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Minutes of public meeting held on Monday, 12th March 2018 at 7pm at Blind Jack’s, Marketplace, Knaresborough

Present: Mike Pyle (Chairman), Jo Smalley (Secretary), HBC Countryside Ranger Sam Walker, Richard Williams, Ian Watson (Rotary Club) Steve Walton (Scriven Parish Council), Phil Oldfield, Mike Cope (Woodpark Residents’ Neighbourhood Watch).

1) Chairperson’s welcome/apologies

Mike Pyle welcomed members of the public to the meeting, and formally thanked the staff of Blind Jack’s for their kindness in stepping in to provide a meeting room at short notice.

Apologies: Elsa Wiehe, Stuart Bell, Matt Walker, Richard Owen-Hughes, Paul Birtwhistle, Trevor and Hilary Hopkinson, Paye Dawson, Susan Langley,

2) Approval of the last minutes and matters arising

The committee is grateful to Richard Williams for pointing out a mistake in the previous minutes. Under the heading of additional park entrance point b) should read the junction of Scotch George Lane and Woodpark Avenue not Scriven Road and Woodpark Avenue. With this correction duly noted, the minutes of the previous meeting were approved by Richard Williams and seconded by Phil Oldfield. There were no further matters arising.

3) Maintenance

Tree planting aftercare event

The date for the next tree aftercare event is Sunday, 15 April, 10am-12pm. Jo Smalley will soon send out details to the Friends’ email list, post on social media pages and also advertise in the park. Sam Walker said that the trees in question should, after three years of aftercare events, not require further ones after this year.

Jo Smalley explained that Rev Anne Fox of Park Grove Church and her congregation have very kindly offered volunteers shelter at the church for a lunch time break, along with tea and coffee. 

Thanks to Sam Walker for feeding into the following points with his report.

Woodchips at park entrance

The woodchip was last topped up in the park on January 30. Mike Pyle explained that because of flooding in the park, due to snow thaw and rain fall, we will soon be grateful of some extra chippings. Sam Walker said that if Mike can contact him when it is required he will organise delivery.

Steve Walton queried whether extra membrane lining was required underneath the wood chippings. Sam Walker said that this was not necessary.

Wall maintenance

The wall at the junction of Scotch George Lane and Woodpark Avenue is to be looked at on March 13, with a view to making a final decision on how best to proceed with maintenance. This is the last of the urgent works identified in Hill Cannon’s initial wall report. HBC’s Estates Team will now move on to look at the works identified on the report as medium risk.

Mike Cope reported that there are some rogue ash saplings sprouting up near the top left temporary pond, sticking out of the wall. He said he is concerned that they will damage the wall. Sam Walker is to investigate further.

Jo Smalley said that there is coloured paint on the wall to the left of the top log seat – and also on the seat itself. She cannot decide if it is spray paint or poster paint made into a paint ‘bomb’. After the expected rainfall she will look at it again to see if some has washed away. If it hasn’t she will endeavour to clean it off – and at the next available opportunity, Sam Walker said that he will take a look.

Mike Cope raised that the front gate had not been closing properly. Sam Walker said that he has already been to look and tried to tighten it. Ian Watson mentioned that the gate was closing fine when he went into the park earlier on the day of the public meeting.

Jo Smalley said she had received several messages recently from dog walkers worried that their dogs were going to run out on to the road and get hit by a car. They asked if a sign could be put up to remind people to close the gate. Jo said she had replied to say more signage is not the answer and that it is not other people’s responsible to ensure that the dogs don’t run out on to the road. Instead it is the dog owners’ responsibility to make sure their dogs are kept under control when they get to the gates, or on the lead if necessary, to prevent this from happening.

Hay cutting 

We still do not have a farmer willing to take the hay cut. Sam Walker is currently in discussion with the HBC Estates Department about how best to proceed. Due to dog fouling the grass in the park is not desirable to farmers. If we cannot find a farmer to take the hay, alternatives ways will have to be explored to manage the site.

Mike Pyle questioned, if the hay is not taken, will the park change from being grassland

to scrubland. Sam Walker said that HBC would seek to maintain Jacob Smith Park as a grassland park, and he is currently in discussions to explore alternatives, now we know the farmer will not come again to take the hay.

Phil Oldfield asked Sam Walker why the quality of the hay has degraded so much over the years – and he reiterated his earlier comments about the park being a public space and dog fouling being the main problem. The farmer cannot feed the hay to cattle if dog faeces is present, due to the risk of disease.

