August 2015 latest from Down Lane Park N17‏

Below is the latest news from Down Lane Park.

Those interested in the policy of hiring out parks debate should note is that the council has back-tracked on its initial finding that the damage to the new path was caused by the recent funfair trucks crossing over it. Now, the council are saying the damage to 27 of the path edge stones is the fault of the contractor's method of installation. Thereby, the controversial parks hire policy is not to blame for damage to parks. All too convenient in my view.

The damage to the path aside, the improvements to Down Lane Park are nearly complete. Just a couple of people gates and a drainage pipe along the new vehicle gate to be installed. Then one of the stone columns near the playground gate is be engraved 'Boys' to be in line with the two nearly columns being 'Girls' and 'Infants'. Some old columns were taken out to make way for new fencing along Park View Road, but the Friends group insisted that the blank column be engraved to provide a reminder of the school history of the park.

Before, during, and after photographs of Down Lane Park improvement works at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/131478208@N05/sets/72157655023830675

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20th August 2015

Dear Friends.

Hope you having a lovely summer. It has certainly been another action-packed time for Down Lane Park.

Let me start with notice of two very local events they you might want to get along to. One is in the park on Saturday 22nd August, and the other is a community event happening on the Chesnut Estate ( - on the grass area next to the former Welbourne Centre site) on Sunday 6th September.

On 22nd August the Friends are supporting Acorn Children & Young People's Service with their Community Fun Day, that offers a programme of fun and sports activities for children. It is a very similar event to the summer festivals the Friends have organised in the past. The day begins at noon and goes on to 6pm. If you can help on the day then please say so. There is a Local Talent part of the day and adults might want to enter that.

The Sunday 6th September event is organised by the Chesnut Area Residents' Association to bring people on the estate together so they can get to know each other. It starts at 12 noon and goes on until 4pm. There is free food, a steel pan band performance, and a bouncy castle (for kids). Please get along to support the day and if you can help then again please say so.

CARA are very supportive of the Friends and it is right that we help them to strengthen their voice in local issues. They are also using the event to inform people about the council's plans to put a 20 storey tower block on the former Welbourne Centre site, build tower blocks along Monument Way that would mean taking out the wall and approximately 70 trees, and demolish Tamar Way to replace it with higher blocks of flats.

While the building and demo doesn't immediate threaten the park - aside from the large shadow a tower block on the Welbourne would cast over the park - the regeneration proposals do include the green road link proposal that would come down Chesnut Road and cut through the park. Through the new fencing secured from GLA's road scheme changes, the natural play area, and maybe the hill or the BMX track. So, the Friends have an important role in supporting Chesnuts community in getting improvement to the area that benefit local people and don't leave us with a series of monstrous buildings. The opportunity for the Friends is to secure extra investment in the park to meet the recreation and sports need of any extra people.

The Friends group have already done so much in getting the council to invest in the park. This summer alone the improvements include: new playground equipment, new fencing along park View Road, a re-painting of the Ashley Road original fencing, adjustments at Burdock Road and the recycle centre gates, and the new central path. Plus, the painting of the lamppost along the central path. All fantastic I hope you agree.

Though there are a few remaining issues. Notably the damage caused to 27 of the path stone edges by the heavy trucks of the Coggers funfair. Well, that was the initial observation of all involved. But the council have subsequently deemed that the path edges are faulty due to how the contractor installed them and returned Coggers' deposit money. Thereby avoiding any suggestion that the damage to the path - and the football pitch - was a consequence of the council's controversial policy of hiring out parks.

This year's Coggers event was a catalogue of problems. They arrived a day earlier than in the agreement with the council and let themselves in. Which is what led to the newly laid path not being adequately protected as trucks drove over? In addition, the organisers put up posters around the parks without the permission of the council, and illegally fly-postered the High Road. I have no information about any fines being issued for these actions.

While I accept some local people enjoy the event; the attitude of Coggers is dismissive of our desire to have the park freely available for the community and protect it from the consequences of the council's hire policy. Coggers told me - 'you have the park for 51 weeks and it is our's for this one week hire'. And parroted the council mantra that people should be grateful for the money the hire brings in.

Thankfully the funfair stay was short and less than the two weeks they originally applied for. This is because the Friends objection to the Mauritian Festival - supported by the ward councillors — was accepted by the council and that knocked out the second week. Simply put: the Mauritian event had 15,000 attendees last year and is too big now for our small community park. That is before you factor in the damage caused, the pushing to the side of park users, and the inconvenience to residents on a weekend. The council's commercial hire policy poses a threat to our park and you might be aware of the considerable damage caused to Finsbury Park by the Wireless Festival event.

For those counting, the 8th August was 41 months on from Councillor Alan Strickland's 8th March 2012 pledge to improve Holcombe Market. Still no work started, but I understand the contract to do the work will go to October's meeting of the council's cabinet. So, the scheme should be completed in early 2016. I will let you do the maths.

The wider good news is that completion of the market works will enable the Friends to return to the objectives of the Alleys Project to improve Brook Street, Stoneleigh Court walkway, and Factory Lane. We have shown with Albert Place - that is the yellow alley with red lettering to the rear of the Beehive pub - that our public areas can be improved and we must continue that work.

Please let me know if you want more information on any of the matters raised. Always happy to answer questions and explain

All best,
Martin Ball
Chair, Friends of Down Lane Park

PS There is a Haringey Friends of Parks Forum on Saturday 5th September that bring together Friends groups across the borough. It is in the morning, from 10.30pm at Bruce Castle Museum. Let me know if you fancy attending. They are lively meetings and you get to meet other parks champions from across the borough.

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