Minutes and Reports

Friends of Bute Park

Aims:  To celebrate, conserve and enhance Bute Park as a place of freedom, recreation and enjoyment for all

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting

7th October 2017

Chairman Mike Harper welcomed Friends of Bute Park Members to this year’s AGM.

The Chairman asked everyone to introduce themselves.

Ann Jones commented on last year’s minutes where people were left out of the attendance list. However, as was pointed out, this had been amended .

AGM Programme of Events

  1. Welcome
  2. Annual Report.
  3. Cyclists
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Possible events discussed.

Annual Report

 Membership of those who have ever paid stands at 199, however only approx 60 people have renewed their subs.  The number of active members is around 10-15 regulars.

Finance – Annual expenditure ending 31/3/17 shows a balance of £1915.-00, however our spending exceeded our annual income by £159.95 due to spending on a bench donated to the Park by Friends of Bute Park and donating trees to the park.  Our income from subscriptions has remained around the same.

For more details see our 2017 Annual Report including a list of the many activities we have arranged.  One of the activities reported on was the success of the Himalayan Balsam pulling, unfortunately this was also blamed for increased use of the woods and subsequent widening of the path.

Mike Harper commented on how special the Blackweir wood is, as an area of natural wildness in the middle of a busy and large city.

We need more active members, and better communication with the park officers.

Jane Williams asked about the production of the information signs instigated two years ago..  Julia Sas, Park Manager, stated she would address that in the speech she was going to give us in regard to the park.

Election of Executive Committee and Officers

Present committee
Chair:         Mike Harper
Vice-chair:  Jane Williams
Secretary:   Sally Phillips
Treasurer:  Vacant
Members:    Paul Barrett
Julia Barrell
Linda Newton
Chris Meechan
A Jones
M Leeves

Julia Barrell has resigned.

Mike Harper has stood down as Chair but assumed the role of Treasurer and Membership Secretary.

Jane Williams agreed to stay on another year as Vice Chair until more officers are elected.

The current committee members were happy to stand again and were unanimously elected.

A vote of thanks was given to Mike Harper and Julia Barrell.

It was agreed that we need to find new and active members to initiate more activities.  All new Committee members would be helped and supported by all other committee members.    Nobody put themselves forward at the AGM for election so Mike Harper will send this out to our Members and see if anyone wants to join our committee.

Update by Julia Sas, Park Manager
Julia Sas was introduced by Mike Harper.

The tenants of Secret Garden Café have left, so the business is now being advertised again.

The Park hosted the UEFA Hospitality village in June with lots of planning and preparation having to be done.  Not a lot of money was made directly by the council but Cardiff is seen to benefit by having been put on the worldwide map.  Hotels and tourism benefited as a whole as it showcased Cardiff as a place that could put on huge events and was an exciting place to visit.  Julia Sas acknowledged that residents suffered inconveniences especially due to the terrorism fences erected due to the climate of fear we have recently had to live in.

Bute Park did not make money from the people who ran the UEFA event, but did benefit from the investment made by Cardiff Council into the event and in their intention to make Coopers Field a better place to hold big events, so they budgeted for the replacement of the surface of Coopers Field with harder wearing areas of grass after the UEFA event and allowed Bute Park to have a clean sweep of the sandy areas and weeds usual in that area.  There was a setback after the reseeding and returfing of the area which was then left to lie fallow for 13 weeks, when the subsequent In/Out Music Festival hosted by the University for their arriving and leaving students  damaged the grass due to the bad weather, with the heavy rain bringing silt to the surface, as the grass was not yet strong enough to prevent this.  The upside of this silt however, is that it is full of nutrients and the grass should benefit  despite the current unpleasant smell.  There was no direct cost to Bute Park as Council underwrote the costs involved and even allowed for the replacement of the profit that would normally be made by the events usually held in June.  Investments were made by the park in Tree Armour and signs.  The tree armour can be re-used for other events but this will come down at the moment.  The log armour will also probably be taken away.

