Minutes from GCCG Meeting 20th June 2017
PO welcomed everyone and opened meeting.
Attendance and Apologies
Attendance: Peter Owen (PO), Sue Pilling (SP), David Johnson, Anna Forrester (AF), Bill Forrester, John Pollard (JP), Chris Neild (CN), David Fairlie, Nigel Bent, Angela Bent, Derek Brennan (DB), Sharon Matthews, Margaret Brennan.
Apologies: Jim Arkwright, Linda Cullen, Alan Butler, Mary Robinson, Emma Burrows
Minutes from last meeting
Minutes of last meeting from the 21st March were agreed and signed off.
No matters arising from previous minutes.
AF gave her treasurer’s report. The account balance was £4610.43. We had received £68.50 from membership subscriptions and donations and spent £67.00 over the last quarter.
CN gave her report of the bird activity over the last three months. There had been a successful Sunday Strollers bird walk on the 7th May with 23 species spotted. Chris’ full report can be found on the website.
SP reported a slight decrease in membership numbers, which currently stand at 89. Those paying by standing order had increased to 22.
Wildlife and Nature Report
JP gave his wildlife and nature report, summarizing activity from April to June. There had been a wide variety of flowers this year in the wild flower meadow. A wild flower walk on the 21st May had only two people in attendance. The Bat talk/walk on the 6th June had attracted 20 people, 15 of who braved the elements to walk on the Carrs later in the evening. The Nature Awareness day had been poorly attended on the 18th June. JP’s full report can be found on the website.
Fields in Trust Proposal Update
PO reported that the Stockport Green Space Manager, Ian Walmsley had rejected our Fields in Trust proposal and read out the Ian’s email:
"Dear Cllrs Roberts and Allan In late 2016 you both made enquires with regard to the dedication of sites under the Fields in Trust’s Centenary Fields Programme. After some deliberation and having taken a view from Estates and Asset Management I can confirm that the Council will not be supporting such dedications. The Council’s Estate and Asset Management Team have expressed concern regarding the restrictions that the Council may face in the future should land be dedicated under any of the Fields in Trusts schemes. Where land is subject to dedication or held in trust a disproportionate amount of resource is required to deal with even the most trivial of property matters. This is in line with the decision taken not to pursue similar dedications such as the Field in Trust’s 2012 Queen Elizabeth II programme. I appreciate that this news, coming so late after your initial enquiry, may well be disappointing. However the Council will be working with partners to develop a programme of commemorative activity to mark the centenary of the end of World War I. Stockport has a number of important sites which have been dedicated in memory of the fallen of World War I, including Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, which was built by Public Subscription. The commemorations will highlight the stories behind these memorials and celebrate the contribution they continue to make to the Stockport 100 years on.
Ian Walmsley Greenspace Manager Stockport Council
followed by the response from Jamie Leeson from Fields in Trust:
Good Morning everyone,
I agree with Peter; this is incredibly disappointing; not least because I’ve recently had another Friends of group enquiry regarding protection that they are keen to see on Ludworth Park – they seemed very sure that the Council would support their wish, but it seems that may not be the case.
It does concern me somewhat that Stockport’s Green Spaces Manager seems very keen not to protect the green spaces he serves – that doesn’t happen very often! Ian has pushed back against my suggestions throughout these correspondence.
I’m afraid this is exactly why I try to ensure that I meet face-to-face with landowners; Stockport Council’s reasoning is ill-informed and stretches the reality of our protection. We protect over 2,600 sites across the UK; the vast, vast majority of those never have to contact us regarding changes to their sites. Any ancillary development to a site IS permitted and does not require consent. Leases over seven years do, as that legally constitutes a disposal of land and extension or new buildings do require letting us know, but if they are ancillary to the use as a playing field (for example) there is no need to submit a formal request. If there are plans to develop sites to an extent, this can be written into the Deed at the point of consultation. My opinion is that in taking a borough-wide blanket decision on all green spaces shows a lack of commitment to any form of green spaces plan and the reason provided is, frankly, inaccurate. The reality looks nothing like that. We get less than ten requests to change parts of sites a month, on average. 95% of these are approved within three weeks and all it takes for the landowner is to submit a form and the necessary plans – it’s an hour’s dedicated work at most for the landowner.
There absolutely is a commitment to protecting land with Fields in Trust – we guarantee its future use as a green space and by doing that it requires robust protection methods that sit outside of Town and Planning Law, where the clue is in the title; it accounts for green space protection, but the protection is porous enough to allow for town development; buildings, housing, etc. Any Town and Country Planning Law covenants on green spaces are very easy to overturn; think how easy it is to build a conservatory in your back garden. That’s how easy it is... If the Council doesn’t wish to protect any sites, that is very disappointing. We absolutely understand the financial pressures Local Authorities are under and to promote development. But with protection. To take such a wide-ranging decision, in my experience, goes far wider than provided an ill-informed reason.
Would Gatley Carrs, as a nature area, require consent for anything? I sincerely doubt it would. The very nature of the site means that Fields in Trust’s involvement would be virtually nil.
It’s also a shame in that neighbouring Councils, such as Oldham and Rochdale, are very proactive in protecting their parks and open spaces with us. Oldham has nominated four sites as Centenary Fields and will enjoy national publicity, as well as being part of this exclusive UK-wide project.
My offer to meet with necessary stakeholders remains.
Kind regards, Jamie"
Jamie’s next task would be to respond back to Ian Walmsley. Ian had very ambiguous objections with no specifics given. Nigel Bent suggested asking for the minutes of the council meeting where this had been discussed. Copies of both emails had been sent out to all members.
Schools Liaison ideas
PO stated that recent events had been poorly attended and it was important to get the local schools involved, our involvement with the schools had become virtually non-existent. Peter asked for ideas on how to achieve this. As ever shortage of man power seemed to be our main problem. It was suggested that it would be good to get the local scouts and brownies involved also.
Next Events/Future events
Gatley Festival Walk Monday 26th June, meet 6.30pm in Car Park.
Gatley Festival 2nd July
Helpers – PO, AF, Alan, Nigel, Angela, Sharon, Derek, Margaret.
Doggy Day Special 16th July – Emma to organise with Pam Rowley – need to advertise in vets.
Proposed art day on 23rd July needs to be publicised.
DB had done an updated events list and put a lot of work into this. PO thanked DB for this work.
SP suggested that as the Nature Awareness day had yet again attracted poor numbers, renaming/revamping it for next year’s event as “Brilliant Bug Day’ may encourage more families to attend.
Maintenance tasks: balsam bash June 25th
There had been a good response for this so hopefully this would be well attended.
DB suggested that people from Willow Court may like to get involved so it would be good to encourage this.
There had been an application from someone to have another bench installed on the Carrs. JP was unsure whether we should encourage another bench as we are not a memorial park and also the council had raised an objection previously. It was decided that PO should ask John Rowlands whether it was viable to have another bench before a response back.
Next meeting - Tuesday 19th September 2017 7.30pm