FRIENDS OF CLAPHAM COMMON
CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT NOVEMBER 2016
This will be my last report, but I shall try to keep it brief. The Friends have been in existence for 18 years or so and I have been on the Committee in one capacity or another for nearly 14 of those years. I think we have had and will continue to have a very important role to play in contributing to the improvement of the Common and protecting its integrity. We need to do this in concert with other bodies active with the Common and of course with Lambeth. We extended our Partnership Agreement with them for another 5 years in March this year.
Clapham dwellers (and members) come and go, but our numbers have more than held up. At the last count we were 501. The Dog Show alone generated some 30 new members and I am happy to say that 3 of them are joining the Committee. But we also need members just to get stuck in with the activities!
We did finally get our tree planting plans approved at the end of last year and with Trees for Cities (and a host of excited school children!) planted 14 trees in March. I think they are all doing well. Unfortunately, our ideas for a Wild Flower Meadow north-west of the Bandstand, which was to cover 1600m2 of meadow planting, costing £15k, has not found favour with the CCMAC or Lambeth, though earlier indications were positive, so we have had to abandon that.
We have been working our way all around the Common planting bulbs. Last winter we covered west along Southside. This winter (starting on the weekend 19/20 November) we shall continue east from the Windmill Pub and then work up The Avenue.
You will have seen that the Wetlands fencing has come down. The pond has been cleaned up (it needs it twice a year) and the surrounds tidied up and shrubs cut back. We shall be providing one or two replacements for shrubs that have died.
Our Orchard (by the tennis courts) is coming on. There were not so many apples and pears, but we expect more next year. There was a crop of quinces though. The birds got the cherries.
Our Public Outreach has been busy enough covering Bat Walks with Iain Boulton, Nature Trail Days with local schools and soon too with the Guides.
This had a good turn out and was generously supported by Knight, Frank for food, drink and some of the prizes. We had to shoo people out at the end!
FCC Fun Dog Show.
Our third Dog Show was a great success. We believe we had over 600 visitors, with some 120 entries in the various dog show classes. But it was a huge amount of work and so many thanks to Carol Rutter and her team, including especially Shenade McClelland, who brought Chestertons’ sponsorship and muscle on board. We hope we can mount something even better next year.
Use of the Common
The population of Clapham is growing and the pressures are on: the Common has to support ever greater usage not only from walkers (and their dogs), picnickers and sporting groups but also increasing numbers of commercial and community events, large and small. There has to be a balance, respecting the needs of residents but taking into account the popularity of events and the revenue stream (some of the income comes back to the Common). We must also ensure that the fabric of the Common (not only the events site) does not suffer; nor should our ears with excessive sound levels. All this means working patiently both directly and through the Clapham Common Management Advisory Committee (CCMAC).
On grounds maintenance, transitional arrangements are in place with the taking back in house of the Veolia contract. We continue to work with the grounds team, under the direction of Joe Lewis and Lara Mifsud-Bonici as Common managers. And we value the input and support of Dr Iain Boulton, as ever!
You will have heard about the redevelopment of the Spinney (the old One o’Clock Club) into a nursery facility incorporating green space adjacent to the Playground. We had argued that this needed Secretary of State’s permission, but it appears that the original structure, put up without it, is considered ‘grandfathered’. One concession granted was that the new meeting room will only be hired out to nursery-related events, not weddings and the like.
I am very pleased to report that one of our recently co-opted Committee members has indicated willingness to stand for the Chairmanship of the Friends. This will be decided in the Committee elections at the AGM.
Finally, thank you all for your interest and support over the years for the Committee and for myself.