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Below all of the Newsletters issued since our beginnings in 2004. (minus any photographs)

 

Friends of Dagnam Park Newsletter
June 2016

May 22nd. We were requested by Thames Water to test four preselected ponds hopefully housing crested newts. Twenty water samples from each pond were collected and added to a catalyst . The samples were then picked up the following day for transportation to France, where they will be checked for crested newt DNA. Results expected in September.
June 20th . Myself, Don, LBH Tom Fradd and a representative from the signage company on a very wet day walked the Manor to confirm the locations of the three signs. Thankfully the signage company will also install them. Costs being met 95% by a grant from the Veolia Trust and the rest by the LBH. We will also shortly receive £1000 from LBH for achieving Official Friends Status earlier in the year. 
June 23rd.  The London in Bloom Judge joined Don and I in Tom Fradd's Havering 4x4 Land Rover. This was most welcome because as previously mentioned it hasn't stopped raining! The ground being sodden and very muddy. The added bonus as well  abled us to cover the entire Manor for the judge to view our excellent litter free reserve. He was highly praise worthy of the cleared stable block and walled garden area.  Tom showed him the paper work of how the soon to be installed signage will look. I'm quietly confident of a gold award this year ( fingers crossed!).
The judge also gave us good advice on how to raise the status of the Manor from Nature Reserve to Regional Status, National Status and finally a Site of Scientific Interest. (SSI). It is the committees long term aim to achieve this, so assuring future generations the benefits of Havering's largest open space.
As the site is relatively free of litter ( thanks to all who do stoop to conquer our perpetual menace) the planned weekend litter pick for 2-3 July is now cancelled. Our next pick will be as listed 23-24th July 2016. meeting as usual in the Settle Road car park 9.30 for 9.45am start.
The four signs for the Manor were installed  Wednesday  29/6/16.
They were totally funded by grants from Veolia North Thames Trust (95%) and London Borough of havering (5%) Our thanks go to them.

Alan York.

 

Friends of Dagnam Park
Newsletter
November  2014.

Park security telephone number 07904 805 872

It only seems like yesterday that I sat down and put together the last newsletter but since that time we, as a group, have had our AGM, litter picks, additional  land has been added to the park, we have suffered from fly tippers, and have noted the loss of a valued friend to not only the group but also to those that knew him. On top of this we have also said goodbye to one of the photographers who has been very active in the parkland helping to record the park as it is today as he has now emigrated to the frozen tundra of Canada, and by the time that you read this newsletter we will have a new Parks Manager (North) for the local authority. Our present one, Geoff Pepper retires, after some considerable time and retires from the post to a well earned retirement in Suffolk.

AGM.
Held at MyPlace, Dagnam Park Drive, on 26th February the Annual General Meeting of the group had thirty people in attendance. The evening started with Mary Smith, a botanist who has visited the parkland on many occasions and who has, in the past, given guided walks through parts of the park showing members some of the different types of fungi that are growing there. Giving the members gathered an informative and engaging presentation on the fauna that can be found within the parkland (the presentation was enjoyed by those that were present so much that some have asked if Mary could return and give another talk to the group).
After Mary's talk the group settled down to the business of the AGM. Member's were informed that all the present committee member's were willing to stand again, and as there where no nominations given from the floor it was agreed that they were elected.
Committee for the FODP for the year 2014-2015 being:-

Chairman..................Don Tait
Secretary.................Alan York
Treasurer.................Susan Cook
Minute Secretary....Katie Cook

It was also proposed that a new post of Membership Secretary be put into place for the group. Alan offered to fill this post if there were no other nominations from the floor. This being the case it was agreed that Alan York would deal with all new membership enquiries.

Membership Secretary......Alan York.

Although this took place in February if anyone has not managed to do so already a fuller report of the AGM (with committee reports) can be found on the FODP website.

Parkland in the media.
It is not often that mention of the parkland appears in the media spotlight but every now and again it does and so far in recent years it has appeared in items run by the BBC programme Countryfile (twice) and for those that may have seen it on a programme about the police helicopter service (which is often seen repeated on various channels). As well as this there have been two main features in the Romford Recorder within the last 12 months on the wildlife that has been captured through the lenses of a few of us that can be seen with cameras in hand walking around the parkland. Outside of the parkland and on Harold Hill the deer have been filmed and have featured in a BBC 4 (then repeated on BBC2) programme about the urban wildlife that can be found in the London area (although the programme makers erronously said that Harold Hill was in "north east London" ). Some of the footage that was taken for this last mentioned programme has also been shown on the BBC 1 programme The One Show mixed in with new footage. Now keep an eye out for a new commercial that is due out for Canon Camera's as an advertising   film crew have been taking footage in the Priory Road/Whitchurch Road/Dagnam Park Drive and Settle Road areas of the deer from the parkland walking etc through parts of the estate.

