FRIENDS OF TRENT COUNTRY PARK
Report by Peter W Gibbs, Chairman
Report on Proceedings of AGM and general meeting, held at 7.45pm November 22nd 2017, in Christ the King, Oakwood. With added explanatory notes.
The Chairman opened the AGM meeting and welcomed 26 members.
The minutes of the previous May meeting, having been distributed, were agreed.
Election of Officers:
The following candidates were presented for approval to hold office for the following year:
Chairman – Peter W Gibbs
Vice Chair and Treasurer – Carol Fisk
Membership secretary – Brenda Nathan
The appointments were proposed and seconded
The Friends Committee was proposed for approval:
The above officers of the Friends plus:
Alan Perkin (PT)
The meeting proposed and seconded the committee to serve for the year ahead.
BANK ACCOUNT: Balance at 31-10-17: £ 1,819.12
£1,000 of the balance is from a Grassroots grant encumbered for park improvement. £800 of this is encumbered for the 2018 season of the Trent Park Family Wildlife Club run by Wild Capital.
Unencumbered funds = £819.12
Activity since last AGM report:
Income: Membership dues: £ 366.01
LBE grant for Wildlife Club £ 800.00
Expenses: Christ the King hall rental £ 160.00
Aviva grant posters £ 4.40
Wild Capital [wildlife club] £ 800.00
Denis Vickers [eco-survey] £ 750.00
Eco-survey printing £ 128.03
Website hosting – 3 yrs £ 25.16
£ 800 Friends Fund grant for 2017 Trent Park Family Wildlife
Black Rainbow Events’ 2017 Walks Programme was completed in October.
Since the last meeting the Committee is obliged to report a troubled year with setbacks for the fabric of the park and limited progress in conservation and improvement. However Friends should take some comfort from the approval given to plans by Berkeley Developments to build homes in the SE corner of the campus with the benefit of funding restoration of the heritage buildings.
Friends’ work has been somewhat curtailed by lack of manpower - resources are stretched and members are urgently asked to help our work, for whatever time can be spared, to support our efforts for the park.
Although the Council has stated its willingness to work with Friends to review and agree longer term plans for the park and discuss maintenance work, this has yet to take place. Such enhanced contact improves our chances of influencing the outcome for the benefit of more visitors.
Security is a growing issue in the park, albeit from a low base. Dedicated Parks police were stood down last year, but regular police patrols do visit TCP so the park has not lost all surveillance. However public eyes and ears reporting crime to the authorities are required to maintain the current relative calm and safety. Raves and antisocial behaviour are the exception to this and the Friends are engaging with the authorities to both prevent and clear out ravers and other illegal intrusions.
The Friends contine to press the Council, along with residents to dissuade LBE from increasing the programme of massive events in the park – intrusions which are pressed on us in the name of revenue generation. However we all know these events absorb resources, inflict serious nuisance on the community, and deprive many visitors of unhindered access to all areas of the park for upwards of 9 days on each occasion as large showgrounds are erected and dismantled. Events are not cost free at all. And Trent Park receives virtually nothing from hosting these events, revenues being spent elsewhere in the borough.
Maintenance including litter is under pressure. The Friends will maintain a close eye on litter collection and press for a responsive service to keep the park attractive and safe. Likewise the toilets which have suffered from misuse of late.
Given the nature of local government, if the public and parks users in particular do not press for their views to be heard, administrators will continue to drain resources from parks and open spaces since there is no legal requirement on the council to invest in them at all. The public view is that parks are major assets, not liabilities, and vital for the health and social well-being of the community in Enfield, but the message needs constant reiteration.
The chairman then closed the AGM and opened the General Meeting
Campus – Berkeley development
Berkeley, the new campus owner, achieved final clearance for its development plans on the campus in October and started preliminary site clearance. 262 dwellings will be erected on the southern section of campus, removing the old academic buildings, and reshaping the landscape to pre - WW2 layouts. Arrangements for the public to have access to the swimming pool and refurbished tennis courts are also part of the longer term plan.
During construction, which could space over 5 or more years, continuing public access to the site is a commitment.
A museum and cultural centre has now been agreed to occupy the large ground floor rooms in the mansion and some of the basement. It will present fascinating information on the Sassoon era prior to 1939, and the invaluable intelligence work conducted in the mansion during WW2.
Members can follow plan developments on the Berkeley website.
Conservation (Tony Hillman)
The valuable grade 2 pillars and wooden gates at the Cockfosters entrance are now under reconstruction having been rendered highly dangerous by strikes from passing vehicles.
Members are very aware of LBE’s events policy in the park and the negative experiences of this summer when the largest music event drove out regular users for several days during set-up and knock-down, impacted other commercial activities in the park and caused distress and nuisance to many hundreds of residents in our suburban neighbourhood, due to noise, litter, antisocial behaviour and the sheer weight of up to fifteen thousand of revellers on the area.
Major damage was done to the ground when rain impacted the knock-down of two events, from which the ground has not recovered, despite LBE’s loose and ineffectual assurances.
