With just 100 days to go until the start of Bristol’s Green Capital year the Bristol 2015 Company has revamped its website and introduced a new branding at www.bristol2015.co.uk
For Parks Forum members, the most important section of the new website at the moment is probably on the availability of grants. There are three different grant streams available depending on the size of the projects. The smallest grants for local initiatives and events are being distributed through the Neighbourhood Partnerships which each have an initial £10,000 to allocate to projects in their area. Each Partnership has its own closing dates.
For larger projects grants of up to £10,000 there is The Bristol 2015 Small Grants Fund which is being administered by Quartet. There will be four opportunities to apply for a grant for this fund. The application deadlines are 17th October 2014 and then in 2015 January 5th, April 6th and July 1st.
The third grant stream is for larger strategic grants of £25k – £50k.
There is lots of other information on the website and more will be added as 2015 approaches, including details of the many events that are planned. One of our committee members gets a mention on the website here: www.bristol2015.co.uk/green-and-good.
Bristol Parks Forum along with many other organisations in the City are members of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership which has its own website at www.bristolgreencapital.org. The Partnership has 12 thematic action groups working to make Bristol a greener city and this work will continue after 2015. There are many links between the two organisations and much of what Bristol 2015 does will be driven by the Partnership.
Parks Forum committee member, Fraser Bridgeford, is co-chair of the Nature, Wildlife and Green Spaces Action Group along with Robin Maynard (Avon Wildlife Trust).
This year’s RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards were announced at the Britain in Bloom – South West awards ceremony in Trowbridge on 18th September.
Many BPF member groups enter this “unique scheme for volunteer led community gardening projects/groups which are focused on cleaning up and greening up their local area”. The awards assess the work of the community groups and although they are run by the Royal Horticultural Society the judges are not only looking at horticultural activities, the involvement of the community plays a major part.
The certificates for those groups that were not able to attend the ceremony in Trowbridge will be presented at City Hall on 3rd October.
This year Britain in Bloom – South West also introduced a new scheme judging parks and open spaces. This has some aspects in common with the Green Flag awards but is much more slanted towards community involvement as well as the standard of management of the park; the application process is also much less bureaucratic.
Friends of Troopers Hill entered Troopers Hill in the ‘Country Park’ category and were delighted to receive a Gold award.
A message from the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces
SAVE OUR PARKS!
Protect and invest in the UK’s green spaces
– Help prevent the slide into crisis
– Let’s make parks a general election issue in 2015
Parks and green spaces are an essential and unique resource and service, vital to every local community and serving a wide range of important needs for people of all ages and interests.
However, the June 2014 ‘State of UK Public Parks’ report documented the alarming slide into a long-term crisis being caused by the underfunding of the UK’s parks. We are now at a tipping point. It is up to all those who know and care to raise their voices together.
The inspirational rise of the Friends Groups movement over the last 15 years (with now over 5,000 groups), and the hard work and expertise of green space staff, managers and professionals, has demonstrated the commitment of the public and all those who love parks. We believe that there must now be an equivalent recognition and commitment from the political parties and the next Government in 2015. Let’s make this an election issue!
The petition has already begun to stimulate publicity and debate. There’s been a feature in the Daily Mirror, and important national organisations like Groundwork (the green space volunteering charity) and UNISON (the local Government workers Union) have agreed to back the call. An initial response from a representative of the Department for Communities and Local Government stated: ‘It’s good to see that friends groups across the country have support for the valuable work they do preserving good quality local parks’, and offered to meet with the National Federation to discuss ‘community rights’. But there was no response to the central issue of what the Government plans to do to ensure ‘good quality local parks’, so we now have to step up the pressure. Let’s all get the word out to everyone we know and get thousands more to sign!
Please help get as many signatures as you can…
1. Sign the petition: http://chn.ge/TXdqhj
2. Spread the news via Twitter: @LoveParks_Week #LoveParks
3. Spread the news via Facebook: www.facebook.com/ukparkspetition – and also: www.facebook.com/LoveParksWeek
4. Refer to the Parks Petition webpage: www.natfedparks.org.uk/parks-petition.html
5. Download and take round a Sign Up Sheet
6. Download and hand out leaflets
Please spread the word far and wide!
The Bristol Parks proposals to bring the grounds maintenance ‘in-house’ for at least 2 years from March 2015 were agreed at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (1st July).
