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FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community

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November 2019 ....

A Wet Month:

Click pictures for larger view.

Fields in Trust:

Established in 1925, ‘Fields in Trust’ is an independent charity with a wealth of experience in protecting parks and other green spaces.  It is the only UK-wide charity that gives permanent legal protection to vulnerable spaces, safe-guarding them for future generations.

During October and November, the FoEP received more than the usual number of complaints about antisocial and irresponsible behaviour in the Park. A number of the complaints related to out-of-control dogs.

Last month we reported that the FoEP's 'Conservation Morning' on 26th October had to be cancelled because of heavy rain. Wet conditions continued through most of November, making it difficult for volunteers to catch up on all the work we wanted to do before winter sets in. Nevertheless, we did make some progress in certain areas:

Dog walking is one of the most common activities in the Park and it is important that people should be able to do this without fear of their dogs being attacked by uncontrolled dogs. All dog owners are reminded that you can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed. If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to 5 years or fined (or both) and if you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’. While the Police may only consider a dog to be dangerously out of control if it injures a person or makes someone worried that it might injure them, a court could decide that a dog was dangerously out of control if it attacked another dog or if the owner of a another dog thought they could be injured if they tried to stop it attacking their dog.

Fields in Trust works in partnership with landowners, including local authorities, to protect land through a Deed of Dedication - a binding legal commitment with the landowner which allows it to be protected in perpetuity for current and future generations to enjoy. Their 'Green Spaces for Good' programme can protect any publicly accessible park, playing field or nature reserve. Currently, there are no green spaces within the Borough of North-hampton protected in this way but there are numerous in the local area including, for example, Kislingbury Playing Field and the Recreation Ground at Roade.

We had more success mowing selected areas in the extension to the planted meadow because here the grass had been regularly mowed during the summer and the grass was short. Small selected areas were mowed twice and the ground was then scarified before planting yellow rattle seeds in these areas. Yellow rattle seeds require prolonged periods of cold weather before they germinate and it was therefore essential to sow them before December. Yellow rattle is semi-parasitic on grass and it is hoped that it will weaken the grass allowing better growth of wild-flowers in these areas. We hope that, over coming years, the rattle will spead naturally throughout the planted meadow. Other wildflower seeds were scattered in selected areas within the extension at the end of the month.

Parks and open spaces are essential for the well-being of the communities that surround them. However, in recent years, the demands on local authority budgets and the need to build new houses have resulted in an increased pressure on such spaces. As local authorities have no statuary duty to provide or maintain parks, it may be an easy option for them to sell the green spaces they own or else build council-owned properties on them. Some local residents believe that Eastfield Park's future will become more vulnerable under the proposed unitary authority that will take over from Northampton Borough Council in the near future.

Only the landowner can apply to protect a green space in this way but Vic Smith, Chair of the FoEP, has arranged for Development Managers from Fields in Trust to meet with Officers and Councillors from NBC to discuss the possibility of protecting some of Northampton's parks through a Deed of Dedication. This could become the most important thing the FoEP has ever done for Eastfield Park!

Out-of-Control Dogs:

We had intended to cut all the long grass in the planted meadow and adjacent set-aside area near Eleonore House but this was not possible because the grass was so wet.  We did manage to cut a strip alongside the Eleonore House fence and also a pathway from the corner of the fence to the path that runs through the 'Buttermere Scrub' (the scrub area south of the football pitches) but much of the long grass was squashed down by the mower's roller and left uncut. These are areas we hope to keep short next year and park users should feel free to walk over them if they wish.

During the month, we also planted dwarf daffodils at the base of the new heritage board and scattered wildflower seeds in front of the ha-ha. Two young oak trees were planted in Lakeview Spinney and we hope these will not suffer the fate of those previously planted in the open parkland. Volunteers also continue to add wood chippings to pathways but we could make more progress with this if we had more volunteers.

Planted Meadow Plan 2019 for web

Planned extension to the 'seeded' meadow (now 'planted' meadow).

Click image to enlarge.

For more information, see September News.

While it is not unusual for FoEP members to make or receive complaints about dog owners failing to pick up dog's mess, recent complaints have often been about dog owners failing to control aggressive dogs. Furthermore, people have objected to the unpleasant reactions of one lady in particular who has been hostile to those complaining about her dog.

Most dog walkers are responsible people who pick up dogs mess, put it in a suitable bio-degradable bag and deposit it in a waste bin. They also let their dog off a lead only if it is not aggresive and under their control. If you are worried about a particular dog (or its owner) please try to get appropriate photo-graphic evidence (without putting yourself in danger) and send it to the FoEP who will pass it on to the appropriate authorities).