Osier Woods.
Whilst on the subject of being in the media spotlight, did you know that Osiers Wood is under threat?  Well it is according to the Woodland Trust. An item on the ITV news programme, London Tonight which was broadcasted on the evening of the 26th February (2014) stated that it (the Woodland Trust) had noted that there are six ancient woodlands in the London area that are "at risk" from being damaged or lost for ever. Along with Oak Wood (Barnet), Hobbs Mole Wood & Codham Hall Wood (both Upminster), Jermain's Wood (near Tyler's Common, Nag's Head Lane) and Claybury Woods (near Chigwell) Osiers Wood is deemed as being at risk. Although it is unclear just what the risk is to Osier's it is something that the Friend's should be aware of, in so much that it has already been placed on a list of endangerment. For those that may have already walked in this small woodland but do not know it has a name and for those that are yet to venture into it, Osier's Wood is the small stretch of woodland that borders the Weald Brook and the park next to the M25. It is an enchanting place to walk through during the early spring time as it has, in the past, been blessed with one of the best shows of native Bluebell's that one can see within the park. It also has the bonus of being one of the few place's within the manor that few people get to on their walks around the parkland and if one can cut out the noise from the nearby motorway (no mean feat when traffic is thundering past  as you walk through the wood but it can be done).

Litter picks and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
At the start of this year the FODP were approached by some students from the nearby Drapers Academy in Settle Road with the view of them helping us by picking up litter within the park as they were taking part and completing their  Duke of Edinburgh Award. As this ties in nicely with one of the aims of the FODP we had no hesitation in saying yes and I am pleased to say that they did an excellent job for the months that they carried on, in all weathers, to complete their task in helping to clear the Duckwood of litter as well as an area within the manor itself. They have now completed this stage in their DofE and on behalf of the members of our group I would like to say thank you and wish them well.

The work carried out by the girls in Duckwood coincided with our own litter picks that have been held so far this year and as well as the thirty black sacks of rubish  that the girls collected over a period of time we have had a similar amount that has been collected by group members and disposed of by the ground maintance lads from the council. At the same time Ground Maintance have also disposed of the near 70 vehicle tyres that were collected up on the one morning from the old Wightsbridge Road (now Lower Noke Close) when we conducted a litter pick in that area. At the time it was satisfying to see the accumulated rubbish gathered in which in turn made the park a more attractive place to spend time in and a big thank you is extended to those that attended the litter picks and thanks must also be said to ground maintance (Havering council) for collecting the rubbish.

However the slapping of backs and  self congratulations on making the parkland a better place to visit were soon on the downward slope as within a few weeks of clearing the vehicle tyres etc from the park some low life (I could put stronger words here but I will let you do that as you read on) felt that it was a good idea to fly tip their load of household rubbish and other matter into one of the fields that had just been put under the umbrella of the parkland. Not content of emptying their vehicle the once, they subquently returned and tipped at least twice more leaving the field awash with building material, furniture and  household items as well as pallets and wood taken from their garden. It is hoped that action can be taken by the local authority on this matter as a name was found amongst the debris and the last time that I enquired about this I was informed  that the parks department were passing it on to the council legal team. Let us hope that who ever did this can be traced and fined heavily for their actions.

Cow/Perch Pond
In April this pond was netted by the fishing club as they were giving it up and would no longer lease it from the council. Although there are still fish in the pond the angling club will now not be tending to the banks etc and under an agreement with the parks department  the FODP have taken on the task of  keeping it clear of litter and on occasion freeing the water of any plant life that takes over and encroaches onto the well being of the pond and the wildlife that inhabit it.

Wildlife.
Since the last newsletter went out  the FODP have purchased and placed bird and bat boxes around the parkland, some can be seen quite easily whilst others may need to be looked for as they have been placed in areas where it has been noted that they would serve best for the wildlife. We have a wealth of wildlife that can be seen within the confines of the parkland from foxes to frogs and deer to damsel flies and there are things to see most days of the week in all the seasons that a year has to offer. This past year has seen Fieldfares, Redwings and Thrush feeding on the berries over the winter and into early spring. Greylag's, Mandarin's, and Canada Geese returning to the ponds as well as Kingfisher's being seen flitting and diving on the three ponds as well. Redkites have also returned once again to the area as have the Common Buzzard's that can be seen swirling on the wing above the parkland (largest number at one time were five Common Buzzards searching the fields from above one morning in March near to the Perch Pond).

The Red Stag that had been in the parkland from October 2013 stayed around until the middle of February this year and was no longer seen this coincided with the ending of the rut and as this years Fallow rut is fast upon us (going by my past entries in my book for the manor I note that it is around the 2nd week of October that the rut really kicks off for the fallow deer that we have in the park) one never knows if he will be back or if it was a one off appearance.

Talking of the rutting season reminds me to ask all dog owners to be careful when walking their dogs in and around the parkland as although attacks by the deer that we have within the manor on dogs or their owners is very rare it can happen (there have been reports of walkers/dog owners & dogs being attacked by the deer herd in Richmond Park this year) so I would like to ask all those that walk their dogs through the park to be careful and if one did come across any deer please keep your dog under control as much as possible.

