Volunteers wanted!

Can you spare an hour or two on Sunday afternoons to help with our events, once or twice a month during the summer? We urgently need volunteers to help with catering (baking and serving food), setting out seating for concerts, running raffles and the membership stall and generally helping to run the activities we arrange in Harrow Recreation Ground. Please contact Mic Sayer on 8427 2448 if you can help.

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Ideas for future projects in the park

As part of the ongoing improvement plan for Harrow Rec, ideas are being sought by your committee to put forward to the Harrow Rec. Steering Group which decides on future projects. Funds have been set aside by the Council from recent successful planning applications in the town centre to contribute to enhancing park facilities, and this money will be spent in the next year or two.

Among the suggestions considered so far are another ‘green gym’ towards the Pinner Road end of the park, including perhaps more attractive facilities for young people.

There has also been a suggestion that the Sensory Garden should be redesigned (or even replaced by a Sensory Path) to reduce the opportunities for anti-social behaviour which the present layout encourages. Removal of the fences and hedges would make the area more open to general view, and changes to the seating layout could make it less of an attraction to drug users and traffickers. This is a small but worrying  ongoing problem which the Headstone South Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team have been addressing – with some success – over the years. However their efforts are impeded by the cover which the present planting arrangement provides.

Another regular suggestion from park users is a café. Whilst the present pavilion is not suitable for regular provision of catering services, there has been a suggestion that a mobile café could be parked during the summer to provide snacks and hot drinks.

Other parks have cafés and it would be a good way to test the demand for one in Harrow Recreation Ground.

What do you think?  If you have any views on the above ideas, or any other proposals which you think could improve Harrow Recreation Ground, please let any member of the committee know, or come along and talk to us at any of the summer events.

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Notes from the Chair

Well, here we go again, another year of music, marathons, kites and cakes. Our year started with the annual mini-marathon trials, ‘run’ (sorry about that) by Harrow Athletic Club. Although numbers were slightly down from recent years the boys and girls were extremely enthusiastic and competitive. The weather treated them kindly with no rain for a change.

The Mayor, Councillor Nana Asante, popped in for her first visit to our ‘Rec’ to plant the Mayoral Tree, this time a cherry tree. Patrick Prendergast, the Council’s Tree Officer, said that he felt the playground side of the park needed a flowering tree and hoped that the next two or three plantings would follow suit with more cherry trees. The Mayor was accompanied by a group from Norbury School who did a quiz round the park and joined in with some spadework. Besides the children, Mary our indefatigable park keeper, Bob the Mayor’s chauffeur and (some of) you, the members, were there. Northwick Park Rotary club came along and they plan to have a charity marathon here later in the year – more news of that later. See picture below.

Each year we like to fulfil one or two projects or ideas we have had, and this year the park, with huge Council help, is changing the entrance to the cemetery. As you can see from the picture on the previous page, the work has produced a more ornate entrance with flowered borders and a spring-loaded gate.

This is designed to make sure that errant dogs don’t escape up to Pinner Road. A good effort by all involved.

Another event we are hoping to stage is a dog show, very small to start with, but for instance with a prize for the most attractive dog owners, both genders of course. The slowest dog, the most urinally active, the fastest ball retriever etc.: We shall see!

Reverting to tree planting, the committee was very sad to learn that this is the last year the aforementioned Patrick Prendergast will be the Council ‘tree man’. In the past he has been extremely helpful with advice on any horticultural or arboreal problems we have had, and we are sorry to lose him. Keeping on the subject of trees, our Spring Tree Walk was postponed from 6th April due to rain and will now be held on Sunday 4th May, led by Simon and John. As well as tree recognition, it involves bugs, bee holes and even a fungus on a tree – a great opportunity to get to know and appreciate our Rec better. Details of this and the rest of our events are elsewhere in the newsletter and on notice boards and gates around the ‘Rec’.

