||The Meeting started with a talk by Mary Smith a local botanist who has recorded the flora of the park over many years. She explained that in the most recent survey there were about 400 species of plants recorded in the whole park (including new bits) She then illustrated a talk on just a few of the plants present, both common and not so common. She also explained to the audience the definition and significance of ancient woodland. Hatters Wood was woodland before 1600. Ancient woodlands have lots of special plants (ancient woodland indicators) in them that spread only slowly, so their presence is a good guide to ancient woodland. Bluebells are an example, Yellow Archangel is another, with genuine ones present in The Osiers but the ones in Duck Wood are garden escapes betrayed as frauds by the white markings on the leaves, so they don't count as Ancient Woodland Indicators.
In response to a question from the audience about the damage to the trees and plants caused by the huge numbers of deer present Mary expressed the strong view that the numbers were excessive and were very damaging to the nature reserve. With tongue in cheek she suggested the introduction of a few wolves might be a good thing!
Geoff Pepper (LBH Parks) added that there are over 1,000 deer present in and around the Dagnam Park area.
Don Tait then took the chair for the business part of the AGM. All the existing officers were elected unopposed with Don Tait as Chair, Alan York (Secretary) Susan Cook (Treasurer) and Katie Cook (Minute Secretary) Don then gave his annual report. Reproduced in full below.
"Since our last AGM the parkland has received much needed publicity in the form of being filmed, twice, for BBC television for articles with regards to wild deer in the English countryside on Country File, whilst deer from the park have featured in an edition of the BBC television programme The One Show when they ran an article on urban deer in the London area. More publicity was given to the park when the local paper, The Romford Recorder, ran an article on wildlife that can be found in Bedfords Park and also Dagnam Park featuring images that had been taken within the parks.
Latterly more publicity has been given to the park and also to the Friends of Dagnam Park with a centre spread article about the park’s wildlife appearing in the Recorder which was followed up by articles in the Yellow Advertiser and also the Living in Havering magazine that is sent out by the local authority in regards to the extra land that has been added to the nature reserve.
In March/April 2013 I attended the Havering Parks Form which was held at MyPlace Harold Hill where other Friends of parks group were in attendance giving all a chance to put questions to council official’s and also those in charge of the parks in the Borough. This year the Havering Parks Forum is being held in Hornchurch and again I will be attending on behalf of the FODP.
July saw the Harold Hill Festival take place in Central Park and for the first time members from the FODP manned a stall at this event to promote the Friend’s group and also to show members of the public what the parkland has to offer. The event was well attended and members on the stall were kept busy in answering questions about the park. I hope that this year we, as a group, can attend again to give the nature reserve and ourselves more publicity.
Unfortunately we had a nasty incident in the parkland when a young deer was caught and brought down by a dog and killed. This happened in full view of a young family who happened to be visiting the park at the time and although the Parks Protection Service were called out whilst this was taking place the owner of the dog managed retrieve his “pet” and had left the park prior to the PPS arriving. The dead deer was removed from the park by the PPS. Which leads me on to the service that is provided by the PPS.
Since its inception the Parks Protection Service has been an invaluable asset to our group and indeed to the borough and working with them, by sending in reports about illegal activities within the park whenever it has been spotted as resulted in the nature reserve becoming a safer and even more pleasurable place to visit. Without their help and assistance in patrolling the manor the park would possibly still be having one foot in the past by having illegal bikers roaring across the fields and vehicles being dumped in the reserve. Last year the PPS were successful in bringing a prosecution which resulted in one rider appearing in court and being fined just under £1000. This was just one of many actions that the PPS brought and they (the PPS) should be praised for their actions.
I mentioned earlier that the parkland has had publicity in the local press lately with regards to the ex-farm land that abuts onto the manor to the north & east. The land was signed over as parkland after the lease, held by a local farmer, ran out in October 2013. With this additional landmass it now makes the Manor the largest park in Havering (234 acres) but although we, as a group welcome this it does mean that we have to be prepared to take on more work in the way of litter picks, clearing pathways of obstructions and also walking the area on a more regular basis than before to overcome any illegal activity.
One such activity is the illegal “rave” that was held in one of the fields next to the M25 last year. Taking place around the August Bank Holiday it took a three people four hours to clear the rubbish up that was left there by those that had attended this free for all. With the help of the PPS the rubbish that we had bagged up and collected together was removed within days. Now that the land that it took place on is part of the park it will be easier to evict anyone taking part in such an activity if it were to happen again.
At last year’s AGM members of the FODP were informed of a plan to reintroduce cattle into the parkland. At the time this was only a proposal and other parks within the borough were also being looked at for this to happen in. Unfortunately Dagnam Park was not chosen but we, as a group, were only made aware of this via a small article which appeared in the Recorder saying that Red Poll cattle were being introduced in Bedford’s Park.
To round off this report I would like to convey a message to the members that has been sent to the group’s website which is, “….At the AGM please pass on my deepest appreciation for the dedication of The Friends…” this was sent by Martin, an ex-park user who now lives in Perth WA. Martin has expressed an interest in becoming a member and if he does so he will be our first antipodean member whom, I can assure a warm welcome awaits from us if ever he comes over for a visit"
Mary Smith (botanist) opened the meeting with a very interesting talk on the history of the flowers, trees and grasses that can be found in the Manor.
- Election of Officers
- The meeting was informed that all the present office holders were willing to continue in office. (The meeting was asked for any nominations for office from the floor, there were none)
- Don Tait (Chair), Alan York (Secretary) Susan Cook (Treasurer) Katie Cook (Minute Secretary) were elected unopposed.
- The chairman gave a detailed report of the years activities (see above)
- The secretary reported on the course he attended related the Greater Crested Newts, the March and April litter picks, Don & Simon Donoghue’s book “Harold Hill and Noak Hill: a History” and pointed out that it was a first class book. (£16) In reply to the question can the book be taken out from the library? Don said that so far 600 hundred copies of the 1000 printed had been sold but no decision had yet been taken as to when it would put on the library shelves. The bat & bird boxes had been put up during the year paid for from the Council grant we had received last year (£464.80) and that we should look at applying for a tools grant from B&Q. In January members of the committee met Sanita (LBH) for a photo-shoot. Alan proposed that the FODP should apply to become “An official friends group” the meeting voted in favour.
- It was agreed that three pupils from Drapers Academy should work at least once a week for not less than an hour as part of their DOE training
- The Treasurer’s report (circulated before the meeting) was agreed.
- It was proposed that that the post of Membership Secretary be added to the list of officers Alan York said he would be prepared to take on theses duties. (Alan will now be Secretary and Membership Secretary.
- A long discussion on the future of the Manor, the pros & cons of the reintroduction of football.
- The meeting was told we have had an application from a former user of the Manor now living in Australia to become a member (just goes to show how good our web site is).
- AOB The Secretary said he would look into getting funding for signage in the Manor.
- Paul reported that the Cow Pond will be electro- netted between March/April.
Meeting closed (9-10 pm)