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Minutes of the AGM and public meeting held on Monday, 6th December 2021 at 7.30pm at the Chapel Room, Gracious Street Methodist Church, Knaresborough

Present: Phil Millward (Chairperson), Jo Smalley (Secretary), Richard Williams, (Treasurer), Elsa Wiehe (Under-Secretary), Shirelle Hawkins (Countryside Education Officer for HBC), Hilary Hopkinson (committee), Andrew Pinder (committee), Karen Millward (committee), Matt Walker, Anne Bourne (Scriven Parish Council), Mike Cope, Phil Oldfield, Paul Birtwhistle, Stella Barclay.

Annual General Meeting

1) Chairperson’s welcome/apologies

Phil Millward welcomed members of the public to the meeting.

Apologies:  Steve and Deirdre Walton (on behalf of Scriven Parish Council), Keith Blackwood, Jean Bell and Mike Pyle.

2) Approval of the minutes of the last AGM held on Monday, 23 November 2020

Richard Williams proposed approval of the minutes and Mike Cope seconded.

3) Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

4) Election of officers and committee membership

Phil Millward is the new Chairperson.

Richard Williams will continue as Treasurer.

Jo Smalley is standing down as Secretary after five years; Karen Millward will be Acting Secretary.

Andrew Pinder, Hilary Hopkinson and Elsa Wiehe are committee members.

Shirelle Hawkins, Countryside Education Officer, is a committee member but will not have a vote as she works for  HBC.

5) Chair person’s report 2020-2021

Phil Millward has volunteered to be Chairperson. He explained that he enjoyed being in the park and that it’s a wonderful green space and he wanted to give something back. He thanked Jo Smalley for all that she has done for JSP and the committee, and also thanked everyone else who  helped maintain the park over the last year.

Shirelle Hawkins, HBC’s Countryside Education Officer, also added her thanks to the volunteers who have helped in the park, which has been a lifeline for people during the Covid pandemic.    

6) Treasurer’s report 2020-2021

Richard Williams explained that there had been little activity or spending over the last year due to Covid, so there have not been many changes to the accounts. A copy of the accounts is attached.

7) Any other business

Historically, the AGM has been held in summer. Due to Covid restrictions, 2021's AGM was held later in December. However,  the next AGM will be held  in June or July 2022 as usual.  Karen Millward is going  to arrange the meeting.

AGM closes.

Public Meeting

1) Approval of the minutes of the last public meeting (Monday, 12 July 2021)

 The date of this meeting was incorrectly recorded as being held on 17 July 2021.

2) Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3) Five Year Management Plan (2021-2025)

Shirelle Hawkins explained that due to Covid restrictions, and the gap before she was recruited following the departure of Countryside Ranger Sam Walker, it has not been possible to make much progress with plans and activities in the park over the last year. The Five Year Management Plan (2021 to 2025) is currently being updated to reflect this pause, and the finalised plan will be added to the website in February 2022. 

4)  Maintenance

  1. Balsam

Phil Millward advised that he had spoken to HBC about Persimmon Homes funding for local projects. Persimmon Homes is building 74 houses on Halfpenny Lane and will release allocated funding  to the community once the houses have sold. An allocation of £134,000 is to be shared between JSP and around three other community groups. 

Phil Millward discussed the possibility of using some of the funds that JSP should eventually receive to tackle the Himalayan Balsam problem. At the moment, the balsam is spreading and encroaching into more areas of the park.  Professional contractors could be employed to help tackle the spread of the non-native invasive species by flail mowing. This would cost around £1,300 to £1,500 per cut and would need to be done three times to be effective. 

Phil Millward is to follow up with HBC to get further clarity on amounts expected and timings.

  1. Hay cutting

Shirelle Hawkins said that the farmer previously employed by HBC to cut all HBC’s grassland sites for hay, including JSP, is unable to carry out the cuts as it is no longer profitable for him (higher labour costs etc). 

Matt Walker suggested that the Friends of JSP (FOJSP) could explore the possibility of help from David Shaftoe of Open Country. Perhaps volunteers could rake up and take off some of the risings in selected parts of the park. This includes the top left hand field where interesting wild flowers such as orchids are growing. Small volunteer groups have carried out this task in the past. However, this is not a viable solution long-term and volunteers could only tackle very small areas.

