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Present: Richard Williams (Treasurer), Jo Smalley (Secretary), Elsa Wiehe (Under Secretary), Liz Bailey (Community Engagement Officer, HBC), Hilary Hopkinson (Committee Member), Paul Birtwhistle, Richard Owen-Hughes, Keith Blackwood, Grace Smalley, Stella Barclay, Anne Bourne, Sharon and Andrew Pinder.

Annual General Meeting

1)  Apologies

Mike Pyle, Phil and Karen Milward, Councillor David Goode.

2) Approval of the minutes of the last AGM held on Monday, 22nd July 2019 

Proposed by Keith Blackwood and seconded by Paul Birtwhistle. 

3) Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

 4) Chairperson’s role

Jo Smalley thanked Trevor and Hilary Hopkinson on behalf of the Friends of JSP for stepping in and assuming the roles of joint Chairperson last year when Mike Pyle stood down after 10 years’ service to the Friends. We are now actively seeking a new Chairperson and anyone interested should contact Jo Smalley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Jo chaired this evening’s meeting.

5) Election of officers   

Jo Smalley stood again as Secretary. Proposed by Richard Williams and seconded by Keith Blackwood. Unanimously approved.

Richard Williams continues in his role as Treasurer and Elsa Wiehe as Under Secretary.

Hilary Hopkinson will remain as part of the committee.

The Group is actively in search of a new Chairperson as described above, anyone who is interested should contact Jo Smalley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

6) Constitution

Richard Williams, Treasurer, explained that the Friends committee would like to make a change to the wording of its constitution. Until now, the constitution required the Friends’ accounts to be audited. The committee feels that the word ‘auditing’ carries a specific meaning and in view of the simplicity of the Group’s accounts, we don’t need to use this term. Richard Williams proposed that the wording be changed to  ‘accounts to be examined.’

This motion was seconded by Andrew Pinder. Richard Owen-Hughes who has previously signed off our accounts, will continue to do so. Jo Smalley thanked Richard Owen-Hughes on behalf of the Friends Group.

The questions: ‘what is the role of Chairperson as described under the constitution?’ and ‘does there always need to be three people fulfilling roles on the committee?’ were raised. Jo Smalley said that a Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary are the minimum requirements, and there is no limit to the amount of interested people who can be co-opted on to the committee.                                                                       

7) Treasurer’s report

Please find Richard Williams’ Treasurer’s Report attached.

8) Any other business

None.

Public Meeting

1) Approval of the minutes of the last public meeting held on Monday, 18 November 2019

Proposed by Keith Blackwood and seconded by Paul Birtwhistle. 

2) Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

3) Remembering Stuart Bell 

Jo Smalley, Richard Own-Hughes and Mike Pyle paid tribute to Stuart Bell, former Secretary of The Friends of JSP, who sadly passed away this Summer.

The tributes follow below and Jo will send them to Stuart’s widow Jean and tell her we are thinking about her.

Jo Smalley:

It is with great sadness that I share the news that our former Secretary and lovely friend Stuart Bell passed away this summer.

Stuart really took me under his wing when I was preparing to take over as Secretary, and before that time too. I won’t ever forget his professionalism, his kindness, his warmth and how much he cared. I won’t forget either that he always had a gin and tonic waiting for me the night of a public meeting (!) and when walking home afterwards - insisting that he walked on the side nearest to the road and not me,  like the gentleman he was. Thank you, Stuart.

Richard Owen Hughes:

I was so sorry to learn that Stuart had passed away. It was too early and the last couple of years were difficult for him and for Jean, as they were not able to get out and about as much as they used to. Still, I'll have only happy memories of collaborating with Stuart on all things JSP. Right from the start, he was an important figure in helping the park to become what it is today, and we all owe him thanks for that. Stuart's insight was always valuable, but most of all he was a kind, warm and friendly man. We will miss him. 

Mike Pyle:

The relaxing, peaceful and welcoming atmosphere of Jacob Smith Park reflects Stuart's warm and generous personality. He will be greatly missed and his contribution to the sensitive planning and development of this splendid natural space is much appreciated.

As a key member of the Friends committee, he could be relied upon to give wise advice, positive suggestions and enthusiastic practical help, resulting in our park being enjoyed throughout the year by a broad span of the local and wider community. Thank you, Stuart.

3) Countryside Ranger Sam Walker

In September this year, the Friends said goodbye to HBC’sCountryside Ranger Sam Walker. He now works for the very beautiful Pembrey Country Park and we wish him all the very best.