Just a gentle hint, it’s subscription time again so if you see one of our committee members, thrust your three pounds into their willing hands and they will be very pleased.
Mic

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A New Vista for Harrow Recreation Ground

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The latest enhancement to Harrow Recreation Ground has just been completed. The new railings and gate on the boundary between the ‘Rec’ and Harrow Cemetery provide a more attractive gateway, which is also designed to be self-closing to prevent unleashed dogs from escaping into the cemetery. (There is a by-law which says that dogs must be kept on a leash whilst in the cemetery, and there have been instances of a few dogs wandering through the cemetery as far as Pinner Road). The railings provide better visibility and new vistas on either side.
The project is part of the Harrow ‘Green Grid’ which is being developed as a network
of walking and cycling links between open and green spaces in the borough, designed to
improve connections to places where people live, work and enjoy recreational facilities. The Harrow Green Grid is part of the wider London Green Grid, which is funded by the
Greater London Authority. The aim is to benefit both people and wildlife, and to be
accessible by all. The link between the ‘Rec’ and cemetery has always been a convenient but rather ugly gate, bordered by wooden fencing which had been frequently vandalised. The new gate and railings are a big improvement and are a further step to transforming the Rec from its utilitarian appearance of a few years ago to a classic urban park.
HRUA is grateful to Harrow Council, and particularly Sally Reeves the landscape architect who designed the scheme, for the consultation which took place before and during the project. Various ideas (such as making the gate self-closing) were embodied after our comments were invited, which shows the benefits of involving users in the design even of minor projects such as this. A few further adjustments are needed to ensure the gate closes properly, and these will be done soon. This small but significant improvement adds to the attractiveness of this corner of our park.

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Notes from the Chair

Well, what a year it’s been! Since your park association started I’ve not known such an eventful twelve months, and we still have the Tree Dressing and A.G.M. to come on 1st December. On the downside, a few of our park friends and neighbours have passed away during the year and recently the wind proved too much for some of our trees.

The oak which came down near the cemetery was reputedly our oldest oak. Just for your information, the committee has put forward suggestions to the Council to 1) Leave the majority of the tree in place to encourage birds and insects; 2) evaluate the cost of making benches out of the broken pieces of trunk; and 3) plant another sapling to replace the lost tree. By the time this newsletter goes to print I expect most of the remedial work will have been done including removing the tree which fell in the back garden of one of our Roxborough Road members. They nearly had a morning chorus in their bedroom:Sometimes I think one can get too close to nature…
During the year we have had at least three visits from the air ambulance helicopter, ferrying victims of accidents and incidents to the appropriate hospitals. Great fun for the children, but not so much for the sufferers, though a speedy journey to hospital in the air ambulance is often a lifesaver. The balance thankfully was tilted heavily to the upside by our events.

This year has seen more activities in the Rec than ever before, arranged both by ourselves and other organisations such as St Luke’s Hospice, Community Games and the had farm animals in the park on Fun Day, thanks to Appreciating Animals. Fun Day was very successful with Laurie Mathias winning the mini-marathon, and the boys the tug o’war.

Also our final music event on 15th September furthered our attempts to bring jazz into the parks. But of course possibly our biggest event, having won the battle of the dog bins, was the successful defence of park gate locking. We collected 1,180 signatures for our petition and together with fellow park group friends and the Harrow Observer, we were ready to confront the Council. To our surprise, just before we were due to present the petition at the September Cabinet meeting, Councillor Asad Omar, Environment Portfolio Holder, announced that the Council had changed its mind and once again listened to the public. It was a shame they hadn’t listened before, wasting time and causing so much stress and worry. Anyway the crux of the matter is that we won, although in these days of financial constraint who knows when the next time will be for some more loin girding?

So thanks for all your support, not just for the petition and letters, but for the whole year. Where would we be without you? So have a happy festive season and I look forward to seeing you at the AGM on the 1st of December. Mic

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The Storm

On 28 October the biggest storm since 1987 hit Southern England, and Harrow Recreation ground lost a few trees. The largest was an oak near the cemetery. The force of the wind snapped the tree in two, leaving a jagged stump. Luckily nobody was in the area at the time, and most of the other trees in the park survived with only minor damage to branches.

