Below is a transcript of the Romford Recorder Article by Lisa Haridas. 14 th May 2004

Park to become nature reserve?

PLANS are underway to declare Dagnam Park and Duck Wood, in Harold Hill as nature reserves.

In January 2004 Havering Council appointed a Wildspace Community Liaison Officer. The post was funded by English Nature and the Cleanaway Havering Riverside Trust with the purpose of working with the community to declare reserves in the borough.

Three sites have been proposed to receive nature reserve status - Duck Wood; Ingreboume Marshes in Homchurch; and Rainham Marshes in Rainham. However, the meeting heard that responses from the Harold Hill community to include Dagnam Park as a nature reserve, has prompted its inclusion in the scheme.

A council officer said: "Dagnam Park is an ideal candidate for local nature reserve designation as it is a historic landscape design and declared as a site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation by the GLA. "Duck Wood is also ideal as it was declared a Site of Borough Importance Grade 1 for Conservation by the GLA. It also has the possibility of being upgraded to Metropolitan Importance due to its ancient oaks and hornbeams and valuable ponds for amphibians. "The Friends of Dagnam Park have been very supportive of our proposals. What we are looking for now is to get the committee endorsement on carrying out a public consultation."

Cllr Keith Darvill (Labour, Heaton), said: "The Friends of Dagnam Park were unable to attend due to the late notification of this item being on the agenda, but they have shown their support for this. "If it is given nature reserve status that will secure additional funding. There has been a lot of interest from the local community. The important thing is to preserve the area."

Cllr Jeff Stafford (Labour, Gooshays) urged the council to use this opportunity to seize back an area of land belonging to the council which, he claims, is being sub-let illegally.

He said: "There are parts of Dagnam Park that were leased to farmers by the council and there is still a piece of land that is being illegally sub-let. This is the ideal opportunity for the council to reclaim the land so it can be included in the nature reserve." A council officer replied: "I am talking to property services about that option."

Councillors agreed to the recommendation that Dagnam Park and Duck Wood be considered to be local nature reserves and gave their endorsement to a programme of public consultation."