Friends of Whitecotes Playing Field News
At our 1st Annual General Meeting on 1/8/16 our Committee was elected as follows: Chairperson--Keith Falconer, Secretary--Linda Oades, Treasurer--Josie Cooper, Vice Chairperson--Andy Hill, Co-opted members--Linda Coles and Pat Hill.
Our Constitution is to retain and improve the field for current and future generations to enjoy, to preserve wildlife, sustain and improve the health and well-being of everyone in the community. We also hope to apply for Fields in Trust Status in the future in conjunction with the Borough Council.
Linda Oades sent a letter to the Strategic Planning and Key Sites Manager, Alan Moray at the Borough Council to register a formal response to the Council's draft local plan if it is to include the Whitecotes Playing Field for consideration as a development site. We hope to hear about this early next year--Council are discussing it in Jan and Feb.
We have had one public meeting and would now like to update you regarding our efforts since to plan for and safeguard the future of the Field as a well-loved green space for all the community to enjoy.
We have spent many hours knocking on doors gaining support in the community and making sure as many people as possible are informed. So far we have over 470 members. Thank you to all our volunteers for their help with this.
We have had two long meetings with John Ramsey, the council officer in charge of green spaces who has helped many other 'Friends of' parks groups, discussing how we should proceed, insurance, possible grants available to us etc. He said the Council have no money to upgrade the playground but would be happy for us to apply for grants to do so. We asked if the Council would paint the existing equipment in readiness for a new surface and are pleased to report that a start has been made on this.
We have visited other Parks (Poolsbrook, Eastwood, Inkerman, Holymoorside) to get ideas and talk to users there asking which equipment is popular, any safety problems etc. and looking at their paths, seats and signs. Everyone has been most helpful and encouraging especially members of other 'Friends of' groups.We have paced out the paths needed for our Field for an approximate measurement and measured the playground where we'd like to put in a self-shutting gate, 3 more pieces of equipment and a new surface.
We have had a rep from one company come on site to advise us as to the suitability of our plans eg the siting of equipment for older children which he assured us would be fine behind the existing playground. He left us with some brochures. We will of course have quotes from several different companies.
We have been to a meeting of police cadets and Parkside school and intend to further our contacts with them particularly involving the pupil's 'Parliament' regarding nuisance behaviour but also to get their input for installations. We contacted Whitecotes school and need to involve the children there. We were delighted to see several lovely pictures some children had drawn and fastened to the Field fence asking for the wildlife and green space to be 'saved'.
We have received advice from Nick Brown of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and are encouraged to leave the rough area of nettles, thistles and bushes as a thriving environment for numerous insects and birds. William Thornhill has given us advice on planting trees.
We had a meeting with Sandra Pinks of Links who was able to check our Constitution and said she would help us with funding applications plus other advice. We also met with the Council who want to set up a Forum for interaction between 'Friends of' groups and the Council to share advice and information.
We have been in conversation with various Council officers such as John Ramsey, Sarah Poulton (green spaces park development), Alan Morey (forward planning officer), Sue Ramsey regarding the cemetery path and Ron Mihaley (Derbyshire County Councillor) among others. The latter has already granted us £500.
The order of our way forward initially will be:
1 To get quotes
2 Get Council approval/agreement of our plans.
3 Apply for funds
We will announce the next public meeting shortly--most likely in the New Year. As supporters of the group you are all classed as members and as such have the right to vote at our meetings should you choose to do so.
We still need to improve our links with publicity and would appreciate any help with this particularly Facebook and a webpage for those who are tech savvy! Any offers of help or ideas most welcome.
With regards from the Committee,
Linda Coles, Linda Oades, Josie Cooper, Keith Falconer, Andy and Pat Hill.