FRIENDS OF TRENDLEWOOD PARK (FoTP) Annual Report 2021
1) Introduction and context Many of the wider issues that affected Trendlewood Park and the volunteer group in 2020 – early 2021, continued to impact us last year: • Corona virus In common with every other group and organisation in the country, we have had to adjust and adapt to the continuing pandemic. It affected our ability to meet, and at other times, limited the numbers of permitted volunteers. Worst of all, it prevented us from providing refreshments for volunteers!! As reported last year, the park was more heavily used by residents for exercise and recreation during periods of lockdown. The huge rise in dog ownership has been very noticeable, and we anticipate that the increased use of the park is here to stay. This all adds to the wear and tear on the park, but encouragingly, we haven’t seen a huge increase in litter, dog fouling or antisocial behaviour. • Public events We have again been prevented from holding public meetings, taking part in festivals and markets for much of the year. Andrew was unable to carry out park presentations to interested groups. All this has been disappointing, as it has reduced public engagement, and our ability to recruit new members and volunteers. We are also limited by the small number of volunteers available to help out at public events and would value more support with these. • Climate change We are all too aware of continuing changes to the weather patterns, with milder and shorter Winters, wetter Springs, heavier, intense bursts of rainfall, and stronger winds. All these changes are affecting the management of the park year on year, and we have to adapt our work accordingly. • Wilding and Green Infrastructure As part of it’s emerging Green agenda, North Somerset Council adopted a Green Infrastructure Strategy in early 2021. FoTP members were involved in the online consultation exercise in March 2021. Parks and public open spaces were recognized as providing important nature-based solutions to the climate emergency, redressing loss of biodiversity, and offering a means to improve people’s physical and mental health. It remains to be seen how many of the 59 projects in the strategy can be implemented. • New planting As a direct result of the national and local Green agendas and initiatives, trees and shrubs have been donated to the park by town and district councils this year. The Queen launched her Jubilee ‘Green Canopy’ project, and thanks to Nailsea Town Council, the park is a recipient of 36 native shrubs. North Somerset Council donated 6 mature trees obtained from the Local Authority Treescapes Fund. • Ash die back has taken hold of most of the trees in the park. This is an ongoing headache for the district council, which has legal responsibilities for safety of park users, and an anxiety for residents who live adjacent to the wood. The composition and appearance of Nowhere Wood, the copses on the park, and the Kenn hedge will change over time, as mature ash trees continue to die. We must try to see this as both a threat and an opportunity, as other species of trees start to colonise and glades open up. • Plastic free park We decided to reduce and hopefully eliminate plastic from the park, as we are aware of the harmful and lasting effects of plastic in water and soil. The first opportunity to put this into practice was with the purchase of biodegradable spiral guards used to protect hedgerow whips planted in January 2022.
2) Organisation • North Somerset Council We continued to receive support from NSC officers, who guided us through various phases of the corona virus restrictions. We value their input and resources invested in the park. We are particularly delighted to welcome Iain Macfarlane, who has moved across to NSC from contractors, Glendale, to carry out a more ‘hands on’ role with parks and volunteer groups. He recently helped to check and replace nest boxes, a job we are unable to do, and has met with us on several occasions to discuss and plan work. The monthly support of the Green Team (Somerset Wood Recycling) at workdays has been invaluable – they carry out large scale grass cutting, hedge trimming and other substantial and time consuming tasks. In mid-2021, FoTP and NSC jointly funded the laying of an additional section of path on a muddy and dangerously slippery section of the Kenn hedge. This close collaboration is very welcome, and enables us to achieve substantial improvements to the park infrastructure. • Nailsea Town Council Thanks to the Town Council again for it’s generous grant, which enabled us to carry out some large scale projects, purchase seed, tools and equipment. As mentioned, the Town Council donated shrubs through the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. • Park Management Committee Remains in abeyance • FoTP Committee remained a stable group, and met by Zoom to discuss issues and plan work. In spite of some health issues, the committee members worked very hard, and their commitment is appreciated. Grateful thanks to Charles Elliott who is an astute and efficient Treasurer, and keeps our feet firmly on the ground! (See Treasurer’s Report). Pauline provides publicity support. Rob is a hard working Tree Officer, and Andrew a stalwart committee member and gifted wildlife photographer, whose regular photos of park wildlife delight a growing number of members. One of the members and a regular volunteer, Mervyn, has kindly taken on a useful and much- needed role, checking and updating tools and equipment. We still hope to find someone to carry out secretarial duties. • FoTP website The site is now well established and ably managed by Violet Ridge. Andrew’s photographs and other documents are uploaded regularly. We receive the occasional membership application via the website. • FoTP volunteers Much of the routine management work and new project work is carried out by our able volunteers, who give of their time and energy to work on the park and meadows. Many thanks to all of them.
