A really interesting day.
Really good to together with other parks people
I’ve missed networking with other parks managers
When is the next meeting?
First speaker session: Using technology in parks – Karen Hughes and Graham Evans
View the presentation here about Love Clean Streets app
View the presentation here from Graham Evans about their use in Bath's parks
The success of the generic, free LoveCleanStreets app across the country saving considerable sums of money and staff time in Councils. It allows the public and staff to quickly report issues such as flytipping, graffiti and damage using their mobile phones. The video of the app is below.
Using QR codes in parks is a cheap and efficient way to share information including photos, events etc. One of many free QR code generators can be found here.
Using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as additional ways to stay up to date and keep in touch with the public, Councillors and find to out what they are doing in your parks. It does require organising staff time to monitor the sites though.
Visiting speaker: Learning from the Cordiale Project in NW France and SW England – Len Croney
View the presentation here
This EU funded project was based on whole landscapes but has some learning that is relevant to parks managers. There are 29 Tools and Case Studies that explain in full how to make use of the ideas trialled in the project. Tools include mapping, community engagement techniques, woodfuel and local food production.
RateMyView is an app that was developed as part of the project and allows people to photograph their environment and say what they think about it.
In the consultation parts of the project it was important to know why you were consulting in order to know if you have been successful eg is it to gain knowledge from the public, to raise awareness, to persuade the public about a project etc
Among the tools that are relevant to parks, there was particular discussion about potential for area- wide management of hedges for wood fuel for communal energy production and about local food production. To find out more visit the projects website www.cordialeproject.eu
Green Connect Update
Karen reported on progress with the business Green Connect after the first 4 months of trading, including success with the growing list of paying Subscribers and a change of emphasis on organisations being encouraged to subscribe: she will now focus on professionals whilst still providing some free services to community groups and non-subscribers.
The Newsletters and Subscribers Summary Documents were also discussed – Subscribers are keen that these continue and find links provided for further information very useful.
Walking Workshop – public spaces along the River Tone in Taunton
Led by Steve Swan, the landscape architect involved in all four of the spaces on the walk, we heard about how the vision to turn the riverside into an asset has progressed in recent years.
We began in the new hard landscaped space, Somerset Square, outside the Brewhouse Theatre with planting in raised beds and an artist created play feature using local rock and timber and a recycled wood replacement product for decking.
We walked along the river and over the road to pass through a new break in the historic town bridge railings that allows you to continue along the riverside on a level path into the updated Goodland Gardens . Here the old 1960s landscaping and overgrown fir trees have been removed and we followed the new ramped path over the weir looking admiringly at the attractive new cafe created from what was a redundant toilet block.
A little further along the river and we were in French Weir Park, one of the success stories of the last few years with extensive, innovative play spaces and community events creating a real “go-to” feel and vastly increasing footfall here.
Over the footbridge and we were into the vast acreage of Longrun Meadows, primarily acquired for flood alleviation, but now successfully managed by the Friends Group as a multi use site – runners, orienteers, school children on bikes, children, dog walkers, fishermen all share use of the site and there is a programme of events and a volunteers group who undertake maintenance alongside a farmer who takes a hay crop. The Friends are looking for funding for a meadow and other projects to continue to improve the area for the town.
Agreed the chance to walk around parks as part of the day is really useful and interesting; Cirencester and Exeter and Bristol will be future venues. Topics will probably include:
- Working with Communities - Getting the best from Friends Groups
- Community Infrastructure Levy – how its working for parks services
- Reviewing Green Space Strategies – current best practice in reviewing and moving on, innovative consultation techniques, identifiying priorities and critical success factors for parks services when there is less money, partners and funding.
- Town and Parish Councils – their role in managing green spaces
- Play – play areas as assets – possibly South Wales experience, risk vs benefit in play