The AGM for 2017 was held on 5th May.
The following were elected as voting Members of the Public: Mary Hill, Jo Spillman, Max Warner, Marilyn Rogers, CJ Faucher, Ros Glover.
The following officers were elected: Chair, Ann Kingsbury; Vice Chair, Derek Hoare, Secretary, Susy Hogarth: Treasurer, John Gahan.
Acceptance of the accounts was held over until the next meeting because the acting treasurer was not present to answer questions; the Chair’s report was received.
The last year has seen a few small successes and some progress and quite a lot of change We now have Planning permission for storage for the Miniature Railway, including the extension to the ride. The permission was conditional upon the production of a tree survey but this is completed. Now all that has to happen is that funds have to be identified to support the project. You will have seen the list of potential capital projects and the priority list for spending what is now termed “Parks Infrastructure Levy (PIL) arising from events in the park. The Executive has proposed that the miniature railway should be a priority for spending this money or Section 106 funds. We would like to get this settled so that John Roberts can run a service over the summer.
After a good deal of anxiety and misapprehension, the base of the old Changing Room Block has finally turned into the hoped-for Sports platform and on 3rd May, the Table Tennis table was delivered and installed.
Although the in-principle agreement by BPCP to seek a strategic partnership with Lambeth was discussed and decided some years ago, we only completed the working draft in 2016. Kevin Crook, who is head of service for parks has also agreed it but it now needs to go forward to the departmental management and, we hope, to Cabinet, for approval, if it is to become policy.
Our submission of a project proposal for Brockwell Hall by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and its acceptance by them has put us in the position of submitting a Stage 1 Bid. Lambeth have appointed a project officer to work with us and LUC. We had hoped that we would be in a position to submit the Stage 1 Bid in March, but things were moving too slowly for that, so the submission date is now June. The Steering group has met twice and we have a working draft for the bid but further discussions seem to have stalled and it is not clear why. Lambeth, as reported at our last meeting, is taking a very strong line on their governance of the Hall in the future, ruling out any kind of community trust to manage the Hall. The heavy involvement of the Events department in the discussions gives us cause for concern and we think they are looking to become the governing agents of the Hall. This calls into question the unity of the Hall and the Park which is the policy of the BPCP.
Two major changes have taken place in Parks management in the last year. The maintenance programme has been brought back in-house and the staffing has been restructured, following the loss of posts at all levels of parks management. The new staffing structure does not permit Brockwell Park to have a dedicated park manager on site at all times, which is what we would want, ideally, but each park has a named officer with responsibility for operational matters. In our case, this is Mike (or Mick) Penney. There is now a dedicated line and email address for reporting on operational issues. More strategic issues are being managed by a small development team, comprising Iain Boulton, Lara Bonici, Theresa Hoare and Angela Li. The head of service delivery for parks is Kevin Crook. Bringing grounds maintenance in-house has meant that we are able to know the detail of the maintenance plan and review the key performance indicators. The maintenance service has become transparent and will enable us locally and through the Parks Forum to judge effectiveness, more than we have been able to do before.
Although the strategic partnership has not yet been agreed, we nevertheless have succeeded in running a regular Park Management Team with the current officers. This is attended by a number of stakeholder groups, most notably the friends of Brockwell Park, the St Matthew’s Project and Brixton BMX. The management of the Park has improved considerably and the Team is now dealing with more strategic issues, instead of combing over the fine detail and the meetings will now take place bi-monthly. The Events team attend when they judge that an event proposal needs input from us, usually when it is classified as a “large” event.
Large events in the park continue to vex us however. Following the Found festival in 2015, the PMT agreed a set of proposals to deal with the worst aspects of the event, litter, crowd control, vehicle management, drug dealing. In 2016 it was agreed with EventLambeth that this would apply to all large gated events in the park but when the Sunfall Festival took place last year, just before the Country Show, these conditions were not applied. We have not had a satisfactory explanation for this. Last year Derek Hoare and I met Councillor Fred Cowell to discuss ongoing problems. (Cllr Cowell is the Councillor Area Lead for community matters in the south of the Borough.) The issues we discussed with Cllr Cowell were limiting large events and how information is shared between Lambeth Events, BPCP and park users. The Lambeth Parks Forum organised a meeting between parks hosting events and the then Cabinet Member, Jack Hopkins, to discuss our concerns. It was well attended; Brockwell, Kennington, Clapham and Streatham all sent representatives. The meeting concluded with Jack Hopkins promising a paper on Events in parks. So far this has not been forthcoming. The PF will take this up again with the new cabinet member Sonia Winifred.
We have changed direction with regard to the Wildflower Slope, we are now adding bee and butterfly friendly bushes and perennials – this will provide more variety of species for the wildlife. Sadly the perennial plants at Norwood Lodge were stolen in March and we are working hard to provide replacements. The Community Events programme last year was reduced in size and we ran in all, six events including the Dog Show. We are very grateful to the volunteers who have enabled us to keep this going. We are aiming for a similar programme this year.
The BPCP submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Enquiry on Public Parks. Local MP Helen Hayes was on this committee. You will probably be aware that the committee did not recommend that parks should be a statutory responsibility for local authorities. Nevertheless, the opposition side of the committee recommended that local authorities should be obliged to produce a strategic plan for their parks but this was also voted down by the government side of the committee.
In conclusion, warmest thanks to my fellow officers, our volunteers and the parks officers for everything they have done for the park over the year.