Farewells and Goodbyes.
Over the years many of the members of the FODP have had need to contact the parks department on Havering Council over various matters, be it lack of seating/bins, fallen trees or concerns that they have had on the running of the parks in the borough. During that time their calls and concerns have been taken on  board by the Parks Manager (North), Geoff Pepper. At the end of October Geoff retired from his post, and from the council after working for them for some forty plus years. Starting out as an apprentice on the gardening team when he left school Geoff has risen through the ranks so to speak and leaves the local authority with new directions in mind. He has been an enormous help to all of the friends groups that are now established within the borough and has helped them from their start ups to where they stand now. Often doing work and going to meetings that go past his official remit Geoff has shown his passion and commitment to the parks and open space's in Havering many times and I and the rest of the FODP committee send our best wishes to him as he sets off to a life away from work and hope that he enjoys his retirement.

Another one to leave the borough, but lesser known outside those that use the manor on a regular basis is Alec Hickman. Alec and his wife Nicole have, for a few years now, been regulars to the manor as they walked their dog, Holly, and for the past year to 18 month Alec has been a regular contributor to the Dagnam Park facebook page where he has been posting some fantastic images that he has been able to capture.  From mystical and ethereal sunrise's and landscapes to his wildlife images Alec has been recording the passing of time in the park and through his imagery he has given people more of an understanding of what the manor holds for those that want to see it. Both Alec and Nicole (and Holly) have now moved to Canada where no doubt Alec will be getting the camera out once he has settled and will again get some fantastic results from the land of the frozen north. Good luck Alec and Nicole and don't forget to pop back to the park when you come back to visit family and friends. To those that would like to see images that Alec has taken in the manor ask to join the "Dagnam Park (The Manor) Harold Hill Users Group" on facebook where not only you will see his images but also those that have been taken by others that contribute to the page.

Sadly these last few paragraphs are a final goodbye and farewell to someone who many who may read this will not have known or have heard of but to those that did I would like to pay my own respects to a lover of the manor and everything that grew, flew, crawled, hopped and lived within its boundaries and surrounding fields. For those that grew up in the late fifties and early sixties on Harold Hill it was a time of exploring the manor and farmland around the estate and at some stage one would have come across Ernest Herbert.

Ernie,  or as he was to become known by many, Herbie, was born in Bethnal Green but grew up on the Hill after he and his family moved to the estate in the early months of 1950. He attended what was then called Quarles Secondary Modern School in Tring Gardens and he once told me that he did not enjoy going to school but much preferred the open fields and woods that could be found in the area and it was in those fields & woods  that he spent most of his teenage years finding out what they had to offer. After a spell of being a poacher (his words) he came to realise that it was far better to observe the wildlife through binoculars rather than a gun sight and it was in the manor that Herbie developed a love for wildlife which would later become a passion of his.

To look at Herbie in his later years it was hard at times to image that he had lived a colourful and varied life but his life was certainly that. When young he was a collector of wild bird eggs, which he later swapped for an air pistol which then led him on to become an admirer of guns in general for the rest of his life, poacher of venison and game birds, gun dealer, night watchman for scrapyard owners in Rainham (it was said that he never had trouble in any of the yards that he looked after, more so when he had his Alsatian, Satan, with him and if he did, those that broke in were more afraid of him than the dog), council worker, youth worker, historian, researcher and an author of works that have been, and are still being, used in the local library service in Havering and on the FODP website.

An avid reader Herbie had amassed a collection of books on ornithology, history, the English language and its usuage from Latin to slang, the English countryside, British wildlife etc etc the list was endless.  Not only did he read them all but ask him a question and if he did not know the answer he would know that he had a book that would have it in. Over the years that I knew Herbie I found that we had more than one common interest but the one that rose above them all was a love for the manor and the history that it has risen from. It was with his help and encouragement that the book "Harold Hill & Noak Hill: a history" had the depth of  research that it took to produce the book as it was he who pressed on me the importance of proper research and the need to search out and read, where possible, original documents. His insistence to search out the smallest bit of detail when conducting research stands good with me now and it is surprising where it can lead and just what it can open up for further research.

Without realising it current members of the FODP and those that walk the parkland on a daily basis owe a lot to Herbie for if it was not for his early years growing up on the Hill and his later years as a lover of the place, the manor may not exist in the form that it now takes. One of the things that Herbie did was to share his love for the manor with others and in his youth and before he lost his mobility in later years he would often take others around the parkland to show them just what the park had to offer them. It is no small matter to say that more than a few of those that now walk the fields within the parkland were introduced to it by Herbie many years ago and they now share that love of the place that he held so dear.

..............................................................................................................................................................Don Tait

Friends of Dagnam Park
Newsletter
December 2013.

