Wednesday 15 June 2005 7.49am
Its that time again.
The Friends of Archbishops Park are having their annual AGM on Tuesday 21 June at the ADI Centre
, 218 Lambeth Road
SE1 from 7.00-8.00PM. Its the large building by the Lambeth Road
entrance to the Park.
This time will be interesting as the Founders Place Developers will be presenting their plans. They say the trees will be protected, but they have come to an agreement with Lambeth on cutting back and pruning.
There will also be a chance to hear about progress on the management plan and hear what Lambeth Parks are up to.
For those new to the Forum, the Friends have existed for about five years, initially to combat proposals to build a private tennis centre on SE1s largest, and arguably prettiest, park. Since then, and following pressure from us, the Church Commissioners have granted Lambeth a new 40 year lease, and we, with Lambeth, have produced a managment plan. This is now being implemented and new planting to the south of the park is due to go in this autumn and we should have exercise equipment in place within the month (for any Thames Path joggers the park is opposite St Thomas' and near Westminster Bridge)
The Sports Actions Zone is apparently bidding for funds for a new football pitch, eventually without a Redgra surface, and for improvements to tennis and other facilities, and to the changing rooms. (The park has what are probably the only cricket nets in SE1.) We are now told that there will not be floodlights. Lambeth are currently commissioning a design for an enlarged playground, and I, foolishly, have committed to putting together a funding strategy, and then bidding for funds to actually buy the kit. At the moment the provision is only for the under 5s and so we are hoping to expand the area into the now-disused putting green to allow provision for 5-13 year olds, and also expand opportunites for disabled children's play, not least to provide scope for siblings, out-patients, and perhaps even in-patients of the new children's hospital opposite. (I love the way that patients in Great Ormond Street use Coram Fields, using adapted wheelchairs with drips etc.)
On fund raising I would really welcome help or advice. Mapmaker and Claire T have offered in the past and someone else who I met at the Royal Oak, told me about Heritage Lottery funding for play. It has taken a while but we now have a clear go ahead from Lambeth and a chance to make a real difference. A positive alternative those regular threads about kids hanging out on street corners.
We have also found the money for Camden Society, a charity that runs supported employment cafe's, to commission an independent study into the feasibility of running a cafe in the park.
The group were also instrumental in setting up a weekly, and free, football scheme which runs from 10-12 every Saturday morning using coaches from Fulham Football in the Community for kids aged between 6 and 16. And it looks as if we will be asked to take it back the responsibility once current SRB funding runs out.
Exciting! I can honestly say that after some real ups and downs, which long-time members of the Forum are aware of, we are enjoying a really good and constructive relationships with both Lambeth Parks and the South Bank Employers Group. Good support at the AGM will enable us to translate this into delivery. The Leader of Lambeth Council
will be there along with at least one other Ward Councillor.
It would also be lovely to see people who are campaigning for green space elsewhere in the area. It has been tough, but I think our model of relying on voluntary efforts, though buying in capacity support when needed, and working in partnership with the Local Authority, may prove to be the most sustainable in the long run, and seems to be providing a template for a number of other projects across Lambeth.
Following the rather public spat (eg on this site) a year ago about the ability of group like ours to access local regeneration funding, my own position seems less secure. Though I am largely unrepentant, in that I do think parks are an easy way to deliver real improvements to people's lives, and I think our project is the sort of community initiative that should be supported. (I would wouldn't I. ) Things have been largely patched up, and we have been granted £4,500 for 'capacity support', interest and support in the project may help persuade the local Community Regeneration Trust, who I hope will be represented, to consider us for some of the final year SRB money.
Though we have some new volunteers, we are always on the look out for new people williing to give time and join the committee.