Blythe Hill Fields park improvements 2020

Hi Folks,
I invite all local residents to check out my ongoing Facebook page, which was set up in 2017.

I love Blythe Hill Fields, but it really looks down on its knees and my page puts forward commonsense suggestions for basic park improvement upgrades, which are clearly lacking.

Most of Lewisham Council’s green/open spaces are highly influenced by volunteer park user groups.
The volunteer ‘Friends’ of Blythe Hill Fields’ have been going since 2003. They have a clear focus on organising an annual July Festival [a 5 hour per year event with no specific park improvement fundraising objective].

I fear that the same focus will pre-occupy the ‘Friends’ again in 2020 and I am determined to create a balance between the annual Festival and park improvements.

Anyway, check out my Facebook page and feel free to comment.

From the page description :

I hope this topic can focus on the park itself, as opposed to taking pot shots at a community group.

I feel uncomfortable about regular negative posting directed at the Friends of Blythe Hill. It looks a lot like sour grapes and it’s not in the spirit of this forum.

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I appreciate your concern, Chris. However, 2019 has now gone and I’ve not viewed any park improvement during the whole year and I haven’t posted anything until that timescale elapsed.
If community groups need to be re-focused/criticised on legitimate concerns, then they should not be made immune from criticism.
Just to make it clear - the Friends do an amazing job to organise the July Festival. However, it’s objective is also to achieve sustainable park improvements. Let’s hear from others.

Thanks.

@Austen_Jones I had a look at the fb page and found it distasteful in the extreme, not least calling the Friends a “useless park volunteer group” in separate posts, amongst other insults.

Your posts on here indicate you are clearly a bright person, much brighter than me, but this is not the way to engage people, in my humble opinion.

I wish you luck in your aim to improve the Fields, and I hope you are able to find a more positive approach to getting those changes done, some of which I agree with. For now, there is no chance I would join that fb group due to the venom directed towards the current Friends.

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I trust that there can be no objection to this post. This is a copy of my email sent to the respective volunteer Chairs/Secretaries of my fellow park volunteer groups. I’ve sought their respective support or responses to a proposal to create to Green Chain link from Honor Oak to Mountsfield Park via Catford Centre by linking Honor Oak via Duncombe Hill Green, Blythe Hill Fields, Ravensbourne Park Gardens, Ladywell Fields, ‘Catford Green’, Doggett Road and onto Mountsfield Park.

It is very exciting!!!

rom: Austen Jones aus_ten@msn.com
Sent: 11 January 2020 23:33
To: Blythe Hill Fields secretary@blythehillfields.org.uk; Ladywell Fields ladywellfields@yahoo.co.uk; Mountsfield Park FOMP mountsfieldpark@gmail.com; Friends of Blythe Hill Fields chair@blythehillfields.org.uk
Subject: FW: Missing pedestrian/cycleway bridge from ‘Catford Green’ over to Doggett Road - proposed ‘Green Chain’ link from Honor Oak to Mountsfield Park via Catford Centre

Dear Fellow Chairs/Secretaries of Lewisham borough parks,

I welcome your responses to a matter which is currently holding back any chance of an ‘East to West’ addition to London’s Greenchain Walkways - namely, the failure to install a new public footpath/cycle path by London Borough of Lewisham from the recently built ‘Catford Green’ [former Catford Greyhound site and locality] over to Doggett Road by the junction with Holbeach Road Primary School.

This bridge was an essential component part of the ‘Catford Green’ development plans and has not yet been delivered.

If it had been delivered, then pedestrians and cyclists could enter/exit to Catford Centre with ease and to propose a new East to West London ‘GreenChain’ link in order to join existing GreenChain routes from Honor Oak through to Duncombe Hill Green, Blythe Hill Fields, Ravensbourne Park Gardens, Ladywell Fields, Catford Centre, Mountsfield Park and beyond.

The ‘Lewisham Ledger’ will be running an article in its next edition due to my efforts as volunteer Chair of Ravensbourne Park Gardens.

I note that the Friends of Blythe Hill Fields have a proposed meeting for 18th January 2020.

I request that my proposal will be tabled for discussion and voted on at this meeting - as a park user of Blythe Hill Fields I request confirmation from the Secretary on this matter.

As for other groups, I am not aware of their meetings.

Catford Centre regeneration is a very exciting and ongoing process and backed with public funding.

It gives us, for the first time, an viable opportunity to create an East to West ‘Green Chain’ link to join our available green space via Catford Centre.

However, without the installation of the new bridge to link Ladywell Fields/Catford Green over to Doggett Road/Holbeach Road [as envisaged by London Borough of Lewisham in relation to the ‘Catford Green’ development], then it is clear that the ongoing and direct link from Honor Oak to Catford Centre and on to Mountsfield Park is only achieved by walking/cycling by the polluted and congested South Circular Road by Catford Bridge railway station.

I request your collective responses asap on whether your respective groups support my efforts to engage with London Borough of Lewisham to create a new GreenChain link from Honor Oak to Mountsfield Park.

However, I do request an acknowledgement response of this communication to my email address by end of day, 15th January 2020 from respective Secretaries/Chairs together with your timescaled date for your substantive, volunteer group response.

