FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
A good example of improved co-operation is provided by the oak tree near the MUGA (multi-use games area). On Sunday, 14th October, a local resident informed the FoEP that a large branch had broken off the tree. The branch was still partly attached to the tree (see picture) and we considered that it presented a danger to park users, particularly if children climbed onto the damaged branch. Vic Smith contacted Streetcare Services at NBC with the photograph. He received an automated reply on the Sunday and a personal reply on the Tuesday saying that the matter had been logged with the tree team as an emergency job because of the state of the tree. The tree was inspected the same day by specialists but was judged not to present an imminent danger. The tree team were very busy that week because of the amount of damage to trees during the stormy weather the previous weekend but we were assured that the tree would be dealt with as soon as possible. The work was carried out on Friday 26th October. Particularly pleasing to the FoEP, however, was the fact that those carrying out the work asked where we would like the wood chippings dropped in the Park. They obliged us by leaving them among the trees near the Senior Play Area so we could conveniently use them to spread on the pathway through Lakeview Spinney from the Skiddaw Walk entrance to the Booth Lane entance (see picures and 'Gardening Day' report). Thank you, idverde!
The Friends of Eastfield Park have always aimed to work closely with Northampton Borough Council, the legal owners of Eastfield Park. We have found it easier to achieve this since the formation of the Eastfield Park Management Committee (EPMC) in 2014. The Management Committee includes Council Officers, elected Borough Councillors and park users and its meetings provide a forum in which issues affecting the Park can be openly discussed. However, the companies previously contracted by the Council to maintain park grounds (Amey / Enterprise) were not represented at the meetings and we did not find it easy to communicate with them. We are pleased to say that this situation is changing rapidly now that idverde have taken over as the new contractor. At the beginning of October, FoEP Chair, Vic Smith, spent almost three hours walking around Eastfield Park with the Midlands Horticultural Manager for idverde. As they walked, they discussed numerous issues affecting the Park and how best to deal with them. Of course, the meeting could not solve all the issues and there is much more to debate and decide, but the discussions mark a huge step forward in the right direction. Vic now has a much better idea of what we can expect from idverde, and idverde have a better understanding of what the FoEP would like to achieve.
Click pictures for larger view.
During October, a new bench and waste bin were installed near the ha-ha on the northern perimeter of the Park. These were paid for by the Friends of Eastfield Park using a grant from Cllr Paul Joyce's community empowerment fund. The work paid for also includes the installation of paving slabs in front of five existing benches and we expect this to be done in the near future. (We also hold funds provided by Cllrs Anna King and Mike Hallam, and possibly more from Cllr Joyce, but we will decide how to spend this after we know the outcome of our Tesco 'Bags of Help' application. Hopefully, this will be before the end of the year.)
The FoEP were presented with a Gold Award for Northampton in Bloom 2018. We also achieved a Level 4 ('Thriving') award in the Royal Horticultural Society's It's Your Neighbourhood campaign.
Turn-out for the FoEP 'Gardening Day' on 27th October was rather disappointing with only five volunteers taking part (contributing about 12 hours of community effort). One volunteer looked after the 'base station' signing people in, handing out tools and generally looking after equipment; another prepared part of the 'back' of the Crescent Rock Garden for bulb planting while a third picked up litter along Apple Tree Walk. Two other volunteers spread chippings left by idverde along parts of the pathway through Lakeview Spinney. There is still much to do so if you can help during the week or at weekends please let the FoEP know.
We also have lots of daffodil bulbs to plant. This could be done by children with parental supervision. Do let us know if you would like to help. We can loan equipment and, of course, provide the bulbs.