Minutes of the public meeting held on Monday, 19th November 2018 at 7pm at the Commercial Inn - 70 High Street, Knaresborough

Present: Mike Pyle (Chairman), Jo Smalley (Secretary), Elsa Wiehe (Under-Secretary), HBC Countryside Ranger Sam Walker, Richard Williams, Keith Blackwood, Paul Birtwhistle.

Chairperson’s welcome/apologies

Mike Pyle welcomed members of the public to the meeting.

Apologies:

Chris Wake, Patience Dawson, Richard Owen Hughes, Cllr Samantha Mearns, Sophie Forster, Stuart and Jean Bell, Steve and Deidre Walton, Tony Gould.

1) Approval of the minutes of the last public meeting held on Monday, 9 July 2018

Richard Williams proposed and Paul Birtwhistle seconded the approval of the minutes as a true record, and they were approved unanimously by the meeting.

2) Matters arising

Committee appointments – treasurer and auditor

The post of treasurer has been filled.

Richard Williams offered to join the committee as treasurer.

Jo Smalley proposed the appointment of Richard Williams as treasurer, which was seconded by Paul Birtwhistle, and unanimously approved by the meeting.

Mike Pyle (Chair) explained that Richard Williams would need to become a co-signatory to the Friends of Jacob Smith Park (JSP) cheque book, so a declaration would have to be made to the Co-op Bank where the group’s account is held. Once Chris Wake (the former Chairperson) returned from holiday, he would sign a declaration to have his name removed as a co-signatory. Every cheque that is issued by the Friends of JSP needs to have two signatures out of the three co-signatories.

At the AGM in July, Richard Owen-Hughes audited the Friends of JSP’s accounts and he has kindly offered to continue doing so in the future.  

3) Maintenance:

Fallen tree removal

Ranger Sam Walker (HBC) said that this was not an urgent task. He will cut the tree up into logs that will be piled up in the park and used as a hibernaculum.

Sycamore trees (wall maintenance)

This is an ongoing matter. The consultants who carried out the park’s wall survey believe the trees may be causing the stone wall to bow. HBC’s arboriculturalist team is not convinced that this is the case, and is reluctant to remove the trees and instead wish to monitor the situation. Either way, there is, at present, a low risk of the wall collapsing.

Richard Williams said he had cut back saplings that were growing in the wall with loppers.

Grass cutting

Mike Pyle said that there had been a slow start to the grass cuts, but once HBC staff had started, following a formal complaint from the Friends of JSP, all had been fine. The vegetation creeps in on the paths naturally, so the Friends of JSP will make sure it continues to push for regular cuts. Mike Pyle suggested that the centre of the path ought to be moved sometimes, to avoid compacting the soil.

Hay cutting

Ranger Sam Walker (HBC) said that he hoped the farmer would continue cutting the hay next year. Hay has been expensive to buy this year, so the farmer was happy to cut the meadow for us. The farmer has been given a licence by the HBC Estates’ Team. The hay cutting has been a commercial operation for the farmer (due to the recent shortage of hay) and so he is keen on acquiring a large volume. He even expressed the wish to cut the hay twice a year. This would be very good for the park’s biodiversity. Keith Blackwood said he had been impressed by the efficiency of this year’s hay cutting operation.  

Balsam

The balsam was much less rank this year. Mike Pyle felt that the dry summer had helped impede its growth. The balsam only began to appear towards the end of the year. The park looked magnificent in the late summer.

4) Enhancements

Community wildlife pond project          

Jo Smalley was delighted to announce that £6,360 had been raised for the dipping pond project and associated board walk. A separate £1,000 has been raised for pond ecology training and the equipment needed for dipping.

The meeting with the contractor, who will install the dipping platform, had to be postponed due to the contractor being ill. Ranger Sam Walker (HBC), Jo Smalley and Elsa Wiehe still need to discuss the details with the contractor as soon as possible.

Sam Walker mentioned that there was a slight risk of piercing the clay lining of the pond when the platform was installed, as was also the case when the pond was dredged of silt. However, this was unlikely. Should this occur, the pond could be re-lined.

Mike Pyle asked about the status of the money pledged.

Jo Smalley explained that £2,500 came from the Knaresborough Youth Fund and £3,000 from the locality budget awarded by Councillor Zoe Metcalfe. Both these monies had already been paid into the Friends of JSP account.

A large, well-known local business (wishing to remain anonymous), donated £1,000 for volunteer training purposes and equipment.

£1,060 VAT has been covered by HBC.