Park security telephone number 07904 805 872

Since the last newsletter in April the parkland has seen the coming and going of some of the most loveliest days to be had in The Manor and now, as I type and reflect back on those balmy days when the sun was at its highest, I see, once again, that it is raining and all thoughts of the past year spent tramping around the fields are but a still and distant memory. Like many who spend their time in the parkland, be it walking, fishing or just sitting in a corner of a field having some "me" time I find that having been in there "my batteries are recharged", as someone put it to me only the other week, which is why I suppose that the number of people now using the park has gone up quite a bit as they discover what the parkland has to offer, which all in all is a good thing but trying to find a quiet place to sit and enjoy the park is getting more and more difficult, but hey-ho you cannot it have both ways as we need people to be aware of the parkland and to use it fittingly.

Wildlife.

From a wet, windy and cold start to the year the spring came and went like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, rushing in and being late on arrival.
With cold frosty mornings which went on through to mid-April it was a wonder that anything was out and about to be seen. But seen they were, with Goldcrests being spotted in Hatter’s Wood in the first week of April and Treecreeper and Nuthatch going from tree to tree being spotted as well. Visiting the parkland first thing in the morning, when the new day’s sun was slowly rising over Brentwood and before anyone else broke ground with their footsteps one could, if you were very lucky and in the right place, catch a glimpse of a Stoat or two harrying the young Kits as they tried desperately to get out of their way and find safety in amongst the adult rabbits.

Early morning also brought unexpected sights such as Muntjac gingerly hugging the field boundaries in the hope that no one, or thing, would spot them and if they were spotted or disturbed on their preamble they would quickly crash through the hedgerow just as quick as they had appeared. 

By the 3rd week of May, Spring, or what was supposed to be Spring was leaving, as it had arrived, like an un-welcomed guest with a dose of measles, but things were looking up. With the hatching of goslings on both the Green Lake and Perch Pond and Long Tail Tits gathering insects to feed their young in nesting sites across the parkland there was plenty to observe and learn from.

By the middle of June Fallow Does had also had their young and the sound of the fawn’s gentle bleating for their mothers could be heard filling the early morning and early evening air (even as I type this out in late December this sound can still be heard occasionally  as one walks through the parkland). Standing at the edge of field under the cover of an over- hanging branch of an Oak and watching deer cautiously enter a field with their young following by their side and continuously holding their heads erect so as to catch any scent that they may find that “spells” danger to them is also something that many of the park users do not have a chance of doing. They may catch a glimpse of a few deer in the distance or, if they are lucky, see a small herd run in front of them but many of the users to the park have yet to see any deer at all.

By the end of the month both Fox and Deer had young to feed. The Fox, which only has one litter per year has a gestation period of 52-53 days and has dropped her litter by mid-April, dependant of course when she mated and has, generally, a litter of four or five cubs deep in its earth.

The cubs suckle up to the Vixen to take her milk and at some point, usually by the time that the cubs are four – five weeks old they will be weaned from this by having solid food, in the form of small mammals etc found by the Vixen and deposited in front of them. As they grew older the cubs can be found sunning their-selves just outside the earth and occasionally play-fighting.

One of the best sights that I was able to witness this year was of a Vixen moving her litter, one at a time, by carrying them in her mouth, from her earth where she had been disturbed to another earth two fields away from the first, a magical sight with no one else around to view the scene.

In the first week of November some of the park users received a big surprise when they came across a large animal that was to be found running with the Fallow Deer. Described by some as being ..."as big as an 'orse"...or ..."it’s the size of a large pony"...to ...." I only caught a quick sight of it but I tell you it put the wotsits up me,
….. its massive!..." I, and a couple of others were intrigued to say the least and by the second week reports were coming back by others who had seen this large animal on a more regular basis and by the end of that week I had seen it myself and yes it is big and if anyone has seen it they will not forget it in a hurry.

The massive 'orse/pony sized animal turned out to be a lone Red Deer Stag that had wandered in from outside of the park and which was looking for a mate as it was the rutting season for this specie of deer. Surprisingly there are wild Red Deer in Essex and these can be found in Hatfield Forest as well as Epping Forest running freely. As well as running freely in the two already mentioned places Red Deer can be found in the countryside around Ongar, Brentwood, Chelmsford and the Rodings area of Essex.

Although there are no other Reds within The Manor this lone stag can, and most possibly will, mate with some of the Fallow Does which may prove interesting in the spring when the Does have their young.

Along with the unexpected Red Deer (which in some respects is a bonus) the bird life is doing well within the parkland and as I sit and type this in the third week of December Redwings have been gorging their selves on the berries from the Hawthorne bushes that abound along the main drive for the last two weeks. Feeding off of the Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Dogwood and Yew and moving onto the Holly and also the Ivy these birds stay in small flocks moving from one food source to another. You can see Redwings in most of the field boundaries within The Manor but for a better, dryer underfoot place to see them I would suggest that one should start near to the white gate posts on the drive and walk north towards Noak Hill where there is plenty of food for these birds and whilst looking out for the Redwings keep an eye out for the Fieldfares that, as a rule, accompany them.

 

Football Pitches.

