FOPP Warwick Committee Meeting – October 5th 2021
Jerry Birkbeck (Chair), Jo Birkbeck, Dave Skinner, Trevor Day, Angela Day, Nic Ruch, Lesley Hall, Johnathan Branson, Andy Stewart.
Jerry welcomed everyone to the meeting and said that it was good to be able to have a face to face meeting again.
Membership and Funding
Jo mentioned that she had received queries to the FOPP email address from people asking how they could join FOPP. This led to an open discussion about how FOPP could get more funding and whether we should have a membership fee. Dave posed the question of what does it actually mean to be a member of FOPP and what would a member get in exchange for a membership fee if one was charged. He pointed out that access to the FOPP Facebook group and page are free of charge. We discussed that rather than having a membership fee, whether fund raising should occur when there is a actual requirement for the funding, for example when FOPP are intending hosting an event that would incur a cost.
Dianne is looking into the feasibility of FOPP receiving donations either by PayPal or through the website. She is also thinking of producing a child friendly map of Priory Park with a tree / nature trail that could be ‘sold’ on the website for a donation.
If we were going to ask for donations, there would need to be a way for these to be given and also to let people know what their donation would be used for. A combination of Facebook postings and a newsletter sent to the FOPP email list could be used to achieve this. Whatever the method for giving donations, it would need to be easy. Dave mentioned a comment that Simon Loftus has posted on the Facebook page about a park in London that he had visited that had a contactless ‘tap to donate post’. This meant you could tap your card to donate a set amount – e.g. £1.
Johnathan asked whether as well as looking for donations, we could also be targeting people if they have a particular skill set that would be useful to FOPP. He used the excellent work that Dianne has done on redesigning and hosting the website as an example as the time and effort that Dianne has contributed for this has saved FOPP a considerable sum if we took commercial rates for such work into consideration.
Angela then posed the question of ‘What is a Friend of Priory Park’ and suggested that one of the main functions is acting as a PR group for the park and nudging the council into action. Johnathan gave the example of upgraded footpaths as one example of where we could make a difference. Angela made the suggestion that if we could mobilise enough people we could organise an event, possibly also involving the mayor, to highlight the path that we think should be improved. This is the path linking the Coventry Road entrance with the railway tunnel and it has been mentioned on numerous occasions that this path can become treacherous in the winter months especially for the less mobile. Angela also said that the bigger and more diverse that FOPP become, then the more pressure we would be able to bring to bear.
Dave had suggested that we have this committee meeting before we have a full open meeting. In the open meeting we could setup a separate group to progress specific projects. If any of these projects required funding then at that point we could ask for donations.
Grant Aid – Website and Warwickshire County Council Green Shoots Fund
Dave has produced the report that Warwick Town Council require as a part of the qualifying criteria for the grant for the funding of the website from the Community Grants scheme. He had hoped to report verbally at the Annual Town Meeting but a written report was required. The grant has been made for three years (at the old GoDaddy funding rate) but the funding needs to be reapplied for on an annual basis. Although Dianne is hosting the website for a nominal annual fee of £1, there is still an annual fee (currently £27.80) for the two domain names foppwarwick.org and prioryparkwarwick.org. We have not yet reimbursed Dianne for this charge but she will shortly be submitting an invoice.
Earlier in the year, Jerry successfully applied for a grant from the Green Shoots fund. The funding is for the planting in Priory Park of seven Lime trees (Tilia cordata) in order to mitigate the visual impact of the new medical centre. Jerry has contacted Sarah Ridgeway (Hintons Nursery) to order the trees and the supplementary items required to the support the planting. Jerry has also contacted Dave Anderson (WDC) to query about what arrangements are in place for any insurance liability for anyone undertaking the planting. One of the conditions (#19) of the Green Shoots grant is ‘The recipient shall maintain with a reputable insurer sufficient insurance cover to meet all liabilities arising in connection with the grant.
The intention is that primary schools and communities that have a connection to the park would ‘adopt’ a tree and be involved in the aftercare. The planting would be done on their behalf and it was agreed that the next open meeting would be the ideal time to seek volunteers for this work. A firm date for the planting will be dependent on when the trees are available from Hintons.