Friends submitted a plan to LBE seeking to restrict the impact of events, recognising the 8+days involved in setting up and dismantling the site each time, and making good. Noise was to be controlled to much lower levels and antisocial behaviour and intrusive parking avoided. Effective policing was considered mandatory, and improved traffic control essential for safety.
LBE issued a new events strategy earlier this year, permissioning itself to license the park for in effect as many heavy events as can be enticed in. No restrictions on timing, access, disturbance, numbers attending has been secured – LBE shows no restraint in raising revenue from our park, whatever the consequences.
Friends continue to press the case with LBE for moderation in the events policy to permit park users full access and safe enjoyment over the summer, especially the school holidays, when many families rely on the park to entertain their children.
All Friends are urged where possible to take pictures and keep records of nuisance and damage caused by events so that even more pressure can be brought to bear in future to halt this trend. Send material to the Friends so we can forward it to the right officers at LBE and also to local councillors.
Biodiversity (Carol Fisk)
Continuing with the Friends’ work to enhance public understanding of the rich biodiversity on view in the park, the Friends commissioned a biodiversity study from noted ecologist, Denis Vickers, which will be used to curate the assets, and enable educational and general public interest to be better informed. The document is on the Friends’ website and makes excellent and accessible reading – highly recommended.
One particular finding has been the extent (70 Ha) of Ancient Woodland in Trent Park – a prized asset to any borough and particularly to one inside the M25.
Schools in particular will be approached to make more use of the park as a teaching resource; more boards are now in place to illustrate what to look for. The Friends’ website is a great additional source of information and well worth perusing.
A Family Wildlife club is operating well. Members can keep up to date on events via our noticeboards at the park entrances - the café and animal sanctuary and via our Facebook page.
The season’s walks have been very well supported, bringing adult audiences closer to the riches of the park – much recommended. At this point, it is not known whether or not Black Rainbow Events will continue the walks in 2018.
Water Garden (Carol Langran)
Maintenance of the Water garden has proven difficult this season with volunteer effort lacking and limited Parks Department assistance. Water supply to the garden has remained a problem. Friends hope that Berkeley’s plans in their grounds opposite will cascade to the benefit of the water garden – in due course.
Dog Control Order
After much delay LBE is about to reveal its policy on dog controls in the park and the number of animals each handler can supervise – 4 per member of the public and 6 for commercial walkers with a license. A consultation was undertaken and we made recommendations to limit the number of dogs per handler to 4, but as usual LBE discounted opinion on the ground and has proceeded on its way without further explanation.
Replacement of the Trim Trail remains a bone of contention with Parks Dept. The trail is a valued part of the park’s amenities and the Friends will continue to campaign for its restoration.
A pathway alongside the roadway to the Cockfosters cafe is a pressing need since cars often stray onto the low level pavement, the roadway being too narrow for vehicles to pass otherwise.
Three pieces of the kids play area equipment have now, after several months of delay, been restored to use, but one remains awaiting spare parts. TCP receives tardy and begrudging support from LBE irrespective of the growing revenue earned by LBE from events in our park. It is not a sustainable or justifiable situation.
A full list of projects to enhance the park is being pursued by the Friends with LBE.
All members are encouraged to report anything in the park that requires attention by LBE. On the Enfield Council website is a “REPORT IT“ feature which leads to a parks section. LBE promises to scrutinise all reports and take appropriate action. Site details:
Volunteering with The Friends
Friends of Trent Park need more volunteers to assist in all sorts of work in the park to enhance and improve the facilities and their presentation to the public. Much of it is letter writing and attending meetings to press our case, but there is spade work for those able to undertake it. Those with horticultural knowledge, legal experience, sports backgrounds, architectural and planning experience will be particularly welcome, along with any gardeners to assist with the water garden.
Now that LBE has reduced manpower, volunteers are even more necessary to maintain the heritage value of Trent Country Park for generations to come. Contact us via the Friends website in the first instance. Do come and put something back into your park – find out how things work and have fun with our welcoming group!
Biodiversity: the Friends would like to encourage people to report what they see, where and when, either directly onto the Greenspace in Greater London [GiGL] site at www.gigl.org.uk and/or by email to the Friends so we can compile current records for the park. A nature section has been added to the website with some useful resources to use when visiting the park.
News and activities are frequently posted on our website:
Trent Park is operated to standards set out in key documents as follows:
Conservation Area Appraisal Document 2015: a valuable non- technical insight into heritage buildings and conservable assets defining the character of the Trent park area.
Covers history and current state. Adopted by EBC as management guideline. Revised 2015 edition now available on line at:
Park Plan: a detailed description of aims for our park, agreed between LBE and the Friends is due for update can be viewed at:
Next Friends meetings
The first two meetings of 2018 will take place on February 21 and May 16, both at 8pm in the small hall at Christ the King Catholic Church on Bramley Road. More details to follow closer to the dates. Do come and support our work for the community.
Meeting closed 2120 hrs.