His leaving has been a great loss to us as he was always so supportive of the Friends and the park. Members of the  Friends Group said goodbye to him with one last  (social distancing) walk around the park. He was presented with a book on Carmarthenshire and a Cotswold Outdoor Clothing voucher, and Paul Birtwhistle surprised him with a beautiful canvas of one of his photographs of the wildlife pond in the park.

Jo Smalley had asked Alison Wilson, Head of Parks and Environmental Services, whether she is going to be interviewing for a new Countryside Ranger. HBC’s Liz Bailey informed the meeting that at the moment there are two roles vacant and these might be combined to form the one post of Countryside Ranger and Education Officer. HBC’s HR Department still needs to approve this role before the recruitment process can proceed. This will be a positive step next year and the Friends look forward to being kept updated on progress. 

Jo Smalley thanked Alison Wilson, Liz Bailey, Kate Dawson and other HBC colleagues for their support and rapid and helpful responses since Sam left his role.

Liz Bailey said that Head Arboriculturist Paul Casey has moved to a new role at Wakefield Council and HBC will also be recruiting to replace him.

4) Maintenance

Keith Blackwood pointed out that the entrance to the park is very muddy and in a bad state. We still need bark chipping. Jo Smalley has requested this several times and Liz Bailey will chase it up.

Because of Covid restrictions this year, HBC staff will spread the wood chippings themselves rather than leaving the task to Friends volunteers.

Vince and the HBC team did a good job of mowing the paths in the park through lockdown. Cutting will now resume in Spring 2021.

5) Hay cutting

This year the farmer cut the meadows and fortunately, he was able to come and collect all the hay which was an unexpected bonus.  Sam Walker had anticipated some problems which luckily did not materialise. 

Jo Smalley asked Liz Bailey about the farmer’s intentions next year, and whether he would renew his contract for the hay cutting with HBC. We expected a drop in the farmer’s interest in harvesting this hay due to the potential amount of dog faeces in it.

Liz Bailey will email her HBC colleagues and act as a go-between to find out the farmer’s intentions.

6) Wall maintenance 

In 2016 a consultancy hired by HBC looked at the park’s walls and made a repair plan for them. Some sections were assessed as in need of urgent repair or to be repaired between two and five years. Jo Smalley said that although there had been work carried out for urgent repairs, it would be a good idea for the Friends Group to revisit the plans and see what else should be happening and over what timescale.

The Management Plan working document between HBC and FJSP expires next year. Liz Bailey and the Friends committee need to go through this again and discuss with the new Countryside Ranger when appointed.

7) Enhancements

The wildlife pond is looking good. Jo Smalley and Elsa Wiehe had hoped to lead pond dipping sessions this year but due to Covid 19 and the need to apply for their Great Crested Newt handling licenses, this couldn’t go ahead. Both are applying in the new year to Natural England for the licenses as Great Crested Newt DNA was found in the pond. Sam Walker has written the pair a reference for their application forms and a second reference may be needed from Andrew Westgarth, the ecologist who provided pond ecology and pond dipping training. Unfortunately, further delays in the application process may be experienced due to Covid 19.

8) ANY OTHER BUSINESS

A local family has grown a beautiful oak sapling from an acorn collected in the park and after HBC Head Arboriculturist Paul Casey gave his blessing, this has been planted on the right-hand side of the entrance by the corner where the Rotary Club planted its trees. Jo Smalley is liaising with the family and they are going to look after the sapling by carrying out tree maintenance in the Spring.

David Watkins, a local bat expert and volunteer, has identified five species in the park.  Most of the bat activity was around the wildlife pond, at dusk. He recorded: Long-Eared Bats, Noctules, Common and Soprano Pipistrelles and a Myotis species, most likely Daubenton’s Bat.  He will return to make more recordings next year. Many thanks to David Watkins for his tremendous kindness, help and expertise. Jo Smalley is going to write up the report provided by David, complete with bat detector charts, and put them on the website.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Archive Services was seeking nominations on Great Yorkshire Son and Daughters. Jo Smalley nominated Winifred Jacob Smith MBE, who gifted the community the park. Jo took part in an interview along with the Yorkshire Farming Museum.

9) Proposed date for the next public meeting.

On Zoom, to be confirmed.

Before anything more could be discussed, the Zoom call came to an end as time had run out.

ENDS

   

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