The following are potential candidates to get involved with this project (they are all local to the park):
- Warwick Nursery
- Mary’s Immaculate School
- Packmores Centre (possibly)
- Tiny Tots Nursery
- Coten End School
- Westgate School
- Warwick Space
Dave queried whether we would ask Priory Medical Centre to get involved and it was agreed that this was a good idea especially as the medical centre could possibly be a source of water for the early years upkeep of the trees.
Johnathan raised the idea of suggesting to the schools / centres of them organising a time capsule to be buried under their adopted tree. There is no funding in the Green Shoots grant for time capsules and so each school / centre would need to source their own. Suitable time capsules are available for a moderate price and so hopefully they would be able to provide funding for these. Suggestions for items in the time capsule were things relating to the specific school / centre or items relating to how Priory Park was used during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. This work is potentially a useful educational tool.
We will need to engage with the schools / centres to invite them to be involved with this project. Jerry said he would produce a draft letter (including mentioning the time capsules) which could then be sent to the head teachers / co-ordinators with further information to be supplied if required.
Johnathan said that we needed a mechanism to engage with all supporters about this project and that this could be via the website and Facebook group and page. It is possible that The Woodland Trust may also wish to be involved.
Discussion about the timing of the planting came to the conclusion that we should be aiming for early March. Checks to ensure there are no underground services in the locations selected for the planting of the trees will be required. Press coverage of the event will need to be organised. After planting, the trees will need aftercare in the form of watering and adjusting the ties and Lesley advised that this would be required for approximately three years after planting.
Facebook and Website
There are now approximately 435 members of the FOPP Facebook group and 235 followers of the Facebook page. Johnathan commented that we need to try and ensure that regular informative updates are added to Facebook.
Andy mentioned the excellent 3D photo of the park that Alex Harvey recently uploaded to the Facebook group. Via the group page, Dave has been corresponding with Alex concerning the possibility of him producing a brief video tour of the park which could be used as an introduction to the group.
Dianne has added a tracking counter to the website but this was only recently so current usage figures are not yet available. Johnathan queried whether it would be possible for Dianne to add a contact form to the website.
Nic mentioned that he thought that the Wild Boar was now charging for the use of their back room. Dave agreed to check with the manager of the Wild Boar whether there were any days in November when we would be able to use the back room free of charge.
Dave gave a summary of the proposed Priory Park Heritage and Nature Trail which will involve wood carving of some of the deadwood in the park. Depending on WDC granting permission, it is hoped that this project will go ahead in November. There will be a consultation on what will actually be carved and where but it was thought that nature reliefs on old stumps would be good as they could be used for paper rubbings. The actual chain sawing will occur over two days and people will be able to watch the work in progress. In conjunction with the chain saw work, a nature trail will be developed. ARCCIC are coordinating this project.
Jerry asked Johnathan about progress on the Art Intervention on the buttresses of the railway tunnel. Johnathan advised that this is currently on hold but should be progressed in the future. The community consultation that will be required to gain consensus on what the art would actually be was also discussed. Dave mentioned that it would be good for the art work to include signage to the town centre and also asked whether it would be possible to also get the walls of the tunnel painted a light colour for use by graffiti artists. However Johnathan advised that based on his previous experience of the work involved that this would be too expensive.
Nic asked whether FOPP should consider itself as a lobby group for safety in the park as he has seen cyclists and escooter riders travelling at speed in the park. There have also been sightings of people riding motorcycles in the park. John Holland has been notified. Nic also commented that if the path between the Coventry Road entrance and the railway tunnel is improved then it is likely that this would increase the chance of cyclists and escooter riders abusing this. Under the bylaws of the park they should not be riding in the park anyway. The query was posed whether there was anyway to encourage cyclists to cycle more safely. Mention was made that the promised bollard for the railway tunnel has not yet materialised and that no progress has been made on the signage for Priory Pools
Nic also commented about the safety aspects of two of the entrances into the park from Priory Road and it was noted that this has been raised with WDC in the past by FOPP.
Johnathan suggested that we need a development plan detailing aspirations for the park.