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….

 

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.”

Ravenscourt Park Walled Garden – come and help remove the bindweed from one more bed

The volunteer Friends of the Walled Garden in Ravenscourt spent a recent Saturday morning planting up two of its herbaceous flower beds with 300 new plants to their design using a grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help awards.

There is now one remaining bed to have its existing overgrown plants and the bindweed and cooch grass weeds removed, new soil applied and then new plants

The volunteers help in the walled garden on the first Saturday of each month from 10.30 am. Volunteering is fun and a good way to meet new people.

For further information please contact Angela Clarke 020 8748 0284.

walled1walled2walled3walled4

Litter out of control in Ravenscourt Park

ravenscourtlitter1It was a lovely weekend in London due to the good weather. It was known it was going to be. The forecasts were accurate. Therefore it was predictable that many more people than usual would have picnics in our local parks.

Yet as these pictures sent to me from a local residents show the bins in Ravenscourt Park were not able to cope with the litter.

There is nothing new about this. Last year I wrote to the Council to say:

“We need more bins (and/or more frequent bin collections) in
Ravenscourt Park – especially in the summer. This is not just when
there are special events in the park. Routinely in the summer the bins
are overflowing.

“It would make sense for Quadrant to accommodate this request as it
would reduce litter. Emptying bins must be less work for them than
picking up litter.”

This was rejected by the Council who said:

“Adding new bins will  impact upon the budget and also add clutter to the park itself which has historically been a concern raised by local residents. Whilst we appreciate that adding more bins may lessen the need to litter pick directly, it will increase the need for collection to empty the bins, again impacting on the labour resource.”

ravenscourtlitter2It still seems to me obvious that either we need more bins or they need to be emptied more quickly.

Even when the bins are not overflowing there is the problem of the lack enforcement for those dropping litter.

So far this year the litter bugs have operated with impunity in Ravenscourt Park. The Council tell me:

ravenscourtlitter3“We have not noticed any specific litter offences but will always issue a Fixed Penalty Notice if we see litter being deposited – from a cigarette butt to drinks cans or larger items. ”

There has also been a decline in the £80 Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling. There were 37 issued in our parks in 2014 but 11 last year. Yet complaints have increased – from 541 in 2014 to 716 last year.

Local parks should be sanctuaries for beauty and recreation.

This slide in the standard of cleanliness is unacceptable.

Squatters invade Ravenscourt Park Hospital site

20160226_133452_resizedA worrying an unpleasant week for local residents with an invasion of squatters at the site of the old Ravenscourt Park Hospital. This is the rubbish that has accumulated after just a couple of days. Already there is a stench of sewage. Traffic wardens from the Council have refused to issue parking tickets to dump trucks spilling over from the site into surrounding streets – I have asked for an explanation.

As stated before it is regrettable that development of the site has taken so long. But the responsibility for the squatting is with the squatters. If the squatting was on residential land the police would be able to act immediately as such squatting is now a criminal offence. That is thanks to a change in the law in 2012 thanks to the efforts of Mike Weatherley, who was then the Conservative MP for Hove. In Scotland squatting has been a criminal offence since 1865. The trouble is that as the land is non-residential it is a civil matter, the police can do nothing and eviction is delayed. The owners assure me they will go to court to seek this as soon as possible.

What is needed is for the law to be changed for all squatting to be a criminal offence and for property rights to be upheld.

This is not the first time we have had problems in this borough due to this legal reform stopping short of its logical conclusion.

Here is quote from a piece I wrote for Standpoint magazine three years ago.

“Some try to justify squatting on the grounds that squatters have no alternative. But those who are working could pay rent while those on low pay or unemployed would be eligible for housing benefit. In any case, what basis can there be of taking something from somebody else on the basis that they have it and you want it? Would that principle be applied to stealing food or a car?

“Squatting has long been as much about making a political statement as about a genuine housing need. Thus middle-class youths, who could probably afford to pay for their own housing, often seek the radical chic of an “alternative” lifestyle as their protest against capitalism.

“That the law needs to be tightened is shown by a current case in Hammersmith and Fulham, where I am a councillor. Squatters have taken over a family centre in Shepherd’s Bush. As it is not designated a residential building, the police do not have the power to execute an eviction. It is a civil offence and there has been a long delay while the council obtains a court order. Council taxpayers’ money is diverted from providing services to paying for lawyers. The building is scheduled to be adapted as a specialist school for autistic children. The work is being delayed and disrupted by the squatters, whose presence is also intimidating to local residents.”