Jo Smalley thanked Sam Walker for all his efforts to find a solution. Last year part of the top field was cut by Sam using HBC machinery (because it had been left by the farmer due to it not being a viable crop) at the request of The Friends’ committee in the hope of at least trying to encourage the continued spread of native Orchids and Yellow Rattle etc.. As HBC does not have the machinery to cut large sections of the park and take grass away, Jo Smalley hopes that at least in the top field a larger area than last year could be cut by Sam, and volunteers be enlisted once more to help rake the grass up and move it to the very top of the park to rot.

Grass Cutting

The HBC grass cutting season commences on March 19th with up to 14 cuts to be made to ensure that the park’s paths are well maintained. We were two or three cuts down last year. The paths are to be kept back to the edges as much as possible.

4) Enhancements:

 

Community Wildlife Pond Project

The pond fencing is now in place, thanks to kind donations from Knaresborough Lions and HBC commuted sums. The pond has also been dredged to remove as much silt as possible (following recommendations from ecologist Martin Hammond) after a grant was secured by The Friends’ Group from NOMENCA for £500.

Sam Walker has contacted Martin Hammond again with a view to re-visiting the initial pond survey to monitor and record any improvements. This will be done in year two. The next stage of the pond project by The Friends Group is to raise funds to install a dipping platform and provide pond dipping kits, so the group can offer educational sessions, with particular focus on opportunities for children and young people. Jo Smalley is awaiting news on a recent funding application – and if not successful will continue to explore grant and sponsorship opportunities.

Oak tree planting

Following Sam Walker’s discussions with Winifred Jacob Smith’s trustees, five oaks have been planted in the park. These were planted to line up with the ancient boundaries, as future replacements for the veteran oaks on site.

Ian Watson of Knaresborough Rotary Club made a generous offer of helping to secure a donation of 100 trees to plant in the park, as part of the club’s association with the Woodland Trust to commemorate WW1. Sam Walker explained that the park at the moment does not require extra trees because the planting scheme, agreed by the park’s trustees with advice from an ecologist, has been fulfilled for the time being. Sam and the committee also agreed that the Woodland Trust scheme is a fantastic one, but even if the restrictions were not in place due to the agreed planting scheme, 100 trees is a large number and this amount of planting would obscure well-loved views of the park. The committee sympathised at how frustrating this must be for Rotary who do a great job of trying to encourage tree planting across the district – and they wished Ian well in finding alternative locations for the centenary scheme.

Blackthorn donation planting

The donated native blackthorn have now been planted in the park by the Friends’ Group – and it is hoped that the specimens will flourish to provide extra cover and food for wildlife.

Website

Jo Smalley said that she has now written all of the website copy and the final additions and corrections are being made by Sue McQueen, so that the rest of the committee and Sam Walker can view the website and make their feedback, prior to the website being launched to the public, hopefully before the end of the month.

Additional park entrance

Sam Walker said that HBC’s legal team has confirmed that, in view of local opposition, it would not be advisable to proceed with the second entrance to the site.

Mike Pyle stated his disappointment that this approach would not enable the park to be made more accessible to pedestrians, particularly to those living on the Ripley road side. 

Concerns were also expressed about the increasing number of cars parking adjacent to the existing park entrance.

Appeal for co-opted committee members:

The FOJSP committee appealed for more co-opted members and a treasurer, as Elsa Wiehe is only acting as a stand in! Phil Oldfield said that from the discussions held at the meeting it was evident that there was a lot of work being undertaken by the current small committee – and he would like to offer his help in the future. The committee are delighted with this offer and will be talking to Phil in due course.

Treasurer's report

In the absence of acting Treasurer Elsa Wiehe, Mike Pyle reported on the Friends’ Group financial position. This currently stands at £1,408. £500 is to go to Harrogate Borough Council to pay the contractor for the dredging of the wildlife pond. This leaves a total of £908. Mike explained that there had been a couple of recent donations to the Friends’ Group projects by generous members of the public.

Future meetings

The date of the next public meeting and AGM of the FOJSP will be on Monday, 9th July 2018 at 7pm. Location to be confirmed.

Any other business

The Friends of Jacob Smith Park are still very keen to have another fallen log or two in the park to provide extra natural seating, so more resting points are available for members of the community that would benefit from them. Sam Walker is continuing to look out for suitable logs that come up as part of his work with the HBC arborist team.

Ends.

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