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The Coronavirus has undoubtedly impacted on our recent activities, forcing us to cancel our summer event as well as our AGM. We had also planned to take part in the Keep Britain Tidy Great British Spring Clean in March of this year, but this has been postponed nationally and provisionally rescheduled for 11-27th September. Subject to this going ahead, we hope to arrange a litter pick for some time during this period. We are also hoping to get our gardening activities resumed in the next few days and weeks. Please look out for announcements about this closer to the time.
Review of the year
Our membership year runs from 1st April to 31st March each year, and subscriptions are now due for the 2020-21 year. Memberships are vital in demonstrating that the group represents the community. The more members, the more community members involved, the stronger the group. Unfortunately, in recent years our membership has been declining and last year only 17 members signed up. We need to attract and keep more members, but so far no one has taken advantage of paying online or setting up a regular annual payment.
If anyone would prefer to renew their membership by paying direct, our bank details are, Sort Code 60-20-03 Account Number 34617418 Account Name Friends of Portswood Rec. If you pay this way, and then email proof of the transaction to me, I can sort out your new membership card etc.
Much of the focus over the last year has been continuing the gardening project. After extensive preparation last year, the exciting part - planting! My thanks go to Denise for her effort, determination and gardening skills in designing our "Pollinator Patch" and for organising our small but dedicated gardening group of volunteers who have dug, weeded, planted and watered to get the first stage of the project - the circular bed near the tennis courts - completed. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered and been involved so far, we hope you will continue with your unbelievably valuable assistance. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thanks also to Mayfield Nurseries for their support and help, sourcing and supplying plants for us at favourable prices. It was great to work with a social enterprise company that does so much good for people with mental health and learning disabilities in Southampton.
Plans were well underway to revitalise the bed adjacent to the tennis courts by the picnic benches, before moving on to the bed by the fence next to the flats in Upper Grosvenor Road. Unfortunately, the health restrictions in place this year have paused the gardening activities and although we are planning for them to resume soon, the weeds and brambles have not had their activities similarly curtailed, and have flourished during this lockdown period, so there will need to be some serious remedial work when sessions resume and this will likely delay progress. FOPR has recently become an affiliated member of the Royal Horticultural Society, (RHS) which amongst other things will give us better access to expert advice about gardening projects.
CAN YOU HELP? Our gardening group have worked wonders, but they are always on the lookout for new helpers. If you enjoy gardening and can spare a couple of hours a month to get involved, they would love to hear from you. Please email me, Bev at
if you would like to be involved, and I will put you in touch with Denise.
We were fortunate to receive a grant from SCC to organise a community celebration event at the Rec. This should have happened in the summer of 2019 but was postponed and rearranged for this year. Unfortunately, it has had to be postponed again this year, but we should be allowed to keep the funding and arrange something for 2021 - virus permitting it will be third time lucky!!
We have organised several litter picks over the year and I’d like to thank everyone who has turned up to help us keep the Rec looking nice and tidy.
Closure of the car park
Unfortunately, after being an issue for some years the council had to take the decision to close off the car park in Upper Grosvenor Road after so many people were using it at school pick up and drop off times that cars were being parked on the path, blocking it to the extent that anyone with a pushchair, wheelchair or mobility scooter couldn’t pass. After some near misses for children with cars entering or exiting the area it was decided that closing it off with removeable bollards was the safest option. Unfortunately this meant the loss of a Blue Badge parking space for Rec users, (although to be fair this space was also being abused and regularly used by non-Blue Badge holders) so we were pleased that after a representation from FOPR, the council have created a "Disabled Parking bay" in Upper Grosvenor Road that has the added advantage of being an enforceable parking space, so less likely to be abused by non-badge holders.
Whilst the vast majority of users respect the Rec and clear up behind themselves after their visit, sadly, like most parks across the country there have been instances of anti-social behaviour. In one episode, the Suffragette silhouette was vandalised, but thanks to the efforts of the Events Team at SCC it has been repaired and repositioned. However, if you ever see any suspicious behaviour at the Rec, that you think needs to be investigated, please report it to the Police on 101.
I’d like to end with some words of thanks.
In addition to Denise and her fellow gardeners, I would also like to thank the following for helping us so much over the last year:
Thanks to Adrian Ford our Treasurer for keeping an eye on our finances and producing the Annual Accounts which since we are not meeting face-to-face, include more detail than usual to make them more self-explanatory. The accounts cover the year to 31st October 2019 and show a loss of £486. This was largely due to our expenditure on the gardening project for plants, feed etc. The other major expense was the purchase and installation of a new noticeboard at the Kitchener Road entrance, which was fully financed by a grant received and shown in the previous year’s accounts. Within the accounts, around £3,000 of the available balance is ringfenced as grants received for specific purposes such as our summer event etc, and therefore the available balance for general spending, including insurance, running costs, the gardening project etc is less
than £2,000. If you have any queries or questions about the accounts, please get in touch and either Adrian or myself and one of us will try and answer them.
It is a strange situation this year, with no opportunity to meet face to face, yet more and more people are appreciating the vital role that parks play for their physical and mental well-being, especially for those people who do not have access to a garden. It is perhaps more important than ever that Friends groups can support local councils to improve and maintain our parks and green spaces. We can’t do it without your help.
Also, if you would like to get more involved in the group and/or are interested in joining the committee, please let me know? It really isn’t too onerous; we usually meet once every 4-6 weeks depending on what needs to be decided or planned. Meetings usually take an hour to an hour and a half and we are a friendly bunch. Please give some serious thought to getting involved and supporting our local park.
Feel free to contact me by email if you would like more information. Bev