Thursday, 29 September 2011

September Open Meeting decisions

The group's Open Meeting on 17 September decided to:
  • Go ahead with the orchard path on the lines decided in April. You should see signs of this starting soon. All the work will be done by hand
You can see the minutes here (with the agenda and treasurer's report).

Next meeting: Wednesday 7 December, evening. Venue to be announced.

But don't wait for the meeting - have your say here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

MUG in print: September Update / publicity flyer

Thanks to our Grassroots Grants funding for the fun day and summer stalls, we've been able to afford some printed publicity.

The 'update' newsletter summarises work described in more detail here on the blog.

There is also a general purpose publicity/recruitment flyer.

Every copy that reaches new people makes a difference. You can get reasonable quality downloadable versions of these by clicking the images. If you can print a copy for a shop window, waiting room, noticeboard, cafe, etc, or get them into school mailings or similar ... well, it all helps.

If you would like some of the printed copies, get in touch.

Unfortunately we can't afford a professional designer, so we have to be content with a layout that is, let's say, clean but clunky. If any of our 300 supporters has the skills and can spare some time, it would be quite a step forward for us.

(I also have a feeling our pdf files are bigger than they need be, so if anyone can suggest a solution which'll work on a 10-year old laptop running Windows 2000...)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

It needn't be grim up north

The north edge of Millfields is one of the least-loved-looking bits of the park. For several months the committee has been working on ideas about this, and we tried to consult about some of them at our stall in the park in June -- a plan which was a bit sabotaged by the incredibly unseasonable cold, wet weather that day. Still, we distributed some information about ideas, and had some useful comments from users. We also publicised and discussed ideas at the fun day on 21 August. At the group meeting on 17 September we hope the group will be able to make some decisions.
Ø      The Casimir Road entrance looks unloved & unwelcoming.
Ø      Grass doesn't grow or look good in the shade of the big plane trees by the playground.
Ø      Tarmac near the trees is damaged by the strong roots
Ø      The abandoned paddling pool is an eyesore
Ø      The kiosk and toilets are enclosed in the playground, not accessible to other park users
Ø      The path along the north edge is in bad condition and bordered by an ugly metal fence
Ø      The north-east (towpath) entrance is a mess

Ø      Casimir Road by the gate is now motor-free. Remove the vehicle gate, and echo the footway paving in the park entrance, pulling the pedestrianised street into the park.
Ø      Replace scraggy grass and lumpy tarmac with a clay/gravel surface, French park style, where people can stroll, sit, or play.
Ø      Break the pool surface into hardcore: lay a new surface suitable for a social area - a plaza (see State of Play, 23 July)
Ø      Add benches, chess table, tennis table, etc, under the trees and in the new 'plaza'.
Ø      Realign the playground fence so that the kiosk is at least partly outside it (see State of Play, 23 July).
Ø      Reposition the north side path inside the tree line
Ø      Plant along the north fence to hide it

Ø      Latham's yard section 106 funds: £45,000 for north side. Not enough to fix the path, says LBH, but enough to improve the entrance.
Ø      'Walk England' funds: LBH obtained £10K for the north-east end which had to be spent by the end of summer 2011. We were expecting to be consulted about its use but they've now (8 Sept) gone ahead without that: "The resurfacing works will match the treatment which has been undertaken along the river in North Millfields, tarmac with a gravel scree.  We will also be looking at replacing the bin in that location with a more suitable version."

There is no funding allocated to the other ideas yet. There is about £200,000 in the kitty from National Grid's 'rent', with another £100K to come by 2014 (see our Funds page). Would this be a good way to spend it? Please come to the meeting, and/or comment here.

Family Fun Day Photo File

Good weather ... lots of people (over 400) ... plenty for kids to do ... 30 people signed up to the group.... good grub ... Nothing more to say, really, except thanks to everyone who came, contributed, set up, stewarded, staffed the MUG stall, or ran a free activity -- notably our local musicians The Muckers, and Gilbert with his kid-friendly tightrope. Plus thanks to the funders. This was Millfields on 21 August ...