The football pitches have been now laid, the fencing taken down and they now await marking out and the first ball to be kicked (officially) across the turf. The FODP have been informed that these pitches are for the use of under 12’s only and, according to one member of the council, they will only be used on Sunday mornings (although I think that his idea of usage and whoever plays on these pitches idea of how they will be used may differ as a team, of whatever age, has to practice somewhere during the week days for their match at the weekends).

It will also be interesting to see how long it is before a planning application goes in to the relevant LBH department for changing facilities/ toilets to accommodate the teams and their supporters as Sport England were insistent on having facilities provided in the report that was put out in June 2012 in relation to the pitches going into the parkland and at Broxhill. Anyone that is interested in reading the report can find it here.

Land mass in the parkland.

The Manor has now officially had the ex-farm land that abuts the parkland in the north and east added to it and it now has a total of 345 acres making it the largest park in Havering. The combined 202 acres that has been added to the park was once part of Manor Farm and Hill Farm respectively and was (partly) still being used for agricultural purposes up until August of this year. It now means that one can enter the park via Whitchurch Road (by the footpath) and stay in the park until one reaches the Weald Brook thus giving the park user an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the parkland as one should in its entirety without a vehicle in sight (if you do not count those who use the car park in Settle Road and the M25 that is).

However with the added land that now makes up The Manor one has to remember that the Park Security will need park users even more to contact them as soon as they see anything untoward going on. The Park Security Team have been an asset to not only our park but to all of those across Havering since their forming and they work tirelessly in making sure that our parks are kept free of trouble makers in all forms, but they cannot do this without our help so please whenever you use the park keep in mind that help is on hand when needed from the Park Security Team. You will find their telephone number near the top of this newsletter and if you load it into your mobile you will know that you have it with you at all times.

With the extra land comes another point that we, as a group, have to take into consideration and that is its management on a day to day, week by week basis. We can all participate in this by walking the fields on a regular basis and reporting any dumping of rubbish, abandoned vehicles or, as was the case in late August this year illegal raves. It has also been noted that we have had people camping out in the parkland at odd times over the past year and if anyone sees this happening then our advice is please do not approach but report it straight away to the Park Security Team for them to deal with it.

For anyone who does not know the “new area” I would gladly meet up with them to walk them around to show just where the parkland stretches too now…just let me know if anyone is interested in doing this.

 

….and finally…

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Don Tait

 

Friends of Dagnam Park
 Newsletter
April 2013.

LITTER PICK 27th & 28th APRIL

Park security telephone number 07904 805 872

Wildlife.
Following on from one of the wettest winters that we have experienced for a long time spring is now finally showing its head above the parapet  and is cautiously creeping into view. Trees and scrub are gradually starting to get their foliage back and the parkland is full of chattering birdsong as nests are built and male birds are competing with each other to find a mate. If one has the time and the patience to stay in an area long enough you may be able to spot where some of the nests are being built and occupied. One of my favourite places to do this is the white gate posts, where if you are lucky enough, you can see a blue tit that has made one of the posts its home, fly in and out of it with nesting material and later it will be taking food into its nest to feed the young that will have hatched within the safety of the cast iron post.

Another bird to look out for, to spot where they are nesting that is, is the Ring Necked Parakeet, which can be seen and heard flying and settling in the trees around the parkland. Many have taken over vacant nesting sites in trees and can be found high up in the boughs like the one below.

 

Also, if you have the time, try to catch a glimpse for the Goldcrests that one can now find in Hatters Wood and also in the Kitchen Field. These are Europe’s smallest bird and seem to flit from branch to branch very quickly but having spotted them myself I can say that they are worth standing around looking up in the branches for.

 

Having started their rut in October the Fallow bucks have settled back down now and have returned to their grazing routines again but for a few months from October and leading up to the Christmas season, the deep penetrating bellow given out by the mature bucks could be heard breaking the stillness of the early morning air. This sound would soon be followed up by the hard resonating sound of antler clashing against antler as the bucks fought over the right of them being able to mate with the does and to be in charge of the herd.

I was extremely fortunate to witness such a clash take place in October last year when two equal sized bucks squared up to each other. For once I was able to have a clear view of this happening as it took place in an open field and for forty-five minutes I was totally captivated with what was taking place before me. First of all there came the deep bellow from the buck that was already standing in the field with a group of grazing does suddenly their, and my, attention was drawn to the tree line when out of it came the contending buck. Head held high, it moved quickly across the field to only pause in pace long enough to lower its head in preparation for the clash, which was set to come.

With the does scattering the rut had begun. With antlers locked the bucks pushed against each other for sometime with each not wanting to give ground. Around them, the field, in places, had settled back down and the does appeared to take no notice of the bucks fighting each other but immediately near to them the area had cleared and with every rush forward by one of the bucks a bit more space was cleared. Apart from stopping twice, when both bucks were wheezing and breathing heavily and were drawing in deep gulps of air in a hope to quickly recover, the rut continued until the winner chased the contender off the field. 

 

Now, as I type, all has settled back to the norm (if there is such a thing in the Manor) and many of the does will be carrying young, which will be born in June. One can only hope that they are left alone from being chased by dog’s etc.

