Ring-necked parakeets: Is it time to act?

A resident emailed me recently to say:

“Hi Harry,

I went for a walk in Ravenscourt Park the other day and there were literally hundreds of these green parakeets flying between the trees.

It was quite a sight.

But I wondered if the council has any plans to eradicate them?

They are really bad for indigenous flora and fauna and you can see all the bark they are stripping off the trees.

I would be grateful if you could have a look into it.”

The Council’s Parks Manager responds:

“Dear Councillor Phibbs,

Thank you for your email.

I’ve looked for the ring-tailed parakeet as referenced in the article but can only find information on the ring-necked parakeet in the UK; looking at the Latin name (Psittacula krameri) I think they are one of the same.  Ring-neck parakeets are an ever growing sight in our parks and open spaces and having done some research it appears they are recognised at the UK’s only naturalised parrot.  You can find more information here.

Despite being an introduced species they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984 so if the council were to start controlling them (which it has no plans to do) a special licence would be required; these however do seem to be aimed at more where birds are damaging crops, etc.  Additionally, the council acting in isolation would have little effect as another flock of parakeets will simply move into the area so any control of this bird (and given its protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984 this seems extremely unlikely) would need be done at a strategic/regional level.”

Of course they are beautiful. But then so are the native birds and the trees which are threatened. If nothing is done won’t the problem get out of hand?

Council refusing to keep the Ravenscourt Park paddling pool open

Last year I called for the Council to keep the paddling pool in Ravenscourt Park open into September.

This would be a very modest cost for the amount of pleasure it gives to residents. In good weather the pool is full of young children happily splashing and laughing. Of course the weather in September is unreliable – but then it is the rest of time too. On average September is warmer in London than June.

But this year the pool will close on September 10th.

I am also campaigning for the lavatories next to the paddling pool to be kept open longer. At present they close at 5pm.  In practice they are sometimes closed earlier. The Council says they are “quite secluded and likely to suffer from anti-social behaviour and/or vandalism.” That is an argument for keep them closed the whole time. Pretty feeble.

Caroline ffiske: Anti-social behaviour in St Paul’s Open Space is keeping residents awake at night

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Residents who live near St Paul’s Open Space in Avonmore are experiencing serious problems with anti-social behaviour in the park, late at night.

The previous Conservative administration locked the park at night.  However, when the Council changed hands: “Councillors took the decision not to continue to lock – about three years ago.

What is more, an officer tells me:

“The Parks Police continue to lock eleven parks although this is being reduced to eight in the near future.”  

I have asked the Council to reverse the decision to leave the St Pauls Open Space open at night.  While it may be lovely in theory, it is not right that Hammersmith residents face repeated disturbance of their sleep and peace.

“The disturbance was so bad last night that I telephoned the Parks Police at 10.30 pm.  … I was able to speak to a lady, who said she would send somebody round.  They did.  I saw torches and the park was cleared.  Peace prevailed – for about 45 minutes, after which the offenders returned and continued their shouting and laughing until well into the early hours.”

 

Well done to the Parks Police for clearing the Park.  However their service finishes at 11pm at which point residents are advised to call 101.   But, I’m hearing from more and more residents that they never get through on this number, or do not get through quickly enough to solve an immediate problem.  You also have to ask whether, with the police time involved, it would actually be more resource-efficient to lock the park at night.  A win-win as residents would get some sleep.

Please email me at carolineffiske@gmail.com with any comments.

Forthcoming film screenings in Ravenscourt Park

Over the past five years open air film screenings have taken place over the summer in Ravenscourt Park.

There will always be some controversy about how heavily the Park is used for special events. But these screenings seem pretty popular locally and well run. The organisers tidy under after themselves. Amplification is directed away from local property and no “18” certificate films are shown. The income to the Council from the screenings (and the ones in Bishops Park) comes to around £10,000 a year – which goes towards the upkeep of the parks.

One aspect I like about it is the sense of community it helps foster. It provides encouragement for people to talk to each other. Now that we have so few people going to Church (or even pubs) that is welcome.

Tickets cost £12 and the “doors open” at 7.30pm with the film starting at 9.00pm. The organisers say:

“We have lovely food and amazing popcorn on site from Drum & Kernal plus there is also a fully stocked bar so you can have a cold pint, but if you’d prefer to bring your own picnic that’s ok with us but you are missing out on burgers served up from a Harley Davidson by Harley Dogs. It’s a thing of beauty.”

Forthcoming film screenings are:

Friday August 4th – Doctor Strange.

Saturday August 5th – Pretty Woman

Sunday August 6th – Ghostbusters

Friday September 1st – The Great Gatsby

Saturday September 2nd – La La Land

Sunday September 3rd – ET

Tickets are available here.

Rubbish strewn everywhere in Ravenscourt Park this morning

This is a picture of Ravenscourt Park an hour ago. Rubbish strewn all over the place. It is pretty typical of the rest of the Park and pretty typical of a Saturday morning in summer.

Lots of people enjoy going to the Park for a picnic. Good for them. But the bins are left overflowing with the detritus.

Larger fox-proof bins are needed.

The Council say they can’t afford new bins. But emptying bins is less work than picking up litter. I pointed this out last year. Not that I am claiming some uniquely brilliant insight. Surely this is blindingly obvious.

