Annual Report for postponed AGM 2022
I wrote my last report in February last year when we arranged a virtual AGM and had intended to reconvene in November as usual. In September we held our first face-to-face meeting since lockdown, attended by Cllr Fahy who outlined the possibility of future development funding and asked members to start thinking of improvements that might be wanted in Maryon Park. Since then we have had further Covid outbreaks (still on-going) so a decision was taken to once again postpone the AGM and move it to a new permanent Spring date when we can look forward to the coming year and hopefully attract more attendees with lighter evenings.
Once again, our parks have continued to provide a vital service to the local and wider community and it’s been a busy year with some real improvements achieved. Despite the ravages of the recent storms which brought down a number of mostly dead trees across the 3 parks and Gilbert’s Pit SSSI, which are currently being attended to, the parks remain in reasonably good condition. Some specific events of the year are as follows:
The animal park – the animals are doing well and continue to be as popular as ever. Unfortunately, soon after the Wednesday afternoon tours of the pens were reinstated a serious outbreak of bird ‘flu caused them to be ceased. It also resulted in the path between the bird and deer pens being closed to the public, which has caused a major inconvenience as it a much-used route through the park. There is no update from DEFRA at present, and parks staff do not expect a change until “the end of the migration period”.
Maryon Park – the works for the playground were carried out in autumn after local school children had returned to school. Liaison with the council staff was excellent throughout. The new equipment chosen by Friends’ representatives and local children has proven to be very popular, allowing a wider use by a variety of ages and abilities. In addition, funding was secured for improved adult fitness equipment located away from the playground on the path running parallel with Woolwich Road. A separate pot of money enabled the top path from Thorntree Road to be re-laid with new sleepers to support the bank above. The work took considerably longer than expected and has only just been completed. The setting of the posts is being queried as we want to ensure that the path remains in good condition for many years. At the same time the dangerous set of steps leading from that path to the tennis courts has been removed as they could not be economically repaired, whilst under a different contract some work has been done to repair the steps and fence from Thorntree Road.The council has installed a memorial bench and ‘Handkerchief Tree’ in Maryon Park as part of a number across the borough in memory of those who sadly died during the pandemic, which was officially opened by the Mayor on 10th March. Following liaison with our group the agreed location is at the north end of the tennis courts where users can sit in the sun and reflect.
Maryon Wilson Park – our bid to supply 2 picnic tables for the ‘triangle area’ was initially not successful despite gathering a lot of votes but eventually funding was acquired that allowed them to be installed just before Christmas. At the time of writing a very large Poplar has landed on one of them but they appear undamaged and the tree trunks should provide some useful extra seating for the summer! Many thanks here to Rod and Lesley who have done a fantastic job to clear the worst of the tree damage in the park and also to those who have given them a hand. Some of the main paths underwent repairs and improvements to try to reduce damage from water run-off and we used our local hub and Facebook page to keep locals abreast of path closures and detours.
The Community Garden – a separate report is attached. The garden suffered quite a lot of damage during storm Eunice in February and, although now cleared, work is still needed to the polytunnel and greenhouse. Special mention from Tim of help provided by Terry and Mickey.
Sparkle in the Park. Royal Borough of Greenwich decided to follow up on the success of last year’s event at Avery Hill with a winter event in Maryon Park – chosen for its attractive setting and good pathways. There was some liaison with Friends’ representatives and some of our concerns were addressed (such as keeping Maryon Road north a residents’ only access road) and security in the park at night. One of the benefits of being the host park was that some tree work was carried out to improve safety and the bank around the steps from Thorntree Road was cleared of brambles with the result that this year’s snowdrops can be seen in all their glory. We now need to keep pressure on for this to be kept cut and not allowed to become overgrown again. Overall the 3-day event was judged a success, but locals were considerably inconvenienced by large volumes of road traffic and some inconsiderate parking causing significant blockages, despite a request by organisers to come by public transport. After the event the grass was reseeded plus some deep vehicle ruts filled in after prompting by our group.
Clear ups and walkabouts – clear-ups recommenced in April and have been well attended despite our inability to provide refreshments at the end. Small projects have also been carried out such as tackling the muddy path up to the village and cutting back the fallen elder tree (twice!). Planting more daffodils in Gilbert’s Pit and tidying the triangle area. We have also been able to organise a walk-about with Parks and Estates Department staff and met Jo Driver the new Trees Officer (Jack Partridge having moved on to the Highways Dept).
20th Anniversary of The Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks – a small event was held in the Nellie Raven room at St Thomas’ Church in November to mark this occasion. Christine thanked those who had taken the initiative to respond to council funding to set up the group and to carry it forwards for so long. She especially thanked Gulle for keeping a pictorial record and scrapbook of the group’s activities over the years and Natalie for the provision of a special cake for the event.
Picnic in the park – with no event taking place in 2020 or 2021 the pre-allocated money for this event had to be used or forfeited. Local resident Helen Jakeways who has organised this event in the past has sensibly handed over to Melanie Precious. Melanie lives in Heathwood Gardens and is the CEO of Greenwich Dance, who are based in Charlton House. She has a lot of experience in organising public events and will be working with local residents and groups, including ourselves and St Thomas’ Church, in putting the event together sometime in June – probably Sunday the 26th. We’ll keep members updated on progress.
My thanks as always to Steve Tongue for carrying out the role of Secretary and Membership Secretary and to Natalie Zarb for providing her services as Treasurer and organising our move to on-line banking. Also to our committee members for joining in with consultations and walkabouts and all who contribute to clearing litter, supporting projects and reporting on disrepair and other issues.