Whilst on the subject of the deer I would like to ask all those that use the parkland to report any gunshots that they hear coming from within the park boundaries or for that matter anything untoward happening in the park to the Park Security Team so that they can investigate them. Their telephone number is 07904 805 872.  When telephoning either the parks team or the police about anything please tell them what you are witnessing, where you are at that time and where the incident that you are reporting is taking place in a clear and calm manner as it all helps.

Noak Hill entrance to the park.
Once again the padlock on this gated entrance has been taken by someone who believes that this gate should not be locked. Unfortunately by doing this it means that unofficial vehicles can, and do, use this entrance to gain access to the parkland. User’s of the park should be aware of this happening as at times those driving the vehicles do not tend to go slow enough down the trackway. Hopefully this problem will be resolved but until then I would urge all park users to be careful when walking along the trackway leading to Noak Hill. Both the Parks Department and Parks Security are aware of this, as it has been reported to them on numerous occasions and they will be reviewing the gate security at this entrance.

Rogue Dogs and their owners

Over the past few months I have been hearing of (and seeing for myself) owners of large dogs letting their animals loose as they arrive in the park. Whilst many on the whole have well trained and obidient  dogs there is a very small minority who frequent the area that think that it is ok for their animal to chase the deer and at times get into fights with more docile pets. One of the reports that have come back is of an owner who is letting his pair of dogs, a Belgium Alsatian and a Rottweiler, to not only chase the deer (and working as a pair the dogs tend to try to separate one or two from the herd), but is also not concerned if they go after other dogs as well, one dog walker is now not returning to the park as his dog was attacked by one of these dogs. (the owner of the two dogs has been reported to Parks Security about his behaviour to other park users).

Fights between dogs are fairly rare within the park, although the odd snap and snarl between dogs does happen now and again but this latest news is a tad unsettling. More so when you hear of one dog owner having to pay upwards of a thousand pounds for treatment to their dog who had been attacked when it was within the park. If anyone does see this type of behaviour from irresponsible owners please make a note of time and date and what you saw and report it either to myself, so that I can make other park users aware, or to the park security team so that they can look into it.

Litter picks for the year.
We have already held out first litter pick of the year which saw members of the FODP collect enough rubbish to fill thirty black sacks of assorted debris left by other users of the parkland. Seeing that we collected just under 70 black sacks of rubbish from the four litter picks that we held last year as well as various car parts, shopping trolleys, Christmas trees, buggies and vacuum cleaners, it would seem that we could be going past that figure this year. When ever we have conducted an event such as this we aim to do a different area each time as well as attempting to concentrate on the main pathways, such as the cycle path and main trackway towards Noak Hill, doing it in this manner each of us that turn up will get to know the park more. With more help we could cover even more areas and also pick up more of the debris that other people tend to throw away. With this in mind I would like to ask all those that live within the area of the park and who receive this newsletter to try to get to at least one of the forth coming litter picks that will be held this year if you can. Even if you can only give an hour of your time it would help. Litter picks are provided as are black sacks and there are people that attend each of these events who do any heavy lifting and carrying. On top of this it will give people a chance to meet up with those that run the Friends of Dagnam Park and where possible to discuss things that concern them (if anything) with regards to the park. Hope to see some new faces at the next litter pick.

 

The next litter pick that has been arranged by group members is to be held on the weekend of 27th and 28th April (next weekend) and as usual volunteers are asked to meet up in the car park near the Settle Road entrance for 9.15 with a start time of 9.30. Area (s) to be cleared of rubbish will be agreed upon on the morning. Please remember because of the wet conditions that we have been having it is advisable to wear appropriate footwear….hope to see some new faces there.

FODP AGM
Held on 13th February at Myplace in Dagnam Park Drive, the Annual General Meeting was attended by a small group of members who heard a half hour talk given by Sivi Sivanesan, public engagement officer from the Peterborough based organisation, Froglife, on amphibians and also what to look for within the parkland in the way of snakes and slow worms. After which, the talk was completed with a question and answer session.  From this start the meeting then concentrated on the groups main business of the evening that, being electing committee members and discussing the way forward for the coming year. With all of last year’s committee members being re-elected to their posts and reports given by the various committee members the meeting moved onto any other business where it was agreed upon that more communication was needed between the local authority, in the guise of the Parks Department, and the FODP as things where happening within the park that we, as a group, seemed to be the last people to hear of, (from the comments passed we were invited to meet up with members of the parks dept to discuss the possible  introduction of cattle back into the parkland –which was carried out the following week – see next item below).