Thanks to the funders

£2,000 from Grassroots Grants
£200 from Vision Homes

Cycling and walking: sharing not segregation

You probably haven't noticed that small sign
on that tall post, pointing down the wrong path
MUG has negotiated a redesign of the Black Path aimed at making it more comfortable for walking and cycling. 

The Black Path is the diagonal path across south Millfields. It forms part of the London Cycling Network, and some years ago was widened and marked to segregate cycling and walking. 

Since then it has been realised that segregation may not produce the most comfortable shared use. The solid white line markings tend to suggest that the path is an extension of the street and some people behave accordingly. Better results can be obtained by removing the line, restoring the look of a park path, and making it clear that users are expected to share, with walkers having priority.

Temporary signs will
introduce the change

A study of this method in Kensington Gardens shows that desegregation does indeed reduce conflict. For some people this seems contrary to common sense, but, as so often, common sense is not what guides human behaviour.

The group decided back in 2008/9 to go for desegregated shared use. At that point the master plan consultations came along and put everything on ice for a couple of years. But with that out of the way, we reminded Streetscene earlier this year of this outstanding demand. Streetscene agreed that some of the borough's TfL sustainable transport allocation could be used.

There has been a fair amount of negotiation about the exact method. Currently we expect the white markings to be burned off, leaving the fading green surface which people can be expected to overlook. But there is apparently a slight possibility of affording a complete resurfacing and we are waiting for an update about that.
Permanent markings
will be something
like this

Temporary signs will introduce the change, and be removed later to reduce visual clutter. While they are up they will be more noticeable than the current signs, which are small and perched eight feet up on poles. The only permanent marking will be a stencil on the ground at each end of the path.

We have had good advice and support from the Hackney group of  London Cycling Campaign. In late September we'll hold a joint stall with LCC to publicise the change to cycle commuters. That'll be at commuter time - a Cyclists' Breakfast - and any sturdy souls willing to join the committee and LCC in the park with leaflets, coffee and juice at 8 o'clock will be very welcome! 

Leaflets, coffee etc will be funded by our Grassroots Grants award for summer stalls.

A welcome by-product will be the elimination of a hazardous depression in the path surface towards the south-west end, which becomes a large puddle after rain and an ice sheet in cold weather. At least one person has been injured on the ice -- I know because I picked her up and took her indoors to recover. Streetscene assure us that the camber can be restored during the works. 

A nuisance in the wet, a hazard when iced up

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Negotiating the orchard walk

By New Year we hope there will be a new all-weather walk by the orchard. Together with the new pedestrian span of Cow Bridge, this will give a pleasant circular stroll across the Lea and back via the filter beds.

The path follows the
desire line near the bench

MUG committee member, and designer, Harry Hewat researched a low-impact method which allows the path to run unobtrusively among the big waterside trees. The surface will be gravel chosen to look as natural as possible.

The committee has been working with council officers on this project since April (background here), when the group decided (minutes here) it would like a path, so long as the route, width and surface are right for the orchard area.

Worn ground shows where people like to walk behind the thicket
The walk will link to
the footbridge
The original council proposal took a line through the middle of this space, since it had to steer clear of trees because the proposed building method would have damaged the roots. MUG's proposed alternative involves a plastic grid laid on a shallow base and filled with a gravel mix. So far, it has satisfied the requirements of both LBH Parks tree officers, for tree root protection, and of LBH Streetscene engineers for a practicable method for council contractors.

Funding is from Transport for London's annual sustainable transport allocation to Hackney, so it's not using any of the park's own project funds. We explained LBH's reasons for wanting to get on with the project in our April posting, and although it's not MUG's highest priority, it seemed sensible to take the opportunity.

Harry puts MUG's ideas to a site meeting  involving Streetscene,
parks tree officers, and our park development officer
By engaging with the council on this, the committee has also been able to negotiate a council commitment to redesigning the walking/cycling shared use arrangement on the Black Path, something that MUG called for in 2008 but which was shelved during the master plan consultations. If it came to a choice, the group might prefer to spend TfL's money on that, but it seems that both projects can be afforded from this year's money.