3) Park management and projects: • Park Management Plan The current 5 year plan is dated 2015-2020/21. Due to pressures on NSC officers, there has been no progress on rewriting the plan. • Tree works See report by Rob John, our Tree Officer. Rob has been very effective at liaising with the tree surgeons, who continued to thin over-dense holly in the wood in the Autumn. After a year’s delay, he also masterminded the planting of a new native hedge along the woodland edge in January 2022. This will provide a barrier, protect the woodland floor, and provide a new habitat. • Kenn hedge Large scale ‘knocking back’ of the over mature hedgeline was completed over 3 years. In 2021, Glendale carried out the first annual clearance of shrubby regrowth, but at our request, left several areas as scrub habitat. As a small group, we can only hope to enhance small cleared areas, and have concentrated our efforts on the areas we call the ‘Kenn Corner’ and ‘Lion’s Corner’ by planting bulbs, shrubs, trees and sowing wildflower seed. In late Spring, volunteers also prepared and sowed small areas of cleared hedge base with perennial seed mixes, producing colourful and nectar rich displays. The 6 standard blossom and fruit trees obtained for us by NSC will be planted along the hedgeline, and will provide varied blossom and fruit for insects and birds. The 36 hedgerow whips given by the Town Council will be used to fill remaining gaps in the hedgeline. • Gully/Wetland project: As a constructive way to deal with heavy rainfall and flooding, much hard digging was done this year to increase the capacity of the gully, by increasing it’s size and depth. A sluice was built to regulate the flow. The gully now absorbs overflow from the pond, without flooding over the footpath and grassland. Andrew has continued to lead this project very ably, and devised a design that will provide an entirely new wetland habitat for the park. We will soon have the pleasure of selecting and planting a variety of wet and damp-loving native plants, many new to the park. This should attract amphibians, aquatic insects and water loving birds (and no doubt, a few dogs!). • Antisocial behaviour and damage Although most users treat the park with respect, there are still unfortunate incidents of damage and antisocial behaviour. Recently, the interpretation panel in the wood was damaged, and we regularly have to report damage to dog bins and fences. Last Summer, a rough sleeper took up residence in the wood. He was supported by council officers to leave. Timber and other items had to be removed from the ‘den’. There are a few park neighbours who continue to cut back and damage trees and shrubs on the park side. In extreme cases, NSC has to intervene. • Golden Valley meadows We care for two areas of tall grass on Nailsea School playing fields, managed for years as mown utility grassland. They are not officially part of Trendlewood Park, and we relate to Nailsea School to manage them. Over time, and with a regime of annual cutting, wildflowers are returning naturally across the meadows. Thanks to the hard work of the Brandon Trust group, several new wildflower beds were created and sown with cornfield annuals in 2021, producing a wonderful effect, and encouraging insect activity. The groups also helped us to create a small tree nursery, where small trees and shrubs can grow until needed elsewhere on the park. Andrew continues to lead on the management of the meadows very effectively, and oversees the annual cut by contractors. During last year, there were some unfortunate confrontations with an adjoining resident over our management of the meadows, but we hope that this will not reoccur in 2022. • Workdays/Impact of pandemic: As in 2020, workdays were suspended by NSC for several months in early 2021, (January to April). In spite of this, we held 19 workdays overall, and organised some additional days for specific projects (planted a standard hornbeam, sowed seed mix, and planted snowdrop and wild garlic bulbs). Volunteer numbers built back up as restrictions eased. We managed to achieve a good deal, and made good headway with projects such as the wetland project, but inevitably fell behind with some of the routine management, such as grass cutting and hedge trimming. o Number of volunteer workdays = 19 (planned = 24) o Numbers of volunteers: Sundays 2-7/Tuesdays 3-11. o Green Team support: 11 workdays o Additional workdays = 3 (plant standard hornbeam, sow wildflower seed, plant snowdrop and wild garlic bulbs)
4) Award of the Green Flag – 10th year The park was Mystery Judged again in 2021, and awarded the Green Flag for the 10th consecutive year. Winners were announced at a Virtual Awards Ceremony on 24 November 2021 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Green Flag. This award has had a major influence on raising the profile of parks and open spaces across the world, has promoted good practice, and provided advice and support to councils and groups such as FoTP.
5) Joint working: Brandon Trust After lockdown ended in Spring 2021, the Scotch Horn group were able to return to work with us, and carried out some excellent work. Their work on the meadows is recorded above, and they also helped to rake off huge quantities of grass after the annual cut. Prior to grass cutting on the park in late Summer, they helped by knocking back brambles. Andrew and Pat liaised with the group, and it was a happy and mutually beneficial arrangement. As the year progressed, it became clear that the future of the Scotch Horn group in Nailsea was insecure, and towards the end of 2021, they moved to new premises in Clevedon. The future of our working relationship with Brandon Trust is unclear, but we hope the group can return.
6) Future plans and concerns: As outlined, in spite of a frustrating start, FoTP has had a successful year overall, and the park continued to provide a safe, well- managed and attractive environment for people, and a varied habitat for wildlife. Areas for improvement: • Try to increase membership. Consider way to interest younger people and students • Grow the volunteer group and review the workday programme to increase numbers attending • Try to recruit more committee members to strengthen the group, learn about the management of the park and take the lead on improvement projects.