Will the Ravenscourt Park dog enclosure railings actually keep dogs enclosed?

Concern has been expressed concern that the new railings for the dog enclosure are too low and have gaps at the bottom – thus allowing dogs to get out.  One resident who lives by the Park wrote to tell me it was a “travesty of mismanagement and waste of money. They need to be the height of the external ones to the park , with NO gap below!”

I asked the Council’s Park Manager to respond and he says:

“The railings around the dog area to the north of the park have been changed as part of the work to the Goldhawk Road entrance.

“The height of the railings is broadly in line with those of the play areas in the park; to install any that are higher would create an area that feels very enclosed. There are some small gaps at the bottom but due to the undulating ground this is impossible to eliminate.

“Owners that take their dogs in this area should still have them under control, like any other part of the park i.e. they return when called.”

That’s all and good. But is the matter so straightforward in real life? One dog owner responds:

“Dogs are not children. Most especially puppies in training – who can both get through AND under the new railings.  It is a dog enclosure, and as such should be adequate to meet said description.

“Broadly speaking it looks good, but is not fit for purpose.  Did anyone consult with some dog owners or trainers before deciding on the railings?”

Council challenged over poor state of paths in Ravenscourt Park

There are plenty of complaints from residents about the cracked paving stones and potholes on the streets. But the state of the paths in the borough’s parks is even worse.

I have raised the matter with the Council’s Parks manager who responds:

“We are aware of the condition of the footpaths in Ravenscourt Park and have recently completed a condition audit of the footpaths within parks and cemeteries, which included Ravenscourt Park. We are now working with colleagues in Highways to develop a programme of works that will address the worse footpaths.”

For years the Council has been sitting on over half a million pounds provided by property developers in Section 106 payments – specifically promise for improvements to Ravenscourt Park.

Yet there is a struggle to get the basics right. Poor management.

 

Council still sitting on funds provided for improvements to Ravenscourt Park

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s leadership has been boasting for the last three years about the the vast extra sums it has supposedly negotiated from property developers in Section 106 payments – where funds are provided for community projects in return for allowing new buildings to appear. Not much of the money has materialised in reality. Furthermore a lot of money that was paid over to the Council from earlier periods sits ring fenced in the bank account still unspent.

Specific undertakings for improvements to Ravenscourt Park, yet to materialise, give an illustration of the wider story of mismanagement. Funding from the 282-292 Goldhawk Road are an example already documented on this site.

A year ago I wrote to the Council’s Planning Change Manager. I queried the sums the in the Section 106 schedule current at the time:

By my tally we seem to be sitting on £591,906 of Section 106 money due
to be spent on parks that came from developments near Ravenscourt Park
(see my list below).
Please may I have an update on when and how this money is due to be spent.

Best wishes,
Harry

684 Goldhawk Industrial Estate, 2A Brackenbury Road £90,000.00 Parks

 684 Goldhawk Industrial Estate, 2A Brackenbury Road £100,000.00 Parks

805 258 – 264 Goldhawk Road £10,000.00 Parks

725 Ashlar Court, Ravenscourt Gardens £75,000.00 Parks

784 282 – 292 Goldhawk Road, W12 9PF £76,221.00 Parks

784 282 – 292 Goldhawk Road, W12 9PF £20,685.26 Parks

805 258 – 264 Goldhawk Road £70,000.00 Parks

830 271-281 King Street, W6 £150,000.00 Parks

He replied:

“The contributions above are received to enable the Council to mitigate against the impact of each of those developments which would include improvements to the park together with enhanced operation.  The Council’s parks team and residents groups are aware of the funds and proposals are being put forward for consideration by members as to how the funds can be spent.”

A year later and the new schedule shows nothing much has changed.

Yet there is no shortage of work that is needed. The Friends of Ravenscourt Park are never short of ideas. Neither am I. Better drainage would be welcome. So would more litter bins. So would enhancing the condition of the lavatories.  Or smartening up the lake.

Of course dealing with bureaucratic delays is something we are all familiar with but this really is pretty hopeless. Especially when the Council’s dysfunctional leadership is so quick to complain about “austerity”…

Opening up the lake in Ravenscourt Park?

I have noted before that the lake in Ravenscourt Park used to used for boating.

A resident has been in touch to say that “cordoning this lake off so nobody can use it in any way is terrible – simply giving up on an area of our park which is so much loved and used.”

He doesn’t think a return to boating would be viable but says: “My idea entails a natural swimming facility for the public to use…there are some amazing self cleaning natural swimming lakes/ponds which look good with all the plants and associated landscaping  and enhance the natural environment. It also enables people to swim naturally and get some exercise. ”

The Parks Manager has responded:

“I do think there may be scope to make the lake more open and inclusive of the park.  I don’t know why it was originally fenced off, I am making an assumption that this was for H&S reasons.  My colleague Sarah is working on the park masterplan so we can certainly include some proposals for the lake within this to seek public opinion.  Delivery of anything following the consultation will be subject to us identifying funding.”

What do you think?

Beware of the Ravenscourt Park terrapins

The Friends of Ravenscourt Park report that someone has unfortunately released terrapins into the lake at Ravenscourt Park. If they are allowed to grow they can bite off a child’s finger – as well as biting off the legs of ducks and harming other wildlife.

The Parks Manager tells me:

“Parks Police, as promised at the friends’ AGM made contact with the Barnes Wetland Centre who in turn advised that terrapins are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  This means if we do manage to catch it we cannot kill it but will need to arrange for it to be taken to a suitable centre.  A bigger job is going to be catching a small animal in a large pond.  Terrapins are not easy to catch so this will need to be an ongoing aim.”

I’m afraid that really isn’t good enough, is it?

There was the same problem in Hampstead Heath’s bird sanctuary pond and other ponds on the Heath a few years ago. They have managed to set traps and catch them. It seems it wasn’t always easy – “the Steve McQueen of terrapins” kept tearing away at the chicken wire. But the City of London Corporation (which owns and manages the Heath) persisted. Delay just makes the problem worse.

 

Ravenscourt Park tennis courts to be upgraded

The tennis clubs in Ravenscourt Park are being upgraded with the improvements being funded by the Lawn Tennis Association in a deal between Queen’s Club and Hammersmith and Fulham Council

The Council’s Parks Manager tells me:

“I can confirm that the LTA will be funding the improvements in Ravenscourt Park.  The works will consist of a new surface, and new exterior fencing and access gate.  The proposed improvements are still to be tendered but we’d anticipate the works commencing in early 2018 and being completed in time for the summer rush of tennis players.  In terms of priority booking, this is only applicable to the courts at the Virgin Active centre in Normand Park.  The link to Queens Club for Ravenscourt Park, is that in working with the LTA at the Virgin Active centre, this allowed us to bring in additional funding from the LTA to deliver the proposed improvements at Ravenscourt Park.”

Good news.

Where are the wood chips?

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Ravenscourt Park will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 26 September 2017, in the Lower Hall at Holy Innocents church, Paddenswick Road. New members are welcome – you can join here.

My biggest concern is drainage.

At last year’s AGM there was a discussion about muddy paths. A council officer “undertook to investigate whether wood chipping would alleviate the problem, but the chipping would need to be contained.”

In March the Parks Manager told me wood chips would be a “very short term” solution.  That would be a reasonable objection if the proper drainage work was being done. But instead the problem is just allowed to continue. The wood chips work effectively on Wimbledon Common – and they would surely be better than nothing.

I’m now told that the Council is “waiting for a quote to come back” from a contractor for wood chips for the path.

It is quite unacceptable that years go by without these problems being dealt with.