Archive for March, 2013

Friends of Harold Wood Parks AGM

March 14, 2013

IMG_1381I was very happy to attend the AGM of the Friends on Tuesday 12th March, and like everyone else not on the executive, stay on as an observer at the subsequent committee meeting. I was deeply impressed by the commitment, hard work and enthusiasm of the people there and the amount of detailed work that they had done and were planning. The meetings were chaired ably by Nicky Simmons. Geoff Pepper, the relevant council officer, was a vital and helpful participant in the meeting. Two ward councillors (Pam Light (Con) and Brian Eagling (RA)) were also present.

Some years ago, Harold Wood Park was in a sorry state. No flowers had been planted for a long time, sports and play facilities were run down and vandalism was an ongoing problem. Liberal Democrats in Romford had been involved in the Friends of Cottons Park there and spoke well of the community spirit and volunteering it had aroused. Also Friends groups can apply for grants not available to the Borough Council, which, of course, owns the parks. The local Liberal Democrats decided that Harold Wood Park could really benefit from a Friends group and called, and paid for, the two public meetings which launched it. Pamela Coles, a long time Liberal Democrat chaired the initial meetings and has been secretary of the Friends most of the time since. My personal contribution has been attending some meetings and a bit of litter picking. But my most important contibution, even before first public meeting, was to add the ‘s’ to the name. There were, I thought four pieces of council parkland in Harold Wood ward. Harold Wood Park, Paines Brook Land, Guys Field and bit behind the flyover on the A127 near the Ardleigh Green lights. Hence the plural of park. It turned out that the council had already sold the fourth of these, and nothing has really been done to Guys Field. The Friends have concentrated on Harold Wood Park and Paines Brook Land. These have acquired play area equipment for smaller children. In Paines Brook, the children of the nearby Harold Court School were involved in the choice of equipment. As you see it today a lot of the planting, equipment and maintenance in the parks has either been inspired by or actually done by the Friends. Paines Brook, being smaller and wilder has tended to lag a bit behind Harold Wood Park, but recently a group of local people has become very active in that area, which bodes well for the future.

Altogether, a very satisfying example of how citizens can work together for their local community.

The picture is the Green Flag awarded to Harold Wood Park in a national scheme.