More than 20 members met in Kings Wood School on Wednesday 21 st April.
We were pleased to welcome Michelle Pearson from the Essex Wildlife Trust, working out of Bedford's Park, and. It was also nice to see a couple of expat park lovers who travelled in from Chelmsford; they said that they were regular visitors to the Manor since being raised in Harold Hill in the 50's. Richard Cottam from LBH also attended to hear the views of members on priorities for some short term non-maintenance spending.
A lengthy discussion ensued; Richard suggested that a seat and some clearance of vegetation on the small (Ice House) hill next to the cow pond would afford excellent views across the park towards Brentwood. Several people also raised the need for some form of vandal proof ! seating (there have been no seats of any description in the park for many years, which I suspect is some sort of national record). Comments were made about the unwelcoming appearance of the park entrance in Settle Rd. It was thought that a robust notice/interpretation board in the entrance plus some tidying up in the area would be of benefit. On a similar vein it was suggested that a direction sign on the junction of Settle Rd and Dagnam Park Drive would be useful.
A lively exchange of views on how we could best protect the island of trees in the centre of the park took place. Although one member thought it was a lost cause the overwhelming majority thought that that landscape feature almost symbolised the park. Significant damage has been caused to many of these trees and a substantial number in the centre are dead or dying. Various suggestions were put forward including, surrounding the area with very large tree trunks, or removing all of the fallen timber and lopping all the lower branches of the surviving trees, to covering the whole area in dung. It was thought that we had a duty to do something because at the present rate of destruction there would be little left to protect within 10 years. Richard agreed to look into the various proposals.
The outcome of the debate was that members thought that the entrance was a high priority along with some form of seating. We would spend some time on the June 6 th outdoor meeting looking at sites for the seats.
It was agreed that we would not organise any more indoor meetings until the autumn and we would deal with any essential matters at our scheduled outdoor meetings.
Peter Jones Brick Paving offered to deliver 2000 leaflets advertising the outdoor meetings; in local streets, an offer that was gratefully accepted, Jane and Marion have already produced the leaflets and they will be delivered in the next two weeks or so. Everyone agreed that the effort we have put in with the police has had an impact but we will have to be ever vigilant. Havering Council's Parks manager, Geoff Pepper came in for some criticism for the very poor standard of maintenance of the park's fences. The car park fence remains an eyesore sections being vandalised and burnt over six months ago. The fence at the Sedgefield Crescent entrance at the moat is also flat on the ground and has been so for a similar length of time. Del agreed to contact Geoff Pepper and reiterate our complaints.
The Priory Rd access point for stolen cars is still causing concern and we are still waiting for a ditch/barrier to be constructed by “Land and Property” the council dept responsible for that illegal entry point. It is hard to imagine how it can be cost effective to continually remove burnt out cars as opposed to digging the ditch.
And remember many of the burnt out cars take out a tree as they burn!
It was a very productive meeting and the enthusiasm and commitment shown by members bodes well for the future.
Over the next year we hope to see Dagnam Park and Duck Wood combined into a single local nature reserve, linked by a public path at the rear of Kings Wood School; plus the incorporation of the set aside farmland adjoining the park into the new reserve.
Members are unanimous on that.