The Cabinet report can be seen here
As discussed at the BPF meeting on 28th June the plans are for the grounds maintenance work to be brought back in-house which will give more flexibility to change specifications and priorities.
Neighbourhood Partnerships and Park Groups will have more say in what is done in our parks and park groups or others will be able to do more in their parks to improve them if they wish. We will continue the discussions started with Bristol Parks at the meeting about the mechanics of this.
Despite what you may have seen in the media, Bristol City Council / Bristol Parks have made no references to volunteers cutting grass and there are NO PLANS FOR THAT TO HAPPEN.
Core maintenance will continue to be carried out by the current in-house teams and contractors until February. The Contractors’ employees who work on the Bristol contracts will then transfer to BCC via the TUPE process and will then be employed directly.
The Labour group amendment to this year’s budget delayed the proposed £1/2m budget cut to the Grounds Maintenance budget by 12 months to 2015/16. The proposed cut is 8.5% of the existing net budget of £5.9m. (The actual cost of Grounds Maintenance is £7.3m part of which is covered by income so the actual cut is a slightly lower percentage than this; the figures are in the Cabinet Report). As such Bristol could be said to have got off lightly compared to other core cities, however, cuts on this scale will have an impact. Prior to the 2015/16 budget being finalised in February, the BPF committee will be arguing that the year in which Bristol is Green Capital is not the time to make these cuts.
Bristol Parks Forum will have a stand at this year’s Bristol Festival of Nature. We will be in the Green Forum tent – do come along an say hello.
The main festival weekend is on the 14th & 15th June in Millennium and Anchor Squares on the Harbourside.
As well as the weekend events there are our community events running from May to July across Bristol and extending to bath and Chew Valley.
The full list of events can be seen here.
Events in Bristol’s Parks & Green Spaces include events at
• Brislington Meadows – 26th May;
• Brandon Hill – 27th May;
• Horfield Common – 31st May;
• Dundry Slopes – 1st June;
• Stoke Park – 21st June;
• Stockwood Open Space – 29th June;
• Kings Weston 6th July;
• The Downs – 12th July;
• Narroways – 13th July;
• Magpie Bottom – 20th July;
• Callington Road – 26th July.
Mellie May from Tree Pips gave an update on the project at the Parks Forum meeting on 12th April.
Copies of the information she distributed are available via the links below. This is the information that is being sent to all schools in Bristol to inform them about the project. The aim is for every school child to be involved with planting a tree, giving a potential for planting 36,000 trees.
• Introducing TreePips (includes contact details)
• TreePips FAQs
• Tree Planting Off School Grounds with the Tree Pips Team
As all the schools cannot accommodate the number of trees they would like to plant, the team will be looking to plant in local green spaces – parks, green verges etc. If there are areas where you would like to see more trees, please contact the TreePips team, to discuss potential planting plans.
On the Monday after our meeting Mellie presented a sample lesson to the Tree Forum (who were mostly well behaved) to give a feel for the important educational part of the project. The link below gives a list of lesson plans that TreePips are offering to schools. This is a work in progress, and will be added to throughout the duration of the project. It is also intended to add resources to the BCC website so teachers can continue to teach children about trees long after the project ends.
• TreePips Educational Topics
If anyone would like to offer suggestions on topics to teach, the team are open to ideas and will gratefully accept any contributions.
TreePips are in the process of setting up their website at www.bristol.gov.uk/treepips and you can follow them at twitter.com/TreePips.
Other news about tree planting in Bristol, including how you can sponsor a tree is available at www.bristol.gov.uk/treebristol
The Tree Forum website is at www.euronova.co.uk/BristolTreeForum.htm
The UK’s largest urban walking festival is taking place in Bristol this year between Saturday 26 April and Monday 26 May. Back by popular demand, the festival has now grown into a month-long event with over 150 walks to choose from.
Many Park Groups are organising walks as part of the Festival and of course many of Bristol’s parks and green spaces will be visited during the walks.
The walks have been designed to appeal to regular and not-so-regular walkers of all ages. There will even be some other extra activities to ensure everyone can enjoy the festival. This is your chance to get out and explore Bristol in a whole new light whilst enjoying some fresh air and exercise.
The festival launches at City Hall on Saturday 26 April between 11am to 5pm. There will be lots of stalls and led walks, so come along and get a taste of what lies in store over the next few weeks.