Trees replanted along the diagonal path in Ravenscourt Park

IMG_1168Often it can be frustrating for councillors just as much as residents when it comes to coping with the council bureaucracy. The replanting of trees along the diagonal path in Ravenscourt Park is something that has been agreed to not merely for months but years. Agreement is one thing. Implementation is another. There would be meetings. There would be emails. The ward councillors would push. The Friends of Ravenscourt Park would push. Tim Harvey of Ravenscourt Gardens would push. But nothing was planted.

Until now.

Small victories like this are very heartening. It shows that even in opposition that councillors working with their residents can make a difference with enough persistence.

As Teddy Kennedy used to say:

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Endless delays to park improvements

ravenscourtparkcafThere has been lots of construction work under way recently around Ravenscourt Park – and in the borough generally. I have mixed feelings about it. It is good that new homes are being built but very unfortunate that they should be so needlessly ugly. Part of the deal with these property developments is supposed to be Section 106 money – the property companies hand over cash to the council for specific local improvements.

The trouble is the money is not always effectively spent. Also sometimes it takes ages for it to be spent at all.

Take the money from the 282-292 Goldhawk Road.

Last December the Friends of Ravenscourt Park wrote saying:

We met last week with Peter Kemp, Planning Change Manager for LBHF, and he told us the working party led by Cllrs Cowan, Schmidt and Young are about to make decisions on the use of Section 106 monies for the improvement of Ravenscourt Park and other local amenities. 

He also told us that First Base, the developers of 282292 Goldhawk Road site, have transferred the £75,000 designated for parks and open spaces, and another £3,600 allotted for trees.

There is general support  from both our groups as well as from other local amenity societies and from the Askew Business Network for an improved northern entrance (ie from Goldhawk Road) to Ravenscourt Park. Recent Green Flag judges have remarked on its uncared-for and unwelcoming appearance. As well as these considerations, the overhanging trees and shrubs form a dark corridor that can make park users feel unsafe.  

We would also welcome improvements to refresh the appearance of Starch Green, but we realise £75,000 will not stretch far unless funds from other local developments can be accessed as well (ie both the Linden Homes developments and the Royal College of Music development), so we list here what residents would like to see in order of priority.

Entrance to Ravenscourt Park 

  • Significant tree surgery to reduce both the height and crowns of the holly and other trees along the path;
  • Planting of shade and dry-tolerant plants under the holly trees, with proper preparation of the impacted and neglected soil. Edging should be added in order to create  a looked-after border that would discourage littering and fouling;
  • A new gate which celebrates the entrance to the Park, set back from Goldhawk Road in a shallow curve of railings;
  • New railings along the section of the path by the dog area – this now has chain-link fencing, to present a unified and dignified entry to Hammersmith’s flagship park.

Ashchurch Park Villas

  • Replace the hornbeam at the top of the street (near the junction with Goldhawk Rd) with a mature tree better suited to the space left after the development’s completion. 

Starch Green

  • Plant additional slender trees with high crowns at the east edge of Starch Green, as this area is very open to the noise and traffic pollution of Askew Road and the roundabout;
  • Remove the birch tree with a broken crown from the grassed area of the Green;
  • Replace the broken and defective railings surrounding the Green;
  • Make the wonderful Plane Tree a focal point by clearing away clutter around it, including the clothes and glass recycling bins to the Askew Road end; 
  • Replace the brick planters with low level planting in a shape that focuses attention on the Plane Tree;
  • Replace the circular seat which used to surround the Plane Tree.

These ideas have been extensively discussed with our members and with other amenity groups, and we would welcome your support for them.

Pretty serious detailed proposals. It seems to me they would deliver very effective value for money. Of course there will always be competing claims. I’m concerned about drainage. The Friends of Ravenscourt Park have also expressed dismay at the stench in the lavatories.

So Cllr Wesley Harcourt, the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible, would be entitled to implement the Friends proposals in full, or decide to vary them or to reject them entirely and spend the money differently on other things he regarded as greater priorities. What is unacceptable is the endless dithering.

The money’s been sitting in the Council’s bank account since May 20th. Long before that they knew it was coming. Yet they are just letting the whole thing drift.

Peter Kemp the Planning Change Manager says:

“Members of the administration are aware of the request from the resident group to spend money on this project. Members are currently working through the requests from resident groups for spend, from Section 106 agreements.  We will advise you of the outcome of this request in due course.”

Meanwhile the seasons change, the years go by and our children grow into adults. The council should get on with it. At present the its planning process lacks proper accountability to local residents.