Throughout the storm Mary, our wonderful park keeper, was on duty and started clearing up immediately after the strongest winds had passed. Whilst the largest trees needed attention from tree surgeons, all paths in the park were kept open and within a few hours almost everything was back to normal. We are very grateful to Mary, the other parks staff together with all Council employees who worked hard to keep the effects of the storm to a minimum on roads, parks and pathways across the borough.

We were also saddened to hear that Dermot Drohan, Operations Manager in the Council’s Public Realm department, had tragically lost his life when a tree fell on his car in Watford and offer our condolences to his family and colleagues.

storm

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Park Locking Update

HRUA campaign brings Council U-turn on park locking

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Demonstration outside the Civic Centre on September 12th.
Photo courtesy of Harrow Times, posters by Lawrence Matthias and Gerry Devine

Harrow Council’s plan to cease locking parks at night was abandoned just before the start of the Cabinet meeting on Thursday 12th September. HRUA had informed the Council of its intention to present a petition and demonstrate our opposition to the plan at the Cabinet meeting, and we gathered a total of 1180 signatures. These were from members of HRUA, other users of Harrow Recreation Ground including the dog walkers, residents of adjacent properties, and organisations such as Roxborough Road Residents, Harrow Bowls Club, Three Bridges Cricket Club, local shopkeepers and the Harrow Hotel.

Thanks to everyone who helped by collecting signatures, lobbying the Council, writing letters to newspapers (who have been very supportive) and above all, who signed the petition. The people have spoken, and at last we have been listened to!

The petition also attracted support from all over the borough, including other park user groups and campaigners who had organised their own petitions against parks being left unlocked at night. These included Friends of Canons Park, Harrow Weald Bowling Club, Pinner Memorial Park, Pinner Village Gardens, The Croft, and Rayners Mead. Others included those worried about cemeteries being left unlocked at night.
Councillors from Headstone South (Bill Stephenson and Sasi Suresh, Labour) actively campaigned against the plan and were joined by others from Headstone North (James Bond, Independent); Rayner’s Lane (Krishna Suresh, Labour); Pinner South (John Nickolay, Conservative) at the demonstration organised by HRUA outside the Civic Centre.We therefore achieved cross-party consensus from the three main political groups representing our local wards against the unlocked parks policy of the Independent Labour administration which currently controls the Council. This is no mean feat in a borough where political unity is rare these days.

Headstone South Safer Neighbourhoods Police had expressed their concerns about the effect on crime levels and overall policing in the ward. They are now doing late night patrols, as there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour even with the gates locked, but the prospect of access all night every night to anyone who wants to get up to mischief, or worse – drug dealing and wild parties – was worrying to almost everyone who enjoys the lovely atmosphere of this very special park.

The demonstration was attended by about 30 people. It would have been more had we not been told just before it was due to start that the Council had decided to change their mind and lock the parks after all. Although the demonstration and petition were therefore technically unnecessary after the decision was announced, we decided to go ahead to show the strength of support for keeping parks and cemeteries locked. Both the Harrow Observer and Harrow Times covered the story and their websites have details.

This ends a long period of uncertainty about the future safety and security of Harrow’s prime parks and a number of cemeteries which would have been left unlocked. Exactly the same proposal was kicked out by the Council in 2006 and it is surprising that it was even suggested again. However memories are short – and council funds these days even shorter. The campaign this time was far longer and the Council took a long time to agree with our views (unlike the U-turn on dog bins – incidentally we are still missing two bins that were removed on the very day the Council did the U-turn but have not so far been reinstated). HRUA is proud to have been able to help change the Council’s mind on both these issues.

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Coronation anniversary

Coronation anniversary celebrations took place to mark the 60th anniversary of her Majesty’s coronation on June 2nd 1953. The Harrow Concert Band played while beverages and cake were consumed.

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Harrow Mini Marathon Trials
On 9th March, Harrow Athletic Club held their annual mini marathon trials and 75 potential athletes ran round the park.

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‘Bikes and Kites’

‘Bikes and Kites’ on 19 May was a great success. It wa a joint event with St Luke’s Hospice whose Pledge to Pedal sponsored cycle ride will start and finish in the Rec, it was followed by the HRUA kite festival in the afternoon.

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Annual Tree dressing

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This took place on Sunday 2 December 2012

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