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 ...

Friday, 2 March 2012

AGM agenda Sat 3rd March 3-5pm

Venue:  Nye Bevan Community Hall, Overbury Street E5 0AJ (map)

3pm – arrival, biscuits, tea etc.

3.15 – Start meeting: welcome & introductions

3.30 – Review of the year

3.45 – Treasurer’s report

3.50 – Committee nominations, and election if necessary

4.00 – Casimir Road entrance area,
Play areas north and south.
Where the working groups have got to and a chance to discuss their ideas & research so far. Displays and informal discussion session with more tea & biscuits.
(if an election count is needed it happens during this)

4.45 – (If necessary) Election result

4.50 – Meeting ends

(4.51 – Committee meets briefly to fix first full meeting and nominate temporary officers)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Dick Ford 1932-2012

Edna and Dick at a Tree Musketeers stall 
with (foreground) Anne Woollett,
another great friend & activist 
now looking after a Norfolk woodland 
Many of the trees now growing and flourishing on Millfields were planted or looked after by Dick Ford, who died last week.

I first met Dick over a decade ago in what was then the Hackney Tree Wardens, local people volunteering to plant and care for trees. He was a man it was very easy to like – large, gentle, good-humoured and warm, with a big face and a throaty chuckle. And if Dick was on an outing, you got not only the pleasure of his company, but Edna's home-made scones as well. So they were both very popular.

It was Dick and Edna's popularity, in fact, which led to Hackney's famous Tree Musketeers replacing the more demure Tree Wardens, following a wardens' AGM at which Edna, not being a paid-up member, was asked to leave the room. My missus protested and we both left, as did most of the other active members. After that the Tree Musketeers were formed, where we understand that it's people not rules that make a group tick. So the Musketeers are, in a way, part of Dick's legacy.

Dick lived in Overbury Street and Millfields was his local park. Thinking over which trees we planted or mulched together, I'm sad to think that the cherries near the substation's west wall were among the many Millfields trees ripped out by National Grid. It's not only the greenery you lose when they send the bulldozers in. But the arboretums on north and south are still there and looking better every year, as are other teenage trees dotted round the edges and avenues. So next time you're enjoying them, don't forget to think of Dick Ford.


Friday, 10 February 2012

Working group takes up Casimir Road

The Casimir Road entrance was a major item at the 7 December group meeting and had an excellent outcome: several group members with relevant skills stepped forward to form a working group. Since then another local professional has volunteered her time and skills - having seen one of her park designs featured in our discussion paper on a noticeboard.

We also decided to press for the removal of all railings along the National Grid lay-by, including the 'green'. The committee has taken this up with LBH.

The rules for committee elections were adopted. They basically describe what we did last year, but additionally give the opportunity for prospective committee-ists to describe themselves to the group before the election meeting.

For the full minutes, follow the link at our Meetings Records page.

Leyton Marsh: WF rubber stamps, resistance continues

Following Tuesday's Waltham Forest planning committee decision to approve the ODA application for basketball courts on Leyton Marsh a meeting has been arranged to discuss a campaign against the development.

Monday 13 February, 7pm  
Hare and Hounds, 282 Lea Bridge Road E10
The meeting is being held in what except for Monday evenings is the dining area. Children are welcome. But sorry no dogs.

Please contact MUG committee member  if you need further details or want to comment.

Keep updated / contribute at:

Twitter #leytonmarsh

Previous stuff at: 16 December and 15 January

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Locals meet to defend Leyton Marsh

For updates:

  • #leytonmarsh 
Continued from 16 December

From the newly formed Leyton Marsh Users Group 2012

Dear Marsh User

I am sure you will have read about the plans for a huge basketball facility that is proposed to erected on Leyton Marsh by "London 2012". (See Olympic bid to occupy Leyton marsh). Here's a idea of what it would look like. This is a practice facility for Olympic teams, with no access for local people.

Application Number    2011/1560

3 events are coming up

Meeting at the Hare and Hounds, 278 Lea Bridge Road  London E10 7LD on Monday 16th January 2012 to plan what further steps can be taken to oppose the proposed development - all are invited - 6.00 pm on ward - if you can come at 7 or even later it is likely that people will still be there.

BBC TV are filming a news item on the proposals on Tuesday 17th January 2012 in the morning 10 am at the Ice Rink or 10.15 at the King's Head Bridge. They are keen to interview locals who use the marsh for whatever reason - dog walkers, joggers, slower pedestrians, horse riders!

Finally - where it may all happen

Planning Committee Waltham Forest Council
Tuesday, 7th February, 2012 7.30 p.m.

The Planning Committee of Waltham Forest Council will be considering the application at their meeting on 7th February 2012 - venue - Waltham Forest Town Hall, Forest road, London, E17 4JF.

The agenda will be displayed in the week before the meeting Proposed venue: Council Chamber
Contact: Oliver Craxton  020 8496 4380 Email: oliver.craxton@walthamforest.gov.uk
It would be great if you could attend and gather on the steps of the Town Hall at about 7.15 pm to make your feeling known to Committee Members.

Many thanks

Leyton Marsh Users Group 2012