1. Welcome and apologies for absence
2. Chairman's summary
3. Treasurer's financial report
4. 106 money
5. Ranger update
6. Request for skills
8. Election of committee
Talk by Charlie Yates, Park Ranger
The meeting was held in the former Bowls Pavilion in Hove Park.
Present: Stephen Batey, Sue Batey, Cllr Vanessa Brown, Nina Elliot-Newman, Gino Fox, Mike Gibson, Arthur Green, Alan Moon, Mark Stephenson, Lloyd Ungoed, Caroline Wood, Charlie Yates, Mark Davies, Trea Martyn, Jeremy Mustoe, Sue Gibson, Sarah Price, anon (17 names listed, but 18 present on my count).
Apologies for absence: none notified.
Alan welcomed people and thanked them for coming. He then gave a synopsis of progress since the last AGM.
The council regards it as important that parks have friends groups. We have organised events in the park, and laid down a platform to enable us to move on.
We have taken part in work parties with Barry.
We organised an Easter Egg trail, based around the Hove Park cafe with help from Gino. We had about 150 children take part, and had great feedback from their parents. People possibly saw new things in the park as the trail took them round the whole park.
We had a stand at the Martlets carnival with help from the park rangers. There was heavy rain all day, so unfortunately not many people attended. We will hopefully do it again next year in conjunction with the rangers. A suggestion for next year is to grow plants from seed to sell on the stand, and to provide containers with a sunflower in.
The year was very much a learning curve.
We formed a gardening group to help the park gardeners, and this will continue next year.
We helped in planting a wildflower mound (near the playground) and in planting and maintaining a butterfly shaped bed near the Old Shoreham Road. We have further ideas for this bed for next year.
We now have a web site (http://www.friendsofhovepark.org/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lovehovepark).
We have also had articles appear in the new free local magazine Hove Park Living.
We hope to get some display boards and notice boards to promote the group.
Sources of funding
Alan reported that through his contacts with the City in Bloom group, money is available and we should be able to tap into it. The "In Bloom" movement wants to try to bring the different groups together.
Charlie suggested that joint funding with others groups might be a good idea, and mentioned the Friends of the Three Cornered Copse, which together with Hove Park make a green corridor to Green Ridge and beyond.
Alan reported that Hove Park has been awarded Green Flag status again. Also, the Royal Horticultural Society and It's Your Neighbourhood have awarded a Level 1 - Establishing award to the group.
The council were said to look favourably on our efforts.
We now have a recognised constitution and a bank account.
The Easter Egg trail raised £122.70 and there has been a £250 donation from Legal and General.
(This is money paid by developers as a condition of receiving planning consent).
Gino gave a summary of where this stands.
One Hove Park, developed by Hyde Housing, has contributed £180,000 to be used in Hove Park and Hove Recreation ground. The local authority has control of this money, but it must be applied to community use. It can only be spent on capital projects, not ongoing costs. The playground equipment in Hove Park has the priority, and then the fitness equipment in the park, and development work in Hove Recreation Ground. No money will be released until the first person moves in, and is expected to become available by the end of the year. We must put a bid together and progress this if we want to have a share in the money.
Alan gave as a first idea three display boards and plaques.
Alan expressed his personal thanks to Charlie for being so supportive of the group. Charlie is now ex-ranger, today having been his final day as a ranger.
It is expected that Gary Meyer (who is currently the ranger at the Three Cornered Copse) will replace Charlie, although this still needs confirmation. Hove Park is regarded as a prominent park, and will have a ranger; contact David Larkin if further information is needed. Rangers do have an obligation laid on them to help out.
Park signs for the wildflower mound and the butterfly bed. A small sign has been made for the butterfly bed. Charlie expected that it would be put in place while he was on holiday, and will install it either tomorrow (Wednesday 8th) or the day after.
All are welcome to join the group, but those with specific skills in areas that we need are especially welcome. We need skills in fund raising, computer use and graphic design to help us move things forward.
We need to have a subscription (currently £3pa) to show that we are a fully funded group. Collection was deferred until the next meeting.
The following were proposed and elected:
Chair: Alan Moon
Vice chair: Nina Elliot-Newman
Treasurer: Cllr Vanessa Brown
Secretary: Stephen Batey
Grants Application Officer: Gino Fox
Closure of park depot to build new school
We should start thinking about what is happening in the area - this is very important. The school will produce traffic and parking issues. The children will use the park, and will need green spaces for sports.
Arthur Green (GVRA) was at the planning meeting and the council suggested using Hove Park as the play area for the school. When the question of security was raised, they suggested using web cams. The GVRA has written to Eric Pickles to the effect that this is a dereliction of duty on the part of the council on security grounds. The school is intended to have 630 children eventually.
This topic will be brought up at the next meeting to plan the way forward and how to have a say in the matter with the council. It was suggested that a careful look be made at the planning application to make sure that any conditions are actually enforced. As many people as possible should attend this meeting.
Notice boards. One person stated that she had seen the meeting advertised on the posters placed around the part, but hadn't seen the notice boards. There are three notice boards, two near the cafe and one in the playground that cannot be identified as a notice board unless you enter the playground. It was suggested that a photograph or picture of some kind would make announcements more visible on the boards.
Nina asked for help with posters.
Alan said that we need people to come to start the new year off well.
Tuesday 18th November 7pm at the Hove Park Cafe to discuss Hove Park problems and plan next year's events.
Charlie's talk was in two parts.
1. Conservation. Sixteen years ago, the council started grazing sheep at Bevendean. Sheep grazing was what had originally kept the downs as downland, and the council identified pockets of land ideal for grazing to be restarted. Without grazing, the natural progression of downland is to turn to brush and scrub and eventually woodland. Downland grass provides a habitat for many flora and fauna. With the changes, some species which were extinct in the area returned, such as the Adonis Blue butterfly.
The council tried more conservational measures with wildflowers. This encourages insects, but is also cost saving as the seeds can be gathered for replanting. The council wants the involvement of community groups in this.
2. Biosphere. The Biosphere area runs from Woods Mill to Newhaven and along the coast, covering a range of habitats from chalk downland to woodland and even the city. The council has the Biosphere title, and so can use this to make applications for funding. Biosphere means grants, and the council has huge cuts coming. Charlie suggested that we should keep in contact with the council about this, and look at the UNESCO site for pointers to funding. Money can be got if the application is worded correctly.
Biosphere means a protected site. Could create corridors for wildlife, wildflower areas, dew ponds (both repairing old ones and creating new dew ponds). Be creative, and think about what you can bring to the space. Suggest holding conversations with schools; have interpretation of sites. Suggested perhaps using apple trees in the park as an alternative to vegetables.
Charlie Yates expressed his thanks to the group, and stated that he might even come to some future meetings (he will be moving from the immediate area).