Minutes from GCCG Meeting 20th September 2016
PO welcomed everyone and opened meeting.
Attendance and Apologies
Attendance: Peter Owen (PO), Sue Pilling (SP), Anna Forrester (AF), David Fairlie, Bill Forrester, Jean Skitt, Geoff Skitt, Graham Greenhalgh, Fran Heron, Jim Arkwright, John Pollard (JP), Michelle Inwood, Alan Butler (AB), Emma Burrows, Fiona Campbell, Keith Holloway (KH), John Taylor, Alice Gillard,
Apologies: Angela & Nigel Bent, Rachel Bent, Margaret & Derek Brennan, Bettina Taylor, Norma Montgomery, Chris Nield (CN), Linda Cullen, Mary Robinson.
Minutes from last meeting
Minutes of last meeting from 21st June were agreed and signed off.
JP reported that his last wildlife and summer flower report had not been put on the website – PO to sort.
Green Flag Presentation
Councillor KH formally presented the Green Flag Award to PO, who accepted this on behalf of the group. He praised the group’s efforts in achieving the award, which is in its twentieth year, particularly as we were the only site to receive this award in the whole of the Stockport borough.
PO also presented a twenty year Green Flag lapel pin badge to AB and thanked him for all the hard work he has done, and continues to do in maintaining the Carrs.
AF reported a balance of £3720.96. The Nature Awareness day and Gatley Festival had raised £112.00 and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic raised £264.00. PO reported that Gatley Rotary club had donated another £189.00, which had been remaining funds in the club when it closed. Also, the public liability insurance had been renewed at a cost of £198.00.
In the absence of CN, PO read out Chris’ bird report for the last quarter, which had generally been quiet. Species spotted included blackcap, little grebe and mallard. A weasel had also been spotted on the wild flower meadow (WFM). CN’s full report is available to read on the website.
SP reported that the current membership stood at 93. All email reminders were now up to date and letters had been prepared with standing order mandates enclosed to be sent to all those without email addresses and also those whose email addresses had bounced back. The letters were distributed amongst members for delivery. There were 8 members who had signed up to pay by standing order, so the aim was to encourage this as our preferred method of payment.
Wildlife and Nature Report
JP presented his report. The WFM had shown a good variety of wild flowers, yellow rattle seeds were needed to suppress the grass growth in preparation for the following year. The orchard had produced good fruit this year, however the trees now needed professionally pruning (needed every 3 years). New plant life had been recorded inc. angelica, fennel and collared Earthstar fungus. At the NAD day in June, the pond dipping had been particularly successful with a great variety of creatures spotted. JP’s full report is available on the website.
Fields in Trust Proposal
PO reported that, after meeting with Jamie Leeson (JL) from Fields in Trust at the Green Flag awards, he had proposed that Gatley Carrs be protected by this very worthwhile scheme. Fields in Trust is a charitable organisation which protects open spaces in the UK and safeguards the sites against any future development. The Carrs will always be potentially under threat from development unless we can secure this legal protection. As the council are landowners, they have to submit the proposal. There was an initial negative response from John Rowland and Anthony Crook from the council, who responded that there was no ‘immediate’ threat to the land. Our response was that whatever the current plans were, as there was no cost to the council for doing this (land registry fees already paid for by GCCG), there was no reason not to proceed with this protection. Since then we have received the support of our local councillors. Iain Roberts made a short video on our behalf which we have promoted and is on the Lib Dem local website. KH reported that there were 160 potential sites for development within Stockport and the council was assessing them all as to the suitability for building on. PO read out an email from JL to the council summarising the proposal and promising them every assistance in bringing this matter to fruition.
Plans for site maintenance
John Byrne (JB) had recently written an email to some members to state that he was resigning from the group. PO read out John’s memorandum, which stated that he was unhappy with the fact that he had been told by PO that he needed prior approval from PO, AB or JP before doing maintenance tasks on the Carrs (prompted by his clearing of a large area at the back of the pond and his planting of some garden plants which have had to be removed from the site). PO read out his response to JB as follows:
Thank you for letter and I am very sorry you feel as you do.
Yours and Connor’s help has been invaluable to us in many ways, the willow bird hides being particularly useful as has been the raising of the pond water level by plugging the leaks, plus your energetic support for the Halloween night and TBP etc.
I have thanked you constantly for your hard work, but I have also tried to guide your efforts to ensure you work within the guidelines we have to adhere to, my recent text to you asking you to only carry out approved tasks was prompted by your recent clearing off a large area at the back of the pond, and recent planting of non- indigenous species on the site.
We don’t own this site, we are merely custodians charged with the responsibility of looking after the Reserve for all to use and enjoy.
However, it is a Nature Reserve and not a park hence it has to be protected within that classification, Alan Butler and John Pollard have great experience of what can be done and allowed on the Reserve, so we have to follow their advice.
We are in negotiations to protect the site in perpetuity and therefore we must be seen to carry out our maintenance role very carefully, if they see evidence of unapproved works on the Reserve this could put our stewardship under considerable threat and we can’t risk that.
None of us want you to leave, and I hope you will reconsider, and try to understand what we are trying to achieve, but also accept there are rules that have to be adhered to, whatever yours and others private views about the site are.
AB had invited JB to the meeting to discuss this further, but he had refused.
PO reported that AM (Cheshire Wildlife Trust) was working on a maintenance plan for the Carrs –
Japanese knotweed needed treating.
Overhanging trees needed to be dealt with (PO and AB to discuss).
Dog fouling problem (AM suggested spraying dog waste blue - idea been successful in other areas.)
AM also offered help in applying for various grants/funding – Aviva Community scheme, Forever Manchester Stockport fund, Airport scheme. 11K of funding is needed for disabled access.
Future Events calendar proposal
SP put forward Derek Brennan’s (DB) proposal that we should plan and produce a calendar of forthcoming events for the year ahead. The events should incorporate the Sunday strolls already taking place on the first and third Sundays of the month, but with as many as possible having an added theme/item of interest, with other events taking place around these set dates. The calendar could be printed on normal paper, folded into a concertina type format, so small enough to carry around and cheap enough to produce to be handed out widely.
Event ideas for future
The next themed event would be an autumn tree walk led by JP on Sunday 16th October.
Keith Holloway offered to promote future events on the Lib-Dem website.
To tie in with the calendar proposal above, it was decided that we should have a separate meeting to discuss and plan our events for the coming year.
JP had completed the SMBC Open spaces/Greenspace and Friends questionnaires on behalf of the group.
JP had attended the SGF network day on 3rd September on behalf of the group.
AB reported that the WFM had been cut earlier in the day.
PO asked Alice Gillard about her experience with the Carrs for the volunteering section of her Duke of Edinburgh award. She had taken part in several activities including bird feeding, clearing steps, balsam bashing etc and had enjoyed and benefitted from it.
PO reported on the local plans for Gatley Recreational Park. Piccolos are proposing to build a café/indoor community space to replace the old groundsman’s hut, which is in a very poor state of repair, with further plans to cover the tennis courts making a larger sporting/community area for events. Piccolos are providing the initial funding and donating many staff hours to the project. A Community Interest Company is also being formed to help support this and so members were urged to join this group (£1 donation to become a member) as it is such a worthwhile local project and an indoor local venue would certainly help us with future events.
Next meeting – Tuesday 13th December 7.30pm