Cattle in the Parkland?
Havering Council (Parks department) have been looking at introducing a small herd of cattle into a few of the parks that they control under a land stewardship scheme  and, among others, Dagnam Park is one of the parks that the council have been looking at for doing this. It would mean the erecting of fencing, in, or around, some of the areas that would be used. A kissing gate would be provided at either end of the fenced off area for members of the public to gain access too and from the field (if this were to happen all dogs would have to be on a lead when in the areas that the cattle are held). The breed of cattle chosen has been the Red Poll, a docile bred which has been used for many years in other local authority areas for grazing on common land as well as in parkland. If Dagnam Park was chosen as the favoured site for this project it is visualised that  there would only be up to thirty Red Poll grazing at any one time (in fact the numbers could be less than that) and it would only take place for three months of the year towards the end of the summer months and into the autumn ones. As yet nothing has been decided upon by the local authority and the farmer involved, but when it does I will let you all know. I feel that this is a worth while scheme and if it were to happen it would need the support of the friends group of what ever parkland that is chosen.

Football Pitches.
The subject of the football pitches being placed into the nature reserve has been bounced around before ever since they were withdrawn some thirty odd years ago.
At our very first public meeting in 2003 the council plans for reintroducing football pitches back into the park were revealed and although they were then not connected to any pitches being removed from other sites within Harold Hill the plans were there for all to see what could possible come in the future. Now ten years on, plans on paper have become reality with heavy plant machinery churning up an area near the car park (which is also under revue to be enlarged) to provide football pitches for junior teams to use. Without going into the details of how we got to this stage in this news letter it is suffice to say that the general feeling amongst those that are presently using the park is that the pitches should not have been placed in the parkland at all. However if one is to look at the wider picture it does mean that there should be more people visiting the park and, hopefully, potential new members for the FODP.  To see the plans put forward by the council please click here.

Don Tait

Friends of Dagnam Park Newsletter
25th September 2006

Fungi

Firstly, Don't forget next Sunday 1st October we meet in the car park at 2.30pm for our fungus foray, Tony Boniface, the leading Essex specialist will guide us round and hopefully find fungi galore.
This event will take place no matter what the weather. So I will see you there with your brolly.

and Glow Worms

On Friday 21st July 14 members set off in the dark to see Glow-worms in Laindon and we did. We all had good views of several females, the first I've ever seen so well worth while.

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And Now The Beauty Spots Saga


On the Beauty Spots of Harold Hill there has also been significant developments, you will recall that our second attempt to get the council to honour their obligations was on the Whitchurch Rd allotment site, after several attempts the council managed it and removed a huge amount of rubbish. The whole saga lasted about six weeks. We then moved on to Leamington Rd Woods (Shoulder of Mutton Wood) which hadn't been litter picked for more than ten years, if ever. Anyway we wrote to the council on 16th May pointing out that the wood was an eyesore with a large amount of wind blown litter as well as fly tipped garden refuse old tyres and furniture etc and that under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 the Council had a statutory duty to keep all of their land free of litter.

The Council's response was a simple acknowledgement on the 24th May, we waited another couple of weeks and on the 11th June we wrote again asking for a reply to our first letter and threatening court action. On the 16th June we received another holding letter and on the 3rd of July a letter arrived claiming that the clear up was complete.

I returned to the wood on the 9th July to inspect the results of the clear up and was appalled to find that the wood was in the same condition as when I first visited it in early May. A cursory attempt had been made at clearing the vegetation between the boundary fence and the public highway, this seems to have been done mechanically and the large amount of refuse amongst the vegetation was left there in a shredded condition. It looked worse in fact because rubbish which was once partly concealed by vegetation was now clearly visible. Beyond the boundary fence no litter or fly tipping had been cleared whatsoever, a pile of old tyres still in situ and an old armchair was in the same position albeit now partially burned. I wrote immediately to the council pointing out that their clear up attempt was a hopeless failure and I informed them I would be visiting the Magistrates Court the following week for preliminary discussions.

Having heard nothing from the Council by the 17th July we wrote giving formal notice that we would be in court applying for a litter abatement order on the 24th. Still nothing was heard from the Council so on 24th July we went to court and obtained a summons against Havering Council to appear for the first hearing on the 24th August. On the 9th August a letter arrived regretting that we had gone to court and informing us that they had done another clear up.

Off I go to the woods again this time accompanied by Dennis Cook and one of the newly elected Councillors, Dennis Bull. You will not be surprised to know that there had only been a minor improvement. Cllr Bull also agreed it was not of an acceptable standard.

On the 17th August I wrote for the fifth time suggesting that it was not good enough and if a senior officer were to meet prior to the court case we may be able to avoid the legal action. On the eve of the case they made contact and agreed to meet on site, with hours to go I asked the court to set a new date to allow time for discussions. A new date for the hearing was set for 21st September.
I met with Geoff Pepper and Don Stewart and they agreed to make yet one more attempt. Over the following three weeks some more work was done in the wood and following that I met Don Stuart and Mr Hines on 20th September (The council love a bit of brinkmanship) we all agreed that work still needed to be done and the following programme was agreed.

1. Before the end of this year work will be undertaken to cut back the vegetation two metres into the wood all along the boundary of both Leamington and Stratton Roads.
2. The litter will be cleared from that area.
3. The Wood will thereafter be litter picked on a monthly basis.
4. The Council will also maintain the verges on the footpath side of the fence keeping it free of nettles, brambles and litter, in the hope that it will eventually grass over enabling it to be maintained by routine mowing.

