Our first AGM as a charity took place last month. We were pleased to be able to celebrate lots of successes, and to discuss plans for the year ahead, in a wide-ranging meeting. You can read about some of our work in the Year in the Park document YitP 2019
Wanted: freelance consultant to set up volunteer management systems for us
We’re a busy charity, looking after the welfare of the park and its users. Traditionally the Friends offered a range of family-friendly events, and also acted as a representative body, for the council and other bodies. However, increasingly we’re taking on additional activities and projects which use volunteers to maintain and enhance the physical environment (further information about the Friends’ work is available on this website and on social media). It’s clear that we now need help to set up systems to manage our existing volunteer group, and to establish recruitment systems for new volunteers.
Could you be the person who could do this for us? You’ll work with the trustees and committee, and meet with various key volunteers, to understand our aims and plans. Amongst other tasks, we’ll need a suitable database for volunteer details, and systems to monitor and evaluate our work. Experience in the voluntary sector is essential. It is likely that the work will require up to 16 hours a week for three months during the initial set-up, and then up to 8 hours a week for a further three months, whilst systems are bedding in. Hours of work will be largely flexible, with a few required evening meetings. This is a self-employed/freelance contract. The hourly rate is £11ph. Further details from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application is by CV and a covering letter (totalling 4 pages or less, please) by email to: email@example.com by noon, on 7th October, 2019. Interviews will be in late October. Starting date to be confirmed.
Many of you will be intending to go to the Environment Agency’s meeting about the Clementhorpe flood defences, on Monday 15th July 7pm at Southlands Methodist church, to find out more about the impact on the park, and on Terry Avenue and Butcher Terrace. The Environment Agency has just realised this document: 2019 FAQ Edition 1 which answers some of the questions that have been already raised.
We’re pleased to announce that the Friends are now a charity, having successfully completed an application to the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Our charity will be number 1183948.
This probably won’t make much outward difference – we’ve always strived to keep our standards high! – but we will need to fill in more documentation, and make sure all the boxes that have to be ticked are indeed ticked … We may also be able to apply to different grant-giving organisations, as a charity. But we will keep in mind that we are here to ensure the well-being of the park and its users .. onwards and upwards!
Reprinted from Friends newsletter, in case there are subscribers who are not members of the Friends:
As you will be aware, the council approved plans to turn the old park keepers flat above the cafe to a holiday let. The original planning application was withdrawn at the start of this year from a number of reasons, but it is likely it will be submitted soon with amendments. The Friends of Rowntree Park committee would prefer the flat to be utilised in some way for the community and we are working on an alternative proposal. Your view on this issue matters to us.
We’d be grateful if you could complete this very quick survey regarding the lodge. We encourage you to share the link with others too.
Important info – Closure/changes to Terry Avenue and Butcher Terrace
On a separate note, engineering work to help prevent flooding in the Clementhorpe area is likely to cause disruption to the area immediately around the park, particularly Terry Avenue and Butcher Terrace. Many local residents were unaware that the plans would require Terry Avenue (the riverside road) to change from a ‘byway to a highway’, for up to 18 months. Access to Terry Avenue would blocked at the bottom of Clementhorpe (for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians); instead, all traffic that needs access (construction vehicles, Roomzzz hotel deliveries and taxis, caravan site, park) would be routed via Butcher Terrace and the southern part of Terry Avenue.
The Environment Agency has applied for planning permission for these works, details of which you can see on the council planning portal: https://www.york.gov.uk/SearchPlanningApplications (use the code: 19/00570/FUL).
Comments about the plans were to be registered by 17th of May but we have been told that late submissions are still read and considered.
If the portal has any issues, you can use this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is further information here: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/yorkshire/yorkfasclementhorpe/ with maps showing the areas concerned. You can contact the EA directly for further info, and you can submit comments to them, using this address: email@example.com
It is also useful to share any views with your local councillors.
Over the past 12 months, our income has increased quite substantially due to grants, increased membership and income from events we run for the community. We are now in the happy place of having to apply to formalise our position with an application for charitable status as an Incorporated Organisation. We would like to do this as soon as possible after the next Friends meeting.
We have used standard documentation from the Charity Commission to put together a constitution for the Friends and which we would like to discuss and approve (possibly with minor amendments) at the meeting on Thursday. You can see this document here FRP constitution 20 03 2019.
We have defined our objectives as being to:
1 promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Rowntree Park as a place of environmental interest and amenity value
2 advance the education of the public in relation to the history, biodiversity and other aspects of Rowntree Park and related Issues
3 work with others on the provision of facilities for public education, recreation and other leisure interests within Rowntree Park
4 Promote civic responsibility, volunteering, health and well-being among the users of Rowntree Park.
We do need some Friends of Rowntree Park members to help with the organisation of this, as Trustees. 5 – 7 people are needed for this, and we hope they will step forward/ be selected on Thursday. If you cannot attend the meeting but are interested in putting yourself forward as a Trustee, then please let us know. Similarly, get in touch if you’d like to find out more on what being a Trustee involves. General information on becoming a charity trustee is here.
The Friends of Rowntree Park meeting takes place on Thurs 11th April at 7pm in Rowntree Park Reading Cafe. All members are welcome.
Two of the Friends’ committee attended the meeting of the Council’s Executive yesterday evening (14th Feb), and spoke about the Friends’ concerns about the plans to create a holiday flat in the former park-keepers accommodation. We had previously added our comments on the planning application (see the planning portal with the reference number 18/02255/FUL) and these comments are amongst those integrated in the council’s updated document on the application (pages 71 to 85)
We anticipated that the holiday flat plans would be agreed at this meeting, because no viable alternatives have been brought forward, despite a lot of discussion. And so it proved to be. However, it was significant that the councillors agreed with us that the public hadn’t been given sufficient information about the plan, in particular how the money raised would be spent, and how the property would be managed, when the conversion was completed. And the lack of clear communication even meant that members of the public thought that the flat (or in one case the cafe itself) was to be sold – unsurprisingly the word ‘disposal’ in the legal documents led people to assume this. The council’s updated document (see above) does provide answers to many of the questions raised, but it is still not readily accessible, as it is 15 pages within a daunting 342-page document, held on the council’s website.
Besides these issues, the aspects that have caused most debate locally can be grouped under the heading ‘moral issues.’ Would the Rowntree family have approved of (non-local) people holidaying in the park, and paying a lot of money for the privilege? Is it in the spirit of their gift? Would it be more fitting if a council employee was offered the accommodation? Is re-purposing like this an indication that the council would eventually like to sell the property? It is difficult to know the answers (impossible in some cases) but a question-and-answer session – and equivalent published material – would be very helpful.
However, the plans and money weren’t just ‘nodded through’ at the meeting, because (unusually) the council officers were told that they were required to now engage with the public, seeking to clarify plans and allay worries, and then return to the Executive. We will now work with council officers to ensure that there is an open meeting for this purpose, as soon as practical, and will advertise this as widely as possible. As usual, why not follow us on FB or Twitter (better still, join as a Friend, and get our regular members’ newsletters) and keep up to date with the news in the Park?
Meanwhile, the planning application will be re-worked and re-submitted, probably in July, with work on the Lodge (assuming that all goes to plan) starting in the autumn. Again, we make sure that this is advertised on FB, Twitter and via our newsletters.
All the council’s meetings are webcast, so you can see clips of us and Cllr Johnny Hayes speaking towards the beginning of the meeting, and the discussion amongst the councillors 52 minutes later on, using this link.