I look forward to your response[s],

Regards,

Austen Morley Jones

Volunteer Chair of the Ravensbourne Park Gardens Park User Group

Tim Part Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 12:25 PM
To: aus_ten@msn.com

Cc: Friends of Blythe Hill Fields secretary@blythehillfields.org.uk, ladywellfields@yahoo.co.uk, mountsfieldpark@gmail.com|

Dear Mr Jones

We acknowledge your email regarding the Green Chain from Mountsfield Park to Honor Oak Park and the missing bridge from Catford Green to Doggett Road to be built by those responsible for the development of the former.

We discussed the issue at our meeting on Monday 13th January. We welcome any reasonable and practical measures to make London, particularly the South East, a more eco-friendly city. However, given our remit and current levels of resource, we must focus on projects within the bounds of Blythe Hill Fields themselves.

We are confident that any individuals who wish to engage with your proposals will do so of their own accord when appropriate.

Yours sincerely

Tim Part
Chair of the Friends of Blythe Hill Fields

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Thanks Tim,

I’m looking forward to viewing rolled out park improvements during 2020.

The Montacute Road entrance continues to be the most unwelcoming entrance/exit to Blythe Hill Fields and I trust that the Friends’ will deal with painting the concrete panels with anti grafitti green paint [which I have already offered to pay for in full and your group has rejected] as a long overdue step to improve the enjoyment for all park users.

I’ve used the Fields since September 2006 and continue to advocate the point that there is an ongoing imbalance with the Friends’ group organising a 5 hour per year July Festival for the 1st 6 months of every year and then not timescaling and delivering any park improvement by year end.

I trust that any proposed July Festival for 2020 will be directly linked to raising funds for timescaled park improvements rather than simply organising a Festival without any specific purpose.

Our plans for 2020 will be published in due course, following on from the improvements that we delivered in 2019, including the planting of the wildflower meadow, new play equipment, and the tree clean up.

You will see from our October meeting minutes that we have already been discussing the Montacute Road entrance for some time. We had explored the possibility of turning the wall into a mural, but due to technical reasons this will not be possible. We are therefore liaising with Lewisham Council and Glendale on painting it with a plain colour. As I’m sure you appreciate, there is a necessary process to follow regarding assessments and contractor tendering, amongst other things. As much as we would like to, we are not able to turn up on a Saturday morning and do it ourselves.

I’m afraid I will have to disagree with you on the imbalance. Rather than looking at the duration of the festival, perhaps you could consider the funds raised as justification for the incredible effort that each of the members of the wider Friends group puts in every year? The festival, which only increases in popularity every year, is by a wide margin our main source of funding. Indeed that is its specific purpose.

No festival, no funding.

Therefore, the festival is directly linked to the park improvements we have already made, and will continue to make in the future. That is how we funded the table tennis table (for example) and how we will fund the new signage (you may have seen the exciting designs on display in the Friends’ tent at the 2019 festival) in the coming months.

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Thank you @Tim_Part and your fellow volunteers for the effort you put in & I think many would miss the festival if it were not there. The fact it contributes significantly to the fundings is even better to hear.

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Tim, you’ve portrayed the July Festival as the main fund raiser for park improvements and pointed out that my focus should not dwell on the 5 hour duration of the event. You’ve missed my point that it is the amount of Friends’ time efforts to organise the event beforehand that is the imbalance in my view and is precisely why park improvements initiatives have not been implemented to even deal with the basics to create a welcoming green space.
Kindly contradict the following if you disagree - The Montacute Road entrance has not changed in appearance at any point since 2006, Park signage changes were voted top in the Friends’ own park survey in 2017 and have not been delivered as yet and proposals do not include replacement of the crossroads sign in the centre of the Fields, the wildflower meadow areas have been seed planted in 2018 and 2019 on low cut grass [not on bare/prepared ground] and have not succeeded, funding also comes from other sources for park improvements [e.g. Crofton Park local assembly], no volunteer bulb planting event has taken place for at least 5 years and no specific delivery of a park improvement project has ever been specifically linked in parallel to organising the annual Festival so that park users can understand a specific park improvement purpose linked to the Festival.
The remit for the Friends group includes these words - “We aim to promote the increased use and enjoyment of this essential open space.”
That remit would clearly mean that any proposed ‘Green Chain’ link between Honor Oak and Catford Centre should receive the Friends’ ongoing group support. Written support would cost the Friends nothing other than time well spent to encourage increased use from new park users passing through the Fields. I was deeply disappointed by your email in which you provided a generic response in which you clearly stated that the Friends remit did not extend beyond internal boundary concerns and then concluded that individuals [not the group] might be involved for the future.
My view is clear - increasing park use is part of the Friends’ fundamental remit and I trust that you will reflect on this obvious point and agree with your fellow Chair at Ladywell Fields, who clearly understood the bigger picture in order to increase park usage and whose email I cc’d to you recently.

That’s an excellent result for 2019 and I look forward to seeing more improvements in 2020.

The hard-working volunteers of the Friends set a great example to other residents. More power to you.

