Friends of Barnard Park AGM 2013

Spring trees

7:30 pm Tuesday December 3rd 2013, Church on the Corner, Barnsbury Road N1.

Officers: Dianne Browning, Chair; John Scholes, Treasurer; Jo Murray & Janis Higgie, Committee members; Lis Howell, Secretary.

Guests: Bhupesh Thapa, Greenspace; Ruth Davies, Regeneration Project Manager, Greenspace; Stephanie Garner-Winship, MAGPI; Islington Councillors James Murray & Jilani Chowdhury.

Order of events

1)  7:50 pm. Welcome and introduction from Lis Howell AGM Secretary.

2)  7:50 pm. Round up of the past year’s activities from Dianne Browning, FoBP Chair.

In 2013, the Friends of Barnard Park and its members have made significant improvements in the park. These changes have been made through persistence and volunteer labour.  Our efforts included:

  • Pop-up Cafés – FoBP organised four Sundays of free family activities in early summer 2013 to bring more people into the park. Last year’s partnership with the Adventure Playground proved a real hit offering performances, talks, an exhibition and fun activities for dogs and children. We are again working with the Adventure Playground to host a super pop-up in 2014.
  • Working with police and the park patrol to discourage drug dealing and make the park safer, on which Stephanie Garner-Winship will speak later in the AGM. Gardening and other activities provide a continuing presence in the park. The result of on going cooperation is striking: now families congregate in the children’s playground until 9pm on a summer’s night, something that would have been rare in the bad old days of the park.
  • Community gardening projects, primarily the making of a border of seasonal flowers the entire length of Barnsbury Road and a bark path through this newly planted area. There is also the continuing development of the park’s central shrubbery and the herb bed in the children’s playground. We also work with the park-keeper, the Greenspace maintenance team, Council tree contractors, and the park fitters tidying up the park”
  • This year FoBP applied with Greenspace for an £80,000 Council Actives Spaces grant to renovate the children’s playground. The park didn’t get the grant, but the groundwork hopefully has been laid for a future successful bid.

3) 7:55 pm. Gardening in the Park.

Dianne handed over to an update on planting from Jo Murray, committee member. This covered the laying of the bark pathway; the planting along Barnsbury Road; the choice of plants after reviewing what works in other parks; the 600 volunteer hours worked for which Islington council will offer remuneration; rubbish and dog mess removed; future planting plans.

4) 8:00 pm. Accounts.

John Scholes Treasurer distributed copies of the accounts. He informed the meeting there was £2,752.26 in the bank account, earmarked for future events. For income the FoBP is largely indebted to Islington Council grants, but had also received the Lisa Pontecorvo Award 2013 of £1,000 in recognition of Dianne’s work in the park. Copies of the accounts are available in request.

5) 8:03 pm. Election of Officers.

All Committee officers were re-elected unanimously. John said that the committee needed more support in the areas of marketing and fund raising and could co-opt new members.

6) 8:05 pm. Park security.

Report from Stephanie Garner-Winship, MAGPI & Community Safety Partnerships Unit, Islington Council. Stephanie explained that MAGPI stands for Multi-Agency Geographical Panels in Islington. MAGPI co-ordinates the response to crime and anti-social behaviour when it involves more than police reaction (e.g. council and parks matters like noise, dog fouling, litter etc). She informed us of the new anti-social behaviour hotline on 0207 527 7272. This includes an out-of-hours noise service. New policing structures mean that Barnsbury is now part of a ‘cluster’ of four wards with each ward having a dedicated PC and PCSO. In the previous Safe Neighbourhood team there was a dedicated team for each ward but they worked set hours. Now there will be overlap which should improve response to incidents 24/7, although personnel have been reduced. Questions to Stephanie included how this operated and Stephanie explained that a switchboard would deal with calls. She distributed leaflets explaining the process. One comment from the floor was that the response to the new Police 101 call number (in addition to 999) was very helpful. Another comment referred to continued drug dealing in the park and Stephanie asked members of FoBP to report this to the police.

7) 8:30 pm.  Regeneration of the park.

Update from Ruth Davies Regeneration Project Officer, Greeenspace. Ruth reported that within a week a tender would be put out for a landscape architect to design a plan for the park which could be financed from funds available of £800,000. There would be consultation with the public leading to planning approval in 2014 with a view to work being done in 2015, and the pop-up cafes planned by the FoBP in the summer of 2014 would be used to promote consultation. Ruth said there would possibly be new buildings or the buildings could be relocated but this was a matter for the consultation. Discussion about the pitch ensued. This too would come up in the consultation.  Bhupesh Thapa of Greenspace gave information about pitch surfaces but suggested that a grass pitch would be a very expensive option. Councillor James Murray said that now the budget was available, it was possible to get on and do something within it, perhaps with a section 106 contribution from other areas. General discussion followed and Ruth reiterated the time-frame for the consultation exercise which would begin in the spring of 2014.

8) 9:00 pm. Meeting closes.

Thanks to all who attended and to the Church on the Corner for their premises.


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