These are very unique times when we all find ourselves confined to home by the Corona virus and I hope you are all coping as best you can.
I thought it would be useful to report on what would have happened had we been able to hold the AGM and supply you with the various officer’s reports and updates on other events that have happened since we last met.
Everyone, at home.
Minutes from last meeting
Treasurer’s report; Michelle Inwood.
Gatley Carrs Conservation Group
Annual accounts for 1 March 2019 to 5 March 2020 __________________________________________________________________________________
Opening balance (1 March 2019) 4245.24
Closing balance (5 March 2020) 1564.53 __________________________________________________________________________________
Regular income 730.50
Extra income 638.00
Regular expenditure 467.21
Extra expenditure 3582.00
Notes; I have verified the accounts by reference to the bank account statement dated 4/03/20 and would like to thank Michelle for her continued diligence in maintaining the accounts over the last year.
Secretary/Membership Report; Pete Phethean
Currently we have 99 members.
18 of them have already been renewed during 2020 (January to March) and therefore their subscription fee will not be due again until next year. 73 memberships are due to be renewed between April and the end of December 2020 and are therefore in subscription.
8 existing members are late with their subscription, possibly because of the ongoing restrictions on social contact. Gentle reminders and Standing Order forms have been emailed out to help things along. This is likely to raise the number of paid up memberships to over a hundred in the next week or two.
55 of the memberships are single memberships with a £5 subscription fee.
44 of the memberships are family memberships with a £7.50 subscription fee.
This figure of 99 includes several new members who have joined GCCG in last three months, and lapsed members who have re-joined. A warm welcome to all. The trend in membership numbers is therefore upwards!
Notes; I want to thank Pete for his extremely diligent work this year and for his support in pursing grant applications and Fields in Trust. He has been very helpful. Pete was also successful in securing a £400 grant from the Stockport Local Fund to help support our work on The Carrs.
Site upkeep; Alan Butler
Site Report for GCCG – March 2020
Due to excessive rain the Carr’s footpaths are looking very sad, but no doubt as usual they will recover once the season moves on.
Annual Willow cutting was postponed due to extremely bad weather, but hopefully we can get this job done in the next month or so, when I shall be calling on volunteers to help out.
Having not been in the best of health early this year I have been appreciative to receive help from Jacob and his Dad Les who have worked hard cleaning the bridge steps and also moving wood bark from the Car Park to the Pond area making it safer under foot where the Ducks are fed (Jacob is doing his D of E award certificate) which I’m sure he will pass with credit.
This year we have been fairly vandal free on the Carrs, and for a change the bird feeding stations have been untouched, also our squirrel proof feeders worked a treat and although pricey they have kept the pests away allowing the small birds to feed.
We really have to look at shoring up the edge of the pond where it’s eroding away exposing broken glass and bottles, I suggest we get a quote from the BTC Volunteers.
Nigel and I replaced rotten timbers on the dipping pond, using good timber Purlins from the 1930’s - these will last for many years to come, we saved on the funds by obtaining these for free.
Fields in Trust update; Peter Owen
Myself (PO) and Pete Phethean (PP) finally secured a meeting with Councillor Sheila Bailey (SB) to discuss Fields in Trust, Jamie Leeson (JL)for F.I.T was also in attendance as were Councillors Keith Holloway (KH) and Graham Greenhalgh (GG) and Ian Walmsley (IW), Head of Neighbourhoods.
Cllr Bailey opened the meeting, without any introductions and proceeded to talk at us all for about 20 minutes, her basic key points were;
She didn’t like being accused of not wanting to protect green spaces and felt that the existing controls operated within SMBC, under her jurisdiction, were more than adequate to protect The Carrs and all other similar green spaces.
She was not willing to cede any powers to an unelected body like F.I.T. when the democratically elected officers in SMBC could protect spaces perfectly adequately.
She was unaware of our petition but apologised if that had got lost in the system somewhere.
It appears that our F.I.T application had also “got lost”.
KH corrected her on these two items clarifying that he had submitted the petition to a meeting of the full council and had seen the FIT application.
Cllr Bailey thanked him but made no comment.