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Mr Jones

I welcome all input on plans for the fields, but you have misread my last reply.

To deal with your points in order:

I did not miss your point on the ‘imbalance’. Organising a festival takes a lot of time, but it also generates a lot of money. The time it takes for the Friends to organise the event does not come at the expense of that needed to deliver park improvements, it comes in addition to it. Our meetings are not a set length; they take as long as is necessary to deal with all business. Indeed, in future our festival meetings will be run separately from our ordinary business meetings.

At the same time we do, I believe, give park users a great deal of opportunity to influence how the money raised by the festival is spent. At the last festival we ran a suggestions board in the Friends’ Tent which generated a ream of ideas. This will inform our strategy and plans for the year and beyond which, as I said previously, will be published in due course. The revenue from the festival goes into the pot, the pot pays for improvements, users have ample opportunity to have their say - I don’t see how that is confusing in any way.

As I said in my previous reply, the Montacute Road entrance is in hand.

Park signage is also in hand. The designs are much more than functional, and I think all park users will be greatly impressed by their stunning visuals and innovative aims. It is necessarily a long process to get the designs right, to agree these with the relevant authorities and to go through a tendering process for their production. We are proceeding as quickly as we are able / permitted to.

The current proposals do include a replacement for the crossroads sign.

I’m not an expert on horticulture (in fact I have angered the plant gods through mistreatment of domestic specimens on many an occasion), but we do have some plant experts on the committee, and I trust them to deliver the wildflower meadow which will take time to reach fullness.

I said that the festival is “by a wide margin our main source of finding” rather than saying it was our only source.

On the Green Chain Link, I would invite you to re-read my email. I said that we support eco-friendly measures, but we must prioritise our activities in the park for the moment. I would remind you that the Friends is run on a volunteer basis, its membership comprised of people who already lead extremely busy lives. If they so wish, I am sure they will support your initiative via the appropriate channels. I am also sure that the topic will come up during the next meeting of ours attended by representatives of the Council and Glendale (a regular occurrence - we enjoy a fantastic relationship with them) and we will convey our thoughts then.

The bottom line is that I have no doubt that our activities help fulfil our remit and that we channel our resource to those projects that will best conribute to making the park, which is already a welcoming green space, even better in future.

Unfortunately, I have not seen your reply to the Chair of Ladywell Fields, as the change of email forwarding from chair@ to my personal address is still in process. Perhaps you would be so kind as to forward it to my personal address, which you have.

I believe that this addresses all matters raised and would be grateful if the site moderators could close off this thread.

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Site moderators should keep this thread open for comment. Why would anyone want to close down a reasonable and useful exchange of local opinion?
It is clear that the Friends’ of BHF’s view remains that the Fields is already a welcoming place [I totally disagree and invite any comments to suggest otherwise] and they have replacement park signage and the Montacute Road entrance in hand, but without providing any timescale for either. The Chair has indicated that they generated ideas from last July to “inform our strategy and plans for the year … which will be published in due course”. Sorry, but that appears meaningless.
The Friends’ meeting on 13th January 2020 was the first since last October and yet the Chair has not outlined any timescaled park improvement relating to park signage upgrades/Montacute Road entrance.
Even more disappointing - no budgeted/timescaled park improvement target to focus the fund raising role of this year’s July Festival.
I have witnessed the same pattern year after year with the Friends group - 6 months of the year focused on organising the July [5 hour] Festival. 6 months to the January meeting with deferred decisions on park improvements.
BHF’s needs a whole raft of basic park improvement upgrades beyond what they intend to announce “in due course”. My final comment for now relates to painting the concrete panels in anti grafitti paint by Montacute Road - the Friends have been going since 2003 and the Chair simply sums up my frustration with the way that the Friends approach the simplest of tasks:

“We are therefore liaising with Lewisham Council and Glendale on painting it with a plain colour. As I’m sure you appreciate, there is a necessary process to follow regarding assessments and contractor tendering, amongst other things. As much as we would like to, we are not able to turn up on a Saturday morning and do it ourselves.”

17 years to get to a point of liaising with Lewisham Council to paint concrete panels in a plain colour! Really?

I wonder what a ‘tree clean up’ is?

Dear Tim,

As requested in your post, I’ve forwarded to your personal email the response position from Tony Rich [Chair of the Friends of Ladywell Fields] in relation to their support for the campaign to support the pedestrian/cyclist public highway bridge to link Catford Centre over to Ladywell Fields.

For all to view, here is a copy as well:

Tony Rich

Tue 14/01/2020 13:26

  • You;
  • Blythe Hill Fields;
  • Mountsfield Park FOMP;
  • Friends of Blythe Hill Fields

Hi Austen

Thanks for copying us into your letter to the mail to the Mayor regarding securing a pedestrian and cycle bridge between Catford Green and Doggett Road. LFUG fully supports the campaign and has voted to agree this at previous meetings. We agree that the issue will be providing a workable solution and hopefully the Catford regeneration scheme will make this possible.

Best wishes

Tony

Okay, at the least I think we should take a tea break folks… :tea:

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Closed temporarily to let things mellow

This topic was automatically opened after 25 hours.