Committee members advised that the log armour was the more attractive of the two means of protecting the trees, with the additional bonus of being used as seating.

Linda Newton asked if the UEFA people had compensated the park, but unfortunately their remit was dedicated to sporting events only, which meant that they did not supply compensation for the damage done by the hospitality village.

Linda Newton asked whether a pre-impact study on nature would have been made.

Mr Cottrell the technician who advised on matters and decided what could be placed where, did not do a study so this information is not available. But  the technician was available to advise on canopy and root spread and which areas are best for building on.

Signs/Boards – original layout was too far away from the layout of the other Boards in the park and Julia Sas wants a uniform appearance for the boards.  Julia apologised that she had let the production of the signs slip as she was very busy.  Hopefully the boards for the Friends of Bute Park and the Bat Group will be produced and in place before Christmas 2017.

Alex from the Bat Group and Jane Williams from Friends of Bute Park had originally agreed to share costs.  Julia Sas said that hopefully the suppliers cost will not have gone up in the meantime and the delivery cost for all boards would  save on a double delivery charge.

Meriel Jones mentioned that they already have had the Bat Groups money which was donated by Tescos .

Cycling –  A concerned user of the park has written to Julia Sas in relation to the activities of inconsiderate cyclists along the Blackweir path and recommended bigger signs to inform that this route is not a cycle path.  Julia Sas does not want bigger signs, as she thinks that they will be unsightly, and also have little effect on cyclists.  Julia Sas suggested that a road stamp would be more effective but wants to know what people think, and will forward something to Mike Harper to send out askng for suggestions.

Suggestions made at meeting were, firstly, that a sign indicating how precious the woods are to wild life might educate the public to take more care.

The muddy track is appealing to off roaders.  Mike Harper suggested that chipping bark would deter cyclists.  However it was noted by some, that this has not prevented the use of the chipping path by cyclists.

Mike Harper also suggested a chicane would slow down and deter cyclists though they will probably try to find a way round this.

A block in the path was also suggested, though it was noted by Linda Newton, a cylist herself,  that  they would simply lift their bikes over the block and carry on.  Julia Sas does not want to discourage mums with pushchairs from travelling through the woods.

Suggestions were also made that a warning to beware of dogs would ensure that  cyclists are aware that this path is used a lot by dog walkers and to take more care.

Helen Parry-Jones mentioned that another issue with cyclists was that they shone bright lights into pedestrians’ eyes when cycling along in the dark, rather than having their lights directed at the ground so they can see where they are going.  However, Julia Sas and Mike Harper commented that this was not the issue with cyclists raised at the moment.

Speed cameras had been set up to record cyclists’ speeds.  Julia Sas would update later on the results of this survey.

New Champion tree trail unveiled.  Bute park income does not cover the actual cost so Council subsidises the park.    There will be the introduction also of a Northern Champion tree trail.

Plant sales are going to be developed further, with an opening in the building wall with direct access to the polytunnels so that people can buy plans with a wider choice of indoor and outdoor plants offered.  Hopefully this will be available in the Spring.  There will be a paid up member of staff to sell the plants, but Julia Sas is hoping volunteers will help out in this area.

Mike Harper said that this is an opportunity to work closer with Meriel Jones and this activity could be one suitable for the volunteers.

The idea behind the Secret Garden polytunnels/nursery is that a friendly, independent, knowledgeable local supplier will be selling locally grown products to local people.

Cameras will be placed in the Secret Garden to monitor the wildlife that visits there – these include the fox den, the bird nests, feeders and bee hives.  Creatures will be filmed and volunteers can monitor these cameras and download interesting sequences and place on social media – hopefully to tell a story of the Garden and its visiting wildlife.  Ranger Jim will maintain the cameras and monitor them.

If money is found later on, then cameras could be placed further afield, though this depends on the risks of vandalism.

