Monday, 28 March 2011
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Friends of Crystal Palace Park
13th February 2011
CC: Local councillors
I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Crystal Palace Park in response to the issues raised in the Bromley Friends Forum meeting on 8th February. This letter has been copied to the local councillors responsible for the Crystal Palace ward, and will also be placed on our website.
Our committee has discussed the proposals and has three main inter-related concerns.
Firstly, we welcome the commitment to continue financially supporting Friends of parks groups. But the most valuable support the Friends of Crystal Palace Park have received over the past year has been non-financial – it has been the support of your staff, their skills, their expertise and the access to tools that have made the volunteering work possible – without this support it is not clear whether we could continue with our volunteering efforts. The volunteering work is one of the most visible things a Friends group can do in the park, and has been instrumental in bringing new members into the group. Without members, we would not have the capacity to work with the Park staff in funding bids, e.g. for lottery funds.
Our second related concern is the proposed reduction in the number of park rangers and the impact this will have on the park. The rangers in Crystal Palace Park play an essential role in maintaining, securing and making Crystal Palace Park a welcome place to visit. They provide educational support and children’s’ activities which bring families in to the park. The proposal to reduce the number of rangers in Bromley and place them on a cross borough rota would undermine the hard work that the Crystal Palace Park rangers have put into encouraging people to use the park and to learn about the unique history it contains.
Finally, the proposal not to maintain toilet facilities will be of extreme concern to all who use Crystal Palace Park. As you may be aware, there is only one toilet block for this vast park. The gents side was recently the subject of an arson attack, leaving the park with further reduced toilet facilities. While we understand that negotiations may take place with the park café to see if they will take over the maintenance of the toilets (without the toilet facilities it is hard to see how the café could remain open), given the current state of the toilet block we feel this is condemning the park to operate with effectively no toilets, and will possibly see the successful park café forced to close as well. This will have a huge negative impact on the number of families visiting the park.
While we accept the size of the funding challenge that Bromley has been set, we question whether cuts to the parks budget of this extent are required. At a time when Bromley has a considerable financial reserve (currently £52 million against a target level of £15 million for its reserves), and can find millions of pounds to renovate its civic centre head quarters, we feel these cuts will hit Crystal Palace Park and the surrounding area particularly hard. We are not talking vast amounts of money in the Parks budget, but we are talking about a considerable negative impact. Your website states that LB Bromley believes “in starting with what is important to local people, by listening to what they have to say, and learning what they value and need locally.” Your own council survey shows the importance that Bromley residents place on parks and education – and these cuts will affect both. We encourage you to reconsider them.
Friends of Crystal Palace Park
For a number of years now the group has been struggling with a constitution that was written with a much bigger group in mind. At the AGM we accepted a proposal to nullify the old constitution and replace it with a new one at the following AGM.
In the interests of openness, the draft constitution being considered by the committee is here (pdf, 43 Kb). We would welcome comments from members - either as comments on this post or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . The new constitution simplies voting arrangements, committee structures and the membership structure. Essentially we feel its a lot more workable for a small group.
The draft is based heavily on the constitution of another Bromley park Friends group - the Friends of Cator Park and Alexandra Recreation Ground. For comparison, their constitution is here.
The document will remain draft until ratified by the next AGM.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
The bulbs we planted late last year are coming up nicely and as you can see from the photo we're starting to see some colour!
There's still work to be done, we want to clear more of the area and work on making it more connected with the rest of the park.
If you're free - the next volunteering session is this Sunday (13th March) and we'll be meeting at 2pm at the Park Information centre and then heading up to the Vale.
It would be great if you could join us - many hands make light work!