Tuesday, 20 March 2012

New committee and strong working groups

It was encouraging at the AGM to find yet more people getting involved in working groups on improving the park. We now have good solid groups working on play, and on the Casimir Road entrance / old paddling pool area. They include several park users with relevant professional skills, so what is emerging is a design advisory group for MUG. A group on dogs is in formation.

Supporting them and providing continuity, the committee which emerged from the AGM has a good mix of old hands and new faces. Last year saw a big transition, with many new committee members and a new chair and secretary. With a year's experience under our belts, this is the class of 2012:

Emma Jack (chair; Play group convenor)
Tim Evans (secretary)
Claire Kelly (treasurer)
Ruth Smyth (membership secretary)
Michael Row (minutes secretary)
Harry Hewat (Design group convenor)
Diane Bernhardt (Dogs group convenor)
Barry Buitekant
Vivienne Foxley
Cleo Williams & Sabbir Lunat (seat-share)
Carrie Rutherford

Stepping down, with our thanks for all they've done, are Bob Benge and Andrea Sinclair. Bob was one of those who got the user group re-started in 2008, and has been vice-chair and chair.

Contact us via

AGM minutes as well as recent committee minutes as always are at our meeting records page.

Monday, 5 March 2012

In the past year we ...

Between the AGMs of 10 Feb 2011 and 3 March 2012, Millfields Users Group ...

Park design

  • turned a council proposal for a path straight through the middle of the orchard, into a winding path at the edge under the trees linking with the new footbridge
  • persuaded the council to do away with cyclist priority on the Black Path (after 3 years of asking)
  • involved users in a working group on the Casimir Road entrance area
  • involved users in a working group on play
  • negotiated improvement of the National Grid proposal for removing the lay-by
  • negotiated postponement of National Grid proposals for their gate area, pending a full review of the design by MUG

Safety & maintenance

  • got the council to update the obsolete emergency phone numbers displayed in the park
  • pressed for regular emptying of bins, (as usual)
  • pressed British Waterways to repair the broken rail facing the Black Path, and make the newly-installed bridge rail safe by plugging the end
  • got rid of the hazardous puddle / ice patch and misleading signage on the Black Path


  • ran a Family Fun Day which attracted some 400 people

Plants & wildlife

  • transplanted 4 fruit trees donated by Beecholme allotments into the park & arranged their aftercare
  • weeded & mulched the orchard and started winter pruning during which we
  • hosted a pruning course by Garden Organic
  • ran 2 pruning courses for park users funded from by a grant from Re:Leaf
  • co-organised a bat walk which led to the waste station changing its lighting regime to improve bat habitat
  • organised a community bulb planting day
  • supported a guerilla weeding and bulb planting on the riverside 'wildflower bed'
  • invited Young Hackney to build bird boxes for the park
  • contributed to the LBH Biodiversity Action Plan
  • agreed a biodiversity plan for the park with the council and worked on implementing it
  • worked with the council and EcoActive on a schools biodiversity programme, including meadow plantings in March 2012

Events policy

  • commented critically on the LBH draft Events Policy, twice
  • exposed abuse of the park by funfairs in 2011

Developments affecting the park

  • opposed LBWF's approval of development on Essex Wharf
  • supported opposition to an Olympic take-over of Leyton Marsh this summer
  • commented on the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority's draft area proposals – its 10-year plan for the regional park which includes Millfields – and contributed to the Lea Valley Federation response

Community links

  • built up contact with Jack Watts TRA, Millfields Estate TRA, the Guinness Trust and Circle 33 and kept up contact with Beecholme Estate TRA and the Riverside Close residents' group
  • developed contacts with gardening, nature and cycling activities in local schools, and with Young Hackney
  • worked with the Tree Musketeers, Hackney Community Tree Nursery, Hackney Parks Forum, Thames21/Love the Lea, and Hackney Biodiversity Partnership
  • worked to keep and improve our liaison with local councillors
  • kept or developed contacts with cricketers, footballers and local school cycle trainers
  • explored contacts with the Dogs Trust

Parks department

  • pressed for the Parks Development team to do a better job of consulting and informing us
  • publicised the good work of the gardeners
  • resisted the destruction of the council Tree Gang

Running and developing the group

  • set up an interim web site and posted news, planning documents, minutes etc
  • ran several summertime stalls in the park
  • improved our presence on the park noticeboards (such as they are)
  • increased our membership/mailing list from 240 to 340
  • raised grants and donations to buy a mini-marquee for stalls and events, run the fun day, publish a news-sheet and run the orchard pruning courses
  • made some progress on a permanent website but haven't finished it
  • organised 4 group meetings
  • and had 12 committee meetings

... which leaves plenty to do in 2012-2013 ...