I will keep up the battle….

 

Let’s have more parklets in H&F

I was pleased to see the opening of “Parklet” outside the Brackenbury Deli in Brackenbury Road and so wrote to the Council to ask if more could be established.

The Council’s Cycling Officer has sent me the following reply:

“As you have seen, we have recently installed the first ‘Parklet’ in the Borough outside the Brackenbury Deli.

We were approached by the Brackenbury Residents Association last year to discuss how we could help them re-generate the centre of Brackenbury and make it more attractive to visitors and make residents use the local facilities and shops. At the same time we were looking for a possible location to try out a parklet in the Borough to demonstrate how parking spaces could be used in a different way to offer more community facilities and enable residents to meet up and rest locally.

We designed the unit and recently installed it outside the Deli, who were happy for it to be placed there. It is a temporary unit that can be re-located if we can see that it isn’t being used. In this case however the unit has been extremely well received and is now becoming a destination for visitors to go to. I know that two of the local cycle groups now arrange their weekly tours to finish at the parklet.

In our programme for 2017-18 we have allocated further TfL budget to look for new sites in the borough and we hope to have at least another two installed by the end of the year. It’s not however as easy as it sounds to find the right location as there are many factors to consider not least being the parking ‘stress’ of the area. In the Brackenbury case, we looked at the local parking stress throughout the week and found that it was very low. Because residents are pleased with the new parklet the loss of two parking spaces has not caused any known concerns.

The Brackenbury unit cost just under £25k to design and construct and install, the cost does depend upon the actual size of the unit so it is possible to create a parklet for less if the available space is less. I think this particular size is probably the least we’d consider, and of course we can re-locate it if we wish.

As I mentioned, when considering a location, we also considered all the issues of maintenance, and whilst we designed the actual structure for low maintenance, the daily cleaning and watering of the plants was also a consideration. In this case the Deli have agreed to clean it and maintain the planting.”

Pressing for improvements to Ravenscourt Park

Local residents have been in contact recently with various proposals for improvements to Ravenscourt Park. Of course there is usually a cost involved although sometimes quite modest. In any case, I have written before about how Section 106 money allocated for park improvements has still not been  dues to bureaucratic delays. This is very frustrating – especially for the Friends of Ravenscourt Park who produced some very reasonable proposals as to how the money could be spent.

One concern is the track on the west side of the Park – an absolute mudbath when it rains. Naturally enough people walk on the grass to avoid the mud and the area of mud increases ever wider.

“The state of this path makes it impossible to do a full circuit walk round the inside of the Park with any pleasure,” says one resident who suggests spreading bark chippings down the track as, at least, a temporary solution.

Another concern is that litter is getting worse. There are supposed to be litter collections every two hours when fairs are taking place

The Parks Manager responds:

“A woodchip path is a very short term solution and will almost inevitably sink into the mud and require constant topping up.  This will also not address the issue of the unevenness of the path.  As hopefully the weather will start to improve in the coming weeks, and with that the ground will dry, I would like the opportunity to level the area and then make a decision on whether woodchip is necessary.  I know it is used on sites such as Wimbledon Common but it is likely they have a good source of quality woodchip and the necessary staffing to revisit this constantly.  That said, you are correct in that this has been ongoing for some time now so we will seek to make a decision over the summer and develop a long-term plan for this area to avoid another winter of the ‘muddy path’.

“Litter and squirrels/foxes is a perennial problem across the parks portfolio I cover, this isn’t helped by the frequency for litter collection dropping to twice a week during the winter months in Hammersmith & Fulham.  On a positive note, from the 1st April we move to our summer litter picking frequency, which is daily with a site based litter picker on-site for 8 hours per day at weekends.  From the Easter weekend this is additionally backed up by another site based litter picker, which ensures at weekends and on bank holidays there is someone on-site throughout the day cleansing.  This should ensure, certainly on Sunday and Monday mornings that the park is clean when it is opened.  We have looked at alternative larger bins including wheeled bins but we don’t have a vehicle within the grounds maintenance contract that can empty them.  Additionally, we do not have the funding to wholesale replace the bins across the park.  I will remind my colleagues in Events team of the promise made when funfairs are on-site.

“I hope this clarifies our position?  Please be assured we want a clean and litter free parks as much as anyone else.”

Then there is the Walled Gardens. The Friends of the Walled Garden do a fantastic job. But there are problems with bindweed on the paths  – and the woodwork in the sheds where people can sit. They could also do with some publicity in the Park to encourage more volunteers.

The Parks Manager replies:

“A large amount of work has been undertaken by the Friends of Ravenscourt Park Walled Garden over the last couple of months.  This has included digging out the soil, replacing and re-planting the beds primarily to deal with the bindweed but also to plants more appropriate species for the walled garden.  This has all been made possible by the hard work of the Friends of Ravenscourt Park Walled Garden who secured a grant from Tesco’s Bags for Help fund.  We are now in the final stages of the project and will certainly look to link up with the friends once completed to publicise their hard work.

“Hopefully our next project can be to work with the friends to look for further funding for the paths and wooden structures.  The friends do have a website http://ravenscourtgarden.btck.co.uk/ and if they want additional publicity this is certainly something we could try to help them with.”