These cameras will give enthusiastic and interested people the opportunity to get involved and share their enthusiasms/hobbies with other people.  Volunteers can add their own editorial comments.

Road Stamps and Cycle Stands.  Cycle stands will be purchased and some will be by the Changing Room where there is a need, for the sports players who arrive by bike.  Stands will also be put up by the Blackweir Bridge to encourage people to get off their cycle and walk around the park.

A link to the consultation scheme on cyclists will be sent around, so people can put their suggestions across in regard to the conflict between cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers.

A design for a road stamp has been made and can be put at all the entrances to the park with its slogan of Share with Care on it.  It is supposed to empower the challenging of bad behaviour, and promote considerate behaviour.

The Park will monitor the effects by looking at the complaints at the end of the year, to see if any reduction in this is made.  Complaints not only about cyclists but inconsiderate dog walkers etc.  it is an attempt to get people to act responsibly.

Complaints registered on the surveys are either :

1) Nothing
2) Toilets – which is the highest complaint.

With the toilets closed there was a suggetion put forward by Jane Williams of a portaloo, but  Julia Sas says the vandalism probability is too high, and the loo could be tipped up causing chemical spillage.

Closing of the Café because the business people did not attract enough business, possibly because they began by alienating their biggest and most regular clients, the dog walkers.  The previous tenants had expanded their business elsewhere and  so they were not interested in renewing the contract.

The café needs to be open winter and summer but allowances are made for loss of revenue in the winter so the tenants would not be totally at the mercy of the weather.  The Council know what the rent is supposed to be depending on service offered.  A high quality staff-heavy service like Pettigrews would have a cheaper rent, due to higher costs. A high turnover like the Summerhouse café would result in a higher rent

Bute Park has been selected as one of the ten cities to host a totem pole to celebrate the new Tree Charter drawn up by the Woodlands Trust and other interested organisations.  Cardiff is the only city in Wales to host the pole.  It will be carved to signify art and heritage.  It will be set on a plinth which will also act as a seat and will beplaced at the dividing of the paths near Pettigrews.  The launch date is 25th November and the AGM attendees were invited by Julia Sas to attend.  The oak is sourced in the UK, unlike the wood in the children’s play area which came from Germany.

There are ten principles on the Tree Charter and the big launch is in Lincoln followed by the other cities across the UK on Saturday 25th.    The junior Poet Laureate has been specially commissioned on the 25/26th October to produce a poem for Cardiff on the theme of trees observing the life of the people who use the park.  The launch in Cardiff will be a poetry and reading event, and Welsh Folk Songs, with seasonal food supplied by Pettigrews.

Linda Newton asked if we could engage with the Woodland Trust. Julia Sas and Meriel Jones said that they are already working in partnership with the Woodland Trust in order to get the totem pole for Cardiff.  We will have a speaker from the Woodland Trust at the event.

Further suggestions –

We are keen to encourage people to join Friends, perhaps with a social event.

We hope to work alongside Meriel’s volunteers and maybe Meriel’s volunteeers will work alongside us.

Friends of Bute Park and Bute Park staff to communicate better

Friends suggested that we could network with all the groups who use the park.

Meriel will send list of volunteer opportunities.

Unfortunately in regard to networking, Meriel Jones stated that they work with groups on an ad hoc basis so there is limited opportunity to network especially as these groups may not wish to talk and meet with other groups.

Linda Newton suggested we could liaise via email. Julia Sas said that they used to have a newsletter which has not been used for a while and maybe that could be used.

Julia said the groups they have worked with, are students from the students union, the British Council, the University’s Photography Department and have had walks and talks for the Pharmacy department.  A lot of their events are advertised on Facebook and they will be planning more activities.

Julia Sas and Meriel Jones are quite happy to attend the Friends Committee meetings.

Photo Entries at the AGM

People at AGM were invited to vote by ticking as many as they liked.  No results were given at the AGM.

Closed AGM

Mike Harper closed the AGM as his last act as Chair at 1pm and thanked everyone for coming.