future the FOJSP hope to raise funds for its own interpretation board. This would include information such as the fascinating history of the park and its wildlife.
Wildflower plugs from RHS Harlow Carr.
Two hundred donated Red Campion and 200 Cowslip plugs were planted last Autumn. We are not sure how they have fared this winter. Moles are getting quite frisky in the area they are planted! There may be a possibility of getting more wild flowers and perhaps native daffodil bulbs donated. Andrew Wilcox and his RHS colleagues would like to support the park in the future. FOJSP would like to thank Andrew and his team for the plugs and the practical support and advice they have given.
Community Pond Project
As outlined in the Jacob Smith Park Five Year Plan (written by HBC’s Ranger Sam Walker in conjunction with FOJSP) the FOJSP are committed to developing suitable projects agreed by Winifred Jacob Smith’s trustees, which will enhance existing wildlife habitats in the park and support new ones. By doing this we will not only be giving nature a home but at the same time very importantly, greatly improving the spirit of the park and the community’s enjoyment of this fabulous local green space.
The vital nature of these projects was discussed and those in attendance were all very excited about plans to establish the large pond at the bottom of the park as a community wildlife pond. This pond will be fenced off from dogs because when our four legged friends jump into the pond and swim around, they churn up silt and wildlife habitats are destroyed. Fencing the pond off from dog activity will allow aquatic life to be established undisturbed and a rather smelly mud wallow will in time clear, and become a hive of wildlife activity for us all to enjoy. The fence will be positioned in a way which will allow members of the public the best view of the pond and its wildlife.
The fencing used will be similar to that around the ancient trees – post and rail with stock fencing to dog proof it. The trustees of the park are very supportive of this plan as it is an enhancement and benefit, which was Winifred Jacob Smith’s wish, and thus lies within the covenant.
The FOJSP will have to raise all funds for the fencing, and also any planting and additional resources to support the Jacob Smith Park Community Pond Project. The FOJSP will provide more detailed information to the community as and when it is available, and we look forward to joining forces with all generations to take this exciting project forward. In the meantime, the FOJSP would encourage interested people to use The Fresh Water Habitat Trust’s very interesting website as a resource www. freshwaterhabitats.org.uk
Appeal for co-opted committee members (including IT help)
Mike Pyle explained that the FOJSP bank account is in a healthy position with £886.94 in the account as it was at the last meeting.
Monday 10th July 2017 for the next meeting and the AGM
Monday 16th October for subsequent meeting.
Any other business
Concerned member of the public are reporting how unpleasant the park can be for children and adults (sometimes the elderly) who are nervous of dogs, and whose fears are reinforced when "enthusiastic" off the lead dogs bound up to them, either alone or in groups, jump all over them and generally cause a nuisance. There have also been reports that people who would like to enjoy a run in the park are experiencing similar.
Sam Walker accompanied the Mayor and Mayoress of Knaresborough, Councillor Bill Rigby and Shan Oakes, around the Park on an official visit.
An orienteering group successfully used the park for an event on a recent Saturday afternoon. It is hoped that more events like this will be organised as it is nice to see the park being used by a wide variety of users.