Bristol Walking Festival 2014 is organised by Bristol City Council in partnership with Bristol Ramblers and supported by Bristol Green Capital, SHINE and Visit Bristol. Full details of all the organised walks can be found in the walking festival programme which is available from Bristol Central Library, local libraries and the Bristol Tourist Information Centre (next to the watershed) or online at www.bristolwalkingfestival.co.uk.
As mentioned at the BPF meeting on Saturday, the Full Council meeting on 18th March will be considering the proposed byelaws.
The proposed byelaws and the list of parks that they will apply to are included in the report at item 10B at in the meeting papers that can be seen on the Council’s website here. The report also details the results of last year’s public consultation.
Most of the byelaws are written such that the activity is prohibited except in designated areas. For example byelaw 27 says: ‘No person shall in any waterway cast a net or line for the purpose of catching fish or other animals except in a designated area for fishing’.
So it is not the intention to ban all the activities in all parks. Once the byelaws are agreed there will be a process of agreeing which activities need to be banned in which areas. Bristol Parks will then be able to vary the designated areas if particular problems arise.
In the report the Council says:
‘By introducing byelaws, there is no intention to restrict people’s freedom to use parks and green spaces or to impose a blanket ‘ban’ on the activities covered in the proposed byelaws. The aim is only to tackle activities that are of an anti-social nature and cause considerable nuisance to other parks users and local residents’.
The byelaws have the support of the Police, who along with PCSOs and Council Officers will be involved in the enforcement process where required. They are are based on model byelaws Set 2 (2006) published on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) website, subject to minor amendment to reflect the issues in Bristol’s parks and open spaces.
Any public statements for the meeting need to be submitted by 12 noon on 17th March 2014 by email to email@example.com or faxed to 0117 9222146 or sent to Bristol City Council, Democratic Services Section, Room 220, City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR.
It was with great sadness that we started the BPF meeting on Saturday (8th March) with news of the death of Justin Smith from a heart attack the previous weekend. Rob spoke briefly about Justin and Tracey Morgan, Director for Environment & Leisure at Bristol City Council, added her own tribute and told us how much the team would miss him and his expertise.
Since 2009 Justin had been Woodlands & Wildlife officer at Bristol Parks and had also worked on the Wild City Project for the last 18 months. He spoke to the Forum in February last year about managing wildlife sites and about coppicing and woodland management. He also described the excellent work he was doing with Community Payback giving ex-offenders training in habitat maintenance. Justin has also given many Park Groups advice on wildlife issues and was keen to see groups getting actively involved in managing their sites for wildlife.
As well as this work with the Council many Park Group members knew him through the many fungi forays he ran across the city.
There is a Facebook page where everybody is very welcome to leave photos and memories of Justin. You will need to have a Facebook log in to see the contents. www.facebook.com/justinhongos
There was also a short tribute to Justin on Shepherd’s Way on BCFM radio on Wednesday 5th March. You can listen to the show via www.bcfmradio.com/shepherdsway, it’s about 4’50” in.
The thoughts of everyone at the Parks Forum are with his wife, Lucy, their young son, Wilf and all his family and friends. He is a great loss.
Over the past three years the Wild City Project has organised a series of events and worked with park groups and others on many of the City’s fantastic and varied nature reserves.
Run by Paula Spiers and Helen Adshead, with additional help from Justin Smith, the project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces Programme, which is managed by Natural England under the Access to Nature Scheme. Wild City focused on 7 ‘key sites’ and also worked with 10 other ‘network sites’. Benefits have included improved access and local awareness of the sites. Many Bristol people, including the more vulnerable and under privileged, have been introduced to the sites and shown the opportunities they provide to enjoy nature and the outdoors without travelling out of the City.
Sadly the funding for the project only covered three years and the project has now come to an end. The Wild City Project followed on from the equally successful ‘Wildspace!’ and ‘Nature in the City’ projects that between them ran from 2002 to 2008. While there are many long term benefits from the project it is disappointing that at the moment there is no funding available to allow the project to continue.
The Wild City team has now published their final newsletter and this can be seen via the link below. As well as looking back on the three years of the project, Wild City is able to announce through the newsletter that 4 of their sites are about to be designated as Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) – Avon New Cut, Lamplighters Marsh, Narroways and The Northern Slopes. This will bring the total number of LNRs in Bristol to 12, see www.bristol.gov.uk/localnaturereserves.