Nomenca’s Northern Branch gave £200 (through BACS) and £126 was donated by a local high street company (who wished to remain anonymous) from fund raising efforts. £38 came through public donations,  paid through the Paypal function on the website (www.jacobsmithpark.co.uk). Jo expressed how grateful she was to all parties who had contributed to make the second phase of the pond project a reality.

A total of £6,924 has been raised. Jo said the surplus of £564 could be used to fund administrative costs, DBS checks for volunteers and anything else needed. For example, the price quoted for the platform was for a five metre approach, but in the event, a six or even seven metre approach might prove to be necessary, this extra money would come in useful to help to cover that cost. It would only be used for this particular project.

Mike Pyle and Richard Williams praised Jo Smalley’s excellent fundraising abilities.

Jo Smalley explained that a risk assessment will be needed when children engage in pond dipping. This activity would be linked to local schools and other young people’s groups.

The pond level has been much reduced this year due to the exceptionally dry summer and autumn. In any case, October is the time when ponds are at their lowest point.

Even when the pond levels were low, the dipping platform could be used as a useful nature platform to observe the plants and insects at close quarters.

Mike Pyle thanked HBC Ranger Sam Walker for his invaluable preparatory work. The platform needed to be installed by the end of the winter season to avoid disturbing and harming wildlife using the pond. Paul Birtwhistle said that at the moment, after a dry summer, the ground around the pond was hard and dry which was ideal for the work.

Interpretation board

Jo Smalley said that £1,000 had been kindly pledged by the Knaresborough Lions so far. HBC would cover the VAT and it would have its logo on the board.

£2,360 still needs to be raised for this project. Jo Smalley aims to push this forward in 2019.

The artwork on the interpretation board will need to be run past HBC’s marketing team, and also past the trustees of Jacob Smith Park before it is erected.

Log seats

Mike Pyle enquired about the progress on getting two more log seats. Despite HBC Ranger Sam Walker’s sterling efforts, it had proved very difficult for him to secure suitable logs from trees felled by HBC.

Mike Pyle wondered if the Friends of JSP could fundraise for the necessary logs themselves. Richard Williams suggested he approach the Mountgarret estate regards sourcing a couple of tree trunks/large logs to be used as seats. HBC Ranger Sam Walker said he might have some money in his budget that could be used for the log seats. He was going to check.

Young oaks

Two of the oak saplings planted in the Spring appear to have died over the hot summer, despite regular watering by the Friends of JSP. Sam Walker said that because of the dry weather, the replacement trees were not ready for planting yet. It was envisaged that they would be planted out on the 17th December.

Mike Pyle advised that we keep an eye on all the saplings that have been planted, and check that the washers and ties do not grow into their trunks. They should be cut off when necessary.

Blackthorn saplings

Half of the donated small native blackthorn saplings, planted during the winter of 2017, have survived.

5) Any other business

Inconsiderate parking  

This is an ongoing issue. The Friends of JSP support the contents of the letter that Councillor Samantha Mearns wrote to the Knaresborough Post, after she had been approached by local residents concerned about the situation.   The main area of concern is parking at the top of Park Grove in front of the pedestrian entrance. People who are worried should contact the councillor to highlight any worries. Cllr Mearns’ contact details can be found on Knaresborough Town Council’s website. She also encouraged people to ring 101 to record lawbreaking. Penalties for parking on the pavement were enforceable by the police. It is a big safety issue.

Jo Smalley mentioned that Stuart Bell had told her that his wife had witnessed a pedestrian close to being run over, when an oncoming car had to pull out to avoid a badly parked car at the junction of Park Grove and Scriven Road.

Jo Smalley wondered if the Friends of JSP would support Cllr Samantha Mearns’ idea of double yellow lines painted on the road. The general feeling at the public meeting was that this would only move the problem further along.

HBC Ranger Sam Walker explained that HBC had no authority over traffic matters, nor over the painting and siting of yellow lines. This is North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) responsibility.

The Friends of JSP will support any efforts made to stop inconsiderate and dangerous parking. It was suggested a notice could be put up to request consideration. However, NYCC would need to be approached.

Sundry matters

Keith Blackwood mentioned the pedestrian entrance gate was sticking. HBC Ranger Sam Walker will spray it soon. Keith also noted that there was a hole in the path near the concrete manhole on the right-hand side. Ranger Sam Walker is to investigate. He concluded by saying that woodchips to firm up the path at the park’s entrance would be delivered, as and when needed.

Mike Pyle thanked Sam Walker for all he did for the park.

Date for next meeting

Monday, 11 March 2019 at 7pm. Venue to be confirmed.

ENDS.