AGM report Part 1

IMG_3486The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands was held yesterday, 25 February, at Wanstead Cricket Club. There was a record turnout, with 44 names on the attendance list, though a rough headcount suggested that was an understatement. We were pleased to welcome as guests the Superintendent of Epping Forest, Paul Thomson, and Verderer Dr Jo Thomas.

The following is the text of the Annual Report by Chairman Dwight Wood.

"At last year’s AGM I reported that we had seen a turning point for the Friends and for Wanstead Park. Since then we have made rapid progress toward our key goals.

September saw the publication of the report by JBA on the hydrology of Wanstead Park. The Friends made important contributions to JBA’s work, and have taken an active part in subsequent discussions on the future of the lake system.

In the last few days, of course, the long-awaited plan for the regeneration of Wanstead Park has finally been unveiled. They have been drawn up by LDA Design, which was responsible for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. LDA has developed a variety of proposals for the future of Wanstead Park which are intended to make the park better-known, more accessible and with improved facilities. They also seek to restore its unique historic features and place them in a setting which evokes the park's Georgian past without trying to recreate it.

LDA knows that many people like Wanstead Park’s present semi-natural state, and much of the park wouldn’t be much altered even by the most radical suggestions in the Parkland Plan. Some localised areas of tree and scrub clearance would be offset by habitat enhancement in others.

LDA’s proposals set out the suggested individual projects in three priority groupings. The questionnaire asks you to think about what should be included in the final plan, and what is most important to you.

The Parklands Plan is due to be finalised by the end of March. It then has to be adopted by the stakeholders, and decisions made about funding and the time-scale for implementation.

Although we haven’t reached the Promised Land yet, this is an important milestone in the campaign for the park, and we hope that our members will give it their support through the feedback process. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make suggestions of your own or say you like some proposals more than others. We do suggest, though, that you try to focus on the big picture and be positive and constructive in the way you respond.

Later this evening Wanstead Park Project Manager Peter Wilkinson will introduce the plan in more detail and try to answer your questions.

While we wait for the big decisions to be made, many of you will have noticed that some useful smaller scale improvements have been made over the course of the year. The area around the Grotto has settled down after last year’s scrub clearance, and is now looking very attractive. There has been further clearance north of the Heronry Pond to open up views from The Temple. Work has started to improve the park entrances.

Turning to internal matters, we have had two big social events this year. In April Gill James organised a Jane Austen themed tea party at The Temple. This was great fun, and generated some very good publicity. In November we repeated the previous year’s fundraising quiz held at the ex-servicemen's club in Leytonstone. This was well organised by Greer Nicholson and, once again, made a profit in the region of £900. Also, we have continued to hold occasional pub nights, which have attracted a small but enthusiastic following.

A successful litter pick was held in October, and we should like to find ways of holding them more frequently.

We have had stalls at a number of local events to raise our visibility and sell merchandise.

Five organised walks were held in the park over the year. Attendance varied with the weather, but the largest group was 25 people.

We are currently supporting Redbridge’s entry in the Big Green Poll, a project called Riding the Roding. This would complement plans for the regeneration of Wanstead Park, and restoration of the Coronation Bridge would make the historic landscape of Wanstead Park much more accessible to Ilford residents.

The Friends’ finances are currently reasonably healthy. As at 16 February, our funds stood at over £8,500.

At this point, I always make a plea for more volunteers. Our existing committee members work very hard, and could do with help. Please contact us if you think you might be interested in helping out, or come along to one of our monthly meetings without obligation to meet us and see for yourself what is involved.

Thank you for your support in the past, and with your help we hope to build on our success in the future".

A summary of the presentation by Wanstead Park Project Manager Peter Wilkinson will follow in due course, along with questions and points raised during the Q&A session.