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The Friends of Dagnam Park AGM took place on February 14th 2017
More than forty people attended the meeting including several local Councillors. Ten new members joined on the night

FODP, Minutes of AGM. 14-2-17

  1.  Welcome by Dennis Cook. 
  2. Apologies were received from Mark O’Brien, Ken Lynn, Craig Derry and Brian Todd.
  3. Alan York requested that all present fill in a questionnaire about use of the park.
  4. 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 (Chairman), Alan York (Secretary) Susan Cook (Treasurer), Jan Sargent (Assistant Secretary) were elected unopposed.
  5. The minutes from January 2016 were agreed.
  6. Questions not on the agenda – Dave Ainsworth asked for a report from the Youth Officer (Don)
  7. The Chair gave a detailed report of the year’s activities (his report will be put on our web site) and answered questions about a dog savaging deer.
  8. The Secretary gave a detailed report (this report will be put on our website). He answered questions about the possible removal of the new signage due to the Council not changing the boundaries as agreed.
  9. The Treasurer’s report (circulated before the meeting) was agreed.
  10. All members will be informed of the dates of this year’s litter picks. 
  11. Tom Fradd reported that the deer count is ongoing.  The meeting discussed the difficulties in counting the number of deer, their effect on the flora and fauna in the park and their potential for causing road accidents.  Possible negotiations with the Council about protection of the rare orchids.
  12. The meeting went into great detail about the Council’s proposed solar farm and the likely adverse effects this would have on all the wildlife and the leisure activities that take place in the park.  A more detailed account of this can be found in the Chair and Secretary’s reports.
  13. AOB – The Fishing Club have received a grant from Tesco to improve the ponds.  Councillor Denis O’Flynn congratulated all the members of the campaign to stop the solar farm.

 The Meeting closed (9.15 pm)                                   

Chairman's Report   

The past year has seen guided walks and work parties taking place within the parkland. The guided walks included members of the public being taken around on history walks as well as those wanting to visit the site of the proposed solar farm.

The litter picks have once again been successful with over 75 black sacks full of other people’s rubbish cleared from the park along with various other items which have included vacuum cleaners, vehicle tyres, furniture and the obligatory Christmas tree. Along with this has also been the disposal of carpets and house hold and personal items that had been dumped in Duck Wood which, once collected from that area was taken away for disposal by Havering Street Care.

However the one thing that has tested our mettle was the announcement in July 2015 by the local authority of their proposal for placing a solar farm on 30ha of land which forms part of the 76ha (190 acres) that they had already agreed to add onto the nature reserve in 2012. After having been told by the local authority that Dagnam Park was now the largest park within Havering by having this land placed onto the reserve one can only image the effect that it had on members and others that use the parkland once the news was broken. However due to the work put forward by the committee members of the FODP, various group members, park users and the public at large a campaign to save the fields for the park was launched and by November 2016 two petitions (a paper one and an e-petition) had been accepted by the council with over 6,000 signatures all of which were objecting to the solar farm being placed on this land. Along with the petition were 238 letters sent to the Town Hall in relation to the proposal with the majority objecting to the solar farm at Dagnam Park.

Because of the over whelming support given to the FODP and the park as a whole, which saw two peaceful protests with over 200 people standing out in the cold outside the Town Hall and over 5,500 leaflets being distributed to households on Harold Hill, the authority have revaluated their proposal and we now await their final decision on this matter. However there is still more work to be undertaken in securing the 190 acres to be properly declared as being part of the parkland as there is in looking after the park for its users.

It would be wrong of me, as the chairman of the Friends of Dagnam Park, to lay claim in getting the result that we have reached with the council so far, as it would be for any individual, group of people, single councillor or their political party to do so.  The result that stands has been achieved through a collective coming together of the local community as a whole and their representatives who have helped in distributing leaflets, obtaining signatures, attending meetings and protesting, sourcing information and researching material, making others aware of the situation and above all making their voices heard. The words “Thank You” do not really convey the appreciation that not only the FODP have for those people but also others that use the park in general.

Don Tait February 2017

Secretary's Report

In June 2016 the FODP were contacted by the Freshwater Habitats Trust to be part of the nationwide ponds survey looking in particular at the rare and protected Great Crested Newt population. Funded by Thames Water, volunteers from Friends groups were asked to take at least 20 test samples from designated ponds which were then sent to a facility in France, where they checked for traces of the newts DNA .
We were instructed to test just 4 of our Dagnams 29 ponds ( only 4, as probably there was not enough funding to test them all). Two were found to be positive. Most importantly for us the largest pond is adjacent to the proposed 8 fields solar park.
Newts spend most of their lives out of water, sheltering in scrub and under damp wood. This of course could have been one of the factors to stop the proposed solar park.
Over 350 nationwide volunteers helped collect DNA samples from over  550 ponds, 30 percent carried Great Crested Newt DNA . 120 ponds in the greater London area had similar results.

Regarding the continuing archaeological dig at the manor house site, sadly our plans came to not much, as Don and I spent so much time and energy with the solar park problem. However a few weeks ago, thanks to parks dept. Tom Fradd and his team, the autumn leaves that covered the exposed stable block site were removed, Don and I also meet Tom ( during a very cold wintery snow flurry) and looked at how to uncover  the Manor house foundations, and the summer house which by the way was probably the orangery. Tom also earlier in the year arranged for a volunteer group to clear the scrub that had grown around and covered the path which led from the stable block to the walled garden’s concrete pond. The outer edge of the pond was also cleared.
Dates for the 2017 dig will be announced in the coming weeks. We may even be joined by the Havering and Redbridge London assembly member Keith Prince.  As he was most taken by the progress we had made when we gave him a guided tour of the proposed solar panel park fields.
Finally news of the 2016 litter picks. We collected around 100 black bags full of the usual , and unusual objects that are discarded in the nature reserve. I found a collection empty jewelry boxes which did contain a non-working watch and 2 costume pieces, not of much value but obviously the result of a burglary, probably from a Harold Hill dwelling. I took them to Romford police Station who kept them for a month. They later contacted me and said as no one had claimed them they were now mine. To which my daughters were most grateful!(The watch just needed a new battery)
When we first started our litter picks some 15 years ago our average black bag collection was in the 200’s. So the 100 we collect now annually shows we are reducing the piles of rubbish.
However, we have for the past 2 years,  been clearing the nature reserve as far as the expanded fields . This boundary expansion was given over to the FODP in a blaze of council publicity, but as you now know these expanded boundaries are no longer, as Havering council did not complete the formalisation process, hence the fields were then earmarked to be a solar panel park. This situation stands like this at present. 
Another factor to consider; is that  the  ten thousand pounds worth of signage which was installed in 2016 are, according to Havering council to be ripped out, as the maps on the signage displays the expanded boundaries.
The resolution of the boundary situation is now the number one priority for Don and I.
Head Councillor Roger Ramsey has stated publicly that he wants to meet us for further discussions.  So watch this space, as they say!

Alan York.

 

Friends of Dagnam Park Annual Accounts
15th February 2016 to 14th February 2017

 

Balance on the 15th of February 2016               £817.52

 

Expenditure

Renewal of domain name

  £49.99

Hire of Myplace

  £34.80

Total

  £84.79

Income

Donation from Havering (Official Friends Status)

£1,000.00

Membership

  £204.00

Donation from Fishing Club

    £50.00

Donation from Del

    £25.00

Total

£1279.00

 

Balance on the 14th of February 2017               £2011.73

 

These accounts have been examined by Frank Tapley.