The Friends Annual General Meeting meeting took place at All Saints Church in Prince of Wales Drive on July 5th. A large number of Friends and officials from Wandsworth Council and the Park Management were present.
The Chairman, Philip Wright, opened the meeting with a report of the Friends’ activities during 2003/4. He mentioned the Sculpture Prize awarded in September and the subsequent collapse and removal of the sculpture from the new site near the Millennium Pavilion.
The death of our Secretary and founder member, Elaine Hodges in October had dealt a severe blow to the Friends. The progress of the creation of a Winter Garden in her memory appears elsewhere in the magazine. He thanked Elizabeth Hood for so ably stepping in to take her place. Her appointment was given unanimous support by the meeting.
The Chairman praised Jennifer Ullman, Chief Parks Officer, for her outstanding work in charge of the Restoration culminating in June when HRH the Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a bronze plaque in the Bandstand with an acknowledgement of the Friends’ contribution inscribed on it. There was excellent news regarding the Zoo which comes under the management of the Chestnut Wildlife Centre in July and will contain indigenous wildlife.
He thanked the Committee members who had met monthly over the year for their hard work and mentioned particularly Mike Bates’ editorship of the ‘Review’ and David Andrews’ treasurership. David is leaving the area and is standing down after 5 years of exemplary work. In his final statement he mentioned the change in selling Christmas Cards and consequent loss of revenue but saving in manpower and the importance of members signing Gift Aid declarations; £468.84p had been recouped from 26% of the membership this year.
Elizabeth Hood in her report said that Claire Elliot had taken her place as Membership Secretary. This involves sending reminders to members for their subscriptions and creating labels for mailing the ‘Review’ from the membership database four times a year. She thanked the group of ‘envelope stuffers’ lead by Ruth Forrest. A large proportion of the magazines are hand delivered which saves us 35p per member.
The Police Dog Show had taken place on 27th June and the Parks Police were thanked for providing the Friends with a free stall for selling some of our Christmas cards and recruiting new members.
The formal meeting was followed by lively discussion opened by Martin Stratton, Assistant Director of Leisure and Amenity Services. Questions and comments ranged over the following subjects:
Planting along Prince of Wales Drive: Conifers would grow and obscure light and view of residents. A valid concern but some were replacing losses. The original planting was designed to give a feeling of seclusion from within the Park.
Information on Events: Still confused and hard to obtain. The Review Editor shared this view. New notice boards and signs are on the way and the Events Office will improve their response to enquiries.
Peace Pagoda 20th Anniversary: celebrations to take place on Saturday 18th June 2005.
Chelsea Flower Show Parking: prevented majority of Park users from being able to use the Park and diverted the Parks Police from their duties. The Committee would continue to pressure the issue with Wandsworth Council.
Danger from motor bikes at Chelsea Bridge Entrance: Parks police have identified the problem and are taking measures in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police.
Poor condition of marquee on British Genius site: A permanent building would be preferable to flapping canvas. Marquee on original structure but the colour to be toned down.
Fountains dangerous for children and should be fenced: no plans to do so as ROSPA safety survey did not think it necessary. Temporary signs to be replaced with permanent ones.
Could pony rides be reintroduced? Not within the remit of the Wild Life Centre and increasing fear of litigation meant the Council were not prepared to do so.
Pride in Battersea Park: Restoration has produced a wonderful park which everyone can be delighted with and is a real success story.
The Chairman closed the proceedings with thanks to everyone for their participation. He quoted the Duke of Edinburgh’s tribute to all Friends who have
“had a hand in restoring and returning Battersea Park to something of its former splendour”.