Shirelle pointed out that sourcing a contractor is the job of the Estates’ team. The intention is to find a reliable solution that ensures whole park hay cuts happen as planned.
Shirelle Hawkins is to liaise with the Estates’ Team to agree the way forward for future cuts.

  1. Wall maintenance (saplings)

Shirelle Hawkins and several committee members will walk around the park on the 17th December to check the wall visually. Shirelle will cut back self- seeded saplings that are growing in the wall and paint weedkiller on them as necessary.

  1. Entrance (wood chippings)

Shirelle Hawkins will discuss with HBC’s senior engineer of land drainage to see if a more permanent solution can be found to deal with the waterlogged areas at the entrance of the park. Shirelle will check the entrance herself. More wood chippings will be delivered as usual and as necessary.

5) Enhancements

  1. Log seats

Richard Williams went to the sawmill at Grantley. There were no big tree trunks or even smaller pieces available. Metre wide trunks are needed. Jo Smalley said that the trunks all rot down quickly despite being dipped. 

The FOJSP committee will review options, costs and agree a way forward.

  1. Visitor information board

Jo Smalley explained that she had written far too much text for the visitor information board, and that she will reduce the word count considerably so that more photographs and wildlife illustrations can be added. Jo anticipates that the board design will be ready in early 2022.

c) Bird and bat boxes

Hilary Hopkinson is looking into replacing the now rotten bird boxes and purchasing bat boxes.. She mentioned that Stephen Root from Harrogate and District Naturalists’ Society  and local bat detectorist David Watkins had been very helpful. A decision cannot be taken on which  boxes to purchase yet,  until the committee knows what its financial situation will be. Matt Walker proposed that the committee could explore the Locality Fund, as there might be funds available to purchase bat and bird boxes.
Phil Millward will approach Councillor David Goode about this.

d) Queen’s Green Canopy

Shirelle Hawkins explained that seven trees will be planted in JSP to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. Six trees have already been planted and the seventh tree will be planted on 6th February 2022 during a small ceremony. These trees will be maintained by HBC’s Parks’ team.
A representative from the FOJSP and one of the solicitors who acts as trustee of JSP will be invited to this ceremony. Tree varieties for JSP could include oak, elm, sycamore, lime and hornbeam. For more information go to  https://queensgreencanopy.org/

e) Website (species updates)

Hilary Hopkinson has written about the five species of bats in the park. Thanks to David Watkins for his help in identifying the species. Hilary was given the use of five photographs of bats free of charge from the Bat Conservation Society. She will credit them and add a link to the organisation’s website.

Jo Smalley will write about the butterfly and plant species that have been identified in the park. She would welcome any suggestions on how to improve the user experience of the website at www.jacobsmithpark.co.uk

  1. Regular volunteering events

It was suggested that these might be better attended if they are less ad hoc and run perhaps on the same day every month. There could also be more social and educational events. Committee resources are stretched, and more volunteers would be needed to organise and run events. It was felt that reaching out to other local volunteer groups, such as Green Connectors, would be a good way to share people power. 

Once the management plan has been agreed on and priorities and resources are better understood, the tasks and timing for volunteer activities will become clearer. 

  1. Campaign for new committee members

Phil Millward explained that he is hoping to increase the number of people on the FOJSP committee so that jobs can be spread more evenly.  Jo Smalley has done a huge amount historically, for which we are very grateful.  It would be more sustainable and easier to recruit new members if we expected less from each person but had more people involved. 
Phil Millward and the committee will develop proposed roles and a plan to recruit new people.

6) Proposed date for next public meeting

The date of the next public meeting of the FOJSP is Monday, 14th March 2022 at  7pm. Venue to be confirmed.

7) Any other business

Richard Williams pointed out that the tree guards on the relatively recently planted trees, alongside the wall by Scriven Road, needed to be taken off. He felt that this area was an example of a tree planting effort that was unmaintained and that there was a need for projects to be followed through. The park would  also benefit from more up-to-date wildlife surveys.

Phil Millward thanked Jo Smalley for all she has done for the park over the years, and presented her with a bouquet. She thanked everyone for their support, and said how precious the park is and how much she had enjoyed her time on the committee and the projects she had worked on. 

End.

JSP-account-2021.pdf

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