JL was then finally allowed to start his presentation of the FIT case quoting numerous councils around the country who had adopted FIT protection and that didn’t feel this had negated the democratic process.
Unfortunately Jamie didn’t get far and was summarily interrupted by Cllr Bailey who said she was not interested in what other councils did, her only concern was for Stockport.
Jamie tried again ref her misunderstanding the legalities of the FIT operation and was once again stopped in his tracks by Cllr Bailey.
PP then challenged her to let Jamie finish and to not be duplicitous in her actions re supporting green space protection but not acknowledging a democratic petition, and failing see the benefits of what we were proposing.
This really got her back up and she had a rant about doubting her sincerity.
PO eventually tried to get some order back into the meeting by pointing out that she may well be very sincere in her wish to protect green spaces but by being an elected politician she could only give that personal guarantee for the term of her office, hence why we were pursuing FIT protection in as near perpetuity as we could.
And PO also pointed that numerous unelected bodies in the UK had proved vital to the preservation green spaces e.g. RSPB/National Trust/English Heritage and felt it very necessary to do so despite government promises.
IW supported Cllr Bailey in asserting that Stockport’s protection of green spaces was very robust and he didn’t see the need for an outside body to be involved.
Cllr Bailey was clearly not going to change her mind.
So PO summed up, with an attempt at bridge building, by saying clearly we all wanted the same result but differed in our methods and we would not be backing down from this fight.
Cllr Bailey said she would be disappointed if we did, which was a nice acceptance of our determination.
Since the meeting Ian Walmsley has been in touch with PO for information our plans for the site and as result of that conversation has offered a lot more help than we have ever received before.
He has offered to;
1/ To support our wildflower meadow regeneration he will organise for the council to cover the costs of cutting, spraying and re-cutting the meadow this year.
First cut has now been carried out.
And also advised of a free plant service offered by Stockport growing Partnership to help us plant some wildflower plugs in the meadow.
2/ He agreed to inspect the area covered by our proposed disabled access path.
And Ian has followed this up by writing to the various council officials who need to be involved as per copy e-mail below;
The above route (reference map included) runs largely on private land but is an integral piece of the infrastructure of Gatley Carrs Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
When compared with much of our estate the path isn’t in a particularly poor condition. It is neither subsiding, full of pot holes or suffering from fly-tipping or any other type of anti-social behaviour.
However, even given its location in an LNR, it is so muddy and holds so much water that it is largely unusable.
I am willing to fund a machine to scrape of the muddy surface to increase usability. This should also allow for a condition assessment. That condition assessment will allow for a cost to be determined for any necessary improvement works.
With that in mind I have a couple of questions:
Graham – does the Council need the land owners permission to undertake even minor works like scraping?
Graham – Post clean up could we work jointly (Neighbourhoods/Richard, PROW/you?, Gatley Carrs Conservation Group/Peter O) to attempt to source funding? No promises from any party at this point but based on the principal that three sources of funding increases the value of each other source it should be possible to do something.
Head of Neighbourhoods
PO; If this can be achieved it represents considerable progress and I have since spoken with David at the nursery and he has offered full support for this in terms of access and any other help he can give.
3/ Ian has also supplied me with a list of useful contacts for help, guidance and maybe even some financial assistance for The Carrs.
So we may not have made much progress in the formal meeting but we certainly have since then
We can only wait and see what happens now.
Update on schools liaison; Clare Phethean (CP)
Clare has been in touch with all our local schools to get them interested and involved with The Carrs and has had some very positive responses.
Gatley Primary have been down to site with groups of children and more visits were planned prior to the current lock down.
Hopefully the other schools will get involved in some way soon.
Update on project plans; Covered already as part of the Fields in Trust report.
Election of officers for 2020.
Clearly this could not take place and the current sitting officers have agreed to stay in position until such time as the appropriate vote can be taken.
Please raise any points you would like feedback on by e-mailing our secretary Pete and we will try to respond as soon as possible.
Thanks to you all for your support over the last year and we hope to see more of you getting involved in some way during this next year.
Proposed next meeting- 23rd June 2020 at 7.30pm