A day before the hearing at the Magistrates Court I finally withdrew the case and the council agreed to pay our costs.

Some thanks are due to two people not already mentioned, firstly Phil Butler for bringing to my attention the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and secondly to Peter Jones for attending court with me and his general support and encouragement. Peter is currently pursuing his own battle with the council on the rubbish in Sage Wood which runs down from Dagnam Park Drive, across Wickford Drive then Swindon Lane and on into Central Park.

On a separate but connected issue, in August I pointed out verbally that our next case would be the small area of woodland on the junction of Whitchurch Rd and Dagnam Park Drive, to their credit the council took that on board and cleared a large amount of rubbish, they have also agreed to keep it clear by litter picking it 18 times per year.

We shall see.


FENCING


Members will be well aware that we have campaigned for a couple of years now for steel fencing around the park and to give them credit the council have done it, its not perfect, but then things never are.

We still have a problem or two, hence :-

See below copy of an Email sent to Pete Williams, the boss of Havering's Countryside Management Services on 24th September 2006. He has not yet had time to reply.


Hello Pete, it has been some time since the new fences and the bike restrictors were installed, you are probably aware that the restrictors are completely ineffective for their purpose. (I watched a convoy of bikes pass through with little difficulty an hour ago, and in Sedgefield Cres I reported similar problems months ago)
Obviously to have spent such a large amount of money to little effect is somewhat embarrassing. I spoke to Geoff Pepper more than a month ago and he told me that in fact the wrong restrictors were installed by the contractors and that they were to be changed, I hope that that is the case, perhaps you can enlighten me. There is a similar problem in Lower Noke Close where the whole project is simply being bypassed at one end, I even saw horses and riders using that diversion a few weeks ago. When we last spoke you assured me that you had that problem in hand.
Finally you will recall my previous email on the missing/vandalised section of the new fence in Priory Rd. Please advise when will that be repaired?

I bet you love getting emails from me. Best Wishes Del

The salient points from Pete's reply today

The contractor is replacing the restrictors and they are currently on order.
The fencing at Priory Road is being repaired and modified with the inclusion of a pedestrian squeeze structure and a report is going to the 17 October Harold Hill Community Area Committee regarding access and the fencing at Priory Close following the submission of a petition from local residents.
We, through Geoff Pepper, will be extending the ditch to the end of the fencing and installing a small pedestrian culvert bridge where the new access will be provided, at that time we can consider cutting back the vegetation. I would be happy to have a site visit with you to look at the pros and cons of this!
Denis, our green Belt Ranger, is going to fence up the gap at Lower Noke Close, Alan will ask him to bring this forward in his priorities.

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It would be useful if we could organise an indoor meeting soon, if enough members are present at the fungus foray we can try to fix a date then.

Finally something of special interest to Harold Hill residents

Many of those reading this would have had their gas cut off in early February. The shut down affected about 2,500 people at the Dagnam Park end of the estate and was spread over several days.On the 3rd of February you would have received a letter from National Grid (formerly Transco).
National Grid is responsible for all gas pipelines etc. That is not the same as the energy supply companies like British Gas or Powergen these are the companies that send you your gas bills.
This letter states that you will receive "compensation at £30 for every full 24 hour period without gas" It also states that "there is no need for you to apply for compensation as you will automatically receive payment"
Some hope, I waited 4 months and then contacted my supplier Powergen they said no, it was down to National Grid to pay me. So I contacted National Grid and they said it was definitely down to my supplier, Powergen. After some more checks I got back to Powergen who eventually agreed it was their responsibility to pay but they couldn't because National Grid had not supplied them with the required list of customers that qualified for compensation. They did say that National Grid would make me a one off payment but I said I would prefer to be paid at the same time as everyone else by the standard procedure and that I would wait whilst Powergen acquired the necessary authority from National Gas.

Well I waited and I waited and two weeks ago I contacted Robert Goode (Robert.goode@powergen.co.uk) at Powergen and asked where was my cheque, He said he would look into it and he did and he came back and said that they still had not had the lists from National Grid and that he had ascertained that I could contact National Grid direct for a payment. I said I wouldn't do that. There were thousands of other people involved many elderly and many on low incomes and many were probably unaware of their entitlement and I was interested in all of us getting the payment. Well he took that onboard, and ignored it by applying to National Grid for a one off payment on my behalf. I have since had a letter from National Grid informing me that my cheque is in the post.
I tried to interest the Romford Recorder in the story several months ago but they declined to publish anything, as I write I am in the process of trying to interest a National Paper in the story.

I am not sure how compensation is calculated because I have seen two different methods quoted, in any case the amount due to us is two days at £30 per day. This payment should be made to you by cheque and not simply deducted from your bill. I will be interested to hear of any other experiences on this matter good or bad.

National Grid Customer Support 01604 816303 9-5 mon-fri only

You should be able to find the telephone number of your own gas supplier from the top of any recent bill.                                                 Del Smith